Trippin' To Disneyland

Tomorrow, for the first time in my life, I'm going to Disneyland. It does feel sort of special to be going to Disneyland for the first time ever right now, mainly because my husband has also never been there and neither have my kids. We're all 1st timers. The thought of that is a little scary!

Yes, I figured it was time to take my kids, especially since my eldest son has been making up stories about going. Several of his friends in his kindergarten class have already been and I think he has started to wonder why we haven't been yet.

I guess I never even really thought about going and I've been trying to figure out why that is.

I do know that when I was a kid, maybe when I was eight or nine, I did see commercials for Disneyland on TV. But, I think I wanted to go with the sort of wistfulness we reserve for pipe dreams. I never once seriously thought that there was a remote possibility that my family was going to trek all the way out to Anaheim, California so I could get my picture taken with Snow White and see Sleeping Beauty's castle. I never ever expected that to happen. Never ever, because I remember, I remember knowing, Disneyland was not for me.

In my world, Disneyland was for white kids with money. The Disneyland advertisements I saw on TV reflected the people around me that I knew were getting on a plane and going to Anaheim. In my world, Disneyland was for the blond-haired, blue-eyed children who came back from Christmas break with ski lift tags still affixed to their zippers. It was for the kids who read the The Official Preppy Handbook and could actually afford to dress like the book instructed. Those kids went away to summer camps in Michigan to learn archery and horseback riding. Those kids had parents who went to Europe for two weeks, came home, felt guilty and said, "Heather, we'll take you to Disneyland for spring break. Promise."

I'm hoping my oldest son hasn't been thinking and feeling the same way I used to feel about Disneyland. I hope that he feels it's a place that's for him, but... almost all of the Disney characters are either white folks or animals. Sure, we've got Aladdin and Mulan to round things out. And, I know that down the road Disney has plans for some black princess character, but still, that's nothing! Thinking about this, wow, I am more than a little apprehensive (is that the word?) about going to the shrine of Disney. I already worry about my eldest having identity issues. Will going to Disneyland subconsciously make him feel "less than"? Will he be writing on his own blog in 25 years, saying, "I first remember knowing that being black in America wasn't OK when I was six years-old and we went to Disneyland"?

I'm sure it'll be fine tomorrow but I can't help but think about all this stuff. Sigh. I'll let you know how it turns out.


Martin said…
Hi Liz,

When I read your post I couldn't help remember the Disney character of Pocahontas - she's sort of a princess, right? I hope you and your family have lots of fun at Disneyland! :)

Anonymous said…
thank you for this post, Liz.

i hope it was a good time. i don't envy the job you'll have in reflecting on and processing the experience. but, i know you'll do it well.

i'm still working on my song list. ;)

Jon said…
:) Hope Disney is good to ya'll.
Anonymous said…
My husband (Mr. "former hood gangsta" ) :) had never been either and felt the same way...until we took our 5 year old last summer. He was like the biggest kid in the place. I have been countless times since I was 5 so it was not so much of a big deal. It's more a right of passage for native born Southern Californians. This summer he wants to make a weekend out of it and stay at the Disneyland Resort/Hotel. It really is about seeing the smile on your child's face and hearing the "oohs and aahs" for the first time.
Anonymous said…
I don't know, Mama...hope it was good to you, but don't drink the kool-aid.
Anonymous said…
If I might make a tactical suggestion: The "It's a Small World" ride takes over half an hour and the music is incredibly grating and the same four measures play the entire length of the ride. It's terrifying because all of the animatronic kids look like zombie kids from Children of the Corn.
Sundry said…
Hope you had a great time!

And hey, look at this: Disney announced last month that they are about to feature their first black princess, in the "The Frog Princess."

I heard about it from Larry Wilmore on The Daily Show.
Anonymous said…
I went to Disney World once as a child with my school, never with my family, and I lived in Florida for 11 years! Hope you had fun!
Liz Dwyer said…
Welcome and thanks for visiting. Pocahantas...oh, you're reminding of more reasons to take issue with Disney. By the way, I don't recall seeing any Pocahantas stuff while I was there. I'm sure there must have been, but it wasn't featured prominently. Interesting.

Still processing...the cannibals on the jungle cruise were killing me, but I LOVED Pirates of the Carribean. How to reconcile the two? And, I'm looking forward to your song list!

It was really fun. We were there from the minute they opened till the minute it closed and the kids had a ball...they actually lasted till around 11:30 and then we ended up carrying both of them. Dead weights, both of them.

I do wonder if I'd grown up in SoCal and it was just normal to go there if I'd see it differently. I know I've spent way too much time thinking about those hyenas from Lion King over the years. But yes, my kids went SO crazy over Buzz Lightyear and the Star Wars stuff, I found myself getting choked up over it.

When you're there, you find yourself thinking, "Why was I so skeptical about this place?" but I also found myself thinking, "Will a non-white actress ever get to portray Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty or Snow White in the Parade of Dreams?"

Ladies Love TK,
Yes, we stayed off of that thing. We went and met Mickey but other than that, we went for stuff like "Jedi Knight Training".

I've heard a little about The Frog Princess. On the one hand, I'm glad to see it happening. On the other, I'm worried about execution of the idea. I've heard there's going to be a couple of characters involved in vodoo and I'm just worried that it's going to turn out to be something (like Pocahantas) that is stereotypical.

I guess the equivalent for me would be the school trips to Great America out in Gurnee, IL. But yeah, never as fun as Disneyland.
Mamita Umita said…
I went to Disney World last year for the first time in my life. I had so much fun, I never had gone when I was a kid myself.
I almost cried when I rode "Its a Small World".
I am so glad that I took Imani.
Liz Dwyer said…
So it wasn't just us! There were multiple times during the day when I totally got choked up and teary-eyed from listening to the kids go crazy with excitement and Lar B was in the same sniffling situation. They had such a ridiculously good time.
Anonymous said…
Great Article! Thank You!
Anonymous said…
Thanks to author! I like articles like this, very interesting.
Anonymous said…
nice blog!
Anonymous said…
nice blog!Nice information

Popular Posts