Weekends tend to be jam-packed once your kids become toddlers. For one thing, your kids start making friends, whether through preschool or church or the playground, and you're lucky if you don't have more than one birthday party a week. Secondly, if you're a working parent, you try to fill the weekend with all sorts of fun and educational things you didn't get to do with your kids while you were at work, or, in my case, all those things you won't be able to do once you go back to work. Last, but not least, if you live in Southern California, you get sucked into the theme park circuit. (But this might just be me.)
Over the past 12 months, I've been to Disneyland five times, Legoland four times, and Knotts Berry Farm once. This mostly has to do with being a new transplant to So Cal. Prior to moving here, I never had this kind of access to theme parks. My mind is still a bit awestruck when someone mentions a visit to "DISNEYLAND" vs thinking of it as just another local option for fun. Growing up in the Midwest, our family got on the plane to Orlando exactly once and we hit the Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios and Daytona Beach in three days. The sheer exhaustion of this was enough to convince my parents that they had fulfilled their responsibility of giving their kids a complete childhood so we never returned. So whenever anyone presented the opportunity to go to Disneyland this past year, I would immediately say "Yes!" without really thinking about it. I even gave in to getting the 3 days for $99 offer for So Cal residents this past summer.
Which brings me to yesterday. My friend Elizabeth asked if H and I wanted to go with her and her son Chip to the D23 Expo. We would go to the expo for a couple of hours and then head over to Disneyland to use another day on our pass. I figured H deserved some fun after being denied outdoor activity for most of the week due to R's illness.
When we got to the Anaheim Convention Center, it immediately felt unlike anything I'd previously attended (unsurprising since one of the last conferences I'd attended was one for corporate attorneys). You could sense the excitement and near giddiness of people who were fans of the happiest place on earth. If you could bottle the feeling and spray it over all the war zones in the world, you would have spontaneous renditions of "It's a Small World" instead of outbreaks of gunfire. So you can imagine the people watching was pretty interesting, from drag-queens in character costume to Storm Troopers to tough guys tattooed not with gang symbols but all Seven Dwarves.
There were a number of stations that were engrossing for Chip and H: the Disney test toys, the Cars giveaway at Mattel, and hulahooping at Radio Disney. But their two favorite play areas were definitely Mickey's Diner and Snow White's Cottage. Mickey's Diner is reminiscent of the typical old time soda shop. Chip and H served me pretend milkshakes and sundaes for over half an hour. I mistakenly thought this would be their only chance to play in a Lilliput playhouse so I indulged them, but then we moved on to the Disney Consumer Products section which had the Snow White's Cottage in the "backyard." I didn't think they would be as interested because this one was set up for girl play, but Chip and H had a grand time pouring me cups of "juice" tea at their tea party. A really cool feature of this house is the loft, which you wouldn't even suspect was there from the outside. The other rooms of the Disney dream house were pretty and tasteful, not at all what you would expect (well, because I expected it to look like a Disney store and it doesn't). I was so impressed with the playhouses that I looked up Lilliput playhomes when I got home. If I had a backyard and $5-$8 grand to burn on a playhouse, this company would be on the top of my list.
So if you are thinking that this was a lot to have covered in two hours, you're right. We got to the expo at 10 and were ready to leave at 3:30. I was all for packing it in and going home but of course the boys wanted to go to Disneyland--after all that's what I promised H we were going to be doing that day notwithstanding the fabulous time he had at the expo. Parking at the convention center and taking the Disney tram to the park entrance was definitely better than any other parking experience at Disneyland (definitely something to keep in mind for the future). I read online that California Adventure was less crowded of the two on Saturdays so we decided to head there first.
When you mention Disneyland to H, the first thing he says is that he wants to go on the "airplane ride," aka Soaring over California. So first on the agenda was getting a fastpass for the ride. Then we headed over to Toy Story Mania. We had wanted to go on it the last time but the hour wait had convinced us otherwise. This time it was 30 minutes but still no picnic. H does not do well in lines, especially if he's been active all day with no nap. After making me leave the line several times to bring him back and then resting his head on a strange man's leg, he left me no choice but to bring out my secret weapon. M&Ms. Finally, he settled down and waited somewhat patiently. Oh the magic of chocolate. We got on the ride and it turned out to be one of the most fun rides I've ever experienced. And then H wanted to do it again. Having run out of M&Ms, I told him next time, ha!
Then it was on to the airplane ride. The first time we tried to go on the ride (on a previous visit to the park), they said he was too short. The ride has a minimum height of 40 inches and H is really 39 inches. So we went outside, took off his crocs and put on his socks and sneakers, anything to give him extra height. We measured again and got on the ride. I really don't understand the height requirement on this ride because you don't actually move that much (it's just an illusion) so I had no qualms about letting him squeak by. The ride is awesome, you feel like you're flying even though you know you're not. It is exhilarating and refreshing, you actually smell the redwood forests and feel the ocean breeze. This is definitely the best ride at California Adventure.
After this ride and a brief pass through the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, it was already 7 and there was no way I was going to make it to Disneyland. We came home after a long day of fun. And there is still one day left on my pass. AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!
I don't even have any energy to blog about teaching Sunday School today or the pizza party character birthday party with Ariel this afternoon. So much fun, so little time.