Walking into Disneyland, I noticed that in addition to the long lines for rides such as It's A Small World, there are now equally long lines to get an autograph from a costumed character such as Snow White.
"Well, that's silly," I thought to myself, "Who's going to stand in line for that?"
The answer, I learned a few minutes later, was ... us!
For Peter's sister Nicole, Disneyland was all about the princesses. Cinderella, Snow White, the Little Mermaid, Belle (from Beauty and the Beast). We even bought an autograph book so that she could consolidate the autographs in one place.
We queued next to the castle for 15 minutes waiting for Snow White, only to have her go on break with no advance notice. Nicole was quite distressed by this.
The racket of being a sweet princess requires that Snow White cannot say or do anything to deny these kids, thus a purple pageboy was employed to disappoint the children.
"These princesses, they're finicky," he recited in a high-pitched voice. "But you can go to Ariel's Grotto. It's a restaurant in the Paradise Pier zone of the park. You're guaranteed 5 princesses, 5 autographs."
We trundled for 35 minutes to Ariel's Grotto, a restaurant with a large blue neon sign next to the man-made Disneyland lake.
"We're booked for the evening," they informed us, along with several groups of distraught parents behind us. "NoooOooo," said my internal voice. We then had to face the unpleasant task of explaining this to Nicole, which we had unwisely already informed of the expected 5 princesses and 5 autographs.
She was very disappointed.
My favorite part of Disneyland was also the princesses. Not the fairy tale ones, but the little girls who were visiting the park, 4 or 5 years old, in pink ball gowns with gauze, and tall cone hats.
I loved seeing burly men in button-down flannel shirts and shaved heads, carrying little pink princesses on their shoulders, and applying their macho problem solving toward negotiating with their daughters. "We need to leave Main Street and go to Fantasyland if you want to meet Mickey Mouse, honey. We have to go now. We'll be back later to get a picture with Cinderella."
I managed to snap a photo of my favorite example. Look at the man in the center of the photograph, standing in line to buy a bottled water. He's a biker with a shaved head, tank top, gold chain, and sunglasses. And on his back? A pink Barbie backpack.
By the way, you might wonder how everyone in the picture is looking to the side, while the biker stares straight into the camera. This is because I ran back and forth taking pictures of him for 2 minutes leading up to this photo, optimizing for the best angle where he's in clear view and not obstructed by anyone else.