We left home at about 11am yesterday (Sunday, March 3rd), intending to drive the five hours to Vegas and spend the night there before finishing our drive to Anaheim Monday morning. We made good time, the kids were great, and by the time we did a pit stop in Vegas for Five Guys and a bathroom break at 5pm, we were all ready just to get there and be done with the driving. The hotel let us cancel our reservation, and we added an extra night to our room in CA.
It was a boring drive. Between Vegas and the first hour into California, there is nothing. The kids were happy to watch countless episodes of Ni Hao Kai Lan and play on the iPads. I caught up on some reading. Andy put in his headphones and zoned out to Techno. We arrived and checked in at around 10pm. We were exhausted, but happy to be there. After baths and a few minutes of running up and down the halls, we went to bed and set the alarm for early.
In the morning, we had breakfast at the hotel buffet. The kids were too excited to eat, so Andy and I shoveled down and force-fed them some scrambled eggs and fruit, and we were on our way. I loaded up the backpack of supplies (sunscreen, water, etc.), and he bought the shuttle tickets. We checked everything twice to make sure we were set, and then headed down to wait for the shuttle.
The kids were running up and down screaming, "this is the best day ever!" as we waited for the bus. We waited for 20 minutes. Running. Taking pictures. Checking the app on my phone to see how long the waits were for rides. Making sure we had the shuttle tickets.
Right when we saw the shuttle pull up at the corner, some strange out-of-nowhere spark went off in my head--I like to think it was divine intervention--and I realized with horror that we had forgotten the park tickets.
The shuttle pulled up as Andy sprinted back to our room on the 9th floor. We had been first in line, and the kids and I watched sadly as everyone behind us piled into the bus. Autumn looked like she was going to cry, and Calvin kept slapping his forehead saying, "this is the worst day EVER!" We were sad. I was sure that even if Andy did make it back in time, the seats would be completely full.
Right when the lady jumped in to count how many seats were left, Andy came bursting through the front doors of the hotel. She said there were a couple more seats. We cut back into the front of the line and were the second to last family they let on. The bus played Lion King, and the kids giggled with new friends as they watched. Andy and I discussed what a close call it had been and how sad we would have been if we'd arrived to the gates of Disneyland, only to get right back on the shuttle to go for our tickets.
Needless to say, by the time we arrived, we were thrilled. Calvin screamed, "this is better than Christmas!" And we did, indeed, feel like we were at the "happiest place on earth."
We started off in Fantasyland with Peter Plan's Flight. Within minutes, we were already annoyed at annoying kids and their annoying parents. We waited in line for about 20 minutes, and Calvin was scared during the whole ride because it was so dark. After the ride, he said he liked being scared. So we went straight to Pinocchio's Journey and Snow White's Haunted Castle. Both were tons scarier than the Peter Pan ride, but Calvin, philosophically told us that it's okay to be scared if you know it's pretend. Autumn loved all three.
Then we found Dumbo:
And the tea cups:
The kids LOVED this one. Andy spun us like a wild man. The munchkins laughed and screamed and squealed. I tried not to throw up.
Then disaster struck.
From the tea cups, Calvin noticed The Matterhorn. He insisted that it was where he wanted to go next. I didn't know anything about the ride, but I told him it might be scary. He said, "that's okay. I like being scared, remember?" Autumn wasn't tall enough to ride it, so Andy and Calvin went on their way, and she and I rode Alice in Wonderland instead.
Inside the crazy caterpillar's on the Alice ride.
We had fun. Calvin, apparently, did not.
When we got off of our ride, they still weren't back so we did the tea cups again. Half-way through the ride, the boys were standing at the fence and Calvin's face was red from crying. He was folding his arms and staring at the ground. According to Andy, Calvin had wanted to ride at the front of the roller coaster, but Andy's seat was at the back of the car before it. So he let Calvin go alone. ALONE. A five year old, for his first time ever on a roller coaster that we knew was somewhat scary. ALONE. So it was dark and fast and crazy and yeti faces apparently appeared to freak out riders. Calvin was horrified and mad and sad. I told him to pick something else that was fun. He refused. So I picked.
It's a Small World:
I know some people hate this ride, but I love it. I think it's well-done, and even if the song gets annoying, it's fun to see all of the creepy little dolls dancing so perfectly in unison.
We stood in line for ten minutes or less. The boy was furious that I was making him do another ride and try to have fun:
We had fun:
He was mad that we were having fun:
During the ride, he would get excited about something and point it out, but then he would remember that he was mad, and he would quickly go back to sulking. He said it was the worst ride ever.
Then we went on the storybook boat ride. No idea what it's called, but they had adorable little villages from the different Disney tales on either side of the stream as we cruised down the river.
Autumn covering her ears as we entered the whale's mouth:
A couple of views from the boat (This was the only time we went on the ride. I wish we'd gone again. I really loved the miniatures and think in another life, making them should be my profession. Or hobby):
Calvin was still refusing to enjoy himself.
Then we got cotton candy and rode the carousel, and everyone was happy again.
After Fantasyland, we made our way over to New Orleans Square and Critter Country. We did Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion. I had intended to do the mansion alone while Andy stayed with the kids because it was one thing I was looking forward to and I thought it would be too scary for the kids. But when we explained that it was a ride with pretend ghosts, they both insisted on coming.
Surprisingly, they loved it. There was no line, so we did it four more times. The last couple of times, Andy and I made out in the dark. The kids were too preoccupied with the ghosts to notice, and it was fun to feel like a naughty teenager again for a few minutes.
Then we went to Splash Mountain. I was nervous about this one because 1) It had a height requirement of 40" and Autumn was really close; and 2) expectant mothers are not supposed to ride. We both made it on fine without them turning us away.
Calvin was so excited by the time we were at the front of the line:
Autumn and I were nervous:
I really regret that we didn't get the picture that they took of the first time we went down. Andy--always fearless--was smiling and had his hands in the air, Calvin was laughing so hard, Autumn's eyes were huge and her mouth was a straight, horrified line, and my eyes were clenched tightly shut. It was the only picture we saw where all of us were visible, and our reactions to the ride were so obvious.
The kids wanted to go again, so this is the second shot, but it's not as good as the first was:
After Space Mountain, it was 3pm so we forced the kids to stop for lunch. We had seen a small place in New Orleans Square that looked really good (French Market Restaurant), so we grabbed a table and ate there. It was fairly terrible. The kids had mac and cheese, and Andy and I had flavorless, fatty, french dip sandwiches. We were all still hungry and $45 poorer when we left. On the plus side though, they had a fun jazz band playing, one guy gave Mardi Gras beads to the kids, and it was a fun place to sit in the shade and watch people come and go.
After lunch, all the boys wanted to do was Splash Mountain and the Haunted Mansion over and over again. Autumn who is sweet and goes along with anything and everything said, "no, thank you. I don't want to do it again." So the boys spent the afternoon together doing whatever, and the girls went back to Fantasyland to ride Dumbo and the tea cups more times than anyone should ever have to. Luckily, the lines were short and it was fun for me to spend time alone with Autumn and Andy to have Calvin to himself and not have to do the little kid stuff.
Riding the train back to Fantasyland
More Dumbo (note my Mardi Gras beads that she no longer wanted)
More tea cups
Over and over and over again, all afternoon.
When everyone was tired, we met up again. Autumn and I watched most of the parade while we waited for the boys, and she was enchanted by the princesses. She almost cried when Belle looked right at her and gave a cute little wave. When the boys arrived, we had one more family tea cup run before riding the train back to the front of the park. Then we caught the shuttle and went back to the hotel.
But it didn't matter that we were exhausted and that it was so cold and windy outside, the kids really wanted to go swimming in the outdoor pool. So we suited up:
I bathed the kids and showered while Andy ran across the parking lot to Uggi's pizza. We set up a make-shift table for the kiddos and watched Wreck-it Ralph while we ate New York style pizza, salad, and southwest egg rolls. The pizza and salad were divine (not so much the egg rolls). We couldn't figure out if it was THAT good or if we were just cold and starving. Either way, it tasted heavenly.
Gigantic pizza. We ate ALL of it.
Massive, yummy house salad. We ate ALL of it.
We finished the movie, then tucked the kids into bed. They were out in 5 minutes flat. We went to bed happy and ready to do it all again tomorrow.