our big california vacation (part 2): Disneyland

Continuing the recap of our California trip. If you missed part one, you can find it here.

We spent Monday and Tuesday at the one and only Disneyland in Anaheim, California. Chris and I have wanted to go to Disney since before we were married, so it was a given that we would visit the land of the mouse while we were in California. We originally planned to go one day, but a few weeks before we left decided to make it two. I’m so glad we did!


We had a blast and besides the wedding, our time at Disney is definitely my favorite memory from the trip. We had two wonderful days with no memorable low points. I really can’t express how magical it was to take AJ; she enjoyed it much more than we thought she would. So, instead of highs and lows, here are our favorite parts and what we learned for next time.


Our Favorites

  • The little kid rides. In all the years I’ve visited Disney, I’ve been old enough for the big rides so I never focused on the classics like the teacups or Dumbo. AJ absolutely loved the rides and it was a new kind of experience watching her and sharing in her fun.
  • “It’s a Small World,” which is always a good ride, but riding it with AJ was the best! I thought it might scare her but she loved it.
  • Rider switch. Disney gives adults a chance to ride the big rides without waiting in line twice through rider switch. The first rider simply gets the pass and then a ticket that they give to the other adult. Then the other adult presents the ticket and can go through the exit to get immediately on the ride. We used it to ride things like Space Mountain and the Tower of Terror.
  • Frozen Live at the Hyperion in California Adventure Park. We weren’t sure if AJ would sit through an hour-long play. We missed getting fast passes for the show and didn’t get in line until 20 minutes before show time. We were nervous we wouldn’t get in, especially after we told AJ we were going to see Anna and Elsa and that’s all she would talk about. But, WE DID! And it was awesome. Like many a little girl, AJ has a small obsession with Frozen and was hooked the entire time. She (and I) sang along, clapped, danced, and generally loved it. It was close to the last thing we did at Disney and was a perfect way to wrap up the experience.

Mickey was not a favorite…

What We Learned for Next Time

  • Go to a grocery store immediately upon arrival. Disney lets you bring food into the park, even small coolers. The food is not cheap and for a picky toddler, I think the best thing to do would be to buy food ahead of time (and make sure your hotel has a fridge) and pack food and snacks for the day. We packed plenty of water, but I failed on the food and snack front. I did finally make it to the store on the second day during nap time and it was still worth it.
  • Go back to your hotel to nap, if possible. Thankfully, we did this. We made sure to book our hotel as close to the entrance of the park as possible for the sole reason of naptime and we were able to walk back to our hotel for AJ’s afternoon nap both days. Getting a solid nap in really helped her have fun the entire time we were there.
  • Check park times, even if you’ve checked them before. I made an entire vacation agenda with opening and closing times for each activity, location addresses, and more, and we still managed to accidentally arrive at the park two hours before it opened Tuesday (off-season hours). Downtown Disney was open so we ended up doing some shopping and walking around while we waited.

And of course, no big excursion would be complete without one slight mishap. We let AJ pick out one toy at the gift shop and as he went to pay, Chris realized his wallet was missing. Guess who had his wallet last? Yep, your’s truly. I had bought AJ a snack and never gave it back to Chris. We tried not to panic as Chris headed back toward the food place while I went to “City Hall” aka guest services. Sure enough, they had the wallet in the lost and found complete with all contents, even cash. Thank you Disney gods and/or the nice employee or guest who turned it in!

 

Pleased with her purchase

 

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