A Date With Ariel – A Daddy and Me Activity

Disney Dads has been really great to me and it’s been fun being able to post these “director cut” editions online.  This one is very true to the published one, but includes some extra pics of Emma and Ariel that I really loved and wanted to share.  That day was really one of my favorite days ever and was so nice to have affirmation of my attempts at being a good dad.

I think every dad who loves their children hopes they are doing a good job in raising them.  Most of us have felt like we were insufficient for the task at one time or another, but we soldier on doing the best we can.  It’s nice then when we get outside validation that we are making a positive impact on our kids’ lives.  We might hear it from our kids themselves – a “you’re the best Dad” makes my whole day.  We might hear it from our wives – if we’re lucky (and do we tell them enough they are good Moms?).  And we might even hear it from our own fathers.  But I have to tell you, having a stranger tell you you’ve done something right as a dad really warms your heart.  Because if even someone who doesn’t know you sees it, you must be doing okay.  You’ll never guess who gave me that kind of affirmation one day – none other than Princess Ariel.  That’s right.  The Little Mermaid.

My little sweetie at 5 years old.  Daddy can't ride teacups anymore!
My little sweetie at 5 years old. Daddy can’t ride teacups anymore!

Emma and I were visiting the park one day together.  My wife Cassie was out of town on business and we were having our very first special Daddy / Daughter Day at Disneyland.  I told her that she got to choose wherever she wanted to go, so of course our first stop was Pixie Hollow.  Not Star Tours or Big Thunder Mountain or the Matterhorn (although those are favorites of hers now), but Pixie Hollow.  We must have stood in line for about 45 minutes to see Rosetta and Tink, but she loved every moment of it.  The smile on her face made the wait well worth it.   After that, it was off to Princess Fantasy Faire and another long line, this one about an hour (see sidebar below for tips on waiting with little girls).  I have to admit that it tests my patience having to wait in line for character meet and greet, my mind traveling to other more exotic locations of the park – Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Splash Mountain, just to name a few.  But our encounter with Ariel not only made Emma’s day, but mine as well.

Our first visit was with Jasmine who was as elegant as a princess ought to be.  She took time to talk with Emma, more than just signing her book, and after taking a couple of pictures it was time to meet with Ariel.   Ariel was so lovely with Emma.  She got down to her eye level and talked with her for a moment, just about her day at Disneyland so far.  She opened Emma’s autograph book and saw the inscription I had written on the inside which said something like, “For our special Daddy / Daughter Day – 11/7/09.  Love, Daddy.”

Ariel having just read the inscription in the autograph book
Ariel having just read the inscription in the autograph book

Ariel read it and looked up at me with this look of wonder in her eyes and she exclaimed, “Oh, I used to have special Daddy / Daughter Days, with my daddy, too!”  Now, I don’t know if she was talking about King Triton or someone else, but it didn’t matter.  Just the look of love and wonder on Ariel’s face made me feel like a pretty special dad in that moment.  I had done something right, and hopefully Emma will one day look back at this day the same way Ariel thought of moments spent with her own father – with wonder and love.

Having a Daddy / Daughter Day at Disneyland with our friend Ariel.  Spent about 45 minutes in line for a photo op - but it was worth twice the time!
Having a Daddy / Daughter Day at Disneyland with our friend Ariel. Spent about 45 minutes in line for a photo op – but it was worth twice the time!

Ariel insisted we all take a picture together, which was the first time a princess invited me to share the spotlight, but it was such a nice touch.  I bought the picture that day and still have it on my desk at work.  Every time I look at it, I feel that tingle of affirmation that I got it right.

A Day at Disneyland (tip)

While waiting in line is simply a part of being at Disneyland, especially if you’re alone with the kids, there are some simple things you can do to pass the time and keep them (and you) occupied and having fun.  I always like to involve Emma in planning out what comes next and she even loves to hold the map and help figure out where we have to go.  Sometimes, if it’s an especially long line, we’ll stop off at a cart and grab a pretzel or some light snack to munch on in line.  Disney is always great at placing many trash can opportunities while you wait.  I usually also make sure to carry a book, a toy, or a game (maybe an iPod or Nintendo DS) with me in the backpack when the day gets long.  Being prepared for the lines ahead of time will make the wait just that much faster.

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