We get the same response from a lot of people when they hear where we're going on vacation: "You're going back there again?" We are nothing if not creatures of habit. We like our Disney, and we like it in big steamy, fun-filled days. It is a tradition that has been handed down from my father and, well, from my father anyway.
Growing up, my family didn't make that many trips to the Magic Kingdom, but when it was time, each of us three boys were introduced to the House of Mouse in order that we might one day find a way to preserve the order. My older brother, though he lives half a continent away from either of the American Disney parks, has made it a priority to get himself and as much of his family as he can manage to Anaheim on a regular basis, with an occasional stop in Orlando as well. He is a franchise kind of guy.
I am very much the same way, having made my biggest connection to Disneyland eighteen years ago, when I drove down from Oakland with my girlfriend to meet my younger brother and some friends for the day. Little did we know that we would be inaugurating a trend. Later, when that girlfriend became my wife, we insisted that one of the ports of call on our honeymoon was Disney World. It gave my father-in-law great pause to know that this new addition to his family was so consumed with an amusement park.
I could have told him what I tell other people: It isn't just an amusement park. It's a way of being. The people are nicer there. They're helpful to the point of absurdity at times, and while I've certainly had a few tough days in The Happiest Place On Earth, I know that any day in Disneyland beats the heck out of any day on the job. Even standing in line is relatively pleasant there, and they've just given us all a way to avoid even that by clever use of the Fast Pass system, that allows guests to return at a more convenient time to skip the extra stress of having to wait for a chance to get spun, turned, dropped or tossed about. You could spend day just sitting on a bench near Main Street watching the people go by and have a pretty good time. One night, as we stood watching a fireworks spectacular from behind Sleeping Beauty's castle, a helpful Disney insider - not an employee but a seasoned observer of such things - shouted, "Look to the Matterhorn!" Sure enough, suspended high above the expanse between Fantasy and Fontierland was Tinkerbell, flashing through the rockets' red glare. It gave us all a deeper sense of community, and mild obsession. The next day, a cast member gave my son an "Honorary Citizen of Disneyland" button just for being such an interested observer as we loaded into the submarine ride. I don't know when I've been so proud. Or so jealous.
We're just about done with this trip, but we're already anticipating the next. Waiting in line for Pirates of the Caribbean is nothing compared to waiting for your next trip to Disneyland.