The Biggest Thrill Ride

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By Kate Abbott

One of my usual missions when visiting Disneyland is to maximize time on the “E-ticket” rides: Indiana Jones, Big Thunder, the Matterhorn Bobsleds, and Space Mountain. Sometimes I’d even throw in a generous trip on California Adventure’s California Screamin’ — not one of my personal favorites, because of its lightning-fast acceleration at the start, but one of my husband’s, so I occasionally make the effort and strap myself in. Although my favorite attraction is the delightful (and stationary) Enchanted Tiki Room, there’s nothing like a whirlwind trip on a coaster.

But our last Disneyland visit, in early December, was entirely different from the get-go: The day before we left, I learned some life- and vacation-changing news very early in the morning. I woke Brad up to tell him that we’d have to check one of our many Disneyland park maps to see which rides were safe…for expectant mothers!

I think Brad was a little confused at my sudden need for research at 5 a.m.…until it dawned on him why I was asking. Instantly wide awake, we were both screaming in glee, like we were on one of those coasters I would now, delightedly, be sitting out.

Disneyland in December is a lovely sight, with its lavish decorations and guests wearing silly Santa Mickey-ear hats. I had plenty to look at and admire while I got to know the various benches outside of our beloved coasters and bumpy rides. I admit, I looked a little longingly at the short queue for Big Thunder when Brad strode off to hop in line – it was my first coaster-free Disneyland trip since I was in elementary school! But I reminded myself that, safety aside, a coaster would probably not help my nausea, and that maybe eating the Mickey pretzel with cheese hadn’t been such a good idea, either.

I was excited about that pretzel!

“Morning” sickness aside, as I later plopped down on a chair at the Pizza Port’s terrace (conveniently close to Space Mountain), I realized I was having a lot of fun just people-watching. I had just noticed how many little kids are at Disneyland! They’re everywhere! Disneyland is a perfectly fitting place for kids, of course — but I had never really noticed all of them before.

Even though it was freezing (okay, “freezing” for Southern California), I happily put my feet up on an empty chair and contemplated sitting out on some rides for the near future. I’d always checked out the visibly pregnant ladies reclining on benches and thought how bummed out they must be. Although no one could tell I was pregnant yet, I folded my gloved hands across my lap and felt tremendously privileged to be in their club. My first big surprise as a mother-to-be was that I was completely content to skip Space Mountain!

Brad and I had queued up for the biggest thrill ride ever: parenthood. I smiled at the kids and grown-ups streaming out of the Space Mountain exit, in various states of being delighted, joyful, collapsed in laughter, and freaked out. When Brad emerged from the crowd and asked how I was feeling, I replied that I was doing great. Coasters have got nothing on our coming adventure.

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