If I don’t sit down and write this now, it won’t happen. And I need it to happen. This was a very special and memorable trip and I must document it in as many ways possible 🙂 So I’ll recap it, share some photos/videos and some lessons learned/tips for future trips. Because I tend to ramble and I know most blog readers have a short attention span, I will probably break this up into several parts (with separate posts). Because there’s just SO much to share.
Let’s start with a history…
Going to Disneyland wasn’t really on my radar until very recently. I always said to myself “maybe when the kids are much older so they remember/enjoy it more.” However, in February I took Gwen to see Frozen on Ice as a mommy/daughter date and early birthday present. Frozen is one of her favorite movies of all time (like 2397429 other little girls), so I figured she would enjoy this. And I wanted to see how she’d do at her first “show”. Well, to say she loved it would be an understatement. Her face was lit up the whole time. She sang. She danced. She clapped at the appropriate times. She excitedly exclaimed “MOMMY, LOOK! IT’S _______!” (fill in the blank with every character she saw). I texted Ivor during the show and told him how much she was enjoying it and said something like “We are SO going to Disneyland!” Of course I wasn’t expecting to do it anytime soon, but then he responded with a comment about trying to book it before the baby comes. So let it be known, while I may have been the one to put the bug in his ear at that Frozen show, it was my husband who suggested actually going before Baby #3 comes. So of course, I ran with it 😉
I then started doing research, asking friends for advice, reading blogs, etc. about going to Disneyland (where to stay, when to go, what rides to go on, where to eat etc.) Since we live in California, almost everyone we know who has kids has been there and it’s a very popular place to visit. So there is no shortage of Disneyland experts/veterans to seek advice from! We ended up booking it fairly last minute, during a peak time of year (spring break/Easter). I’m thankful we got a room at all, let alone at one of the Disneyland Resort hotels (places were selling out quickly during the dates we wanted, but we wanted to be able to go while Ivor’s mom was still here). While staying on property (at 1 of the 3 resort hotels) is definitely more expensive than staying off-property, we decided the convenience was worth it for us right now. When you stay at one of those hotels you get the advantage of the “Extra Magic Hour” every day of your stay. That means you get into the park an hour before it’s open to the general public. The 2 parks (Disneyland Park and California Adventure) alternate which one has the magic hour each day. With 2 small kids (and a husband who LOATHES crowds), this was extremely appealing to us. Other advantages of staying on property is the convenience of the location- everything within walking distance, really nice pools, restaurants, etc. and that little bit of “Disney magic” that each of the hotels have. I wanted to truly feel like I was on vacation and staying somewhere where everything is right there, helps me feel like I’m really on vacation. Maybe that’s just me. But I loved it! The Disneyland Hotel is the one we stayed at.
Anyway, we stayed for 6 nights- but only purchased 3-day park hopper tickets. So we had 2 days of rest, which I highly recommend. 3 days in the park(s) was about perfect. We arrived on a Wednesday. We did Disneyland Park on the first day, Thursday (because it had the extra magic hour that day), California Adventure on the 2nd day- Friday, then had 2 rest days (Saturday and Sunday- which is when the park was probably more crowded) Then on Monday, our final day in the park, we went to California Adventure first (for the magic hour) and then “hopped” over to Disneyland park for the rest of the day. Drove home on Tuesday.
Here’s a quick breakdown/summary of each day (and by “quick” I probably mean “detailed”):
Day 1 (Disneyland Park): If I had to rate each day in the park, this was probably the worst. We didn’t get in line as early as we (my husband) wanted to, even for the magic hour- the line was already crazy long when we got there. So the crowds were there early, lines for rides had already started, blah blah whatever. Despite all of that, Day 1 was always going to be the “break-in/warming-up” day, no matter what. The kids have never really been to any amusement park and have never seen characters up close and personal. So it was a little overwhelming for both of them at first (understandably). It took Gwen some time to really get into the rides. And that’s ok. I expected that to happen. It was also really really hot, which didn’t help things. But we still managed to go on a decent amount of rides before noon, which is when we planned to go back to the hotel for lunch/naps. The ride highlights from this morning: the carousel (which ended up being Gwen’s absolute favorite) and the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage ride (very cool). We went on more rides obviously, but those were the best (most enjoyed by all). After lunch, naps (which didn’t actually happen, so let’s just call it a “rest” period) and dinner, we went back to the park for the Paint The Night parade and the Fireworks show, both of which kind of redeemed the whole day for me. Because they were AMAZING. We let the kids stay up and watch both of them, which was a little rough- but they were troopers. For their first full day at the park for the first time ever, they were EXHAUSTED by that point. But it’s vacation…bedtime shmedtime.
Day 2 (California Adventure): Best day ever. We got in line early for the extra magic hour (and the lines weren’t nearly as long as they were at DP the day before), so we got in right at the start of it and went straight to Anna & Elsa. (I had planned out all of our stops in advance and knew exactly where they were in the park). There was hardly any line at all. We were maybe 3rd or 4th in line to meet them that day. Gwen was dressed as Elsa and she was SO excited but SO nervous. We walked into this royal room where they were meeting and greeting and there was a quiet “awe” sort of vibe in the room. Like the feeling you get when seeing a bride right after she puts on her wedding dress for the first time on her wedding day. That’s the best way I can describe it. Obviously, I know Anna and Elsa aren’t real, but Gwen doesn’t. And it was magical to her. And so it was magical for me (and Ivor). I may have teared-up a bit (and I wasn’t the only adult in the room who did ;-). Gwen was really shy but gave them her Frozen sticker book that she made for them to sign. They were so good with her (and Ivor Baby too- who took to Anna right away). We didn’t feel rushed. They took their time talking to her and taking pictures with us, etc. It was such a great way to start our day. I think that was the turning point moment for Gwen, and she really started getting into this whole “Disneyland” thing and wanted to go on rides and fully embrace all that the parks had to offer. The rest of the morning was just as wonderful. It wasn’t very crowded at all (compared to the other park) and we didn’t have to wait very long at all to go on all the rides we wanted to. Even the longest line (for the Toy Story ride) moved quickly. Also, we got to meet Olaf that morning too. We may have actually been the first ones to meet him that day, there was no line at all. Poor Olaf lol. Anyway, Gwen was actually a little afraid of him up close but Ivor Baby LOOOOOVED him. He was full of smiles and giggles 🙂 Definitely the highlight for him I think. We saw the Frozen Sing-A-Long show before, once again, heading back to the hotel for lunch and “rest”, and I think I finally showered after several days (highlight for me). We came back later in the afternoon for the Pixar Play Parade, went on the carousel a few more times (Gwen preferred the one in this park because it was sea-themed with underwater sea creatures. She liked those better than the horses), checked out the Mad-T Party thing (cover band), then Ivor’s mom took Ivor Baby back to the hotel and the 3 of us (Gwen, Ivor and myself) headed to Cars Land, went on more rides, then waited around for the World of Color show, which was also INCREDIBLE. Then back to the hotel for Zzzz’s….
To be Continued…. because this is getting way too long….