The Magic of the Kingdom

For the kids’ spring break, we did Disneyland. It’s kind of silly to pay for Disneyland, since we have a family connection who can get us in for free on a weekend, but there was something about choosing to go when it worked for us, paying the full price fare (or in this case, buying the cheapest passes possible), and turning it into a vacation.

Hour plus wait (for mom) and all she wanted was a hug

Almost eight hundred dollars later, we were navigating our way through a very crowded park with two overwhelmed children. Some kids might think Disneyland looks like, well, an amusement park, but ours are less than thrilled with busy, noisy, in-your-face places. Faced with the endless options, they seemed to retreat into a shell that begged, “Take us somewhere quiet!” and I turned to B with serious second thoughts.

But we coaxed them along, choosing rides and experiences that were easy on the senses. We held hands and piggybacked and bought giant lollipops. By early afternoon, the kids hit their stride, and Disneyland unfolded into the world of magic it was meant to be. K got to meet her princesses; M got to train at the Jedi Academy.

I hear a lot of Disney stories from friends with passes. Their kids have moved on to grown up rides, they swear, at least after they bought the three year old “Pretty Tall” platform shoes (yes, they actually make shoes with sneaky one inch bases) to get past the height requirement.

He actually jumped up and down to earn this one.

We’re not there, and I couldn’t be happier. I looked at K, a half inch shy of the 40″ bar, and my heart broke. I carried her sleeping, struggling under her length and weight, realizing that it won’t be much longer before she would be too old for me to do so. While they were still thrilled by the simple experience of taking a train around the park–something we did on our first trip a year ago–we’ve graduated to the swinging gondola on the giant ferris wheel and the-faster-the-better tea cups. It’s an in-between place, and when it seems like life is passing way too quickly, I’m happy to find a chance to enjoy the past and the present for a little bit longer.

K slept through fireworks, the Tiki Room, and the elephants/spears/gunshots of the Jungle Cruise. She also plowed through two sizable twirl lollipops and a half bag of cotton candy. M, on the other hand, stuck strictly to ice cream and eked out the chance to fight both Darth Vader and Darth Maul. He wisely told me, after reporting that they sing all the lyrics to “It’s a Small World” in music class, that he gets enough of it there. At the end of the day, they both begged for flashy light sabers, and who were we to say no? It’s a beautiful thing, two siblings who don’t let gender get in their way.

 When I walk onto Main Street now, I always comment to my husband how very small everything seems. “In my head the castle’s HUGE,” I told him, “and the buildings tower on all sides.” “That’s how it looked when you were a kid,” he said. And so it did. As we walked through that castle, impressive now only to people half my size, we pass Snow White and both kids paste themselves to the bars for a glimpse. “There she goes,” I tell them, and they watch in awe as she goes just walking right by. It really is magic, at least for them. I’m lucky to get to live that magic all over again.

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