To all who come to this happy place, welcome. - Walt Disney

One of my friends calls me “The Five Year Old”, because I still act as childish and weird as I did when I was five. When I was little, I use to wake up at night crying because another day had passed by where I had grown a day older. Even today, I cringe when I realize how old I’ve become (I’m legally an adult, what?!). I guess you could say that’s why I always dreamt of living in Neverland.

I was two-years-old the first time I visited Disneyland. It was my family’s annual tradition to travel to California every March during Spring Break for three days in the parks. We’d stay at the Disneyland Hotel, visit all the princesses mingling around the castle, and end with a finale dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen where we’d spend half the dinner doing the macerana with the characters. Of course those trips were always special to me; it was the only time besides Christmas where my whole family (cousins, aunt, uncles, grandparents, parents, and sister) was together. Something magical happened when our unique personalities were all together, and nothing made me happier then spending time with them. During those years, I didn’t care that we were at the Happiest Place on Earth. I cared that we were all together.

During my teen years, let’s face it, I was a mess. No, I didn’t have the cliché acne and braces and glasses. Instead, I had friend drama, weight gain, and self-esteem issues. I was always known as the happy kid, but during those years, I was a new person to my family and friends. I was no longer the kid skipping up and down the hallways singing Shania Twain songs like I use to do at home, and I was no longer the girl at school smiling despite having piles of homework to complete. I was depressed; I hated myself.

That is, until my sister and parents surprised me with a trip to Disneyland for my 16th birthday. It was at the height of my depression, the height of my self-hate. I walked into Disneyland on my birthday with my sister, all decked out in my Disney gear (complete with my handbag adorned with Disneyland attractions and sweatshirt covered in Disney characters). We strolled through the magic portal of happiness (otherwise known as the gates) and stepped onto Main Street. There was Mickey and Goofy signing autographs by the fire station and holiday music played softly in the background (as it was during Christmas time) and the humble castle was at the backdrop, adorned in twinkling lights and bright green garland. I glanced at my sister, and we shrieked in excitement.

All the horrible thoughts about myself that had been floating around in my head disappeared, and I forgot about my weight and health issues. Tears trickled down my face, and I knew my dimples wouldn’t be leaving anytime soon. I’d never cried in Disneyland before. I use to say that I wasn’t an emotional person, but since then, I’ve cried nearly every time I’ve been to Disneyland. Now, I call Disneyland home. A place where I can forget the fears and worries of this world for the short time that I’m visiting.

Even though I live 500 miles away from Disneyland, I still live in my Disney bubble that protects me from this world. There’s never a moment where I’m not listening to the Main Street music loop or where I’m not thinking about smelling the oranges riding Soarin’ or dreaming about the creamy soft serve from Paradise Pier. I want to bring the magic of Disney to you! Off to Neverland is a blog created for YOU, the Disney freaks and geeks of this world who dream of never growing up. Join me every Saturday for a Disneyland post that can hopefully bring a little Disney magic to wherever you are.

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