When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to watch was this video about Christmastime at Disneyland. I’m not entirely sure if this was one of those vacation-planning videos you could send away for or just a special that had aired on the Disney Channel at some point, but I couldn’t get enough of it. I don’t remember it having a distinct plot or anything. It mostly consisted of Mickey & Co. galavanting about the park, getting ready for the holidays. Something about that video was incredibly comforting, and I always dreamed of visiting the park that Walt built during the festive season.
In a stunning turn of events, this dream finally came true this past Christmas. I somehow convinced my parents it would be a good idea to stop by Disneyland on the way home from Hawaii, so we decided to spend New Years in the park. Now, if you know anything about Disneyland, you know that this is the busiest time of the year. The park was packed to the gills with locals and tourists alike looking for prime spots for the midnight fireworks. Nevertheless, it was all worth it when I got to see the Christmas Parade.
The parade hasn’t changed much since the 90s, save for the addition of a few new characters like Elsa from Frozen and Princess Tiana from The Princess and the Frog. I pretend to be cool, but when I saw the toy soldiers marching down Main Street USA, I teared up a little. The thing I had dreamed about for 20 years was real and right in front of my face. I had made it home.
I may be an East Coast girl, but ever since I first visited in 2011, Disneyland has always felt like my place. The park has a much more laid-back vibe than Walt Disney World in Florida. So many locals visit Disneyland on a regular basis, that it never feels like people are putting pressure on themselves to have the best time ever. It’s just a place to hang out, like Central Park here in New York (albeit with a much higher admission fee). Plus, Disneyland is Walt’s park, the only one he saw completed. Walt Disney is a very problematic figure in history, but his ingenuity was undeniable. I guess I feel like I’m soaking up the remnants of his creative energy while I’m there. I may come home feeling physically depleted, but I always leave inspired.
Want to see some more of my Disneyland shenanigans? I made a video of my culinary journey through Disney’s California Adventure a few months ago. Check out what I ate in the park below!