Disneyland and I: A Love StorySunny Chanel
Do you believe in fate? I do. I believe that fate was responsible for bringing my husband and I together after we hadn’t seen each other in five years. I believe fate was responsible for a daughter who amazes me every day with her awesomeness. I believe fate was responsible for that rad elephant shaped table that I scored at a recent garage sale. And I believe fate brought me to Disney Voices.
See, I have always and I mean always had a deep love for Disneyland. While my peers had posters of heartthrobs or a kitten that requested that you “hang in there,” I had a giant framed map of Disneyland above my bed. At that time, my classmates were wearing their oh-so-trendy Izod shirts, I proudly wore a T-shirt with an image of Minnie Mouse happily skipping. And while my pals wanted to grow up to be nurses, firemen, or astronauts, I wanted to be an Imagineer. I thought of Disneyland morning, noon and night. The thing is, decades later, I still do.
I was so into Disneyland that my BFF at the time, a Miss Margaret Kass, and I started a club called simply the DL club. We had fashioned a headquarters out of a large discarded washing machine box, taped photographs and postcards of Disneyland all over the inside. We even had a secret handshake which involved a standard shake, a fist bump and a pair of Mickey Mouse ears created with clenched hands, a handshake which I will gladly teach you if our paths ever cross.
Margaret and I had a goal which was quite simple; to save enough money so that we could go to Disneyland. We had amassed a fortune in our eyes, around seven dollars. We thought that this would be enough for us to hitchhike from San Francisco and go to Disneyland on our own. When we presented our plan to our parents, we were given a rude awakening. We were informed that it costs more than seven bucks to go to the Magic Kingdom and they regaled us with tales of the Hillside Strangler and how we could end up, well, dead. In addition to the economics of travel, I learned also to never ever consider hitchhiking as a mode of transportation. Our DL Club mission was dead in the water.
But as it turned out, I didn’t need to try to earn my own way to my Mecca. As that before mentioned fate would have it, my parents began to take me down to Los Angeles regularly where they would sell records at the legendary Capital Records Building swap in Hollywood. And since we were Anaheim-adjacent, we would make the pilgrimage to Disneyland, in the era of E-Tickets and the Country Bear Jamboree. These trips were truly some of the best days of my young life. I loved every single moment of being there.
Then Disneyland and I, we took a break and saw other people. I got really into school, fell in love with music, daydreamed about boys, and Disneyland went on to meet and greet millions. Fast forward a whole bunch of years, more than I’d like to admit, and due to the fate of having a little girl, Disneyland and I were gloriously reunited.
I can recall, just like it was yesterday, walking through the tunnel to Main Street and while I was holding my daughter’s small hand on her first ever visit, I began to cry. I had forgotten how much Disneyland meant to me. It was like coming home. My heart was full with the love of my family who was my side, the happiness that Disneyland brings, and joy that I would be sharing this magical land with my daughter. And although my beloved Minnie Mouse t-shirt no longer fits, there are no more E-tickets, and the bears of Country Bear Jamboree have retired, the feeling of that 7-year-old DL Club member inside of this adult mom body is alive and well.
Now I get to visit Disneyland often, going on press trips, openings of their newest attractions, and special events, and I get to write about Disneyland FOR A LIVING! If my 7-year-old self knew what I was doing as a grown woman, she would be giddy, just like I am now. And although I didn’t become an Imagineer, I do get to interview them every so often. And another piece of fate for you, my 7-year-old daughter totally gets it, shares my love for Disneyland and she told me the other day that she, she wants to be an Imagneer. A dream I had never told her I once had. Like mother like daughter or merely just fate?
Photo Source: Kevin Chanel