It was just a month ago, that I found myself unable to go to sleep. You see, I was just too excited. I would be going to Disneyland the next day, for the first time.
The family, I was traveling with, picked me up at exactly 4:30 am. We were off to Ohare Airport. Our curbside checking went fairly quickly, and I was able to find a copy of the new Harry Potter book as we were walking to our departure gate.
The lovely scrapbook, that I received as a gift, on that morning; now holds wonderful Disneyland memories.
The flight went so smooth, that two of the kids took naps and I was able to read up to chapter 10 in my book. I remember the ride from LAX to the Hilton Anaheim. Our towncar driver, Harold, delivered us quickly to our hotel. I especially remember seeing the EXIT sign that said Harbor Blvd.
We had decided that first day, which was the 16th of July, to make our first stop Downtown Disney. I remember the walk through the entrance plaza, and all those big orange Block Party Bash cones. We were all snapping pictures of everything. I started with a shot of a red ART bus and kept snapping as we passed the security tents, the garbage cans with Jiiminy Cricket on them, the big letters that spell California, the 50th Anniversary banners, and then Disneyland Park itself. But we were headed for Downtown Disney, and that is where we went.
We were all hungry, and we had a very nice lunch at Naples. We toasted Disneyland. The kids were drinking Shirley Temples, with extra cherries. It was so good to finally be in warm, sunny, Anaheim California. We made our way to the Walt Disney Travel Company. We had some free gifts coming to us, and we were ready to collect. The beautiful 50th Anniversary tote bags were great for souvenirs. The kids had already stopped and bought some pins. I picked up an autograph book. We saw the castle made out of Legos at the Lego store, and shopped at the World of Disney. Enough of this dawdling, I was here to see Disneyland.
It was now about 2:30 pm. We made our way back to the front of Disneyland Park. Now I need to back this story up a bit. Let me paint you this picture. You have one mom, who is carrying a camcorder in one hand, and a digital camera in the other. This mom is taking video and pictures of the other mom, (who is also a granny). The granny is so excited to be finally entering the park, that she has her mouth open and is incessantly blabbing. Get the picture? Well the kids, the mom, the video camera, went first. Then it was my turn to go through the turnstiles. We were finally in! She managed to catch my expression at the exact moment I hit the turnstiles. So glad she did. We were amazed at the beauty of the floral Mickey, which was too crowded at the moment for a good shot. We headed instead, left, and read the sign before walking under the tunnel. I remember the happiness that I felt as I walked under the tunnel. I was here at Disneyland, and I could finally do all those things, that I had planned to do for so long.
I headed for the staircase that goes up to the train platform. I resisted looking at Town Square and down Main Street. I wanted my first glimpse of the castle to be as I was approaching it down Main Street. I wanted to first ride the train around the park. When Walt Disney opened the park on July 17, 1955, he rode the train around the park. When I got up to the top of the train station platform, I was not going to turn around. I would simply ride the train and see the castle and Main street later. Well, I hesitated. Yes, I finally did turn around. I was delighted at what I saw. There was Disneyland! Disneyland in all it's glory! I fell in love with it at that moment. I caught a glimpse of the castle. I get goosebumps now, as I type. I could feel the excitement of the place, the people, the sounds, the smells, the beauty, the absolute joy in the air.
Well it was about time we ride this train. We had to wait for two to depart, before I was pleasantly surprised by the arrival of the Ward Kimball. I had read on MiceChat, how he was the animator, who drew Jiminy Cricket. So riding the Ward Kimball that first trip around Disneyland was very special. I even managed to get a few good pictures, before it was "All Aboard". I just loved the dioramas.
Our timing could not have been better. When we arrived back at Main Street, the parade was stopped at City Hall. What parade float, do you suppose had stopped in front of City Hall? Correct. Pinocchio. I was in heaven, and Disneyland too. Jiminy Cricket was so close, I could just reach out and touch him. I knew he was waving, just to me. Now if someone had yelled, "Stop!" at that moment and also said "Barbara Ann, you must leave Disneyland now, you have seen enough." I would have been disappointed but still happy.
Now I knew that was not going to happen. Tomorrow was going to be the 50th Anniversary celebration. I had 6 more days to see Disneyland. 6 more days to take it all in. 6 more days for rides, and all those other wonderful things that I had planned, and dreamt about for so long.
So for the next 6 days I did. I saw Disneyland. I just can't believe it has been a month. Because even though I am back here in Chicago, and Disneyland is back there in Anaheim, Disnneyland is with me, here. It's here, in my heart.