I have never been to Disneyland by myself, have you? Would you want to go alone? If you are a Disney nerd like me you WANT the chance to go alone at least once. No kids to worry about, no time wasted trying to figure out which ride to go on, and no rushing from one ride to the other. Disneyland is awesome, it’s a lot of fun but I also found another side to Disneyland, one that Walt Disney himself enjoyed many times.
On the third and final day of the D23 Expo I had finally had my fill of the Expo and I needed a break from the crowds. So naturally I headed to Disneyland.
I went to the park in the late afternoon and as I entered the park I had a sense of calm yet I was REALLY excited, quite a mix bag of emotions. I was calm because I was alone and didn’t need to worry about where my kids were or if I had everything I needed for the day. I felt excited because I was entering Disneyland all alone. I was able to decide where to eat, shop and where I wanted to go next. For a Disney nerd this is an awesome feeling.
Once inside I was treated to the Mickey’s Soundsational parade. I stood and watched it for a bit but I was able to see the parade in a different way. I watched how the cast members in the parade really made connections to the kids on the parade route, even the adults too. When I normally watch the parade with my kids I am busy taking pictures and looking at my kids faces for their excitement and I enjoy seeing their happiness at making a connection with their favorite princess or Mickey Mouse. This time I was allowed to peek inside the happiness of the families around me, it was a weird feeling at first. I felt like I was intruding upon their day by partaking in their family moment.
I continued to walk up Main Street and ducked into a few stores along the way to avoid the parade crowd. I came out of one of the stores and I saw a window on Main Street that I wanted to photograph. I turned toward the window to frame my shot and a little girl stepped into my view to also look at the window. I looked up from my camera and saw that she must have just come from the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and was wearing a birthday button. Her name was the same as my daughters and I wished her a happy birthday. Then something strange happened. I asked her if she was having fun, I talked with her mom and her little sister for a few minutes. They told me they were a having fun day and the older girl felt like a princess, I replied “that’s because you are”.
At this point I was starving as I barely had breakfast at 9am and I skipped lunch, now it was almost dinner time. I headed to the Plaza Inn because I was craving Fried Chicken, which I don’t have very often but I know that Disneyland has the best Fried Chicken. I was able to grab a seat by the window looking out towards the corn dog cart near main street. There I sat, eating my meal and watching the people walk by. I think this was my first Diet Coke of the day too. I wasn’t able to finish my entire dinner, but it was sure delicious.
When I finished my meal I walked out of the Plaza Inn toward Tomorrowland and I saw a family pose for the cutest picture. There was a toddler in a stroller with a melted ice cream dripping all over him and her face and three other kids around him with Mickey Mouse ears on saying “cheese”, a very cute family picture moment for sure. I walked toward Tommorwland and I saw more and more people having fun! I actually was able to see other people having a great time at Disneyland. Normally I am so wrapped up in what my family is doing that I never pay attention to what is going on around me.
It was then that I stopped, dead in my tracks and I glanced over at the castle and I watched. I stood there for a good 15 minutes and I watched other families having fun, posing for pictures and I heard a lot of fun being had. I could feel the joy around me, I felt like I could reach out and touch it. That is when I knew how Walt must have felt when he was in Disneyland. He could feel the joy of the families around him and he knew that despite all the struggles he faced in creating his dream; it was a success. The happiness I felt in the park felt tangible, it felt real like I could reach out and give the park a big hug. I truly felt like I was walking in Walt’s footsteps that day.
For the rest of my evening in the park I took the time to stop and watch what was going on around me. I also took the time to look up when inside the buildings and notice the small details around the park. Have you ever done that? I don’t think I ever had time to stop and look around while at Disneyland. I felt like I was looking at the park in a whole new light.
At the end of the night I was headed out of the park when I thought that I better grab something to eat. I went back to the corn dog cart and picked up a delicious corn dog, these are my favorite! I sat down at a table near the corn dog cart, pretty much on the opposite side of where I sat earlier in the day when I ate the fried chicken. I was in for a treat because the fireworks were just about to start. I think I found a new great place to watch the fireworks from.
This was also the same day where I met Richard M. Sherman at the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe. This was a magical end to the weekend and the next day I headed home to my family. I am truly a blessed Disney nerd.