You can't forget the first time you see a Disney park. For me, it was my third or fourth day living in Orange County. I lived literally 10 miles straight down the road from Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif.
But late one evening, seeing fireworks pop up over the trees during my evening drive was a surprise. It wasn't the Fourth of July yet.
Then I drove a few more blocks and I saw it: Disneyland.
The glow drew me closer and I rolled slowly down Katella Avenue past the southern edge of the park. You can't see much, but I could see a roller coaster with a giant Mickey Mouse silhouette.
It's one of those places I had always wanted to visit, and there it was.
Thankfully, the newspaper I interned with, the Los Angeles Times, had discount tickets available, so I could see both parks, Disneyland and California Adventure, for almost the price of one.
My friend and co-worker, Eldes Tran, went with me — I needed someone to take my picture with Piglet. Plus, you can't go to Disneyland alone — that would be weird.
And of course, I couldn't leave without the ears — I picked Minnie Mouse ones with my name embroidered across the back.
The best part? Piglet.
The worst? The sunburn and the lines.
I didn't visit the park again before I left California, but I'd skip over to Downtown Disney for dinner or a trip to one of the shops.
And it's true about the happiness — it's one of the happiest places I've ever been.