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Guest Column - Mike Pucher
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by Mike Pucher (archives)
November 29, 2000
Mike "MintJulep" Pucher shares his Disneyland story from day one to the future.

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Mike and Mickey

I had just been hit by a ton of bricks. I thought in my mind how it could never happen to me. I've seen it happen to other people, but not to me. I thought I would never be separated from MY Disneyland. But time takes it's course, change intervenes and life happens.

Disneyland has always been something special to me. Everything from tossing a penny into the wishing well at Snow White's Grotto at exactly the right moment, to the way I can go there and forget all of my troubles gives Disneyland magic for me. People love Disneyland for different reasons; some for the food, others for the atmosphere, the friendly Cast Members, the thrill rides, but for most it can be summed up in one word: memories.

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Mike in the blue Autopia car

I can actually remember my first trip to Disneyland. I went with my parents and my sister. For one thing I remember riding in a blue Autopia car with my dad. Can you believe that I actually got a blue car? Well my dad told me that on some of the cars there was a horn that you can honk by pressing the center of the steering wheel, and you can't imagine how disappointed I was when my car didn't have a horn. I also remember the Main Street Electrical Parade. Not so much the pageant of lights and sound, but I can recall my parents talking about how I needed to take a nap so that I could stay up late enough to watch it. I was only four years old, I needed my beauty sleep.

These early memories don't wash away easily. Every single time I climb into an Autopia car I always press on the steering wheel to see, if for one magical time, it will make a sound. When the plans for the new Autopia were unveiled, I was one hundred percent sure that the Imagineers would find a way to include some kind of noise-maker under the hood, but much to my disappointment on my first ride I found the engine the sole noisemaker.

I officially fell in love with Disneyland on December 18th, 1996. My schedule for visiting Disneyland before this point was a once-a-year thing. My church had a special after-hours party every December, and the ticket price was lower, and the park was never crowded. Perfection. I really can't tell you why that one December day was so special because I don't know. It's just that ever since that day I've yearned to visit Disneyland again. Disneyland was all I talked about for the next 366 days. I had tried to make plans on several occasions to visit Disneyland, but the plans always fell through, or something more important came up.

Then the day came. It was December 19, 1997, my parents let me skip school to go to Disneyland. It was a magical day. I had it all planned out; I knew which tracks I wanted on my Disneyland Forever CD, I knew that I was going to have a strawberry churro, I knew that I was going to look for 'Bones' and Eyore in Indiana Jones and I was determined to get to the park early enough so that I could catch the train ride around the park before park opening. I hopped on a tram in Pinnochio, which was a totally new experience to me. I saw California Adventure construction for my first time though it was only a pile of dirt though. I got off of the tram and proceeded to the gate. I got my ticket scanned, I grabbed two Disneyland Today guides, and I was in.

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