PHOTOS: A Four-Year-Old's First Time at Disneyland
I'm proud to report that Anthony went, and Anthony conquered. Boy, did he ever.
Learn more, and see a bunch of photos from the day, after the jump.
I met up with Anthony and his family in the parking garage around nine in the morning. Immediately, he seemed excited. Not so much by the fact that he was about to walk into the Happiest Place on Earth for the first time ever, but more by the Mickey Mouse concrete pillar wraps that lined the level they had parked on.
"There's Mickey," he said. "And there he is, too. And there."
After about a hundred or so Mickey parking lot sightings, we boarded the tram. I have to be honest, Anthony looked a little nervous to me at this point. He's a quiet child, more of a thinker than a talker, so as we drove to the front of the park I began to think that it may already be too much for him to take in. I was hoping he'd find his groove and relax a bit as the day wore on. Otherwise, forget the fireworks... we might not even make dinner.
Well, at least there's always Trader Sam's, right?
We exited the tram, pulled out our tickets, and headed through the gate. Once inside the park, Anthony stopped dead in his tracks.
I don't think it's possible for kids to express what they're feeling or thinking on that first time in the park, but I translated Anthony's body language into something similar to "holy shit."
We stopped by City Hall and picked up our "1st Visit!" pin. I thought Anthony might be a little reluctant to actually wear it, but he quickly asked his father to help him pin it on his shirt.
Before we got into the park I explained to Anthony that he would be able to meet Disney characters once inside.
Shady: Who do you want to meet?
Anthony: Pluto. He's my favorite.
So when we walked in and found ourselves just ten feet from Pluto himself (and since his line was only a few people deep at the time), I figured Anthony would be excited to start off the day by meeting his favorite character.
Shady: Anthony, there's Pluto! Do you want to get a picture with him?
And who could blame him, really? It's already a hell of a lot to take in, and to walk in the gate and see a cartoon character you've only ever seen on television before standing right there in front of you, yeah, I guess it can be a little much.
I tried to convince him that there was nothing to worry about.
Shady: Pluto is very nice. And besides, it's probably just a little Asian woman inside of a suit. You're not scared of Asians, are you?
Of course, I didn't say that second part, but I really wanted to.
With some coaxing and convincing from his mother, Anthony slowly and cautiously approached Pluto. By the time I snapped the photo, I think he was well on his way to getting comfortable with this whole character thing.
We hit Main Street and stopped in at Blue Ribbon Bakery. I wanted a black coffee. Anthony wanted anything that had Mickey Mouse's face on it. We both got our wish.
We walked through Sleeping Beauty's Castle and into Fantasyland.
We waited a half hour for Peter Pan's Flight, which proved not to be that bad considering we were there in mid-August. Anthony expressed some concern over not wanting to see Captain Hook because he was a bad guy. I told him that he shouldn't worry because Captain Hook was also a small Asian woman.
He loved it. I mean, the ride is great, so what's there not to love? Amazingly, we left Fantasyland directly after and never returned. To be honest, because of Anthony's age, I assumed we'd be spending most of, if not all of the day there because that's where the kiddie rides are. But Anthony was ready for more, and so we headed to Adventureland.
We rode Jungle Cruise and had a great guide. (A good or bad guide can make or break that ride.) A leaf fell into the boat as we were passing a low-lying tree branch. The guide picked it up and handed it to Anthony, telling him that it was a free souvenir from Disneyland. He held onto it for the entire boat ride as if it were a stuffed Mickey Mouse doll.
We followed up Jungle Cruise with Pirates of the Caribbean, which Anthony loved. I thought he might be a little scared by the darkness or drops or loud explosions, but he took it all in stride. "If he can do Pirates," I explained to his parents, "the Haunted Mansion will be a breeze."
He showed no signs of being scared while we waited the thirteen minutes in line, but unless he had a terrible fear of Victorian architecture, why would he?
We walked into the holding area, and as soon as the sliding door opened into the sinking room, a serious look crept across Anthony's face.
His father, who was holding him at the time, said he could feel his heart beating quickly in his chest. Still, he pushed through.
By the time he got off the ride he seemed fine, but I think it was clear that he wouldn't be coming back with his death certificate anytime soon. Still, he did it, and for that I give him a lot of credit. It's more than people can say about me and Tower of Terror, that's for sure.
Anthony is more of a Pixar fan than a Disney fan, meaning that he's more familiar with Lightning McQueen than he is with Goofy, so we decided to head over to California Adventure and take in some of the Pixar sights.
He got his bug eyes at It's Tough to be a Bug!
We also waited in line to meet Anthony's favorite Pixar character: Buzz Lightyear.