Jake has always been a Disneyland devotee. “Disneyland has always been that ‘second home’ to me. As a native Californian, it’s been basically my backyard wonderland to go to,” he told me. “I’ve celebrated most of my birthdays there, many family events, and most recently, wrapped up my honeymoon there. The Happiest Place on Earth has always been there, changing slightly through the years, but always remaining magical.”
Jake recalled one of his most vivid Disneyland memories from the summer of 1998. “I was six; my dad had just turned 30. My mom surprised him by flying his dad, stepmom, and step brothers out from Pennsylvania. We did a whole tour of California: central coast, Sea World, the mountains, and of course, Disneyland. Even at six, I was a seasoned local, dragging my grannie all over the park, knowing exactly where Pirates of the Caribbean was, and what time we could meet Belle and The Beast (her favorite characters from her favorite film). I still have a photo of us with them.”
On this trip, Jake had a realization. “I think for the first time I started to see what impact the park could have on people. I still vividly remember their faces as they walked around the magic kingdom,” he reflected. “My grandma was a kid again, in constant awe of what Walt’s original park was. I started to understand that this place has an effect on people. It entrances them, spellbound by the worlds of fantasy, frontier and adventure.”
As time went by, he continued to frequent the park as often as he could. However, on his most recent visit, things were a little different. “Usually, this wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for us, however this time, we were waddling around the park pregnant.” They continued enjoying the park as usual; of course, this time Jake’s wife Hailey wouldn’t be able to ride every attraction as she had been used to. But aside from that, this was another regular Disneyland trip for the two of them.
Toward the end of their last night at the park, Jake came to a realization. “As we were watching Disneyland Forever, it struck me that this was the last time I was going to be there without being a dad. Then, when the show ended, hearing that beautifully written Richard Sherman song, ‘Kiss Goodnight’ as we were walking down Main Street, I started crying. Not out of sadness,” he continued, “but because this was the closing of just me and my wife going to Disneyland, and the opening of our family of three now going to the park. The dynamic of the two of us, or even our families coming with us was now added by one. I get to take my son to Disneyland now! I get to be a dad and show him my love of a place that’s been a part of my life for so long.” But that wasn’t all of it, Jake said. “I get to experience a place I’ve so dearly loved in a whole new way. I get to experience Disneyland by seeing his reaction when we meet Mickey Mouse on Main Street. As Paint the Night rolls down the parade route, I get to see his eyes light up with wonder. Or hear him giggle as he rides his favorite attraction, whatever that may be.”
Jake had the realization that so many parents have already seen. “I have what I love about the park, but now I have the honor of seeing what he may love about the same place. It’s humbling and absolutely amazing that this is a new experience for all of us. As time goes on, I can only imagine what memories will be made, what experiences will become of our expanding family, and just how magical this place will be!”
I agree with you, Jake. Seeing Disneyland through another’s eyes, whether it be a child or a child at heart, definitely helps you experience the place in a brand new way. When we took my daughter to Disneyland for the first time, I watched her more than I did attractions at times. It definitely made me see everything in a new light, and appreciate the simple wonders of a leisurely stroll through the park, or even riding the same 4 rides over and over! Here’s to many happy trips with your new family!
On Monday morning, July 11th, Jake and Hailey welcomed their son into this world. Here’s wishing them the best on a new adventure as a family!
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