A love letter to Rob and Disneyland

Rob loves Disneyland. I grew up in L.A., so Disneyland always has been as familiar to me as the county fair. We discovered Disney’s California Adventure, the theme park next door, on our first visit to Los Angeles together. Since then, we’ve been to the pair of parks in Anaheim a bunch of times and in 2007 we spent 5 days at Disney World.

A magical place. The Happiest Place on Earth.


During our first visit in the summer of 2004, we swung circles inside a giant citrus on a ride called Orange Stinger at California Adventure. We hadn’t yet been dating a whole year. I had moved 2 1/2 hours away to Olympia, but our relationship had continued to grow. I flew with the cartoonish sound of bees buzzing in my ears, wind in my teeth from smiling so big and I couldn’t remember ever feeling so happy.

Orange Stinger has been replaced with the Silly Symphony Swings, which has better music, but feels much shorter. I miss the orange.

I was recovering from a cold during our most recent visit to the Happiest Place on Earth, and though I flagged a bit after a lunchtime glass of sangria, I was reminded of how much I love Disneyland and how much I love Rob at Disneyland.

My midday energy slump gave Rob a chance to show off his resourcefulness, cheerful easygoing nature, and irritating ability to fall asleep anywhere. At 3 p.m., we entered Disneyland proper for the first time of the day, having spent the morning at Cal. Adv. The lines for the renovated Star Tours and Ghost Galaxy Space Mountain were prohibitively long and they weren’t giving out any more Fast Passes.

At that moment, there wasn’t another single thing I wanted to do at Disneyland and felt like we might as well go home. Rob suggested walking to Critter Country and as we passed a display of carved pumpkins, I didn’t even think I could make it there.

Trying not to be a buzz kill, I suggested a quick trip on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I’d been losing my voice, so I didn’t want to scream, but the ride was exhilarating as ever. Even with a head cold, I love a roller coaster. The 15-minute line, though, was brutal. I suggested that we find a place where I could just rest while Rob ran around Critter Country or wherever. He said, “No, I’ll rest with you.”

We found a nook next to Davy Crockett’s Canoes, which weren’t running. I was tempted to duck the rope and nap ON a canoe. Rob took off his shoes and used them for a pillow, laying down on the concrete behind a boulder. I tried variously to relax by resting my head on his belly, on my shoes, and sitting with my back against the boulder. Earlier, when I struggled to put one foot in front of the other in Adventure Land, I thought I might actually be able to fall asleep if I just closed my eyes for a minute. Not so. Rob, on the other hand, was snoring.

Still, I was rejuvenated by the brief respite. With 20 minutes until we could use our Fast Pass at the Haunted Mansion, we strolled over to the bridge to Sleeping Beauty’s castle and sat on a bench watching waves of costumed families arrive for Mickey’s Halloween Party. This was a highlight, just sitting together smiling at baby Wolverines and Captains America. Entire groups dressed as the cast of Peter Pan. Heavyset teenage girls dressed in short, corseted dresses invoking Sexy Minnie, Sexy Cinderella, Sexy Wicked Queen. (I can mock, I own the Sexy Wicked Queen costume.)

Because we’ve been to Disneyland and California Adventure so many times and will go many more times, we can shrug off disappointments like not getting to ride Star Tours or Space Mountain. I didn’t even realize until this minute that the only rides we went on at Disneyland were Haunted Mansion and Big Thunder Mountain. At California Adventure, we hit The Little Mermaid, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (twice), Silly Symphony Swings, California Screaming and Soaring Over California. Rob always wants to go on Tower of Terror more than once, and I always feel a little bit like, “Really? Again?” But the rises and falls of that haunted service elevator are randomly determined, and the combination during our second ride may well have been the best. ever.
On our way out, we discovered the Wilderness Explorer Camp at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, which I compared to a dog park for children, where parents can take their kids to run out all their energy on ropes courses, rock walls and tire swings. We cut through the Grand Californian Hotel to get to the tram and discovered a lovely, enormous lobby with cushy chairs and a live pianist. We mentally bookmarked the spot for a future midday nap.
Disneyland brings out the best in us. I love Rob’s sense of wonder at discovering two new places we haven’t seen before. My feet were aching, but his enthusiasm is contagious. I said, “Yeah, let’s have a look. Let’s find out what my animal totem is.” (First try it was beaver, but I did it again until I got the salmon.)
We used to stay until closing, but we were ready to go at about 9. As the tram pulled up to the Mickey and Friends parking structure, we heard the first explosions of the fireworks show. We disembarked and sat beside each other at the tram stop, watching the fireworks light up the theme park, a safe distance from the crowds, just the two of us.

Published by Kari Neumeyer

Writer, editor, dog mom, ovarian cancer survivor

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