Happiness for the First time in Forever (2 Jan)

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Welcome to Disney, little one! My, oh my, are you in for a surprise.

[*Note to reader: Just as warning, this post is quite literally all about my one-day trip to Disneyland.]

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The Slater’s 50/50 turkey burger, complete with a knife!

Saturday, 2 Jan

It’s been a while since I’ve been back in California, so I figured I might as well have a burger at one of my favourite burger joints: Slater’s 50/50. A few months ago, my friend was raving about their turkey burger. It looks so scrumptious I had to try it myself, so I met up with her and we had some delicious burgers. My oh my was it delicious. The best part is: they STAB the burger with a knife to hold it together — yes, it’s so big that a toothpick just won’t do. Oh delights!

Then, after burgers, my beau and I went to meet up with his family for a day trip to Disneyland with the kiddos. Yesterday, I had just gotten to know my beau’s little cousins. They are the most adorable little kids ever, especially the girl. She reminds me of a young me, but with a LOT more spunk and sass. Today, we got to spend time with them and the rest of the family members who were in Southern California for the holiday season. There was a total of 19 of us parading around the park together! What insanity! Okay, well, not really, we broke up into groups throughout the day, so it was less hectic and just met up every once in a while, or bumped into each other on occasion.

I hate to admit it, but today was my first trip to Disneyland as an adult. (I haven’t gone since I was in my sophomore year of high school about 10 years ago.) I have to say, I wasn’t too keen on the idea of Disneyland. I’m not too fond on going places where I know there are large crowds or loud noises. However, I ended up enjoying myself a lot more than expected. It may not be the happiest place on earth, but it definitely won my heart over as a pretty awesome place to go — though it’s quite a punch in the guts when it comes to entry price.

Upon entry into the park, my first sense of excitement was getting a ticket with the infamous Olaf from Frozen on it. Olaf has often been sort of a mascot — well the whole movie Frozen in a sense — of my relationship with my Italian flatmate whom I lived with while I was in Dublin. So that upped my bit of fondness for the place a bit.

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Some GIANT flowers looming overhead at Pixie Hollow.

Then, we were to be on a hunt for some members of his family, but instead, I got distracted by some giant, fake flowers. So, me being me, I nudged my beau towards them — well, maybe dragged him just a little. Little did I know what I was getting myself into, being tempted by plants and plant-like things. Apparently, it’s this area in Disneyland known as Pixie Hollow where Tinkerbell and all her pixie friends meet and greet little kids. It was rather fun, I guess, to interact with the characters, but I’d rather take pictures with the flowers than the pixies, no offense. However, the Disney Cast Members, aka employees, scooted us along in line to take pictures with the characters and interact with them. It wasn’t as fun as I had wanted it to be, but if I could live anywhere in Disneyland, it’d be in that “little pixie house” they situated there away from the public eye until entry into the realm of the pixies.

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The ever so interestingly decorated Queen of Hearts bathroom.

After indulging myself with flowers and discovering the odd sense of carefully manicured horticultural selections at Pixie Hollow, I had my eye on the lookout for more fascinating plants to keep my inner botanist happy. The next thing that caught my eye was an espalier trained against the walls of what was apparently the bathroom area associated with the Alice in Wonderland ride. I LOVED IT (and the inside of the bathroom itself)!

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The Frontierland river, “Rivers” of America, and the Mark Twain Riverboat.

After a fascination with a silly little bathroom, my boyfriend became quite glued on the idea of getting a BB-8 souvenir cup as I had sighted  and pointed out a few times to him by this point. So, we hunted one down for him. He was inexplicably ecstatic when he got it. It was amusing to see him filled with such a youthful sense of joy. Upon succeeding in our hunt, we obliged to meet up with one of the groups of the family at Frontierland. While we waited at the ride, I pointed out some California natives sighted (e.g. A small ocotillo plant, a few brittlebrush plants, and the ever so obvious prickly pear cacti thrown in the mix) in between the walkway where we were waiting and the ride area itself. It was strange to me that California natives were planted in such an artificial setting, but it was still pretty awesome.

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The little girl I fell in love with. ❤ (Yes, she posed for this.)

We watched as each set of riders zoomed past. It seemed like forever before we finally found a set of people sitting on the ride that looked like — and were — some of his family members. When they finally got off the ride, we met up with the other half of the family for the obligatory family picture in front of the castle. Yay (insert unenthusiastic tone)… Though on the bright side, while we were waiting, I got to spend some sweet time with his adorable little cousin bonding over churros and a pair of ducks wandering nearby. Boy, do I wish I had a loveable little sister like her now.

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The Dapper Dans! ❤

After the obligatory family photo was begrudgingly taken, I wanted to go check out the Dapper Dans. I’d never heard of them, as I had never been all that fond of Disneyland while I lived in Southern California. However, I had recently heard (well, read on Facebook) my friend’s dreams come true when Disney decided to hire him on as a Dapper Dans! Since then, I’ve looked into it and decided that I needed to go watch the Dapper Dans perform. I didn’t regret it one bit. It was worth all the attempts to hunt them down and not miss them perform. If only my friend was the one performing, but I guess he wasn’t fully trained yet. Oh well, thus is life.

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Random corners and glimpses while waiting in line at The Haunted Mansion.

Next up: actually going on rides. So, I’m sort of a wimp. I’m not much for the crazy fast and adrenaline-inducing rides. Not to mention, I have a mild case of motion sickness I never quite got over, so such rides don’t really sit well with me. Thankfully, I was at Disneyland with my beau, who — apparently — had notoriously been known to be ditched by his peers whenever they went to Disneyland because he didn’t like such rides either. So what did we ride? The calmest, most “boring” rides in the world, but yet we’re still quite fun to watch and explore: Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and It’s a Small World. We did accidentally go onto Star Tours and Hyperspace Mountain, as my beau didn’t really seem to know what they were and the kiddos really wanted to go and we gave in to their adorable pleas.

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A scene from the Tarzan tree house.

In between all of it, I got to climb Tarzan’s Treehouse, which was quite a challenge due to our fear of heights, and laughed at the place where I had a small freakout the last time I came as a child. We also lined up at the Mint Julep Bar for my beau’s supposedly favourite drink and his first taste of a warm, sugary beignet! Then, we ran into an awesome Cast Member, who was part of the Haunted Mansion crew, named Marlee who told us that there’s such a thing as the Disneyland Horticultural Tour, known as the “Cultivating the Magic” Tour, and how to give Cast Members props for the awesome things they’ve done and inquire about anything that occurs to us we care to ask or share (i.e. go to “City Hall” and tell/ask the front desk).

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My panoramic of It’s a Small World.

Shortly after, we ran into the grandparents and the kiddos and went on It’s a Small World, which was always closed whenever I tried going the few times before — or because people didn’t want to go. It was quite annoying to ride the whole ride with two songs rotating, though I’ve heard it’s worse during non-holiday season as it’s only one song. However, I got quite a kick out of admiring various things scattered along the ride, they’d make good craft ideas or interior decorating ideas (I’m not even joking)!

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The castle all lit up for the closing fireworks and show with the Frozen theme.

Then, the finale: the fireworks & snow on Main Street. The kiddos wanted to see snow so we obliged to meeting them on Main Street for the show. Then, as everyone was parting ways, my beau and I sighted more things we wanted to entertain ourselves with the next time we come — next year.

The final touch that topped off my enjoyment of Disneyland: the ultimate visit to City Hall. So, I wanted to know more about Disneyland and their choice of the various horticultural varieties I saw on-site. Our brief friend Marlee had hinted at a book of horticultural records at City Hall. So, we asked about it. The guy helping us sure hadn’t heard of such a thing, but was so eager to help us that he flipped through all the cabinets until he found two plain-looking binders with pictures and records of the various plants on site and what location they were at. Oh the delight! The best part: the horticultural reference binder had the Latin names of the plants, as well as the common names, such as the crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) Alas, my inner botanist gets the best of me sometimes. Also, I found out that the espalier I had saw when I first came in was a pear tree!

Okay, ending Disneyland fascination… until next year (when I hopefully get to go on the horticultural tour!!!).

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