We headed down south for spring break and spent the week in Southern California. First stop: Disneyland!
Zach and I have been to Disneyland several times each, but this was the first trip for the boys. (We took Wyatt when he was two, but he had no recollection of it, so we decided it doesn’t count.) We spent one jam-packed day in each park and were completely and utterly exhausted afterwards. This was partly because we were there during one of the busiest weeks of the year, but also because it was…you know…Disneyland.
We went to California Adventure the first day and we loved the park as a whole, but were particularly impressed with Cars Land. It’s truly amazing — like stepping into the movie. Disney parks have tons of great details in them, but for Cars Land they seem to have ratcheted the visuals up a notch. The waits in line are actually kind of fun because there are so many cool things to look at. Our only disappointment of the trip was that we didn’t get to ride the big headliner “Radiator Springs Racers”. All of the Fast Passes were gone for the day by the time we went to get them at 9:30 am and the line was around 3 hours every time we checked so we ended up skipping it.
Another high point for us was the Pixar Play Parade. We managed to swing some great seats near the start of the route so we had a great view and many of the characters interacted with the kids. Generally the characters freak us out so we don’t go for autographs and stuff, but Wyatt and Augie both liked being this close to them with no danger of physical contact. After the parade was over, the boys jumped right up and started to follow along behind it. We walked all the way across the park this way and they danced a little and even waved to the crowd now and then. This was probably one of my favorite memories of the whole trip.
Day 2 was spent at Disneyland Park. It was super-duper, astoundingly crowded because we were there on one of the top ten most crowded days of the year. Great planning on our part, right? We only managed one Fast Pass before they were all gone for the day but we spent it on a great ride, Star Tours.
I love Disneyland Park because it feels so retro and nostalgic in some ways but there were also a lot of things that were different from the other times I’ve been there. It just feels like the quintessential amusement park experience to me.
We hit all the classic rides: Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, the tea cups. The wait for Space Mountain was interminable but it moved too quickly to sit down, so I spent a lot of time holding Augie because his legs were so tired. I like this picture Zach got of us though. Space Mountain is one of my favorite roller coasters anywhere and I was excited to share it with my kids and even more excited that they were excited to share it with me. Wyatt loved it, but unfortunately Augie was terrified. We told him before hand that it was dark, but the actual experience was pretty torturous for him so we all felt kind of sad about that afterwards.
We ended up staying at the park pretty late and even though the kids were running on pure adrenalin by the end, I’m glad we did. I forgot how pretty things are when they’re all lit up. The tea cups were especially enchanting.
Here are a few things that surprised me about Disneyland:
- The food was great! I don’t really think of amusement parks and good food going hand in hand, but we didn’t eat one bad or even so-so meal inside the Disneyland parks. I was particularly impressed by the offerings for kids. They had burgers and chicken strips available, of course, but none of the kids meals were served with fries or soda by default and every menu we saw had at least one “Mickey Check” item which indicated meals with limited salt, fat and calories. I was happy to see how appealing these healthier meals were to my boys and that they chose these items more often than not.
- Disney has edible plants growing everywhere. We noticed citrus trees and grapes growing in California adventure and lettuce, herbs and kale in Tomorrowland. As someone who values urban farming, I thought it was cool to see attractive edible gardens all over the place. We even made a game of trying to spot these things during our long waits in line.
- We enjoyed California Adventure more than Disneyland Park. At first Zach and I assumed that this was because we’ve visited regular Disneyland several times each and California Adventure was new and different to us, so we were really surprised when the kids told us it was their favorite park too.
- The kids weren’t exactly overcome by the magic of Disney. The first time I went to Disney World, I was almost exactly the same age as Wyatt is now and it was a really big, huge deal in my life. I dreamed about it for months before hand, reminisced for years after and I felt giddy the whole time I was there. My kids liked it, but they didn’t really seem to love it. To give you some perspective, when I asked Augie what his favorite part of our entire trip was he said “jumping into the swimming pool and having Daddy catch me.” (Awwwww!)
Do you love Disney too?