Our resolve to visit the first Disneyland Park in Anaheim, U.S.A. was realized 15 years after our visit to Disneyland Paris.
Considering the passage of time and destiny intervening in our lives, we brought our grandsons Sebastian (Basti) and Andoni. We would have loved to bring along our third grandson, Sean, but he was too young then to appreciate and have fun in “the happiest place on Earth”.
Furthermore, it would be impossible for us to take care of two boys who, at times, become riotous when together, and to be running after a toddler wanting to join them.
Our adventure started with a seven-hour road trip from our apartment at Roseville to Anaheim.
We were booked in a hotel just across the street from Disneyland Park. Eager to be first on the line, we woke up early only to find out that other park guests had the same idea.
Disneyland Anaheim has more entrances than Disneyland Paris and there were more guests as we saw kilometric lines of people towards the dozen or more gates. It took us some 10 minutes to enter.
There are about eight theme lands inside the park, each catering to the interests of the guests – the Maine Street U.S.A., Fantasyland, Adventureland, Frontierland, Critter Country, Mickey’s Toontown, New Orleans Square and the newest addition at that time, Star Wars: Galaxy Edge.
As we excitedly walked through Maine Street, we saw several Disney characters walking about and posing for photos with the guests and so to avoid crowding, guests were required to line up for photoshoots with the characters, especially in front of the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle. Basti and Andoni, of course, had some photos taken with the characters.
As with our experience in Disneyland Paris, we had to bear the inconvenience of lining up under the heat of summer to watch the shows and the thrilling rides.
We observed the guests came from different parts of the world – Europe, Asia, Africa, north and south America – all patiently waiting for their turn at the rides and shows.
We had the chance of talking with an Australian father who brought his family of five who told me that it was their third and last day at the park but they would return in the future. He said it was worth the expense and time to bring his family there to enjoy while their kids are still living with them. In fact, it was also the first time that he and his wife came to Disneyland.
We noticed several Spanish speaking guests, many of whom were from Mexico. Actually, there were several employees of Mexican descent who are working in the park, together with some Chinese, Japanese, and Filipinos, who spoke better English than the other employees.
Understandably, there were more exciting and thrilling rides in Anaheim than in Paris because this is the original park and several years have passed and new stories and characters were developed by Disney Studios.
Basti and Andoni updated us on the new Disney characters and movies and the technology, tools and gadgets for making film animations and futuristic movies were developed over time.
Disney Studios kept up with the times and in 2012 bought Lucasfilm Ltd., the makers of “Star Wars” and “Indiana Jones” for $4.05 billion.
Basti and Andoni had the time of their lives hopping from rides to snacks to shows and playing with each other as we went around the park mingling with other guests of different nationalities. They were even picked to participate in a Star Wars game where they enthusiastically joined.
Nena and I acted as their yayas cum managers as we interspersed our time with them, like kids too, from one theme land to another, riding and watching shows as time would allow in our two-day adventure including our visit to Disneyland California Adventure which is within the 500-acre Disneyland.
As yayas we went with them in all the thrilling and dangerous rides and shows; kept them clean after eating and drinking; and bought souvenirs that they cajoled us into buying for them. Of course, in the two days that we spent in the park, we watched the mesmerizing and spectacular electrical parade at the main street and the Fantasmic show in Frontierland, which is an epic battle between good and evil starring Mickey Mouse.
Each day ended with a one hour electrical parade of floats with Disney characters aboard, dancers in colorful costumes and bands in between floats all dancing to Disney-themed music, capped by a glorious 15-minute fireworks display which flooded the park with multi-colored lights.
In the two nights that we were there, the extravaganza soothed our body and mind of the aches and pains of the day’s adventure – at least for the yayas but not for Basti and Andoni who would continue with their sword plays inside our room before we all retired for bed.
We never could not satiate the appetite for fun and imaginings of Basti and Andoni, so we promised to bring them back when we can take along Sean to join in the fun. (To be concluded).