For the first time in nine years, the Edmondson family was able to take the opportunity to enjoy their first paid vacation! Imagine getting paid for having fun! We decided to spend five glorious days at Disneyland—The Happiest Place on Earth. We set out on our adventure with a great deal of anticipation. Amid much, "are we there yets" and "how much longers" we pulled into Anaheim, checked into our hotel, dumped our stuff and trooped over to The Magic Kingdom. We purposely planned our adventure during the off-season (March) and were delighted to discover we could literally walk straight on to every attraction. It was so rewarding to see the wonderment on the kid’s faces as they took in the sights and sounds of Disneyland. In our zeal (and ignorance), the first ride we experienced was the Indiana Jones—Temple of the Forbidden Eye. Talk about sensory overload! Gabriel and Sarah were a bit ashen when they stepped off the ride. I don’t think they could quite process what was going on—what was real and what wasn’t. However, by the end of the trip they were darting on and off the rides enjoying the thrills knowing that it was all "pretend." Graeme and I had the joy of introducing the kids to The Pirates of the Caribbean (which Gabriel pronounced Cari-bean—like beanstalk). While Indiana Jones is a ride of fast-moving thrills and spills, displaying its techno-superiority, Pirates conveys us into the world of swashbuckling buccaneers, which even after 30-some years is not technologically dated. It has a certain atmosphere that encourages us to enter into the fun, especially when those in our boat joint in a rousing chorus of "yo-ho, yo-ho the pirate’s life for me"! We took the kids on It’s a Small World just to say we’d been on it. Gabriel and Sarah both thought the ride was silly; actually Gabriel described it as "dumb," but I did hear Sarah singing along with the animated children. We then sat down to watch a half hour of magic as Disney performed Animazement the Musical. It starred characters from the last several Disney movies (Hercules, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Ariel, Belle, Esmeralda, etc.) singing and dancing into each other’s scenes causing good-natured confusion and fun. Gabriel and Sarah really enjoyed the show and showed their appreciation by heartily applauding the performers. The next morning dawned bright and clear and we headed off to Disneyland to have breakfast with the characters. The kids had a great time chasing down their favorite personalities getting their autographs and taking pictures. We then spent most of the morning and early afternoon exploring the new Tomorrowland. I must say they did a great job of integrating the old with the new. I was happy to discover the line for the Rocket Rods (the updated, fast-track version of The People Mover) wound through the old circular theater where they showed films on the evolution of the automobile. We also experienced, "Honey, I Shrunk the Audience!" a zany 3-D show with great special effects. The rest of the day was spent racing from one land to the next; the wacky adventures in Toontown, the thrill of the old west in Frontierland, the sense of discovery in Adventureland, and the reliving of the classics in Fantasyland.
That evening we lined up along Main Street in anticipation of The Mulan Parade. We were not disappointed. The costumes and pageantry were stunning. Gabriel and Sarah watch captivated by the spectacular procession. After the parade we headed off to Critter Country and embarked on a voyage through Splash Mountain. For those of you who don’t know, Splash Mountain is a glorified log ride. We floated through hidden grottos where animated characters played and sang. On the last big dive, a hidden camera took our picture. We were rewarded with a souvenir photograph of the four of us plunging to our deaths with looks of terror etched on our faces. The following day, the boys and girls split up. Gabriel and Graeme went exploring and Sarah and I went shopping. The kids had been saving their money and thought Disneyland was a good place to spend it. We rendezvoused with the boys that afternoon and headed back to the hotel. Graeme and the kids took a dip in the pool (which was heated and rather like swimming in a bathtub) while I took a nap. We went back to the park that evening and the kids discovered Autopia (little motor cars that zoom around on their own little highways). This attraction must be about 25 years old with the engins belching gaseous fumes, but the kids didn’t mind. I can remember being about nine or ten discovering the Autopia for myself and how grown-up and independent it made me feel driving my own vehicle. And it was no different for Gabriel and Sarah. We went on a few more rides, but it seemed that all the activity, late nights and excitement was finally catching up with us. Instead of closing the place down, we proceeded back to the hotel. The following day, I took it easy and sent Graeme and kids off to play. It was wonderful to get some "alone time." That afternoon, Graeme took some time for himself, while I watched the kids frolic in the pool. The next day we woke up to a deluge of rain; but we were not to be deterred! We packed up our stuff, checked out of the hotel and headed off to enjoy our last day in The Magic Kingdom. The kids were attired in official Disneyland rain ponchos and had a blast splashing through the puddles while mom and dad dashed from doorways to awnings to escape the rain. We spent our last few hours riding our favorite rides and doing some shopping. We said our good-byes to The Magic Kingdom and headed for home. I must admit we were a bit burned out on Disneyland, but we had a great time playing. It was rewarding to hear the kids talking as we drove home, "remember when…" We certainly made a lot of good memories, which we will cherish forever."