Sunday, October 26, 2014

Oct.- Week 1- Disneyland, Day 3

Our last day was Thursday and it was the most crowded and the HOTTEST day at 100 degrees! We made sure to take advantage of all the photo ops we could too.  Unfortunately, Ben was pretty grouchy, even first thing in the morning.  If you can click on the picture below and zoom in on his face, it's pretty classic.  This was also the day McKenna wanted to wear the Cinderella dress we gave her.  
We were a little bummed the castle was too washed out in these pictures.  And Ben of course, has to make a silly face.
We headed to Adventureland and went to the Enchanted Tiki Room and had some super yummy Dole Whip!  The kids didn't love the Tiki Room as much as I did, but I feel like it was all part of getting the full Disneyland experience!  
We rode Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters 3 times today and the Astro Orbitor 2 more times.  I rode the Alice in Wonderland ride with McKenna and Dan rode the Mad Tea Party with the kids since that one makes me motion sick too. 
From the Buzz Ride.
We were pleased that even after McKenna's traumatic experience on Tower of Terror, she still was ok to go on the Haunted Mansion Holiday ride.  These are their spooky faces.  :)  We also rode the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad a total of 3 times this day and we got a fast pass for Space Mountain.  
We loved laughing on the Jungle Cruise.  Very punny commentary.  
Exploring Tarzan's Treehouse.  
We had to wait quite a while to meet Tinker Bell at Pixie Hollow, and it was pretty darn hot with little shade.  But she was totally cute and curtsied to McKenna and had her curtsy back.  
We also met the fairy Godmother-- on the day McKenna was dressed as Cinderella!  She told McKenna to pose that way.  
Dan took McKenna on the Matterhorn, which she later said was one of her favorites! 
We also rode the Monorail.  They only loaded 10 people per car that day because it was so hot and there's no AC in the cars.  See all our pink cheeks?  After this, we were very tempted to head back to the hotel and take a break during the hottest part of the day, but instead, we bought some frozen lemonades, rested in the shade for a bit, and pushed through. :) We also rode the Pirates of the Caribbean ride but didn't get any pictures of that. 
We watched the Tangled story at the Royal Theater and the kids loved it.  :) 
Once it started to get dark, we bought dinner at a sandwich place (Jolly Holliday Bakery Cafe) and got great seats right on the curb for the Soundsation Parade.  Thankfully, we remembered the glow sticks this time!  This was the parade Ben slept through the first day, so he was seeing it all for the first time and was once again, in awe (apparently, Dan was as well)!  
After the parade, we told the kids we'd ride one more ride and then let them shop for one souvenir each.  McKenna chose an Anna barbie-ish doll.  Ben chose a blue lightsaber that makes noise!  We also bought an ornament for our Christmas tree.  We chose to ride the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad as our last ride at Disneyland!  Disneyland was just as magical and amazing as we could have ever hoped!  We have already prepped the kids to let them know we won't be returning to until they are 11 and 9 years old.  Let's hear it for Disneyland 2020!!  ;) 
We sure missed our sweet Anna!  The Hamblin and Koldewyn families took such good care of her!  Especially because she had a cold (runny nose and cough) the whole time!  They sent a picture each day which was so nice!  They even put Mickey ears on her to make her feel like she wasn't so left out.  ;)  She also fell in love with the Koldewyn's dog, which is hilarious considering how terrified the other two children are of dogs. :)
Friday morning we ate breakfast at the hotel and checked out around 10am.  Then we drove to the LDS Temple in LA.  They have such a nice visitors center there.  
Then we made a quick stop at a beach in Santa Monica.  We would have liked to have stayed longer and maybe even played in the water a little, but we had a date to visit with an old roommate of mine.  
This is my freshman year roommate from BYU, Laura!  We also grew up together (our teenage years, anyway) in Virginia.  We talked, and talked, and talked and it was SO wonderful to feel like nothing has changed!  The kids played very well together and Dan was nice enough to play with the kids too while we talked some more. ;)  Our kids are pretty close in age to each other and will all be in the same school grade.  
After visiting Laura (too bad we missed seeing her husband, Joel), we headed to our sister-in-law's parents' house to sleep for the night.  On our way we wanted to eat at a local food joint, so we stopped in Pasadena (editor's note: not far from Rose Bowl Stadium, where the University of Utah beat UCLA the next day! Go Utes!) at a place called Oinkster!  It was really yummy!  The Bos family was so nice to take us in for the night!  Ben pretty much talked their ears off about Disneyland.  It was pretty darn cute!  
Our drive home was uneventful and seemed to go pretty quick.  We tried our best to listen to LDS General Conference, but our reception trying to stream it over our phones was not very consistent.  The kids played with more play dough, colored in their coloring books, watched 4 movies, ate snacks, and napped.  We picked up Anna from the Koldewyn's house and snuggled her LOTS!!  Such an amazing trip!  Can't wait to do it again when they're older and with more kids.  :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Oct.- Week 1- Disneyland, Day 2 CA Adventure

Our second day was Wednesday.  We woke up around 6:30, had breakfast at the hotel and made it over to California Adventure by 8:30ish.  We headed straight for Cars Land to get a fast pass for the Radiator Springs Racers ride then we quickly got right on Mater's Junkyard Jamboree and Luigi's Tires.  The lines this day were also quite short.  I don't think we waited longer than 10 minutes for anything, the whole morning!  I remember quickly walking/weaving through the empty line for Luigi's Tires and thinking, "Wow!  The line can really get THIS long?!"  We were SUPER impressed with Cars Land over all.  They did such a good job with making it identical to the movie.  
 Then we headed over to A Bug's Land and also (pretty much) walked onto every ride: Francis' Ladybug Boogie, Flik's Flyers, Tuck and Roll's Drive 'Em Buggies, and Heimlich's Chew Chew Train.  The kids weren't too interested in getting wet at the little splash pad they had there, though.  Another whole area--DONE!  
 (The rest of these are not in order of how the day went.)
We also rode Ariel's Undersea Adventure and Goofy's Sky School (Ben was too short for that one.)  
 The kids loves all the Disney Jr. stuff they had in CA Adventure.  McKenna got to meet Princess Sofia!
And Doc! 
 We rode Mickey's Fun Wheel which made me pretty motion sick because Dan wanted the swinging gondola.  Nice view though!  Two days after we left the wheel got stuck for two hours! 
 We went into the Disney Animation building and loved the atmosphere in there!  They have HUGE screens showing songs and clips from ALL the Disney movies and showing the rough sketches of how some of the characters were first drawn.  Here is McKenna dancing to Bear Necessities and Dan "dancing" with McKenna too.  We also went to the Sorcerer's Workshop where McKenna took a picture of herself, answered some questions and found out she is most like the character, Mulan.  
 We also walked through the Character Close-up exhibit and McKenna's voice got "stolen" by Ursula the Sea Witch.  She recorded herself singing along to the Seven Dwarf's Hi-Ho, and Ursula played it back.  Pretty cute!  We saw the Disney Jr.-- Live show and the kids LOVED it!  As you can see, Ben was in awe!  They used puppets from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Sofia, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and Doc McStuffins.  They did the usual, "There's a problem and we can learn from these other stories how to solve that problem."  It was cute! 
 We got fast passes for the Cars Land Racers the same time our friends, the Boyacks, did.  The Boyack boys are about 6 months younger than McKenna and Ben, but they all got along great and were so cute together.  This ride was by far, one of my favorite rides!  Too bad we only had Ben's forehead in the pictures.
 We hit up the Aladdin show right after lunch in hopes that Ben would crash and take another nap.  And we were right!  Though he fought it for a while saying he didn't want to miss the show.  McKenna loved  it and it was quite funny with great effects!  We also met Woody on the day Ben had Woody on his shirt! 
 Dan took both kids (separately) on the Silly Symphony Swings.  Rides that go around and around make me motion sick, so I had to pass on this one.  
 We also took the kids on Tower of Terror!  You can see in the top left corner picture we are in the back row and Dan and I are both looking down at our kids who you can't see in the picture.  I prepared them by saying it would drop us and it would tickle their tummy.  I had no idea how super creepy the atmosphere was, so McKenna ended up crying at the end.  Oops!  She said she never wants to go on it again.  Oh well.  Ben said he wanted to go on it 3 times.  ;)  Also, the Boyacks were nice enough to take our kids on the Cars Racers one more time so Dan and I could do the BIG California Screamin' roller coaster (top right corner).  It was awesome!  We did have to wait about 40 mins to get on, but it was totally worth it.  I remembered thinking that was a pretty long ride for a roller coaster.  I think they said it's over a minute and 20 seconds long.  The bottom two pictures are from the Disney Animation building.  Thumbs up in front of these giant movie posters. 
 We also watched the Pixar Parade with the Boyack family: Monster's Inc., The Incredibles, Nemo, 
 Bug's Life, 
 Toy Story, and Cars!  Ben didn't like this parade as much because they squirt water at you.  But McKenna loved it! 
 Other rides we went on but are not pictured: Monster's Inc., Jumpin' Jellyfish (a super lame ride that goes up and down really slowly-- and Ben had to be measured twice to go on it.  You can't be too careful, you know? ;)), and The Golden Zephyr rocket ships.  We ate dinner in the park at a pizza and pasta place and ended up spending just as much $$$ as IHOP the night before.  
The last thing we did in California Adventure was see the World of Color water and lights show.  Even though we got a fast pass to come early for "priority seating," we still had crappy seats right behind a pergola. We just held the kids up as best we could and they didn't complain too much.  Our biggest flop of the evening, however, was that we forgot to bring into the park the glow sticks we bought for the kids to have at night!  Dang!  Thankfully, the kids weren't too upset and we said we'd use them the next night. 

 Ben fell asleep in the stroller on the walk home.  When we got back to our hotel that night, we saw that the maid service has tucked in the kids' stuffed animals.  Pretty cute! 
I feel like we experienced 98% of California Adventure and were so glad about that!  By dinner time, we felt like we were "done" and almost went back to Disneyland.  But I'm glad we stayed and finished seeing/doing as much as we did.  

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Oct.- Week 1- Disneyland, Day 1

I had to do many, many picture collages because otherwise, I'd have over 200 pictures to post.  You're welcome ;)  
Our first day was Tuesday.  The 3-day Park Hopper ticket/hotel package we bought included one "Magic Morning."  Which means, we got to enter the park 1 hour before it opened to everyone else.  On our first day, the regular park hours were 8am-6pm.  Soooo, we decided to use our Magic Morning this day thinking that not many other people would be crazy enough to head to the park around 6:45am for the 7am opening!  And for the most part, we were right.  The crowds weren't that bad.  But still, there were certainly hundreds of other crazy people, just like us!  :)  

Here's McKenna and Ben ready to head into the park the first day, wearing their new T-shirts, and looking excited.  The park was decorated so nice for Halloween!  
We had heard/read horror stories of people waiting 2-3 HOURS to meet Anna and Elsa from Frozen.  And of course, this is one of the main things McKenna was looking forward to the most!  So, we booked it straight over to their line, waited maybe 5 minutes to get our "Fast Pass" or return time, and then sat and ate a little something for breakfast which we packed and brought in with us.  

Can you see the excitement on Ben's face knowing he would soon meet Anna and Elsa??  We also made sure to get the buttons that let everyone know it was our FIRST VISIT to Disneyland.  :) 
Turns out all our early rising and hurrying paid off greatly and we ended up meeting Anna and Elsa BEFORE 8am!!  Mission accomplished!  They were so nice!  McKenna acted a little shy and played with her "Anna braids" most of the time they talked to her.  They mentioned Ben also being shy and asked if he was sometimes silly like Olaf?  
This girl was in HEAVEN! Hugs all around! 
The rest of these pictures aren't necessarily in the order we took them throughout the day.  
We met LOTS of characters, especially in Toontown!  Meeting the characters was one of the things I had looked forward to the most.  Thankfully, the lines were so good and we didn't have to wait longer than 15 minutes to meet anyone.  For the most part, the kids weren't too shy either.  
Here's Pluto
The kids loved playing inside Minnie's house before we met her.  Ben especially loved the cake in the oven that inflated and deflated.  He asked to go back there on Day 3 but we had to pass.  
Meeting Mickey probably took the longest, but still not bad since they showed movies, in addition to exploring his house.  They kinda treat meeting Mickey like you're meeting the King himself... Naturally! ;) 
We also explored Chip 'n Dale's Treehouse, Goofy's Playhouse, and Donald's Boat.  
Ben was a little shy to meet Goofy.  But Goofy tickled him and got him to smile in the end.  
While in Toontown, we rode Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, and the Gadget's Go Coaster.  Seeing the perfectly clear blue sky behind the fake mountain backdrop of Toontown kind of made us feel like we were walking into a dome or something.  It didn't look real.  Like it all had to be part of one huge backdrop.    When we were done with Toontown, it was nice to check off one whole area of Disneyland--DONE!   
In Tomorrowland, we went in the Innoventions building to see some superhero stuff.  We loved seeing Ben's reaction when we first saw the Ironman suit.  McKenna wasn't too thrilled to pose since she said, "I don't like superheroes."  We also got "transported" to Asgard where we met Thor!  Both the kids were a little shy to meet him.  Thor also let another little boy try to lift his hammer, but of course, it couldn't be done.  ;) 
There was a "suit-up" experience where the kids could "put on" Ironman's suit and practice shooting and flying.  

video
Even though McKenna "doesn't like superheroes," she liked the suit-up experience.
Some other rides we went on and took pictures of below: It's a Small World, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage (really slow to load and unload), Dumbo the Flying Elephant, and Star Tours (X2) (made me SO motion sick, so I only went on it once).  Since Ben is right at 40in tall, he had to be measured many times for many rides!  Thankfully, he was only turned down once and we went back later when new people were there, and he got on just fine everytime thereafter.  
It was confirmed that we are not royalty as the kids could NOT pull the sword out of the stone.  We enjoyed King Arthur's Carousel though. 
Other rides we went on this day but are not pictured: Pinocchio's Daring Journey, Snow White's Scary Adventure, Casey Jr. Circus Train, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Peter Pan's Flight, Storybook Land Canal Boats, Space Mountain (Fast Pass), and the Astro Orbitor.  

I knew at some point during this trip I'd get emotional watching my children's wonder and amazement during their first Disneyland experience.  However, I did not expect that time to be during the Jedi Training...and our kids didn't even go up to participate!  It must have been something about the loud music, the atmosphere, and the picture perfect costumes that made me lose it.  I'm such a baby.  ;)

We also packed a lunch everyday to take into the park to help us cut back on expenses.  There were always plenty of shady spots to enjoy our meal together.  This particular day, we ate under the Monorail track.  
Dan took Ben to check out Frontierland and rode the Big Thunder Mountain Railraod while McKenna and I just barely made it into the line to meet some more Disney Princesses at the Royal Hall!  Seriously, they closed the line at 5pm and we were second-to-last in line.  They were each so nice!  And I love that the workers don't let the next group in until you're done meeting and taking pictures with them!  Because we were second-to-last, I do feel like they may have rushed us just a little bit, so I don't remember much of what was said.  But I do remember Snow White even talked like the real one from the movie. :)  
We LOVED the parades!  The music, the dancing, the characters! A Frozen float came by about 15 minutes before the rest of the parade to help get everyone excited.  Mickey and friends started the parade with an awesome drumline.  
Here's Aladdin and the Princess float.  
Ariel, Donald Duck, Simba, and some guys on stilts with amazing balance.  
Tiana, Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, The Chimney Sweeps from Mary Poppins
And Mary Poppins herself!  However, because we had arrived in the park so early this day, Ben was SO tired he fell asleep on Dan's shoulders!  Poor dude missed the whole thing.  We put him in the stroller right after this picture so he could have a more "proper" nap.  
After the parade, we met up with one of Dan's co-workers and her family, the Boyacks.  They have an annual pass and just happened to plan a trip the same time we did.  We spent a little more time with them on day 2 at California Adventure.  We left when the park closed at 6pm and was then only open for Mickey's Trick-or-Treat Party (those who payed an extra $63 per person!!).  We headed across the street to IHOP for dinner where kids ate for free! :) 
After IHOP, we swam in the hotel pool for a bit and then gave the kids their "bigger" souvenir gifts.  McKenna got a Cinderella princess dress that one of Dan's co-workers had at her house and was nice enough to just give to us!  Ben got a Millennium Falcon toy carrying case that Dan found on KSL.  McKenna was a little sad it wasn't an Elsa dress, but she still loved it!  Then, we put the kids to bed.  There's wasn't a way to make the room dark to help the kids fall asleep easier, without making it too dark for Dan and I.  So, we figured out a way to drape a blanket from their headboard over their heads, but still give them breathing room.  They fell asleep rather quickly, of course.  Once they were asleep, we uncovered them and there was no chance of waking them no matter how loud we were or how much light we turned on.

We had also read on the online reviews for our hotel, that if we requested a 3rd floor room, we could see Disneyland's fireworks from our balcony.  And sure enough, there they were!  I also got a picture that night of both kids asleep with their arms high in the air.  Could you tell we'd been riding rides all day?  ;) Such a great first day!