This summer is shaping up to include more traveling in three months than I’ve done in the last year. In addition to my long-planned epic Western roadtrip, a sudden opportunity arrived to glom on to one of Andy’s business trips and fulfill a long-standing bucketlist item: visit Iceland. So why not make it a trifecta? And if you are in California, where is the happiest place on earth? It’s Disneyland, set to pull out all the stops for its Diamond Jubilee Sixtieth birthday.
I’m rounding up the usual suspects from last year’s visit. Call it Thelma and Louise and Amelia May. As we did last time, we are pulling out all the stops and staying at the Disneyland Hotel. And we’ll pay any reservation or FASTPASS fee or anything else Uncle Walt wants to throw at us to guarantee as much face-time as possible with PRINCESSES and FAIRIES. Go big or don’t go to see the Mouse.
Here’s my rationale. I remember my first visit to Disneyland. I was ten or 11, my brother was 8 or 9. We thought it was the coolest amusement park ever, we loved the rides, but we knew when Goofy walked up, that it was a guy in a suit who was a park employee. It was a blast, but there was no magic.
Amelia is still solidly in the Princesses and Fairies are REAL state of mind. When we took her to Pixie Hollow, she really thought she was meeting Tinkerbell. As we greeted every Princess, she chatted with them like they were old friends. After a long day when we visited Ariel at the Princess lunch, we saw her in the Soundtastic Parade. She waved right at Amelia May. Well of course, they’d just had lunch together. Amelia and Ariel, BESTIES! As we were waiting in the Disneyland Hotel for the bus back to the airport, Goofy dropped by and Amelia offered him a sip of her drink because it was hot out.
Some day, and I hope it’s later rather than sooner, she’s going to finally believe those horrible little spoilsports who say Disneyland is just filled with employees dressed in costumes. And just like that, Disneyland will just be a cool amusement park. The Magic Hour will be over.
That’s why staying anywhere other than the Disneyland Hotel was not even considered. Not even for a nanosecond. Maybe if she goes back when she’s older, she can stay outside the park and take a bus in. For now, we need to be able to walk out of the hotel and get right to the Princesses. We need a hotel where Goofy and Mickey might stroll into the lobby at any moment. We need to be covered in Pixie Dust at every moment and at all times.
Amazingly, the same logic holds for Godmothers who are slightly older than Six. I can’t be out in Anaheim somewhere, worrying about the logistics of getting the shuttle into the park. We’re staying in the Club level where drinks, snacks, meals and a helpful concierge are available in the lounge at all time. I need to be able to walk to the park, decide we’ve had enough after two hours, stroll back to the pool, then head back to the park for more rides and the parades. Best of all, at the Club level, the major fireworks shows are visible from the comfort of the lounge with the music soundtrack piped in. Given that summer fireworks are going to start around 9:30 PM, bringing a Six year old down two elevator flights in her jammies sure beats missing the fireworks or hauling a Kindergartener back on another bus to catch the late evening festivities. Actually, that might work for me, too. I remember being ready for bed by 8PM after a full day of Princess and Fairies.
There are ways to go to Disneyland on the cheap. Amelia May can do that, like I did at age 20, when a group of friends and I crashed at a friend’s USC dorm room, took public transportation, brought our own lunches, lined up forever for discount tickets and did the whole thing with a strong sense of college student irony.
When you are Six or you are my age, you go big or you don’t go to see the Mouse.