The Daughter Chronicles

Monday, June 15, 2009

Adventures in Disneyland, Part One

Last week the family went to Disneyland. We had been planning it for a while, as my mom wanted to take a vacation with us, as she felt guilty that she was always taking vacations with my sister and her family (they live only about four hours from each other). My parents have a timeshare, so they got one in Anaheim so we could all go to Disneyland. The kids, obviously, have never been there, and my lovely wife had never been anywhere Disney either. I had been to Disney World in my youth, but I'd never been to the original. So on Saturday, 30 May, we piled into the Toyota Sienna and took off!

Now, driving seven hours anywhere is brutal. Driving seven hours with an almost-seven-year-old and an almost four-year-old is borderline insane. They're generally good kids, of course, but sitting in the back of a van for that long will try anyone's patience. Krys drove the first part of the trip, and the kids behaved rather well. I think they realized that Mommy was doing something, so they couldn't whine to her, and they know better than to whine to me. We drove west across the desert, ate lunch in beautiful Quartzsite, Arizone (yes, that's the name of the town), and finally switched driving duties a bit west of Blythe, California (which is right on the border). Then the whining began! They thought: Hey, Mommy isn't doing anything anymore! Let's bug her! Krys was prepared, however. She had bought a portable DVD player for when the kids inevitably became annoyed. She set it up - while we were moving, mind you - and put in a DVD. Unfortunately, she put the screen with the controls (it has two screens, one for each seat) on the passenger seat so she would have easy access to it. That meant it was on Mia's side, and Mia enjoyed pushing buttons on the player, which usually reset the movie they were watching back to the beginning. Oh, that wacky Mia! So the second half of the drive wasn't quite as pleasant as the first half, although I didn't care because I was driving and I had my new funky iPod Nano hooked up to the stereo, so I was groovin' to the tunes! (Krys got to pick the music on the first half of the trip, and the stuff on her iPod is so much less cool than what's on mine it's just not funny. I mean, the English Beat? Really, Wife O' Mine?)

By the time we reached Anaheim it was almost 6 o'clock, and the kids were tuckered out. They had still behaved pretty well the whole trip, so that was nice of them. We were staying at a hotel not too far from the park and right around the corner from the Anaheim Garden Walk, a nifty mall that had a bunch of restaurants. So that night we walked over to a place there and ate dinner. The weather was very nice all week. It was never too hot, it very rarely was too sunny, and although it was overcast most of the time, it was never cold and it rained only briefly. The first night it was a bit breezy, but it felt very nice as we walked to the mall. Mia, naturally, didn't eat anything, but we had brought several boxes of Kid Essentials with us, so we knew she'd get some sustenance!

Sunday morning was the only time we really had to get up early. Krys had made reservations for "Breakfast With The Princesses" - yes, you can eat breakfast and some of the Disney princesses. It was held at Ariel's Grotto in California Adventure, so when we entered, the kids could get professional pictures taken with Ariel. After breakfast the other princesses - Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora (from Sleeping Beauty), and Belle (from Beauty and the Beast) - came out and made the rounds to the tables, so we got photographs with them as well. The kids had a nice time, which was nice for them. Not for the first time, we got sticker shock when the bill arrived. Sheesh - talk about gouging!

That day (Sunday the 31st) we wandered around California Adventure. We had five-day passes for the two parks, so we didn't feel rushed at all, which was nice. We tried to have a good mix of grown-up rides and kids' rides, so the kids went on the carousel (which they liked a lot), then we went on the roller coaster, and then we all went on the Ferris wheel, for instance. Mia and Norah dug the Ferris wheel - Norah went on it a few days later, as she was insistent that she ride it again. With Mia, we went in the "non-swinging gondola" - there weren't any seatbelts, and just keeping her on the seat and upright was tough enough, and we didn't feel like adding the swinging to it. When Norah went on it again, she and Krys went on a swinging car, and she loved it.

We went into the section of California Adventure that is bug-themed - it's called "It's a Bug Land," named after the movie A Bug's Life, and characters from that movie show up in a few places. We saw a brief show in a theater equipped with the cutting-edge 3D tech, which Norah did not like at all. It was dark and loud and things kept jumping out at her, and she decided she really needed to scream loudly. Mia thought it was pretty groovy, but Mia tends to roll with the punches, so to speak. Norah recovered pretty quickly, of course, and the rest of the afternoon was spent on kids' rides in that section of the park. They went on a short train ride, the spinning cups ride, and a few others. It was getting late in the day, so we took off.

The nice thing about going to a park like Disneyland is that it totally wears the kids out but they never have a chance to get really cranky. Norah, as a three-year-old, reserves the right to get whiny in an instant, but even she was relatively well-behaved (I'll get to her general behavior at some point). So when it was time to go to bed, they went down very easily, and even Mia didn't put up much of a fuss. And Norah actually slept in in the morning, which she never does (if she sleeps past 6 a.m., she's sleeping late). So on Monday we got up a bit later (no breakfast plans) and then headed off to Disneyland.

It was quite a good day. This time we took the stroller for Norah, because we made her walk the entire day on Sunday, which wasn't very nice. We decided to get the kids' stuff out of the way so that we could hit the roller coasters on Tuesday, so we started in Tomorrowland on the Astro Blaster ride, which Norah had a bit of a problem with, as it was dark and loud. Once she figured out the laser pistols, though, she started to dig it. Mia liked it, too, even though she couldn't quite get the hang of the lasers. Then we went to Fantasyland to go on the various Alice in Wonderland-themed rides. As we went through the castle gates, Norah had a bit of a meltdown. She claimed she wanted to go through the castle, but then didn't like how dark it was. When Krys and my parents said they wanted to go, I said I'd wait with the kids. Norah then decided she wanted to go in the castle, but by that time, everyone was already in there, and I couldn't leave Mia, so she freaked out. Oh, it was quite fun! Once Mommy came back, she was fine, but this was the basic pattern of the week - she was fine until Krys tried to walk away, and then the screaming would begin. It was quite vexing. Anyway, we went on the carousel, ate lunch, and then hit the rides again. Norah dug the tea cups (whatever it's called), but Mia wasn't too keen on it. They both liked Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, however. We went toward the back of the park where It's a Small World is, because my parents, inexplicably, wanted to ride it. I went on It's a Small World 25 years ago, and I still hate it! But we knew the kids would like it, and they did, especially Mia. Then it was back to Mickey's Toon Town, which was somewhat fun. As we entered, we saw Goofy walk by. We followed him and he stopped to take pictures. His handler told us he couldn't stay long, but we were near the front of the line, so we figured we'd get pictures. The group in front of us was a woman with a couple of kids, and the group in front of them was ... three young men. Okay, these guys looked like some of my ex-students. They were Hispanic, in their early 20s or late teens, and had the long shorts and long shirts, and although they were clean-cut, they still looked like gang members (that's not to say they were; I taught lots of kids who looked like gang members who were very nice kids). My point is, they didn't look like guys who would get their pictures taken with Goofy, yet they each took individual photographs with him! Sheesh. They left, the group in front of us took pictures, and then ... Goofy walked away. Leaving a kid in a wheelchair in line. Good job, Goofy!

The kids then waited in line to see Minnie and her house, so they got pictures taken with her. My dad and I didn't wait in that line, but then we went into Mickey's house, and he was back in the house, so the line wasn't that long, and we got pictures taken with him. It was a photo fest! Then we took the train around the park to the New Orleans section. We went on the river boat and Krys and I went in the Haunted Mansion, which was quite lame. We took the kids on Pirates of the Caribbean, which Mia really liked (Norah didn't have too big a problem with it, but she wasn't as enthralled with it as Mia was). We wandered up to Adventureland, went to the petting zoo, and saw Winnie-the-Pooh and Tigger taking pictures with kids. So they stood in line for that, which was nice for them. Finally, we actually went on a roller coaster - Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. That was fun. It was getting late, though, so it was time to go!

On Tuesday, it was a bit more adult-oriented, as we went on the roller coasters and skipped some of the kids' rides. We did go on the Finding Nemo submarine ride, which both kids liked, and the Autopia ride, which Mia didn't find too groovy. The adults went on Space Mountain and the Matterhorn Bobsleds, which were fun. One problem I have with Disneyland is that it's definitely kid-oriented, so even the roller coasters really aren't that great. I mean, they're all okay, but only California Screamin', the coaster at California Adventure, is really cool. I like my roller coasters to have high and steep rises, precipitous drops, and it wouldn't hurt to have a loop or two. I'm not sure if the coasters in Disneyland don't have these because of space constraints, but they rely much more on twists and turns for their thrills, and as I get older, I'm not as jazzed by those as I used to be. I'd love to go to someplace like Cedar Point, where it's all about the roller coasters! Maybe some day ...

So that's the first part of our vacation in Disneyland. I figured I'd better split it into two parts, especially because I have a great deal to say about Norah's behavior. Yes, she could have behaved better. But she was generally good. More in a day or two! Until then, here are more photographs!


  • Lovely pics and story, but WHAT DOU YOU HAVE AGAINST THE BEAT?

    By Blogger Roger Owen Green, at 16/6/09 3:45 AM  

  • Most people deride me because I can't stand the Pixies. You, however, pick on me over the English Beat? Actually, I don't mind them that much, I just like to pick on Krys's musical tastes. It keeps me young!

    By Blogger Greg, at 16/6/09 4:36 PM  

  • Skimmed the post because I'm tired and partied-out (no! shocking!), but I just wanted to leave a note for two reasons: 1) Even at 38 years old, Disneyland is one of my favorite places in the world, and I hope you loved it as much as I do, and 2) I haven't left a comment for you in quite a long while, and just wanted to let you know despite my slacking that I'm still here, and still a friend. Excelsior!

    By Blogger Tom the Dog, at 26/6/09 10:23 PM  

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