What makes the ‘happiest place on earth’ happy?


In the world of imagination, I found the “happiest place on earth”, just like countless of others. On a long holiday weekend in September, I enjoyed the entertainment features of Disneyland and California Adventure with my son John, daughter-in-law Natasha, and grandson Eliott. To boot, we stayed at the luxurious and extravagant Disneyland Hotel at a corner suite where lights all around flickered like gems at night, and where sleep was most comfortable on thick, snow white feathery beddings that generously billowed around the head and body when laying on them.

I felt like a kid again. In both amusement parks, I experienced rides I never dared to go on before, like those of Mr. Toad, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Astro Blasters, Toy Story Mania, or Spider Man. Pretty mild, you might say – but to this baby boomer Lola, mild is crazy.  And of course, I dared not go near the authentically crazy rides. Guess what! I had more fun with those new rides than I expected, and certainly can do them again next time I visit the “happiest place on earth”.

But I shall not exchange for the thrill of all those other rides my favorites, It’s a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted House and Peter Pan. I would not want to miss either a comfortable and restful sit-out at the Tiki Room, listening to birds singing lively tunes that remind us that we’re still in that world of imagination, in case we forget.

Always the excited kid at fireworks displays, often, I jerked my head upwards to capture all the angles of the light sprays in the sky, not wanting to miss a single burst of sensational patterns and colors. I basked in the magic that fizzled out so quickly. Fabulous loud music accompanied the booms that ushered the appearance and disappearance of jewels in the sky.  Fireworks always awe me. But in this world of imagination, they also intrigued me. I thought, are they like beautiful dreams that fizzle out so quickly? Can’t we just hold them in the palm of our hands and let them stay there? You see, the fireworks made me think like a little kid again.

For me, the surprise of that long delightful weekend was the lavish display of lights, music and water at California Adventure’s World of Color. It was magical, visually and audio-wise.  We were advantaged to be positioned by the railing in front and saw in panoramic view the sensational show that featured music and hologram images from Mulan, Moana, Coco and Encanto, among others. In my opinion, it was a sensitive rendering that highlighted the spirit and message behind Disney’s vision of entertainment that spans time, age and differences – the thrust of which is, we are one and the same, regardless of origin and orientation – we want the same thing – that spirit of joy and love, a lively respite from the broils of the world.  With a cringe of strange nostalgia, I thought of Disney at that moment, and quietly thanked him for his vision that we all enjoy in that “happiest place on earth”.

The bonus for being close to the front during the World of Color show?  We got generously sprinkled with water mists at the finale. The scarf over my head and the front of my blouse got very damp.  I didn’t mind at all.  I was happy!

Our grandiose dinners at the Pirates’ Bayou and California Adventure’s elegant outdoor restaurants did not disappoint. They were the gourmet highlights of the days. I especially enjoyed my tender filet mignon and flavorful broiled salmon. But of course, the casual lunches were fun as well, not to mention the rush for available table and chairs amidst the frenzied and merry crowds.

What I didn’t tell you at the beginning of this blog is that I was comfortably pushed on a wheelchair arranged for me by my son John.  You see, I went for that vacation with knee and leg pains.  I didn’t want to miss out on the fun. On Friday when my daughter Joy and son-in-law Matt drove me to Disneyland Hotel and downtown Disney (after about a week’s restful vacation at their Hermosa Beach home), I was already moving around on a wheelchair operated by Matt.  On Saturday-Sunday, John, Eliott and Natasha took turns pushing my chair at the amusement parks. My “pushers” assured me it was no hard chore – and I so hoped they were right. So you see, in the “happiest place on earth”, I also found kind service, attention, thoughtfulness  and love. Yet, I wasn’t surprised.  I thank God and my family for such a gift!

Oh yes, there were thrilling and teasing moments during my wheelchair rides. When the corridors or alleyways were free, Eliott would run my wheelchair (efficiently and safely) to an exciting speed. And on downhill streets, Matt would tease saying that he wasn’t holding my wheelchair.  You got it! This baby boomer Lola certainly had fun! Reckless fun? Not really.

What truly makes the “happiest place on earth” happy?  Definitely, it is enjoying and sharing fun with family, loved ones and friends!  I saw plenty of that there. 

Linda P. Jacob