I am still refusing to accept the end of summer. Even though Child is back at school, even though the light is less and less each day, even though the mountains had snow on them again this week. No. Summer whipped by, and I'm not ready to let go of it yet.
One of the highlights of our summer was our epic, week-long trip to Disneyland at the end of August. We'd taken a few days out of a San Diego trip earlier this year to re-visit Disneyland, for the first time since hubby and I were kids, and WOW. It still held the magic. So this time we committed: we stayed just down the street, in a room with a balcony overlooking the fireworks. We bought a 5-day park hopper pass. We planned a few extra activities--a day at the Knott's splash park, a trip to the American Girl store for Child and doll pampering--but most of it was all about the mouse.
And you know what? Even though it was unexpectedly hot (94 degrees several of the days) and even though there were always crowds and bustle, it STILL held up. We had a blast on the traditional rides (Space Mountain and Matterhorn FTW!) and the more daring California Adventure rides. We zipped through Mr. Toad's Wild Adventure and Peter Pan. We all love Indiana Jones (I think it's my favorite). The World of Color light/water show was fan-freaking-tastic. Every day was fun.
But the best day by far was Monday. It was Child's half-birthday, and she'd kept asking if we could celebrate at Disneyland. She'd seen the birthday buttons and hoopla. I was skeptical. Half-birthdays didn't really "count", right? But we dutifully went to Town Hall first and asked.
"Absolutely!" the Disney guy said. "We count whatever you want! We count UN-birthdays even." He turned to the co-worker next to him. "It's my Un-Birthday!" he said. "Wish me Happy Un-Birthday!" and shook her hand. "It's your Un-Birthday?" she gasped. "Mine too!"
They grinned at Child, who giggled back. He made a "Happy Birthday" button for her, with her name decorated with Mickey Mouse ears (of course her name's not really Child, but we'll use Child for this post). He gave her a special phone, and she listened to a greeting from Mickey.
And thus the magical, Princess day began.
Nearly every Disney employee we passed or interacted with that whole day said "Happy Birthday, Child!" They said it as they buckled her in rides. They said it as they checked tickets. As they gave her food. They announced it over loudspeakers, and everybody on the ride clapped for her 8-and-a-half birthday. She BEAMED. About halfway through the day we started laughing at each mention, because it was everywhere. It made her feel royal.
In the evening, we headed over to make sure we got good seats for the Aladdin show at California Adventure. It's an hour-long, real Broadway-type musical production. We'd seen it the first day from a top row in the balcony, but we wanted to see it up close. We made it into the 4th row, right near the action.
It was wonderful. This time we could see EVERYTHING, right there. It was even cooler when they came to the "Prince Ali" song, and acrobats and entertainers started dancing and flipping around us, weaving through the orchestra section, leading Aladdin back to the stage on a huge (not real) elephant.
And then Aladdin was right in front of us, smiling, waving at all the kids. "Wave!" I said to Child, and she did, looking up at him.
He looked right at her, smiled, and mouthed "Happy Birthday, Child."
I SWEAR. In the middle of a show. In the middle of a SONG.
We all saw it--we all looked at each other, and burst out laughing. It was so amazingly COOL. She was giddy. We were giddy.
She told everybody she met the next day about how Aladdin said Happy Birthday to her ("From an ELEPHANT in the middle of a SONG"). I think she will remember that always.
Disney, thank you. That little thing--asking employees to notice and remark on celebrations--it seals the deal. You really do it right.