Disneyland was certainly the highlight (and the reason) for the trip. We were there, at the park, for nearly 4 whole days. The kids had HIGH expectations for Disneyland and had been looking forward to it for months and months. They were not one bit disappointed…..Disneyland was better than anything they’d imagined. Disneyland was better than I was expecting as well. Don’t get me wrong, I was extremely excited for this trip, but I didn’t grow up going to Disneyland and I don’t think I quite understood the magic of it until we entered the park: my kids eyes lit up and their mouths curved into giant grins. We raced through the park with Charlie peeking out from the back of the Phil and Ted trying to drink everything in. We hopped on “It’s a Small World” and that was it: watching all three kids delight in those dolls and that music and that whole other magical world was, well, magical, and I was completely converted. It was so fun being there with Jeff’s entire family. There were so many different options for groupings so that we all got to go on the rides we wanted to. Grandma and Grandpa Shumway were such amazing and generous hosts which made the whole experience so nice for our (very frugal) little family. They were always happy to take a tired baby back to the hotel for a nap or take the younger kids on a kiddy ride so we could go catch a thrill. Emmeline loved every minute of it. She is a little thrill seeker and loved any ride that she was allowed to go on. I’m not sure how to capture all of the amazing moments we had, so I’m just going to list some of my favorite things about our time there (in no particular order):
- The teacups. There was never a line for these, so we rode them over and over again. Charlie was very into riding by himself (see above). All three of my kids have inherited my love of that glorious dizzy feeling.
- All the great park food we got to eat…..compliments of Grandma and Grandpa.
- Hazel got her face painted! She felt like a princess (and it was the only princessy thing she had interest in….she’s informed me that she “doesn’t like princesses, or pink, or girly things…..” not sure where that came from, but I was thankful, the line for the princess promenade was an hour long!
- Emmeline (and I) loved the ducks wandering around the park. This girl is OBSESSED with any kind of little creature. We even saw four Disneyland workers gathered around a mama duck and her 6 ducklings, herding them through the crowds to the Castle’s moat. That might have been the highlight of the trip for Emmeline who couldn’t contain her enthusiasm.
- We all stayed in a hotel just outside the Disneyland gates. Our rooms were all close together, which made for some great fun…..namely a 10 minute pillow fight in the boys room. My kids dream of being able to have pillow fights….and of course, Papa Rob made their dream come true.
- Being with Grandma and Grandpa Shumway and McFarland Cousins.
- Emmeline and Joss spent a lot of time in their strollers….thank goodness for these double strollers.
Amazingly prepared Mary Ann (who has traveled all over creation with her kids) packed along some masking tape and a permanent marker so we could label all the kids with our cell phones. This was comforting, as all Emmeline wanted to do when out of the stroller was wander far away. Amazingly, we never lost her.
- we loved spending time Karen (Aunt Kiecoo) and John….there is nothing quite like aunts and uncles. We missed you Clarissa!
Because there were so many helpful adults, Jeff and I were each able to take Hazel and Charlie on individual little dates…..letting them each run the show. This was key, because they had very different interests.
Hazel decided (firmly) after going on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad that she did NOT like roller coasters. She wanted to ride the rockets and the Dumbo ride over and over again (I think mostly because she could control their heights up and down). She loved the carosel and the teacups. She loved the rides that were a bit spooky, but slow like the haunted Mansion and Pirates. She was captivated by seeing all the characters and the parade and the shows. And, she was OBSESSED about using up her gift card from G & G Shumway for just the right souvenirs. I think it’s the first time she’s had a chunk of change to do whatever she wants with….and she loved it (and Jeff loved shopping in the girly stores with her).
Thankfully Grandma Shumway loved going on the same rides Hazel was into. They became good little buddies. And, even more than the rides, Hazel loves some good adult attention all to herself. Charlie decided firmly after riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad that he LOVED roller coasters. He was definitely the preferred child to be stuck with because he was a total sucker for anything fast and thrilling that they’d let him ride on. Jeff and I switched off taking him on Space Mountain (his favorite ride…and mine too). I think he rode it 6 times (bless those Switch Passes). He was obsessed with almost everything in Tomorrowland and went on Star Tours a total of 14 times. He was certain that each time he really took the exact same ride up into space. Charlie also loved riding anything where he had his own controller….the teacups, Buzz Light-year, the Toy Story ride in California adventures. And, Charlie got to go through Jedi training….which I think was the highlight of his whole life. We all were thoroughly entertained….they put on quite a show and the trainer was awesome. For more about this, see my Sister In Law, Mary Ann’s blog. She’s a much more entertaining writer than I am. Suffice it here to say, Charlie kind of stole the show (mostly because he was clueless about what was going on). I told him to grin so he’d get chosen and he kept that grin on the whole time, meanwhile the instructor made all kinds of jokes about how he wasn’t listening to a word of the instructions. He got to fight Darth Vader, that’s all he cared about. The stage mom in me came out as I beamed watching my little guy up there, stealing the show.
Disneyland is one magical place…..I’m sure my kids will remember the magic of it forever and relive it when they take their kids there one day.