The Writing Mamas Daily Blog

Each day on the Writing Mamas Daily Blog, a different member will write about mothering.

If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.

And for that, you are a goddess.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Disneyland as an Endurance Test

On our return to our hotel we pass a mother who’s lecturing loudly to her two young boys about how each of their toys are identical. What is implied by her speech is that they should each be grateful and perhaps -- not test Mama anymore.

What I see are two little children trying to stand attentive while their small frames shake with exhaustion, little lips quivering and dark, tired eyes welled with tears. Their eyes don’t meet their mother’s glare but seek out the strangers walking past.

How I feel for them.

What’s apparently not clear to their mother, who’s focused on her rant, is that it’s past ten p.m., non-Disney time, and they are all exhausted.

At Disneyland time is a concept ordered by parades, twice daily, meal stops and how long it will take to stand in line for a ride.

Time is also a relation. If that rides means a forty-five-minute wait, then let’s wait in this thirty-minute line first. Three rides may mean one hour of ‘real’ time passing, the majority of it standing.

Consider also that if you’re a family on a tight budget you probably also want to get your money’s worth given the pricey entrance fee so the day is spent trying to stretch the experience further.

Everywhere I see little children wilting on their parents' shoulders or begging to do so as their parents look baffled at their offspring’s “bad behavior.” Parents hiss, “knock it off.” Children wail. Others are dragged by raised arms back into the long line they attempted to escape. Whimpers and more wails almost drown out the loud “Be our best!” music blasting from a nearby parade.

These dark memories from our recent trip over a hot holiday weekend compel me to offer the following gentle suggestions on how to actually enjoy Disneyland:

1. Bring a backpack.

Stock small, sport-top water bottles, one for each child. Also bring along a squirt bottle to help beat the heat while waiting in line. (The water bottle fans offered at the park are a whopping seventeen dollars). Bring along healthy snacks since the park is loaded with short-energy sugar-drop snacks. Cracker packets, cheese sticks, trail mix are all great energy boosters.

2. Don’t forget the sun block!

 The Southern California sun is intense. Remember to slather on another layer mid-day. Don’t park the stroller in the sun.

3.  Keep on real time.

Twelve to one p.m. is lunchtime: the kids are hungry and tired. Three to four p.m. may be a good break time: the kids are hungry and tired. Stop for dinner five to six p.m.: the kids are hungry and tired. If you’re planning to stay at the park through the nine-twenty nightly fireworks show, take a longer midday break: the kids are hungry and tired. There’s an obvious theme here. The kids convey it all over the park.

4. Rent a stroller or two.

The park demands a tremendous amount of walking which can tax little legs. We see our three kids visibly relax while taking turns reclining in the two strollers we rent each day. Our pace through the park avoids the “come on, come on” drag commonly seen with young kids.

5. Be mindful of your child’s limitations.

You may be in Fantasyland but a three-year old is still going to raise a fuss if tempted by sweets or a plethora of toys during naptime. Fears about the dark or sudden jolts are still quite real at Disneyland. From a child’s perspective that cute character may resemble a hulking furry huge-eyed monster so don’t force an intimate hug.

6. Take a moment to enjoy and capture memories.

Rather than racing through the crowd to reach a Disney character or get to another ride, notice your children and try to see Disneyland through their eyes. The look on our two-year old’s face when she saw Cinderella’s Castle (“my pink palace!”) for the first time was priceless. That’s the magic that Walt Disney wants us all to share as a family. 

And these are the memories our children should be allowed to bring back home from the Happiest Place on Earth.

By Maija Threlkeld




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