First of all, I have to say that I think we made the right decision in waiting until now to take her there. Six seems about the right age for a child's first visit - they're tall enough to ride most of the rides, and old enough to not be scared of the full-size characters or the skeletons/pirates that some of the rides contain. Most importantly, they can walk - which means they don't have to be pushed or carried by mom or dad all day long.
Thanks to "Disney's Salute to the Military," we got quite a deal on our tickets and hotel room. Normally, the three-day passes would cost $179 each, but I was able to get a free ticket for myself and up to five others for only $93 apiece. We also received a 50% discount on our hotel room, which was quite nice. And being close to the monorail definitely was worth the extra bucks, as it saved us a ton of time and energy walking back and forth from the park to our hotel over two days.
Here's Rachel during the "Celebrate!" street party where she got to dance with the Disney characters. I think the look on her face says it all.
During our two-day visit, there were of course a number of memorable moments. But two stand out in my mind that pretty well summarize my daughter's character. The first occurred as we were walking around Sleeping Beauty's castle in the center of the park. I spied a character dressed as the evil queen from Snow White and asked Rachel if she wanted get her picture taken with her. She said yes so we got in line to wait our turn. When she got up there and got her picture, she turned to the queen and asked, "Is the reason you're so mean because no one gives you hugs?" The queen replied, "That could be part of it." Without hesitation, Rachel then stepped up and gave her a big hug before waving goodbye and skipping off. How cute is that?
The second memory that stands out in my mind was when we went to ride Space Mountain, Disneyland's fastest, scariest roller coaster which zips and zooms in complete darkness, save for some scattered points of light that are meant to represent stars. Ever the cautious mother, Tamara wasn't at all sure that it was a good idea, but I thought it would be okay. We loaded into our "rocket ships" with Rachel sitting next to me and Tamara behind us. As we crept up the first big hill with all the flashing lights preparing us for takeoff, Rachel could barely contain her excitement. The next moment we were plunged into darkness, spinning round and round, up and down with no clue as to what was coming next. I felt her hand squeezing mine tightly, but because of the darkness I couldn't see the expression on her face. At that point, I became a bit worried. Maybe this was too much for her. Maybe she was getting scared, or worse - nauseous. What had I done to my little girl? All my fears evaporated as we slowed down and came back into the station. With a look of pure joy, Rachel beamed up at me and exclaimed, "THAT WAS AWESOME!" So it appears that I'm not the only adrenaline junkie in the family...
Of course, one can't visit a place like Disneyland with a small child and not spend a small fortune on candy, snacks, drinks, etc. And we were no exception. Normally, like most responsible parents, we try to limit our kids' sugar intake and provide healthy alternatives - like fruit (especially strawberries & blueberries, which she loves) to satisfy the ever-present sweet tooth. Well, we made an exception this time, and I think me must've tried most of the sweet stuff they had to offer - from cotton candy to Mickey Mouse-shaped ice cream bars. Here's Rachel inside the giant sweet shop on Main St. looking like, well, a kid in a candy store. I can't remember what we bought in there, but obviously it made her very, very happy!
So that's about it. Obviously, there's much, much more to tell - princesses and fairies and Mickey and Goofy and pirates and castles... but suffice it to say that it was without a doubt her best birthday yet and Disneyland still lives up to its name as "The Happiest Place on Earth" - at least in the mind of one particular six-year-old!
We love you!