Thursday, June 26, 2008
Last week we found ourselves in Southern California on a whirlwind trip to visit friends and relatives (we stem from the land of excessively skinny and overly tan - or as the natives call it Huntington Beach). With my son’s twelfth birthday approaching we decided to squeeze Disneyland into our plans. Our three had never been to the park and I was dreaming of a magical adventure that would profoundly affect the children for the rest of their lives.
And yes, I do watch too much television. But I also grew up going to Disneyland and have fond memories of the park. In my mind Disney is the quintessential childhood experience: lines to be sure but characters and rides and bigger than life lollypops and mouse ears and adventure and oh so much fun.
But Disneyland during a heat wave on the first weekend after school gets out? Not so much fun. Not so much at all.
We started on a small ride - Snow White’s Adventure something. I’m rethinking the whole fairy tale concept. I know Grimm’s tales are, well, grim. And growing up Disney I know they follow the same grim model; mother dies, evil befalls and then, finally, happily ever after.
However this ride did not do a good job of demonstrating the happily ever after and the baby, at 4 1/2, left terrified bawling about witches and monsters. The older kids, being so much more worldly, exited bored to tears. (Insert eye roll, a few this is stupid and a few what a baby remarks between the older set).
Okay - on to something a bit more benign but no more mature - flying Dumbos. The line took forty-five minutes (longer than the ten claimed by the sign out front). It was 95 degrees outside. We would have passed out from heat stroke had my husband and son opted out and gone for sodas. I was ready to strangle the morons who were on this ride without children. What were they thinking? This is about the kids damnit! The kids!
Finally it was our turn. The girls and I piled into the ride and they loved it. But the ride was short and the baby had a melt down when told we could not stay in our seats for another turn.
Next? Tea cups! They had a blissfully short line in the shade to boot. The kids and I whirled and twirled while the hubbie took photos. By this time the baby seemed to understand that rides had to be exited at completion - i.e. no tears. Hip hip hooray! Things were picking up!
We were feeling good. We were feeling brave. We took on the Matterhorn. The baby was tall enough to ride and got to sit snuggled in Daddy’s lap. It was dark, it was cool, it was fast. The boy loved it. Finally - something for him. The girls - hated it, completely and totally hated it. Yes, yes things were going swimmingly.
We bypassed the 1 1/2 hour wait for Nemo and moved on to Space Mountain but there was no way no how the girls were going on that. Not after what we did to them on the Matterhorn. So the girls and I left the boys and went back to the carousel. Yippy skippy!
We were hot. We were tired. We were crabby. We did not enjoy the hot, tired and crabby attendant at the carousel. Aren’t these people paid to smile?
After the carousel bribes were definitely in order - a set of lovely princess/mouse ear headbands. At least the woman in the air-conditioned shop was Disney friendly.
After meeting the boys we decided we were done. We wanted, no we needed to go back to the beach. Middle daughter had a complete breakdown not because we were leaving but because she had four dollars not yet spent.
So like all good parents of children having tantrums we took her to a candy shop, took her picture, generally teased her with threats of internet fame then bought her four dollars of candy. She made an exceptionally good purchase - a large jaw breaker which she is still working on nearly a week later. Her dentist will thank me for the additional revenue. She was once again happy. Whoo (insert wiping of the brow).
Rejuvenated we braved one final ride - the Pirates of the Carribean. The big kids and I went while daddy sat out with terrified baby. She wanted nothing to do with pirates. The ride was lovely and cool and wet and totally redone since I last rode it twenty-five years ago.
Then we left. Entrance to Disneyland $310.00, Mouse Ears, beverages and candy $60.00, four hours in the Southern California heat in the name of family fun - priceless.
The moral of this tale? Go to Disneyland on a Wednesday in February. Trust me.