Friday, December 13, 2013

Disney Lessons

We finally left the Hawaiian isles and went from heat, sunburn, sand and nature for the cold, gusty winds, chill burn and commercial crassness of Disneyland in Anaheim. It has been as different as night and day. Where there was miles and miles of sand and ocean, it became miles and miles of people.

We spent two frenzied days running from ride to ride and at the end of last night, Packrat and I wanted to just sit and soak our feet in the hot tub despite the crazy cold temperatures.

For JED, it was indeed the happiest place in the world. Their grins and shrieks threatened to split their faces. That being said, we realised that even though Disneyland is all about being commercial, it taught JED a couple of important life lessons.

1. Patience.

We went to Cars Land and decided to queue for the Radiator Springs Racers. To say it was a long queue would have been an understatement. The 5 minute race round the Radiator Springs required a 2 hour wait. And while Evan got whiny and Muffin got pesky at points, they made up games, they clowned around, they snacked, they went to the washroom three times and they waited.

2. Resilience.

By the end of the 2 days we spent in Anaheim, Jordan and Evan separately broke down into a puddle of tears. After a great amount of prodding, Evan told me that his feet hurt so much and Jordan said her hands, face and lips stung. It had been a truly cold and gusty wind and having spent the entire day out in the open, JED had chill burn all over and poor Jordan got it worse. And in all the time we spent out, the only time we sat down was for lunch or when we were in a ride. But for the most part, we were either walking from ride to ride or queuing for said ride. But through the day, they gamely ran round the park as if it were the Amazing Race and only at dinner when everything wound down did they admit to their great amounts of discomfort. Muffin was a bit more blatant about it. He would chuck a mega fit at any slightest provocation and then fall asleep almost immediately after. 

3. Prioritizing.

Each kid had favourite rides and we always knew the ride was a hit when at the end of it they exclaimed "AGAIN!". On hindsight, we should have bought a three-day pass instead of a two day one so that they could repeat their rides. Unfortunately, our lack of foresight meant they had to forgo repeats just to go try other rides. A wider repertoire of rides in exchange for accepting "no" as a response and swallowing disappointment.

4. Courtesy.

While there are things I don't agree with in the Disney Parks, there is one thing that never fails to floor me. All the Disney crew know everything. And however unreasonable you are, they deal with you in the most polite of ways. With the ridiculously long queues, the adults in our party divided and conquered. Some of us stayed with the kids on the rides while others queued for other rides. When we were done, we would race to the next ride that we were already in line for to hop on. For the It's a Small World ride, JED's grandparents had made it to the front of the queue before we got there. This meant we had to "Excuse me, sorry, please let us through!" a large number of people who were also patiently queuing. Grandparents who cannot stand to see their grand kids miss rides tried to circumvent rules and encouraged them to duck under barrier chains. This was when the Disney Crew member materialised and told us ever so nicely that it was dangerous for the child. No matter how much the grand maters thought volume could intimidate, the crew members were reasonable. And Evan noticed it. He pointed out how they were always smiling even though they must be tired and cold and they were always helpful.

5. Attention to Detail.

The wait for rides can be phenomenally long (see Lesson 1). But there is usually enough around us to keep us entertained for at least 15 minutes. Vignettes, installations, pictures and music. Muffin explored everything and the twins dance to the music and make up stories along the way. I loved that there were always things to look at and for the kids to discover. Much thought obviously went into everything, including a tunnel the train would go through and that's admirable. We were also told that the minute the park closes, the flood lights come on and an entire crew comes in, armed with brushes and a handy man tool belt, to touch up every single display so that it looks the new, bright and sparkly that we have come to associate with Disney. Someone once said that if anyone had Disney on the resume, it amounted to quite something. After observing how the place runs, I have no doubt.

JED had a great time and I am especially glad that Muffin understood and could enjoy more this time round. Unfortunately for now, all they remember of Disneyland is the blustery winds that caused them to be perpetually cold and resulting in chill burn all over their hands and faces.

Will we come back again? Not for a while I think. My feet need many more years to recover. 


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