Spoiler: If you are planning to go to Disneyland anytime between now and Halloween, this may be a spoiler. Further, I am taking Disney down a notch here. Don’t read this post, if you don’t want to have your World of Magic sullied a little. Just call me Grumpy.
This past week I flew to California to visit my 20 year old son, Middle Man, and bring his dog Gracie home (Read previous post, The Things We Do For Love). He couldn’t keep her in the dorms; I agreed to come get her. There are plenty of folks who will think it odd that I would fly down to get a dog, and I know that not everyone can do it. I appreciate that I am lucky to have the option. A visit with my boy was icing; and I like icing on the cake I have, and get to eat too. I flew down early Wednesday and was returning Saturday. Middle Man had classes Wednesday and Thursday, and one evening with his dorm was already planned, so we agreed that we’d have dinner alone on Wednesday; I’d take him and a group of friends out for dinner on Friday, to meet his friends and hang out with them; and, we’d spend all of Friday together, as he had no classes that day. I don’t just want to hang out on campus all day though, I told him. “Me either,” he agreed. You want to go to Disney Land? I asked, thinking he’d nix the idea. “I was thinking the same thing!” He answered. Oh, my Mom heart skipped a beat.
<– This image of the Disney World castle doesn’t even show how big it is. This was taken from a distance.
We don’t go to Disney much anymore. Our kids are nearly grown. We went last spring, when we had two exchange students living with us, and who wouldn’t take exchange students to see Disney? It’s just so American. My husband, Smart Guy, doesn’t like Disney, however. He doesn’t like Disney World, which we’ve visited countless times over the years; and he has no desire to visit Disney Land. Smart Guy doesn’t like Disney. Period. (I know; right?) I love Disney! I especially adore the world that Disney creates in their parks. I appreciate that for a few hours it seems like big Goofy dogs are real, and a Mouse is a rock star. I love it all. All of that flies directly in the face of my usual, snarky, sarcastic, somewhat cynical self; and I love Disney for that as well. L-O-V-E Disney.
So when Middle Man said yes, I was thrilled. How often do you get a day alone with your nearly grown children? And how often do you get to spend it at Disney Land? This was a first for me. I was
practically giddy. I had only been to Disney Land once, when I was five and a half. We lived in northern California in 1968, and my little sister had just been born. The delivery hadn’t gone well, leaving my mother very sick. My three year old brother stayed with our (paternal) grandparents and my Mom’s mother, my grandmother, flew out from Boston with my aunt (only five years older than me) to help. Grandma took both my aunt and I to Disney Land. It was the thrill of a lifetime for my five year old self! I still remember that trip clearly, and was excited to see it all again.
They say you can’t go back, and in this case that turned out to be very true. I had built up Disney Land in my mind. Built it way up. Big up. Having visited Disney World many times, I figured they’d be very similar, and I’d also have all kinds of wonderful little kid memories of my previous visit, so long ago. Only part two was true. The very first thing that struck both Middle Man and I was how very teeny, tiny the Land is, versus the World. They look a lot alike, many of the same attractions and rides, but Disney Land is shrunk way down in size… way down! We entered the gates, and I took Middle Man’s hand and swung our arms in excitement! Remember when you were little? This will be so much fun! I crowed. He grinned his nearly man grin, but I saw a sparkle in his eyes. He was excited too. As we headed down Main Street Disney; everything looked the same. Then, we saw the castle. The teeny, tiny, that-can’t-be-the-castle-Castle! I guessed it was about 1/3 of the size of the castle in Disney World, maybe smaller? Neither of us could believe it! I felt the air go out of my Disney balloon instantly. Pfssst. What! Is this really it? I moaned. “I can’t believe it! It’s so… small.” Middle Man stared incredulously. We took a picture, to show everyone how small it was, not because I actually believed Tinker Bell, or Sleeping Beauty, or any Disney character would choose to live in it. They all live in the Disney World Castle, I can assure you.
The rest of the park was the same way. Small. I had been too scared to go on the Matterhorn when I was a kid, so I pulled Middle Man along and insisted that we do that first! It looked big, and I was going to overcome my fears, 40+ years later. It was a baby ride! Seriously. I suppose it feels like what an actual bobsled might feel like, but slower and smaller. Fear in check. The park was entirely decked out for Halloween and that was fun. Space Mountain, my favorite ride and seemingly a bit more thrilling at Land versus World, had all kinds of ghouls and images to scare you, instead of the usual space lights and scenes, in honor of Halloween. We found a glitch in the Fast Pass system and rode back to back. It was the biggest thrill of the day, and Middle Man and I laughed like giddy kids, as we bypassed the 50 minute line. We whooped and screamed, with our hands in the air on both rides. Disney Magic.
Walking from one end of the park to the other at Disney Land is not the schlep it is at Disney World. It can take a long time to cross the World, but it’s a quick jaunt in the Land. Teeny. Tiny. There were pumpkins everywhere, and lots of kids and adults dressed in costumes, especially near the end of the day. The park was closing early for a Halloween party, and the costumes kicked Disney butt. I saw one R rated Disney costume (I know, right?), but most were really fantastic efforts to be all Magical World again. Being there at Halloween time was definitely a bonus!
We ate lots of bad food (but the best chocolate-covered, frozen banana ever!); we rode every ride we could, and just when we were leaving, the Magic happened. Mickey Mouse! Minnie! I shrieked, five and half again. Right there, in front of us. Both of them, greeting the crowd and shaking hands (“No autographs please”). Look! It’s Micky! I’m pretty sure I actually jumped up and down. Middle Man snapped a couple of pictures to post to Facebook, and we both left grinning ear to ear. I can’t fight it; I’m a Disney girl at heart. I love the clean, colorful, plastic, perfect world that these parks create. I love that Magic seems real when I’m there. This was a bit disappointing because I’ve come to like that Magic on a grander, bigger scale. Nonetheless, it was a fun day with my boy, and I’m glad we went; but from now on I won’t settle for less than the World! (Here’s the real Magic: M-I-C-K-E-Y! And some Costumed party goers, not employees.)
(For the record, I checked: Disney World castle is 189 ft tall, Disney Land is 77 ft tall- Not to mention the other dimensions!)
Have you been to Disney Land or Disney World? Both? What did you think? Is this a place that makes you sing happy little songs, or cringe? Share your thoughts!
Hi ho, hi ho! Take a minute! Think of it as the dollar (quarter) you throw in the hat, when someone does tricks/sings/makes balloon hats at the Farmer’s Market/street/fair, etc. If you liked this post, then click on the title. When it opens in its own window, go ahead and hit Like, at the bottom. Leave a comment. Tell me what you liked, and what you didn’t. Share your thoughts, then Share this post. There’s a button for that too. And if you find that what I write makes you laugh, or makes you think, or makes you cry, or makes you hungry, just do us both a favor and Subscribe. That button is up at the top of my posts, on the right. I promise you won’t get ads or coupons or spam sent to you, just my posts… which might have ads, or coupons or spam, but it will be mine. Check out the Tales From the Motherland Facebook page and hit Like there too. You can find all of my posts there, and a few treats in between. This concludes the brazenly self-promoting portion of this post.