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Happiest Place in the World: Circa 1989

What can turn the happiest place in the world into a very sad one for a parent? Might it be because their child had a meltdown? Or maybe because they got stuck in California on one of the hottest days of the year? Or maybe because of food poisoning? No. I'm afraid it's something far worse.

When I was 18-months-old, my parents took me on an around-the-world trip to England to visit family via LA and Las Vegas. We stopped by Disneyland and although my mum isn’t one for hot weather or crowds, we all had a fun time and we spent the whole day at the original Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

So how did such a day turn into such a sad, bitter memory? The funny thing is, it didn’t happen on the same day, or in the same city — it happened a few days later.

Take one father in Vegas with a camera, and one mother with food poisoning, confined to the room with the child. We’re talking about analogue 1989 here, where you would store up your films until returning home to get them all processed. The father in Vegas left the newly bought Pentax SLR camera in the taxi, but by some stroke of luck, he was able to get the one honest taxi driver in all of Vegas, and got back the camera. But the sad part was that the rolls of film had been misplaced somewhere along the way.

Can you imagine losing not one but all of the rolls of film from your day at Disneyland? Photos with the Disney characters, photos in front of amazing rides, eating lunch, and those photos that you got someone else to take so that you can have the whole family in the shot to show your child in years to come?

Well, this is a Disney story after all, so I have to have some light at the end of it. Luckily, half a roll was saved as it was still in the camera — from the end of the day. It had photos of my mum and I on the Teacup ride from Alice in Wonderland, which I’m told I hated (which you can kind of see this in the photos) and of the fireworks. I have always been told by my Dad at every New Year’s Eve, that once you see Disneyland fireworks, you will always compare every other set you see. Now that I have been back there, I totally know what he means! They’re the most memorable fireworks I think anyone could ever see!

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