Disneyland

Disneyland

Spectacle 9

WORDS + PHOTOS: IAN FLANIGAN


Let me preface this entire thing by stating that I am a seasoned vet when it comes to enjoying Disneyland on hallucinogenic drugs.

There was a really solid period when my close friends and I had a short but wildly intense love affair with ecstasy. Like an all-in, every-couple-days, fuck-work-tomorrow, don’t-care-if-it’s-a-Wednesday type of thing. It was amazing and awful at the same time, and I loved every single fucking moment of it. Even when it came crashing down on us in the end.



We would hit The Happiest Place on Earth each Sunday night shoving fistfuls of ecstasy pills into our mouths, washing them down with vodka camouflaged in Gatorade bottles. Blue Buddhas, Pink Revolvers, and Purple Chanels would cause the serotonin and dopamine to surge through our brains as if Paul Walker (RIP) just hit that NOS button. Lights, words, and emotions were just flying by at a million miles per second, but somehow time seemed to stand still for us. Here we were, running wild around the park giving absolutely zero fucks about anything or anyone except ourselves and the moment, and living in it. Nothing else mattered, not school, not work, not bills, not life, nothing. It was just us and those short, fleeting moments of our flashbang
existence in our early 20s. I can only look back and describe it as one of the most exhilarating times of my life. Each of us were going through tough times in our journeys, and we really needed each other. My dad had just passed away, others were ending long relationships, some families were splitting up, and all of us were still mourning the loss of a close friend a few weeks prior. Whatever it was, those things just seemed to make us all that much closer, and of course, the MDMA didn’t hurt either. This went on for two months straight, every single Sunday.



That first roll on ecstasy is a unicorn. It’s always the best one, and you end up chasing it forever and ever, or at least until you realize that it’s impossible to catch again. The first time on MFT (Magic Fun Time) meant no lines for any rides, including Space Mountain. You’ve probably never been on Space Mountain on ecstasy, but if you have, then you understand how no photo, verb, noun, or adjective could accurately describe how fucking insane it is. You’ll just need to experience it yourself. We must have hit that ride three or four times in a row that night. I used to have “See You Again” by Miley Cyrus playing on repeat whenever I wanted my own soundtrack. To this day, when I hear the opening notes of that song I get that feeling you get right before the ecstasy hits you: it makes you weak for a second and you feel it deep in your bones. Sometimes I even throw that song on nowadays just to take me back for a few seconds. It’s amazing how your brain can work in that way, sounds or scents transporting you instantly back in time.



As glorious as our weekly ritual was, sadly, like all good things, it came to an end. Flash forward eight years and here I was again, at The Magic Kingdom with a bag of mushrooms in my pocket and my camera around my neck. There’s this thing with hallucinogens where you seem to think that every person you come into contact with immediately knows you are on drugs. At one point I decided to take a photo holding the mushrooms in my hand with Sleeping Beauty’s castle in the background. Disney cast members had roped off the extra sections for the storybook ride lines—Peter Pan, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and Moby Dick—because there were so many people. So here I was, standing in a corner by the castle, preparing these mushrooms in my hand so I could walk to my spot, shoot the photo and dip out. I walked up and framed the castle up in the viewfinder of my camera. Hiding the mushrooms in my left hand, I felt as if the few hundred people waiting in line with me knew exactly what was going on. My heart was pounding. I’d already had a handful of mushrooms, a few finger dabs of Molly, and two gin and tonics. I was doubting the whole situation. Was this photo even worth the risk and stress? I raised the camera and framed up the shot, my hands getting shaky. I lifted the mushrooms into the shot, snapped a few frames and briskly walked away like nothing happened, still feeling like everyone was onto me. They weren’t. I’m pretty sure no one was.

The rest of the day turned out to be pretty lackluster; too crowded, too hot, 90 minute lines for the rides, a 45 minute wait for the bar. You get the idea. I’m not in my 20s anymore, and it isn’t Magic Fun time anymore.

Back / Forth