The whole family had a great time on our vacation at Disneyland. The kids had no clue what we were planning. In fact, we did such a good job keeping the secret that they didn't believe us at first when we told them what was going on!
Without further ado... click here to see a few of our vacation photos.
Waiting to board the plane, Stinky noticed that we were headed for Los Angeles. He asked, "hey, is Disneyland in LA?" I told him no, it is in Anaheim. He looked a little bummed, and the kids mused about touring Hollywood and watching surfers, all the while wishing out loud that Disneyland was in LA. Heh! When we boarded I nabbed pillows and blankets for everyone. Another passenger asked the kids if they were going to Disneyland, and they all said that would be nice, but they didn't think so. We explained the surprise, and I gave the other passenger a knowing wink. After a smooth takeoff we were all back in dreamland.
When we arrived in LAX I found our way to the shuttle bus area. Wonder of wonders, the bus we needed was actually waiting at the curb! How's that for timing? The kids just stopped and stared at the huge tour bus decorated with Disney characters and the words Disneyland Express. They moaned about being tortured since there was no way they could be going to Disneyland! Our luggage was loaded and everyone found a seat. That's when we asked - doesn't anyone have any idea where we are going? We told them we were going to spend four days at Disneyland and they laughed at us - they didn't believe us! We insisted that was the truth... and the bouncing and giggling began!
The bus dropped us off right outside our motel, the Park Vue Inn. We checked in and stowed our luggage, then headed for the parks. It was still early - only 10am! Since Scott, Stinky, and JJ had never been to the California Adventure we went there first. Timing was perfect again as the park opened right as we arrived, and the crowds were minimal.
We started things off with a ride on Soarin Over California. All I can say is that ride is ... COOL! It simulates a hang gliding ride over California landmarks including San Francisco, ocean beaches, golf courses, Yosemite, and of course Disneyland! It was almost as much fun to watch the movie as it was to watch the kids' faces. They gasped and pointed at the scenery. Scott and I agreed that we got our money's worth on that first ride.
We wandered California Adventure and rode many of the rides in that park. Boo was truly terrified by the Tower of Terror, but loved the Maliboomer and California Screamin' along with the rest of us. Stinky was practically dragged onto Screamin', protesting that going upside down would make him lose his lunch. After that first ride he wanted to know when it would be time to go again, he was hooked!
By mid-afternoon our room was ready and we were ready to go back to our hotel room, settle in, and go for a swim. That's the great thing about staying at a motel right across the street from Disneyland - it isn't a huge deal to go back for a break whenever you need one. It was an easy five minute walk from the park gates to our room, even with tired kids. WUN. DER. FULL!!! I can't say much about the Park Vue - but it met our needs on our budget and isn't that really all you can ask? It is close to the park, clean, has a pool and free breakfast. The shower had good water pressure and the fridge kept our cold stuff cold. Nuff said!
While the kids and I played at the pool Scott braved the public transportation and came back with provisions - snacks, juice, beer, and blueberry Stoli. Yes, it was good to be in California where grocery stores are liquor stores, and I could enjoy a cocktail by the pool during our afternoon break!
That evening we went to the park that started it all... Disneyland! It was tough to decide where to begin. Everyone had a favorite, and we reassured the kids that we had four days - plenty of time to do everything we wanted. We managed quite a few rides that first night, including the Matterhorn and Pirates of the Caribbean.
The trip really is a blur, looking back. We spent our days hopping from park to park. Generally we started the day at Disneyland, then headed to the California Adventure late morning. After an afternoon swim we returned to Disneyland after the crowds thinned. We made good use of the FastPass system and single rider passes to avoid the long lines - but we really didn't run into anything more than a 45 minute wait. We decided not to wait (for two hours or more) to ride the Finding Nemo Submarines, and heard from other guests that it was a bit disappointing to all but the youngest guests.
We didn't see many characters, either. The kids and I were on the lookout, but we always seemed to be getting somewhere just as they were leaving. We did get to visit with Mickey, Pluto and Goofy. It really wasn't a priority for them to collect autographs and see the characters like when they were little, so we didn't make it a priority to find them.
We also spent a little time in Downtown Disney, where the girls enjoyed shopping at the Build-A-Bear Workshop and Stinky wandered the Lego store. We splurged on some fabulous desserts at the Rainforest Cafe, which was fun for all. One evening we sat and watched the fireworks from New Orleans Square, and then snagged riverside seats for Fantasmic!.
Our last day (Friday) was a marathon day. We woke up and packed, since we had to check out of the motel by 11am. We re-stowed our luggage and had a nice breakfast in Tomorrowland. We snagged a FastPass for one last trip on Space Mountain and rode the Buzz Lightyear ride.
Since we hadn't done the walk through the castle yet, that was next. When we came into Fantasyland I noticed that Merlin was fluttering around near the carousel, and it was time for the Sword in the Stone ceremony. Lo and behold, JJ was selected to attempt to pull the sword out of the stone... which she did! After a brief stint as the ruler of Fantasyland, she was awarded a certificate and a medal from Merlin. It was a really special moment for the whole family!
Early in the afternoon we said our final goodbye to Disneyland and went to the California Adventure. We got in a few last rides on Screamin' and the Maliboomer, and took a long break to enjoy frozen lemonades (for the kids) and Karl Strauss beer (for me and Scott).
Finally it was time to say goodbye to the California Adventure too. We dragged ourselves to the bus stop with our luggage. The girls fell asleep on the ride to the airport. While we waited for our flight we munched on some truly horrible food from the LAX Burger King. On the plane ride, we all slept.
And though we all had a very, very good time... I think we were all very, VERY happy to be home! My voice is hoarse (from screaming on, er, Screamin') and my shins and feet are sore. The whole family had a BLAST!