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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Why I love Disneyland...

In a few days our family will visit "The Happiest Place on Earth" courtesy of a Jet Blue Vacation Package.  I always feel so giddy about getting to visit no matter how many times I have been there.  The kids are "over the moon" excited to go.  I think the anticipation is one of the best parts.  Talking over dinner and sharing about our favorite rides, treats and places to eat is a fun way to look forward to the "adventure".  They are especially excited to see Aunt Katie and Uncle D's dog Kehei!  This is a MUST do this trip!

I also think it reminds me of growing up, of the protection of my family and how happy our childhood was.  Disneyland also reminds me of my dad.  Sometimes just standing in spot where he once stood, gives me a peace and allows me to feel close. 

So in honor of our upcoming trip...I wanted to *re post* one of my favorite blog posts about Disneyland (with updated pictures).

For me Disneyland will never lose it sense of awe and wonder. It will always evoke deep emotion when driving down Harbor Blvd., where the huge Disneyland Sign use to be for the first time of a trip. I will never lose the urge to jump up and down when I am eagerly awaiting my first entrance into the park.
It is forever a "magical world" that is apart of the make-up of who I am. When I go to Disneyland, it is like going home to some extent. I can remember my earliest of trips made to Walt's Kingdom in the great "green van". Us cousins (and parents of course) would get up early and drive from my grandparents home in Lancaster, California. I recall all the sprinkled donuts and tiny boxes of milk with striped straws (except for Ryan who did not like milk. It was juice for him) that would magically appear an hour or so into the trip. The moms would have us start looking for the top of Matterhorn Mountain long before I am certain it should have been there, in an attempt to control the mass kayos in the last two rows of the van. We would spend the day riding the attractions and of course eating. You think my favorite restaurant would be the Blue Bayou, but for me it will always be the "Mexican Place." We would eat our tacos and beans and rice, while watching train after train make the turn back into the station. Then of course we would always ride it after eating our meal.
Based on the year, I can recall the way in which we "attacked" the park. First.... Star Tours was the "it" ride. We would wait for hours to ride the simulator attraction. This was the best because growing up each of us cousins had our assigned "Star Wars Role". I, of course, being the oldest was Princess Leia. My cousin Bobby was always Luke Skywalker and David was Darth Vader, no surprise there. Although he always said he was "Dark Vader". I have to admit, it wasn't until Phantom Menace came out that I realized all those years it was "Darth" and not "Dark". He he. My cousin Sarah being another girl, I had to make up a role for her because there weren't any cool girl characters. So I assigned her the role of "Princess Leia's little sister." In my recollection Ryan's role would change from time to time. He might be Chewbacca one day and Han Solo the next. Ryan loved to build things and was very logical. I think he enjoyed his trucks and trains more than our silly pretend games. Oh the good ole days.(Grace on Pirates...Daddy on one side, Uncle D on the other)

Then... when Splash Mountain debuted, it was all about the log flume ride. That put Star Tours on the back burner because then we were on the other side of the park. I will never, ever, ever, forget RUNNING to Splash Mountain the first trip we made when it was open. I couldn't believe we were running through Disneyland, but what was even more amazing was that we loaded nine people (yes NINE people) into one log.

OK, to tell the story correctly, we have to back up to before we actually entered the ride. My POOR brother. He wasn't so brave back in the day. He did NOT want to go on the ride. Truth be told he was horrified. So... we had just huffed it on over from the entrance of the park to Critter Country, and were almost to the boarding area. Poor  David was deathly afraid. He started clinging onto every rung of the side rails that led the line to the log. My dad was pulling him off one rail and he would immediately lock onto the next. I am sure CPS would not have approved. And it wasn't that he was just clinging on for dear life, he was screaming in high pitched shrill sounding cries! The cast members must of felt sorry for David and offered to watch him while the family rode. NOPE. David was riding and gosh darn it, he was going to like it. I am sure my dad made some statement, and then bribed him to go on the ride. As I recall my brother made $20 dollars when my dad decided it was time for David to experience an upside down roller coaster. (That is another story). Anyway back to the NINE of us in the log. We sat... Sarah, Ryan, Me, Bobby, David, My dad, My mom, Aunt Mary, Uncle Bobby. The log barley floated. I took on most of the water since Sarah ducked under the log and Ryan was so little. It was great. (I just want to take a moment to mention Disney doesn't allow running through the park anymore, and the logs have been updated so that 9 people, not matter how small, are never allowed). Again, the good ole days.

When I think of Disneyland I also think of my dad. It was the last place he took me on vacation. In the early years of our marriage, Mark worked so much and for weeks at a time. So in spring 2000, a year before they opened California Adventure, the four of us (dad, mom, David and myself) went on a cruise and stopped at Disney for a couple of days. We climbed up the ladders to look at the construction of the new California Adventure. My dad was very excited to visit the new park, but he never made it. I did show him pictures of our trip in 2001. I have a picture of my dad and I sitting by each other at the Mexican restaurant. And a sweet picture of my mom and dad on the Tea Cups with Matterhorn Mountain in the background. My dad and I would love to ride Thunder Mountain and Space Mountain. WE loved those rides. He loved the Haunted Mansion because at one point the "doom buggy" you are riding will turns backward and drops you. He always said it popped his back. Then for weeks after going to Disneyland he would talk in his version of "Pirate Talk". He would do it out of the blue and it would be so off the wall! We would all laugh not because it made and sense, but because he was hilarious. I WISH my dad could see Disneyland today. I WISH we could of had one last trip. I WISH he could have pushed our stroller (I know how much he hated being ran over by them).  I mostly WISH for his company while being there.  I WISH him to know his grand kids.  To see the joy on their faces as they "find a love" for the Happiest Place on Earth.  So many WISHES...

Disneyland is woven into my makeup.  My parents believed in Disney (as did my whole family). It means so much more than just an overpriced theme park. I have been to Disneyland with of course my family, my youth group, youth pastors, concert choir, my husband and now my children. It is my childhood, my memories and my dreams. My dream is that my children would realize the MAGIC that Disneyland unlocks every time you set foot inside. So maybe I am a little crazy to not be able to tell you how many times I have been ( I know at least 30 times). For me....EVERY visit holds the magic of my very first trip.

(Family...that is what it is ALL about!)

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