When I was a kid, I never wanted to waste my time meeting characters at Disneyland – I just wanted to go on rides, rides, and more rides. My mom says that when we were little, the characters only wandered the park, whereas now many of the characters are in permanent locations. We didn’t go to Disneyland very often so we just wanted to get in as many rides as possible.

Annabel is an extremely lucky kid – thanks to my work opportunities and annual passes, she’s probably been to Disneyland more times in her life than I did in my first 25 years combined. I think it’s because of this that she doesn’t feel the same sense of urgency to jam in as many rides as possible. Don’t get me wrong, she likes the rides, but for Annie it’s the other things that make Disneyland special. Like meeting characters.

The kid completely judges a Disney experience based on how many characters she meets. For example, when we went for Disneyland’s Halloween party a couple months ago, Annie cried when we left the park because she hadn’t met a single character – even though she’d gone on several rides, marched in the parade, and received a ton of candy. Characters are where it’s at for this girl and I try to respect that, even though I think waiting in line to meet a character is one of the most boring things you can do at an amusement park.

(Sidebar: The worst thing you can do at Disneyland, in my opinion, is paddle a canoe around Tom Sawyer Island…I mean, wtf, I have to actually paddle? Walking around the park is exercise enough, thanks. And of course every time we see the canoes, Annabel is like, “I wanna go on that!” which just proves that not letting children vote was the right call. Good job, Founding Fathers.)

Anyway, when we went to Disneyland last week (when I met Gwen!) we asked Annie what she wanted to do. I dunno, maybe we thought the answer would be different.

“I wanna meet Tiana, and Belle, and Anna and Elsa and Minnie Mouse! And other characters! And eat ice cream and then maybe we can meet Mickey Mouse for James, if we have time.”

So that is how we spent our day…in line, to meet characters.

Princess Tiana and Annabel

jack annie sally

meeting Hiro and Baymax

I really miss when she used to smile like this when she met princesses.

BTW this moment when Jack Skellington ran up to James probably effed him up for life.

James wants Jack to get the F$#& away from him

Peek-a-boo with a giant skeleton? NO THANKS GUYS.

We met about 8,000 other princesses and characters that day, like Snow White, Cinderella, the Wicked Stepmother and Step-Sisters, Anna, Elsa, Alice in Wonderland, Ariel…frankly, they all run together in my mind. I mean, don’t get me wrong – it has been a lot of fun to watch Annie’s reactions to the characters change over the years. She used to be shy and just stare at them, but now she talks to them and asks questions. It’s really sweet and I love that she thinks she’s meeting the real stars of the stories.

cinderella and annie

Queen Elsa, Annabel, James, Princess Anna
James looks like he’s still getting over his Jack Skellington scare, but right after I took this picture he said “Nana! Elsa!” and everyone exploded from cuteness.

But when we’re standing there and I watch child after child (and let’s be honest – plenty of grown ups) touch and hug all over the characters, I can’t help but wonder if the princesses have all received their flu shots. This is where it pays to be Cinderella and Tiana, because they get to wear gloves. The rest of the ladies deserve hazard pay. You know they don’t have hand sanitizer in Arendelle.

Annabel with Ariel

Hey Ariel, remember when you wanted to be part of our world? Well, it includes influenza and hepatitis and whooping cough! Hope King Triton had you on a vaccination schedule!