Thursday, September 12, 2013

The D word.

Disneyland.  I don't think there is anyway to accurately describe an experience there.  The park is so perfect in all the little details.  It is a sensory treat.  You don't even realize it but you are bombarded with smells, sounds, sights, and tastes and all are designed in the tiniest detail to be a magical experience.  I suppose that part of the experience is what you build it to be beforehand but I truly believe that someone who had never heard of Disney would spend a day in the park in awe and delight.  And wonder why there were large animals walking around.
For my family and especially my kids it fulfilled to the letter the definition of wonder.  Somehow each kid feels that everything there is just for him or her.  Even Asher, just two years old during his visit, still asks to go back.  I will admit that while I loved Disneyland as a child, there is something even more magical about seeing through your kid's eyes while experiencing it yourself.  
Now don't get me wrong, going to any amusement park with 1) Jon and 2) a group of 14-16 people is not super happy all the time.  Jon doesn't like amusement parks.  He's good for about three hours and then he becomes the biggest wet blanket you could imagine.  The funny thing is that Jon is also one of the most laid-back people I've ever met so to see his total impatience and frustration with the situation was a first.  The group thing is just impossible and I highly recommend not going to a park expecting to have a very efficient day.  Nonetheless it was wonderful to be with my family.  Some of the time.

I love this picture.  It just feels like a Disney ad or something.

We all tried our muscles and destinies at the Sword in the Stone to see if we were to follow in King Arthur's footsteps.  Turns out we weren't.

I don't know if heaven could be any different than Radiator Springs for Asher.  When he saw Lightening McQueen it was just awe.  I've never seen him hold so still and say absolutely nothing.  He was a little scared but didn't want to leave when our turn was over.  I was impressed with the special effects.  I didn't quite know how they could make a Lightening McQueen to meet kids but they did a great job.  The eyes and wheels moved and it spoke.

The rides.  There are so many aspects of Disneyland to enjoy and to be honest there is just no way to cover them all in one day.  We ended up getting a three-day pass so we could go to California Adventure as well.  We tried to do as much as possible and I think we did pretty well.  I loved the rides as a kid and I still love them (with the help of a little Dramamine) maybe even more now that I have a daughter old enough to go with me.  I begged to take her on my favorite, Space Mountain.  She went but didn't like it much.  :)

There is a little haven in California Adventure called Redwood Wilderness Camp or something.  It was truly awesome.  There were hardly any people in there and the kids just loved it.  It was cool and shady, smelled like a forest, and was just a great place to sit and rest while the kids did some fun laid-back, non-line activities.  There were tree swings, slides, a zip line, tree houses, etc.  If it was a city park it would be packed every day of the week.

Kate has a side to her that I don't often see but it really came out on this trip.  She is a total adrenaline junkie.  We took her on Tower of Terror right off the bat and she looked a little hesitant and asked if it was scary.  I lied and said no.  Well it turns out she thought it was scary but LOVED it and begged to go again and again.  I still can't get over her face in the picture.

 A favorite for my whole family is Midway Mania.  Everyone can ride and actually have fun.  It's sort of an arcade ride and my brothers have made it into a giant competition to see who can get the highest scores.  They find "tricks", secret places to shoot, and areas that require teamwork to get a higher score.

 The Bugs Life.  Okay, this is not my favorite.  I don't like the feeling of bugs crawling under my seat, wet stuff spraying at me, etc.  Mostly I didn't like it because Asher was on my lap, already a little scared, and I was trying to prevent him from becoming more scared.  But the glasses were awesome.

Kate begged her cousin Ainsley to go on Tower of Terror so we did.  I think Ainsley's face says how much she didn't like it.  She's in the pink on the left.

Kate's faces on rides are awesome.  She looks absolutely petrified.  Afterwards she says she had a great time.  I love the inventor of the camera-during-ride.

One of my sister-in-laws, LaRisse, is a Disneyland professional.  She and my brother have season passes, they love to go all the time, and they are just fun to be around.  LaRisse was always the one the girls picked to ride with because she's just so much fun.

When I was little there was nothing I wanted more than a pair of Mickey Mouse ears or a hat.  The style of hats has become huge and varied and I couldn't resist getting some for my kids, Jon and myself.  My nephew, Grant, found an awesome hat in the Star Wars store.

Jon's pirate Mickey hat and Grant's R2D2 hat
Asher loved his Lightening McQueen Mickey ears and even dressed them up with Kate's crown.  Kate got a fancy red and black Minnie style and I got a gold '20s style, peacock feather and all.  

Before going to Disneyland I booked a luncheon with the Princesses for Kate and her cousin Ainsley at Ariel's Grotto.  I have never seen Kate more nervous or quiet.  After meeting all of them she said, "This is the best day of my life!"  It made the price worth it.  :)  The food was actually very good, the view was spectacular, and the entertainment was well-planned.  Each princess was announced and came around, table by table, to talk to the diners, sign autographs, and take pictures.  It was so very worth it for any girl who likes princesses.  Kate's favorite is Aurora and when the princess herself came over Kate just about died.

We met Cinderella again by her statue.  What an awesome job, being a lovely princess all day and seeing all the little girls get so excited to see you.

My personal favorite was Cruella De Vil.  She was just hilarious.  She told us that the pleasure was all ours and, when she saw the picture of herself in their autograph books, said over and over how lovely she looked.

Kate was Merida last Halloween so I though she would be giddy to see her but she was just absolutely silent.  I still can't figure out if it was nerves or something else. But Merida was gracious and lovely.

Pixie Hollow was a fun visit.  It is like you become fairy-sized and walk into someone's yard.  Tinkerbell was cheeky and funny and Rosetta was sweet and sassy, just as they are in the movies.  It was so fun to watch them interact with the girls.

Grant saw a Storm Trooper.  It was awesome.  Well of course it was, it was a Storm Trooper.

We ran into, almost literally, the Queen of Hearts, Alice, the White Rabbit, and the Mad Hatter.  They were too busy to stop for autographs but posed for a picture.

The kids decided to see if the White Rabbit was home... No one answered.

Toon Town was a new experience for me.  What a wild place.  It is like walking into a cartoon.  Asher, of course, found every toon car in the place.  Kate and Meghan went along for a ride in the toon fire engine.

 In Toon Town there is a Fireworks Factory.  There is a plunger next to it that the kids can push to see if they can make the fireworks go off.  All of them tried but they only got a fizzing sound.  Until Asher stepped up.  The Master of Destruction had no problem getting the fireworks to shoot off.

Kate's favorite princess is Aurora from Sleeping Beauty.  The castle, therefore, was a must-see for us.  Kate loved walking through and seeing the same scenes from the movie.  She was so cute next to her princess's castle.

Okay.  The food.  Though we all gorged ourselves horribly on all kinds of delicious sweets, Kate couldn't seem to get enough of the cotton candy.  I helped her feed her need.  And my own.  I also must recommend the Tigger Tails, the caramel apples, and the churros. It's a good thing we walked so much.

The whole gang minus my brother and his wife, who had to leave a little early.

There was a surprising bit of Disneyland: the Mad T party.  It was like a Disneyfied and family-friendly night club.  It was the weirdest and coolest thing I've never expected to find there.  Kate had a great time dancing in the neon and I had a great time taking pictures.

Smiling even in exhaustion.

I just love this.

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