Disneyland during the holidays can be a nightmare, especially the closer it gets to Christmas and the new year. Don’t get me wrong, Disneyland’s transformation for the holidays is something I love dearly and is a big reason I renew my annual pass each year. However, it is this reason that draws in the extremely large crowds, affecting how much time you’ll spend waiting in a line as opposed to enjoying the actual attractions.
However, yesterday I discovered that the extremely large crowds could actually be an attraction itself. Granted, this is all serendipitous. There’s no way to predict who you’ll meet whenever you go out in public, as you’ll meet people you instantly want to become best friends with, as well as monsters you’ll never want to meet again. But here’s my experience meeting strangers at Disneyland yesterday.
It all started in the California Adventure park, when I wanted to take a picture in front of the giant Mickey ferris wheel with my friends. I asked these two random girls to take a picture for us, and they happened to be Asian. Of course, theme parks are tourist hot spots, and when I come across Asian tourists, it’s usually very clear that they came from Asia itself. However, when I asked the girls if they could take a picture of my group, I was not prepared for the sounds of their voices. They spoke in a unique accent, which they confirmed was Australian, as they were visiting from Down Under. Accents have a way of charming me in general, but more so if the accent comes from someone you wouldn’t expect to have it. Sadly, our conversation with the girls didn’t last very long, and once we offered to snap a picture of them in front of the Mickey wheel, our groups went on different paths. But meeting these two girls was the start of the broadening of my horizons in terms of the diverse group a place like Disneyland can attract.
Cut to later on in the day, when it was time to have lunch. We settled on this place that sells corn dogs, because Disneyland corn dogs are pretty bomb. While waiting in line, this elderly woman was reading the menu, and decided to ask me what a corn dog was. After trying my best to explain it, she spoke to her friend that was next to her and said that in Australia, they call them “Pluto Dogs.” First of all, how funny to meet someone else visiting from Australia! Second of all, it was pretty cool to hear what people around the world call certain things. She then asked me what a funnel cake was, and she said it sounded gross (guess I didn’t describe it well enough.) And she also commented about how our small soft drink sizes are way bigger than their smalls, and said lightheartedly “No wonder Americans are fat!” And I mean…had to agree. Eventually, it was my turn to order so we separated and continued on with our days.
Finally, after a certain point in the day, so many people were in the park that the lines got ridiculously long. While waiting for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, this couple and their baby boy was in front of us. The dad was carrying the little one, who was resting his head on the dad’s shoulder, getting pretty sleepy. We didn’t get to talk to the family like we did to the other people we had encountered, but this little kid was so cute. At one point, a cannon from a nearby pirate ship went off, shooting the boy’s head up to see what all the commotion was about. Seeing his sleepy eyes with wide eyed innocence was too adorable for words. Even better, once he was fully awake, his dad was playing with him while carrying him, trying to make him laugh, and he sure did. His laugh and smile was so adorable, and it was so cute to see such a happy family at Disneyland. My favorite thing was the fact that the father was Caucasian while the mother was Asian. I love seeing “modern families” such as this, because it shows how far we’ve come as a society. Throughout the day, I saw two gay men carrying their children, got to sit next to a lesbian couple during the Aladdin show, and just got to see so many people from all parts of the world experience the magic of Disney together.
Yes, the crowds can put a damper on a Disney day in some ways, but you can be enlightened from them, too. At least that’s how it was for me. Talking to the Asian girls with Australian accents. Learning about Australian customs from elderly women. Standing behind one of the cutest families ever. Shoot, I even saw this group of elderly ladies riding around on mobility scooters as if they were in bumper cars. The fun they were having despite the hardships their scooters would imply put a smile to many people’s faces around them.
At the end of the day, on the tram back to the parking lot, my friend made a really insightful observation. Looking at all the people we come across at a place like Disneyland, it’s crazy to think that once we leave the park, we’ll all be going back to our own lives. Everyone has different stories and experiences, and every once in a while, these stories and experiences are exchanged. Sometimes these stories are just to create small talk, but other times, they can open and expand brand new worlds that you probably didn’t even think of in the first place. This is why I appreciated the crowd at Disneyland, and it fuels my desire to explore the world, meet new people, and hear different stories. I think this is one of the best ways to get the most out of life, and I’m excited to see what cool things are out there for me to discover.