Friday, January 16, 2009

Disneyland: Still the Happiest Place on Earth - Regardless of the Food

For the "happiest place on Earth," there isn't much love out there for the dining options at Disneyland. Foodies love to complain about the lackluster pizza, burgers and other "abominations," but oddly enough for someone who lives and eats by her picky palate, the underwhelming cuisine doesn't particularly bother me -- it merely adds to the charm and carefree experience.

Now that I am an adult, a trip to Disneyland is like taking a trip back to my childhood -- to the days when my biggest concerns were whether I was going to get the holiday Barbie for Christmas or how I could get my older brothers into trouble. Today, I worry about being able to pay my bills, I worry about achieving a sense of professional satisfaction, and I worry that I am not truly living my life according to God's plan for me. The burdens of adulthood seem to put a constant weight on my shoulders, and there are very few times when I can completely shut off the constant hum of ruminations in my head. Most often, I turn to exercise, cooking and trashy television as a form of mental therapy, but this past Friday, I was able to play my worries away at Disneyland with one of my dearest friends, Ali.

Over the course of our day at Disneyland, it struck me that the park isn't just "the happiest place on earth," it is a reminder of how to be happy -- how to forget responsibility and be a kid again. As such, it doesn't really matter what there is to eat. Would Disneyland be the same experience if I went there and feasted on caprese sandwiches, filet mignon and baby beet salads? The bad food makes it all the more of an authentic regression to my childhood, a time when I didn't care about the texture of a dish and the harmony of flavors. A bowl of Top Ramen (my favorite food as a youngster) and a can of Coke was enough to put a smile on my face for a week.

As Ali and I ate our way through the park -- quenching our hunger with cheesy slices of thick-crust pizza, chocolate from the shop on "Main Street" and cinnamon sugar-coated churros, I felt completely satisfied with my day of child-like eats. Inside the park walls, it didn't matter that the pizza wasn't thin crust or laden with dollops of fresh mozzarella and shreds of basil. It didn't matter that the chocolate wasn't dark chocolate from an epicurean boutique, and it didn't matter that my afternoon snack was essentially a donut instead of my usual piece of fruit. The sun was shining, the lines in the park were short, and I got to spend the day screaming and laughing and running around a giant playground with my best friend.

While a nice meal out is still one of my favorite ways to unwind after a long week, there isn't any five-star, Zagat-rated, Chowhound-approved restaurant that can provide the same sort of release that Disneyland can. The opportunity to be a kid again --bad food and all -- is one I'd leap for any day of the week.

Especially if it means eating churros at snacktime.


Alessandra said...

Can you fed-ex me some churros? I am in withdrawal!

Esi said...

I love Disneyland!!! But I think I love California Adventure just a little more for two reasons: 1. Soaring over California and 2. Ariel's Grotto with the best big, cheap margaritas ever. Kind of makes the Disney experience adult and child-like at the same time!!

Heather said...

glad you had so much fun :) that churro looks so good!!!!

Diana said...

Ali - Can you fed-ex yourself out here so we can go back to Disneyland?

Esi - I love Soaring over California!!! And Tower of Terror. It definitely terrifies me -- to the point where my knees shake!

Heather - Churros are the best! I wish there was a whole bake shop devoted to making them!

The Blonde Duck said...

You're so cute! I want to go to Disneyland now!

That Girl Can Eat said...

The only reason to go to Disneyland is the corn dog cart on Main Street. mmmmmm