As I mentioned, I’m taking my goddaughter Amelia May for her first visit to Disneyland. But it will be a very different experience from my first visit. My wonderful father was a West Point officer in every fiber of his being. And going to Disneyland was no exception. My brother and I since have referred to that trip as “The Assault on Disney”, which my father planned with a military precision that would have shamed General Patton. Using his ordinance map, my father divided Disneyland into quadrants. Troop movements would be in a clockwise progression, moving from quadrant to quadrant. My brother and I were each allowed to pick one ride apiece in each quadrant but that ride would have to be designated and worked into the battle plan the night before. When the two rides were done, it was on to the next quadrant. Each day would begin in the next succeeding quadrant and we would continue in that clockwise movement, eventually revisiting quadrants and picking up rides that we’d missed. All troops were to eat a good breakfast at the crack of dawn because we would be at the gates of Disneyland precisely half an hour before the gates opened and subsequent necessary liquid refreshments and snacks would be grabbed on the run as we moved purposefully from quadrant to quadrant. I think the Dole Pineapple smoothie that you could get at the old Tiki Room theater was the only Disney food I ate sitting down. It was a surprisingly effective plan and I have no complaints. But my brother and I were at least 7 years older than Amelia May. You can’t apply military tactics to moving a five year old.
Which is not to say we don’t have an agenda. We do. It’s all about Fairies and Princesses. There are a few things we didn’t want to miss. We wanted to get in a parade. Since Amelia’s mom, Susi, and I visited Disneyland as kids, we wanted to hit some Old Skool favorites like the Tea Cups and the Tiki Room. But most of all, we needed a certain quota of Princesses and Fairies. But we also wanted this to be a fun experience for her and not something where she was rushed around and couldn’t process what was happening. That’s why our first day, just afternoon really, was a “soft entry”. We’d do the pool, stroll through Downtown Disney and just wrap our heads around being in The Magic Kingdom.
I don’t think any of us slept at all that first night. So getting up and out to the gates for early entry Magic Hour was not a problem. We never stopped moving until ten at night. And following our Fairy/Princess agenda, we had a game plan. No Matterhorn or Tom Sawyer’s Island for us. We headed straight to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Unfortunately, once we started walking up the dark steps, Amelia got very concerned that the Wicked Witch would jump out at us. So we backed down the stairs and raced over to the Peter Pan ride. Tinkerbell lives there and we knew we could handle any pirates and crocodiles ourselves. Then a gallop on King Arthur’s Carousel and a quick spin in the tea cups at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, where Amelia was surprisingly aggressive about spinning as fast as possible and I had to hold on to my breakfast. Luckily, I didn’t become the first vomiter of the day. That was a little boy in line for Storybookland. I mention this because it was just amazing how quickly the Disney HazMat Unit mobilized to clean it up. Hats off, Uncle Walt!
Another highlight of Storybookland was meeting a very nice family from San Antonio. The little eight year old boy explained to us which rides were “so scary you will pee”. Thanks to John Henry, we now knew which ones to avoid.
Besides, we had no time for Space Mountain. We had Fairies to meet. So we got ourselves off to Pixie Hollow, where there are so many Fairy statues and fountains and little Fairy dioramas to look at while you wait in line that you don’t even realize you aren’t at the attraction yet. But the best part is that we never explained to Amelia May what Pixie Hollow was all about. She thought it was a ride until we got up very close and could see between the three story flower stalks.
I’m afraid at this point, the top of someone’s head just came off and we had to go back to the pool just to calm down from all the excitement.
Now maybe this is where we took a bridge too far. But then Mommy and I did have a few rum drinks delivered to our poolside chairs. We decided to go back to the park to catch Mickey’s Soundtastic Parade. But once we were there, we couldn’t resist catching a few great Old Skool rides.
After a quick flight into space on the Astro-Orbiter, we settled in for Mickey’s Soundtastic Parade. Luckily the heat had driven most of the crowds out of the park. Reports were that attendance was only up to 67%. And for future reference, the floats are so large that even if you don’t get front row standing room, you can still see everything.
Then follows float after float representing all your favorites. Each section features a float — with all the key characters up high where you can see them — preceded and followed by appropriately dressed dancing troops. So Aladdin’s float had dancing harem girls in front and dancing genies following. Peter Pan had dancing pirates in the front and dancing Indians following.
And that was so much excitement and so many things checked off our bucket list in just one day that we just couldn’t even process. We got back to the hotel so tired we could only have one rendition of “Let It Go” from Frozen.