Even adults can’t help being captivated by the magic of Disneyland.

It all started innocently enough; just one little pink cake pop in the shape of Mickey Mouse. Then I found the soft, salty Mickey-shaped pretzels. And a chocolate-dipped Mickey ice-cream in the Magic Kingdom on a warm spring day seemed almost compulsory.

A Mickey waffle here, a Mickey candy apple there, a Rice Krispies treat, a gingerbread cookie, a stack of pancakes... before I could say bibbidi-bobbidi-boo, I had devoured a cast of sweet treats all in the shape of Disney’s beloved round-eared mascot.

It’s easy to get swept up in the magic of Disneyland – it’s a bond that develops early on and is impossible to outgrow. It had been 15 years between visits for me and nearly two decades for my aunt (who, truth be told, was probably more excited than I was), but as soon as we crossed the threshold into the ‘happiest place on earth’, the memories came flooding back.

The Matterhorn seemed smaller, the Haunted Mansion decidedly less scary, and the addition of Downtown Disney unfamiliar, but all the best parts were still there: the old-timey facades of Main Street USA, the head-spinning teacups, N'awlins inspired eateries, that unforgettable ear-worm It's A Small World, and – sharp intake of breath – Sleeping Beauty’s castle, the holy grail of selfies!

The nostalgia doesn’t so much smack you in the face as it does envelop you in a big bear hug. When you’re high-fiving Pluto and munching on churros for lunch with a pair of mouse ears planted firmly upon your crown, I dare you not to feel like a kid again. The Disney bubble is real and it’s beautiful. You won't want it to burst.

While it’s no glass slipper, the secret to a true Disneyland romance is good time management. Yes, you can do Disneyland in a day. You can do it on a budget. You can do it with the kids, the gals, flying solo and, no question, as an adult. Some of the benefits of being a grown-up at Disneyland include increased levels of patience for queues, and never having to worry if you’re tall enough to ride. 

My top piece of advice is to make a beeline for the FASTPASS kiosk as soon as you burst through the gates and reserve your spot on popular rides like Splash Mountain and Indiana Jones Adventure. It’s true you can’t improve on perfection, but California Adventure Park is worth a visit in its own right too, especially if you love the modern classics like Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., and Cars.

Visiting during the next 12 months is highly recommended as Disneyland’s diamond anniversary celebrations are in full swing. The Disney ‘Imagineers’ have pulled out all the stops to mark 60 years of Disney magic, from the Disneyland Forever! fireworks spectacular, which tugs at your heartstrings and vocal chords, to the aquatic amazement of World of Color – Celebrate!, honouring the life and legacy of Walt Disney.

Much like a diamond, Disney’s charm is forever. How different the world of 1955 must have been, and how different ours would be now without that trademark Disney magic. 

Words: Ashton Rigg

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