I don’t “do” surprises and I don’t “do” crowds.
So obviously, something hijacked my body when I decided to surprise my kid by taking her to Disneyland for her 13th birthday.
It sort of went like this:
7 am - I question why we are doing this.
8 am - We arrive in line to board the tram. Abby goes to work helping an overwhelmed mom of 3 littles break down her stroller so she can get to “the happiest place on Earth.” We light a candle and pray for her.
We arrive. I aimlessly follow my children who have constructed an itinerary with play by play instructions solely to beat lines.
First stop: Millennial Falcon - my mission as “gunner” is confusing at best. I locate the blinking button to shoot as the ride comes to an end. My daughters’ disappointment is tangible.
Upon completion of Rise of the Resistance, a stormtrooper who believes he really is a stormtrooper, stops to interrogate me. The girls scatter and I am left slightly terrified. I feel like he knows my failures as a gunner. How does he know this? Maybe he really is a stormtrooper.
On our way to Pirates of the Caribbean, we spot Tiana. We wave wildly while refraining from pushing small children out of the way to get to her. She waves back. Somehow, we feel seen.
On the Mad Hatter, we think it’s a good idea to cram 3 full size humans into a car that seats only 2. Abby has a buttcheek resting firmly on each of our thighs on a ride whose creator was obviously under the influence of hallucinogens.
$15 Churro Stop - thanks Abby!
Next up is Snow White - why was it ever deemed safe to have a “princess” live with 7 small men who locate jewels for a living? This leads us to the Sleeping Beauty Castle, where I bellow AURORA repeatedly to no one in particular. Obviously, the acoustics in the narrow stairwells are designed for this. The girls pretend they don’t know me.
We get sucked into the Magic Parade down Main Street! Fun fact: the characters are chained to their floats so they don’t perish while giving you the show of their lives. I make a mental note to Google: “downed characters, Disneyland Parade ''. A mama’s hip nearby sways back and forth to the music with the most adorable baby attached to it. Now it is my mission to make stupid faces at my new small friend. I miss the rest of the parade because well, babies.
$12 Corn Dog stop - thanks Abby!
Teacups - I black out during this ride. Which leads us to The Lion King Show to rest. Upon completion, I want to give a standing ovation, but I remember I am surrounded by 3 year olds and this may scare them. I clap loudly, arms overhead. A toddler princess with glittered hair turns around to watch me. I wink at her.
Dinner Gumbo stop at Tiana’s Place - thanks Abby!
Coming from a Cajun background, I am floored at how authentic and delicious the dish is. I corner a waiter on my way out, begging him to give the chef a hearty congratulations on a Gumbo well done. He just nods politely, frightened by my enthusiastic conviction.
On our way out, a NOLA band on a BOAT accompanied by a light show on the WATER is within earshot. I abandon my children while I sing and dance.
As we meander down a lit up Main Street on our way out, I make eye contact with one last baby who is riding on Daddy’s strong shoulder after a long day. I grin, and she raises her tired tiny noggin, and smiles back.
I secretly watch my bookends from behind walk lock step with one another. This day was spectacular. Perfect. Magical.
If you're someone who doesn't "do" crowds or surprises, and then you actually do it, I see you...