Day six of the epic California Road trip, and we were finally getting to the most epic day of the bunch: New Year’s Eve, at Disneyland, with a special bonus at midnight. If you’re just joining us, be sure to catch the worst day of the trip, when we got sick and stuck in traffic in the middle of nowhere. Then check out the great day we had at Sea World.
We headed into the Magic Kingdom and were pleased to find out that not only does Disneyland have RV parking, but it’s right at the Tram to the main gates. We had a quick ride to the entrance, and gave the boys their freedom again. “Look guys, you can come with us to California Adventures, or you can go wherever you want, as long as you keep in touch via phone,” I said. The boys opted to go into Disneyland, and ride the “big kids” rides. I wished them well, remembering how they hadn’t actually ridden anything at Sea World. Arwen and I headed to California Adventures, where I’d hoped to get Arwen a private audience with royalty.
I wasn’t disappointed, and neither was she.
In what is perhaps the coolest thing ever, both for a dad and for a little girl, Disneyland now offers several “personal” encounters with their characters. They didn’t have this when I was a kid: you used to have to just hope to catch Mickey or Donald wandering down the street to get a photo op, and it was always in the middle of a huge crowd of other people wanting to do the same.
Now they set up specific queues just for those encounters, and the characters take time to talk to the children, pose for photos, and make them feel very special. And it so turns out that Queen Elsa and Princess Anna from Arendelle had set up court in a corner of California Adventures, just down the street from where their snowman, Olaf, had set up his personal flurry to deliver real snow to Southern California.
Elsa asked Arwen what she was looking forward to doing at the park. Arwen said “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Anna said, “Oh we stay away from pirates. They’re always trying to steal our chocolate!” This was the most impressive part of the entire Disneyland visit for me. Two actresses taking five minutes to make Arwen feel like the entire park revolved around her, and it worked. Magnificent marketing, brilliantly executed. As we left, Arwen said, “Dad, I’m a fan of this place.”
Later we found more Princesses who wanted an audience with Arwen.
Then Arwen decided she wanted to scare the shit out of me. We went on the Tower of Terror. Here’s what that ride does. It shoots you straight up 5-6 stories, then drops you 5-6 stories. Then shoots you up 10 stories, opens a door to show you how F&%^ing high you are over Disneyland, then drops you again. Over and over again until you’re a babbling mass of sobbing manhood and your daughter is laughing hysterically because she thinks it’s the most awesome thing she’s ever done.
After that, we headed to Radiator Springs, where just like in San Diego, everything was still decked out for Christmas.
This was my first time to Radiator Springs, and I have to say: Disney’s Imagineers did an amazing job turning a corner of the Disney property into a living breathing cartoon location. It makes me salivate for what Star Wars Land is going to look like when it finally opens.
We met up with the boys and discovered that they had had a little more luck at Disneyland than they’d had at Sea World. Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion. They’d gorged on Churros and basked in the California sun. As far as they were concerned, so far it had been a great day. Then we revealed the big surprise for the end of the day: New Year’s Eve party at Medieval Times!
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Disneyland had live bands, music, parades, shows, fireworks, and just… a LOT of stuff planned for New Year’s Eve. We could have stayed right there, but when I planned the trip, I didn’t think about that. I don’t usually consider the park a source of entertainment beyond the normal rides and shows and music.
Besides that, Medieval Times is awesome!
After the show, we all filed out into the dance hall and partied our way into 2016. Arwen managed to get into the middle of the floor, winding her way through bigger people to get into the center of the party. When the countdown reached zero and the confetti cannons went off, she was right there, celebrating with larger, drunker, slower people. She’ll be a terror in about 20 years. That probably scares me more than Tower of Terror did, to be honest.
I guess I don’t have that much to worry about yet. She’s still my little girl, and her scariest days are still far away. For this day, celebrating the end of an awful year and promising a better year to come, we all agreed that we had achieved our goal of epicness.
This post is baby-Kai approved!