Day One

Awake another 30 minutes before my alarm. This time, up and out the door 15 minutes early. Alarm time? 6am.

I think one of the things that I miss while I’m immersed in the experience of Disney is simply the ability to disconnect. From the word go, there are countless people. Our room? 7 people. Breakfast? 200 people easily. The shuttle? 25 people. And the park? No clue, but I’m sure that the entire population Juneau (30k+) is milling about between attractions at any given moment. In fact, I’d wager that there are multiple Juneau’s roaming about. Wow.

It’s a funny thing. We’re at the “happiest place on earth” in a manic state, racing from line to line, admiring the countless visual masterpieces. Last night, on the Shuttle ride back to our hotel, the entire bus (20-30 people) just looked wiped out. Not one person was talking. Kids lay slumped in parents laps, mothers and fathers alike just staring forward reeling from the day.

Just now, someone walked into the lobby, and while I didn’t hear the whole conversation, her part essential was, “Tired. Wiped out. Not sure if I can go another day.” Someone should spread the word that all play and no quiet time makes Jack a tired boy. I’m realizing the importance of some quality quiet time to reflect and consider what is important; thus my wakeup call at (before) 6am.

But, that’s not really what I wanted to make mention of in this morning’s writeup.

Day one in the park was nearly as good as I could have hoped for, especially as I didn’t have any expectations. 🙂

After the group had breakfast, we headed to the Paradise Pier hotel to meet the clan for the first time. As we rolled in, we were informed that our meet-and-greet would considerably fewer people than we had originally thought. Weather delays and shuttle closings had made for a hugely late night for most. We eventually headed over with a posse of 10 or so, and then headed to the park. It was then I realized that this could be a very long day. People forgot tickets, some walked fast, some slow. The group split from itself and in some cases reunited. Sure the path was circuitous, but I re-realized that if you want a group to travel together, you have to travel slowly. Patience and compassion is crucial. Herding cats is harder than it already looks; it is a physical task, requiring lots of walking, looking, waiting, more looking, more waiting, and, if you’re lucky more walking. Oh, and that’s not even including the mental exercise of keeping an eye on any young (or young in spirit) adventurers and whether they’re still nearby…

Within the first 30 minutes, the group had split up. Mostly because some of the ladies of our crew were going to be headed out of the park for an alternative excursion. Heather & Caitlin went to see Beauty and the Beast (a broadway show) and some shopping. I decided to go with the ladies until they had to go. We enjoyed a raucus good time (er, that might be sarcastic – it was fairly tame) in the Bugs Life themed area… including Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train. It’s nearly as exciting as it sounds. It was fun for me because I had the chance to follow the whim of the gals enjoying the company of Heather.

Wow, I just realized that I’ve been slowly sitting here for the last 45 minutes (with a break for breakfast) working on this posting. I better speed things up if I hope to get back to the room by 7. (We have a tour of the Nutrilite Center for Optimal Health at 9 this morning.)

So, fast forwarding through my day for the sake of time, I was largely solo for the entirety of the afternoon. I spent all of my time in the California Adventure park. Midway games (I won my first and received a 14″ version of Woody from Toy Story.) The Screamer roller coaster (my first Fast Pass experience), and then the followup single-rider line (a very good choice, if an option). Various shows & entertainment and a lot of wandering. I eventually relaxed into the solo exploration and went on a number of rides and even took the time to track down some healthy options for snacks throughout the day (though, in subsequent visits I will try my best to bring snacks so I don’t have to hunt.) Periodically I’d see Nick & Amy headed in the opposite direction, and then towards the later part of the day, I came across Jim & some of our Clan (these happened to be family through the connection of Aunt Ellen); Karon, Pete, Stephanie & Eva. It was fun to get to know them and chat for a while.

I think I enjoyed the option to connect with strangers. Little kids like the Portland, OR kid who was excited about shooting our way through the Soarin’ ride, or the 3-4 year-old who spotted my winnings (the Woody doll) from the midway games (I took the opportunity to surprise him and his mom by offering it to him – I hope it brightened his day.) Or, there was Gary who is a student in the area who is learning to produce music (his passion), after serving in Afganistan.

Next, I’d talk about heading back to the park and our shenanigans in our return… but, sadly, my time is up. I’m sure I’ll continue my reflection another time, but for now, it’s off to wake the crew and get on the road towards Buena Park for our tour!

It was a good first day at the park. I hope today offers some of the same opportunities to bless others and be filled with new experiences. Tonight, we have the first Bennett Clan gathering for dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen… Maybe I should figure out where that is!

Till next time, cheers!

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