We went to Disneyland!!!
What an absolute blast. My parents graciously hosted a vacation with our family to that magical place in Anaheim where dreams come true. I tried to instill excitement in Jack and Sam leading up to the trip. They didn't really understand where we were going or what to expect. They both had an amazing time and were exceedingly well behaved the entire trip.
We started flying (on a real plane!) from DIA to John Wayne airport. The kids did great during the flight. We gave them loads of food, new tablet apps and movies, and my parents did a wonderful job entertaining Sam. He even took a mini-nap.
We arrived just in time to get stuck in LA rush hour traffic. An hour later we got to the Marriott across the street from the park. The hotel was very kid friendly, it even had an arcade with air hockey in the eating lounge. I was delighted that the hotel gave us conjoined rooms with Toy Story and Frozen themed decorations (but now equally delighted to go home where I use a toilet without Kristoff smirking at me).
The hotel is right across the street from the park, so we could see the Monorail, Space Mountain, and Matterhorn peaking over the park walls. About ten minutes after tucking the boys in bed, we heard some tremendous booms. I took Jack out to see the fireworks show from the hotel balcony.
The boys were up bright and early Friday morning. I placated them with the Disney Channel morning cartoons while in bed. Jack was fascinated by commercials, unfamiliar to him in our streaming-on-demand home. He quickly got to work adding things to his Christmas wishlist using hotel stationary.
Everyone up and dressed, we trooped down the street to IHOP for breakfast to fortify ourselves. Finally, finally it was time for . . . DISNEYLAND!
Total magic. What a wonderful place. Except seeming smaller, the park otherwise lived up to my memories perfectly.
Needless to say, the next two days were jam packed with fun. I figure the best way to sum up is with a list of our activities, and an assortment of photos below.
Day 1 - Disneyland
Main Street Houdini's Magic Shop
Peter Pan's Flight
Casey Jr Circus Train
Snow White's Scary Adventures
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (Jack x3, Sam x1)
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
Mickey and the Magical Map
Gadget's Go Coaster
Jolly Holiday Bakery for dinner
Day 2 - California Adventure and Disneyland
Francis' Ladybug Boogie
Tuck & Roll's Drive 'em Buggies
Heimlich's Chew Chew Train
Goofy's Sky School (Jack x4)
Silly Symphony Swings
Triton's Carousel of the Sea (Sam x3)
Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular
Mater's Junkyard Jamboree
Radiator Springs Racers (Jack x2)
Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (Jack x2)
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Sam x2)
Disneyland Railroad (with Grand Canyon and Dinosaur scenes)
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Jack and Sam x2)
Fantasmic and Parade (while exiting)
Splash Mountain (Rachel and Ben)
Haunted Mansion (Rachel and Ben)
You may notice some holes. Jack was distraught to hear that Jungle Cruise and Space Mountain were closed during our trip. He fought back tears and we explained that it only leaves something to look forward to on his next Disney trip! He also thinks he will be brave enough to do some scarier rides :-) I also intended to do It's a Small World and Storybook Land Canal Boats with Sam. But the timing was never right and the lines always long. We made up for the lack of boats with copious train rides. The boys picked out some fun souvenirs and also made pressed coins whenever we could find a machine. The park was moderately full but not too bad. I purposefully picked a weekend off-season in the hopes for fewer crowds. We made good use of the Fastpass and Stroller ticket systems.
Now for photos! As usual, you can browse even more on my flickr album.
Okay, this was one of the saddest things in my life. Jack wanted a magic trick. He saw some demonstrations and picked out the magic bag trick. That night at the hotel we had to break his heart. He thought the bag was TRULY magic. He was sobbing when he realized it's more trick than magic. My heart shattered! I wish we could have kept in the dark longer, or somehow understood what he intended when he asked for a magic trick. He recovered well though, and has been adept at performing the trick and making new variations.
The first of many Astro Blasters rides.
Can you see Dad and Jack flying high above Mom?
The sun set before we got to Toontown. I guess I stopped taking pictures even though we spent another few hours in the park.
Jack was jumping around too much for me to get a picture after Goofy's Sky School.
On the famous Radiator Springs Racers.
Jack managed to enjoy the zipline even though he had a bad fall and got a bump on his head while in line.
Jack's spirit animal is the skunk.
We parted ways now. Mom and Dad got the boys one final treat while they watched the fireworks over the park walls.
I wouldn't pay for this monstrosity, but it's too funny not to share.
I was surprised how drastically different the Haunted Mansion was for the Nightmare Before Christmas holiday overlay. Completely different animatronics, decorations, music, and narration.
Sam stole my camera for the final photo of the trip :-)
Before I go, let me give some shout-outs to each person for rocking the trip:
To Mom, for enduring Disneyland with little kids one week after surgery and with a bum knee.
To Dad, for endlessly tending to all the "inputs and outputs" required by my kids, and carrying them whenever they asked.
To Ben, for going along with my every whim, enduring so much sunshine and crowd, and being the best clown for our boys.
To Jack, for being a good older brother and handling disappointments with maturity beyond his five years.
To Sam, for taking quality stroller naps and for not being scared of rides or characters.
I have an amazing family and I'm so grateful for all these memories we created together.