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What I learned in Disneyland
posted by John : October 9-15, 2011

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Swimming in October?

They say you should only stop learning when you're dead. With that in mind, I looked at our "vacation" in Disneyland as an opportunity to expand my mind. Here's what I learned in the seven days down south.

Just because it's October doesn't mean you're not gonna roast. Ok, I should have known this one. I've been hot and I've been cold in October, but 90F? Seriously? So much for making it through the week smelling nice. Or wearing jeans. Or using the wool socks I brought.

Wool socks aren't just for when it's cold outside. Actually, I did wear the wool socks, but only because my toeseys got terribly cold since we had the A/C blowing non-stop in the hotel rooms. And, no, they weren't really wool. They were educated wool.

If you spend too much time with little kids in Disneyland you start talking like them. There I was thinking I'd gotten beyond baby talk. Heck, I have been known to suggest to my kids that they aren't allowed to do the baby talk thing unless they are far away from me and perhaps have kids of their own.

It'll be sad when my kids are all grown up and have kids of their own. I mean, it'll be sad, but in a good way. How much longer will they be oohing and ahhing at It's a Small World? When will they start looking through the crack's in Walt's near-perfect facade to see how it all works?

After three times you start thinking It's a Small World isn't so bad. It's kind of like Stockholm Syndrome, but far more serious. What's next? Enjoying roller coasters?

I still hate roller coasters. If God had intended us to go that fast he wouldn't have given us the fear. Same goes for hurky jerky motions while looking over a precipice. I don't care how safe it is. I ain't gonna like it.

If it's too safe it's boring. This kind of goes back to the It's a Small World thing, but applies equally well to the rides depicting the stories of The Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, and Roger Rabbit. Except Roger Rabbit was closed.

It sucks when the rides you want to go on are closed. Even if it's just for a few minutes. When you've finally gotten brave enough to go on California Screamin' you need to go RIGHT NOW or your brain will kick in and you'll remember you hate roller coasters. Let's just be glad Star Tours was never closed.

Star Tours is the best ride in either park. This isn't something we learned, but just a fact to be repeated over and over again. It was the best when it opened and now that it's got 3D and new, mix-n-match scenarios it's even better. Plus, two of the three times I rode it one of our collection of kids was identified as a REBEL SPY! I mean, I knew they were sympathizers, but spies! How cool is that?

Being in the Jedi Training Academy is better than being a rebel spy. Duh. But let's dig deeper. A) You get a padawan robe to wear. B) You get a FRICKIN' light saber. C) You get trained by a JEDI MASTER! D) YOU FIGHT DARTH VADER AND DARTH MAUL! E) YOU WIN!

Every padawan needs a light saber of his very own. Again: Duh. Luckily, we thought ahead and didn't need to buy a light saber at the somewhat inflated Disneyland prices.

Giving a padawan a light saber when he's already jacked out of his mind might not be the best idea. How were we supposed to know he would use his new powers on us? Between the constant Force pushes and frequent attempts to cut off our limbs it's a wonder we survived.

You will survive. It seriously looked dubious at times. The kids are far better suited for this kind of adventure than adults. Sure, they'd get tired, but I often felt as though it was all over. Heck, I was often asleep before they were.

When your kids get tired let them sleep. Yeah, we had plans to get to the park at X o'clock, but letting them sleep was a far better plan. Forget the detailed planning and just wing it.

Detailed planning will make it better. Call her Julie McCoy if you want, but Amy did this one right. From the big stuff like travel and hotel to the best times to go to certain attractions to the best way to get a certain little boy selected for Jedi training, Amy had it all figured out.

Don't call your wife Julie McCoy. I mean, at least not unless you're both into that.

If they're not into it, don't force it. When the boy says he doesn't want to go on the roller coaster don't make him. Seriously. If I wanted to go, I would have.

If you want to go, get a Fast Pass. Last time we were here we got a magical Fast Pass that let us onto any ride we wanted to with minimal waiting. This time, we had to slum it with the rest of the crowds and get Fast Passes for each ride. And they weren't even good right away! Like we have that kind of patience!

You better have a lot of patience. Even with Fast Passes you aren't going to walk onto any ride. Well, no ride worth riding. Go early or stay late.

Don't go early AND stay late. Talk about pushing your luck. Even if you can get to the park early and you get your Fast Passes and you beat the crowds don't think it needs to be a marathon. It's totally ok to go back to the hotel about 3pm for a nap.

After your nap, go back to the Park. Ok, I know this kind of contradicts the previous lesson, but what I really mean to say was "Don't go early and stay late (without a nap)," but that sounds lame. So as long as you've rested, go to the park when it's dark. It's a different place. Especially around Halloween.

Go to Disneyland for Halloween. It's dark. It's spooky. It's cooler than it was during the day. All the characters are out, even the "evil" ones. Just be sure you bring a backpack capable of holding about five pounds of candy per person. (Adults included.)

Bring a backpack that's capable of carrying a lot of weight. I brought my daypack. I'm used to carrying about 15-20 pounds in it. Even though I hike a lot (some might say too much, but they'd be wrong) I wasn't ready to carry 25 pounds in a daypack each day for a week. Needless to say, it was a challenge at the end of the day to put an addition 40-50 pounds of child on my shoulders for the walk back to the hotel.

It's all for them. Yeah, I went on Star Tours three times. Yeah, Amy rode Space Mountain and California Screamin'. But when the monkeys said they wanted It's a Small World again, we went. When they said they wanted ice cream, we bought it. And when they were up at 6:45 because they were too excited we tried to be tolerant. Because secretly, we were kind of excited, too. We're just better at hiding it.

(There were approximately 3,000 photos shot with seven different cameras so I can't be sure who took which photos. How about this: If you like the photo and I'm not in it, I took it. Otherwise, it was someone else.)

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