When I told people last week that my family was taking a vacation to Disneyland together, those who knew me went straight from, “Oh wow, how fun!” to “Wait, all of you?” to “Really, Disneyland?” They knew that in my family there are now four adult children, ranging from adultish-adults (Rachelle) to part-time adults (Sam & I) to newly-minted adults (Garrett). My parents, as far as I’m concerned, have always been adults. Disneyland—a theme park obsessively built and designed for children—might not be the obvious choice for a crew like ours. But that’s where you’d be wrong. Not only did we have an incredible trip, complete with ups and downs that ended in one final harrowing ride in a minivan from LA to Fresno to catch a flight, I might argue it was better than even trips we took as kids.
What is it about that capitalistic, materialistic, resource-draining wasteland that so enchants and delights? It’s hard to say. Maybe it’s pure nostalgia, but there’s something about walking up to the gates while the Indiana Jones theme song plays that speaks to a part of me that just doesn’t exist in the normal mundanity of life here in Portland. The sun was shining, the trees were all in bloom, I had new floral sneakers on and fake bird chirps were piped in over the speakers. Churros faintly tinted the air and my dad upgraded us to the Fastpass app. It was heaven.
if you described Disneyland to me, I would scoff and say I’m better than that. After all I prefer authentic experiences over the fantasyland confection that is Disneyland. Except, of course, I’d be lying. I love Disneyland. I’ll go to my grave loving it. I love walking down the sidewalk of Main Street, USA. I love the rides, even the ones that still scare me (looking at you, Indy). I love the secret lore of candles in windows and real skulls in Pirates of the Caribbean. I love that feeling when you finally get out of line and into whatever car you’ve been waiting for. I love the obsessive attention to detail, the fact that there is literally never any trash and there are always bathroom stalls, I love how everything is themed and crafted to perfection. It’s the best.
But most of all I really do love being there with my family. I can’t ignore how much of the experience is being in a place designed for fun with the people who have shared, throughout our long histories together, so many of the same experiences I have. We all feel the same way about Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, we all walk off with tears of joy from Soarin’ Over the World. This trip, as adults, felt particularly meaningful if nothing else because it reminded us of that history: how much of our life journeys we have gone through together, and how much more we have yet to share.
So anyway, check out the OG Disneyland. Forget Disneyworld. Don’t go to another country. You’re better off at the original happiest place on earth.
P.S. This post is not sponsored by Disney but I am open to offers if Walt is somehow listening.