“It has that thing – the imagination, and the feeling of happy excitement- I knew when I was a kid.”
–Walt Disney


My grandfather loved the Jungle Cruise.  Mom said that he got a “kick out of it.”  I could sense that as we waited in a relatively short line (by Disney standards) for an old and original ride, she went back, just a moment, and he was there with us, anticipating climbing on board.

Most families have Disney moments.  That trip to Disneyland with magical memories.  For me and my mom, it’s not a tag line or a commercial.  We make our way back to Disney to reconnect with simple pleasures.  The feeling of being a kid, where anything is possible.

We wonder why anyone in their right mind would take CHILDREN to DISNEYLAND?  Poor parents with strollers and heat and screaming and expense and lines.  Being adults gives the advantage of weaving in and out of crowds, forsaking argument for fun and choosing to eat a pickle for lunch instead of waiting in line for an actual meal.  That pickle was amazing by the way, I regret nothing of paying $3 for it.  Delicious.

Mom remembers going to Disneyland as a kid, way before I was even a thought in her head.  It was fun and exciting!  The first time she took me, I was six years old.  I remember colors, colors in water, the pool at the hotel and then…the trauma.  I was scared to death of the characters.  I  remember knowing that there were people in the costumes, but that didn’t really result in rational thought or behavior for me.  Mom took not only me, but my older friend, two years my senior, who I bothered relentlessly.   She, on the other hand, loved characters and had her autograph book ready.  So, when a character came into view, she shot in one direction and I shot in the other.  This drove Mom nuts, because my friend was running up to a character far away and I was hiding behind the nearest trash can.  How we didn’t get lost is a testament to my Mom.  Now, I don’t why Mom thought it was a good idea.  Maybe it was easier, I don’t know.  But she decided to take me to hell.  The Disneyland Character Breakfast!  I was just about to eat the biggest, most delicious stack of pancakes, and then…I saw him, heading our way.  Goofy.  My heart started racing.  I told Mom and my friend to be quiet and I ducked under the table.  The I heard it.  The sound of betrayal.

“She’s under the table.”

All I saw was a flash of plastic whiskers.  I don’t remember anything after that.  Mom said I screamed.  So, this first trip showed that my mom and I were different kids.  Mom was a calmer kid, apparently, and I was a bit sheltered, a little spoiled perhaps.

Goofy and Mom
Goofy and Me

Three years later, second trip included Dad.  I had the stomach flu.  We lost the car one time, and Mom and I lost Dad many times, but he kept popping back up with ice cream.  Dad was vacationing from health that trip, which resulted in me and mom getting on him about eating too much ice cream, and then me complaining about my stomach, and it was tough.  But, Dad wasn’t a Daddy Downer after all because we took him to the opening of Toon Town.  We decided to check out Chip N’ Dale Treehouse…of Horrors!  We were immediately pushed into a line soon realized was meant only for small children.  Then the stairs somehow became narrower at the top.  We were told to slide down the tube slide.  First me.  Whoosh.  Then came Mom.  Whoosh.  Then we waited.  And waited.  Did Dad already come out and go find ice cream?  Then we started hearing voices from inside the treehouse and they seemed perturbed.  Then we saw them – boots.  Cowboy boots, no less, slowly inching their way down the slide.  Inch by excruciatingly slow inch, grunt by grunt, Dad finally emerged.  I think Mom and I just stood there with our mouths slightly open in shock.  No need to explain we weren’t from California.  That was a true magical memory.  If you say “treehouse” Mom and I burst into hysterical laughter to this day.  If you say “character breakfast”, only Mom does.

Mom and I went back in 2005 to mark the 50 year anniversary of the park’s opening.  Going as adults was the best! Sure, a child’s imagination lit on fire through real encounters is a great thing to behold…yes…but, I am a huge Walt Disney fan, so thinking about the grand opening of the park from a historical perspective and what it has meant to our family was a wonderful experience as an adult.  We were free to do what we wanted when we wanted without the fear of losing people!

This past trip, just a few weeks ago, Mom and I went back to Disneyland because we needed some old fashioned happy.  Work and stress and all the responsibilities of being an adult take their toll.  Mom turned into a kid.  Laughing and screaming.  She actually clapped her hands using only her palms after riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  I was jumping up and down saying, “Omigod, omigod, omigod!”  I pulled her into the 45 minute wait for California Screamin.  She screamed, I laughed.  Our picture showed me covering my eyes laughing and her looking like the Bride of Frankenstein (her words) from the hairspray overuse.

It was just one day, but a day to bond with my mother  because together we can escape the constraints of what’s expected and live in what’s imagined. 

One thought on “Mother…Daughter…Disney

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