If memory serves me right I've been to Disneyland approximaetly 3 times in my life. Once when I was four, wherein the chaotic magic of the park etched a kodochrome colored vision of the day in my young mind's eye. Then again in high school for "Senior Night" where all I can recall is that it was raining, I was freezing, and the bus full of graduating teenagers I came with were tripping on acid spiked sour patch kids they snuck onto the bus on the way down there. Resulting in them having way more fun than me that night. I remember just wanting to be home, and feeling utterly alienated by general sobriety. It was before cell phones. Or else I know I would have surely called my mom to come pick me up to cut the night short.
My second visit came a few years after that when California Adventure first opened. Mike and I were newly dating and it was the thing to do. (I mean, I don't know, maybe it still is?) What I remember then is walking the strip, outside of the park, trying to order what I assumed to be a grown up cup of coffee from the coffee shop on site and royally screwing up the order because I was lacking proper knowledge of all those fancy expresso infused concoctions I was so desperate to enjoy like every one else I knew creeping into their 20s were. That time I think I made it on one roller coaster (which terrified me) Dumbo, Small World, and Soaring Adventure (which also terrified me) We even bought park passes that year on a whim that we never used again.
This next chance though comes bearing genuine delight. As Disneyland has graciously invited our family (and a few families whom we know and adore) for a three day staycation at the resort this week in honor of their 60th anniversary celebration. Meaning we will be given access to both parks and VIP treatment granting us front row seats for each of the shows and events we're scheduled for during our stay there. For a family of six, it's basically like winning the vacation lotto. My kids haven't stopped asking about it since I first spilled the beans a couple weeks ago. It will be our first time there together as a family. Through the years I've seen photos from Mike's parents (who sometimes have annual passes) and videos showing beaming smiles on my sun spent babies, clad in mouse ears, clinging to giant rainbow colored suckers while cruising the expanse of that endless park in umbrella strollers made for slicing around such places, but never first hand. I'm looking forward to like it's my first time. A little like Christmas I suppose in spite of the life long park phobias and general indifference to roller coaster endeavors of all kinds simply because of how excited I am to see it through their eyes. To see what's changed, soak up our time together and slow down enough to share in something I know they're likely remember in the same special way I did at their age. Up until now I've always jokingly deemed Ikea the "Happiest Place on Earth" but that might be about to change. Maybe I won't make it on all of the rides but I'll be damed if I don't shake hands with Mickey, down a couple fresh squeezed lemonades, take four hundred photos, and have at least one kid's name stitched in orange thread on one of those classically adorable mouse felt hats to serve as lasting souvenir to this trip where we'll be blissed out for three long days in the majestic home that Walt built, living it up like it's our last. Because, as big as our family is now, I think we all know it very well could be.
*Leading up to this event I've been looking up fun facts behind the history of Disneyland and came up with some pretty amazing stuff. Getting better aquatinted with the genius behind Walt Disney himself, and all that he lent to the end vision of the park has been more intriguing than I realized.
To those of you more familiar with the park, what are your favorites & your must sees? After all these years I feel like a honest to goodness tourist in my own backyard so I'd love to hear your park picks. And I'd also love it if my DVR behaves and records Game of Thrones for us tomorrow night, while we're parked curbside watching those grand fireworks explode overhead.