I was afraid my kids might not love Disneyland like I do, but they took to it like pros. Despite a full day drive there and back, long and unpredictable hours, more than usual sugar intake, and near-constant bombardment of stimulation, our five day trip went remarkably well.
We had wonderful help and support from Uncle Kenny, who entertained us all and kept us from bickering, while pointing out urban design features of the park and sharing in lugging Jaden around when he wouldn’t walk. He was a godsend!
And the kids did great. “I want to live here,” Shayla said, in what could have been an echo of my feelings as a 7-year-old visiting for the first time. We continue to find ways we’re like our kids, either similarities that were there, or ways they are starting to “take after” us. Jaden does not like to be hurried, just like his papa Jay. Shayla wants to know the plan for the next thing before this ride comes to a complete stop. I’m told I might be that way as well.
True, Jaden extended his dislike of Santa Claus to all costumed creatures, who he did his best to evade, crying and screaming if they came too close. He would wave from a distance to some of them, and he even stood right next to Winnie the Pooh, but mostly he treated them like they were the evil Emperor Zurg.
But if the trip was great, reentry was terrible. Arriving home Sunday night everyone went right to bed, and Monday at school they had fine days. But at pickup, Shayla had the mother of all meltdowns, crying, yelling, pleading for impossible things. She refused to get out of the car. Jaden joined in, and we sat there parked in front of the house for maybe 15 minutes. Finally it passed, and I realized, I was really sad too. Leaving Disneyland screws with your head.
First, it’s Christmas at Disneyland right now, even though it was November 15 outside of the park. Lights, carols, decorations, even “snow” sprinkling down after the fireworks in sudsy flakes. And even without the time warp, you’re so immersed the D world, you can’t really tell where you are. There’s a moment, riding the tram from Tomorrowland back to Downtown Disney, where you pull behind all the warehouses and service entries and the backs of Disneyland, and see a strip of Anaheim: hotels, restaurants, streets. And you think, “What? There’s got to be some mistake; where am I?”
I know there are doubters, and I have no desire to convert any of you to the way of the Mouse. But for those of us enchanted by it, there’s a real grief at stepping back into the real world. For just a bit, everything is about a fun, beautiful, interesting experience. Everyone wishes you a happy birthday (if you wear your birthday button), and engages the kids with chat and entertainment. I remember vividly as a 7-year-old seeing that there’s a whole other way to see things, having to do with design, engineering, entertainment, and yes, magic.
So the kids are recovered, better for their meltdowns and back at school. I had a good cry, and feel better too. It’s wonderful to go find these magic places: summer camp, amusement parks, nature. And hopefully we can bring some of that joy and enchantment back with us.