Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Disneyland (Pt. III): My feet are killing me

In case I don't get a chance to write tomorrow, I want to warn you now. And I want to write a post that works for tomorrow as much as it works for today: Disneyland, Pt. III.

You saw another addition to the series coming. And I fulfilled your expectations. You're welcome.

Tomorrow I will be going to Disneyland with my friend Diana and a few of her buddies from college who have come down to southern California to visit her and the Happiest Place on Earth. Since I have never met them before, this will be an adventure for many reasons.

One, I'll have to learn a few new names (and I'm the worst with names). Two, I'll have to go on whatever rides that my new acquaintances want to go on because they are infrequent visitors to the park (unlike myself). Three, I'll be spending a whole day at Disneyland - which is a terror in itself.

Disneyland for a few hours can be exhausting, simply because it is a big outdoor venue where a lot of walking is involved. But Disneyland for a whole day is absolutely insane. It takes a lot of stamina and preparation. Here are my personal tips (which I'm reminding myself of tonight) for getting through a full day at Disneyland:

1. Research and prepare.

A day at Disneyland is not like a morning or an evening at Disneyland - which is what I'm most used to. A day involves starting off at one point (morning) and ending at a completely different point (evening) with a little bit of awful thrown in half-way through (afternoon).

When you are getting ready to spend more than a few hours at the parks with only a bag on your shoulder and a few dollars in your pockets, be sure to know what your situation will be ahead of time. For one, are you bringing food with you? I can't count how many times I've not thought this one out and then ended up eating two full-sized meals while my friends snacked on Cheez-Its and peanut butter sandwiches. It makes me want to apologize profusely to my wallet.

Along the research and prepare route is the weather check. Is it going to be raining? Wear boots and a coat. Is it going to be windy? Wear boots and a coat. Is it going to be sunny? Wear boots and a coat if you're an idiot (on that note, many SoCal residents choose to wear Uggs in 80 degree weather - this confounds me).

Pack all the necessities in your bag - and be sure to charge everything the day before. Inevitably, your phone will die right before you need to call home to have someone pick you up. Your only hope is to charge it and pray for the best.

Voila! Poncho people. Poncho people everywhere.
2. Dress appropriately.

I mentioned it before. Boots and coats, right? No.

When I go to Disneyland, unless it is pouring rain outside and I know I will be encountering hoards of "Poncho People," I try to stick with the tried and true perfect outfit:

A dress and comfortable flats.

This outfit is fool-proof for someone like me. While it is obviously not gender neutral and a lot of people don't like wearing skirts at all, it really is the perfect outfit for a day at Disneyland during which you may encounter: heat that causes you to be so sweaty that your jeans stick to your butt and legs, intermittent rain that is so heavy that it keeps your pants wet and grungy for the rest of the day, or wind that makes you feel like Marilyn Monroe in her white dress.

Imagine all of these scenarios with a skirt on. Infinitely better, right? I think so.

For those who aren't inclined to wear a dress, the jeans and a t-shirt concept is a fine alternative. I personally don't go for it very often. But more power to you if you do.

3. Take care of yourself the day before.

It's really easy to get tired half way through a day at Disneyland. Even if you love the feeling of Bengay on your legs when you arrive home in the evening, that does not mean you should aim to tire your body into submission.

The day before a full day at Disneyland should be spent doing one thing and one thing only: relaxing. Whether that means napping for an extra three hours during the afternoon or eating a tub of popcorn and watching TV (my alternative) for the 24 hours beforehand, you should be doing something low-stress and especially kind to your legs.

If you ever choose to go to a theme park with less than fully rested limbs, you will not be happy by the time late afternoon kicks in. You may not even be happy around lunch time. Regardless of when, just know that you will not be happy at some point. And you always want to be happy, don't you?

4. Do everything the night before.

A great deal of the fun of going to Disneyland for an entire day is getting there right when or just as the park is opening. You get to hear Walt's voice over the loudspeakers and music playing as a bunch of people stampede their way to the most coveted rides, you get to go on the attractions before the lines get insanely long and even better, you get about five minutes to get ready in the morning.

Some of us aren't late sleepers. When I'm in the Midwest I'm one of these people. But in California, I refuse to wake up early (this goes against logic since California is in a later time zone, but hey). If I want to make it to Disneyland by 8 am, I have to be up by at least 6:30 or 7 am so I can eat a full breakfast and apply make-up with only one eye open at a time (because I can't physically open both of them). And this can be a problem.

So, dear readers, if you want to be like me and not get into a crazy, sweaty tizzy when you wake up for an early trip to Disneyland, be sure to get everything done the night before. And go to sleep early.

Make your lunch, pack your bag, take a shower, do your hair, pick out your clothes. Whatever needs to be done. Do it beforehand. You will thank me at 7 am when you finally wake up after hitting the snooze at 6:30 and inadvertently disabling your alarm for 30 minutes.

5. Have an escape plan.

Despite my over-the-top precautions, I'm being honest when I say I love spending a full day at Disneyland. It's an event in my life that hasn't happened often since I was very little, so when I get the opportunity now I seize it with all the energy and enthusiasm I can muster.

But sometimes that energy and enthusiasm just doesn't last through the entire day. Once you've been at Disneyland for ten hours, you're so spent that you just can't move one leg in front of the other anymore. And you know that your make-up has melted off your face to the point that you will look even more ghastly in your Space Mountain pictures than you already do when you're fully rested and made-up.

This is when you call in reinforcements. Reinforcements in the form of alternative transportation.

Tonight I will be informing my dad that once he arrives home from work tomorrow, he will be on call to drive me home from Disneyland should I be dying and my companions be dying to see Fantasmic! (making them unwilling to leave).

For those of us who do not have a parent who can pick us up at our whim, this is a more difficult problem to face. And to all of you, I must apologize and I salute you for your valiant goal of going to Disneyland for an insanely long period of time with no hope of relief. You are brave.

To wrap things up, I just want to reiterate how absolutely amazing an opportunity it is to get to go to Disneyland for an entire day. When I write about it, it may seem like an ordeal and a bit of a stupid undertaking, but when you're there you often lose sight of all of the worse aspects.

Even when you're sweating your brains out and your legs are stuck to the vinyl seat below you as you watch people walk by fanning themselves with park maps and eating melting frozen lemonade from a cup, there's still this overwhelming sensation that you're in a place where happiness always exist no matter what the situation.

Disneyland really is the Happiest Place on Earth. And perhaps it takes a full day of walking around the parks with the balls of your feet in unfathomable pain to fully realize that. As a seasoned Disney veteran I can say that's absolutely 100 percent true. Just come prepared.

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