For my twenty-eighth birthday (celebrated just yesterday), my girlfriend’s parents presented us with a dream vacation to magical Disneyland. Her parents knew how much I wanted to go there for the 50th anniversary (celebration started in May of this year) and so they thoughtfully put us there. Though all did not go as planned and there were some mishaps, it was for the most part just as exciting as we hoped it would be.

Early Airline Problems
We got up at around three-thirty in the morning to go to the airport – Elizabeth’s mother and her brother Brandon were to drop us off. I had the foresight the previous evening to load up the coffee maker so that we would be able to have fresh coffee in the morning. This turned out to be a magnificent idea as we were thoroughly exhausted from having slept only a couple of hours at most.

There were surprisingly a lot of people at the airport for a quarter after four in the morning. It ended up being because the counter was closed for a couple of hours. We were about three quarters of the way down the line when an announcement was made that the flight to Los Angeles that had been scheduled to depart at 6:05am had been cancelled.

I started getting a little bit upset when I was asked to step to another line and then, halfway into that line, was told to get into an entirely different line – the first line I was diverted to was not the line for me. I then saw other people who were on our flight getting back into the original line walking away with tickets. That was certainly a relief. My concern returned when I overheard a woman getting increasingly frustrated with what the person at the ticket counter was telling her. I grabbed her attention momentarily and she told me that she had been on the same flight as us and that her only option presented was to fly out the next day. We did not have the luxury of this option as our hotel was booked for a fixed period of time that began that day, not the next day – and which ended four days later, not five days later. We had tickets which let us in for four days, and we wanted to take full advantage of them.

Elizabeth’s brilliant idea which got us a flight came in the form of her best friend Beckie being able to pick us up anywhere in the Los Angeles area. I called the airline, which was a bit strange since I was standing in line at the airport. I told the phone clerk that we could go anywhere in the Los Angeles area, and he said that he could get us a flight leaving at six fifteen going to Orange County. There was just one little catch – it was going to go to the Orange County airport by means of Denver, Colorado. I may not be all that strong in terms of geography but I’m pretty sure that there are better ways to fly from Seattle to Orange County than through Denver.

Day One: Slightly Short
Our first day at Disneyland was cut slightly short because of this flight cancellation – we ended up landing in California closer to one o’clock than to the nine a.m. we were hoping for. Elizabeth’s friend Beckie and her boyfriend Kevin picked us up at the airport and popped us over to our hotel, where it was too early to check in. I changed into my Diablo the chicken t-shirt (from the Goats comic) and slathered myself with sunscreen, courtesy of Target. We packed up Elizabeth’s backpack with food, Goobie Bear, and a newly purchased Giraffe Bear (he came from a newspaper store in the Denver airport) and made the short walk over to Disneyland.

The first day could be described as our attempt to hit up all of the big important rides. We therefore went on Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones, Buzz Lightyear: Astroblasters, Pirates of the Caribbean, and the Haunted Mansion. Believe it or not, between riding on those rides, waiting in line for the rides, having a snack break, and taking photographs, that was the entire day up until nearly midnight. That was when the park closed and we returned to our respective rooms. By far, the longest wait for a ride was for Space Mountain, at nearly two hours. Splash Mountain was the next longest wait, but since we got a FastPass ticket we only had to wait twenty minutes instead of the anticipated two hours plus for the so-called standby line – bringing back memories of the standby line for Saturday Night Live, minus the overnight wait.

Days Two and Three
The second two days we were in Disneyland were idyllic, with a reasonably good daily schedule. We woke up early in the morning, walked over to the park, and spent the day riding the best rides we could find and looking as many wonderful fiftieth anniversary exhibitions as possible. We got to see the Muppets in 3-D, Steve Martin talking all about how he used to work at Disneyland when he was young, and were frightened by the running about of little insects. There was also a little bit of shopping, and a lot of browsing. Many times I find it more fun to window shop than to actually shop.

Day of Departure
Part of our package deal was that we could have early entry to the Park on one of the days of our visit. Unfortunately, we didn’t see that this did not apply to certain days of the week, one of them being Wednesday. So we majestically strode into the park at six o’clock in the morning, wondering where everyone else was. Everyone else was, apparently, sleeping, because they realized that the park wasn’t going to open for another two hours. We therefore took a short tour of the Downtown Disney, the super shopping area that has lots of Disney to choose from along with Jamba Juice and other non-Disney shops. The lines started forming at around seven o’clock, which made me think that the park was still going to open early – but it wasn’t for another hour. I am pretty sure we were the third or fourth people that entered into the park, with a gargantuan line formed behind us and at every other gate to the park.

We chose this day to go to Fantasyland, which is full of rides that regularly have ridiculously long lines. We quickly got on the Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, and Dumbo rides, and to say the least much fun was had. Wednesday was the day that we did all of the last minute shopping that we wanted to do for those friend and family of ours who were hoping for some souvenir of some sort. I got a plethora of free pamphlets, napkins, and other decorated free items for those family members of mine who didn’t want me to spend any money on them.

Back at the airport, there was yet more trouble. It turned out that the airline had used our return ticket to get us back from Denver to the Orange County airport, and that was why I was having trouble finding our ticket back home. The ticket clerk quickly did some impressive computer work and we once again had tickets. While waiting for the boarding process to begin, I found the new issue of Hello! magazine and picked up some Starbucks coffee – something we had been lacking since we had left. Curiously enough, there is no Starbucks to be found at Disneyland. Your choices of coffee more or less are limited to Nescafé. After that much Nescafé, I had a strong need for a short organic milk lattè – my usual choice of drink at Starbucks nowadays. Unfortunately they had neither short cups nor organic milk, so I went for a tall soy lattè instead. At nine-thirty five at night we finally arrived in Seattle, having been away for over four full days.

Lack of Starbucks and flight problems aside, our stay at the Magic Kingdom was indeed a happy homecoming – one of the happiest in my memories. I would suggest to anyone that is capable of doing so to visit Disneyland during this spectacular celebration. It could very well be a once-in a lifetime opportunity that you really don’t want to miss.