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Anaheim: Scenes from the city, Part III

While staying in Anaheim, CA, for a journalism convention, a handful of staff members explored Disneyland Resort, including its Downtown Disney District, for a couple of days.

In order to immerse themselves in the city and practice some new journalism techniques, they were tasked with striking up conversations with people they met, interviewing them and then sharing their Disneyland experience with others.

This article, the third of three in “Anaheim: Scenes from the city,” details the experiences of an Australian family touring the U.S. and a pin trader working in the park. Read the second part: Intern shares behind-the-scenes experiences.

Australian tourists experience Disney destination
By Nick Avery, Features Editor, and Emily Shakeshaft, Writer

Each year, millions of people journey to Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA, to experience a 50-year-old franchise based on magic and family relationships.

Those who have attended this renowned park over the years include presidents, royalty, movie stars and people from diverse countries and various walks of life. In short, the theme park entertains a wide range of crowds.

On a sluggish, summery day in April, this group includes the Callender family — Jason, his wife Sara, and their two daughters Jeddae and Adida — from Brisbane, Australia. The Callenders, finishing up their last day at Disneyland, are traveling across America over the course of several months. They chose to begin their sojourn in Disneyland for one reason: to please the family.

“We’re traveling the U.S. for six months, and we figured, for the kids, why not start in Disneyland and start the trip off on a high note?” Jason said. “We met up with Sara’s brother and their kids, who came here from Australia, as well as Jaddae and Adida’s grandparents, so it’s a big family convergence. We’re all here at Disneyland trying to have as much fun as possible.”

This is the family’s first trip to Disneyland, and Jason says that both the crowds and rides made an impression on him. After getting used to the vast number of Disneyland attendees, the family tested the thrills of the rides.

“We walked up [to Disneyland] on Monday and my first reaction was, ‘Oh my God, how many people there are. It’s so crowded,'” Jason said. “But once you got over the crowds, the rides were just awesome. There are so many in both Disneyland and California Adventure Park. We took Adida on Tower of Terror, and I don’t think she’ll ever let us again; she hopped off in total shock. The kids really got a kick out of it.”

Both Jason and Sara took time off from work in order to visit the states, which meant Callender resigning from his IT job in Brisbane and Sara going on hiatus from researching at the University of Queensland. Despite these sacrifices, they think the trip will be worth it.

“We’re excited!” Jason said. “Disneyland is just the beginning of our adventure, the first day of our journey in a sense. We’re off to San Francisco tomorrow, then off to Jacksonville, New York and Washington, D.C. Right now, we don’t really miss Australia because, for us, this is our big experience.”

Trading pins at the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’
By Elise Porter, Columnist, and Tynin Fries, Writer

While the Disneyland Resort often holds excitement for its guests, it may not always be so for the employees due to tiring work weeks, a crowded environment and the overall immensity of the park. However, this is not the case for Kathi Wheaton, who has been an employee in the Downtown Disney District at a pin trading shop for over five years.

Even though she has been a Disneyland annual passholder since 1984, Wheaton says she still finds joy in the magical atmosphere of the park.

“This [working at Disneyland] is like walking into a magical world, and that is what Walt [Disney] wanted,” Wheaton said. “One of the reasons why, when you are in Disneyland, you cannot see any of the hotels or the outside world is because you are supposed to be in your own magical world.”

For Wheaton, one of the most magical things about working in Disneyland is seeing children experience it for the first time.

“All you have to do is look around, especially at the kids,” Wheaton said. “They are always so in awe of what they are seeing. Whether it’s a boy or a girl, it takes so little for the little kids to be amazed and thrilled. You see them smiling and having a fun time and you can’t help but smile, even if you are having a bad day.”

Compared to her previous profession as an insurance claims adjuster, Wheaton finds Disneyland to be a thrilling occupation. Even though she has only worked at the park for a few years, Wheaton has been collecting the novelty pins since she started frequenting the park in 1984.

“I stopped counting the pins once I hit 10,000,” Wheaton said, “which is crazy since I only collect the villains. When I first started buying the pins, most of the ones they sold of Mickey Mouse and the Fab Five were in very dull colors. The villains were in bright purples, reds and oranges. They were just the brighter, more colorful pins.”

Before becoming an employee of the resort, Wheaton experienced Disneyland by purchasing annual passes for her children and even her mother. She even remembers when the price of an annual pass was only $50. Now, as an employee, she is able to continue to share her passion with others.

“I started working here because I got bored after I retired,” Wheaton said. “Now, I love it. I love to stand here and just talk to people, especially about pins.”

For the second installment in the series, read the May 4 article, Anaheim: Scenes from the city, Part II.

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