Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Disneyland Mini-Break

We got away last weekend for one last little getaway as a family of three and headed down to Disneyland for a one-night, two-day mini-break. I'm going to post some photos that make it look like it was all fun and giggles, but I'll tell you right now: there were moments of down and out war, and I definitely cried in public. There aren't any pictures of that.

Anyway, we've been wanting to find some time to get down to Disneyland before The Littlest Senge comes, but it's just been sooooo hot here. We decided Jon's birthday would be a great opportunity, especially since all the fall and Halloween decorations would be up.
Halloween at Disneyland - or, as Alice says, "pumpkin friends!"
We had to reschedule our trip a few times, due to a work function and a parental visit, so we ended up starting Jon's birthday a couple weeks early. That's never a bad thing, except that it's still about 95-110 degrees around here!

We got up at our usual weekday time on Saturday (which is ridiculously, embarrassingly early for a Saturday) so we could be at Disneyland right when it opened. We got up so early, we actually had to wake Alice up, which she hates. In retrospect, that probably contributed to our fight about breakfast, during which I definitely threatened that we wouldn't get to go to Disneyland. The threat had more impact on Jon than Alice, but she mercifully agreed to finish breakfast after being sent back to bed briefly...

We were out the door on time, even with all the breakfast drama. We parked at the hotel and dropped off our bags, and then found out we could check in early and they would text us when our room was ready. Since we had then had a room key, we could have taken advantage of the "Magic Hour" early admission. If I'd known that, we might have gotten up and down there even earlier. Maybe.

We decided to take the monorail from the hotel to the park, and even got to sit up front with the driver because Jon was wearing his birthday button! Alice and I decided the monorail was bumpy, and Alice called it an airplane ("hurrplane") for the rest of the day.

Jon and his birthday button in the front seat of the monorail.

Since the monorail dropped us off in Tomorrowland, we decided to take Alice on her inaugural voyage of Finding Nemo. She's pretty into the "fishies" movie, and enjoyed all the bubbles.
Descending into the submarine.
And she took her first spin behind the wheel of Autopia!
How big is Alice? So big! Big enough to ride Autopia!
Relaxing in line...
Taking the wheel...
We stopped for second breakfast and got Alice her very first Mickey pancake. I don't know what I was expecting, but I think I can make a substantially more exciting Mickey pancake at home. Better yet, we'll dig out our Mickey waffle iron...
And then, because two-year-olds don't have enough behavioral issues, we got her a huge cup of coffee to go. I kid, I kid.
We also finally convinced her to ride Dumbo, which she totally enjoyed (no one is surprised here).

And we got her some Minnie Mouse ears, because she finally decided that she actually wanted to wear them!
Um, adorable.
And then we also convinced her to get back on the horse, so to speak, and ride the carousel. She used to love the carousel, and always asked to ride it at the zoo and wherever else there happened to be one, but the last many times she rode she ended up in tears as soon as it started moving and would cry the whole time. Because, you know, you can't get OFF the carousel... She was wary this time, but definitely enjoyed and showed more actual emotion (aside from tears) than I'd ever seen.

There was only barely enough room for Alice AND the bump...
Tired Alice giving me face cuddles in line for Mr. Toad.
it's a small world after all stopped working TWICE while we were standing in line, so though we took a photo out front, we had to keep trying to explain that the boats were broken. We finally got to enjoy it on Sunday, much to Alice's delight.

Jon had shown Alice a video of the Haunted Mansion Holiday - with Jack Skellington - and she kept talking about the pumpkins and doom buggies. In fact, it was the first thing she said when we woke her up that morning. So we tested the waters. I did lots of explaining that Jack likes Halloween and pumpkins and he got mixed up and decorated Christmas like Halloween and was pretending to be Santa Claus, and that everyone was just silly and pretend and not scary. I don't think she really followed everything I was saying, but she was pretty cool about it all as long as I was holding her. She didn't like the stretching elevator when everything got dark and loud, but I was able to quiet her crying and she made it through the rest of the ride without incident. Her review of pretty much everything boiled down to "It's loud!"

Around 12:30-ish, the hotel texted that our room was ready so we headed over, put on our swimsuits and had lunch at the Tangaroa Terrace. We hadn't stayed at The Disneyland Hotel for over five years, but wanted to see the new magical touches they'd recently added to their rooms and swim in the new pool. We forgot to test out the new Monorail water slide, but we all had a great time splashing around in the super shallow, zero-depth pool at the base of the structure. It was a great place for little ones to play, and for me to lay around like a beached whale and sun myself.

The room had much more sophisticated decor than when we'd stayed before, and featured this magical headboard...

... which played "When You Wish Upon A Star" and lit up with fireworks and twinkling stars! Alice loved it. She'd ask us to play the song a few times in a row, and then demanded we leave the fireworks on. At bedtime, she cried and cried when we turned the lights off, until we played the song again. We left the fireworks on until she was passed-outsies...
After lunch, pool, and naps, we headed back to Disneyland to watch the parade, hit some more rides (Pirates!), dinner, and fireworks. We were hoping to watch Fantasmic! as well, since Alice really, REALLY enjoys watching it on YouTube, but the park was super crowded and we couldn't find any place to sit and watch. Alice fell asleep on our walk from the Hub to the Rivers of America, and there was no way I was going to stand up for an hour with a sleeping child to watch the show. We'll just have to try again next time!

We got up ridiculously early again on Sunday and Alice was eager to go to Disneyland "in night-time" but sadly fortunately, Mr. Sun had woken up by the time we walked out the door. We took advantage of the early "Magic Hour" to visit California adventure early, and see the new Buena Vista Street remodel and the new Cars Land. Here's the harvest moon setting as we got ready, overlooking our view of the pool.

We stopped at the new Starbucks on Buena Vista Street and marveled at how huge and lovely it was, and then hustled our caffeine over to the Radiator Springs Racers. Jon was stoked that he was second in line for the single rider line, until we learned that the ride hadn't yet opened for the day and there was no ETA. We hung around for a while before we decided to grab some breakfast and hope that it was open when we were done. We headed to Flo's V-8 Cafe, which was super cute and fun, until Alice threw another breakfast tantrum. I'm ashamed to admit that neither of us (Alice or I) handled ourselves well, and there was crying all around. Jon took her away and thought he had her convinced to be a good girl, she returned with tear-stained eyes, said she was sorry, and threw another fit of breakfast refusal. It was awesome.

So we headed off to try to salvage the day and not totally waste our tickets.

Jon, trying valiantly to cheer up both Alice & I.
Alice was tall enough to ride Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, so we figured we might as well get to do one thing in Cars Land. I won't lie, it made me feel the tiniest bit better that she was so unhappy about having fun here... Don't fret, she stopped crying right away and had a great time do-si-do-ing around with Mater. And I cried it out while they were riding, and then we were all a bit happier. 

And then we saw Mickey, and then you can't help but smile.

I took this photo for our little Eli.

And here's a random shot of Alice's ponytail, because sometimes the whole thing turns into the most unbelievable corkscrew.
After we did everything we wanted in California Adventure, we headed back to Disneyland to finish up the last few things we didn't get to on Saturday. We stopped by the Big Thunder Ranch petting zoo and Halloween Carnival. Alice didn't really want anything to do with the goats...

We took a trip around the Rivers of America on the Mark Twain Steamboat which Alice proclaimed a success. 

And a ride on a different boat to see some animals (Jungle Cruise). Such a funny little face.

And then we headed home; hot, exhausted, and battle-worn. I read yesterday that "vacations with kids are not for relaxing, but for building memories." After a trip to Disney World with her small children, a friend of mine wrote that the water in Disney parks is made from the tears of parents. Having now been to Disney World and Disneyland with my little angel, I am inclined to believe that's true... But memories, we did make. Can't wait to do it again!


  1. Hope to be able to come to California with Audrey and Phil and kids next year. Want to rent a house on the beach- visit with you guys and Disney Land. Maybe we can do a David and Bob Clark family get together.
    Aunt Marianne

  2. That would be wonderful! Count us in!


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