For our two girls, a day at Disneyland could only be matched in excitement by the sight of Santa Claus eating ice cream in our living room. I'm not as thrilled by the place, and Rigel even less - crowds, long lines and the close proximity of pasty men wearing tube socks with sandals never fails to put him in a bad mood. In fact, there's only one thing that could possibly make him crankier than a day at Disneyland.
TWO days at Disneyland.
Kira has a friend, D., a boy she has known since the second grade. He's a great kid, and we've become friends with the parents as they are nice normal people who don't have personality disorders and make me want to kill them. This is always a good thing.
D. is an only child and his parents naturally dote on him, and one of the things they love to do is have a special birthday celebration for him every year. Last year they invited nine children and their families to an all-expenses paid day at Universal Studios. Rigel and I marveled at their stealth organizational skills and admired their bravery, since planning an outing with just our two girls requires several hours of motivational tapes and a pitcher of martinis. And that's just for a trip to Target.
So what did they do this year? See if you can guess!
a) Hired an out-of-work actor posing as a magician to come to their house and do card tricks in return for tequila shots.Oh, yeah.
b) Chose 'The Homeless Epidemic' as their child's party theme and made them donate all their allowance to charity, after which they celebrated by splitting a sandwich eight ways and then sleeping outside. (Oh wait - that was me.)
c) Invited fifteen kids to Disneyland, paid admission for all the children and one adult per family, treated them to lunch, dinner and snacks all day and then put everyone up in a hotel that night so they didn't have to make the long drive home.
The generosity and graciousness of these people is overwhelming, and I couldn't emphasize enough to our kids how fortunate we were to benefit from their kindness. When Kiyomi squealed "I love rich people!" on the ride over I had to give her a talk about the difference between rich and generous, and explain why someone who is rich may not necessarily be generous. And when she said she wanted a Disneyland gala for her next birthday, I tried to convince her that, as fun as a day at The Magic Kingdom could be, an afternoon spent at home with a few friends eating cold pizza and playing Twister and culminating in the singing of "Happy Birthday" around a tasteless cake could be just as thrilling.
The plan was to meet at the hotel at 9:00 and check in before heading off en masse (30 people!) to Disneyland. Rigel and I have a hard time getting anywhere before noon, so we agreed to meet everyone at the park sometime before lunch. This was mostly Rigel's idea, since after doing the math he figured out that even by getting there late we would be spending a whole ten hours in a place he considers only marginally more appealing than the fiery bowels of Hell. (Fiery bowels of Hell is a term I came up with, but if you could see his face during the two hour wait for Dumbo on our last visit you would see just how appropriate it is.)
We still had to buy Rigel's admission ticket, so imagine our surprise when we arrived at the front gates and saw the huge, blinking "Disneyland is SOLD OUT" sign sitting in front of us. He did his best to act disappointed, but I told him doing that little dance, kicking up his heels and shouting, "THERE IS A GOD!" was really starting to annoy me. It was decided that he would go to the hotel, purchase a 2-day pass (which we found out would definitely get him in) and meet up with us later. So much for his alternate plan of checking in to our room, raiding the mini bar and then napping until we returned after the fireworks that evening.
(Okay, I hate to kick a dead horse - no pun intended - but guess who asked me for a ride to Disneyland? I refused on the grounds that I'm not licensed to transport reptiles, but she managed to slither out there on her own. Thank God for the 967,000 other people who provided a buffer.)
We had a great time, in spite of the fact that it was unbelievably crowded. Just trying to walk a few feet was a challenge, and as I made my way through New Orleans Square, smashed between some stranger's sweaty back and the throng of frat boys pushing behind me, I was certain that by the time I reached Frontierland I'd be pregnant, with the sad possibility that the father was some teenager wearing a pair of mouse ears.
Of course, with the crowds comes the long lines and the fact that in ten hours we were only able to make it onto five rides. Enough for me, but certainly not enough for Kira and Kiyomi who used their best puppy dog looks to convince Rigel that his two-day pass could be milked for all its value by going back for a second day. We still had to purchase three tickets for the rest of us, but through some crazy fatigue-induced logic we were able to rationalize that since we had gotten the first day for free, it was as if we were only spending one day there. At the end of our second day I felt like I had aged more than a few years. I came up with the following equation:
1 Disneyland day = 20 human years.
I find it easy to get cynical about Disneyland and the whole Disney empire, but I have to admit that seeing that initial look of joy on your kids' faces when you first walk through those front gates is worth having to stand in line for two hours for a ride that lasts sixty seconds, or having to pay seven dollars for a cup of burnt coffee and a soggy churro. And the best part, or the worst part, depending on how you look at it, was reliving that exact joyous moment again less than twenty-four hours later.
But the sight of this - this nearly pushed Rigel over the edge.
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tags: disneyland | nice people | birthday parties | fiery bowels of hell | ryan seacrest is everywhere
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Thank you, thank you to Pattie at Stolen Moments for nominating me for a ROFL Award for this post. When you wish upon a starrrr....