Thursday, November 12, 2015

Part 7 - °o° A Day in Disneyland! °o°

The final full day of our trip to California, and we had something big planned for the kids.
{And for ourselves, really.} While many people "do Disney" over the course of a few days {smart people, might I add}, we didn't have two to three days to park hop. We had one day. ONE day and tons of stuff on the Disneyland bucket list! I'm happy to say, we got pretty much all of it in. But it was a tough day on us adults, and probably on the kids too. Still, I want to go back. I'm not even one of those Disney-lover people. But I want to go back sooo bad. I'm already talking about Disneyland 2016. This post has tons of photos because I want to be able to remember ever glorious detail of D-DAY! It was good.

We woke up on D-Day to sunshine and 80-something degree weather and rushed to get out the Super 8 door on time. We were late, I had wanted to be at the entrance 1/2 hour before they opened, but instead we were about 1/2 hour late.
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We walked just a couple blocks and through a parking garage toward the trams, thus starting a long day of crazy walking! {My Samsung health app still shows how September 14th was my most "active" day ever!}
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We finally made it!!! There was a line out the door at Town Hall, so I figured we'd check back to pick up our kids "1st Disneyland Trip" buttons later. {We forgot. Oh well.}
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I could just move here, you know? The Main Street of Disneyland is just so quaint and adorable.
Disneyland 2015
At the time I felt like it was very crowded, but my pictures don't really show that. We thought we were golden to plan a Disneyland visit in September on a school day. Except L.A. public schools had that day off! So while other guests at the Super 8 said it was nowhere near as busy as the day before {a Sunday} it still was busy for a September day! Next time: CHECK SCHOOL SCHEDULE! Lots of people in the area have passes. Can you blame them? Yes. Yes, you can.
Disneyland 2015
Okay here's another bucket list fail. We did an awful job at the classic family-in-front-of-castle shot.
Disneyland 2015
But I got a decent one of the kids...sort of:
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Then we noticed there was a short-ish line on the side of the castle where princesses were doing photos and autographs, so we took a detour.
Disneyland 2015
And had a scary run-in with the Queen of Hearts. You have to love Disney's cast members, they are so in character. She stomped pass us on her way to a photo queue, waving people out of her way. I wasn't fast enough to catch Snow White's Evil Queen also walk past us, but she scolded my kids for not bowing to her.
Disneyland 2015
While we waited for the princess we were treated to a magical moving fountain show on the right. They really work to cram Disney details in every corner of the park.
Disneyland 2015
Ariel was there when we got in line, but by the time we made it to the front Aurora had stepped in. Violet wasted no time greeting the princess and talking her crowned head off. Paxton flirted. I told Aurora not to be too flattered, he does it to every lady we pass in the grocery store too.
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Then I had to threaten Eisley {who takes a strong anti-princess stance} to get in the darn photo or else. And smile!
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So with the front of Disneyland buzzing with crowds pouring into the park, we headed toward the back and found Big Thunder Ranch! I am elated at the fact that we got to go to Disneyland during their "Halloweentime" because the park was decked out in fall decor!
Disneyland 2015
I tell you, it WAS crowded that day. It was! Apparently I was good at avoiding people with my camera.
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Our first Disneyland ride together as a family was the Big Thunder Railroad coaster. This is a fun one and I think it's underrated! When you think Disney rides you think Pirates of the Carribean, Space Mountain, Matterhorn...but Big Thunder is a fantastic rollercoaster and it's been there forever.
Disneyland 2015
It was the girls first "real" roller coaster and they loved it so much we went twice. The line moved fast and the ride was exciting. I'm so glad both girls were tall enough to enjoy almost all the rides at DL.
Disneyland 2015
Justin and dad headed off to gather Fast Passes {a MUST, especially if you're doing it in one day like us crazies} which are free and help you get on those must-do rides faster. The rest of us browsed New Orleans Square.
Disneyland 2015
The Haunted Mansion ride decked out Nightmare Before Christmas style! Gah! I love it! I'm a Tim Burton fan and we love that movie. So this was just perfect.
Disneyland 2015
While waiting for our Fast Pass time, and then a little more because someone had a medical emergency in the Haunted Mansion that shut it down briefly while paramedics moved in and out {scary, huh?}, we saw Jack Skellington and Sally. Line too long to wait in--this is one of those things about going for just one day, you can't meet all the characters you see. It's different from when we were kids, you know? The characters have handlers and lines now. You have to get Fast Passes to even see Elsa & Anna. Back in the day, you'd just swarm the characters.
Disneyland 2015
We went on the silly Winnie the Pooh ride while waiting for Haunted Mansion because it was Paxton-friendly. Also, everytime I see this photo I think that woman in the blue shirt is me and wonder what I was doing with this strange family at Disneyland.
Disneyland 2015
Finally our time was up to go on Haunted Mansion and the medics were out and we got in that awesome Fast Pass line. All 7 of us got to enjoy this ride together and it was a favorite! When I was Violet's age and we went to Disneyland for the first time, my parents thought Haunted Mansion was too scary for me, so my sister went with my dad while mom took me to the Michael Jackson 3D show, Captain EO, instead. I screamed my heart out and mom had to take me out early, 3D MJ terrified me, and I still remember it. So, just know the Haunted Mansion isn't that scary. Michael Jackson in 3D is more terrifying to a child.
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It was so amazingly good. In fact, if you're curious about the Disneyland rides you can watch really good videos of them on YouTube. Watch the Halloweentime version of Haunted Mansion here. Though I pity you, frankly, as you cannot smell the gingerbread scent they pump through the ride when you pass the giant gingerbread house that the ghosts dance around. Poor you. (╥﹏╥)
Disneyland 2015
You pay a lot for a ticket into Disneyland, but the entire park is over-the-top so much that you can't even convince yourself that it's not worth the cost. This ride, they completely redo just for Halloweentime. The rest of the year it's a completely different ride.
Disneyland 2015
After that, we crossed Splash Mountain off the bucket list.
Disneyland 2015
I'm not a kid anymore. I was terrified for our lives the entire time.
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But then suddenly it's over, you survived, and you think Let's go again!!!
Disneyland 2015
We're fans of The Frog Princess movie, so meeting Tiana was a nice surprise. She was adorable with her New Orleans accent.
Disneyland 2015
Next, when I realized we were near the Tiki Lounge, I insisted we stop for some Dole Whip and Dole Whip floats. Disneyland is pretty much the only place you can get this pineapple ice cream treat. I wanted to try one and cross that off the list too. We used this opportunity to sit down for a much needed rest. Paxton was starting to wither in the sun and heat. {Search Instagram for #dolewhip, this treat practically has a cult following.}
Disneyland 2015
Next best thing to the real Bourbon Street, right? {Good gracious...I'm so white I'm surprised Disneyland cast members didn't mistake me for a ghost and try and stop me from exiting the Haunted Mansion ride.}
Disneyland 2015
That castle is always smaller than I remember it.
Disneyland 2015
We couldn't stall for long, however, we still had several must-do rides to cross off. Next: Dumbo.
Disneyland 2015
Can you spot Justin & Paxton, and my mom with Eisley?
Disneyland 2015
That's better! No ride is more adorable than Dumbo. Brings back happy memories of Violet's 2nd birthday party, which had a Dumbo theme.
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My boys!
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THERE, see that crowd now?
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Teacups, another must-do!
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Reminds me of Eisley's 1st birthday party! Maybe I like Disney more than I realized...oh dear. I'm that person.
Disneyland 2015
All I know is, that Mad Tea Party music they play during the ride must drive the operators nuts all day.
Disneyland 2015
We saw these two but like the White Rabbit, we didn't have the time to stop and chat.
Disneyland 2015
Mary Poppins had to kick a little girl out of her dance. On one hand I want their job. On the other hand, they have to put up with heat, costumes, and crowds of children all day. No thanks. {I'm curious how much these actors get paid? Anyone know?}{Post edit: I Googled. They aren't paid enough, imho.}
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We got a lot done before lunch, but we had to stop and eat. In hindsight, I wish we'd tried a different restaurant. We ended up at the New Orleans Square area again and the food was decent. But there are so many good places to eat at Disneyland, I don't feel we picked one of the best.
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Still, better than most amusement park food.
Disneyland 2015
On one hand I feel bad for putting my parents through this. {They came along voluntarily, but still.} On the other hand, I don't know how we could have managed everything we did without them. Dad ran souvenirs to the lockers for us, mom took 1/3 of our children to the bathroom at times, and they overall helped us keep track of 7 people in the craziest, most crowded, happiest place on earth.

There were maybe moments when we all wanted to slay each other--such as at the start of the day, when we stood at the gate and realized no one remembered the PASSWORD for the Disneyland app on which we bought our tickets--but we didn't slay each other. Because we are family and that's what family is all about.
Disneyland 2015
The Jungle Cruise is a fun for kids, and if you get a good "Skipper", then it's fun for adults too. They make a lot of corny puns as they steer you around the ride and if they do it right then it's fun. I'm pretty sure this is the same Skipper as we had, as he makes all the same jokes and the video was posted just a couple of months ago.
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Maybe not. Anyway, same jokes. I think the Jungle Cruise is a good one when you have littles.
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Disney balloons!! Did I mention it was also their 60th "Diamond" Anniversary this year?  (●⌒∇⌒●) 
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You know what is not such a mellow ride?
Disneyland 2015
Yeah. What a trip the It's a Small World ride is! We got on this one during the parade. Yes, we chose not to watch the daily afternoon parade. Because crowds and time. I don't think any of us regret it.
Disneyland 2015
If you can tolerate repetition then this ride is also a nice break from the heat and walking. Even if the kids are a little afeared by the rapid dump into every culture in the world in a dark building while child-puppets sing the same song at you in every language. (⊙▂⊙)
Disneyland 2015
Paxton liked it.
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With the parade still going, we got out of that culture shock of a ride, we sneaked behind the Matterhorn Bobsleds {sadly the one we didn't get to cross off the bucket list! actually, that and Pirates of the Caribbean, which was down for maintenance} over into Tomorrowland where we crossed Space Mountain and Star Wars off the list.

This Star Wars robot would not pose nicely for a photo. Turns out mommy's demon voiced, "I brought you to Disneyland so you will pose nicely for a photo!" only works on my kids and not so much the animatronics. But see, this is what I mean about the cost of Disneyland. These aren't just rides. They're over-the-top, five-star interactions and experiences. I sound so corny right now, don't I? 
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The whole family agreed: the Star Wars ride is awesome. They updated and redid the ride at some point in recent years. And I've heard they're adding a whole Star Wars expansion soon too. I'm glad my sister told us to do the Star Wars ride, because I might have otherwise skipped it.
Disneyland 2015
Fear not the snake coiled around Eisley's neck. He be a souvenir.

Now Space Mountain we took the girls on expecting the same old, pretty, exciting starry space rollercoaster. We did not compute the signage, apparently, because at Halloweentime in Disneyland they change the whole ride over to a {super cheesy} space ghost ride instead. So instead of just a rollercoaster among the stars, now there's space ghouls in your face all the time. Fine, I guess, but my kids didn't care for it, they said. Gave them nightmares, they said.

Another tip I'd read in the blogs when preparing for Disneyland was to get the pressed pennies as souvenirs. So we did that as often as we could, and I bought them pressed penny books in one of the shops.
Disneyland 2015
Again, the fast passes came in handy as well as the rider swap feature. Since we had four adults and three small kids, we used the rider swap a few times. We used a Fast Pass to get on Star Wars, then also the rider swap so someone could stay with Paxton the whole time and the adults didn't have to wait in lines separately and thus waste twice the time. It was sort of like getting double Fast Passes, does that make sense?
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Then while Justin, mom, and Eisley did Space Mountain via Fast Pass/Rider Switch, the rest of us went on the cute Buzz Lightyear ride.
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Another great ride for little ones.
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It's more of a game, too.
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My dad and Paxton were adorable together on this ride.
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Now, be impressed with me, because while my parents and Justin were on the Star Wars ride using the Rider Switch, I braved the Astro Orbiter with all three kids. By myself. Paxton, Violet and I could ride together. I just had to convince the operator that Eisley was really 7 and thus could ride on her own. {I was Googling the ride restrictions while in line!} Not an easy thing to prove when my 4-year-old and 7-year-old wear the same size clothes. He quizzed Eisley and thankfully believed me. I think this ride is what inspired Eisley's astronaut Halloween costume this year.
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Realizing the sun was setting and our time at Disneyland was dwindling, I panicked and insisted we visit Main Street.
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Because I wanted MY souvenir before it was too late.
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Another gem I read about on the Disneyland blogs! Old fashioned silhouette cutting at the Silhouette Studio. Color me impressed! This guy took probably less than 60 seconds on each child. And they really look like my kids! You pay about $9/silhouette, for two copies. I declined frames since we had to fly home. Once I frame them, I'll share a photo. But if you find yourself in Disneyland/world I highly recommend the silhouettes, such an attractive keepsake and what a lost art! He just eyes your kid and starts cutting, and fast! {That's Paxton's there, drying on the shelf.}
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Of course, we'd put it off, but the kids wanted to spend their monies in the shops, so while on Main Street we hit up the shops too. Pax picked himself out a Mickey. Violet chose a personalized princess parasol, and Eisley already had her snake.
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It was almost time for the end of the day parade that comes just before the fireworks, and Justin and I wanted to beat the rush out the door at closing time. We also hoped to be back in the Super 8 pool to watch the last day of fireworks {and soothe our burning feet}.
Disneyland 2015
So my parents split and took off toward the hotel while we did one last ride. It was a toss up between Snow White and Peter Pan.
Disneyland 2015
We got in line for Peter Pan, because it was also just re-done and brand new again. My parents brought us churros for "dinner" while we waited in line and then left. {The churros was another Disneyland treat I kept reading about. Yes, they are pretty darn good, like most Disneyland treats.}
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The Peter Pan ride was just lovely, they did a fantastic job re-vamping it. A great last ride!

Then, upon exiting we asked a park employee what the best way to get out was. See, people were packing themselves in like sardines along Main Street to see the final parade {which had just started} and the fireworks. We had about 20 minutes to get back to the Super 8 to watch fireworks from the hotel pool. It was a MAD DASH. "You have to go through Frontier Land [at the back!] and hope you make it to the path behind Main Street before it closes, or else you're stuck in the crowds until after the fireworks." WHAT?! We hit the sticky, winding pavement running. Three dead-tired children, a stroller being pushed by me, hands full--all five of us running through people. "The trick is to beat Ariel to Main Street," the employee had said. It's on, Little Mermaid, I was thinking.

We made it! Just on time. We ran out the Disneyland gates without a glance back, got to the trams, waited a short line, ran-walked the couple blocks to the Super 8, climbed the hotel stairs to our room, threw the kids into swim suits, got our own swimsuits on, and headed back down those hotel stairs right as we heard the first BOOM.


California 2015
It was a Disney miracle. I still can't believe we made it, and beat the closing-time crowds.
Disneyland 2015

We survived our one day at Disneyland, 2015.

Cheers,
Heather

See more of our California 2015 trip:
To Be Continued...
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