Because we're gluttons for punishment and clearly insane, we decided to squeeze in another trip to Disneyland before I went back to work to try and redeem our previous visit. Except this time, we decided not to tell Alice we were going. We discussed in code in the days leading up to the trip and on the morning of, told her we were going to drive for a little while to play at a park. She told us that we were going to play at "Marie's park."
This is how she dressed Marie for the outing she thought we were going to have:
|Marie is wearing animal print |
I tried to film the moment of realization and got out the camera when we pulled in to the parking structure. She observed that we were in a parking structure and were going to find a place to park. Then she spied Mickey on the parking structure signs. But she didn't figure it out.
When we got to the tram plaza at the bottom of the escalator, Alice said "This looks like Disneyland!" But when we asked if she knew where we were, she still said "the park. Marie's park." So we took off walking.
She saw the monorail, still no recognition. Park entry plaza, nothing. We walked through the turnstiles and saw the Mickey flowers and train station and still no clue. Please keep in mind we were there just a little over a week ago. I was starting to question her intelligence...
She seriously couldn't figure it out until we were staring at the castle. I don't know if she was just confused because we
lied to her misdirected her, or if she just accepts that any park can look like Disneyland. Anyway, she finally figured it out but I think that the surprise and the inability to anticipate the situation left her a bit out of sorts. She was excited but it was not the giddy reaction we were expecting.
We were aiming to let her do all the things we weren't able to fit in last time, all the things she'd been talking about when making her plans. So we headed straight to the castle.
We were just in time to catch the Disneyland band and conductor Mickey. Alice wasn't super impressed, for some reason.
Alice had been talking about meeting the princesses, so we popped over to the new Princess Fair. No sooner did we get in line than Alice had a meltdown about needing a snack, so we jumped out of line, grabbed a garlic cheese bagel twist and a chocolate pastry twist at the snack cart right outside, and hopped back in line with our snacks. The line was short so we had to chow down our treats pretty fast and then clean all the seeds and chocolate out of our teeth before taking photos with the royals. And as soon as we got inside, Alice decided she didn't want to meet princesses after all and tried to go back out the way we came in. So I tried to usher her forward and told her that Ivy was going to meet princesses, whether Alice wanted to or not. Luckily, the princesses are very gracious and skilled at greeting less-than-enthusiastic kids and were all able to win Alice over since they were all wearing matching hair accessories.
|Ivy was pretty impressed.|
|Ivy and Ariel were totally wearing coordinating outfits.|
I liked the new Princess Fair area and flow, but I thought the actual interior was absolutely horrible for photos. The walls and carpet are super busy, they don't flatter any of the costumes and I imagine that most or all of the guests get swallowed up instead of standing out. The decor is also really dark and the rooms are
dramatically dimly lit from above, which casts terrible shadows on everyone's faces and really draws one's attention to the shiny, synthetic wigs princess hair. I hate the look of in-camera flash, so I used my highest ISO and widest aperture and was only just barely able to get non-blurry images with a decent exposure. I can only imagine how terrible everyone looks in point-and-shoot photos.
I know Disney does the Photopass thing now, where their photographers will take photos for you at the best spots all day and you can then go online and buy downloads of your favorites. I haven't looked at our Photopass shots yet (I've never really been that impressed with the shots they get), but maybe their photographers get better looking shots in there. Still, though, I would have hoped that a brand new area intended mainly for parents to get great shots of their kids meeting princesses would have been designed with lighting that would lend itself to a wide range of camera and photographer capabilities. You've been warned.
Around lunch time, we headed over to California Adventure to have lunch (and adult beverages) at the Cozy Cones Motel, which Alice just totally loves for some reason. She's really into road cones, go figure. Then she and Jon took another spin on Luigi's Flying Tires before we headed over to Mickey's Fun Wheel. Alice wanted to ride in the swinging buckets because they look more fun from the ground and though we thought it was probably going to be more exciting than she bargained for, we wanted to let her experience something that she was so jazzed about. Indeed, it was a little more exciting than she was probably cool with but she did a great job of letting me comfort her and talk her through it. She was only moderately terrified at the biggest swinging sections, around the 4pm and 8pm positions on the wheel. We shared a bucket with another couple and I felt a little bad sabotaging their romantic ride with my screaming child, even if she was young enough to be his grand-daughter...
And then we grooved our way over to King Triton's Carousel to recover from all that excitement.
On our way back to Disneyland, we stopped by our brick and showed Alice our names set in stone at her very favorite place. She doesn't look super excited in this picture, but she keeps bringing it up so I think it actually made a bit of an impression.
At her request, we headed to Fantasyland for her first spin in the teacups. I was worried that the spinning would be too much for her little head but luckily, Jon is a masterful teacup spinner and can actually keep the teacup static in the same position so that it only moves in the bigger circles around the tea party. He thoughtfully kept it oriented toward the photographer! It was hard to see Alice's little face over the side of the teacup but she really enjoyed herself.
I snuck a few shots of Alice playing with some sticks and leaves while Jon tended to Ivy.
And then we took a ride on the Casey Jr. Circus Train, one of Alice's very favorites. We were first in line but she waffled when it was time to choose our train car and skipped over the pink open air car right behind the organ car and headed for the monkey cage, her old stand by. But then she freaked out and wouldn't actually get in so we talked her into the blue open air car instead. And then Ivy and I got kicked out because only three people are allowed in one row - even though Ivy was strapped to my chest, apparently, they count heartbeats rather than silhouettes. So Ivy and I joined a new friend in the caboose. And then we were off. Whew.
We rode Pirates and Alice was pretty apprehensive until she fell asleep in Jon's lap right after the drops. Ivy was sleeping in the Ergo carrier until she woke up and wanted to eat, so I did something I've never done before and nursed her right there in the relative peace and privacy of our pirate ship. We rode Haunted Mansion to assure her that Jack Skellington had packed up his holiday decorations until next Fall, and then she and Jon rode through the Hundred Acre Wood while I kept Ivy asleep. After a nutritious dinner of corndogs followed by ice cream, we settled in for Alice's very favorite entertainment, the parade. Ivy was awake and she stood up to watch the entire thing. I LOVED watching my two girls with their eyes glued to the floats, smiling their very biggest smiles.
I let her stuff herself with popcorn from the coolest souvenir bucket there ever was, until we got to the car.
Ivy was pretty cranky (I think she had a gas bubble) and cried for about 10 minutes once we hit the road but that didn't faze Alice at all and she was out like a trout. They both slept the whole way home but Ivy woke up before I could get a shot of both of them asleep in their seats.
Alice was lucky that I didn't eat all her popcorn on the way home, so I let her have the leftovers for breakfast the next morning - as part of a balanced breakfast, of course.
Hilariously, Marie has been having popcorn for breakfast (and every other meal) every day since then...
I think the cooler weather helped all of us keep our cool, even when Alice was being difficult. There were a few tense moments but all in all, it was the best day at the park we've had in a string of frustrating or difficult trips (though Christmas was pretty good?). We probably haven't had such a fun, easy day there since we went to celebrate her 2nd birthday. I'm glad we were able to have fun observing her 3rd birthday, since we probably won't venture back to Disneyland until the weather cools off again in like, early December... Fortunately, Alice constantly wants to pretend to go to Disneyland or talk about past and future trips, so we have a chance to relive all our previous trips and get excited for all our future trips every. single. day. And because we are gluttons for punishment, and clearly insane, we are already looking forward to the next chance to torture ourselves at the happiest place on earth.