I cut off my arms, my legs, and cashed in my IRA. Okay kids, now we’re ready to experience the magic that is Disneyland. It is a one-of-kind thematic landscape, home of Tinker Bell, Dumbo, even the late Michael Jackson has an attraction. I wanted to take my two boys before they were teenagers, anticipating a challenge even though they might seem an ideal age. My ten-year-old, a thrill seeker of the scariest roller coasters, and my seven-year-old, a more gentle spirit, are at complete extremes. No matter, I knew Disneyland would be special, and I was curious how their experience would stack up to my e-ticket, childhood memories.
Naturally, lines are part of this magical experience. A line awaits you to secure entrance into the park, followed by lines for photos with princesses and photos of your family…you get the idea. There are hoards of people and moments when it is best to attempt a zen space and wait until traffic passes. But fear not, at Disneyland everything is a matter of minutes. Hours…you can do the math if you like.
If you are organized enough to download a trusty phone app that forecasts the wait times of popular rides, you believe that you are savvy. In reality, the phone app is highly inaccurate, with the actual wait times usually being less than stated. This, I can live with.
Our first ride was the Pirates of Caribbean, one of my all time favs! My seven-year-old fought it the whole way, dragged through the line against his wishes. I was so certain he would think it magical. He managed to sit through the entire ride…if he didn’t he would have thrown himself into the swampy bayou. In the end, he stated, “I hated it.” Perhaps, he didn’t like all the periods of complete darkness. Yes, it is a dark ride. What Disneyland lacks in daring drops and backward loops of say more generic “scary” roller coasters, it more than makes up for in atmosphere, in theme, in song, in presentation.
As you go down, down, deeper into the temple, you’ve lost all perspective of how long the line is, wrapping around and around. How’s that for enchantment? Many of the big rides are built into some kind of mountain with dark tunnels.
This is probably why my youngest opted for lighter offerings, such as the Monorail and It’s a Small World, eschewing the Fantasyland characters of Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland, much to my disappointment. After my oldest son rode It’s a Small World, he developed pediophobia, a fear of dolls. My seven-year, old, languishing in this new knowledge, taunted his older brother by singing “It’s a Small World” in his presence every chance he got.
After five times on this ride (only a ten minute wait!), I noticed that not all of these dolls are created equal in this small world. Some do not have moving faces, and some are, indeed, still. A few looked like place holders for what I’m sure would be the real “moving, automaton doll” at a later date. The giant, purple panda? Perhaps, a school project. Woody and Jesse? Really? I mean, aren’t they like cash cows for you, Disney? Does Toy Story ring a bell? I know it’s not a shortage of funds or time. My ticket could probably pay for a doll with moving parts and it could be swapped out in no time.
The real Disney magic is its employees, who make it the happiest place on earth, always service with a smile. This is even true for the clean-up crew, white-clothed and white-gloved. I’ve seen them up close and personal. Friends, on our last ride, the glorious Splash Mountain, we had a fast pass that allowed us to sail through plentiful minutes worth of wait time. See you suckers! Yeah, we’re organized. We organized our whole day around it, in fact. Throughout the ride, my sister exclaimed over and over, “This is torture, torture, TORTURE,” because she was a wee bit frightened. Oh, she had no idea.
My stomach was tossing and turning, I thought I might heave before I had even got on the ride. You know that feeling before you know you’re to be sick; you convince yourself otherwise. With each passing minute, you tell yourself, you’re farther away from the possibility of sickness. I’m better, I feel better. Definitely not now, knowing full well, it’s going to happen. Oh, yes! But not on this ride…I made it through the singing chickens, rabbits, frogs, whatever they were, the bumping boats, the bursts of mist…or maybe I had lost it by then. Once off the ride, I made a beeline to the shuttle bus, and sat down for twenty seconds, before the moment had arrived.
I ran outside and threw up all my stomach’s contents by a trash can. It was violent, wretched, painful even, and went on far too long, so long, that a Disney employee was there waiting to clean up before I was even finished. This is high on their list of priorities. My sister consoled me, telling me, “Everyone on the bus was so concerned about you.” My husband corrected her, “No. They were horrified.” My son, in fact, came to either comfort or witness the act, and ran off with his mouth covered, “Oh, my God.” I spared you a picture, as I was not in the mood to take one.
The next day, I saw the same dedication of Disney staff when a little girl barfed outside the Pirates ride. This is behind the scenes magic, cleansed and disinfected before you ever knew such vileness touched the surface. When my sister fell on the train tracks, the white-clothed arrived in a heartbeat, offering an ice pack. Personally, I think my sister should have asked for an ice cream cone, one of those $6 ones; that would have promoted quicker healing.
The day after what I determined was a food poisoning attack, I succumbed to the darkness, the darkness that was Space Mountain, and this guy. Who knew they had a Training Academy here.
After Tinker Bell fluttered among the fireworks, probably the best I’ve seen, my child beamed at me, “Can we come back?” Of course, how can we not? Next time, I’ll probably drink more water.