Some Unexpected Magic
Illustration by Kristina Micotti
When we were first married, Greg and I went to Disneyland and imagined the joy we’d get from taking our future children there and seeing the park through their eyes as they experienced the Happiest Place on Earth for the first time.
Then, several years later, we took our actual kids to Disneyland. Instead of rushing straight to Space, Splash, and Big Thunder mountains, then demanding to ride them again and again, they steered clear of any ride with hills. Even the tiny drop in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride was deemed terrifying.
I admit I bear some responsibility. A few years before, I’d forced Ben to ride SeaWorld’s Journey to Atlantis. After enduring the reproachful looks of strangers in line as I reassured him through his tears of terror—“You’ll see! It looks scary but that’s part of the fun!”—I discovered I’d somehow birthed an utterly thrill-averse child. He vowed never to ride a roller coaster again, and I suspect he’ll be working through resentment over the incident in some future therapy session.
Our first trips to Disneyland were hot, crowded, and not much fun for anyone. If we wanted to spend all day being grumpy and cajoling our stubborn kids, we could do it for cheap at home.
But recently, Georgia asked me to take her to Disneyland while Greg and Ben were in Arizona watching spring training, I decided it was time to give it another shot. Maybe away from her brother’s influence, she’d be up for adventure.
I’m pleased to report that our girls’ trip put the magic back into the Magic Kingdom. Georgia didn’t shy away from anything and found delight in absolutely everything.
I had the added amusement of Disneyland’s epic people-watching, which has improved over the years. Here are some tips for my fellow parents:
1. Make sure we can see all your tattoos—bonus for leather clothing. Nothing is greater for your fellow guests than seeing someone who looks totally hardcore holding a toddler’s hand in line for It’s a Small World.
2. Moms, if you want to be on trend at Disneyland, dress in whatever you normally wear to work out, but do your hair and makeup like you’re going to a formal ball. I couldn’t figure out why so many women had deemed a day at an amusement park to be false eyelash-worthy, but then I saw them whip out their Selfie Sticks, and it all made sense. #DressedtoInsta
3. It’s not an official attraction, but be sure to take your kids through the designated smoking area, which Georgia and I nicknamed the “Valley of Death.” It’s a more effective deterrent than any anti-smoking ad.
We went for broke and got a hotel room in Anaheim and went to California Adventure the next day. When we rode the ultra-thrilling California Screamin’, Georgia squeezed my hand and said “NEVER AGAIN, MOM! I NEVER WANT TO RIDE THIS AGAIN, OKAY? PROMISE?!” But as soon as we got down the stairs after the ride, she said, “Let’s go again!”
That’s my girl.