Friday, November 30, 2012

The Merriest Place on Earth

Yesterday, we headed to the merriest place on Earth for a little Christmas-y fun. We didn't want to miss Christmas at Disneyland this year and though my first week of maternity leave would be our best shot; we hoped crowds would be light on a post-Thanksgiving weekday and figured I might not be able to handle it if we waited any longer. Alice has been SO into Christmas this year, we thought she'd really enjoy the decorations and festivities. And sure enough, she did.
The "castle friend" all decked out in holiday finery. Alice loved it and wanted to "be closer" all day, especially when all the lights came on at nighttime.

I really wanted to take Alice to see Santa at Disneyland. Last year, we visited Santa at the Grand Californian hotel and while Alice was a bit apprehensive, she didn't really know what was going on and let us take plenty of photos while she sat on his knee, a bit confused. This year, we visited him at the Big Thunder Ranch and Alice was instantly intimidated. We only waited in line for a few minutes and had to let a few families go in front of us while we tried to get Alice used to the idea of Santa Claus. She just wanted me to carry her, with her face buried in my shoulder, and was reluctant to even look at him. By the time we got up to see him, she seemed excited to sit on his knee but then regressed and grabbed me around my neck, half on his knee and half suspended in mid-air. We got the whole family in for a photo, but she's sitting on MY knee instead of Santa's. He looks pretty bewildered about it.

Mrs. Claus was waiting by the door and snagged Alice for a chat about their shoes (they were wearing very similar pairs) and Alice's candy cane shirt (Alice pronounces it "candy can"). Alice was much more willing to chat with Mrs. Claus and they had a very cute little conversation. 
We squeezed in all of Alice's favorite things, it's a small world (where Alice sang along, loudly!), Dumbo (where she wanted to fly way higher!), Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion (to visit the scary friends, where she said "Yay! Scary Friends!" in the stretching elevator), Winnie the Pooh, and Pirates of the Caribbean (where she was a "brave kitty"). 
We also took a short trip on the big train, which "has lots of steam!" I love how excited she was in the shot below, for someone usually so outwardly calm in photos.
We were hoping to have dinner at the Big Thunder Ranch, it's really festive during the holidays with a cute show during dinner where country singers sing holiday standards and invite kids up on stage to participate. The last time I saw it, without any babies of my own, the kids were totally distracted by the Christmas tree and all the toys and decorations on the little stage and one kid kept running off with shiny ornaments and other treasures. Unfortunately, it was a bit drizzly yesterday (with rain in the forecast exactly before and after we were planning to play), and the ranch and restaurant were closed. We were also disappointed that Santa had left all of his reindeer at home in the North Pole. Alice would have really enjoyed the reindeer and the dinner show. Alas, we changed our reservations to the Blue Bayou and arrived at 4pm for the toddler/senior early bird special. 

Alice was incredibly well-behaved and enjoyed her macaroni dinner and a few tastes of daddy's "fancy bacon" aka filet mignon. I couldn't resist the surf and turf, which was a delicious first experience with whole lobster tail (I don't know how that could ever be bad). Alice spent lots of time coloring, which was the only shot we got inside the restaurant because I'm totally not in the habit of taking instagrammy photos of my food. I eat it too fast...
After dinner, we found a spot to watch the parade (or, the "huh-rade??"), parked right across from the giant Christmas tree.
As always, Jon loved the toy soldiers - his one great regret in life was that he didn't get to be a toy soldier, playing a herald trumpet. 
 Alice loved the princess float, and Chip & Dale, and all the friends she recognized. She was riveted the entire time and when it was over, asked for it again. I wish I could have orchestrated that for her.

While we were waiting for the parade, Alice told me she wanted a treat. I told her we could get a treat after the parade. She told me she wanted to eat a treat AND watch the parade. Jon said she is definitely my daughter... I explained that the line at the treat store was too long and the parade was starting too soon, and that we'd get a treat after. So as soon as I explained that the parade couldn't come out again, we hustled to the ice cream store. Alice had candy cane ice cream last weekend, and loved her first candy cane just the other day, so she was pretty eager to get "special Christmas" candy cane ice cream again. We all enjoyed our treats, sitting on a bench, until the castle lit up with special lights.

Alice wanted to "see closer," so Jon ran her up to the front and I ambled along behind and finished her ice cream (she said she was done! Then she asked this morning to finish it...). 

When we talk about Disneyland, Alice ALWAYS says she wants to go "in the nighttime" and see the fireworks. So we make a point to make that happen for her.

After the castle lighting, Jon went off to make sure that fireworks would still happen if it was drizzling and Alice and I strolled around to find a place to sit and watch the show. A nice woman was sitting on a bench, waiting for her other half, and had just enough room for Jon and I to join. It was a Christmas miracle to find a comfy, dry place to sit right in front of the castle. Even better, when I sat down and parked Alice's stroller, I saw that she'd fallen asleep where she'd been awake only mere moments before. Magical. 
We let her sleep for a good hour while we chatted and snuggled and woke her up about 5-10 minutes before the fireworks started. She was sound asleep and hard to rouse, and was pretty disoriented for a few minutes and was super extra cuddly. Jon got the sleepiest cuddles and when she was finally coherent, she wanted to sit in my lap to watch the fireworks - which was totally fine by me. In fact, it was the best fireworks I've ever had, watching cheek to cheek with my sweet girl.
I was surprised I lasted a whole nine hours at the park, with plenty of walking, but I actually felt great by the end of the night. So great, I opted to walk back to the parking structure instead of waiting and hassling with the tram. Granted, I walked at a snail's pace - so slow, Jon and I weren't sure I could make it across the street before the light changed (but I did!). People kept piling up on the sidewalk behind us and Jon joked that we needed a blinking CalTrans arrow on my back so people could change lanes. I seriously don't know why people wouldn't just pass us, but when they did, they all saw my belly and gave me understanding smiles...

We heard Alice chatter for about two minutes in the car, and then her quiet baby snores for the rest of the ride. And this is how we found her when we got home. So tuckered. We had a great time, despite the rain and the change of dinner plans, and I am so glad I was able to make it through a whole day of Christmas at Disneyland! I can't wait to go with two little girlies next year! 
We're working on getting Christmas into full swing at our house, just in case we run out of time. Alice has been pretty thrilled about the whole thing, that deserves a whole post of it's own! I hope the holiday spirit is making it's way to your house, too! 


  1. It's all so cute and fun!! I love seeing and hearing what she likes and what she has to say about each thing. That DOES sound like the best fireworks watching experience ever.. glad you got to go!

  2. So cute. I feel like I just had a slice of Disney holiday pie. I seriously laughed out loud at the sight of the photo with Santa. Bewildered indeed!!

  3. That picture with Santa is hilarious!! Santa's face is fantastic, as are Alice's weird gerbil hands.


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