Monday, November 15, 2010

Disneyland - It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas!

We decided to hit the Park this past Friday, November 12, 2010 in an effort to kick start our Christmas Holiday season. I clicked a few cellphone camera shots, so you will have to excuse the quality. Nevertheless, they do give you a sense of the great decorations that have been carefully hung throughout the place.

We start, of all places, on Main Street, with the icy blue Sleeping Beauty Castle shining above the heads of the crowd. It was quite crowded, even though Southern California AP holders were blocked out. No matter, we were there to see the Park, not ride many attractions. There was a crowd around the Christmas tree on Main Street, near where this photograph was taken. The holiday music and sparkling lights had their desired and expected effect. To quote Paul McCartney: "Simply. Having. A wonderful Christmas time!"
Our dear friend Sleeping Beauty once again outdid herself with the Christmas lights over at the Castle. She could give Clark Griswold a run for his money. I took this shot at the west entrance to Fantasyland, along the little path from Plaza Gardens.
And in the courtyard of the Castle in Fantasyland, we have this cool blue view.It's A Small World was completely adorned in Christmas light finery once again. We made sure to jump on this attraction immediately after the fireworks and the "snowfall." It was great.
We weren't initially planning on watching the fireworks, but we ended up over by Small World at around 8:15 p.m. and the show was set to start at 8:40-ish, so we figured we would plant ourselves. We found a great spot along Small World way and were soon surrounded by a crowd of folks. My wife and I were there with our two daughters and two very dear friends, all of us ridiculously seasoned Disneyland veterans.

The lights went down and the show began. It was really well done, as you would expect.
But something else happened. As we stood there watching the glittering fireworks sprinkle against the black night sky and bounced to the holiday music of the show, we felt it.
I held my youngest daughter up so she could see, her small body nestling in my arms. My older daughter and her mom were beside us, along with our friends. The crowd was full of parents and children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, couples and acquaintances.

As the music died and the last flickers of glowing fireworks drifted down out of the sky, we felt the electric tingle of, what's the word I'm looking for?---magic. The kind that starts at your feet and rises up like a flood of water in a basement. The goosebumpy kind. The can't-quite-put-your-finger-on-it, but you know it's there, variety. It takes you by surprise, like an unexpected kiss from a first love. Especially when you are a veteran. Someone who feels they've "been there, done that." Not the type to buy into sappiness. Nope. You think you're immune. Over it. Cool, calm, collected. A smooth operator.

But it swells around you nonetheless. It starts in the silence as the cheers die off. The lights are out and the "snow" machines start to make their hissing noises above you. The eyes of everyone around you---even your own---look skyward. A hum of anticipation resounds in the crowd like an echo or the proverbial rings in pond.
The blue lights come up and there against the clear black sky are tiny clumps of soapy bubbles, your logical brain informs you. But the people there will have no such logic get in their way. As the familiar strains of White Christmas gently caress you, and as the "snow" machines kick into high gear, you eyes begin to truly see.
The children reach up and lift their faces skyward. The parents, too. Against the black sky and sparkling under the show lights, what at first were just dumb old soap bubble clumps have now morphed into flakes of drifting snow.
Time slows.
The moment overtakes us. A silence, a joy, folds over everyone like a blanket.
Standing together in the crowd, it seems as if each person is alive to the "first snowfall" of the season. The music lulls and the flakes drift and the faces glow. Kids become gleeful and adults seem to bask in it---reentering their own youthful selves in the moment, without even trying.
Dropping my youngest to the ground so she can stretch her arms and dance in the snow, I see my wife. Her eyes are rimmed with tears as she takes in the scene. So are the eyes of her best friend, standing near her. This is real joy, heart bursting love. It is togetherness, family, peace, anticipation, excitement and tingly "magic," all happening at once.
We never saw it coming.
I felt the emotion welling in me, as though it were riding the cresting wave that had begun rising somewhere around my feet but had now fully engulfed my chest. I saw my wife, my daughters, my friends, my fellow guests---all of us---caught up in this instant, happily playing in the "snow."
As the music died and the machines clicked off, the last flakes floated out of the air. The electric moment passed like a supremely satisfied sigh. We adults looked at each other. Shocked and a bit taken aback by what had just occurred. Hadn't we done this a hundred times before? What in heaven was THAT?! And we smiled with satisfaction. My wife and her friend dabbed at the corners of their eyes. A bunch of old salty Disney professionals had been hit by wonder. Smack dab in the middle of Small World Way!
Go figure.

It may be a bit early, but here's wishing you all a very, merry Christmas!