The $20 Project: Disneyland!

Looks Horrible, Doesn’t It?

So, two of my dearest friends were down from Vancouver B.C. this week, and we went to Disneyland on Tuesday. I was really excited, as I haven’t been there since I was 16 or so. (and that was a loong time ago.)

I thought inside the park would be a perfect place to see how far a twenty would go. Almost everyone I mentioned this to before I went had the same reaction: “Ha! Not very far.” I was in agreement, but I was kind of surprised, really. Nothing was cheap, certainly, but it wasn’t as outrageous as I expected.

We found a few ways to spend twenty bucks in the park. After the jump well take a look at them, and, in fact, something you can’t do with a twenty, (or for any price, apparently…) at The House That Rat Built in the latest possible entry of The $20 Dollar Project.

So, much to the amazement of everyone who has ever known me, I was up, shaved, showered and out the door by 7:15 AM. My friends were staying in a hotel across the street from the park, and I wanted to be able to have breakfast with them. I got to Anaheim about 8:40 and we went to IHOP, which is apparently not international at all.

My friends were actually down here for their Anniversary, which is officially the following two days. The three of us have hit a few Amusement Parks together in the past: Magic Mountain, Sea World and even the San Diego Zoo more than once, but this was the first time we did The Rat.

We were in line to get our passes by 9:30 and in the park at 10 when it opened.

It was on!

We walk in and I tell my friends about our $20 Dollar Project. They agree to help and seem curious as to how it will work out. I think they know full well, however, that this project is going to feed directly into one of my worst Amusement Park habits.

See, when I was a kid and we’d go to these places, my Mom would always say that I could have one, And Only One souvenir or toy type thing to take home. A pretty sound policy, actually. When I’d point or grab and say, “I want this!” she’d look at me somberly and ask if that was the thing I really wanted for the day, because I wasn’t going to get anything else. Eventually I learned to look everything over very carefully. At the end of the day I’d make my decision, and so help me, I would drag her ass back to wherever that trinket lie and demand my just reward. Whoa be it to all if that item was somehow unavailable, too.

Nothing has changed, and this can be surprisingly annoying behavior in a full grown man.

More than once my friends have found themselves waiting by a park entrance while I run back to some remote souvenir stand for some piece of crap. I could say that I try not to pout if that thing happens to be gone, but I’d be lying.

Well, I do try not to pout.

Anyway, the priority is having fun, so we set about doing just that. I have to say, I am surprised by the sheer number of Skulls in Disneyland. I love skulls. I have several of them tattooed upon my person, adorning my car and lying about my house. I knew there had to be a few at Disney, but the House of Mouse really sports more calaveras than I was prepared for. Of course you have Pirates, that’s a given, and the Haunted Mansion, but then there’s Indiana Jones, and the Jungle Cruise ride, as well. Even the Snow White sported a couple of skulls along the way.

Frankly, it seems a little subversive and truly increases my enjoyment of the park.

So, I’m eyeballing souvenirs all day, but the first place we clock a twenty is on food. My friend decides he wants a Frozen banana, and damned if he shouldn’t have one. That’s $3.75, and he grabs a bottle of water for $2.75. Shortly there after we grab lunch: A Roast Beef Sandwich combo, a second bottle of water and a coffee goes for $14.41 total, bringing $19.91. Good start.

Myself, I grab a coffee, a bottle of water, and a Bacon Cheeseburger combo for $15.05. Later I have an espresso with an extra shot for $3.25, plus tip (we’ve discussed not being a Douche Bag already, yes?) for a total of $19.25.

So figure about $20 bucks for food at Disneyland, and you’re doing O.K. See? We’re informative!

I’m still scoping trinkets around every corner.

Next, one of the most amazing events of the day happens. See, this is the day after Veteran’s Day, a Tuesday and prior to the big Thanksgiving weekend at the park, so crowds are light, and we enjoy relatively short lines all day. We decide to hit Space Mountain and there was no line at all. We don’t see another park guest until we get all the way to the ride itself, and then we literally walk right onto the car with no pause.


We opt to buy the picture of us on the ride, because, well look at it. None of us are ever that happy. Must have been the lack of line. Anyway, the 5×7 plus 4 wallet size package = $19.95 plus tax. That puts us at $21.50, over budget, but I’m counting it anyway.

Now I realize what I want. A souvenir I can get right now, without waiting, and know that I won’t be disappointed that I didn’t get something else: I want a pair of Mickey Mouse ears with “RobNoxious” embroidered on them!

Just a quick word about my “nickname.” A lot of people know me by this. Finding out my legal name is not hard, and I’m not trying to hide on this site, or anywhere else by using it. Frankly, in some venues using my legal name would throw people off about who I really am.

In any case, I’ll share it with you now: I’m Robert R. Ryel, A.K.A. “RobNoxious.” (That’s, preferably, all one word with the “R” and “N” capitalized, while the last name is pronounced in one syllable, as in “rile.” Rhymes with vile or smile…or perhaps crocodile.)

Anyway, I ask a guy in the Mad Hatter store, how much the hats are, and how much for embroidery. He tells me that the hat is $9.16 and while he “does take donations” the embroidery is free.


I find one that fits and take it to the counter. The guy I spoke to is now gone. I make my request and…NO. I’m told that unless I can produce I.D. showing my name as “RobNoxious” they won’t do it.

Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.

I went to three different places, trying to find someone who would make it happen, same story. Finally, I find that guy I first talked to, the one who was bucking for an embroidery “tip,” if anyone can be subverted, it’s him. “I’ll give you twenty bucks to put ‘RobNoxious’ on this hat.” He can’t do it. Park wide policy. He is, however, the only one that doesn’t look at me like I’m the Demon Barber of Fleet Street for asking.

If you don’t think I’m trying to find a way to get I.D. that says “RobNoxious” on it for the express purpose of getting those Mouse Ears, you don’t know me at all. Legally changing my name is not out of the question. (Though, I’ve considered this before.) Having it embroidered somewhere else wouldn’t be the same.

So, Mouse Ears with “RobNoxious” embroidered on them = $20.00 Not at any price.



In the end, while I didn’t limit myself to one souvenir, I did make my poor friends wait while I went back looking for something. From Pirates of the Caribbean (go figure) I bought a Big Iron Old-Timey Dungeon Type Key Ring, which was fairly easy to relocate, but the pin I wanted, (and it had to be that freaking pin, cause I’m insane) was more elusive. The shop that sold it had closed. It’s a Coin from Curse of the Black Pearl. I did eventually find it, just as we we’re leaving and after I had actually given up and was looking for something else to round out the twenty bucks. Metal Chunky Keyring, (that’s what it says on the receipt) $12.00 plus tax or $12.93, and Pirate Coin $6.95 plus tax or $7.49 = $20.42, over budget again, but screw you, I got my Pirate Coin!!!

One final (off topic) thing about the day: My friend insisted upon riding “It’s a Small World,” and that his wife join him. I couldn’t let her be subjected to this torture without support, so I went too. He has this theory that the ride is an insidious illustration of Walt’s Racism: You are shown all of these children from all of these different cultures singing this horribly sweet song, and at the end there they are all together dressed entirely in white! It’s really not to hard to picture a few of them as Klan members from that perspective. It’s an interesting theory and, considering Walt’s attention to detail and symbolism throughout the park, quite disturbing, whether it was conscious or not.

But that’s not the worst thing:

With the Holidays approaching, the ride was already decorated for Christmas, and the song was actually a combination of “It’s a Small World” and “Jingle Bells,” with a little “Deck the Halls” thrown in. Covert racism aside, this is Officially The Most Evil Song Mash Up of ALL TIME.

Oh my Freaking Lord, I’m gonna hear Deck the Halls and Jingle Bells this year everywhere, and it’s gonna trigger that awful song, I know it. I’m doomed. Humanity is doomed. We’re all doomed.

People may have to die.

But I had a great time, really. It was magical.

(Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells… It’s a Small world… Dashing through the Snow… After All… On a one horse open sleigh… It’s a Small World After All… Fa la la la la, la-la la-la… It’s a Small, Small World…)


11 thoughts on “The $20 Project: Disneyland!”

  1. See, I’m so outraged, I can’t even spell “Disney” correctly.

    And I forgot to add — when did they change their hat embroidery rules? I haven’t been in about 15 years, but every time I did go, I bought a Peter Pan hat and had “Cookie” written on it. No one batted an eye.

  2. Me, my wife and kids did the twofer thing last year when we were broke and literally spent nothing except parking both times we went, it was the greatest thing I think I have accomplished in my life. My wife packed tons of food and we ate right before entering the parks each time. Althoug exhausted, we left the parks with a truly ecstatic feeling of accomplishment that lasted several days, no joke.

    Not spending any money is also extremely hard with two small children, although I bet plenty of Latino families from Santana do it, I once saw a paisana mom unrapping burritos for her kids and laughing when they begged for a nearby churro. I also pulled a major “I am my parents/george lopez stereotype” move by telling my 5 year old that “we don’t need a churro for $4 when we can get one on abeulas street tomorrow for $1, now ciete, no mas”, I swear i almost gave him one on the back of the head out of respect for my elders.

    Anyways, this post is coool.

  3. Two thoughts:

    1. Any entry that includes the adjective “old-timey” is okay to me.

    2. I like to support our soldiers, but I ain’t enlisting and going to Iraq. I think your “Its A Small World” had less to do with support than morbid curiosity.

  4. Their mouse ears policy really ticks me off. It extends to mouse ears that they don’t sell anymore, too.

    After the 50th anniversary celebration, my wife and I realized we wanted a pair of gold mouse ears with our names on them. We found tons of 50th anniversary mouse ears at the Disney outlet store (not owned or operated by Disney, but selling the left over merchandise). We took said mouse ears into the park.

    That’s right – they refused to put our names on them. They told us it was because they didn’t sell them at the park anymore. I attempted to explain. Even went so far as complained at City Hall (not about the person, but about the policy), with no luck. They would not budge.

    I’m thinking any old embroidery stand in a mall will work. But it’s not from the Rat House…

  5. Might I suggest you fire up PhotoShop, generate a picture ID, have it laminated, and then print out the opening page including the authors’ list for good measure?

    That ought to hold the motherfuckers.

  6. Silly me, I just made bla business cards using the approved logo and put on my real name and screen name. Voila ears with “frazgo”. Sometimes it is easier than you may think. Even funnier is that stupid homemade card opens doors for me.

  7. i did disneyland about 3 weeks ago for just under $20 after i bought my ticket. i was pretty impressed that i could control the urge to buy useless junk. glad to see i wasn’t the only one.
    lame about the ears though.

  8. “do you think it was the name itself, or the fact that a man wearing a “tentacle sex” shirt was asking for it?”

    I was wondering if anyone would notice that.

    I had a zip up hoodie with me that covered the Tentacle Sex shirt up nicely. I love that T-shirt.

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