"The fried pickles," I respond when asked my favorite part of Disneyland. "Carnation Cafe on Main Street. I've been dreaming of them ever since."
Breaded in panko and parmesan, served with a thousand island-looking dressing, I'd definitely go back for the fried pickles. How silly is that? I ask myself. It sounds so adult. Too adult. I went to Disneyland for the fried pickles? The food? Okay, I give myself another chance to answer more appropriately, to redeem myself to my questioner.
"I loved Cars. I'd go back for a another chance to race in Cars."
I'd go back to increase my score on the Toy Story interactive ride too. Or maybe for a nostalgic ride on the Matterhorn since it was closed this visit. Or maybe for the rush on the roller coaster that stung the fillings in my teeth with the rush of cool air. Or for the exhilerating speed on Space Mountain.
Or maybe, I'd go back to feel close to my father.
Dad was Disneyland.
I imagine him as a kid, reared under the sparse conditions of the depression and WWII. He was born to strict European parents who left during WWI, who knew how to sacrifice, how to work, but who didn't know how to laugh enough. I only knew Dad as an adult, unless of course, we were at Disneyland. Disneyland brought out the child in him.
When he heard about Pirates of the Caribbean from my uncle who'd just visited with his seven children, Dad planned a trip. When we stayed at the more-posh-than-we'd-ever-known Disneyland Hotel, we were allowed to choose one toy from the gift shop. We stopped for all the snacks: the frozen banana, the orange julius drink, for candy in the candy shop. Always the train ride around the park. Always. Always photos in front of the old cars, the Matterhorn, the steamship--and us little girls always in our best dresses. The 1960s.
This first trip to Disneyland in ten years, the child within wiggled out of her straight jacket. I don't do it so often. Hardly at all. All serious and no play keeps the child away.
My child within has been on a long vacation and was ready to play.
When the child in me saw the Autopia and that it had brand new cars, I had to go. It was indeed my favorite childhood ride as driving seemed like the ultimate privilege.
The child in me snagged the front seat in the Indiana Jones mega-jeep.
The child in me ran through the streets of California adventure in the empty, early hour.
The child in me loved the mac and cheese cozy cone at the cozy cone motel.
The child in me bought a Disney character shirt, and has worn it four times.
The child in me wants to do the unthinkable, the touristy, and the heretofore scoffed at adventure:
She wants to go to Disneyland Paris.