Growing up in the UK in the 80’s, Disneyland was an impossibly distant dream. Certainly, people went, and a schoolfriend even brought me back a pair of Mickey Ears with my name embroidered on them.* But it wasn’t until 1997 that Mrs Dim and I went to Disneyland Paris (as it was then) and got an idea of what the apotheosis of theme parks was like.
For years we talked about a return visit, but work commitments or the children’s age meant it was impractical. And then we found ourselves in Canada, with experience of having driven down to San Diego. We could cram into a hotel room and survive. We could actually travel to the original Disneyland!
With Eldest Weasel able to drive, splitting the two-day trip down was easier than previous journeys too. People may curse the kids’ habit of screen-gazing, but car journeys with teens are a lot easier than when I was their age, I think. No one made themselves travel sick by trying to read, there were no arguments over the music or audio books (because everyone has their own) and they did even look out of the windows from time to time.
Here’s a key thing with our visit: We didn’t have a packed agenda. We like rides, but we weren’t intent on doing every single one. Mrs Dim wanted to wear a tiara and drink coffee on Main Street while watching people go by. I wanted to see anything related to Star Wars. Eldest Weasel doesn’t do roller coasters, but loves artwork. Middle Weasel was there for the Alice stuff. Tiny Weasel loves it all, but hates rushing for anything.
So, we ambled. Lucky for us, we met up with some friends who had already been there a week, and they gave us more crucial hints and tips, as well as physically walking us to stuff we’d like to do. But it was a far cry from the military operations you see some families running through, dashing from ride to ride, hauling children and buggies in their wake, determined to cross off each ride on their tattered and tear-stained maps.
We aimed low, and so for us the bar was passed with ease. We saw so much we weren’t expecting, rode rides we hadn’t even heard of before (and loved them!) and we got a day at Universal Studios into the bargain (when threatened rain kept away a lot of the visitors and made lines almost non-existent.)
Looking back through the pictures, it still seems an impossible dream It’s not something we can do again in a hurry, but I’m glad we did it with all three of the weasels. Whatever your view of Disney, you’re never too old to have fun. I don’t know if it really is the happiest place on earth, but we were very happy to go there.
*There are very few opportunities outside Disneyland to wear Mickey Ears without ridicule.