by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor
Today my friend Diana asked me if I wanted to go to Disneyland this weekend. “Yeah, NO.” Many of my friends including Diana are big Disney fanatics; several of them own season passes and think nothing of simply going for the afternoon. I am not one of those people; I have my reasons. When the twins were first born, in an effort to show Elby that she is still king of the castle figuratively and literally, her daddy and I decided to take her to the magical place where dreams and wishes come true - Disneyland. But when we got there we were dismayed to find out that admission for a three-year-old was sixty bucks! So obviously we immediately taught our daughter the fine art of lying about her age. Elby, you are two years old.”
"No, I'm three!"
"Not today you're not! Let me see your game face!" Apparently the second you turn three, Disneyland thinks you're going to be having sixty bucks worth of fun but until then, you're still the equivalent of a carry-on bag.
Our scheme kind of reminded me of when I was sixteen and trying to get into bars with a welfare ID given to me by a coworker at Burger King. I always felt a little nervous that I wouldn't pass for Dawn, twenty-six year old single mother of two on the dole. But it worked nine times out of ten. Ah, memories.
The entrance to Mouseville went down smoothly; no one even questioned her age. So once inside the park we were sixty bucks richer, in great moods, ready to show our big girl the time of her life. We headed immediately to the Princess Pavilion. Problem one: the line to have a short meet and greet with the Princesses (and I use that term loosely because is Pocahontas officially royalty or does she just wear a cute dress?) was over an hour long –which is like four days to a three-year-old. But we waited because she desperately wanted to meet Ariel, her bar-none favorite princess. The other princesses are okay in her book but Ariel is the sweet spot. Finally, after a good half hour, I let Jon hold our place in the winding line and I went to investigate just what was in store for us after our interminable wait. Turns out, Ariel is not even in the Princess Pavilion; she resides in her own personal cove on the other side of the Matterhorn. So we grabbed Elby and dragged her meet her muse. Another thirty minutes later, Elby got her ninety seconds of face time with Ariel, who was sweet in the way a celebrity might be if you approached them at dinner at a restaurant, said you enjoyed their work and asked them to sign your napkin. But we still got our picture.
Is it just my imagination or did Disneyland used to be totally different when I was a kid? Characters would be trolling around the park on a constant basis. You couldn't walk five feet without slamming into a Goofy or Eeyore. The Princesses were friendly in the days of yore and would walk right up to you and eat out of your hand. Now everything is just for the photo op. You have to wait in a long line to meet every character.
The longest line was to meet the Godfather of mice, Mickey. We had to wind all around Mickey's fun house and watch old Mickey Mouse black and white cartoon movies (which for me is the equivalent of sitting through a Three Stooges marathon) and after about fifty minutes, Elby got to shyly kneel at the at the big mouse's feet and pay her respects. Get this, the bastard doesn't even talk. He's like an over sized mime. Was that from like silent movie Mickey days? I don't get it. And why do they have only one of every character? We didn't get to meet Buzz Lightyear because "he was going on break!" Would kill them to have another guy in a Buzz Lightyear costume run around yelling "To infinity and beyond"? The whole thing is that they try to get you to buy photo cards so that they take your photo and then you buy it online. As if everyone and their cat doesn't have a quality camera at this point.
The highlight of our trip was the Teacups ride. But, just a tip: this ride exists at my local mall. Elby likes it just as much there and it’s two bucks. Then we went on Alice in Wonderland which scared the crap out of her. We had to promise her a hundred times on the way home that she wouldn't have to go under any "tunnels where people do silly things and it's very loud” ever again. and And then we were off for a mellow face painting which is another thing that can be accomplished without driving all the way to Disneyland. Last but not least, we headed back to the princess pavilion where Elbs got her face painted which totally made her day. Then we spend a hundred dollars on a couple of chicken sandwiches and headed home.
I know I sound cynical. And I am. Disneyland is not like I remember in my childish haze when it was free (because my parents paid my way in) But, then again, seeing her crashed out contentedly in her car seat on the way home with her pink mouse ears perched crookedly on her sweet head made me realize that we will definitely be doing it again –like when she’s at least six and can appreciate it! Unfortunately we won’t be able to make her lie about her age anymore.