So I’ve never been to Disneyland. Or Disneyworld.
We just never went when I was younger. We had our own little theme park in our neck of the woods of eastern Washington, and that was perfectly alright with us. My brother and I would get free tickets in the summer if we read the right number of books, however, tickets at Silverwood used to be only around $30 per person anyway. And as it was a four-hour drive, it was definitely more of a commitment than a day trip, but far less of one than Disneyland.
Which is why I’ve never been to Disneyland. We just never had a reason to visit Southern California. Plus, tickets were so expensive. My parents talked about it, but by the time it was actually feasible, my brother and I were in our teens, and we had sports camps and classes in the summer. There was just no time to go. So we didn’t.
But today, I’m going to Disneyland for the first time. At age 25. I can’t say I’m as excited as I’d be if I were 5, 10, or even 15. But I’m still mildly enthused. I’m curious to see if Disneyland is still at all magical to someone who has no nostalgic memories of going as a kid, and no child to bring with in order to bask in their wonderment.
I mean, as a kid, it was easy to forget about the lines and wait times until you were actually in them, and about how long the drive was, and how much walking and standing there’d be. As an adult, that’s pretty much all I can think about.
“We’ll have to get up early and leave by 7 a.m. to beat the traffic.”
“I’ll have to wear comfortable shoes so standing in line isn’t as bad.”
“We should probably bring snacks because park food is so expensive.”
Waking up would be no problem at age 5 or 10. In the single-digit ages, I’d almost surely spring out of bed, like it was Christmas morning — that is, if I’d ever actually fallen asleep in the first place. The excitement might have been too much. But it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Long car rides are like Ambien for children.
The combination of constant motion and boredom in a car still has the power to knock me out under the right circumstances. At 15, it would have been more of a dragging out of bed instead of a spring. Waking up is not something I’m too worried about now – I can wake up at 6 a.m. to go to the gym; clearly that fun factor is far below Disneyland’s.
Shoes, now too, are a serious consideration. At age 5, I’d probably opt to wear some light-up sneakers, no matter the comfort level. At 10, maybe some jelly sandals, just the same as all my friends wore, and at 15, probably some flip flops, worn with total disregard for anything my parents told me (“Those aren’t smart shoes,” – Dad), because ugh, sock tan lines are the worst when you’re 15.
I’ll probably opt for Teva sandals now at 25, because comfort is important, tan lines are not, and I’d rather not walk around in soggy shoes if we encounter a water ride (do they even have those?)
And food? Ha! Like I’d even remember to eat at 5 or 10…until I started to crash mid-afternoon, my tiny, grumpy self sending a clear signal to my parents that energy was running low, despite my insistence that we embark on yet another ride. My parents would have thought this one out, and had some Cheez-Its or pretzels in that giant, five-pound bag from Costco on hand. But of course, I wouldn’t have settled for that. We’re in Disneyland! Only Disneyland food would have been good enough to quench my 5-year-old hunger.
By the time you read this column, I’m probably standing in line, right now, in awe at a $15 basket of French fries, while contemplating an $18 salad over a $20 sandwich. Kid Me wouldn’t have trouble with this. Salad would have been ruled out immediately, and those numbers next to the cheeseburger would have seemed so small to me – I’d be more concerned about whether or not it came with pickles and onions, and if so, is there any way it could NOT come with those?
No wonder we never went to Disneyland.