The California Leg-Part One: Disneyland

When I was a kid, we never went to Disneyland. It's not as though I remember my friends going, or even necessarily cared. I just remember the fact that my parents invested in a cabin in the woods that we always went to instead of other grand faraway destinations. I visited Disneyland in college instead, which was a great way to do things.
Anyway, one thing we felt we were ready to do was to go to Disney with the girls this summer. At eight and six, their ages seemed perfect and with lots of sabbatical time on our hands, a road trip to California was planned, complete with a second leg to Yosemite after Disney. Cue the crowds/line portion of sabbatical.

We divided the driving into two days, and once there stayed at a Marriott near Disney which offered a daily shuttle to the park as well as a great breakfast spread each morning. We spent four days there, one which was dedicated to California Adventure. In my estimation, California Adventure has better food and Disneyland has better "cast member" uniforms. Check out the ones from Fantasyland-super cute, methinks!

Each time we came into the park we got to The Hub in a different way. The first day it was on an old fire truck. The next it was on a double decker bus. How fun to enter Disneyland somehow special! Anyone can walk! We walked the rest of the day! But when we arrived, we ARRIVED in style!

We did a lot of rides, but some of the more crazy ones my husband did solo or with my brother Andy, who joined us one of the days. One of the first CRAZY rides we went on was Space Mountain, which I remembered being my favorite. Somehow twenty years later I did NOT think it was a favorite. I remembered loving the treehouse, too but it's since been converted to Tarzan's treehouse and it's just not the same as the Swiss Family Robinson's tree house plus my old lady kicked in again as she had on Space Mountain and was a little leery of how high up off the ground we were.

Not only did Space Mountain rattle me, Avery was wailing at the end, so we avoided several "scarier" rides because of that. Basically if they had any sort of sign at the beginning about requiring good health to ride it, we did not all go on it. We still did Star Tours-we just looked at each other the whole time to make it through. Our speed was the coaster in Toon Town-good velocity, but short. That has become my kind of thrill at the age of 39. Avery loved the Dumbo ride, Julia the Storybook ride, my husband Space Mountain and me Pirates of the Carribean.
We enjoyed watching the parade a few times. It had big energy and many celebrity sightings.
Speaking of celebrities, unlike a lot of people I know, we did not schedule a meal with the characters but we had a chance encounter with Cinderella upon leaving Fantasyland. She spotted us and offered her hand up to Avery, commenting on what a beautiful princess she was and offering to take a picture with her. She smoothly added Julia to the mix and they both stood enraptured by her, which was a bit unexpected, really. Still, just proof of the magic as they both left the park with some kind of princess doll-Julia's was Snow White, and Avery's was the Little Mermaid. This huge stage where the princess coronations occur interested the princesses in our party.
We had amazing weather, nice and sunny, and the areas of the park that were the shady ones over near Louisianna and Adventureland provided great relief from the moments full of too much glare.
The food was fun to induldge in: Sundaes, powdered candy, pizza, hamburgers. Julia especially loved the frozen lemonade and Avery, the cotton candy! I enjoyed the chili lime corn myself.
If I had to create a photo scavenger hunt for a Disney-goer, I would put the following things on the list, all which we saw at Disney:

A family wearing matching t-shirts that say something like, "Grandma's Disney Adventure 2011"

Someone walking around chomping on a huge turkey leg

Brides and Grooms walking around with Bride and Groom Mouse Ears with Mr. and Mrs. Whoever stitched on the backs

Mr. Toad's house on the Storybook boat ride-it is so dang cute nestled into the bank and I did NOT get a picture but I wish I had (this was the closest I got, it's in lower left hand corner)

Barbells in Toon Town

Minnie's kitchen in Toon Town

The cool huge trees out on the island in Adventureland(and basically everywhere)

The super realistic model of Jack Sparrow during Pirates of the Carribean (my favorite ride)

Giant clover in A Bug's Land in California Adventure (we really loved this area)

The World of Color night time water show

Adorable plush versions of Mickey
Someone wearing a pair of Toms
Someone using a fan/mister

Okay, Tarzan's Treehouse (even though it will always be Swiss Family Robinson's Treehouse to me)

A sea of strollers parked en masse near big attractions

The Mad Tea Party and all the cool lanterns strung above it

Personalized parasols with ruffles

A robot named Asimo
All in all the kids were a GREAT age to take to Disney, and actually, so were we. Though exausted after four days, I think we were all completely affected by our visit there and the magic of Disney. We had huge smiles and felt the magic!


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