Yesterday, I took my almost 4-year old toddler to Disneyland. First, I rounded up extended family for the pilgrimage from Hawaii to Anaheim, California. After all, experiences are hardly worth much unless they are shared, right? This is hardly a revelation. Any day of the week and all-year round, countless little toddlers with extended family are found at Disneyland with exactly the same bright idea as mine.
In fact, my parents had the same wonderful idea some (oh-my-goodness) thirty years ago when I was a five-year old. I can’t say I remember a whole lot from that trip, just random snapshots like one scene on the ‘It’s a small world’ boat ride, along with the tune (conveniently played over and over for toddlers to learn the words). The other things I recall has nothing to do with Disneyland: sitting in the van with my grandpa in the parking lot, a fight between my aunty and her then boyfriend back at the motel, chocolate chip pancakes at IHOP. Fast forward some (oh-my-goodness am I really that old) thirty years, the pilgrimage is fully evolved.
Gone is the motel. In its place is Worldmark, a timeshare condo complete with a fully equipped kitchen, living & dining room, a washer and dryer in the unit, and even a view of the Disneyland fireworks. Gone is the time of sticking together as a group at all times. In its place is splitting up as necessary and meeting up via texting and cell phone calls. Gone is standing in long lines with no other choice. In its place are ‘fast pass’ options and real-time wait times on smart phone apps. You get the idea.
Still there are countless things about the Disneyland California adventure that remains the same. While the crowds of strollers, the expensive $12 balloons & $20 lunches, and the general feeling of sensory overload, like being in Vegas or like eating too much cotton candy, the dream of a place for families to enjoy themselves remains very much alive. My favorite part is walking around a delightfully colorful town with roses and cabbage patches and a place where there are no cars, only mass transit.
It’s not just a park for Californians. It’s a land of whimsy and delight and fantasy and an American rite of passage, whether you are little or old. It’s a place to feel inspired by the American dream.
To think Mr. Walt Disney had to envision and build the place first before the hordes ever set foot. It all began while sitting on a bench in Griffith Park on a Saturday where he thought he could sure use an amusing place to bring his kids. A visit to Disneyland really does encourage the notion that anything is possible and that with some determination dreams really do come true.
If you can dream it, you can do it.