Posted by: cassymuronaka | July 3, 2011

Courage under fire from Disneyland

As I contemplate the idea of fireworks going off all over America tomorrow night,  I am reminded of a harrowing incident that occurred about a year ago involving pyrotechnics gone awry.

One of the pleasures of driving home from a monthly meeting of the Orange County Polymer Clay Guild has been to time the return trip late enough to catch the nightly fireworks being blasted over the skies of Anaheim, California. These pyrotechnics are set off by Disneyland for the entertainment of its hundreds of visitors.  And while they long ago lost their charm for Anaheim residents living close enough to hear, see or smell them, they are magnificent to view if you are driving north on California’s Interstate 5 around 9:30 pm.

I do not live in Orange County, and the drive to the gathering of polymer clay enthusiasts is a bit of a shlep, so I generally carpool with my friend Nancy, who lives in Whittier. We alternate driving down to Costa Mesa, where the meetings are held from 7 to 9 pm.

Watching Disneyland experiment with technical advances in fireworks throughout the year is part of the enjoyment of seeing the aerial display. The show always seems to be changing; with newer, more colorful, longer-lasting and farther-reaching bursts of light. Some day, I fully expect to see the flaming face of Mickey Mouse loom over me in the sky, saying, “Hey there, Mouseketeers!”

One night last year, Nancy and I left the meeting late again.  As we flew up the freeway, we approached Disneyland on the left and could see the fireworks already were in progress.

There are sections of I-5 that are located very close to a Disneyland entrance — that’s how big it is  — but our part of the freeway isn’t one of them.  We were still several miles away.  As we oooed, ahhhhed and commented on what appeared to be a relatively new pyrotechnic pattern, we were alarmed to see something come screaming out of the sky and land like a bright red bomb in a freeway lane ahead and slightly to the right of us.

“What the hell was that?!”  I screeched.

Nancy, who is rarely rattled, said thoughtfully, “I think it’s part of Disneyland’s fireworks,” as she viewed the large smoking mass in her rear-view mirror.

“Well, that is NOT GOOD,” I yelled, jumping wildly up and down in my seat, “NOT GOOD at all.”

Nancy nodded in agreement.

Despite our near-disaster, we have continued to regularly travel up Interstate-5, whether we leave late or on time. However, no matter how engrossed we are in conversation, we both keep a sharp eye on the fireworks at Uncle Walt’s Magic Kingdom, just in case we are about to be shelled or mortared again.



  1. Scary. I lived in Buena Park in 1959… let me tell you that while Disneyland was just a couple blocks down the street, we didn’t see the fireworks then unless we actually went to the park itself. It’s sure a big deal these days! Now at Lake Tahoe I compare the fireworks here on July 4th to the Disneyland fireworks. Luckily they do them on the lake itself and not in the middle of the forest!

  2. Cassy calls me “rarely rattled”. Actually I was totally freaked out. What came out as “thoughtful” was actually me desperately trying to force my screaming brain to drive and talk at the same time without gibbering nonsense.

  3. My big memory of fireworks gone awry came at the 1980 All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium, where the massive pre-game fireworks managed to get a nasty brush fire going that required water dropping helicopters to intervene for several innings. That’s what I remember best about that game.

    • Just to complete that post — the fire was in the brushy hillsides out by the Think Blue sign so the upper decks had a fine view of the commotion.

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