Just so you know, this week I'm participating in GISHWHES. If my media looks weird, that's why. More about that in a future post.
Anyway, you know how I said I had one adventure worth talking about this summer? Well, I'm going to talk about it now.
About a month ago me and three friends went to Universal Studios California and Disneyland. We had planned this trip for about a year, so anticipation was high. Sometimes, when this happens, the trip doesn't live up to the hype. Sometimes disappointment sets in.
Not this time. This trip exceeded my expectations.
That's me on the end in the black shirt.
I'll spare you all the details in favor of a brief overview: we spent one day at Universal and two days at Disneyland, one day for Disneyland itself and one day for California Adventure. We spent a day driving there and another driving back, making the trip 5 days total.
We rode many, many rides and spent all our time well. I can't think of anything I regretted doing or not doing. The company was wonderful as well: my companions were three women who know how to have fun and give in to the magic of these places without becoming irresponsible.
Highlights: Harry Potter World. Harry. Potter. World. I've been to the one in Florida, but I had friends with me who were experiencing this for the first time, and it made it wonderful. The butterbeer was, as always, perfect.
The ride in the castle was great, but I felt like the 3-D glasses got in the way. Water splashes on the lenses ruined the effect for me (but not by much!). One thing I learned was that there are passwords that let you jump to the front of the line. What was ours? Not telling. We were given it by a kind worker trying to make our first time in Hollywood magical.
And it was. I learned a word that lets me do things I can't do on my own. Ergo, I learned magic.
From there we went to Disneyland and attacked the rides with such energy, so early in the morning, that we were the first riders on the Haunted Mansion (and it wasn't our first ride of the day). I had several great moments of the day, and here they are in pictures:
Here was meeting Rapunzel and Flynn. The best part about this was that each of us had something we were celebrating. One friend was getting married. One had a great job. One had parents coming home from a mission in Nicaragua soon. And me? I was publishing a book. The characters commented on our buttons, and Flynn asked me about mine. Here's how that went:
Flynn: You're publishing a book? What's it about?
Me, smiling, knowing this is going to get a good reaction: It's about a thief, actually?
Flynn: Is it about me?
The conversation continued in that vein, and both Flynn and Rapunzel told me I need to tell Belle. And guess what? I got the chance!
She said she'd look for Under Locker and Key in the Beast's library. Score!
Other highlights included riding Splash Mountain for the first time:
(I know it's grainy. Let me keep my dignity.)
And also eating at Earl of Sandwich:
Best. Sandwiches. Ever!
The next day was in California Adventure. I had never been there, but I knew it was the more intense park. Hyperspace Mountain (I like the new changes) is not as intense as California Screamin'. So, I was nervous.
I didn't have to be. I loved all of it! We started with Soarin', which has been changed. It now has landmarks from all over the world: we saw the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower, Pacific islands, among other things. It was nice, though I miss the orange trees.
One highlight was me finally defeating the Tower of Terror. I rode it with my family a year ago, but I was so scared that my mom had to hold my hand. I'm an adult. I enjoyed the ride, but the fear from that first apprehensive ride stuck, and I was still scared. Even a year later, I was still dreading the ride.
No more. I rode again, twice, hoping to paper over the fear with thrill. I enjoy the ride now, and here's proof:
That's me, back and center. Great ride!
I also enjoyed California Screamin' a lot. I rode it three times. After the first, the line was short, so we got back in for a moment before having to leave because the ride broke down. As we left the line and went to find our one friend who didn't want to ride, I looked up and noticed that there were people still on the coaster.
Two or three trains were stuck on the rails. It was a hot, sunny day. If we had been a little later or earlier to the ride, we might have been the ones stuck. The people were down in about 20 minutes, but we were glad to be eating lunch then, not waiting on a stalled coaster.
We got to see the Frozen show. We also met Captain America and Spider-Man. Photographic proof below:
It was a magical weekend, full of beauty and perfection. Our timing worked out so well; not only did we not get stuck on the coaster, but we were in California during a stretch of beautiful weather. I've missed it since I came back to home and reality.
I've been thinking about places like Universal and Disney and how they're different than other places. I go there and I feel something beyond just fun. I feel magic. When I'm there, I really feel like dreams are coming true. The effect was heightened by celebrating my own dreams coming true while I was there.
I think the world needs places like this, in the same way it needs books and movies, good stories told. Magic like this helps us feel like dreams do come true, even when they don't seem to. It lets us live out fantasies of being a hero or an explorer, just for a moment. I think that helps when life gets hard and we feel like regular old people again. It's hard to completely get the glitter of being a hero off.
So, when the monsters attack and the villains laugh and times are hard, it becomes a little easier to wipe the blood off your lip and say, "No. That is my castle, my happily ever after, and you don't have a prayer of keeping me from it."
I'm oversimplifying, but it's what I felt when I was there. It was a very real, very beautiful kind of magic. I hope the glitter of it stays with me for a long time.
Thanks for an enchanting time, ladies!
Tl;dr - I went to Universal Studios and Disneyland. I learned magic, flew through a castle, hobnobbed with fictional characters of all kinds, went to space, flew around the world, conquered my fears, achieved hopes and dreams, and took a little magic home with me.