I was pregnant with Finn, last December, when I started to get the itch to go to Disneyland. And wouldn't it be nice to go with the whole family? So we started thinking about it and talking about it and planning it. We gave ourselves a whole year to save and plan. We knew we wanted to go when it wasn't very busy because we despise waiting in lines, and we knew we wanted to be there while it was decorated for Christmas, because it just makes the Disney magic even more magical when you add all things Christmas to it! So we decided on the first week of December, which is one of the least busy weeks of the year. It was perfect. I think I'm going to use that word a lot while describing this trip, because that's how it turned out. We planned and saved and talked about our upcoming trip for a whole year. By the time we left, Tate knew which rides he wanted to try. He asked to watch rides on youtube and look at pictures of Disneyland on the computer all the time. He knew which of his favorite characters lived there and he was so excited to meet all of them. So perfect.
We decided that we couldn't go all the way to California without stopping to see Uncle Seth and Vincent, so we took off a couple of days early and spent 2 days with them. We stayed at their amazing San Diego home, played with their dog, Ella (both Tate and Finn were enamored), went out to eat twice (these guys know their restaurants, the food was incredible), played a bit at Balboa park, walked around with Uncle Seth at a very fancy mall (I was so nervous that one of my boys would break something), and watched tons of movies. It was a nice visit and I'm so glad we got to see them again. It's been a while this time.
Seth with Finny and Tate
Tate with Miss Ella
Finny and Vince
On Tuesday morning we took off early and drove to Anaheim, checked into our hotel, returned the rental car, then marched off in our double stroller around the block to Disneyland. Our hotel was great. We were about a 15 minute walk to the gate but there wasn't much closer and certainly wasn't anything nicer and closer. We had a nice little kids' suite with one big bed and a separate room with bunk beds and a fold out couch. We called Nana on our drive and convinced her to join us so she came on a flight that first night and stayed on the bunk beds with Tate-o. It was the very best kind of sleepover...all week long and we are SO glad she decided to come play with us!
We had 5 days in the parks and we started off at California Adventure. There went on several rides this time that we had never ridden before and, especially considering the shortish lines, were really fun to experience for the first time with our kids. The Little Mermaid, Jumping Jellyfish, the Silly Symphony Swings, Goofy's Sky School, The Silver Zephyr, and most of Bugs land were first times for us, and Tate loved them all.
We met up with Cody and Aub and their sweet girls and after a quick little Mermaid ride, headed straight for Toy Story Mania, another first for us. It was a new favorite, for sure. If the line weren't so long we would have ridden it many more times. Tate was a little worn out standing for so long during nap time but Uncle Cody was happy to oblige and give his legs a rest any time he asked.
Finn was thrilled any time he could get out of his stroller or people's arms. He just wanted to do his own thing.
It's hard to say what my favorite part of the trip was, but watching the little cousins play together is right at the top of the list. Tate, Mya, Sadie, and Finn just adored each other and got along so well. It was darling watching them discover all the Disney magic together.
Another first: Mickey's Ferris Wheel
Tate wasn't nervous at all around the characters. He's been very excited to see A Bug's Land, as he's just discovered the movie, and was thrilled to meet Flik.
Flik, Mya, Sadie, and Tate
We'd read that there was one giant four-leaf clover in A Bug's Land. Glenn searched until he found it. I think I need to look up more of these secret things because being the one who in the know or the one who figures things out makes Disney more fun for my brainy sweetheart.
Tate and I on Flik's flyers. Definitely my favorite of the Bug's Land rides.
Glenn and Tate on King Triton's carousel.
Sadie has a thing for Monster's Inc., and especially for Roz. She could never tire of riding the Monster's Inc. ride (which she calls Mike Asowski) and will quote her favorite Roz line without much prodding. It's so hilarious to hear this little gravely voice come out of teensy Miss Sadie. I love it so much.
On our final day in California Adventure, Adam, Cami, and our newest cousin Baby Abby joined us. The older cousins loved sneaking peeks at their teensy new cous.
The kiddos played on benches by the boardwalk while the big kids rode California Screamin'. One of my absolute favorites. Here are Adam, Cami, Mom, and Cody, taking a spin.
Sweet Finny spent a lot of time in his stroller that week but he rarely got too ornery, even when he was way overdue for a nap. He'd get grouchy on occasion but give the kid a bottle or give him a minute to work it out and he'd usually fall right to sleep and wake up happy again. He was really a trooper.
Here's the fam at one of our favorite lunch stops: the Pacific Wharf Cafe where they serve yummy salads and soups in enormous sourdough bread bowls. Yes, please.
Another first time for us was the wilderness explorer playground. Even Finn got some playing in there. It was a super fun area with tons of places to climb and slide. There were caves to explore, a zip line, cabins and climbing walls. Sort of California Adventure's answer to Tom Sawyer's Island and while it wasn't quite that amazing, it was just what we needed one afternoon to let the kids go crazy.
Finny has a thing for Uncle Cody. Cody could always cheer him up and get a grunty little laugh out of him.
Glenn was our fast pass master of the trip and we were all so grateful. He loves to strategize and hates to stand in line so he was constantly watching the clock, grabbing all our passes, and running around the park gathering fast passes for the rides with the longest wait times. We never waited in a long line (except maybe Toy Story Mania which doesn't have fast passes) the entire trip because this guy was determined to make it so. Thanks, Glenn. You're the master.
Our last night in California Adventure, we were parked next to Tower of Terror and all the "big kids" hopped on a few times as there was no wait when all of a sudden the Pixar parade started, right next to where the kids were sitting. It was perfect. No staking out a spot. No one blocking our view. We were right at the gate where all the characters came out for the parade so all the kids got plenty of personal attention. They got high fives and head pats and got to see their favorite characters right up close. It was very cool.
Slim from A Bug's Life
Who's more excited at this moment: Me or Tate?
Aub and her sweet girls. After the parade that last night, the daddy's were spent so we sent them back to the hotel with the kids and Aub and I stayed and shopped until it was time for the World of Color show, which we did not want to miss. We also kidnapped baby Abby for a couple of hours so Ad and Cami could have a little alone time. It was a really fun night. We wandered through shops we'd seen and wanted to stop at all day but there was no way we were dragging the kids and dads through shops when there were rides to ride, so this evening with Aubry, a kindred Disney-loving spirit, was just perfect. We shopped, had dinner, then watched the World of Color show, which was wonderful, before heading back to the hotel to get some much-needed rest. I'd forgotten how exhausting it is to be walking around all day long. We were all absolutely beat every night and our alarm clock (also known as Finny), always sounded much too early. I have no idea how Aubry, being 5 months along, and Cami, being 1 month post-partum, managed when I was so tired, but they were troopers.