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Thursday, May 28, 2015

15 Magical Moments from our Disneyland 2015 Trip

We had a blast at Disneyland and California Adventure!!

Paradise Pier - CA Adventure

We went last week, but ended our trip before the big Disneyland Diamond Anniversary celebrations started. We weren't up for the extra crowds. We spent Monday at Disneyland, Tuesday at California Adventure, and Wednesday at Disneyland again.

Gettin' comfy in Mickey Mouse's house #scootover #youscootover #noyouscootover - Disneyland

The babies loved it! We planned our visit around them and for the most part we stuck to rides/attractions that they could enjoy. Even though both our kids are under 36" there were plenty of rides for them! Calvin liked the flying and spinning rides more than I thought he would (like Dumbo, Astro Orbiter, Teacups, Francis' Ladybug Boogie & Mickey's Fun Wheel) and Henry especially liked the dark, indoor storybook-type rides (like Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, Ariel's Undersea Adventure & Snow White) and the Finding Nemo Submarine.

Mickey's Fun Wheel - CA Adventure

Mickey's Fun Wheel - CA Adventure

 Finding Nemo Submarine - Disneyland

Astro Orbiter - Disneyland

Here's a countdown of 15 Magical Moments from our trip! These aren't in chronological order. I used the photo captions to note which attractions are in which park. If you're planning your own trip, you can check out how we got ready for ours and you should definitely check out DLR Prep School because it's an awesome resource for all things Disneyland here on the West Coast. We had such a wonderful time. I'm excited to share some of our magical memories with you!

The Disneyland Band!

15. First Disneyland ride for James, Calvin, & Henry: Dumbo!

Dumbo - Disneyland

Dumbo - Disneyland

My only other visit to Disneyland was when I was 15 and I don't remember what my first ride was! But for James and the babies this was their very first visit and I think Dumbo was a fine way to start our day!

14. Fastpass + Rideswap FTW

James and I did manage to ride a couple of grown-up rides thanks to Disney's Fastpass and Rider Swap systems. You can get a Fastpass to certain attractions which allows you to come back at a scheduled time to skip the long line and get on the ride faster. On some rides you can also ask for a Rider Swap pass from the cast member showing you your seat and that pass allows up to 3 people to come back and use the Fastpass line for the same ride. And even better, the Rider Swap pass doesn't have a scheduled time so you can use it whenever it's convenient!

So, for example, the day we went to California Adventure, we grabbed a Fastpass for California Screamin' (the big roller coaster), then went and rode Toy Story Midway Mania and King Triton's Carousel.

King Triton's Carousel - CA Adventure

King Triton's Carousel - CA Adventure

By the time we had done those two rides with the boys, it was our scheduled time to use the Fastpass. So I went through the Fastpass line, asked for a Rider Swap pass, and rode the roller coaster while James gave the kids a snack. It felt so freeing and indulgent to ride a roller coaster all by myself! No kids attached!! Woo hoo! Then when I got off the ride, James took the Rider Swap pass and went through the Fastpass line for his turn and I stayed with the kids.

We did the same for Indiana Jones and Space Mountain at Disneyland the next day.

James and the boys explored Tarzan's Treehouse while I was on Indiana Jones nearby. - Disneyland

13. The Sleeping Baby pass

This one was a surprise convenience! We had waited in line for Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, and it had turned out to be one of those sneaky indoor lines where you have no idea how close or far you are from the end. By the time we were close to boarding, Henry had fallen asleep in the Ergo and Calvin was telling us he needed to go pee. We were debating whether Calvin could hold it long enough to ride the ride when the cast members told us we couldn't take Henry on this particular ride unless we woke him up and took him out of the Ergo (on some rides it's not a problem to keep the kid in the Ergo). But they offered us a "Sleeping Baby" pass that would allow us to come back when Henry was awake and use the Fastpass line. Just like the Rider Swap passes, the Sleeping Baby pass has no scheduled time. Score! I rushed Calvin to the potty and then we all rode It's a Small World with Henry in the Ergo. We went back to use our pass on Roger Rabbit later in the day.

12. Walking onto Ariel's Undersea Adventure - And riding it twice in a row!

On Tuesday we managed to get to CA Adventure before opening, which was awesome because in the early morning there's so much less of a crowd! I picked Ariel's Undersea Adventure for our first ride of the day because I love The Little Mermaid and Calvin and Henry love the song Under the Sea. We walked right on, no line, and the ride was great! Beautiful, and it includes so many fun scenes and songs from the movie. Then when we came around to the end, there was still no line so they told us we could stay on and ride again!

Ariel's Undersea Adventure - CA Adventure

11. Walking onto Pirates of the Caribbean

On Wednesday we went to Disneyland early for the Magic Morning opening, which is limited to visitors who have 3-day passes or longer. This meant that for an extra hour there were practically no lines for the rides! We had hoped to go straight to Pirates of the Caribbean to start our day on that classic ride. But we didn't realize that for Magic Morning (at least that day? maybe always?) only Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, and Main Street USA were open. Pirates, in New Orleans Square, wouldn't open until the usual park opening time.

So we spent our Magic Morning hour in Tomorrowland riding Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters, the Astro Orbiter, and taking turns on Space Mountain.

Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters - Disneyland

Astro Orbiter - Disneyland

As soon as the rest of the park opened we ran - literally - straight across Disneyland to Pirates of the Carribbean, ditched the stroller across the way by the water, sped through the entryways and walked straight onto a boat! No waiting! Rushing, yes, but no waiting :) It felt so exciting! And satisfying! Calvin and Henry actually liked it, too. They weren't scared. And when we walked off the ride, we heard Calvin singing Yo Ho! Yo Ho! A pirate's life for me!

We didn't get a good pic on the Pirates ride, but here's Pirate Calvin in his hat from our hotel, the Howard Johnson, which has a pirate themed water park :)

10. Mickey Ice Cream for Mom and Dad during naptime. 

We used our double stroller in the parks and it was great. We were able to carry all our baby gear, and snacks, and extra clothes easily. And it turns out yellow is a very unique stroller color! Among hundreds of other strollers we only saw two other yellow ones. We never had trouble spotting our big yellow schoolbus in the crowded stroller-parking areas :)

Main Street USA - Disneyland

Bonus: The kids were able to nap in the stroller at their usual naptime. We just hung light muslin blankets over the yellow shades with clothespins to block out extra sunlight and went for a walk around the park. On our third day during their stroller nap, James and I treated ourselves to some Mickey Mouse ice cream treats without having to share them with the boys ;) Shhh! Don't tell them. They have no idea what they missed. Anyway, we'll deny it. What ice cream? 

9. The Chili Cone Queso

I had heard about the yummy snacks at CA Adventures' Cozy Cone Motel in Cars Land and I was so excited to try them out! The Chili Cone Queso did not disappoint. Cheesy, chili goodness in a bread cone topped with Fritos.

Cozy Cone Motel - CA Adventure

Bonus: Although Disneyland does not sell or serve alcoholic drinks, it turns out CA Adventure is kind of boozy! Just like real California, hahaha :) So at the Cozy Cone Motel you can also treat yourself to a lemonade or pomegranate limeade with a splash of vodka. And I did. The lemonade. And it was weak, but still felt like a treat. I mean, I get it. Nobody wants a bunch of drunk parents wandering around Cars Land.

8. The time Calvin was so excited about the Mark Twain Riverboat that he peed his pants.

Mark Twain Riverboat, seen from the Hungry Bear Restaurant - Disneyland
Yeah, that happened. We were at the Hungry Bear Restaurant for the second time that day.

Speaking of the Hungry Bear, it's pretty great. The fried green tomato sandwich is super yummy. And in case you, like me, have two kids who both need help in the bathroom, there's a nice big "compaion restroom" downstairs all the way at the back. Great for changing pee pee pants after the riverboat goes by. #smh

7. Henry playing piano at Goofy's House

Henry has been doing awesome with standing (while holding on to something) and cruising around! Especially with his orthotics, which you can kind of see him wearing in the pictures. They look like little ankle braces. It was so exciting to see him playing in the character houses around Toon Town. he especially liked this Goofy piano which played silly sound effects instead of piano tones.

Goofy's house - Disneyland

Goofy's house - Disneyland

6. James liked the teacups after all!

Mad Tea Party - Disneyland

Alice in Wonderland was a childhood favorite of mine, and I love spinning rides, so I was super excited about the Mad Tea Party teacups. But I was worried that James was going to lose his cookies because he says he usually doesn't do well on spinning rides. As it turned out, he actually had fun on this one! He says the trick is not to look outside your cup ;) 

5. Dinner at Big Thunder Ranch BBQ

Big Thunder Ranch BBQ - Disneyland

I would totally recommend this restaurant for families at Disneyland. Make a reservation so you don't have to wait for a table. The outdoor seating was great with our toddlers since we didn't have to worry too much about them being noisy or messy. Typical BBQ food, and it was all yummy. It's all you can eat, but it's family style, not buffet. With the set menu all the food is pretty much ready to go so we didn't have to order or wait very long, and that was also very helpful with toddlers at the table. Also there's a little petting farm with horses and goats around the corner. 

4. Calvin shouting "Under the Sea!!" during the World of Color show

World of Color is a nighttime light and water show in California Adventures. You grab a spot to stand facing Paradise Pier to watch the show over the water. We did the "Preferred Dining" option where you have dinner at one of three restaurant options, with a reservation, and you get a special ticket to a reserved viewing area. We ate at Ariel's Grotto and our viewing area was front and center! We got a nice spot right behind the fence where we felt a little spray during the show, but didn't really get wet (in some areas along the fence it looks like you will really get wet!).

The show starts at 9pm, so Henry actually slept through it in the Ergo. Calvin stayed up and watched it from his premium seat in the stroller and he Loved. It. When they started playing his favorite song from The Little Mermaid, Calvin stood up and shouted, "UNDER THE SEA!!!"  :)

It really is an amazing show! James and I loved it too!

"Carl Goes Up" from Up - World of Color show - CA Adventure

"Around the Riverbend" from Pocahontas - World of Color show - CA Adventure

3. Surprise Fireworks

After World of Color, we waited a bit for the crowd to thin, and then started making our way out of the park. As we were walking, we noticed that there were fireworks going off over Disneyland, across the way but from where we were in California Adventure we actually had a decent view of them. I knew Disneyland had closed early that night, so I was confused about why there were fireworks. We heard from a cast member where we were that they were testing the new fireworks show for the upcoming Diamond Anniversary celebration. So we hung around and watched it and felt very special to have gotten a sneak preview! Henry was still asleep, but Calvin got to see it.

2. Meeting Mickey and Donald!

Priority 1 for our entire trip was, of course, to meet The Mouse himself. Luckily, Disneyland makes that pretty easy on parents ;) We visited Mickey's house in Toon Town on our first day at the park and there he was in his movie barn taking a break from his busy and glamorous work.

Calvin meets Mickey! - Disneyland

Met Mickey Mouse. Mission accomplished! 

We did not have plans to get photos with any other characters, but just by luck we caught an opportune moment with Donald Duck early in the day at California Adventure! We were on a high after our double ride on Ariel's Undersea Adventure and we were on our way across the bridge to Paradise Pier, when whom should we spy all dressed up in a spiffy striped sailor outfit? Donald Duck!

Calvin meets Donald! - CA Adventure

1. Closing out the park, and ending our Disneyland trip, on It's a Small World

It's a Small World was the favorite of the trip for all of us. We rode it three times. It was our last ride on our last day at Disney and as our little boat came around to the dock for us to disembark, we heard the announcement that the park was closing for the night.

It's a world of laughter, a world of tears. It's a world of hopes and a world of fears. It's a small world after all! - Disneyland

On our way in for our first ride on It's a Small World - Disneyland

Last ride on our last night! 

Bye Bye Small World! And Bye Bye Disneyland!

I know Calvin and Henry won't remember this trip in the future. But life is lived in the moment, right? And this trip gave us plenty of magical moments to cherish in the present. And plenty of pretty photos to help us look back. For those things, I feel very grateful.

We'll take the boys back when they're "old enough to remember." And maybe just maybe another time while they're still little ;)

King Arthur's Carousel - Disneyland


  1. Oh wow! What an amazing time!!!! I can't wait to take Ryan. I was afraid he wouldn't be old enough for a while but you guys had a blast! Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yes! I'm sure Ryan would have a lot of fun. And you and your husband too! :) Thanks for reading!

  2. And yes we have to live in the moment with these little ones. That's what pictures are for! :)

  3. What a wonderful blog post! Great story, great pictures! Looks and sounds like a very fun time with the babies! Way to go you for planning so well, James for being a super wing man and awesome Dad, and hooray for a little luck and serendipity! I kinda think the bean may remember...

    1. Thanks Dad! Next time I want to go with you and Mom!!