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Margie Moran-Floirendo: Forever young in Disneyland

What joy there is in remaining children at heart

The author's eldest granddaughter Cosima celebrating her birthday in Disney

The author with granddaughter Cosima

Is anyone ever too old to visit the happiest place on earth? Although I feel and look younger than most women my age, my body won’t lie. I am often tired way before it is time to call it a day.

Nonetheless, age is just a number the moment you enter this genuinely joyful place. Disney makes it easy for the elderly, the persons with disability, and even the plain lazy with the use of Electric Conveyance Vehicles (ECV) to make sure that those accompanying the children are comfortable as they go through the different sections of the park. ECVs are available for rent at $80 with a $20 upon return. During the two days at Disney Resort and Adventure Park in Anaheim, California, I rented the ECV.

The author’s daughter Gabbi and her granddaughter Adriana

But before I tell you about this youthful escape, here are a couple of tips:

Book a hotel not more than three blocks away from the entrance. Staying outside the park gives a couple more dining choices for dinner.

Firework displays are on the weekends, but there is less of a crowd on the weekdays. However, a Disney Genie pass for an extra fee will allow reservations for entry to a ride so you skip the queue.

Granddaughter Adriana

The author with Adriana

There was so much to see, and the adventure for both the kids and adults was endless. There are films to watch and so many rides with spins, minor drops, and big drops still to be experienced. I would have done two days at Disneyland Park and a day at Disney Adventure if I had a choice. But then, the kids had Zoom classes in the evenings, and the older ones had to work and catch Manila’s schedule.

When Disney opened during the pandemic, buying tickets came with a reservation. When we were there in January 2022, the park controlled the number of persons allowed in on any given day. Masks were mandatory for indoor rides and optional in the outdoors. They let the vaccinated or with proof of a negative test enter the park. However, they trusted that responsible adults followed the rules—no one checked.

Tickets can cost a fortune. However, because everyone is guaranteed to have fun, there is one price for all.   My role as a grandmother on this trip was to pay the bill for six people, but the cost was well worth every moment for both young and old.

Through the years, I’ve enjoyed my Disney visits so much: once as Miss Universe, and on repeat occasions as a mother—the first time I brought my two daughters, they were still too young to remember.

The author with daughters Monica and Gabbi, and granddaughters Cosima and Adriana

For the kids, the highlight was meeting their Disney pals Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, and other characters like Ariel, Elsa, and Queen Anna. Sadly, however, the pandemic has not made it possible for kids to hug the characters like we used to. So, for safety, they kept their distance from the audience.

But my kids were also left in awe of the technology of Pixar, such as holograms and video mapping. Star Wars: The Millennium Falcon Ride was a thriller for all of us kids and grownups. Cosima, 6, and Adriana, 3, were the pilots in the cockpit of a flight simulator, while the rest of us were engineers and gunners. It was an interactive flight, and each had a role to play in preventing the spaceship from crashing. We held our breath when we felt danger. It was indeed an adventure from blast-off to landing.

When I asked the girls what their favorite ride was, they said it was the calming experience on a boat in an indoor flowing river, and seeing dolls in various international costumes waving to the tune of It’s A Small World. We sailed along to an upbeat melody of harmony, evoking a powerful need to be one happy people. To us adults, it was altogether a reminder to try to achieve peace and to remind ourselves what joy there is in remaining children at heart.

And indeed, for every child and the child in us, Disney reminds us that.
It’s is a world of laughter
A world of tears
It’s a world of hopes
And a world of fears
There’s so much that we share
That it’s time we’re aware


The author’s family at Disney Adventure

About author


She is the chairperson of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, a foremost advocate of Philippine arts and culture and empowerment of women, a gutsy traveler who’s written about far-flung destinations. And the world still remembers her as the 1973 Miss Universe.

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