So I am just going to cut to the chase — I am in no mood to write.

I feel tired and out of it and my foot is throbbing because I have a blister big enough to be an extra toe.

Seriously, I don’t know if I should pop it or name it.

And why am I messed up? Because I did the thing that parents in our neck of the woods do over rodeo break: hauled the kids to Disneyland.

The Maniacal Kingdom. Magical! I mean Magical Kingdom!

We ran into three-quarters of Tucson there. Friends, neighbors, kids from summer camp, basketball coach, No. 1’s Latin teacher’s sister.

For years, other parents have whispered about how our random February school break is THE BEST time to go to Disneyland and its next-door neighbor Disney California Adventure, which really and truly deserves the title of the Happiest Place on Earth because it serves alcohol.

This wasn’t the inaugural trip — we took the kids when they were so young that they don’t even remember getting stuck on It’s a Small World for an hour and a half, something that technically ought to scar a kid for life.

Because this wasn’t our first rodeo (ha!), we waited to tell them. Until a mere two hours before liftoff. People who think waterboarding is cruel have never experienced an overly excited child asking, literally every 9 seconds, when it’s time to leave for Disneyland.

When we broke the news, No. 1 just said, “Mmmmmmprh.” She was still asleep. The other two responded, “Disneyland?!?! In Phoenix?!”

We spent the equivalent of a mortgage payment on tickets and they would have been just as happy to go to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix. For $11 each.


Disneyland is not a trip for the faint of heart — or feet. You walk the equivalent of an ultramarathon every day and subsist on the Disney Diet: hand-dipped corn dogs (worth the three years they shave off your life) and extruded foods shaped like Mickey Mouse’s head (not worth it).

The reason no one is touting this nutritional experience on an infomercial is because after three days, your hair starts to fall out.

Plus, you deal with that uniquely Disneyian experience of waiting . . . to wait.

For the super-cool attractions that everyone wants to ride (i.e., Radiator Springs Racers in the new “Cars” section of California Adventure), you must have a FASTPASS, lest you blow 10 hours standing in the regular line.

So, you wait in line to get a FASTPASS and then you can wait in the real line for only two hours. Good deal!

And, it’s the perfect opportunity to teach kids the valuable life lesson that good things come to those who wait and wait and wait and wait — and sometimes, they don’t.

After suffering through a too-long show that involved lights and fire and water sprayed directly from a murky, man-made, green-brown lake that I worried could harbor deadly brain-eating amoebas, we hurried back to Cars land to ride Radiator Springs Racers, which had finally reopened after shutting down at the very time our FASTPASS could be used.

In a Griswold family moment, we snaked through the surprisingly empty line only to be told that the ride — and the park — were officially closed.

The employees waved good-bye with their fuzzy Mickey hands as we trudged out of the park, but even that couldn’t erase the sting.

Luckily, that was only Day 2. We still had one . . . more . . . day.

We went back. Again. Everyone’s feet hurt. We rode the Racers and Space Mountain. We laughed. We screamed on the rides (and at each other).

As the clock crept past 11 p.m. on the last leg of our adventure, my butt dragged along the sidewalk while the kids half-jogged, swinging their souvenir bags, on the way back to our rented condo with the sticky floors and single-ply toilet paper. Their smiles were as big as the Cheshire Cat’s.

“Best rodeo break ever!” No. 1 shouted.

“Thanks, Mom and Dad!” No. 3 said.

“Thank you so much!” the other two echoed.


Next year we’ll give ‘em each 40 bucks and turn them loose in the Disney section at Target instead.

Contact Kristen Cook at or 573-4194. It’s coming up on a week since the Disney trip and Cook still finds herself tugging on her seatbelt to make sure it’s securely fastened, just as she was instructed on every amusement-park ride.