OUR resolve to visit the original Disneyland in Anaheim, USA was realized only after a decade and a half from our visit to Disneyland Paris. But considering the passage of time and destiny intervening in our family lives, it was our children’s children whom we brought with us – Sebastian (Carla’s son) and Andoni (Chantal’s son). We would have loved to bring along our third grandson, Sean, but he was too young then to appreciate and have fun in “the happiest place on earth”. In fact, Sean was still being nursed by Carla. Furthermore, it would be “impossible” for Abuelita and Grampa to take care of two boys filled with energy and who, at times, become riotous together, and to be running at the same time after a toddler wanting to join them.
Our adventure started with a seven hours road trip from the apartment in Roseville to Anaheim, with stops for gas and snacks. Nena booked us in a hotel just across the street from the Disneyland Park entrance and our three-day passes bought online.
Eager to be first on the line at the gates, we woke up early, only to find out that the other park guests had the same idea. Disneyland Anaheim has more gate entrances than in Disneyland Paris and there were much more guests as we saw kilometric lines of people towards the dozen or more gates. It took us some 10 minutes to enter.
There are about eight theme lands inside the park, each catering to the interests of the guests – the Maine Street USA, Fantasyland, Adventureland, Frontierland, Critter Country, Mickey’s Toontown, New Orleans Square and the newest addition at that time, Star Wars: Galaxy Edge.
As we excitedly walked through the Maine Street, we saw several Disney characters walking about and posing for photos with several guests,and so to avoid crowding, guests were required to line-up for photo shoots with the characters, especially in front of the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle. Sebastian (Basti) and Andoni, of course, had some photos taken with some characters.
As with our experience in Disneyland Paris, we had to bear the inconvenience of lining up under the heat of the summer sun to watch the shows and the thrilling rides. We observed that the guests came from the different parts of the world – Europe, Asia, Africa, north and south America – all patiently waiting for their turn at the rides and shows. We had the chance to talk with an Australian father who brought his family of five who told me that it was their third and last day at the park and would return again in some other future. He said that it was worth the expense and time to bring his family there to enjoy while their kids are still living with them. In fact, it was also the first time that he and his wife came to Disneyland.
We noticed several Spanish speaking guests, many of whom were from Mexico. Actually, there were several employees of Mexican descent who were working in the park, together with some Chinese, Japanese and Filipinos, who spoke better English than the other employees.
There were more exciting and thrilling rides here than in Disneyland Paris, understandably well because this is the original park and several years have passed and new stories and characters were developed by the Disney Studios. This time it was Basti and Andoni who were the ones updating us on the new Disney characters and movies over the years, and so much high technology tools and gadgets for making film animations and futuristic movies were developed over time.
Disney Studios kept up with the times and even bought Lucasfilm, the makers of Star Wars and Indiana Jones to the tune of 4.05 billion US dollars sometime in 2012. Basti and Andoni had the time of their lives hopping from rides to snacks to shows and playing with each other as we went around the park mingling with other guests of different nationalities. They were even picked to participate in a Star Wars game where they so enthusiastically joined. Nena and I acted as their “yayas” cum managers as we interspersed our time with them, like kids too, from one theme land to another, riding and watching shows as time would allow in our two-day adventure including our visit to Disneyland California Adventure which is within the 500 acres of Disneyland.
As yayas, therefore, we went with them in all the thrilling and “dangerous” rides and shows as planned and directed by Yaya Abuelita Nena; keeping them clean after eating and drinking; buying their crowns, swords and shields, as well as, other souvenirs that they cajoled us into buying for them.
Of course, in the two-days that we spent in the park, we watched the mesmerizing and spectacular electrical parade along Main Street and the Fantasmic Show in the Frontierland, which is an epic battle between the good and evil, starring Mickey Mouse.
The electrical parade of floats with Disney characters on top of floats with glittering lights, colorfully costumed dancers and musical bands in between floats all dancing to Disney themed music in a one-hour parade capped by the glorious 15-minute fireworks which flooded the park with multi-colored lights, ended each day.
For the two-nights that we were there we would not miss watching this spectacular extravaganza that soothed our body and mind of the aches and pains of the day’s adventure. At least for the “yayas” but not for Basti and Andoni who would continue with their sword plays inside our room before we all repaired for bed.
We never could not satiate the appetite for fun and imaginings of Basti and Andoni, so we promised to bring them back, when we can take along Sean to join in the fun… (to be concluded)