Sunday, June 30, 2013

California Trip Part 1: Disneyland

Skippy wanted to come with us. Instead we shipped her to a friend's house for a week while we flew west for some California fun.

Pre-flight, parking lot picture of the kids. It's the time of the vacation where everyone's excited, expectations are high, and nobody's tired.

We flew into LAX, got our rental car, and then made the short drive to Anaheim to spend our first three nights at Disneyland. Disneyland consists of the Disneyland park and the newer Disney California Adventure. Our hotel had a direct entrance to California Adventure and was just a short walk to Disneyland. It was a good place to be. The kids were excited to have bunk beds and it made the room feel bigger too.

Our little balcony overlooked Downtown Disney, which has shops, restaurants, and live music at night. We could also see the nightly Disneyland fireworks from there too.

It wasn't very easy to get good pictures of us while we were on rides. I let Amanda and the kids go on a number of rides that didn't interest me. The last time I was on a tilt-a-whirl, I was nauseous for an hour afterward. So that's not how I wanted to spend my time. Of course we had to hit some classics like the flying Dumbos and the teacups.

Even though it's nothing new to them, the kids are always thrilled to see a carousel.

They did try quite a few bigger, more exotic things too. Amanda's waving in this picture and Julia and Finn are next to her.

One that we all enjoyed (twice) was Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. Two people in a car with laser-tag-esque blasters to shoot at aliens. It keeps score depending on how well you aim. Being interactive made it that much more fun!

Finn and I did Star Tours twice. It's a simulated Star Wars adventure where there are a bunch of different options for the story so there are hundreds of different story possibilities. Finn would not stop talking about it afterward. I enjoyed it too, especially because Finn was so excited about it. One of the times we were touring the galaxy, Amanda and Julia went on Space Mountain. Julia said she liked it but wasn't interested in going again.

The sign below was seen around many of the rides. We joked that it was used to indicate, "No dancing!" So Julia and I would try to sneak in some discreet dance moves while waiting in line.

The lines were something I was concerned about. On Julia's Make-A-Wish trip a few years ago to Disney World, we never had to wait in lines. I wasn't sure how the kids would handle it or how bad the lines would be. The lines weren't as bad as I was expecting and by skipping the worst lines, using fast-pass, and planning things out, we rarely waited more than 10 minutes.

Cars Land was not quite a year old when we were there. It's a full scale replica of Radiator Springs from the Cars movies.

The characters in this area would actually drive to their designated place. They did a really great job of having it all feel realistic - the cars would say things that were actually relevant to what was going on around them, like commenting on a kid's hat.

At night in Cars Land, everything went neon and the background faux-mountain landscape looked even cooler.

In the below video, Julia is in one tractor by herself and Amanda and Finn are in another. Once I found them, I tried to zoom in as best I could.

One morning we did a character breakfast. The focus was Chip and Dale and characters from the Brother Bear movies.

At one point the kids were all led around in a parade of sorts through the restaurant and then ended with some dancing.

Lately Julia has been showing off "her pipes" a lot, like she did in the above picture with the bear. She also did it while posing with her brother in front of a suit of armor.

And at the Downtown Disney Lego store, with the hulk.

Tom Sawyer's island was a nice break. A small ferry brought people across a river to reach it. The island consisted of bridges, pirate caves, lookouts, and hidden treasure. There were never many people around and the traffic on the river (giant New Orleans paddleboat, sailing ship, and canoes) provided other things to look at too.

We saw plenty of Disney characters too. Finn wasn't always interested in it, so he was in a few of the pictures against his will. See Mickey and Minnie below for examples.

Toon Town was, as the name implies, animation come to life. A portion of it was taken from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but otherwise it was a little town with all the Disney characters' houses.

Disneyland didn't seem as princesses-heavy as Disney World had been. That being said, we ran into a few of the lovely ladies around. Merida from Brave chatted with the kids for a bit.

Yeah, I know, Tinkerbell isn't a princess, but you know what I mean.

The Tarzan tree house brought us high above the grounds for some nice views.

Julia posin' after dark.

If Finn was really driving, I think we all may have been feeling the way Julia looks.

Each kid got headgear. Julia chose Minnie ears and Finn went with Perry the Platypus.

After walking past it everyday but always heading somewhere else, we finally found time to go on the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail (featuring Wilderness badges from the movie UP) the morning we were leaving. I'm sure we spent an hour wandering through it. The kids were given a map with different places marked off for them to stop and complete tasks. Some tasks were simply to make it to a certain place, but others were physical challenges the kids had to complete.

Of course, the parents had to tag along for the trek too. I wasn't sure about being 3-4 stories off the ground walking on netting.

The kids did the zipline too, complete with a hefty throw back at the end.

We all had a good time with our time at Disneyland. The next leg of our vacation was to make the 90 minute trek south to San Diego.