My Disney Experience



I never dreamed of going back to Disneyland, popularly known as “the happiest place on earth.” It was in 1986 when my wife, two young daughters, and I visited this park, which is a collection of exciting rides and shows featuring several Disney characters who could be seen throughout the park greeting visitors and posing for photos.

I don’t think I took advantage of all the rides then because we had with us two young girls, ages 7 and 3, whom we wanted to experience what being in “the happiest place on earth” really meant. That was our main goal.

What sticks in my mind about my Disneyland experience, after more than 30 years, was standing in long lines on a hot day. The collection of souvenir photos that my wife has neatly organized in an album helps me reminisce my Disney experience. But there’s always something missing.

So when my two daughters, now 40 and 37, brought up the idea of going to Disneyland with their kids and their husbands, my wife and I were excited to join them on one condition: that they take care of everything, including scheduling the rides with Fast Passes to avoid standing in line for a longer period.

So I literally craved for Disneyland, looking for a different experience than the one I had in 1986.

Like many people, I was excited to visit Disneyland. I would have the best time in my life, I said to myself. This time I just wanted to experience what Disney has to offer and in the process create memories with my family and our five grandchildren.

The excitement began immediately upon entering the main park. I had the best time just strolling through the park and looking at the different rides. There was just something about being in the park as I saw many young children; some were in strollers being pushed by their parents. Everyone appeared to be ready to just have fun and enjoy all of the attractions, especially the wonderfully unique new attraction, the Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.

I was slack-jawed and I had not even taken a single ride yet, although I was taking pictures left and right as part of my effort of collecting memories.

In 1986 I was not interested at all in some of the rides, especially those that make my stomach turn upside down. But, for a change, I challenged myself to be daring this time.

With the prodding of my sons-in-law, I tried the Guardians of the Galaxy, where one, together with a dozen or so people, is seated in a pod-like structure lifted and dropped several times at really high speed. My 4-year old grandson, sitting next to me, seemed to be enjoying, while I was nervously and anxiously waiting what was to come next.

I was also lucky to try one of the park’s classic attractions, the new Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. It was like being in an epic “Star Wars” battle. I was assigned the role of a gunner on a secret mission against the evil First Order. I didn’t do well shooting the enemies, but I definitely enjoyed the very “technologically advanced ride.”

I took in a few more attractions on this trip, including The Smuggler’s Run, Luigi’s Rollickin Roadster, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, Dumbo, The Flying Elephant, Toy Story Midway Mania, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blaster. But what I like the most aside from the Guardians of the Galaxy and The Rise of the Resistance are It’s a Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Small World is a boat ride that features traditional costumes from various countries. It’s like a musical cruise around the world. It makes one appreciate the beauty of multiculturalism and the need for unity because we are living in a small world. The song, “It’s a Small World,” could be heard in the background throughout the entire boat ride.

Pirates of the Caribbean, also a boat ride, offers a glimpse of what life was during the “Golden Age of Piracy.” The adventure begins in a bayou and plunges under water in the darkness, only to reveal to the boat riders the special world of pirate treasures.

In all our rides, we used the virtual queuing system that issued boarding group passes using the Disneyland phone app. Thus, we avoided the long lines.

On the way back to the hotel on our last day, I thought about what visiting Disneyland more than 30 years after my first visit in 1986 had taught me. Disneyland is much more than just for kids. It also has a lot to offer to adults who just want to have fun.

Indeed, Disneyland can be the magical place that Walt Disney had envisioned where family members can be happy to spend time together.