I went through a time in my life where I thought Disneyland was boring. I was a teen. I thought I was too cool for everything. Magic Mountain was cheaper and closer and the rides were faster.
But now that I have 4 little kids nothing beats Disneyland. NOTHING. We have season passes, so often times we head down during nap time (the kiddos nap in the car) and then spend 5 hours on our 5 favorite rides and then stop for dinner on our way home. The whole trip only costs us $50. That's a pretty good deal for a family of 6.
But a few weeks ago we had a true Disney weekend. My sister came out to visit and my husband decided it was time to have a boys-weekend. So I packed up the kiddos and we went to Disneyland for the weekend. It was a warm February and we took bathing suits and shorts. Honestly, the weekend was as perfect as could be.
We stayed at the new Grand Californian hotel. It was fabulous. We got adjoining rooms for our group of 8 (me, my kids, grandparents and sis). Our room had a queen, bunk bed with a trundle. We had a view of the monorail and the kids were content to watch the 'train' drive by every 10 minutes. While I checked in, double-checked our rooms, negotiated payment and generally did the housekeeping part of the weekend the kids sat in tiny kid-sized chairs and watched Disney cartoons. It was such an easy check-in process with no one pulling on my leg or wanting to know what I was doing.
Since we were kind of celebrating Lainy Ann's birthday they had a special surprise for her; balloons, a button and a signed picture of Alice in Wonderland. Disney certainly know how to make a gal feel special. The rest of the weekend she was greeted with "Happy Birthday, Princess" by every single employee - at the restaurant, the doorman, the attendants at the rides, everyone. She was in absolute heaven.
In the interest of packing lightly I left the swim vests at home, but knew we had a 1:1 ratio of kids to grown ups, so they weren't really needed. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that Disney provided swim vests in 4 different sizes. Connor and William opted for vests, but William still tried to drown as he tripped down the stairs. Then they made us of the 3 pools, jacuzzi and 2 water slides. One of the pools was only a few inches deep so William could walk around and splash in it.
We had dinner at the Storybook Cafe which was okay food. The portions were large enough that we were able to only order 4 meals for 8 of us. That really helped keep costs down. Then we went to the gift shop where each child bought a toy with their very own money. Yup. I'm counting it as a math lesson. It also gave them a brand new toy to play with while we were in the hotel room. They were so proud of their purchases.
That night Papa stayed with the sleeping children as my mom, sis and I (and Alexander) walked Downtown Disney and eventually bought matching t-shirts to wear to Disney the next day. It was just shopping, but it was so much more. I have really missed my sister being so far away and it was fun to just hang out and talk. Don't we look stylish in our matching clothes?
In the morning we rushed over to Disneyland at 7 am. Did you know you get in an hour early if you stay at the hotel? We went on 5 rides in just 2 hours. There were absolutely no lines and everything was clean and freshly hosed down. It was like the park was open just for us.
We got hungry and headed back to the Storybook Cafe for a character breakfast with cake to celebrate Lainy Ann's birthday. William was terrified of the characters and spent most of the time screaming and crying in my mother's lap. I felt really bad for him. But the rest of use had a great time and the food was really terrific.
Did I mention that It's a Small World has been revamped? They cleaned and repainted everything. I heard rumor that they added some of the Disney characters to the ride and I thought that was blasphemous. But, in true Walt-form, it was done very tastefully.
We had a fabulous time at Disney. It was even better because of the good company, great deal we got, and the warm weather. The kids were well behaved and had a blast with everyone. I can't wait until my sis can come visit again.
And because everyone loves a picture of a baby in a too-big hat: