Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Disneyland versus Zion

The first week of May, we took a trip to Disneyland in California. Over Memorial day weekend, we took a trip to Zion National Park, in Utah. Surprisingly, both trips had a lot in common.

Common characteristic #1: Highly organized people moving.

At Disneyland, you can take the Disney railroad to another part of the park. Or the monorail. You wait in line for a while, then when the train arrives, everyone packs in until the train has reached full capacity. You depart the station with a crowd of strangers. As you drive, a canned voice tells you history of Disneyland and interesting tidbits, and points out the major attractions at each stop.

In Zion, you wait in a line at the visitors' center to catch a shuttle. Over Memorial day weekend, people pack in pretty tightly, standing room only. You depart the station shoulder to shoulder with strangers. A fruity voice describes geology and archeology and other interesting tidbits as you drive, and announces the major attractions at each stop. ("There is a short hike to a lookout which departs from the left side of the shuttle.")

Related common characteristic #2: Gazillions of people.

In Disneyland, there are gazillions of people. You stand in lines to go on the rides, to purchase food, to use the bathroom. Wait your turn to buy a souvenir. When that little boy moves out of the way you may get a drink at the fountain.

In Zion on Memorial day weekend, there are gazillions of people. You stand in line to catch the shuttle, to purchase food, to use the bathroom. Hiking up to the emerald pools, Jonathan asked why we kept having to move over for all the hikers. Because there were so dang many of them, that's why. Wait your turn to climb over the boulders. When that little boy moves out of the way you may look at the tadpoles as well.

Common characteristic #3: Desert heat.

In Disneyland in the summer, wear sunglasses and a hat. Eat ice cream. Dress in light clothing.

In Zion on Memorial day weekend, don't forget to drink lots of water. Wear a hat.

Common characteristic #4: different attractions for different ages.

The teenagers love Space Mountain, and consequently it has one of the longest lines in the park. However, Jonathan cried after he went on it. He really liked the Small World ride, along with a lot of children his age.

In Zion, teenagers like to hike up to Angel's Landing. Consequently, on Memorial day weekend there was quite a line of people waiting to use the chains to get up the last half mile. (Seriously -- we could see them from our shuttle stop. There was a huge line up there at the top of that cliff.) The shuttle driver warned us that the last half mile was not for people afraid of heights, and Jonathan was not at all interested in trying it. He did enjoy the emerald pools hike, however, along with many children his age.

Common characteristic #5: Migraine and pre-migraine.

Nothing further to say here.

I have been to Zion before, many years ago, before the canyon's popularity required the use of the shuttle system. I remember solemn vermilion cliffs and spectacular views, serenity and power. I felt something of what its earliest white settler felt, a Mormon man who named the canyon Zion because he found solace there in the silent temples of the towering canyon walls.

There was no silence this time. No serenity or solace. Nice postcard pictures, though. Swarming humanity. Lots of fun rides. A little hot, but good ice cream if you were willing to wait in line.

Maybe next time I'll visit Zion in October. Anyone second my move to change the date of the family campout?


Diaz Howard said...
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Soul-Fusion said...

I agree - Zion is best seen in the cooler, less touristy months. Some of my best Zion memories are from college when we'd go in November or February and feel like the only people in the entire place.

Bryan said...

When did you start camping again?