Damian and I both grew up in southern California, which means that our entire pasts are peppered with memories of Disneyland. The overwhelming elation of the very first visit. Then over the years, birthday parties and family adventures. High school senior ditch day!
The Magical Kingdom has always been this amazing, ubiquitous part of the southern California childhood experience. And of course, for us, that meant we couldn’t wait to take Waits for the first time. But we wanted to make sure he would be old enough to really “get” it . . . and also tall enough to ride the good rides! So we decided, together, that his fourth birthday present would be a trip to Disneyland. Finally!
So I knew going into this that things might be tricky, in terms of food. I’d heard that Disneyland was actually pretty vegan-friendly, but after some investigation, I realized two things:
1) Almost all the vegan options are gluten-y (think pasta, pretzels, sandwiches, etc)
2) They are all pure carb, very little protein. Which doesn’t work for us.
So that’s fine, we don’t need to eat off of Mickey’s menu. Luckily the park is awesome about allowing people to bring their own food in, so that’s just what we did. And oh my gosh, it saved us some major money as well!
If you’re traveling to Disneyland and you are interested in eating there, I found a few resources which were really helpful. Most notably, this comprehensive blog post by The Vegan Cowgirl which literally lays out every vegan option in the entire park, sorted by “land.” (Note: there’s vegetarian chili available in Critter Country, and a tofu veggie BBQ skewer or refried beans in Frontierland – and that’s about your only bet for solid protein in the whole park. There’s also only one restaurant that has non-dairy milk for espresso drinks, which is in Main Street USA.)
It was such an amazing day, and so nice to spend the time together as a family. When Damian and I first separated, we told Waits, “We’re still a family. We look different now, but we’re still a family.” And I’m proud of us for that. I’m so grateful for this eccentric, unconventional, absolutely perfect little family of mine. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
That night at dusk we were traversing the park, and we stumbled across the Main Street Parade. Floats and singing and dancing, such a spectacle. Damian lifted the kid up onto his shoulders, and Waits just watched, eyes so wide with wonder. He doesn’t know many of the Disney characters, but he does have a bit of a penchant for one particular blue blazered duck.
And suddenly there he was, turning the corner in front of us. “It’s Donald!” Waits shrieked with glee, his little hand shooting up like lightening so he could wave. “Oh hi Donald! Donald! Hiiii!!!”
Tears were instantly in my eyes and I had to fight back that stupid lump in my throat. His joy was just so completely unabashed, so utterly innocence. He believed with all of his heart that that was really Donald Duck up there. He believed it so sincerely.
And that single precious moment was the highlight of the whole entire trip, for me.
Happy Birthday baby boy.
♥ ♥ ♥