Holly’s Do’s and Don’ts for Disneyland

Everyone loves Disneyland until you actually get there. Disneyland is in the business of destroying every adult’s dream of reliving their childhood by providing a few acres filled with screaming children and urine-soaked, measles-infected seating from which to view scenes of animatronic pirates chasing and ostensibly sexually assaulting animatronic women. And you get all this for the price of a $90 ticket.

Nonetheless, I know as well as you do that one day you will convince yourself that Disneyland is a great way to piss away your hard-earned money, and so the following tips will help to make your next visit that much more magical. Or slightly less desperate, whichever.

1. Do ride Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones.

Space Mountain and Splash Mountain are also good, and the Buzz Lightyear ride is fun because it incorporates a game, and winning a game designed for kids is always a healthy way to boost your self esteem.

2. Don’t waste your time with Autopia.

This ride is roughly as fun as driving down any standard road at five miles-per-hour. Do, however, ride the Jungle Cruise, but be careful. After riding this several times in a row on an earlier visit, I ended up catching a fever and sleeping with half of the starting lineup of the LA Lakers D-squad. This year I rode it only once and ended up sleeping with only one of the backup singers for Color Me Badd, so the fever wasn’t as strong.

3. Do avoid eye contact with your boss if you happen to see them at the park.

If you do accidentally make eye contact and now feel obligated to acknowledge each other, proceed with only a firm head nod and no exchange of words so as to avoid unnecessary awkwardness.

I am not making up this next part: On my most recent visit, I ran into my boss on my way to the It’s a Small World ride. I work in San Francisco and this was Memorial Day weekend, so maybe it wasn’t as unexpected as if I lived and worked in Nebraska, but it was still pretty unusual. My boss seldom (read: never) talks to me, and so I took the opportunity to say, “Wow, it truly is a small world!” to which she responded, “Oh, hi Janet. Good to see you.”

4. Don’t go for more than one day.

My sister and I had a fight about how many days we should spend at the park. I argued for two at the very most, and she insisted on three. By the third day, I had to stop myself from punching a few girls in Cinderella dresses. Those little bitches can wear thin pretty quickly.

5. Do enjoy the compliments.

When you enter into Disneyland, someone will call you “princess” and ask to check your bag. Be sure to hide your drugs carefully and try to enjoy the compliment because who knows when you’ll get another one. Plus, it sounds better coming from an actual person than from some furry fetishist parading around the park in a mouse costume. 

6. Don’t waste an hour in line to get a picture with Mickey Mouse.

This isn’t really Mickey Mouse, the cartoon character you loved as a child in Mickey’s Christmas Carol or later, as a college student on acid, in Fantasia—this is a sweaty person with a criminal record and child support payments inside of a mouse costume. Do, however, wait in line to get a picture with Pluto. The line will be significantly shorter, and Pluto has an endearingly pathetic quality that no other Disney character quite captures. Pluto is, after all, a dog with a mouse for a master.

7. Do spend most of your time on your phone while waiting in line.

Personally, it was hard for me to enjoy using my phone as a distraction because I kept noticing how foolish everyone else looked using their phones in line, and I have an eternal need to prove to myself that I’m better than the average person. I therefore elected to stand in line without using my phone in order to prove to myself and everyone around me that I have too much integrity to stare into a hypnotic little box every chance I get.

Of course, everyone I was trying to impress was too busy on their phones to notice.

However, I did see one hipster with a waxed moustache take note of me, but he seemed to be judging my presence at Disneyland altogether and my tacit support of America’s gluttonous need for appropriately marketed product placement masquerading as entertainment. It was unclear whether his own presence was intended as some form of nonviolent anti-capitalist resistance, but he was clearly unimpressed with my anti-phone protest.

8. Do scrutinize the actions of everyone around you.

If you’ve been brainwashed by American culture to believe your worth is inherently tied to your physical appearance, it will feel quite natural to pass the time by determining your place on the spectrum of attractiveness in comparison to the others in line.

If you’ve reached a plane of enlightenment and are no longer concerned with the status of your physical appearance, you may also judge fellow line-waiters on the stupidity of their conversations or their line etiquette. For example, you might judge whether parents punish their children for holding up the line, or you might judge millennials who allow their friends to cut in line with them. The important part is to first determine the particular neurosis your own parents have instilled in you and use this as a guide to judge the moral character of everyone around you.

9. Do pause to inventory your life while waiting in extremely long lines.

If this concept is unfamiliar to you, allow me to explain: While judging others in line on my recent visit, I became painfully aware that any fleeting sense of superiority I felt while watching the morbidly obese woman with the Tinkerbell tattoo waddle up to the frozen lemonade stand was swept away by watching the Adriana Lima lookalike make the Minnie Mouse-ear headband work for her. When I constantly judge myself against others, my self esteem tends to dip and rise like a yo-yo, and the longer I let the judging and the yo-yoing proceed, the emptier I feel.

10. Do look for the silver lining.

Disneyland is a big place, and as easy as it is to become physically lost, it’s equally easy to become mentally lost.

For example, I understand that my fixation on the physical appearance of others is not an indication of a superficial world view. I do not believe that beautiful equals better. (If you could see some of the guys I’ve slept with, you’d understand this to be true—the starting lineup of the LA Lakers D-squad excepted, of course, because those guys were extremely hot).

My obsession with appearance instead stems from an awareness of how tiny my place is in the world. The thousands of people circulating through Disneyland on any given day is just another window into how many fucking humans there are out there and how variegated are our appearances.

I used to think that the only way to find some kind of meaning in an overwhelming world was to be the best at something, either the prettiest, the smartest, the most talented, the most successful, or an amalgam of all four. Perfection would equal security and ascent to the top of a lofty, protected perch. I’ve since let go of the idea that I’m only worthy if I somehow stand out. I’ve definitely let go of the belief that an achievement or notch on a social ladder will bring any lasting security—these are a child’s fears and dreams.

Maybe because Disneyland asks us to access the “child inside,” waiting in line at Disneyland has a strange way of reanimating 11-year-old me’s biggest concern: I’m not the “most” anything. I am very, painfully, average.

But I know something now that 11-year-old me did not: It’s okay to be average.

It’s actually pretty nice to be a part of the crowd rather than peering down upon everyone from above.

In fact, it’s actually pretty nice to wait in line with everyone else rather than magically jumping ahead to the front.

Because in the end, it’s all worth it. Awaiting at the end of the line is 60-120 seconds of contrived endorphin stimulation. And after a few exceptionally good rides, I even felt light and jovial for a full 30 seconds before reality came rushing back in. But even then, that reality was—perhaps just a little bit—more endurable.

And so if for no other reason, I recommend a trip to Disneyland. All the better if you can sneak in without having to pay the $90. Just make sure you wait in line like the rest of us.

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