Say what you will about The Wonderful World of Disney: It's manipulative, it's ferociously capitalistic, it's driven to brand and license every adorable character within an inch of it's life. Yes, yes, it's all true. But I'll tell you what, it really is the happiest place on earth if you have kids. Of course you pay for it through the nose (and if you're me, in more ways than one - I came down with a nasty cold our last day there), and you'll never feel your feet again from all the walking and standing in line, and you'll crave quiet like an drunk craves the demon drink, and it's guaranteed that at least one person will meltdown every day, although it will not always be a child.
But where else can you get hugged by Winnie-The-Pooh,
get a license to drive your dad around the bend at age seven
and fly a rocket all by yourself?
Where else can you become a Jedi in Training,
defeating Darth Vader AND assist Buzz Lightyear in saving the Universe from the Evil Zorg? All in the same hour? Where else can you help a pirate named "Honest John" find his treasure?
And where else can you stand in line for twenty minutes for a one minute ride on a roller coaster with Grandpa and have it be the bellylaugh of a lifetime?
Once, when Joe-Henry was about four, we hit Disneyland for some random occasion. We lived within an hour's drive then, so we had the California pass, and all we did was visit with Winnie-the-Pooh. We'd finish up standing in line, he'd hug Pooh, and we'd just head on back to the back of the line for another round. On this particular visit, we had waited in line to see Pooh, and he had to go on a lengthy break. He whispered to his "handler" to have us come back during one half hour time slot, so we came back to see Pooh at our appointed time. As we were arriving, he was too, and he saw Joe-Henry, and got down on one knee and opened his arms. Joe-Henry ran to him, and Pooh hugged him tight, and then slipped a note into his hand. He couldn't read yet, but I read the note to him. It was a handwritten note in Pooh's characteristic script, and it said "Joe-Henry - Pooh luvs you like Hunny." I burst into tears, and Joe-Henry has kept the note in a special place ever since.
He knows now that Pooh is just a person in a costume (I'll tell you that sad tale some other day - but for now I've promised to not make certain peoplecry), but I think that Disneyland, and all that it entails -
family, friends, and a few days of YES, LET'S DO! - really, truly do carry more than a smidgen of magic.