My daughter and I stood on Main Street USA a few weeks before Thanksgiving 2005, our arms wrapped around each other, sobbing on each other's shoulders, while fake snow fell all around. At home, the phone kept ringing with calls I didn't want to answer, mostly the hospital asking when I was going to make arrangements to deal with my husband's body when I couldn't even talk the the mortuary 'till the next day. Your husband just died of an unexpected heart attack, what are you going to do? We went to Disneyland.
Disneyland is an escape, magic, a place I never have to grow up. There are so many memories there. I was born 4 days before Disneyland first opened it's gates, but my parents we not amusement park people, so it was nearly 10 years before I walked through them. During my single mom years, I still managed to take each of my boys on a one-on-one special day. During my years homeschooling my daughter there were a number of years we had passes. There are few places in the park that don't hold some memory for me of my children and now of my grand-children.
I had a pass in 2005, my husband only got to use his a couple of times. I had a pass in 2010, but I was having a lot of problems with gout and didn't feel I got nearly enough value out of it. This year, Disneyland and I are turning 60, and I got a pass again.
People say to me "It has gotten too expensive." I get it. When I was a kid you could spend the day there, with lunch, for about $20. But gas was under thirty cents a gallon. Rent on a basic 2 bedroom apartment was under $100. My mom made good money, around $5 and hour. Rent for a two bedroom in Orange county now runs over $1,500 a month if you are lucky. Relative to that, a one day pass is a deal, and there is so much more to do in the park than "back in the day."
Never the less, this will probably be my last annual pass. It isn't the expense and it isn't that I don't still love those magic moments. It is that I am just feeling my years.
It is so crowded and people have gotten so rude and pushy I feel like I can't even walk and just look around without being in the way. I know part of that is my perception, but it really does take a lot of the fun out of the day. I also don't have energy or patience for more than just a few hours of it at a time.
And it is harder for me to get into and onto and out of this and that. My knees and ankles are not as reliable as they once were. The boats for Small World and Pirates seem so low, he steps onto the the tram seem so narrow and treacherous. I know they won't move 'till I'm seated, but that doesn't help, I just feel like I'm holding up the line and in the way.
There are to many places where you can't even pause to take a picture anymore. You have to stand in line to get close to the statue of Walt and read his famous words. and yet you can't walk without someone suddenly stopping in front of you to take a selfie.
And for every memory I have of a time with a child, or my aunt, or the Girl Scouts, there is a ride that is no longer there or so altered. No one remembers the Swiss Family Robinson anymore, so It's Tarzan's Treehouse. I love Star Tours, but I will never again be shrunk down to the size of an atom. I don't begrudge the changes, I'm just old and nostalgic. I think I'm done.
But I do say I probably won't get another pass. Life has a way of surprising me. This year I am being surprised with a third grandchild. Who knows what changes my happen between now and our 65th year.
But this year, I go when I have time, when I feel like it, often by myself. I walk the park with my memories. In my mind I hold little hands and my husband's hand. I hear my Aunt tell me about New Orleans Square. I sing It's a Small World with my Girl Scout troop. I remember a little pink princess. This place will always be part of who I am, and even when they are sad, it is still my laughing place.