Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Really Long Post About Disneyland (because I know you're all dying to know)

We survived Disneyland with 4 kids. I feel like this is an accomplishment that deserves a medal or something. At least a bumper sticker. I can't say David and I can take all of the credit, since my aunt was there too and I think my kids prefer her to us, but still. We did it. And it was mostly fun.

The first day we drove halfway there, and mostly made good time except for an accidental detour south where we were closer to Rocky Point than Anaheim that may have been my fault. We stayed in Blythe, which isn't a place anyone willingly visits otherwise, but it worked out well because it made our next day of driving a lot shorter. The first place we went was the beach, because at some point we had to show our children the ocean. We typically avoid the beach, and probably will in the future also. Alana went down too close to the water despite my warnings. Then she got knocked down by a big wave (I really wanted to say "I told you so" right about then). So she cried, then Witten got wet when I had to get her, so he cried. Then Ava cried because she's Ava. So no more beach visits from us in the near future.

Later that night we went to downtown Disney, bought some Legos, and ate our first round of churros and a giant pizza. I also made sure to buy the girl's mouse ear hats (and get their names on them) right away so they could wear them every day of our trip. Getting the kids to go to sleep that night was difficult, because DISNEYLAND. The next night after a day of Disneyland was much easier. We woke up first thing the next morning for our first day, and only day of regular Disneyland.

First thing we did was go to The Plaza for breakfast with Minnie Mouse. Out of every character meal, this one is the best value. You see tons of characters, plus its all-you-can-eat breakfast so you are full for awhile after. We eat our money's worth of bacon, plus we see Minnie Mouse.

When it comes to my kids and the characters, they have all mostly loved them. It comes as no surprise that Alana loves all of them all the time. She cried once meeting Pluto when she was one, but other than that hugs every character ever. Ava has taken more time to warm up to these giant rodents. She was deathly afraid when we took her at 18 months, but one year later she was hesitant but okay with them, as long as Alana went with her to meet them. Witten though, he was a big fan from the very first character, which happened to be Rafiki from The Lion King. He hugged everyone, smiled the whole time, high fived them, kissed them, gave them fist bumps, basically everything you could imagine. He loved all of them.

I will now present to you the worst castle picture in the history of ever. Bad enough it didn't make it to Facebook. I'm betting half of you have given up on this post by now and won't see it, that's the only reason I will post it. Its bad-ness is determined by how dumb I look. I should've found my sunglasses. Lesson learned.
Moving on then.

Since we did not buy park hopper tickets, and everything Frozen was at California Adventure, we only spent one day at regular Disney, then two at California Adventure. So we basically went on a string of rides all together till we were too exhausted to walk anymore. We did Buzz Lightyear (one of our favorites of all time), then Dumbo, the teacups, Its a Small World, Pirates (where David and I happened to see Robin Thicke getting on the ride in the handicapped entrance because famous people get to skip lines which is bs), then the girls went on the Jungle Cruise with my aunt while the boys napped. Later the girls and David went on Big Thunder Mountain, then we went on Haunted Mansion and Buzz Lightyear again. That seems like a lot typing it, it was even more exhausting in person. I tried my first Dole Whip, which I just thought was eh (I don't know how I call myself a Disney fan if I don't like it), we had some churros of course, and corndogs which are always amazing there, and David and I split a plate of awesome carne asada and enchiladas. We accomplished pretty much all we could while our feet would still carry us where we wanted. We skipped parades and rides that we know are a waste of time to wait in their lines (I'm looking at you Snow White's Scary Adventure), and then ended our first day with a magical spin on King Arthur's Carousel.

Our second day was spent in California Adventure. We hadn't been since it was under construction, so we hadn't seen Cars Land. We went first thing when the park opened, because is there any other way??? We skipped the fast pass line for Radiator Springs Racers, which is as long as the line for the ride. David and the girls went on that ride first thing, because its the most popular ride in the park. I ate mini churros and met Lightning McQueen, so I have no regrets.

After that ride we ate breakfast at Flo's V-8 Cafe in Cars Land, because their chicken tamales were on my to-do list. I basically go on vacation to eat. The tamales lived up to the hype, in case you're wondering. They were paired with eggs and salsa verde and just thinking about them makes me want to go back to eat them again. We spent the next part of our day as hostages to Frozen. We went to the sing-along, which recaps the movie with SO MUCH YELL SINGING BY CHILDREN.  My kids loved it. They sang, they yell-sang, they had stars in their eyes. It was really magical. One of the best parts of the trip, honestly. Then by some stroke of luck that involved a cast member giving us fast passes to meet Anna and Elsa, the girls met their favorite princesses. That was another highlight. Ava ranked her excitement at an 18 on a scale of 1-10. That's how excited they were.

The rest of our day there we went on small rides, the girls rode the Silly Symphony Swings twice in a row with my aunt, we ate dinner at Pacific Wharf and I got a giant peanut butter and chocolate sundae from Ghiradelli, so I could check another item off of my "to be eaten" list, and we went back to Paradise Pier to ride the carousel and Toy Story Mania.

Right after Toy Story Mania our vacation almost ended. Witten tripped getting off of the ride and I was holding his hand. I didn't want him to fall, so I didn't let go, and his skinny little wrist made a popping sound when he fell. He then cried and wouldn't let go of his wrist, so we ended up having to go to first-aid. They basically have no power to do anything but give you a list of urgent care centers nearby and give you some children's tylenol. After he wouldn't stop crying, but still didn't want to leave, we ended up calling it a day. At that point we didn't think his wrist was broken, but he was obviously in pain. I felt so bad for him. The next day when he woke up he was still hurting, and we didn't have any children's tylenol, so David had to work some pharmacy technician magic and use regular ibuprofen and make it into a children's dose. It worked and we did not have to cancel the last day of our vacation. Crisis averted.

The last day we went to Ariel's Grotto for the princess breakfast. I have to say, this meal used to be so much better. It used to be family style, all-you-can-eat. They would bring huge amounts of bacon, sausage, waffles, eggs, potatoes, fruit, bread, cheese, everything. Now you get one entree, but for the same price. We made sure to tell our girls that this would be our final visit to the princess breakfast, but they are getting older (sad face) and are more interested in the rides so they were okay with that. They still loved seeing the princesses, but next time they can wait in line if they want to meet them.

After breakfast we went on Mickey's Fun Wheel, but not a swinging one, because those freak me out. My kids loved it, of course, but David hates it so he waited down on the ground and my children were amused because he looked like a tiny ant down on the ground. Then we went to Cars Land again, because its really awesome, and we visited the Cozy Cone, because delicious food in cones (we had churros, chili, and ice cream) is always good. Then the girls went on a bunch of rides with my aunt while the boys napped and David and I ate a second lunch because we could. I highly recommend the chicken tamales with scrambled eggs and salsa verde or the turkey dip sandwich with gravy so good you might want to drink it after the sandwich is gone (I'm not saying whether any of us did or did not do that). Both of those are at Flo's V8 Cafe in Cars Land. They also have apple cheddar pie that's really good, it could just use a scoop of ice cream.

Late in the afternoon of our last day we decided to go back to our hotel for a little while, since Witten needed pain medicine for his wrist. That was about when Ava decided to announce she wanted her face painted. Right as we were about to leave. I wish she would've mentioned that earlier, because she would've looked so very cute with some fairy princess face paint. Next time I will make it a point to ask her on the first day if she wants face paint. We ran into a couple of characters on our way out, most importantly Mickey!

Later on our last day we went back to the park for a few hours. We wanted to ride Toy Story Mania one more time and we really want to see Cars Land at night. It was awesome, by the way. We slowed walked through the park, ate our last churros, bought a few mouse-shaped treats and an amazing s'mores bar for me that I keep thinking about, looked at the lights (its so magical at nighttime), and bought the last of our souvenirs before bidding the happiest place on earth goodbye. Its always sad to leave, no matter how tired your feet are, how exhausted the kids are, and how much you just want to sleep in your own bed. Life outside of Disneyland is just not as magical. If somebody offered me a churro every 100 yards or so I could see things looking up. Until then, real life isn't as fun, that's the brutal truth.

I'm so glad we had this vacation and time as a family. It was fun having my aunt there at the same time as us, and for a few brief hours my cousin and her boyfriend. My kids still get excited about everything there, and honestly, I feel like a kid again when I'm there too. I feel nostalgic just walking into Main Street, and seeing the castle all lit up at night is seriously magical. If I could go more I would, and I don't think any of the magic would ever wear off. This trip had a couple of low points, like our super fun visit to first aid and an unplanned detour, but the high points outweighed those by far. Frozen sing-along, meeting Anna and Elsa, Witten hugging every character and looking at everything with such wonder in his eyes, those things all made it worth it. My advice for other Disney vacationers is to eat as many churros as you can, and never pass up a rare character if you see one (if that's what you're into, I know my kids are). When you see a character, if there is a cast member at the end of the line, do not waste your time trying to get into line. That person has the worst job there, they are at the end of the line to let you know Mickey is about to take a potty break, so better luck next time. You should also savor every second there, try a corndog, and get in the back line for a Dole whip, its literally 5 people long, when the front line rivals the one to Space Mountain. I can't wait till our next trip, I will never outgrow my love of Disneyland!

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