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What I learned on My Most Recent Trip to Disneyland

I’m currently writing this blog post at one of my favorite spots on the college campus I attend. The stress of the semester drawing to a close is apparent in the students around me who are frantically typing, writing in notebooks, and pouring over textbooks. Sure, I feel the same twinge of fear, heading into the last few weeks of the semester, but above all else, I feel recharged and rejuvenated and ready to conquer the world. Why? Because I just got back from, drum roll please, Disneyland! As I’ve reflected on the trip, I’ve realized that I had some pretty unique experiences that were definitely learning experiences (wow, I’m a poet and I didn’t even know it!). So without further ado, here are the top ten things I learned on my most recent trip to The Happiest Place on Earth.

#1: The Holiday Sandwich from Earl of Sandwich is Good Any Time of Year

Thanks to Fresh Baked and Stuff (do I need to say again that they are my favorite Disney YouTubers?), I learned that Earl of Sandwich is amazing. Because my family generally doesn’t eat a lot of meals in Downtown Disney, I never got the chance to experience the wonder of this sandwich place. However, this trip, we had a perfect opportunity to try Earl for the first time! Everything on the menu seemed to be calling my name but the Holiday Turkey sandwich was really shouting at me. It consisted of turkey, stuffing, gravy, and even cranberry sauce which at the moment sounded crazy. You’re going to eat gravy and stuffing in March? I thought to myself. That’s unholy, sacrilege! Alas, I reluctantly listened to my taste buds, and boy am I glad I did. Ordering the Holiday Turkey sandwich was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made in a while.

#2: Jungle Cruise Skippers Are Funniest at Night

I’ve always ridden the Jungle Cruise during the day, which don’t get me wrong, is a magically wonderful experience. However, my sister, mom, and I rode it for the first time at night the last time I was in Disneyland and boy, my love for the Jungle Cruise sure grew that night. We got a seat directly below the Skipper’s nostrils, and we were in perfect earshot of the puns our skipper rattled off continuously. The best part was that our boat was full of exhausted guests who seemed to even have a difficult time cracking a smile. And here my sister and I were, slapping our knees and holding our stomachs from wailing and laughing hysterically. Maybe we just happened to get a fantastic skipper and the fact that it was late at night had nothing to do with it.

#3: It’s a Small World has Great Photo Spots

I used to be one of those people who woke up early to go to Disneyland for magic morning so that I could knock off as many rides as I could before the hordes of people came. This time, I woke up super early to go to Disneyland for magic morning so that I could take pictures! My sister and I strolled through Disneyland our second morning only to find ourselves outside of It’s a Small World where we came upon multiple photo opportunities that we’ve never noticed before. So we spent the next half hour taking pictures of each other, because we’re girls and we do that sort of thing. It was a nice relaxing way to start the morning, plus we got unique shots in Disneyland that many people wouldn’t think of.

#4: Pirates of the Caribbean is Capable of Shutting Down

There are some rides in Disneyland that are notorious for shutting down spontaneously (ahem, Indiana Jones). Pirates is generally not one of them. In fact, I failed to realize that Pirates even had the capability of shutting down because it never fails to be an effortless, flawless boat ride through the swashbuckling life of pillaging and plundering pirates. Our second day in the parks was actually the first day that Pirates reopened after a long refurb. And not only was it just reopening after a refurb, it was reopening to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the attraction! So, we hopped in the insanely long queue the morning it reopened, boarded our boat, plummeted down the waterfall, and began our journey through a pirate’s life. Imagine my excitement when our boat stops dead in between the battle scene between the two huge ships about a third of the way through the attraction! We were stopped there for at least five minutes, and every fifteen seconds, a cast member came over the intercom and rattled something off that no one could interpret because it sounded like a mumbled foreign language. Cannon balls continued to splash in the water and the pirates continued to argue back and forth and my bangs continued to grow flatter and flatter with the increasing humidity (just my luck that we stopped right in front of a fog machine that blew continuously at my voluminous bangs). Nonetheless, it was quite an experience. And FYI, the attraction was closed for the remainder of the day so I felt pretty special to be one of the last guests that rode the attraction that day.

#5: Frozen: Live at the Hyperion Deserves the Hype

I know, I know, the Disneyland community is still mourning the loss of the Aladdin show, and I was having serious Aladdin withdraws until I saw the new Frozen show. There’s a reason why Frozen is receiving so much positive feedback. I had seen the show via YouTube (shout out to YouTube for always coming through whenever I’m not physically able to make it to the park), but it didn’t even compare to seeing it in person. The special effect and the top-of-the-line acting made me feel as if I was watching a Broadway performance in New York City instead of a stage show in DCA. Recommend it, 100 percent.

#6: The Best Cast Members Drive Main Street Vehicles

You probably know by now that Main Street is my favorite part of Disneyland, and you can probably imagine how quickly my family got annoyed when I started hounding them about riding a Main Street vehicle (as it is my favorite pass-time but no one seems to share my love for the vehicles). Nonetheless, we finally got around to riding one of the vehicles the last day of our vacation. We hopped in the first open car that we saw which was the yellow and black horseless carriage. The driver was a white haired, smiling cast member who had been working at Disneyland for seventeen years. As he parted the sea of guests while driving down the street, he explained to me why he loved working in Disneyland and why I should do everything in my power to get into the Disney College Program. When I was later asked what my favorite part of the trip was, I said, “Riding down Main Street in the horseless carriage,” because I got the opportunity to talk with a genuine cast member who enjoyed his job more than anything.

#7: Remember…Dreams Come True Fireworks Show is a Tear Jerker

I don’t cry, at least not in public. I’m not that type that is so in tune with their emotions that they can cry in any situation, anywhere and be fine with it. I have to have the right conditions to cry (meaning that I’m in the comfort of my room, alone so that no one can see my sloppy tears). Well, believe it or not, Disneyland is probably the only place where I feel comfortable crying in public. It was the last night of our vacation and my mom (bless her heart) was nice enough to wait with me to see the fireworks show. I hadn’t seen Remember…Dreams Come True in years, as it had been gone while Disneyland was celebrating their 60th anniversary a couple years ago. I had really missed the old fireworks show; it was the show that I grew up seeing as a child. Let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint. The crying started almost immediately after the show began with When You Wish Upon a Star. I couldn’t help but think back to little Kirsten, hearing these words, dreaming of becoming an author. And now, I can say that I made that happen; I have fulfilled my dream. I have Disney to partly thank for that. Luckily, I was crying pretty gracefully which was nice.

#8: Tortilla Joes has a Soft Spot for Anniversaries

If you didn’t already know, the reason for this family trip to Disneyland was to celebrate my grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary (let us please take a moment to reflect on how commendable it is to be completely faithful and committed to another human for 60 long years). My mom checked in to every one of the restaurants we ate at, and I instructed her to tell the hostess what we were there to celebrate (if you forgot, we were celebrating 60 YEARS OF MARRIAGE). Tortilla Joes was the only restaurant that actually did something to help us celebrate. The hostess led us to our table which was on the second level, which we soon realized was a private room with a balcony overlooking the first floor of the restaurant. Apparently, the room was normally reserved for famous people, so we were treated like royalty. My grandparents happily sat at the head of the table that night.

#9: Everyone Needs to See the Flag Retreat

I’ve always wanted to see the flag retreat but I was never on Main Street late enough in the afternoon to see it. This time around, I ended up being on Main Street at the perfect time to see it. The ceremony was beautiful that was a lot more well-thought-out than I thought it would be. The band circled around the flag pole and played classic patriotic tunes. Then, they played the theme to each of the branches of the army and veterans stood at the foot of the flag pole when their branch was mentioned. Then, the Dapper Dans appeared, and they began singing beautifully with the band playing in the background. Then the color guard came and gracefully and respectfully folded the flag. It was such a touching experience that everyone needs to see at least once.

#10: The Astro Orbitor Doesn’t Fit Two Adults

So, it’s been a long while since I’ve ridden the Astro Orbitor, and my uncle got a strong urge to ride them this time around. We waited in line, and the cast members claimed that three small bodies could fit inside each rocket. So my uncle and I figured that we’re not huge humans, and that the two of us could easily fit inside one rocket. Wrong! We were squished in there like sardines in a can. We were still trying to squeeze inside the rocket as the cast member made her rounds around all the rockets, making sure that we were all strapped in and ready to go. When she got to us, she raised her eyebrows and exclaimed, “Are you guys okay?” I guess everyone could tell that we were crammed uncomfortably. I ended up squishing my uncle’s leg, and he was limping for the remainder of the day. Moral of the story: don’t be afraid to be greedy and take a whole rocket for yourself!

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