Disneyland: Sharon and I last went to Disneyland in 1996, just before we moved up from Cedar City. At that time, Tomorrowland was under renovation and Disney's California Adventure was a parking lot. My kids were sufficiently blown away by their first trip to adolescent Mecca. We hit most of the rides in the park, but even after two and a half days we didn't get to everything. Indiana Jones is great, but, for best attraction, my money is still on Pirates of the Caribbean. It has been quite enhanced since the release of the three Pirates movies -- and at one point the ride had been sanitized by the political correctness police, but I think there was such an uproar that most of the changes were reversed - there is a winsome wench on the ride once again. We rode, we walked, we shopped, we hemorrhaged money.
I was completely satisfied with our trip to Disneyland, but there are a few things I would have liked to have done. I love Main Street U.S.A. -- not the shops exactly but the little theaters and museums (there are some neat ones in New Orleans Square too), but most people go right past them on their way to the rides. Did you know that Walt wanted Main Street to feel so familiar and nostalgic to people, that if you go into the alleys between the buildings, you can hear the sounds of turn of the century America -- a dentist drill, someone taking
piano lessons etc..? I wish I could have spent a little more time on Main Street.
But, this being the first time for my children, I really wanted each of them to have that one special experience, that would stay with them all of their lives. I think we succeeded. For Emma, that experience was meeting the Disney Princesses, but primarily her favorite, Ariel -- the Little Mermaid. The smile on her face, as we walked away from that meeting, told me she had just experienced the magic of Disneyland.
For Matt, the moment came at the Jedi Training Academy. This is a show where Jedi Masters pull several potential padawans (apprentice jedi, for lack of a better term) from the crowd, dress them in Jedi robes and train them in the use of lightsabers. At the conclusion of the training two stormtroopers come rushing in to "secure" the area. The stage then rises up and out comes DARTH VADER!! He is followed shortly by DARTH MAUL!! They attempt to turn the younglings to the dark side of the Force. The Jedi Master decides that the only way to deal with this problem is for each padawan to face either Vader or Maul in single combat. THAT WAS SO COOL!! My son fought Darth Maul! The only thing bigger than the smile on Matt's face when it was all done, were the smiles on the faces of his father and uncle, who were living vicariously through him.
For Jordan, it was a bit tougher to find that magic moment. I knew she would love the trip, but, while she likes princesses, she's no longer in awe of them. She wanted to try the Jedi Training, but even though she is only 10, sometimes she looks about 14, and they weren't picking kids much bigger than Matthew. Grandma to the rescue! My mom took Jordan shopping (never hurts huh? ) something she did not do for the other kids (that makes it special). But the real magic came when they stopped to have Jordan's portrait drawn as a caricature. A very large crowd gathered to watch the artist draw Jordan, and the woman who drew the picture, commented to Jordan that she was a very good model. And, of course, Jordan just HATES that kind of attention. (She really is a very good model, she has always been the easiest person for me to photograph -- she is stunningly photogenic -- her eyes pull you right in). This portrait of Jordan is my favorite thing that we brought home from our trip. It captures Jordan completely.