Introvert’s Guide to Surviving Disneyland

First things first. You are an introvert if you get your energy from being alone. That’s me. College was a challenge because I was constantly hanging out with people. Fun stuff, but very tiring.

Being a parent introduces a similar opposite-of-lonely dynamic, but with higher stakes. You can’t exactly tell the kids to buzz off — go see Mommy because Daddy needs some alone time. You can’t exactly slam the door to your room and bliss out to Desperado while staring out the window. Actually, you can do those things. But not at Disneyland.

Let’s start with this: if you are an introvert at Disneyland, Suck it up. This is the Happiest Place on Earth, you Selfish Bastard.

Next, find a way to get very focused on the 20% of yourself that likes Disneyland and develop strategies to shut out the 80% that hates it.

You are not proud of these percentages, but they are what they are. This is simply how you are wired by genetics and your long term ingrained appreciation of sober things like The Godfather over silly, wacky, colorful things like Goofy’s Muffin Baking Contest.

The 20% I enjoy is comprised of: the rides themselves (once situated in my seat); the smiles on my kids’ faces; and my wife’s ultra, pure-as-snow joy. She is a Disney fanatic.

Years ago when we were work colleagues before we were dating I started thinking maybe I’d like to ask her over to my place to watch TV one night. Our day at Disneyland for a team building work-outing sealed the deal. The Matterhorn still had tandem seating in those days. This required riders to assume a straddling position and we happened to be next to each other in line. Then on Small World she unabashedly sang all of the words in a high pitched little girls voice. Hot. We’ve been married approximately 11–13 years. I’m at Disneyland — will check the exact dates when I return home.

I also like the whole concept behind Disney. It’s very wholesome. They think of every single detail. It’s uplifting. It’s also a kick ass piece of Americana — classic and modern at the same time.

So focus on that stuff.

The parts I don’t like: the lines, the heat, the crowds, the non-stop music, lights, screams, bull horns, whimsical music, zippidy doo da in your skull until you run stark, raving mad back to your hotel room, shut the curtains and carefully, forcefully turn on the History Channel.

Try not to think about that stuff.

And by the way, this is an introvert thing, not a man vs. woman thing. My father in law loves a parade. He is a tough old Irishman. But the lights and the dancing really get him going. My mother is a woman and she hates a parade and isn’t particularly fond of children either.

For your sake, I hope you love a parade and musicals and Prairie Home Companion with its lively, wholesome music. Is the music on that show old music or folk music or new music created by the guy with the faraway voice? I think the frogs in Downtown Disney were playing his songs.

So if you are like me, the only real strategy I can recommend is to carve out a short respite for yourself each day. Go somewhere quiet (good luck) and read a story like this in peace.

Now you’ve had your drink and it’s time to rejoin your people.

They’re waiting for you.

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