Having recently returned from a trip there with my wife and 4-year old daughter, I can now take you on this imaginary ride of things recently experienced or witnessed.
Please keep your hands and feet inside the moving vehicle at all times and secure all loose items.
Optimism – The look on every parents’ face as they stand fresh and ready to fully deliver on their promise to bring their kids to the happiest place on earth.
Excitement – The announcement has been made and the gates are open. Grownups become kids again while kids quickly realize that this entire world has been created for them.
Thrill – While some kids literally squeal, others (mine included) stand slack-jawed staring at an actual castle. It’s an emotional overload.
Euphoria – Never mind the giant Olaf-shaped candy apple your child has inhaled. A simple sugar rush could never touch the part of her endorphin-releasing brain as strongly as meeting Elsa and Anna from “Frozen”. Achievement unlocked: Parent of the Year.
Anxiety – She wants to go on a ride but you’re unsure. Will she even like the ride? Will she be scared? It’s a crap shoot. Roll the dice and hope that it pays off in smiles versus tears. Hint: Start with teacups and carousels and work your way up to “flying” an elephant on the Dumbo ride.
Denial – It can’t be. You’ve waited longer in this line than what you would expect the wait at a DMV in Hell to be. It can’t be – there’s only one Anna and Elsa? Shouldn’t there be an assembly line of these characters tucked away? Stupid Disney’s infamous “rule of one” can’t be that important. It can’t be – Ariel’s Grotto ride is closed?
Fear – Two types.
First, the fear that your child will have a meltdown like the random implosions you’re sporadically witnessing. Having to discipline your child is one thing but having to do it at Disneyland is another. There is no “time out” ride.
Second, the awesome feeling of fear as the bottom falls out at the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. So good, you ride it twice.
Depression – No fireworks? #sadface We can’t stay here forever? #sadderface
Panic – Where are the park hopper passes? I had them right here. Where is our stroller? We left it right here. Where is our child?!? The look on the faces of some of the parents outside of Guest Services look like something from a Stephen King story.
Capitulation – Yes, I know that I can buy Disney gear at Target for half the price… What the heck, Daddy needs a new hoodie, too.
Desperation – Where can I find a Queen Elsa dress? Sold out?! Noooooo. (I heard this more than once but every time I went to a store I seemed to have no trouble finding the gear) #mystery
Hope – I hope the wait for Elsa and Anna will be worth it (It was). I hope all the princesses pay special attention to my daughter (They did). I hope we can go on some grown up rides, too. (Front seat of the California Screamin’!)
Relief – We are blessed. Perfect weather. Quality time for sister, daughter, and wife. No meltdowns and the checklist of “really wants” is fully checked.
Optimism – Two types.
First, that she’ll go to bed without a fuss. It’s not like she just had the best day of her life and doesn’t want it to end. #icantshutmyeyes.
Second, we have a two-day pass. Who knows what magic tomorrow may bring…time to wish upon a star.
Four and a half hours.
I’ve never waited for any event for that amount of time but that’s what we were told when we got in the line to meet Elsa and Anna from “Frozen.” (Never mind the fact that I was first in line when the gates opened and “speed walked” my way directly to the attraction.) I guess those with the “magic hour” pass to get them into the park an hour early decided to spend it standing in line as well.
The wait was a team effort between my sister (who carried most of the load), wife, and myself. While one or more of us waited, the others would hit the rest of the park with Grace.
It became an even more communal effort as parents went on coffee runs for each other, watched each other’s kids so they could go grab lunch or hit the restroom, and shared games. In retrospect, I could have finished a good book if I’d thought ahead. Instead, I met June and Angie standing next to me in line and figured by the time we got to see the characters, they would be on my Christmas card list… or it would actually be Christmas.
Click…Clack…Click…Clack. Imagine the feeling of climbing that first big coaster hill. This is the anticipation you have when you are finally next in line to be called.
There they are! The “real” Queen Elsa and her quirky sister. Give Disney credit. Once you are in their presence, you aren’t rushed out the door. Grace played hide and seek with Elsa looking for Anna, they answered her questions, let her touch the snowflakes in her hair, allowed us to take as many pictures and videos as we wanted, and even let us sing a song.
Weeks later it is the first thing she talks about when anyone asks her about the trip, so for us, the “ride” was worth the wait.