Magically Speaking Articles
For recent articles (toward the top), click on the article name to follow a link to the full article, as published in Magically Speaking.
For older articles, please click on the article name to open a PDF of the article:
A Baby's First Trip to Disneyland
Some said we were crazy; some said it would be pointless; some declared it would all end in tears. To all of them I say: It's worth it to see baby's first pair of mouse ears with his name scrolled across the back!
Yes, the trip would have been worth it, even if it had been the stressful frenzy I had feared; but it wasn't that at all. We didn't know what to expect when we made our first visit to Disneyland with our then five-month-old baby. Our trip turned out to be full of great surprises, joy, and yes, a few tears (turns out "it's a small world" is not my baby's idea of a good time), but was definitely well worth taking. What works for each family is different, but I'll tell you how we had an excellent time celebrating our baby's first visit, and I hope it'll inspire your little one's first trip, too.
Ask for a "1st Visit" button at City Hall or at the ticket windows.
The Disneyland Hotel: Koi Fish and Memories
My first and only previous stay at the Disneyland Hotel was when I was in high school, and the hotel dazzled me — it was the largest hotel I'd ever stayed in (the hotel currently has 990 rooms in its three towers) and featured waterfalls, koi fish to feed, and even remote-controlled boats! Plus, I was starstruck by the hotel, having visited it so many times to walk around the grounds, visit the Monorail Café and shops, or look at the vintage Disneyland photos lining a hallway near the main entrance.
The Disneyland Hotel puts the resort's history on display. My favorite photo: Walt observing a worker on Main Street. If I were that guy, I would have been too nervous to do my job!
I have since acquired a love for the fanciest of the California Disney hotels (the Grand Californian), an uneasiness about heights, and a husband and a new baby. The Disneyland Hotel has changed, too: in just one of its many incarnations since its opening in 1955 (as a motor inn), the hotel has undergone some changes in the last decade, due to the construction of the new Downtown Disney, which opened in 2001 — namely, the loss of the Monorail Café. (OK, I know there are a bunch of new and probably better restaurants that have been added because of Downtown Disney, but I still miss the Monorail Café.) I wasn't sure how the Disneyland Hotel was going to compare to my memories.
A Babymoon Trip to Disneyland
I learned that I was pregnant the day before my Christmastime trip to Disneyland, and my husband and I spent pretty much the entire trip marveling at our good fortune, pointing at all the cute kids we saw in the parks, and looking for snacks that wouldn't make me nauseous. Once I got a burst of energy in the second trimester, we decided to take a "babymoon" roadtrip to Disneyland in the spring — a trip for just the two of us, pre-baby — in which I thought we'd probably run around like teenagers let loose in the park, reveling in our temporary free time. (I was a little optimistic about my second-trimester energy burst.)
We did that for a little bit, and then I really learned to appreciate all of Disneyland's convenient benches scattered throughout the park. What I discovered on our trip was that even though we were technically still just a party of two, our third family member was always on our minds — and those of many pleasant, excited Disneyland-goers, too — which let me appreciate my favorite, familiar vacation spot in an entirely new and unexpected way.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs:
When I was three, I refused to wear pants. I would only wear dresses or skirts (or skirts with thick tights, in cold weather) for years of my life. I apparently attributed this decision to the fact that Snow White, my favorite Disney heroine, never wore pants, and what was good enough for Snow White was good enough for me. I can only think that my parents went along with this because they loved Snow White, too. And when we got a dog, they let me name him Prince Charming, of course.
The Biggest Thrill Ride
One of my usual missions when visiting Disneyland is to maximize time on the "E-ticket" rides: Indiana Jones, Big Thunder, the Matterhorn Bobsleds, and Space Mountain. Sometimes I'd even throw in a generous trip on California Adventure's California Screamin' -- not one of my personal favorites, because of its lightning-fast acceleration at the start, but one of my husband's, so I occasionally make the effort and strap myself in. Although my favorite attraction is the delightful (and stationary) Enchanted Tiki Room, there's nothing like a whirlwind trip on a coaster.
But our last Disneyland visit, in early December, was entirely different from the get-go: The day before we left, I learned some life- and vacation-changing news very early in the morning. I woke Brad up to tell him that we'd have to check one of our many Disneyland park maps to see which rides were safe…for expectant mothers!
Christmas at the Disneyland Resort
It seems like I was just reminiscing about HalloweenTime at Disneyland, but now it's almost Christmas! All the spooky jack-o'-lanterns are gone (well, except for in the Nightmare Before Christmas–themed Haunted Mansion) to make room for sparkly, shiny, cheerful winter holiday decorations adorning Disneyland and California Adventure. If you can't make it to the West Coast parks this holiday season, here's a photo tour (and maybe it'll inspire you to make a visit). Just think how great that new icicle-covered Sleeping Beauty Castle will look behind your grinning family on next year's Christmas card!
HalloweenTime at Disneyland
It's HalloweenTime at the Disneyland Resort (or, as the kids say on a Northern California Disneyland radio commercial, "It's HalloweeeeeeeenTime!") and both Disneyland and California Adventure have got orange-and-yellow highlights. I wasn't expecting the crowds I encountered on my recent visit, but even when sharing the park with lots of visitors, a weekend in Disneyland is always a treat!
Goodbye, Disney Gallery
Visiting the Disney Gallery, and especially its balcony overlooking the Rivers of America, has calmed me down on frantic Disneyland days since I was seven years old, when the Gallery opened in 1987. But on this gorgeous, clear July afternoon, the climb up the curving steps fills me with foreboding, because it looks like the last time I'll get to visit Walt's intended apartment, and the Gallery housed inside. Although the Disney Company hasn't officially announced it, it appears that the 20-year anniversary of the Gallery also marks its closing. The rumors are that the last day would be July 31, but it's been extended one more week. I've decided to visit it for the last time today—in fact, visiting the Gallery is why we made the journey to Disneyland this vacation.
Finding Disney in the U.K.
No one could believe it when we said we were taking a trip to England and Scotland. It was a non-Disney trip! How could we? "Oh, but you're going to Euro Disney, right?" they all asked.
"Nope, we're really not going to Disneyland Paris. It's really not a Disney trip this time," we insisted. In return, we got looks like people just didn't know us anymore. It was true: We didn't end up going to a theme park. But it didn't stop us from having our own Disney encounters in the UK.
My Peek Inside Club 33
I've been obsessed with the idea of getting into Club 33 ever since I heard about it, when I was about ten years old. While my parents browsed in New Orleans Square's shops, I'd linger by the nondescript entrance door, hoping to get a peek inside the lobby. When I was older, I scoured the web, reading every personal story and studying any photos I could find from those lucky few who had made it into the club.
Disney Cruise Line for Two
As native Disneylanders, when my husband and I decided to finally visit Walt Disney World for the first time, in January-February of 2006, we wanted to go all-out: We just had to add a three-night Disney Cruise onto the end of our week at WDW. Neither of us had ever been on a cruise before, but we had seen pictures of the ships and Castaway Cay, and wanted to experience them for ourselves, by ourselves. From the website and a Travel Channel special we watched about four times, I knew we'd be able to have plenty of fun together, even without kids.
The Inaugural Disneyland Half-Marathon and 5K Family Fun Run
The love of Disneyland motivates me to do crazy things, like having an annual pass even though I live 400 miles away, or buying anything with a Tiki Room logo. But I don't think I've ever felt the depths of my commitment to Disneyland more than by getting out of my comfy hotel bed at 5 a.m. to run in a race through the parks; my least favorite class was always P.E. and I fudged the corners while running laps. The only way I'd ever sign up for an event with "5K" or "run" in its name was if it meant I'd have the chance to do what I've always wanted: to charge full-speed down Main Street, headed toward the castle. And that's exactly what I got to do!
Having a Magical Trip -- No Matter How Crowded It Is
You're going to Disneyland! That's great. You're going in the summer? Or on a holiday weekend? Well, that can be great, too. Any trip to Disneyland can be fantastic, no matter when you are able to go. Even if you go in the more-crowded summer months, you'll still be able to enjoy yourself, go on choice rides, have time to relax, and rest in the shade. Here are my strategies for fun in the summertime—I hope they'll help you make the most of your trip, too.