It’s A World of Laughter AND a World of Tears

Last month, we took Madelyn to Disneyland. We actually went on Super Bowl Sunday because I’d always heard that most Americans prefer to stay home and eat Buffalo wings and watch commercials than visit Disneyland to eat churros and watch people act like animals. So, that was the rumor and rumor it was. The crowd wasn’t significantly better or worse than a regular weekend day at Disneyland. It was just a weekend day at Disneyland. We certainly didn’t have the park to ourselves, but we didn’t mind because we were stoked to see Disneyland through the eyes of our 18-month-old.

Those eyes that our 18-month-old saw Disneyland through were mostly filled with tears the entire first half of the day. Fantastic. We had just spent two months of car payments on annual Disneyland passes because of COURSE our child will love love love Disneyland and we will go every week and she will be obsessed with princesses and she will want to cuddle with Minnie and we will role play in the coming months where Madelyn plays Snow White and Bryan plays the prince and I will, of course, play the evil queen (oh wait, that’s when Madelyn’s a teenager) and everything will be omgamazing! But no. You know what I learned? Toddlers don’t like to wait, and unfortunately, waiting is the name of the game at Disneyland.

After waiting 30 minutes just to get on the parking lot tram (first ride of the day?), Madelyn was done! After all, she’d been woken up early for a 50-minute drive in the car to arrive at a hyped up destination just to… wait? I don’t blame her.

But once we were moving, she was fine.

Then we stopped in the line where all the Disneyland CIA checked our bags to make sure we weren’t terrorists. (Heh, little did they know the most wanted terrorist was in our stroller). During this wait, she was not fine.

Then we passed the test and went to the ticket kiosk and for those 20 seconds of strolling, she was fine. As soon as we promised Disneyland our second born paid for our annual passes, we waited in another line to enter. But while we waited in line to enter, she was not fine.

The chirp-chirp noise signaled our tickets were legit and could pass through the gate. We were welcomed with a marching band in front of the Main Street train station and the Disney magic trickled through me. I KNEW Madelyn would feel the vibe too, which is why we stopped on Main Street to take her first photo with a Disney character!

Madelyn LOVES ducks and any time she sees a duck, she points and shouts “DUCK!” (but without the “ck” so it’s really more like she’s condescending and saying “DUH!”), so naturally she would be delighted to take a picture with Donald Duck.

No. No she was not.


She was not fine. I’m pretty sure the girl inside Donald quit her job after dealing with that nonsense.

We decided to carry on and push forward to get to Fantasy Land because what kid doesn’t like fairytale chalet architecture and 30-second real rides based on 90-minute animated movies? But first, we had to stop at the castle to take our first castle photo! Surely, Madelyn would love standing in front of a castle!


Isn’t that a face of a girl who’s just having a ball?

Nanoseconds after this photo, I almost needed rhinoplasty thanks to her fist. That would not have been fine.

Okay, so raincheck on a happy castle picture, but rides are next! Rides are so fun! It’s like sitting in the stroller but with adorable moving characters all around!

We stood in line for 30 minutes to ride Peter Pan. (well, no one got to RIDE Peter Pan. This is a family amusement park and Peter Pan is a man child). Thirty minutes when you’re a grown up is not that long for a ride that’s normally about an hour-long wait. However, thirty minutes when you’re 18 months old and it’s 2893749871 degrees outside and you’re packed inside a maze with human rats is torture. Also, it’s torture for grown ups carrying a squirmy 18-month-old in 2893749871 degrees outside and you’re packed inside a maze with human rats. This was before we mastered the one-parent-waits-outside-the-line-with-the-toddler-while-the-other-parent-waits-in-the-real-line-and-then-join-together-at-the-front tactic that we, eureka!, discovered later in the day. Rookies.


We finally got to the front of the line, hopped into our flying pirate ship, and floated away. “She’ll be fine,” I thought. And for about 10 seconds over London, she was. But then she wasn’t. And she cried and cried and cried, and Bryan and I just laughed. What can you do when you’re flying through the air on a track in the dark and you’re looking at glow light crocodiles and a boy wearing tights, and you have nowhere to go? You just laugh.

Of course, the final three seconds of the ride, Madelyn got it together and stopped crying, but as I’ve always said, toddlers are bipolar AND have terrible timing. So, no surprise there.

After the ride, we evaluated our situation. We had a cranky little girl who was not valuing the Disney magic (or the three digits before the decimal point it cost to enter). Do we give up? Do we kick ourselves? Do we toss her overboard from the Mark Twain Riverboat?

No. We eat.

Eating was fine. Madelyn is fairly food-motivated, so we were able to enjoy a leisurely meal at our favorite lunch spot where it was cool and quiet, emphasis on the cool (why did it have to be a zillion degrees in February? Thanks, California).

After our recharge and morale boost, we decided to just go with the flow. We had a year’s worth of opportunities to come back and keep trying to force our daughter to love Disneyland. Whatever we got to, we got to. And hey, it’d make a good blog story (Is it? Is it?).

We decided what this girl really needed was a nap. So we reclined her in the stroller and walked through Disney’s California Adventure (PSA: I see a lot of people talk about this place as if it’s called California Adventures. No. Just Adventure. One. You can only have one adventure there. No more. Singular. Seriously, look it up).

Sure enough, as soon as we entered, her eyes got heavy and just as I purchased my ice cream (because calories don’t exist at Disneyland) she was fast asleep. We walked aimlessly and checked out new parts of DCA we hadn’t seen or cared about before. We had time to kill and we couldn’t ride rides.


After about an hour, we wised up and enjoyed some free air conditioning in the hotel where I peed (amazing experience. I’ll never pee in a regular park bathroom again), and we relaxed. She woke up there and was as happy as a clam on Ariel’s mermaid bra. She was fine!

That nap did wonders and Madelyn woke up a whole new woman.

To take advantage of her chipper disposition, we took her to Toon Town so she could meet Minnie and Mickey. This, thank goodness, was fine!

We took her through Minnie’s house first, and she enjoyed seeing all of Minnie’s decor and prized possessions. In preparation for this moment, I had bought Madelyn a small Minnie earlier in the week to frontload her with all things mouse. She had taken to Minnie very much, so I knew she’d be in awe of seeing the real rodent with a bow in person.

Waiting outside Minnie's house in her garden!

Waiting outside Minnie’s house in her garden!

Madelyn enjoys some of Minnie's reading material.

Madelyn enjoys some of Minnie’s reading material.

Cuddling with Minnie in her bed where all the magic happens (tangent: why do Minnie and Mickey live in different houses? They're married, right?)

Cuddling with Minnie in her bed where all the magic happens (tangent: why do Minnie and Mickey live in different houses? They’re married, right?)

Madelyn admires herself in Minnie's mirror.

Madelyn admires herself in Minnie’s mirror.

Madelyn enjoys germ-infested plastic tea and cookies that I would not let her touch at Minnie's table.

Madelyn enjoys germ-infested plastic tea and cookies that I would not let her touch at Minnie’s table.

We finally got to Minnie’s backyard where she stands all day to take photos with her house guests. As we waited, Madelyn inched as close as she could to get her glimpse of Minnie from afar.

Minnie’s butlers/Disneyland’s line guidance experts, moved us along through the line, but Madelyn stayed behind the wall to take it all in.

"Wow," thinks Madelyn. "She is SO much bigger in person than the $7.99 mini Minnie Mommy bought at Target."

“Wow,” thinks Madelyn. “She is SO much bigger than the $7.99 mini Minnie Mommy bought at Target.”

Then it was finally our turn and I was so excited for Madelyn to meet THE Minnie! I put down all of our stuff (i.e., the diaper bag that had Madelyn’s all-you-can-eat buffet/snacks to keep her happy all day) and we handed the camera to Minnie’s man slave.

Madelyn was in awe and I could see the cogs working in her brain to make sense of this experience. She was about to enjoy the moment and I was about to swoon and then Minnie, that bitch, touched Madelyn in attempt to playfully tickle her and Madelyn flipped out. Look, don’t touch, according to Madelyn!

"Look, rat, I dont want your giant white hands anywhere near my human body, ya got that?"

“Look, rat, I dont want your giant white hands anywhere near my human body, ya got that?”

She calmed down in time for the photo, but she was still on guard and wary of the mouse shenanigans, so she wanted to be as far away from Minnie as possible and kept a watchful on her.

After our visit with Minnie, it was time to check out Mickey’s pad which is next door. No wonder Minnie and Mickey don’t have any children.

Inside Mickey’s house, there were similar cute and funny tzchotzchkes to see and touch, but Madelyn had lost all her steam in Minnie’s, so we were a little more rush-rush through his place. She stopped to see a framed portrait of Minnie on Mickey’s mantle — what a romantic! — and she recognized her and matched up her Minnie doll with the picture. Apparently, she was over the tickling debacle from five minutes before.

Look! Mickey loves Minnie!

Look! Mickey loves Minnie!

We finally got into the meet-Mickey room and Madelyn couldn’t care less! She didn’t gasp in excitement like she had with Minnie and was more casual about the whole thing. I imagine if she’d had a megaphone, she would’ve lazily directed, “Move it along, people, let’s meet the mouse and then bust out and get on with our day, yada yada.”

Still, at least there were no tears, even if she was unfazed over the whole charade.

Oh, another mouse? Show me something new already.

Oh, another mouse? Show me something new already.

As of that point, that was probably the most time I’d ever spent in Toon Town because why else would we have ever gone there?

We decided to leave the stroller parked in its spot in front of Minnie’s house and walk around a little bit to give Madelyn an outlet to spend her energy. There wasn’t much else that interested Madelyn inside Toon Town, but it was cute to walk around and snap some photos.



We said “Toodles” to Toon Town and made our way back to Fantasy Land where we decided to try our luck at Dumbo. I had put on the movie for Madelyn a few days before we went to Disneyland so she’d get to know the adorable, big-eared elephant, but ohmygosh, have you watched this movie in your adult life? It’s horrific. The treatment of the elephants, the blatant racism of the circus workers, the management of the animals? Not such a happy flick! Thankfully, the ride is just up and down in an elephant and has nothing else to do with the movie!

This is where we discovered our new waiting in line tactic and I went through the line while Madelyn and Bryan waited. They joined me just as it was time to enter the corral and I made a bee line for the, duh!, pink Dumbo! Bryan snapped a few photos before it was time to join us inside and the three of us went up and down on the flying beastly mammal.

Madelyn didn’t love it. She didn’t hate it. She was just… fine. And as soon as it had started, it ended.


So, what to do next at Disneyland with a first timer? Well, file this away in Things I’d Never Done at Disneyland Because You Can Do Them At Any Local Carnival in Your Hometown: ride the carousel. This was Madelyn’s second time on a carousel. The first time was at the Ventura harbor and she hated it. (I’m sensing a trend that Madelyn hates things that normal people think are fun). So, I didn’t have a lot of faith in this Disney-fied carousel experience, but you know what? She totally enjoyed it!

Once we found our horse, I fastened her in and Bryan positioned himself just outside the carousel to get shots of us going around and around. She smiled and liked the wind blowing through her hair and the music around her. I was so happy she was happy!


After riding elephants and horses back-to-back, we were starting to wonder what we’d do next, but that’s when we got the call from our friend Becky (and her mom and Día) that they’d arrived and were ready to meet us! Becky’s husband, George, plays in the Mad Hatter Tea Party show at California Adventure, and we’d made plans to meet up to see his show! We hadn’t gotten together in months and were super overdue, and we laughed at the absurdity of a long-needed play date… at Disneyland!

It was so cute to see our two little princesses together at our meeting spot — in front of he castle, of course!

Madelyn shares her Minnie with Día who is enchanted with the little mouse!

Madelyn shares her Minnie with Día who is enchanted with the little mouse!

Madelyn and Día make funny faces for the camera.

Madelyn and Día make funny faces for the camera.

We love that Día wore a Cinderella onesie to Disneyland and her pink mouse ears on her head. Such a typical Disney kid! Becky dressed her in lace leggings that showed a little skin, but totally completed the whole girly, princessy outfit. Becky took a lot of photos of the girls and I will now share them because the captions she wrote, as copied here, are hysterical. Ahem… take it away, Becky!

Madelyn to Día: Your mom  made you wear that stupid hat."

Madelyn to Día: Your mom made you wear that stupid hat.”

Madelyn to Día: "And you're wearing slutty leggings."

Madelyn to Día: “And you’re wearing slutty leggings.”

Madelyn to Día: "Oh, I get it -- you're a slutty Cinderella."

Madelyn to Día: “Oh, I get it — you’re a slutty Cinderella.”

Then we had a mini photo shoot in front of the castle, first with Becky and me and our girls to document this momentous playdate and then finally, us three Friedmans!

The Queens and their Princesses

The Queens and their Princesses

Our little Disney family... and the dude in the weird hat and Miss Legs in front of him. Oh well.

Our little Disney family… and the dude in the weird hat and Miss Legs in front of him. Oh well.

The four of us and the babies ventured off for some rides and dinner. And then we exited the park to head over to California Adventure to see George play as the White Rabbit. I had no idea what to expect, but the music was awesome! George and his bandmates played covers of current music that was just as good as hearing the originals and they tossed in so much energy along with their Alice in Wonderland-themed costumes and lights. It was a great show!

I had seen George play with his other band that does 80s covers, but seeing him in his rockstar element was a treat. The girls loved it, too! Madelyn and Día danced and danced! It was adorable to see Día get down to her daddy’s music and even Madelyn, who is usually afraid of loud sounds, totally rocked out, too!

George is in the middle and rockin' out with Alice and the Mad Hatter!

George is in the middle and rockin’ out with Alice and the Mad Hatter!

If his wife wasn't there, I totally would've had him sign my bra! SO GOOD!

If his wife wasn’t there, I totally would’ve had him sign my bra! SO GOOD!

Madelyn and Día get DOWN to George's music!

Madelyn and Día get DOWN to George’s music!

Madelyn takes in her first concert from Daddy's shoulders.

Madelyn takes in her first concert from Daddy’s shoulders.

We got video if Madelyn and Día dancing and we seriously can’t stop watching the girls have a blast. My favorite part is when Día walks away and Madelyn’s like, “Wait, where did my friend go?” Pause. “Oh whatever, I’m going to keep dancing!”

This is what smiles are made of, people! This portion of our day was very, very, very fine.

After one of the sets, we got a photo with George and the band. We are such groupies!

Alice got cut off! Oops. Sorry, Alice. Curiouser, and curiouser.

Alice got cut off! Oops. Sorry, Alice. Curiouser, and curiouser.

By then, the girls were getting sleepy. The fireworks had ended over at the main park (is that Disneylandist of me to think of California Aventure as a second class park? Sorry, but it is) and the crowds were shuffling out, but it was still two hours til closing. You know what that means, right? We got in all the rides we didn’t dare try to ride earlier in the day and the girls were calm, or, in Madelyn’s case, slept in the Ergo while we enjoyed the Sleeping Beauty’s Castle dioramas, the Storybook Ride (my fav! So cute!) and Casey Junior’s train.

We made our way to the front and the worst part of any experience I have at Disneyland: leaving. I get so sad when I leave that magic behind, but I know that we have our annual passes and we will be back (no, really, we HAVE to in order to make our newfound poverty worth it). I really think that Madelyn will learn to appreciate it more and more as she gets older and I hope she’ll also be sad when it’s time to leave. That would be, in fact, fine.

A sleepy Madelyn holds onto the last remaining moments at Disneyland.

A sleepy Madelyn holds onto the last remaining moments at Disneyland.

Our first Disneyland trip was definitely a memorable one and even though it didn’t start off perfectly, it was a day we created memories and one I had dreamed of for a long time! Taking a child to Disneyland is so refreshing, especially after growing up and experiencing Disneyland in that awkward time where you still like it, but it’s lost its sparkle. Well, the sparkle is alive and well, and it’s time to start planning our next trip with our fine little princess.