I haven’t really watched a Disney parade in quite a few years. When I was a teenager, I figured out that the lines at the attractions thin out during the major events (Fantasmic! is a good example), and so I head for something with a ridiculously long line, like Space Mountain or Star Tours. While half of the crowd is stopped dead in their tracks watching the spectacle, I get to stand in a line that is half as long as normal.
However, on this trip, I was with Crista, who had only visited Disneyland once before — and that was before California Adventures opened. Therefore, I found myself willingly waiting for the Main Street parade in Disneyland on Sunday. We found a spot near the front of the park — right across from Mr. Lincoln’s hangout — and settled in about fifteen minutes before it started. We sat down next to the model cannon where a couple of little boys were playing happily as their parents rested on the benches behind us. One of the little boys repeatedly used my leg as a hurdle; I was happy to oblige as long as he kept clearing it!
Not long before the parade started, a little girl, her blonde hair in braids, moved to the edge of the sidewalk in front of us. Her mother and father — at least, I assume that’s who they were — sat behind us on one of the benches. As soon as the music started, this little girl began to dance and spin with abandon. She didn’t care who saw her — she was having the time of her life! As each float came by, she waved wildly and smiled up at the performers — particularly the princesses. When they noticed her and waved — and nearly all of them did, starting with Cinderella all the way through to the non-princess Mary Poppins — her smiled grew even wider and she waved even more frenetically. Then, as the performers moved on, she would turn back to look at her mom with so much joy that it seemed to spill out of her and reach everyone around. Crista and I spent more time watching that little girl than we did watching the parade.
That little girl’s outward appearance is how I feel inside every time I enter the Disney parks. I know it’s not rational; I even know that it’s not cool to be a forty-one-year-old Disney enthusiast. But very few things fill me with the kind of overflowing joy I feel when enveloped by the Disney brand of magic. I’ve just learned not to dance and twirl when other people are watching.