Here’s the thing, and I know when I say this I will offend a large portion of the population out there, but I don’t really love Disneyland, or at least I didn’t start out loving it. Having said that it is important to note that we go once a year and sometimes twice, which is a sort of irony that is not lost on me.
Early on when we were starting our family and we had only our two oldest children we took a family trip across country traveling from California to North Carolina. This, of course, involved airplanes and with airplanes comes airports. I decided on this trip that we would not be traveling as a family, on a plane, until everyone could take off their own shoes and put them back on. I was also unwilling to load any type of car seat or stroller or baby device onto a plane ever again. Now this was unfortunate because we went on to have two more children. So, since I wasn’t going to be getting on any planes for a vacation for about ten years and I like vacations, I realized quickly I would need to come up with a plan. There were trips to Tahoe and that was great because we had access to a cabin there, but what about a real vacation? The kind with room service, someone to make my bed and no cooking.
I did not think my plan would be Disneyland. I had been once as a teenager with Naomi and my father before they divorced. I am not going to go into the trip or the dynamics of my parents’ marriage, but it is safe to say I did not have good memories of the trip and it was always very odd to me when people spoke so highly of the magic kingdom. Never the less we took our oldest when she was two and I was pregnant with child number two. I had it in my mind that we needed to do something with “just her” before child number two arrived. This was before I realized none of that would matter because with so many children there would never be equity and it was ridiculous to even try.
I spent the first two days of the trip saying every hour, “Well, this is fun.” or “We’re having a good time, aren’t we?” All in a sort of odd, disbelieving voice, because we were having this really good time. It finally ended when my good natured husband practically yelled, “Yes Kim, we are having a good time. We are at Disneyland not the Holocaust museum what were you expecting?” So, I put my baggage away and enjoyed the trip.
Later, after I realized I was not getting on any planes, I turned Disneyland into something that would work for us all. I added concierge to our hotel room (complimentary cocktails from five to seven), instilled in my children the idea that the pool was just as much fun as going into the parks and in the end we have enjoyed it.
So much so that one year when my husband was too busy with work to go I decided to take Naomi and the four kids. Please note that Naomi does not like rides of any kind, doesn’t handle crowds well and likes to have dinner at four and be in bed at five. So, in reality, the whole trip was a little stressful. Adding to the stress was my youngest child who was two at the time. She spent the entire time in her stroller covered in jackets refusing to get out and participate in anything. So, on our last day, before we were supposed to drive home I decided to get up early take her into Fantasyland and spend an hour just with her riding rides. Naomi was opposed to the plan, but I insisted and headed off with her. We got right on the monorail for early entrance, landed in Fantasyland and NO ONE was there yet. I had been enough to know that this would be short lived and within minutes it would be a crowd of thousands and for some strange reason they all head straight to the Dumbo ride. This is a fun ride for someone who is two, but in my opinion not worth the standard two hour wait with said two year old.
But, on this day…no line for Dumbo. In my best mommy voice I say, “Look, the elephant ride is ready for us,” as I start the run toward getting in line. She says, “I don’t want to ride that elephant ride, I want to ride the horses.” Let me tell you, the “horses” or merry go round, is NOT the big attraction of Fantasyland. You can ride that horse any time, during even the biggest crowds, there is NEVER a line. In my continued best mommy voice I say, “Great. Let’s ride the horses next, first let’s ride the elephants.” We are almost to the line now and it is still empty and ours for the taking. She wails, a really loud wail and says adamantly, “No, I am not going on those elephants; I want to ride the horses.”
It is in this moment that all the stress of the trip comes to an ugly head. I know I am beat, but I am frustrated, and under my breath I mutter “F@#*” It was very quiet and heard by no one around us, except it turns out, my 2 year old, who quickly and loudly I might add responds with, “I am NOT a F@#*”
I am telling you right now that while I can tend to embellish a story, take little liberties to make things funnier, there is no such exaggeration when I say to you that all of Fantasyland came to a grinding halt and quiet surrounded us. Every ride from Dumbo down to Peter Pan had a hush come over it all while hundreds of parents gave me a look that can only be described as extreme disgust. I quietly grabbed her, slunk off to the merry go round and rode the horses. She loved it and her loud yell of the F word really seemed to lift her spirits because in jovial tone that had not been heard all week she announced after the horses that she was ready for the elephants now. Of course, now it was about a two hour wait with a line full of disapproving people that were judging me on my child rearing efforts and possibly a “wanted” like poster already in place banning from the ride.
So, let it be known that you just don’t say the F word at Disneyland.