Disneyland is a conglomeration, if you haven’t been there, of several campuses. There’s the Disneyland portion, there’s California Adventure, there are the resorts and hotels, there is the pedestrian mall of Downtown Disney, and acres and acres of support spaces. Once you arrive on Disney property it feels like coming into Vatican City when you’re in Rome—from one country to another small and very special country.
Child Harbat and I arrived in the morning, flush from a long walk in the warm summer air. We worked our way through Main Street, USA, which puts you in mind not so much of a town but a movie set. Storefronts are caricatures of quaint middle America shops from the late 19th century. Horse-drawn wagons and antique cars wend down the street at a walking pace, flowers overflow from hanging planters, and you can’t really believe you’re actually in Disneyland. The magic continues when you circle around a plaza crowned by a statue of Walt himself and come to the moat of the castle. THE castle. Child Harbat had to stop and admire the ducks and turtles before crossing into the castle itself, such was the excitement.
I should point out that I’m not a Disney-head. I don’t like musicals, roll my eyes at costumed college kids with phony Olde English accents, and don’t go in for main street parades with pseudo-spontaneous dancing. But there’s something about Disneyland that really is different from every other place. You wait in line to see Minnie Mouse at her cottage, baking in the sun while admiring the perfectly-tended garden. You think you’ll do a quick photo-op for the kid then dash through the house and look for a place to sit down. You think it’ll be fake feeling. Then you meet her, your daughter gives her a hug, you give her a high five and you think, “Cool! I just met Minnie Mouse!”
We screamed together on a roller coaster, finished up a ride just to get back in line to do it again, had ice cream and cotton candy, flew over the crowds on a giant swing, and visited Ariel’s undersea adventure three times, eliciting knowing smiles from the staff. Even riding the carousel reminded me why getting a smile for a picture is my kind of fun.
Tomorrow we finish up at Disney and learn why Pirates of the Caribbean might be the best ride ever.