The Happiest Place on Earth

First off, it was my idea that the kid celebrate his 9th(!) birthday at Disneyland. Why? Well, I'm not sure if this is a recent thing or a Southern California thing, but children (and parents) around here expect not only hot dogs, juice boxes and cake, but a bounce house and take home goodie bags at a birthday party. Having a balloon wrangler or magician make an appearance is also becoming expected.

As the kid has his birthday in the middle of summer (completely and totally planned by me with the aide of an ovulation kit), his guest list ends up being feast or famine. For these last few birthdays, it's been feast. First off his best friend and good friends from school top the list, next his entire boyscout troop is invited and then his summer camp friends are slipped an invite. This ends up being a lot of boys (and one girl who is a tomboy). Do you know how many hot dogs boys eat? Too many.

This year I put my skills of motherly manipulation into practice by suggesting a tasty option to the kid. And it went down a little like this...

"So whadda ya wanna do fer yer berfday?" I asked while he was watching Cyberchase.

"Oh, I don't know. Same thing as last year..." Cyberchase is a math based PBS cartoon so he actually has to pay attention to keep up with the plot.

"I guess we can do that or..." Heavy emphasis on the 'or'.

"Or what?"

"How about a trip to Disneyland? Wouldn't that be MUCH MORE FUN. We can then have a family birthday on the weekend where your dad will barbecue MEAT and then we'll all go see HARRY POTTER? Doesn't that sound like SUPER FANTASTIC FUN. But if you want to have a horde of kids over to paw your toys and then get kicked in the face in the bounce house, it's really up to you, babe."

"Let me think about it," he said and went back to his cartoon.

It took a bit more of me speaking in all caps to make him see the light, but he's a smart lad and he did. Yesterday, he skipped camp and off we (me, him, the husband and the best friend) and the AmEx went to Disneyland.

I had a bottle of water ($3) and a Mickey pretzel ($3.75) a bit after we arrived. It was almost 11 and I'd skipped breakfast. While I ate this, the kid and the best friend sat in for the Jedi Knight show. And, yes, I got really excited when the kid was picked to participate. According to him, we were going to have to go back for every show until it happened and lucky for all of us, it happened early.

The best friend didn't get the nod but he knew it wasn't his day so he declined my offer to come back for the next show for him to try again. Bless him. Really.

Even though I wasn't exactly starving, after some wandering around and riding Star Tours, it was decided by majority vote that lunch had to be eaten at a quarter to 1. It was also decided by two 9-year-old boys and the adult male to have salads for lunch while I was the chump with the slice of cheese pizza ($5.99) and drink of fake lemonade ($2.69).

The only redeemable thing about that meals was the fake lemonade only had 10 calories.

Hours and hours of wandering around, including a good hour each on Pirate Islands and in Tarzan's tree house, left me hankering for more fake lemonade. Obtaining some became my sole purpose in life. But I refused to walk and sip at the same time. I wanted to enjoy mine like a civilized person. So I suggested getting the kiddies get a snack and then letting them loose in Toon Town.

I purchased my lemonade ($2.69), sat in the scarce shade (I swear that part of D-land runs 15 to 20 degrees hotter) and took a few sips before turning to the exhausted husband and saying, "What this needs is a churro. I think I saw one a few carts back. Don't drink any or I'll kill you."

So I took off and found out that a few stands back meant the heart of Fantasyland. I dodged people of all sizes, wheelchairs and strollers, got my churro ($3) and didn't take a nibble until I was back under the scarce shade of Toon Town. A bit and a sip quickly revealed that fake lemonade and cinnamon and sugar do not go together. I was forced to eat my churro dry but I learned a valuable lesson that day.

I'm not totally cognizant of what happened for the next few hours, but I snapped awake enough to find myself repeatedly dipping my hand into a vat of plastic jewels ($6 for a tiny bag) in a pirate themed gift shop.

They were pretty and the shop was air conditioned. I wanted to find a place to curl into a fetal position until it was time to go home, but that didn't happen.

A few hours later and after a bumpy trip on the Indian Jones ride in Adventureland, we settled on dinner at Cafe Orleans. The map blurb said crepes and I'm a sucker for crepes.

I ordered a cup (not a bowl) of jambalaya ($3.99). Why? Because the menu said banana bread pudding and I'm a sucker for bread pudding. A cup turned out to be just enough. The waiter tried to talk me into a bowl, but I wanted to reserve space for dessert. Hey, I know my priorities.


I love bread pudding and it takes a lot to disappointment when I order it. The Cafe Orleans banana bp was just dandy. I could have done without the swirly (but pretty) sauces on the plate which I didn't bother to taste. I'm also not a fan of caramel sauce, preferring just a drizzle of creme anglaise.

All in all, with a fresh glass of ice cold water, I felt almost human again.

Finally, after being brain washed by a sales pitch to get into Innovations and spending a good hour wandering around the Star Tours gift shop while the boys put together double sided light sabers, it was time to go.

And leaving Disneyland means taking home a peanut covered caramel apple ($?, I didn't snag the receipt but whatever the price, it was almost worth the exercising I'll have to do in the next few days to pay for it).

We capped off the very long day, after dropping off the sleeping best friend, with a couple of slices of candy apple as I Survived a Japanese Game Show played on the TV. Nice.

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