The Happiest Place on Earth

Last Sunday, July 17th or on the park’s official 61st birthday, for the first time in 5 (6?) years I went to Disneyland again. Growing up a not-too-shabby 40 minutes from Anaheim, Disneyland trips were a part of my childhood. For me and so many of my friends who lived close, it’s funny to think of Disneyland as ‘THE’ Disneyland, as in a tourist destination, or something worth planning an entire vacation to see. For us, it was just a theme park that was close by. I grew up with parents who loved any and all things Disney, the kind of people you see walking around with lanyards full of collector’s pins to trade at the park and have an entire Christmas tree of Disney-themed ornaments. But my parents’ love for theme park outings faded over time as admission and annual pass prices skyrocketed and the California Resident’s discount vanished from existence. However, a lot of my friends today recall having annual passes into middle school and even high school, going in groups to the park after school to catch one or two rides or have dinner or spend their Saturdays together.

My best friend Madeline and I had meant to do this trip last summer before she moved to New York for school but the summer passed in the blink of an eye and neither of use had the resources to drop $140 on admission. So we waited it out and got tickets from dad’s coworker’s daughter, who happened to work there. If you’re ever reading this Stephanie Jackson, bless your soul.

We approached our day with a no-nonsense approach, systematically hitting all the rides we had on our “must” lists. After spending a straight 13 hours in both Disneyland and California Adventure, we went on a total of 15 rides, and got a spectacular and extremely close view of the fireworks. Not bad work, if I say so myself. At the end of the day we were both exhausted and had sore feet, things that were nothing like the relaxed old trips we’d take as kids but we were both so happy.

I could not have asked for a better person to spend this day with. Every line felt so incredibly short (with the exception of Soarin’, come on Soarin’ get your shit together), and with the exception of the lull of heat and exhaustion that hit around the high afternoon,  conversation was at a nonstop. I never run out of things I want to say to you, Madeline. Even if it’s just to tell you that I love you for the millionth time. So not only did I get to have a perfect Disney day but I also got to catch up with one of my best friends. The months we spend away from each other at school feel like a blink of an eye compared to the forevers you give me in these hours. I see my life like this: so blissfully sun-bleached and nostalgic, you give me years between the seconds and calm in the eye of the storm that is growing up. It feels like I’ve known you all my life. Whoever said that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth has never had a best friend like you by their side.

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