The time flew by quickly, but the memories will last forever.
Yes, I realize that sounds like an entirely cliched statement, but that’s really the best way to describe our visit to Disneyland last week. Quite frankly, Bec and I experienced anew the magic of the place through the wide-eyed wonder of our children. Just as the time spent there was absolutely unforgettable for Grace and Zachary, so was the experience we had of seeing their sheer joy in their eyes and on their faces.
We flew from Sioux Falls, S.D., on Tuesday, touching down in Orange County, Calif., and its John Wayne Airport after switching planes seamlessly in Denver. We actually beat our estimated arrival time, which I tried to regard as a sign of good fortune for the week ahead as opposed to some type of hint that the flight back would be nowhere near as smooth.
And “smooth” would certainly not be an apt word for describing the approximately 15-mile drive from the airport to our hotel (located directly across from the street from Disneyland). Yes, we were given a “free upgrade” (I always figure you pay for these things somehow) to an absolutely exquisite Chrysler 300 — I’ve never driven as nice a car — but driving on foreign four- and five-lane freeways was truly a white-knuckle experience. If my hair looks even whiter now than it did last week, it was a result of this short yet sweat-inducing foray onto these roads. Considering my usual “traffic jam” is a long backup at the traffic light at Worthington’s Big Corner, it was a tad intimidating to say the least.
We checked into a “Cars”-themed room, much to Zachary’s delight, and then drove to Newport Beach — a considerably less stressful commute — to dig our toes in the sand and our feet in the Pacific Ocean. The kids, who had initially protested our decision to visit the ocean instead of the hotel’s outdoor pool, had a blast picking up shells and taking in the power of a good tide’s pull. That blast, of course, was nothing compared to what they began to enjoy Wednesday morning.
Rather than detail everything we saw and enjoyed inside Disneyland and the neighboring California Adventure Park, I’ll instead try to touch upon a few highlights. The initial spot we visited was “Cars Land,” where we experienced the speed of the Radiator Springs Racers ride (and the longest line of our trip — roughly 90 minutes) and “met” Lightning McQueen, Mater and Red the fire truck. Zachary had been extremely excited about this portion of our trip, and Grace was kind enough to tell Zachary we could do all this first … before she met the princesses.
In retrospect, our time at Disney was very much character-driven, as opposed to ride-oriented. The kids got their photos taken with Mickey, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, Minnie, Pinocchio, Buzz, Woody and Jessie from the “Toy Story” movies, Flik from “A Bug’s Life,” Sully from “Monsters Inc.” — and then, of course, there were the aforementioned princesses. Zach would only sit with Grace for a shot with Merida from “Brave,” but Grace proudly posed with Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Ariel and Rapunzel. G and Z also got plenty of autographs from their faves, too.
Naturally, there were some rides that stood out. Grace enjoyed almost everything she went on, while the Z-Man made it abundantly clear that the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride was his clear-cut favorite. (As a result, he is now the proud owner of his own Astro Blaster, which he hopefully won’t be targeting complete strangers with.) One ride that may have been a little over the top was Star Tours, which allowed us to experience a 3-D “Star Wars” chase and battle. At its end, Zach turned to Becca and said, “I thought I was going to be seasick!” Grace loved soaring far above the ground on the “Jumpin’ Jellyfish” – both were wild for the spinning “Alice in Wonderland” cups.
And, all of us will remember when a pigeon’s droppings fell from above and landed upon Grace and her mom. That was entirely different kind of magical moment.
Home in Worthington, the kids and adults are recovering from a simply exhilarating trip that concluded with a delayed and detoured flight home through Las Vegas. (We didn’t even have time to play any slots in the airport, though Zach was keen on dropping some money in a “Star Wars” machine.) Still, even though we’ve been home a couple of days, we all continue to sort through the photos and relive much of what we did. I can’t help but be thankful that our family had the opportunity to go … and, as a result, create (here’s that cliche one last time) memories that will truly last forever.