I recently journeyed to Disneyland to celebrate the birthday of a friend. It was the beginning of the theme park’s 60th Anniversary Celebration. Disneyland is the ultimate of all theme parks for a reason. It is, without peer, inspiring and magical. It is also a bit of a mission to attend and get the most out of your visit. Here are five life lessons I took away from visiting “The Happiest Place On Earth.”
1. Preparation is Key
People thought I was crazy when I packed a bag full of healthy snacks to take with me to the park. It was madness, they said. “You don’t want to carry that everywhere with you do you?” they queried skeptically.
But you have to realize that “The Happiest Place On Earth” is a vast and sprawling labyrinth of fun. Visiting Disneyland is a marathon, not a sprint. There is so much to see and do, you have to have a plan, and you have to pace yourself. I found a locker for my snacks, and everyone delved into my supplies periodically throughout the day. It was a heroic piece of forethought that bag of snacks, if I do say so myself.
I look at a day at Disney much like an athletic endurance event. You have to hydrate, keep well-fueled and keep moving at a pace you can maintain for hours.
Arriving early is key. Fortunately, my friend, the birthday boy, was no Disney rookie. He knew the park like the back of his hand. If you don’t know the park well or don’t have an experienced Disney guide at your side, do your research and make a list of all the rides you want to hit and the shows you want to see and, of course, pack a few healthy snacks. You won’t regret it, and I promise you, everything will get eaten by the end of your day’s adventuring.
2. Attention to Detail
I find the attention to detail quite inspiring inside the park. Everything is just so. I admire the small details such as faux leather straps that bind the fake log fences and how every ride and building is decked out and manicured to create a world that is incredibly rich. The Disney crew maintains a level of quality control in executing its vision that is exemplary.
Wherever you may look in the park, the view never disappoints. It inspires me to take the projects I am working on in my own life that extra step further. The added care you put into things and the high standards you set yourself will always pay off. Keep fighting to create your vision as completely as possible, full of those special details that elevate it above the norm with an attention to detail that shows how much you care.
3. Find Your Space Mountain
In life, just like in Disneyland, you are faced with a plethora of choices. You have to ask yourself, “What do I really want to do? Which choice fulfills me the most?” and make those answers your priority.
Every ride and attraction at Disneyland is stellar. That being said, my clear favorite is Space Mountain. For me, this attraction epitomizes what a great ride should provide: wonder, magic, beauty and thrills. I make that ride my priority and try to go on it at least twice.
Once you know what works for you and when you know what you love the most, you should follow that bliss. You only live once, so find your Space Mountain and ride it as much as possible.
4. The Importance of Stories
Disney is a celebration of imagination. Each ride tells a story, and the park is built on stories that have captured our collective consciousness. We all have our own stories we live by, narratives that shape our identity. Stories are central to our lives. I’ve learned and experienced so much through captivating stories.
Lately, I have been reflecting on how important the stories we tell ourselves are in creating a happy and healthy life. Our brain is constantly thinking and providing us with a certain version of reality. The good thing is we are in control of how we interpret those stories. We can create narratives that support us and inspire us. We can change the meaning of our experiences by changing the stories we live by. What fairytales are you buying into?
Our thoughts aren’t real. Our perceptions and stories we tell ourselves are only a fraction of reality. By being conscious that we are storytellers, we have the power to create a brighter, happier reality. Like they say, “Go to your happy place.” Follow the stories that lead you to your own personal Disneyland. Choose to believe in the stories that fill your soul with magic. Make your own personal life story full of beauty and wonder.
5. Conquer Your Fears
My fiancee was wary about a few of the rides that were on offer, but, with typical chutzpah, she put her fears to the side and went on a few attractions that pushed her out of her comfort zone. And what do you know, she discovered she actually loved the thrills.
So often in life we make obstacles bigger and scarier in our minds than they are in reality. We fear the unknown and don’t take a chance sometimes because of our pre-conceived notion that we will not be safe. How many times have you finally pushed through and done something that was scary for you only to say, “That wasn’t so bad after all!”
Challenge yourself, and take a risk. Not a risk that will hurt you, but a risk like taking a ride in a well maintained, safety checked roller coaster. Face your fears. I wager that more often than not, you will discover that by confronting them, they weren’t nearly as daunting as you thought they were.
Robin J. Hall is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.