The average Disney fanatic will tell you countless stories about how their parents were devout Disney fans and will share time and time again every detail of their trips to the parks as children. Then there's me, not average by any means.
I never visited a Disney park as a child. We were poor, and in the real world poor people don't take vacations. To clarify - we were not destitute. We always had what we needed: clothes, food, hot water, countless books, a roof over our heads and lots of love, music & laughter. That was more than enough for us. My parents, skilled, professional employees, were hard workers who taught us the value of a dollar, which did not include family vacations to the Happiest Place on Earth. Growing up in the Bay Area, our entertainment funds went towards movies, Chuck E. Cheese, Bullwinkle's, Great America and our beloved SF Giants / Oakland A's. That was fine with me. Until I got older.
As I grew up my affinity for literature, art, film noir and music made it pretty obvious I was destined to be the token weirdo. I kept to myself a lot. I wrote all the time. I buried myself in music and books. I dreamt of being an innovator like Walt Disney, a director like Tim Burton, a dancer like Ginger Rogers, a guitar player like Dweezli Zappa, a hero like Lynda Carter, a musician like Prince and a funny girl on SNL. I watched Disney moves all the time. I was immersed in the animation and soon wanted so badly to visit Disneyland and go into the Haunted Mansion and the Enchanted Tiki Room. Because I graduated high school in south Florida, my dream sort of came true when our senior class took a short trip to the Magic Kingdom for Grad Nite. I say "sort of" because it was Disneyland I really wanted to visit, not Walt Disney World.
Fast forward to my twenties. In the early 2000s I was a divorced single-mom with a Disney addict daughter. Go figure. My boss at the time was a huge Disney fan and visited the parks often with her family. On her 5th birthday, I wanted so badly to take my Starlight, but the nostalgia was long gone and the last thing I wanted was to be overwhelmed by a crowded park and tourist prices. My boss assured me I could handle it, and armed with all of her tips - off we went to celebrate at the Disneyland Resort.
My first time walking into Disneyland Park I was 27 years old. I saw the park through the eyes of a 5-year old me, and my 5-year old baby. She was mesmerized. The innocence and wonder in her eyes warmed my heart. The nostalgia had returned, the cynicism had melted away and my creative spirit was renewed. The presence of Walt Disney, his creativity, his legacy, his love for his girls, his desire to unite parents and kids - it was there on Main Street. I could taste it. Disneyland to me is art, innovation, technology, passion and fearlessness. The odds were stacked against Walt and everyone had bet against him. But he didn't let that stop him. That is the true spirit of Disney. Dream it. Do it. Stop talking about it.
Since that first visit on the 4th of July in 2002, we have been Premium (now Signature Plus) Annual Passholders. We return to the parks multiple times per year and I have become the local expert on all things Disney and Disneyland, planning trips for others almost weekly. People email me, call me and stop me all over town to ask me for help planning their trips. It gives me great pleasure to not only help them, but to also share this love of Disney with my family. We finally took a family vacation to Disneyland, and it was pure magic. Just like I always thought it would be.
My passion for the artistry of Disney and the Disneyland Walt built is just of one of the many facets of myself and this blog. Stick around and enjoy my non-Disney content as well. It isn't all pixie dust.
I invite you to read all of my Disney related posts. You will be treated to a variety of Disney articles covering a wide array of topics: travel tips, food reviews, hotel reviews, entertainment and special events, limited time engagements, merchandise, park updates, secret tips and so much more.