My dad took me to Disneyland almost 20 years ago – when I was 7.
But I gotta tell ya, I don’t remember a thing.
I’ve got a couple of photos from our trip and I’m sure I had a marvellous time at the time, but I can’t recall any of it now as an adult.
Not a single hug with a high school student wearing a Minnie Mouse costume, not a single glorious hoon around in a teacup ride. Zilch.
Fast-forward to 2019 however, and I was utterly blessed to be invited back at the age of 27.
At first I had my cynical reservations. As a cold-hearted, pessimistic millennial, I had always believed Disneyland was tacky, commercial crap – but I’m not too proud to admit I’ve never been so wrong in my life.
And it took exactly two minutes and 25 seconds for the high to hit – at a little show called World Of Colour.
Let me unpack it for you. World of Colour is a humungous water fountain show, where they project classic Disney scenes on to the blasts of water.
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I had initially thought that a water fountain show sounded like quite a boring way to spend an evening at a theme park – I was so mistaken.
Just for a bit of background – my favourite Disney flick is about a redheaded mermaid who – a la Meghan Markle – chucks in her family, gal pals and entire life to sell her voice to a sea witch so that she can grow some legs and marry a real basic dude.
Two minutes and 25 seconds into Ariel singing Part Of Your World, where she says, “When’s it my turn? Wouldn’t I love to explore that shore above?”, I, an adult woman, burst into tears. When is it our turn indeed, Ariel? When do we get to explore the shore above?
I proceeded to sob for the duration of the show.
That’s the thing with Disneyland – it gets you, right in the nostalgic childhood feels, whether you like it or not.
As it was my first time back at Disneyland since I was a little twerp, I wanted to go on as many rides as possible until I spewed – so I rode everything from Splash Mountain and the Haunted Mansion to newer attractions like the Indiana Jones Adventure and the new Star Wars ones (which were truly wasted on me, as someone who has never watched a single Star Wars movie.)
Hot tip #1 though – if you’re travelling with someone you have a crush on, the Haunted Mansion is the moneymaker.
It’s quite scary, you’re squished into cosy little booths for two, and it often pauses to stop all the booths cramming up – so it’s the perfect ride to slither a (consenting) arm around your plus-one’s shoulder or sneak a (consenting) spooky pash.
Regardless of being a Star Wars noob and having no one to pash in the haunted house, I spent the entire two days grinning from ear to ear like an utter madwoman. It was impossible not to.
I careered around the park, high on pineapple dole whip and chocolate-covered Krispie treats, riding rollercoasters until I couldn’t scream with joy anymore.
I hugged anonymous strangers wearing mouse costumes. I got drunk at a bar that resembled the inside of a Kmart kitset dollhouse. I spent an evening watching the Main Street electrical parade of Disney characters, floats and live performers covered in more than 600,000 electronically controlled LED lights – which was so wonderfully bizarre it made me feel like I was inside someone’s acid trip.
Full disclosure though, as a media guest of Disneyland I got the first class, private tour guide, Richie Rich experience – meaning I skipped the four-hour queues and instead sauntered straight to the front.
Hot tip #2 – invest in a Fastpass or ditch all your mates (you don’t need them anymore) and zip into the Single Rider Line.
When the rides have a seat or two that need to be filled, the singles get to fill the gaps – huzzah, that’s you, loner! You’re welcome.
Life as an adult in 2019 is so hard you guys – and it’s us, the adults, who need Disneyland the most, not kids whose lives are pretty easy breezy and fab most of the time.
Leave your kids at home and book tickets immediately.
For just two days, forget your life. Forget the mortgage, if you’re lucky enough to have one. Go to Disneyland. It’s not gross, commercialised or tacky. It truly is the happiest place on earth.