Best weekend ever…

We’re back from Disneyland and we had the best time.  The only way it could have been better is if I hadn’t still had my cold, and Grace hers, and if we hadn’t passed it on to Tammy and my mom by day two of the trip.  So yeah, four out of the six of us were sick for all or part of the trip but it was still fun.  I’ll post all the pictures as soon as I get the ones on my moms camera, so check back for those in a day or two.  In the meantime, I’ll give you the wordy-version of the trip.

First of all let me say this, Disneyland is just plain awesome.  I would love to spend a week there, 24 hours a day, just to see how they do everything they do.  (Actually, I want to live there, forever.  I’ll work, they don’t even have to pay me.  Just let me and my family live there and feed us and provide us with complete health benefits and we’ll work for free…yes, my children too, there must be little things that little fingers would be especially good at polishing.) The park is unbelievably clean, I can’t keep my house that clean.  The crowds were a decent size, I’ve certainly seen them bigger…and smaller, but it was a really nice crowd.  A lot of families on Friday, a lot of “family” on Saturday.  Great weather, great crowd, my kids, my wife, my folks, my friends…what else could you ask for?

We left Thursday after school, made a quick pit stop at our lawyers to sign our updated estate papers…just in case one of us was struck by a stray pirate bullet.  We treated ourself to a lovely dinner at the Iron Skillet in Tejon, seriously it was pretty good and there’s a nice grassy area out front that Grace ran around in for a few minutes before we hit the Grapevine.  It was about sunset and Grace thought the view of the sun descending behind the hills of Grapevine was “bootifool” like “Bone Fee” (Born Free is a very bootifool moobie). 

We were all checked into our hotel, the lovely Desert Palm Hotel & Suites by 9:00 p.m. and were joined shortly thereafter by mema and papa.  We had to drug Grace to get her to go to bed–no I’m not joking, a little bit of Dramamine never hurt anybody (though next time we’ll use a little more).  We woke up on Friday morning and after a pretty gnarly free breakfast at the hotel we headed to the magic kingdom.  Our hotel was just a 15 minute stroll to the park, I was real happy with the location and the hotel in general.  Of course I did extensive research on the hotels near the park on Expedia (truthfully, I’ve been researching hotels near Disneyland since Grace was born waiting for this day).  I’m very satisfied with my choice and plan to write a comprehensive review at Expedia.com, but suffice it to say — walking distance from the park, clean rooms, nice pool (which we didn’t use), free WiFi (also didn’t use, but planned to), free parking (that’s really something around there), four adults & two kids for three nights: $500…not bad at all.  

O.k., back to business.  So we loaded the girls up in our double-wide stroller (also extensively researched, fully recyclable material, very agile, light, collapses well, fully-reclinable seats, a bit storage-unfriendly but carried everything we needed, and hardly wider than the average jogging stroller…review coming soon at Amazon.com) and made it to the park at 10:00 am.  I went to Disneyland City Hall and got a special pass for Hope that allowed us to use the stroller as a wheelchair.  We only used it on the rides Hope went with us on, which were few, but it meant we usually didn’t have to wait in the regular line and Hope was able to remain in her stroller all through the line too…mainly I was concerned with Hope overheating if we had to wait forever in the sun or inside a crowded space, especially if someone is holding her she heats so fast and it can take a long time to cool her down.  The lines were not bad at all really, I think the longest we waited for anything was 30 minutes for Soarin’ Over California in California Adventure, but that was only me & Tammy.  With the girls I think Winnie the Pooh was the longest, but that was maybe 15 minutes.

The girls did great, Grace had a wonderful time at Dizzeny-waaaaand.  We weren’t sure how things were going to go, we’ve been having a rough time around here lately, but we’ve been talking this trip up for weeks to prepare her and she was ready.  She loved seeing the characters, she met Pluto, Minnie, Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, Sully, Kenai & Koda, and the Country Bears.  We almost skipped the parade because we thought she’d be bored, instead she loved it.  It helped that the song of the parade is from Brother Bear, which she knows well, and that there were many princesses in the parade.  All of the sudden she’s into princesses, we have no idea how this has happened, Tammy & I have enforced a very strict no-princess-crap rule with the grandmas for two years (which they have dutifully obeyed to their credit, though I know that they’re both just DYING to buy this kid a crown and wand).  I must admit, I’m kind of softening to the idea.  Last week at EPU, Grace put on a dress-up skirt and found a magic wand with a star at the tip and twirled around the room announcing “I a pwin-cess,” “I pweettty,” and singing Twinkle, Twinkle at the top of her lungs…I admit I got a little teary through my laughs.  Right now at Disneyland they’re letting kids dress in costumes for Halloween so there was no shortage of shrunken princesses and Snow Whites around the park and I came soooo close to buying an authentic princess costume last night, but $65?  I don’t know about that, I think I’ll just hit the Halloween clearance sales…

So back to the trip, we hit Peter Pan right away and Grace rode with Tammy & Papa, it was a little dark for her…she’s not into dark right now.  Next she & I and papa rode Dumbo, that was a hit.  She was a little nervous at first, fortunately we had to wait for a bit and by the time we got to the front she was ready to go.  The higher we got the lower she crouched in the seat until she was buried in my lap but she did enjoy it.  Later she rode the Casey Jr. Train with Tammy which she loved and the big riverboat (also with Tammy) which she loved even more.  The Jungle Cruise was a big hit, we knew it would be, Hope rode on that one with us.  My new career goal in life is to become a jungle cruise skipper, I think it’s my calling (ladies and gentlemen, the eighth wonder of the world: the backside of water!  — funniest line ever, soooo my sense of humor).  After that we went to Critter Country and did the Winnie the Pooh ride.  Grace didn’t like the very rainy night section, but loved the heffalumps section and everything after that.  Once we got out of the ride we went to meet Pooh himself, it was the most precious thing I think I’ve ever seen — Grace truly believed that she was meeting THE Winnie the Pooh — and I will run over with my car anyone who tells her differently.

Tammy & I took the girls back to the hotel room for a couple of hours in the middle of the day to unwind and rest, Grace napped in the stroller on the way back and for a few minutes in the room.  I brought back sandwiches from Subway and we had lunch and watched some Mickey & Pluto cartoons until we headed back to the park around 5:00.  We tried to do Nemo, but the line was too long and Grace wasn’t in to lines that late in the day so we went to Toontown which I just don’t get, maybe it was too dark already but it seemed pretty lame.  That’s when we decided to try the parade and I’m so glad we did.  After that I took Hope to the baby care center to give her a bottle and then the girls went back with my folks and Tammy & I went off on our own.  There are no restaurants open in Disneyland after 9pm, so after walking on to Pirates and then standing still (and starving) in line to the Haunted Mansion for 30 minutes we decided to cut our loses and look for food outside the park.  We ended up in Downtown Disney at a Mexican place, then did a little shopping (no buying though).  The important thing was we found the Ratatouille stuff, which consists of three items…a plastic figurine set, a large plush rat, and a little plush rat with the chef hat and spoon that looks like someone has choked him ‘till his eyes popped out.  We ended up buying the first two on the last night, technically they’re mine but I’m going to “loan” them to Grace around December 25th.

The next morning Grace woke all of us up at 4:00 a.m. with a 101 degree temperature, we dosed her on Tylenol and sent her back to bed for a few hours.  She woke up without a fever, but raspy and congested.  At the first mention of Disneyland though she went right to her stroller and climbed in, pj’s and all.  Tammy kept her on the Tylenol every four hours from then on (Tammy is sooo good at that stuff, I always forget).  We skipped the hotel breakfast and opted for the treats I had brought with us and walked again to the park.  On Saturday we started at California Adventure, which none of us had been to.  Minnie was waiting at the front and Grace got her picture, she was clearly not herself (Grace) and under the weather but once she got up there she started talking a mile a minute to Miss Mouse.  We got some cute pictures and headed to Bug’s Land, which was really cute and perfect for Grace.  The place was empty so we walked on to all the little rides and Grace rode the caterpillar train about four times without even getting off, we all just rotated riding with her.  After the bugs we walked over to the Redwood Forest where Kenai & Koda from Brother Bear live.  If she hadn’t been sick she would have loved this area.  There aren’t any rides, it’s all climbing stuff, bridges, slides, tubes, and jungle-gym-type things that she loves.  She did enjoy splashing in the small creek outside the spirit cave and eventually did a little running around.  We saw the “Totem ceremony” and met Kenai & Koda, Grace was very into the show and played along with all the sounds and hand gestures.  The Ranger on duty at the show took a liking to us and after the show personally escorted Grace to meet the bears, which was really sweet.  We got a plush Koda souvenir (shhh, it’s for Christmas).  

I had wanted to go to Ariel’s Grotto for lunch, because you get to meet Ariel — she’s Grace’s favorite right now.  I thought it was a fish ‘n’ chips place…wrong.  It’s the fancy-schmancy restaurant at the park, but $32/plate?  Not unless Ariel is going to sit at the table the whole time…’cause we are not going to do the five minute meal of tears at that price.  We had pizza & pasta instead and everybody was happy.  After lunch we let mema and papa off for a few hours and we decided to stroll around on our own.  Instead of going back to the hotel we let the girls fall asleep in the stroller, which they did quite easily.  Eventually we made our way all the way back to Disneyland and to the very back of Critter Country where we parked the stroller against the Pooh Corner gift shop until the girls woke up.  Once up, Tigger & Eeyore were waiting for us so Grace got to meet them, then we rode the Pooh ride again.  Later some friends joined us and Grace rode Pooh for a third time, and the big riverboat for a second time.  

We rejoined the grandfolks and rode the Jungle Cruise one more time and then the girls went back to the hotel and Tammy & I shut the park down.  My folks had won a “dream fastpass” for both parks (I guess that’s God’s way of paying them for babysitting) but they saved the Disneyland half for us, so we got to go in the Fastpass lane at all the rides.  But we actually started by going back to California Adventure for a closer look without the kids.  We rode Soarin’ Over California which I think is the best ride ever, we could have rode that all night and I can’t wait to get Grace on it.  Afterward we did the Tortilla and Bread tours–we could have gone back and forth between the two and saved about $40 on dinner, maybe next time.  Instead we went back to Disneyland, rode the train, grabbed a nice dinner, rode the rides, shopped, and caught the last showing of “50 Wonderful Years” and walked out at midnight exactly.

This morning we got up, packed up and headed to Newport Beach to see our good friends get married on the beach.  I got to see more of it than Tammy, who once again drew the unlucky task of watching Grace, in this case preventing her from being washed out to sea.  After a quick lunch/reception we hit the road, stopped at our favorite Tejon trucker-stop, this time the Wendy’s next to Iron Skillet.  We got home around 7:30, unpacked and packed Grace off to bed by 9:00.  Now it’s 11:47, I’m typing this sentence, I’m wearing blue jeans….

…’nuff detail for ya?

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