Last week Stephanie and I were able to go to Disneyland for the afternoon/evening with my cousin and his family. Good company and Disneyland is always a winning combination! Being a Southern Californian, I have attended Disneyland quite a few times and was reminded again of a certain phenomenon I have observed at the park. I call it "The Four Stages of a Day at Disneyland". I would like to share it with you now.
Stage One: Morning
The mark of the first stage of a day at Disneyland is optomism. Sheer, unadulterated optimism. The out-of-towners line up before the park opens, hoping to maximize every dime they spent on their ticket. Questions typically overheard include: Which ride shall we go on first? Do you think we'll see Mickey Mouse? Can we stay till midnight? The possibilities are endless: the Happiest Place on Earth Awaits.
Stage Two: Mid-day
As we transition into late morning/early afternoon, the second stage is upon us. The local stay-at-home moms and hookey-playing SoCal high school students descend on the park, and Disneyland is humming along. The smell of churros wafts in the air as people begin to stop for their first bathroom breaks, and maybe a nice frozen lemonade. Everyone's spirits are up, a significant amount of the population is wearing battle damage from Splash Mountain or Pirates of the Carribean, and foolish newbies wait in the 3 hour line for the Peter Pan ride. For my money, Stage Two is vintage Disneyland.
Stage Three: Late afternoon
Finally, the dolldrums arrive. Boosted by the letting out of school and work for the day, the park swells to capacity. There are lines everywhere. 45 minutes for the Matterhorn. 60 for Space Mountain. 75 for Splash Mountain. (sidenote: Come on people. You're waiting in line for that long to get voluntarily drenched with stinky water? Just promise you won't bump into me as you run squishy-footed to the Haunted Mansion.) Shoot, even the the Tiki Room has a line (ok, that was a joke). Those with young children are starting to feel the strain. The first 7-year-old-acting-like-a-2-year-old meltdowns begin popping up like desert plants after a monsoon. The out of town crowd begins getting a bit discouraged at this stage, as well. Maybe the ride they really wanted to try broke down. Maybe their ice cream cone dropped into the Storybook Land river. Maybe Pluto gave them an unwelcome noogie. Whatever the case, the perfect solution to beat the funk is a brief sit-down on a bench or chair. Beacuse, really, there's nothing like people-watching at Disneyland. Stage Three: when reality sets in.
Stage Four: Night
The evening has come. Out come the sweatshirts, people-herding fences, and goofy light-up hats. Kids are asleep in strollers and on parents' shoulders as the adults try to decide if it's worth it to make the push to see the fireworks. Strange characters come out during Stage Four, and I’m not talking about the Seven Dwarfs. Crazy tattoos, lip piercings, and lime-green Mohawks seemingly increase exponentially. Oh, and good luck getting from Adventure Land to Frontier Land: the cattle-drivers—er, I mean Disneyland employees with the glowing green sticks will have you circling around for hours. Stage Four also prominently features two more crowds we haven’t seen yet: the naïve after-the-fireworks-we’ll-make-a-break-for-the-exit group, and the let’s-get-on-every-ride-we-possibly-can-while-people-are-distracted-by-the-fireworks-and-Fantasmic group. The former is simply delusional. That latter is too hopped up on churros and enormous Mickey head-shaped lollipops to know any better. You know it’s Stage Four when you want to get somewhere, but can’t; want to ride something, but it’s closed; or just want to sit down on a curb, but every last inch of curb is occupied.
There you have it: The Four Stages of a Day at Disneyland. If you didn’t know, now you know.