Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Through His Eyes

I've been privileged enough to visit Disneyland so many times in my life now, but it never gets old.  Even though it never gets old to me, I rarely get to experience something NEW.  That changed this past week when our nephew (along with the family) accompanied us on our trip.  Now, he went with us about a year and a half ago for his first trip, but at a year and a half old, he doesn't really remember it nor was he able to fully process where he was.  But this trip was something completely different.

Leading up to the trip, he had fully grasped what Disney and Disneyland was.  He now had favorite Disney movies, knew all the characters by name, and sang along with the songs.  He's now a full fledged Disney fan instead of when he was very young and simply watched them because they were visually stimulating.  He was now actually excited about getting to meet all these characters in person.  Besides Disney characters, he also had become very familiar with Disneyland rides thanks to the magic of YouTube.  He loved going on YouTube and watching rides, clearly having his favorites.  The lead up to going on the trip was much like many other kids, "When do we go to Disneyland?" being asked on a daily basis.  We had that feeling that this was going to be a special trip.  We had no idea just how special it would be.

Despite the excitement, he did a really good job of behaving throughout the long drive down to Anaheim.  His first moment of excitement was after the Grapevine and the view of Magic Mountain rides came in to view.  He screamed and pointed, "Disneyland!!!"  It was adorable that the site of roller coasters made him think we were there, but we had to break his heart and tell him we still had a little bit to go.  When we exited the freeway and told him we were almost there, he actually started clapping with excitement.  I know how that feels.  We checked in to our hotel and then my family had to wait in line to get their tickets validated.  It had been an hour since we got off the freeway and he was still so patient.  Finally, we got to go in through one of those magic tunnels and we were finally in Disneyland.

We were in the park for no longer than a minute that a parade started right where we entered.  Again, because of the magic of YouTube, he already knew the music for this parade and his eyes lit up when the music started.  We found an amazing place right at the start of the parade and as soon as the parade started coming out, you could see the excitement in his eyes.  It really was magic seeing him so excited, jumping up and down, waving to the characters as they came out, and dancing to the music. In all my years of going to Disneyland, it is easily one of my favorite moments of all time.  He was finally seeing something in person that he had only seen on a computer screen.  And he got it.  He got that he was in Disneyland and seeing things where they really happen.
Enjoying the parade

From there we headed over to Haunted Mansion, his favorite ride to watch on YouTube.  We told him where we were going, but he still asked once we walked in that first gate and approached the ride.  When we told him we were at Haunted Mansion, he bent over, put his hands on his knees, and screamed out, "Oh, GOD!"  I couldn't believe the excitement in his voice.  This was going to be great; his first ride was going to be an amazing experience.  And then as we entered the ride he screamed bloody murder.  We couldn't believe it.  He loved the ride on YouTube.  He was so excited 1 minute earlier.  And now he was too scared to go in.  We tried to calm him down to no avail.  We finally just decided that we were going to see what happens if we just bring him in.  He screamed as we entered the portrait room.  And then all of the sudden, he stopped.  It was like he flipped a switch as we walked that last hallway to the Doom Buggies.  He started pointing stuff out and asking questions.  He got on the ride with Jess and I and pointed things out the entire ride.  He had overcome what initially frightened him.  As we exited the ride, he begged to go on again.  In fact, he would beg to go on the ride all trip long, even after multiple times on the ride.

The next day we started meeting characters and he would run up to each and every one to give them big hugs.  There was no hesitation.  He had become so familiar with the characters over the last year and now seeing them in person, there was nothing but excitement.  Seeing the giant hugs for each character was pure Disneyland magic.  They were the kind of moments that Disney records and puts in their commercials.

This magic continued throughout the trip.  Huge smiles, pointing at everything on every ride, waving at any character that walked by, it all contributed to an amazing time for all involved.  I spent most of my time on this trip looking at him.  It was just amazing to see someone so excited about my happy place because they were seeing it all for the first time.  I can't remember my first time experiencing Disneyland so to see it through his eyes was truly a special experience that I will never forget.  Only at Disneyland.

Until we meet again


Jessica Valle said...

It was awesome, absolutely awesome. His excitement brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion. I love him so much, and to see him happy and enjoying himself made me so happy. I can't wait to go again with him!!!

Mom said...

This was a great post. Thank you.
I believe our timing was absolutely perfect. Starting with that parade was just perfect.
Disneyland is definitely one of my happy places but seeing it through his eyes was amazing. His innocence and love of a Disneyland made my heart full.
I look forward to returning with him and looking forward to seeing Harper with the same innocence and enthusiasm.
Great, great post!