Ever since the Bean was born I’ve been waiting for the day that I get to take him to Disneyland for the first time. Amusement parks are one of my most favorite things to do…ever. Right up there with skiing, drinking and watching a good movie (not all at once). And I want to share it with my son. I want him to love it as much as I do. Thankfully, we’re talking about Disneyland and not eating meat. I’m confident that he’ll like Disney, no doubt. If it were trying to get him to put down at some chicken, it would be a challenge. He’s at the marvelous age where something as simple as seeing the exhaust line coming out of the back of a passing airplane will set him into squeals of delight. Disney’s going to blow his freakin’ mind. But would he like my favorite Disney ride, “Pirates of the Caribbean”?
I remember being scared of that ride. I’m not sure exactly how old I was. Maybe 2. Maybe 4. But I was on the boat in the dark, only able to see the animated skull and crossbones over my head saying, “Deeeaaaaaad men teeeellll nooo taaaales!!!” I cried the whole way through the ride. Until the end where the guys in jail try to lure the dog holding the keys to come over to their cell. That was my favorite part. Still is. This is what I remember. Or at least this is what I’ve been told enough times that my memory has stitched together the scene from scraps of other memories. I was worried that Pirates may be a too intense for my son. And Pirates is a really long ride. 11 minutes. (Yes, I know how exactly how long the ride is. I’m geeky about this stuff.)
You can’t really start the hype machine on something fun for a toddler until right before it’s going to happen. For a kid that young, every day is epic in length. You start in with the Disney talk too early and it’s going to be a long wait for both you and the kid. So the night before we left for the park, as I was getting the Bean into his pajamas, I began to tell him about what he’d be seeing tomorrow.
“Do you know Captian Feathersword?” I asked him. (Captain Feathersword from “The Wiggles” is the Bean’s only pirate reference at the moment.)
“He cried when the duckies ran away,” the Bean said.
“Well, we’re going to see more pirates tomorrow. Only they won’t be funny. They go arrrrrrgh!” And I squinted my eye and grunted like a pirate. “And there will be cannon balls that go boom! And we’re going to ride a boat and you’re going to see a pirate with an octopus on his face.” The Bean’s into octopuses and I knew the part where we sail under Davey Jones’ in the waterfall could be scary, so I figured I’d make it exciting instead of scary.
We got to the park and the Bean’s eyes popped open. We almost couldn’t get him inside the park because he wanted to stare at the blinking lights they put in the flower garden as you walk in. Once inside, we ran into Goofy. Pictures were taken. Than it was on to Pirates. I navigated us to the ride. (Yes, I know exactly where it is in the park. I told you I’m geeky about this stuff.) We got right on and set sail.
The kid makes it hard to tell if he likes something sometimes. When he’s on a ride, he sometimes makes a serious face, as if he were in the middle of a debate about foreign policy. This is the face he was making as we sailed through the quiet part of the ride. Then, you sail into darkness. Complete and utter darkness. I couldn’t see anything. But we kept talking to the Bean, telling him how “spooooooooky” everything is. Cause you know, when you're 2 things that are “spooooooooky” can be funny. He’s not crying, so I’m fine. We go down the hill. He’s totally cool.
We sailed through the ride and he says, “Again!”
When we went on it a second time, later in the day, I sat in the row in front of him and turned on the night vision on my video camera so that I could see his face as we went down those two hills. When we splashed down each time, the video shows him clapping his hands and making the sign for “more”. He spent the rest of the day singing, “Yo bo, yo bo a pirates life for me!” And he corrected us when we suggested that the song really goes, “yo ho.”
He loved his day at Disneyland as much as a 2 year old boy should love it…completely. It was the first of what I hope are many, many days spent riding rides with my boy in a theme park.
The Bean waiting in line for Alice in Wonderland, staring at the caterpillars moving along the track.