While Fredrick’s book tour stopped in Los Angeles, my trip out to California was primarily to go to Disneyland with my sister. I did spent time in L.A., but not the way a 1st time tourist might expect to do. I decided, since there is so much to talk about, to split this into two posts. Today, I’m going to share part one of what it was like in Disneyland and how it helped with my writing projects. For this entry, I’m going to look back at my history with Disney parks and how we got ready.
It had been nearly 20 years since I was last in a Disney theme park. As a teenager, living a few hours from Orlando, my youth group use to have an annual state-wide conference in Orlando and one day would be spent in a theme park. The most memorable year was spent at Epcot, in freezing temperatures, and nothing more than a fleece shirt to keep me warm. I didn’t have enough spending money to buy a sweatshirt or I didn’t want to spend the money on it when there were other things I wanted. I came back from the weekend with a flu that ruined my New Years Eve plans. That was my senior year in high school. When I moved back home, I became an advisor with the very same youth group and became the chaperone on those trips. I think we did a Disney park one of those years, but it’s the Universal Studios visit that stands out in my mind. It’s never been a priority to go back.
As a senior in high school, I passed up a trip to Disney for Grad Night. This was a right of passage for seniors all over the state. We would have one night, all night, in the park to ride the rides and shop in the stores. My trip happened right as I had my huge crisis of faith and decided everything in my life needed to change. I didn’t want to go to Disney with people I didn’t like, so I just gave up the entire trip. I don’t regret it, but it was the moment when I picked other priorities over going to Disney World.
That might change now… Disney might be a way to see some other countries, especially those where I don’t speak the language.
Anyway, my sister LOVES Disney. I use to love Disney, but after the Lion King, my romance with it seemed to dissipate. I really enjoy Pixar movies, but Disney animations haven’t been movies I watch. The exception being Fantasia and Fantasia 2000, which I love to watch. I simply cue up the music and animation I’m in the mood for (usually the Nutcracker) and watch that piece. Katie, meanwhile, goes to Disneyland at least once a year. When I decided, over a year ago, that I wanted to go to LA this year, she quickly suggested we do Disneyland. As her life changed, so did our plans a bit, but we both felt this plan (Disneyland before Christmas) was exactly what we wanted. We thought going this time would limit the number of children and families. The logic (which was wrong because there’s never a slow time) was that nobody would be there because it had just been Thanksgiving, but not Christmas break.
Again, we were wrong about it. The better plan would have been to only be there on weekdays. After school gets out, the locals come, but weekends are insane. I’m glad we did do one day on the weekend, but it was bananas.
Anyway, we ended up as a group of five with three of us getting there by mid-day on Wednesday. We ended up at a hotel about a mile away from the park. We thought we were being smart and it would allow us to go to and from the park to rest. Nope.. that was not realistic either. It worked for Universal in Orlando, but this time it just didn’t. I think it had to do with ride availability. I spent a good chunk of the first day just walking around Downtown Disney. I bought nothing more than pins because pin trading.
What is pin trading? My two pin traders (Katie and Matt) quickly brought me up to speed. Disney pins can be traded for other Disney pins in certain places and with certain people. We bought about 25-30 pins on Amazon to bring with us. Katie loves Minnie Mouse and Matt loves Mickey Mouse. There are collections with hidden Mickey’s on them, which are only available from pin boards that can be found in stores all around the park. It turns out I love Star Wars pins. I love Muppet pins! I love Ariel, Aurora, and Jasmin pins. I love Figment pins! I love pins! They are the perfect thing for me to become obsessed with: small, abundant, decorative, cute, and require a hunt to find what you like. Oh, trust me, I became obsessed and Matt was happy to feed my obsession. We hunted down the best boards and would check them over and over. I got some cool ones like a collection of Muppet characters and the birds of Disney (I recognized Camilla the Chicken in one, which slightly impressed the woman in the shop). I even bought a few. The ones I bought on day one were to get a lanyard to display them on while in the park, but there were a few Star Wars ones I needed. I was pretty impressed by my shopping restraint, but I knew I was only seeing the tip of the Disney iceberg. I had one shopping priority: Star Wars Mickey Ears. You might say Star Wars was my Disney shopping priority. Leia is my favorite Disney Princess.
I mostly relaxed on the first day, taking a trip to In and Out for dinner (I will always make sure I get to eat In and Out). I got organized, started my travel journal notes, and make some notes on free things to find and things to eat. It was day two that really tested my physical strength and relaxing on day one was a good thing.
Next week, part 2: the first day at the park! In the comments, tell me about your Disney park memories.