Our 1969 Coronado Little League team won the championship, so what did we do next? We went to Disneyland! Duh.

Our coaches-cum-chaperones chauffeured the team, those who could go, up to Anaheim in time to beat the opening bell, turning us loose at the turnstiles, ticket booklets in hand, free to move about Walt’s magic kingdom. We were on our own until six o’clock sharp, when we’d all meet back at the turnstiles, bid adieu to Mickey and Minnie, and hit the road heading south so we’d be back in ‘Nado at a halfway decent hour, in time for our precious pre-teen beddy-byes. In the interim, we had the run of the place, unsupervised! Try that today?

My buddy Vinnie and I joined forces and set sail for Disneyland’s latest attraction, Pirates of the Caribbean. At the entrance to the ride, dubbed Lafitte’s Landing, we each detached an E-ticket from our handy-dandy, old-fangled booklets, handing over the precious tix to the lovely wench-in-waiting before hopping aboard our waiting fiberglass launch, where we took our appointed seats. Over the falls and down the chute we went, floating under the archway where an animatronic skull and crossbones welcomes one and all, speaking in not so dulcet tones, administering the sinister, admonishing warning, “Dead men tell no tales!” Very scary-cool stuff, especially to a pair of scrawny little urchins like Vinnie and me. And so we were off, sailing slowly into the ominous bayou beyond.

A little farther-on into our eerie dark ride, from above us and to our right, faux cannons were blasting away willy-nilly from atop a formidable faux fortress, its towering battlements targeting a ne’er-do-well pirate ship which was returning fire equally willy-nilly across our bow from the left. Our little boat soon cleared the commotion, pausing momentarily, or so it seemed, directly adjacent to a tempting, treasure-strewn shoal of sandy beach, upon whose close-by shoreline Vinnie suddenly decided to disembark, abruptly stepping off the boat onto the obviously off-limits beach, whereupon...I followed. Oops.

As old-time toon Snagglepuss used to say, “Heavens to Murgatroyd! Exit, stage-left!”

Or in our case, stage-right. Sheesh.

What may have seemed a bright idea at the time, hatched by a duo of blindingly dim bulbs, turned very badly very quickly, because the instant we hit the beach, two huge security dudes in snappy dark suits appeared out of nowhere from behind a hidden

door. The scary-looking pair of giants grabbed skinny Vinnie and skinny me by the backs of our belt-straps and yanked us, rather forcefully, I might add, out of the scenery and through the now-ajar door, literally giving us the bum’s rush into the bright sunlight “backstage” behind the ride. Hello! Busted! Swift move, Ex-Lax!

Rather than perfunctorily conduct us off to Disney “jail” for the rest of the day, as we expected and deserved, the biggest of the burly security dudes simply pointed to the way out and bellowed, “Beat it, brats!” So we ran!

Whew! We’d gotten off scot-free, sufficiently scared-straight into behaving ourselves, at least for the time being, allegedly.

Vinnie and I re-gathered our collective composure, beat it the heck out of Dodge, er, New Orleans Square, and hurriedly scurried away, quickly making tracks toward someplace even scarier: the spanking-new, just-completed, Haunted Mansion ride.

Eek! And we stayed in our seats this time.

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