Disneyland: My Passport to the US

Our birthday ice cream, ala-Disneyland

“Ok, come back after 2 days for your visa.”

                                                      – The US Embassy Consul 

That was all I wanted to hear and that was all I heard… The consul granted my birthday wish 🙂

It was June 2010. I was face to face with the Consul for my visa application interview. Nervous at first, it didn’t take long before I felt relaxed and confident. I was praying; in my mind I had a picture of me in Disneyland the whole time. I liked how my interview went. The questions were “easy”, the Consul focused on my purpose in going to the US. It was not difficult for me to convince him that I was coming back after the vacation. The interview was short and the consul seemed satisfied with my answers.

After two days, my passport was ready for pick-up. I was given a 3-month single-entry visa, more than enough for me to carry out my purpose – turn 30 in the US.

So how did this crazy dream start?

On my 29th birthday, a thought crossed my mind. I suddenly wanted to visit US and spend my birthday with Grandma. So what’s the deal? Celebrate our birthdays in Disneyland Anaheim. Two grown-ups turning a year older in a kiddie park. I liked the irony, in fact it was intentional.

Months went by and I was just waiting to carry out this plan. Documents were completed, research was done, plans were made. Early on, my mind was “conditioned”.

I knew the dream will come true. It was just a matter of time…

I was right.

The months of dreaming and preparation and vision-boarding paid off.

Why was this a big deal for me? Well, everybody knows that citizens of third-world country go through a lot of difficulty getting a US visa and rejection rate is high. But on my first try, I got it! More importantly, I was given a chance to reconnect and meet family. Family I have not seen in a very, very long time. In this trip, I met my cousin for the first time.

Matter of fact, the consul may not have realized but he just gave me one of the best gifts ever.

The day came… Grandma and Uncle picked me up at LA Airport. It felt like it was just yesterday when we last saw each other, yet it was decades. I felt there was no “catching up” to do. What was important is the “now” that we had. We had those days, and that was all that mattered.

On our 70th and 30th birthdays, respectively, the Grandma and the Grandchild spent the day in Disneyland as Grandchild wished. We spent the day the typical Disney-way – we awakened and spoiled the child in us. Getting excited to see Mickey Mouse and the gang, chasing Goofy along the Main Street for a photo op, experiencing the thrill of the rides, finding our “perfect” spot to watch the Disney parades, being in awe watching the majestic Disney fireworks and being amazed at the incredible production of the World of Color show. It was a day of fun, laughter, excitement and enjoyment. It was a day of family bonding. More importantly, it was a day more than what I imagined it would be. I did imagine the sights, the parade, the rides, the food, the laughter. But I didn’t come close imagining how happy and grateful and fulfilled I would feel that day. I did not succeed pre-capturing how that day would be, literally and figuratively.

And as if all those “gifts” were not yet enough, all that fun was for free, courtesy of my uncle’s good friend who also celebrated with us!

All throughout my visit, it was just good times. I would catch my Grandma gaze at me as if I was still the young Grandchild that she left behind when she went to the US. I appreciated my aunt and cousin taking the time to be there on our birthdays. We were able to enjoy Universal Studios because Auntie offered to pay for the “prohibitive” entrance fees. I was touched by the pasalubong my cousin brought for me. It was double fun having her around since we are the “only kids” in the group. I appreciated my uncle’s efforts in showing me all around, driving miles and miles, even doubling as my photographer. I loved waking up to home-cooked breakfasts that my uncle prepares. I miss the conversations and words of wisdom shared during long drives or over meals…

At the beginning, it was just wanting to see the US, visit relatives, enjoy sights and shopping, and have a good time like all vacations should be. But deeper outcomes emerged.

And it all started with a Disney dream…


All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware – Anonymous

Disneyland California welcomes the birthday celebrators!

At the Main Street

Snow White’s Garden
Indeed, It’s A Small World After All 🙂

Baby, I can drive my car!

Disney California Adventure Parade float 
Sleeping Beauty’s Castle
The Castle at Dusk

The Castle at night 🙂
The parade ended with these wise words – “IN EVERYTHING YOU DO, CELEBRATE YOU!”

3 thoughts on “Disneyland: My Passport to the US

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