I returned home late last night after spending an extended weekend vacation with my family at the “happiest place on earth.” At the entrance the kids stopped to gather around a street performance by Mickey Mouse, Mary Poppins, the Mad Hatter and a marching band when the writer in me stepped back to observe.
Singing children clapped their hands then paused, only to raise them in the air begging to participate in the dancing celebration. Parents looked on with proud smiles, capturing indefinite records of the precious moments on camera. Some reconnected with their inner child, shamelessly belting out sing-along lyrics. All were living in the moment.
As the performance dwindled, people dispersed down Main Street with swelling anticipation. Music blared overhead as children everywhere grabbed hold of a parent and lead the way with pointed fingers. Oversized lollipops, trinkets and souvenirs were displayed near storefronts. The buildings were embellished with countless lights and intricate detail and kids passed with wide-eyed looks of amazement.
When we made it to the rides, I noticed that some children found ways to occupy their time while others waited impatiently in lines. Moms were reaching in handbags for snacks to appease their hungry kids while dads sought out their next destination on the map. Young couples took every opportunity to engage with one another but were frequently disrupted by the moving line. The screams and cries of tired and rejected kids competed with automated voices offering warnings and explanations of the rides. Loud laughter, cheerful music and clanking rides echoed all around. The smells of popcorn, cotton candy and churros combined to form the scent we all know as “Disneyland”.
This was my first time to the park with my nieces and nephews. While I was excited to share in the experience with them, there were definitely some things I was looking more forward to than others. I was surprised, though, by the renewed appreciation I had for the concepts relayed to the kids at the less-than-desirable attractions:
Despite the redundant melody and anti-climactic boat ride, “It’s a Small World” is a prominent representation of ethnic customs that exposes the kids to diversification. Despite the reality of racism the ride served as a small reminder of the strides we have taken toward harmony in this country. Evidence of this fact was displayed just outside the ride, by the multi-cultured spectators waiting in line.
In an address to the audience, Abraham Lincoln taught about the God-given right to liberty for each of those cultures represented, and the expense for which it’s been fought in this country. His presentation ended with a rendition of “His Truth is Marching On.” I was moved by the powerful message to never cease fighting for the protection of our liberty and to maintain the extreme value we place in it. I fought tears as I read the words “America, keep on dreaming,” displayed on the curtains at the show’s end.
Finally, as I soared above California at California Adventure, I was surprised at my stirred emotions at the recognition of the place I call home. Having grown up in the Golden State, I have often taken for granted the amazing things it has to offer. I realized that the places featured on the ride are in my backyard and that people all over the world dream of one day seeing them with their own eyes. How blessed I am to have experienced this lovely state—and so many others in this divine country.