That tells you. I've finally conquered Mt. Washmore & feeling like we've recovered - because it wasn't just Disneyland. First it was driving to my sister's wedding celebration/ring ceremony in Salt Lake. Then packing. Then a week of Sea World & Disneyland. Then back to Salt Lake for the SLC 1/2 marathon. Then back to Cedar. So... it was a busy couple of weeks there. But wonderful! Truly precious memories.
This post is about our trip to Disneyland. We'd been talking about wanting to go for a year or two, but never really found the money for it. This trip was really a gift from my aunt. I believe she would have wanted us to do it. And I've felt her and dreamt about her a lot the past week or so. I miss her.
We didn't tell the kids directly. McKinley knew we were going to go sometime, but didn't know when. When we got back from Salt Lake, I packed while Jason bathed the kids & entertained them so they wouldn't know. We were up till 1am packing that night.
The next morning (Friday, April 8) we woke the girls up & told them we were driving to where Disneyland was! They were excited. McKinley was especially excited that her cousins were going to be there & that we were going to the beach! The trip was actually pretty smooth. We got to San Diego in 8 hours & were able to check into the Bahia right on time & out to dinner with the Simons & Potts. We went to Luigi's, which has HUGE pizzas!
Saturday morning Dad & I went for an amazing run. Literally breathtaking. Wish I would have brought the camera. Boardwalk right by the ocean. Sigh... could someone please buy me a house by the beach? I mean - all I want is a house by the beach & a house in the mountains. Is that too much for a girl to ask? Afterwards we ate breakfast & headed to Sea World. So much to see & do! It was a lot of fun. The dolphin show was amazing. And the arctic wild was so neat. The shows were fun (though we never did get wet even though we were in the "soak zone")
Sunday was a beach day. The girls had actually never been to the beach (by the ocean), so it was a LOT of fun. A bit too chilly to REALLY get in & enjoy the ocean, but really nice - especially since we could just walk to the hotel pool when it got too cold. It was windy enough that we had fun with the kites, too. We had fun in the sun for about 4 hours before driving up to Anaheim. We checked into the Disneyland Hotel & they were good about changing rooms for us since we wanted one that was bigger with a space for Kezi to sleep. That night we went to good ol' Mcee-Dees for dinner.
Monday-Thursday was Disneyland and CA Adventures. Jason had never actually been to Disneyland, so this was a whole new world (cough, cough - sorry) for him, too! We got together with the Edwards, Potts, and/or Simons some of the time. It was neat to have family there. And it was fun to do some things just with our little family. Below is the slideshow & then some memories/lessons learned for our first family trip to Disneyland. All-in-all, I was say it was a smashing success. The girls are constantly asking when we can go back.
-Driving. I would say I maybe "overplanned" the driving part. I spent way too much money on stuff to keep the girls entertained (coloring books, magnetic toys, etc) when all they really did the whole time was sleep or watch the DVDs. Snacks were good, though. It was SO nice to have a van. Even with all our stuff we packed, we really didn't need to put any luggage or anything in the seat area. I used a laundry basket to fill with books, games, etc - along with snacks. It worked well to pass back & forth to McKinley who was in the back seat.
-San Diego. It really could be a vacation in and of itself. I wished we had more time here. It was so beautiful. And the beach was so close. Sea World was fun - especially the Sesame Street area for the kids. I was surprised at the security to get in. Everyone needed their own ticket with their name printed on it. And they were very strict about ride heights. The shows were packed, so you really had to get there early. And - even though I warned Jason - you still really have to prepare yourself if you're eating at the park (whether Sea World or Disneyland). Just don't think too much about how much you're paying for that hot dog & you'll be OK. We stayed at the Bahia right by the beach. It was an older hotel, but perfect location & we got a full kitchen, so I made french toast a couple mornings.
-Disneyland Hotel. You know, it was really neat. At night, you can flip a switch and the headboard above the beds light up with fiber optic fireworks and sings "A dream is a wish your heart makes." It's really cute. And it was fun to stay where they was the Disney flavor everywhere. The bummer was that it was under construction - and the pool was only half open. And no free breakfast. It was fun to stay there once - and I DEFINITELY want to stay in a place within walking distance to the resorts - but I don't think we'll stay there again.
-Disneyland. I think the time of year worked out well. We only waited 40 minutes tops for any ride and we really used those fast passes, which were super nice. The weather was great - 75-80. Our favorite rides were It's a Small World, Pirates of the Carribbean (I love how all the old rides have been updated to include the new movies), the Teacups, Space Mountain, and the Tiki room. We loved rides we could go on as a family - even Kezi. We also loved going to the Princess story time & coronation. It was fun to dance with the princesses. The fireworks show at night was AMAZING. Really. I bought the soundtrack to it because it was just so magical.
-California Adventure. Fun! It's nice that it's right across from Disneyland, because we really did go back & forth a lot. Our fave rides were the Buzz Lightyear Arcade (SO fun!), California Screamin' Coaster (Jason & I just went on this but it was a lot of fun - we went 2x in a row!), all the kid rides in Bugs Land - especially the cute catipillar ride, and the Tower of Terror was fun even though McKinley was too scared to go on it. Soarin' over California was really awesome, too. The rides weren't even the best parts, though. If you go, you HAVE to see the Aladdin show. Seriously amazing. The World of Color was breathtaking. We really enjoyed it, though it was sad that Ireland and McKinley had to go to the bathroom when there was only 10 minutes left. There is a lot of construction going on at California Adventure right now, so if you wait till 2012 to go, there is going to be a TON more things opening up - including a huge Cars movie area.
-Character Dining. I would highly recommend this if you are planning on seeing the characters. It is definitely expensive, but completely worth it. Rather than wait 30+ minutes to see them, they come right to you while you eat! And not only that, but they are able to really visit longer & dance & talk. Kezi was pretty unsure about them at first, but by the end, she was running up to them & saying "HUG! HUG!" It was so cute. The only drawback here is that your little ones spend more time watching for the characters than actually eating.
-Early entry. Yup...nope. Didn't make it either time. I just had to let go a little when it came to getting out the door in the morning. With 3 little girls and a sleepy husband, we never made it before 9:30. Good thing we had 4 days there so we could be more relaxed about it all.
-Girls ages. I'm glad we went now while the girls still are into all the princesses and fairies and magical things. McKinley could go on almost every ride but the Indiana Jones ride & the screamin' roller coaster at CA Adventure. Ireland wasn't even 40'' so there were quite a few rides she had to miss (which was sad because her cousin Joshua is 9 days younger than she is, and he could go on all the rides McKiney could), but she took it in stride & we did other fun things. Still... I think we'll wait till the girls are all at least 40'' before we go again.
-Family. What was great about this trip is that my family was around, but we didn't have to schedule every minute together. We could meet up here & there for rides or meals. McKinley especially loved having her cousins around.
-Sleeping in a hotel. I was honestly worried about it. We've had some nightmare hotel experiences in the past with babies up & crying & no one getting any sleep, but honestly it was great. We would roll in past 10 every night & the minute their little heads hit the pillows, they were completely out. Our room was nice, too because they had blackout blinds, so it was nice & dark & quiet in the mornings. Also - we "blanketed" off the section by the door for Kezi to sleep in, so we could be up & moving around & not bother her. She slept pretty good amazingly enough.
-Potty trips. If you do a trip like this, just mentally prepare yourself. I felt like we were stopping at bathrooms every 5 minutes. In the future, I will make everyone go to the bathroom at the same time - even if they don't need to.
-Nighttime. I bought these light spinner things at Walmart for a couple bucks. Best thing ever. Those light-up bubble-blower things were 12 bucks each! So- plan for the night life.
-Gear. Surprisingly, I wore flip-flops every day for 5 days & I was just fine! Jason wore his tennies & his feet were killing him by the last day. Go figure. Ponchos a must. I was glad I brought ours for the wet rides. It wasn't hot enough to really enjoy getting wet.
-Souvenirs. Dang, I forgot how expensive little things were. We dropped $100 at the hat store for heaven sakes. Wouldn't change it, though. They have these new ears that has the black hat base & then you can snap on different sets of ears to go with it - so McKinley has 2 sets of ears to go with her hat. And I love how the girls love showing of their embroidered names.