The Happiest Place on Earth

The main reason we took the first month of traveling in California was to ensure we did not miss Dirk’s sister’s Stagette in Disneyland. I have been to Disneyland twice and Walt Disney World once.

My first visit to Disney was with my friend Kellie in July of 1994. We had just finished our final exam to become accountants, after four years we deserved this break. We arrived with a full suitcase of excitement and anticipation. These were the days when you had to wait in line with patience, which not one person under 12 had any of. The heat was unbearable, so I had a full understanding why these kids were losing their fucking minds. It was at this point that I felt that this was not a place for children and anyone bringing someone under the age of 12 was just plain crazy. But, even with the heat and the crying kids, I leave with one thought: ‘This place is so fucking cool.’

My next visit in 1998 was just as fun as the first. What struck me most was how familiar, yet different this visit was. Not only had they introduce a new ride, construction of a new theme park was underway.  The anticipation that a expansion was in the making – doubling up on what was already an awesome experience. I felt like a child on a sugar high, two parks in one place, genius.

The only time I visited Disney World was on a stop over between Allentown and Leeds. Again, I was hit by the brilliance of the park. Three Theme Parks in One!!  And, to top it all off the ‘FASTPASS’. What?! Just grab a ticket with your ride time, then walk around taking in all the sites and sounds. When your time comes, walk right up to the front of the line, it was like your name was finally on the list.

Disney World was also my first experience with ‘Downtown Disney’. By day filled with families, children running amuck, by night an adult only playground. It was filled with bars, restaurants and shows. You were id’d before entering the area, no kids or strollers to maneuver.

It has now been around 17 years since I was last at Disneyland. Things have changed, yet stayed the same. The incredible details in Disneyland still have you looking in every direction. Not only do I see more, I am hearing more. One window above is open, the sounds of a man showering, brushing his teeth and shaving can be heard. Another window, a dog barking and his master trying to quiet him.

California Adventure is now open, the same attention to detail is everywhere. Am I really walking down Main Street in Radiator Springs? Is that building really a tissue box in ‘a bugs land’? Is that person carrying a beer? Yes, this park allows the consumption of alcohol as you are walking around enjoying your day. At the end of our third night, we saw a couple that clearly had consumed too much. They were trying to out fox the attendant at the ride by ducking into the fastpass lane, alcohol had impaired their stealth mode. We had to laugh as the attendant threw his hands up in disbelief and called up to the ride to ensure these geniuses were asked to leave.

They also have a Downtown Disney, albeit kids are allowed in at all times. The number of strollers to avoid has grown, not only in number, but in shear physical size. Families now push double wide strollers – I am guessing the American version of upping the neighbours with a bigger and better model.

Attending Disney at the end of April was by far the least amount of people in attendance as compared to my first three times. Most wait times were less than twenty minutes, some none at all. At one point Dirk realized we had already hit seven rides and the park had only been open an hour. We were able to ride our favourite rides at least three times. Each time I discovered something I did not notice the first time, an amazing detail or a catchy saying.

At the end of four days in Disneyland, we are completely exhausted. But as I am leaving, the same thought crosses my mind. ‘This place is so fucking cool!!’

Travel Tip:

If you are going to Disneyland, be prepared with a large amount of patience. As magical a trip, it can be very tiring with thousands of people trying to get on the same ride as you. Bring a small backpack with a water bottle, there are many places to fill these. Ensure you have a hat and light jacket in your pack, weather can change and the nights are cooler. If you are willing to ride alone, hit the single rider line. They are faster, but you will not be sitting with your friends. To pass the time in the long line ups, pick up a ‘Hidden Mickey’ book. This will tell you where the ingenious creators hidden Mickey symbols all over the park. 



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