Friday, June 01, 2007

Visiting the House of the Mouse

So we checked our timeframe and it turns out that the last time we visited Disneyland was about three and a half years ago. Jelly would have been six-plus and the Doodle would have been nearly four. Three and a half years is a decent interval between D-Land visits because it takes about that long to save up the money required to go. (Of course, we didn't pay to actually get in. What you do, when you live here, is find someone who works there and have them sign you in. My boss's boss [read: wife] met us there with a friend and they did us the honor. But my statement still stands: it takes about that long to save up the money to eat and/or not suffer severe dehydration; not to mention buying of souvenirs without which no trip to the Big D would be complete.)

This also means that our girls are just the right ages now to really capture the wonder of the park. Three years ago our girls were still in their painfully shy modes — both of them — so that meeting the giant Goofy that strolls around ToonTown was a terrifying experience. I think we got Jelly to go up and meet Winnie the Pooh, but she didn't really look happy about it. Doodle was still so young that most of her memories of the park were probably manufactured. All she really knew about it was what she read in books or saw on TV.

With the girls now old enough to really appreciate the experience, we (Mrs. Woody and I) were filled with anticipation of how much fun they would have, and we weren't disappointed. I suppose that even an old jaded guy like Woody can still vicariously enjoy the park through my children. Truth is, Woody spent most of the day from about lunch time in pain. My joints just start protesting after so much walking, and all you do in Disneyland is either walk or inch through many lines. On some rides we got an assist in the form of Mrs. Woody. My sweetheart has mobility challenges in the form of a hereditary arthritis (Thanks, Dad! And Grandpa!) and spent the day in a rather uncomfortable electronic cart. But that cart, if she could handle the ride, moved us right up to the front of the class, so to speak.

Pain aside, just watching the girls have all the fun we used to have when we were kids was well worth the effort. They had a ball. They also [insert parental pride here] overcame some of their fears to go on rides that had terrified the Jelly three years ago. All those themed, indoor rides where the room is dark and they use flourescent paint, strobe lights, and loud noises just scared the poor child to tears on our last trip. But we were determined that she overcome her nerves and try at least one. We rode on Roger Rabbit's ToonTown Spin, and she managed to hold herself together. We did that rather early in the day so we could build her up to a roller-coaster or two.

Specifically we wanted her to experience the bobsleds and Big Thunder Railroad. At this point, however, I must interject that the Doodle was nearly fearless. Mostly because we'd already checked that she was tall enough, she wanted to ride as many rides "by herself" (meaning sitting in a chair without Daddy) as possible. On the bobsleds, however, Doodle rode with Daddy and Jelly — trooper that she was — rode by herself. And she loved it.

All of it, really. Oh, she still wasn't thrilled with Roger Rabbit. That meant we never did get to do Mr. Toad, Peter Pan, or even Snow White. But the girls loved Pirates of the Caribbean, and they even got through the Haunted Mansion. Doodle was less thrilled with the Haunted Mansion, but she got through it without any discernible trauma. They were appropriately giggly about riding on Dumbo, the Tea Cups, and the Astro Orbiter. They enjoyed the Storybook Land boat ride.

I must tell you that Doodle fell asleep in the Enchanted Tiki Room. It enchanted her right into a stupor and before the third song she was slumped at my side. This wasn't all bad, though. We let her nap on Daddy while we all took a sit-down break for about half an hour.

At the end of our very long day, the girls enjoyed some shopping. Mommy parked herself out of traffic and sent us forth to find a few items. She wanted the girls to get t-shirts (matching, of course), have them pick out a souvenir each, and the girls wanted to find a birthday present for Mommy. They were thrilled when Daddy pointed out the Disney-themed scrapbooking punches, and we got her a few of those.

Taken altogether it was a wonderful day. Time, I guess, to start saving money now so we can go again in another three or four years.

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