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I knew I was a bit of a sucker for the magic of Disneyland before my most recent visit to the park in Anaheim.

But, there’s nothing like walking through the park with someone who is doing it for the first time to be reminded of how exciting the place can be.

As we walked under the railway line and on to Main Street USA, I turned to my friend and said, “So, this is Disneyland.”

We could have easily been in an episode of Full House, such was the cheesiness of our excited chatter as we headed up the street towards our first destination.

“Look at that!” I’d say. 

“Did you see that?” My friend would say back.

We were like a couple of kids.

(Disneyland the day it opened – Disney)

It was my first visit to Disneyland since the introduction of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, so I was keen to check it out.

While many of the characters are from the more modern additions to the franchise, I was still lucky enough to see R2-D2, and there were plenty of Stormtroopers to make sure we kept our wits about us.

We only had one day at the park, so had agreed that we would not spend too much time queuing. A rule that was perfectly designed to mask the fact that neither of us like “scary” rides and many of those at Disneyland were well above our threshold of what was considered a pleasant stomach experience.

However, we agreed that Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance was a must do for both of us.

(Inside Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance – Disney)

Had you told me that morning that we would happily stand in a slow moving line for 90 minutes, I would have laughed. 

But, we stood (and sat when we could) and moved along slowly progressing to the front of the line. The time was well spent chatting about life, our holiday and people watching the many tourists around us of course.

My brother is a big Star Wars fan and he had made me promise I would at least do this ride regardless of my dislike for “big drops” and other common ride themes.

I’m glad I committed to doing it, because despite the long line, it was worth it. And, if you are in any way a fan of Star Wars, you must check this out.

Our other ride experiences were a lot tamer.

I could happily do It’s A Small World on repeat for hours, although the song might get a bit annoying.

(Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway – Disney)

The old school nostalgia of this ride is a perfect example of what Disneyland does really well.

Yes, it has many modern rides and franchises, but it still has experiences that link visitors of today with those who first visited the park decades ago.

Another thing the park does really well is hiding just how long the queue you are in really goes for.

A great example of this was when we lined up for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.

Looping around a room with our eyes on the door, your brain is tricked into thinking that door is the end of the wait. It’s not until you get to that door that you realise it takes you to another room with more queuing to be done.  It would be fascinating to see the layout of these spaces and find out how much planning goes into masking the lines of people.

(It’s hard to blend in when you’re R2-D2 – Disney)

It’s not a criticism, it has to be done. And, they do it well with each room being very different from the previous one in terms of design and things to look at.

If there’s a degree in how to make wait times feel shorter, no doubt everyone who designed these parks have passed with flying colours.

As we made our way back through the park, we finally got to meet the iconic couple themselves, Mickey and Minnie.

We had spotted them just before they were about to set up for a meet and greet photo opportunity, so were lucky enough to be at the front of the line.

I would kind of say we had a “good chat,” but of course the characters don’t talk. But, it’s amazing what can be said with plenty of gestures with their giant white hands.

Mickey conveyed to me that he and Minnie enjoy their visits to Australia and New Zealand. 

No doubt the couple have used the Disney cruise ships to sneak in and out of the country for occasional holidays.

But, what the encounter proves is that there is no age limit on a Disneyland experience. And, visiting for the first time only happens once…and it’s always amazing.

I count myself lucky that I got to experience someone else’s first time alongside them to be reminded of how great the park can be.

Much like It’s a Small World, meeting Mickey and Minne proved that while having ultra-modern rides like those in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, what makes Disneyland so great is that it hasn’t forgotten the roots of what made the park so special to begin with when it opened in 1955.

What was magical and exciting then still feels that way now. The special effects may have changed but the ingredients of the magic remain the same.