Author’s Note: I’ve made a list of 100+ events, places and experiences that happily unite people.  I’m taking a tour to see and experience as many of them as possible, and also meet up with Society members and friends. Of course, I’ll be sharing these #HappinessUnites moments with you. Find out more of the why’s of the #HappinessUnites Tour in my blog: 3 Reasons I’m Hittin’ the Road. Or find out where my #HappinessUnites Tour has taken me so far — and what I’ve had time to write about. If you want to meet up with me, check out my #HappinessUnites Tour schedule.

#HappinessUnites @ The Happiest Place On Earth

Obviously, you can’t take a #HappinessUnites Tour without going to the happiest place on earth—Disney. The only question, “Which park should I go to?”

Since I use to live in Florida, I’d visited the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. My trip to the Magic Kingdom was brief, but long enough to get my Mickey ears and see, Cinderella’s castle (although at the time I just thought it was a princess castle). Like many girls, I dreamed of being a princess and for a brief moment my ears felt like a tiara. A co-worker and I went to the park after a work meeting ended mid-afternoon, then drove back to West Palm Beach late at night so we could be at work the following morning. It was during an economically thrifty time of my life, so buying the park ticket, ears and sweatshirt was a splurge.

I’d never been to the original Disneyland, so I decided that’s the park I should visit for the #HappinessUnites Tour — after all, its official tag line is “The Happiest Place On Earth.”

I immediately reached out to my friend Katharine, who lives in Southern California — and is a self-proclaimed #DisneyAddict and Society friend, to see if she would join me. Like anyone with an addiction — even a happy and healthy one — she enthusiastically said yes.

The only challenge was that this, too, would be a short trip, because I needed to leave the park by 2:00 p.m. to drive to Idyllwild for the outdoor concert I was attending that evening. Obviously I was concerned about the California traffic and mountain driving that my friend John had prepped me for. He’s also a Disney enthusiast who wanted to join us but had an unchangeable conflict that day.

John – Angels Flight – California

Disneyland Here I Come!

Going to Disney would start the second day of my LA area #HappinessUnites Tour. I started the morning a little more tired than expected because there was an unexpected traffic annoyance going from Burbank to Anaheim. My estimated 45-minute drive took at least 2 hours, so my head didn’t hit my pillow until after midnight PDT, or 2 am CDT, my time zone. However, my adrenaline kicked in the moment I walked into the park that morning. I was ready to see the castle, meet Mickey and explore Disneyland.

We met the Patrick family, who now live in Washington but had also lived in Texas, at the entry of the park. They were also Disney enthusiasts and discussed the various parks with Katharine. They both agreed the Space Mountain ride at Disneyland was superior to the other parks, and most of the conversation was over my head since, for all practical purposes, I’m a Disney newbie. They also agreed to take the Happiness Pledge with me. I gave them #HappinessUnites tattoos.

 

Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow
as long as there is imagination left in the world. 
–Walt Disney

 

After stopping to buy some Mickey ears, we headed down Main Street and to see Sleeping Beauty’s castle—and I know this because of Katharine. We had our picture taken with Tinker Bell, who’s possibly my favorite Disney character from back when I watched The Wonderful World of Disney every Sunday night. Tinker Bell flew around during the opening and ending credits. I wanted to fly, so I loved her. She was magical.

[Tweet “All the world is made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust. –Walt Disney #HappinessUnites”]

 

After our castle picture, Katharine, a marathon runner and power-walker, started doing what I considered race walking around the park. She wanted me to see as much of it as possible in our limited time—and within my ability to keep up with her. Our next stop was using her FastPass to ride Space Mountain which was on my ride wish list. She was also using her Disney app to navigate wait times.

 

Katharine & Pamela Gail – Sleeping Beauty’s Castle

Mickey Mouse – Toontown – Disneyland

Toontown City Hall – Disneyland

Pamela Gail Waiting To Ride Space Mountain – Disneyland

We took a train ride around the property so I could see the overview of the park. I definitely want to return to the park and stay at the hotel on the property—but that might require saving up for a bit. Then we went to get our picture made with Mickey Mouse, who was charming as expected. The details of his home amazed me, down to an appropriately sized sofa, a TV showing his black and white movies, Pluto’s bowl and bone. I wanted to see Minnie’s home, too, but that would have to wait until my next visit. However, I did take a pic of Goofy’s mail box.

Katharine, Pamela Gail & Mickey Mouse – Disneyland

Pluto’s Doggie Door – Disneyland

Dumbo Topiary – Disneyland

Pamela Gail At Goofy’s Mailbox – Disneyland

Tea Set At Minnie’s House – Disneyland

Pluto’s Doggie Bowl & Bone – Disneyland

Before our appointed ride time at Space Mountain, we managed to squeeze in the classic, It’s a Small World. You couldn’t help but feel happy seeing the vibrant colors and characters, and hearing the cheerful music. It was happiness personified. I’m pretty sure I could live in the happy place known as It’s a Small World if they’d let me. There was a small moment of sadness, because I know my mom would have loved this ride. My brother and I had planned to take her to the Magic Kingdom the month she passed – it was going to be a surprise.

After we exited our boat, we raced to Space Mountain, where we got to blast off into the darkness of space. Rollercoasters are a personal favorite, and unique ones, like the ones in the dark, are even more fun. I can’t compare the superiority of this parks ride to others but it certainly made my heart beat fast.

We then had a nice lunch and before I knew it, it was time for me to depart for my next #HappinessUnites Tour activity (link to blog 7 when it’s done).

My time at Disneyland was magical. It was full of smiles, laughter and anticipation of wonder. Seeing the park through Katharine’s eyes helped me understand why so many of my adult friends love it or might even consider themselves #DisneyAddicts. 

The lessons I learned from my Sixth #HappinessUnites Tour Stop:

  1. You shortchange yourself if you don’t give yourself a full day at the park.
  2. Disney’s nostalgia allows adults to feel like kids again and that’s magical for everyone.
  3. Even if Disney isn’t the happiest place on earth, it’s really close because just walking around the park creates a sense of wonder about what’s around the next corner.

I’d love to hear about your favorite Theme Park! Have you visited Disneyland in Florida? California? Both? Are you a #DisneyAddict? Is there a special park that you are planning to visit?  Please leave a comment below! Such a great way to meet new friends and share the magic!

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