If you were a nearly-two-year-old, with the knowledge and height and imagination and temperament and vocabulary of a nearly-two-year-old, you’d think it was the scariest place on earth too. Especially when it’s new years eve and there is hardly enough room in the park to lift up your turkey leg to your mouth let alone enough hours in the day to get through one epically long line to do the jungle cruise – which, by the way, is not a cruise.
All the jokes we make as teens about how Alice in Wonderland is trippy becomes nothing short of extremely terrifying for a nearly-two-year-old when it’s live and you’re inside of it. Hell, thrown about in a rickety ride in the pitch black of a cave and you’re then suddenly thrashed into the sight of the Cheshire cat’s teethy smile and daggered eyes, only it’s in fluorescent colour, and accompanied by a giggle that stinks of horror and madness? It’s extremely terrifying for anyone. Adults just giggle straight back, but it’s the kind of laughter that fights back tears and winces and possibly flatulents of mind-altering anxiety. You know the kind?
My nearly-two-year-old just loved the Winnie the Pooh ride. Not. It was just short of a nightmare. And Dumbo? Are you kidding? Those beloved floppy-eared, doe-eyed ‘phants are only there to lure in the kids before they propell way too high above the ground – and the tiny lever that allow parents to control the height of the individual Dumbo car is a haux. It does less than the Disney workers who stand by the side of the perfectly paved Main street, waving and smiling and holding back the pain of their RSI.
My jest-filled cynicism aside, I had an absolute ball at Disneyland. When you add in the poor memory and superior resilience of my nearly-two-year-old girl, (and if you added to her vocab,) she’d tell you that she had a ball too. She went on multiple “choo-choo” rides and ate a lot of snack foods and went on the horsie (the merry-go-round) and saw Woody and Buzz in a parade and got an overdose of colour and sound and played in the bubbles that magically fell from the sky… And I got to move about on a number of great but stomach turning rides (most notably Soaring Over California and California Screamin’) and eat a large, very expensive pickle and see fireworks and laugh at the array of characters at the grounds (and I mean the ones not employed by Disney).
Disneyland was fantastic and maybe definitely one of the happiest places on earth. Only, it was also pretty scary.