As much as kids bound for Disneyland in Anaheim are wondering what Space Mountain is going to be like, their fathers are wondering if there’s any chance they will be able to sneak away and see a Major League Baseball game.
There are two options: the obvious being nearby the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (yes, that’s their full title); and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
For the real baseball fans, a trip to storied Dodger Stadium is the obvious No. 1 choice. They are one of the game’s premier attractions and the familiar confines at Chavez Ravine are one of baseball’s must-see venues; Fenway Park (check, 1988), Wrigley Field (check, 1994) and Yankee Stadium (check, 2007) being the other members of the Fab Four.
Getting to Dodger Stadium isn’t as hard as it seems, if you aren’t afraid of racing down one of America’s most frantic stretches of roadways, Interstate 5. An Alamo car rental outlet at Downtown Disney just a few hundred metres from Disneyland Hotel can provide the vehicle – in our case a Dodge Charger that had plenty of giddy-up for the 70 mph joy ride – and easy directions if you don’t have your own GPS (I still kick it old school with a map).
For a 7:10 p.m. game, you’ll want to leave at about 2:30 p.m. Go north on I-5 (Santa Ana Freeway) towards Los Angeles, merge left onto the 101 at the Santa Monica Freeway. Then exit onto ‘The 101’, which leads to you Stadium Way. It’s not that hard, actually. Well, it’s a bit scary, but it’s doable.
About 15 minutes into your trip on the right side of the road – slow down to about 60 – you’ll see noted fast-food emporium In-N-Out Burger in the city of La Marida. It’s worth the stop and will hold you until you get your hands on a "world famous" Dodger Dog, which to be honest is quite unremarkable and quite possibly not really cooked. Mine wasn’t anyway.
If you leave early enough, you’ll arrive with time to take a drive down nearby Sunset Boulevard for a side trip to Griffith Observatory, the location for one of Hollywood’s most famous scenes – the James Dean knife fight from Rebel Without A Cause. There is a bronze bust of Dean there to honour the Hollywood legend. The observatory will offer you glorious views of the ‘Hollywood’ sign and Los Angeles itself, albeit it through a haze that is quite unsettling for those of us who enjoy Canada’s clearer skies.
At the ballpark
Dodger Stadium first opened in 1962, celebrating its silver anniversary this year. It opened a couple of years after the franchise was relocated from Brooklyn, New York. It is instantly recognizable for committed baseball fans. After parking and buying your ticket (never buy before you go unless the Yankees are in town for an interleague game) you walk up to the top of the hill to discover the park laid out below you, palm trees decorating the backdrop and a gentle California breeze brushing up against your face.
Gates always open two hours before game time. Getting there at 5 p.m. for a 7:10 p.m. first pitch will give you a chance to see the visiting team take batting practice. Tonight the Angels, led by Albert Pujols, were the opposition.
Employees at Dodger Stadium accommodated us for a peek at Dodger batting practice at 4 p.m. though the gates were still closed. Just had to ask.
Beer me? You can buy a monstrous $13 draft or ask to be directed to a kiosk that offers a $6.50 Miller Lite, which will suffice for anyone who just wants a casual sip during the game. Dodger Stadium also serves a Korean beer called Hite.
After the game, attendants will direct traffic back out to Stadium Way. Get in the left lane as quickly as you can and look for the 110 South signs, leading you back to 101, which joins the I-5 to Anaheim. Disneyland Drive signs will be very visible when you arrive back "home."
If at any point you feel guilty about leaving your family for a few hours, just remember that they are in the happiest place on Earth--Disneyland.
Jeff MacKinnon is a Calgary-based writer. He has now visited 14 Major League ballparks.