To celebrate our anniversary, my husband, Peter, surprised me with a fun nighttime cruise around San Francisco Bay. Dining under the shadowy Golden Gate Bridge, then dancing while cruising past the dramatically lit rock that is Alcatraz, we reminisced about that amusing time nine years ago, when we got married. At Disney World.
On a trip there a few years before, watching Snow White dance with Pinocchio, childhood memories of Sunday night television overwhelmed me and, wiping my 50-year-old tears away, I said, “Honey, let’s get married here someday.”
And so it came to pass.
Peter and I became that couple strolling along Main Street in the Mickey/Minnie groom hat and bridal veil, complete with tiny ears. Wild-eyed and smiling, we bought every Disney wedding memento: a Mickey and Minnie Do Not Disturb sign embroidered with the coy rodents holding hands; Tiny Cinderella and her dancing prince atop a music box playing “It’s a Small World After All”; even the souvenir menu from Tony’s on Main Street, where Lady and the Tramp shared their heartwarming plate of pasta.
Too busy to plan the wedding ourselves, we asked Cindy at Disney Fairy Tale Weddings to do it for us. Our busy schedule also explains why Peter has a shaved head in the wedding photos: He’d just played the lead in Phantom of the Opera. Before his hair had time to grow back, we instructed our Disney wedding planner on my choice of bouquet (red roses with crystals), where we wanted to throw it (Sunset Point, Magic Castle in the background), and whom we wanted to officiate (a Buddhist lama and a rabbi). We sealed the deal with a wedding license signed not only by an Orlando justice of the peace, but also by Mickey and Minnie Mouse too. It was a small world after all. Those two mice were everywhere, including the top of our wedding cake.
My friend and ex-hubby, Phillip, attended, and the “match” I’d made, his partner, Dr. Sheldon Cale, did my hair. I almost asked Phillip to give me away, but he’d done that once already, so my brother Richard walked me down the aisle to my bald bridegroom. Afterward, we danced the night away at Hawaiian Village, where we watched men in loincloths leap over mounds of fire, and we all got lei-ed.
As Peter and I boated around the bay that anniversary night remembering our Disney wedding, I couldn’t help thinking of another homage to San Francisco, the city we left the Big Poison Apple for, this sun ‘n’ fog paradise we now call home. It came to me as crystal clear as Cinderella’s glass slipper: San Francisco is an amusement park all its own. If you want to get all Disney about it, here’s how.
Consider my girlish favorite first: The Magic Kingdom. There’s something in the air that makes people leave their hearts here, and that’s some powerful voodoo, despite the relative lack of computerized fireworks in our nighttime skies. We also have lots of enormous Enchanted Castles on that roller coaster ride to Pacific Heights, and, if your breaks aren’t good, the ride down the crooked part of Lombard Street can be as scary as Space Mountain. As for the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party? Just check out any coffeehouse in town. See all those solitary writers hunched over their computers, surrounded by teapots and coffee cups? Madness indeed.
Disney’s Epcot Center? C’mon! San Francisco has Chinatown, Japantown, Little Saigon, Italy, and India, enclaves of Russian, Serbian, Albanian, Sri Lankan, and Haitian culture, wondrous Latin American neighborhoods, where the ethnic food is much better than anywhere at Epcot. All you Pirates of the Caribbean fans just mosey over to Fisherman’s Wharf and buy all those “authentic” nautical goods! Are you Animal Kingdom devotees? Well, Peter and I are. In fact, we spent our honeymoon at that particular lodge, with a balcony overlooking rhinos, lions, monkeys, a variety of graceful quadrupeds, and giraffes we could pet at eye level. But here? Besides a thriving avian population, we’ve got raccoons and possums in every neighborhood, coyotes in city parks, sea lions swimming, dogs of every description, and all manner of wild life in the Haight. Tomorrow Land? Who needs it? We’ve got world-famous Silicon Valley, where tomorrow is being invented.
And like Disney World, San Francisco is the perfect place for destination nuptials. Unless, of course, you want your wedding license signed by cheery anthropomorphic mice.
As for men in loincloths leaping over fire? Until a law is passed against it, isn’t that what the Castro is for?