Monday, June 23, 2014


We are blessed with wonderful grandparents who spoil us with fun vacations.  
Not that these guys were excited or anything...
Gus has said for ages (since before we had any plans to go) that when he went to Disneyland some day he would buy a sword. We walked into the gift shop at the hotel store and he found the sword he wanted within seconds.   He insisted that this pirate sword and sheath were what he was going to spend his money on.  These swords are a steal as far as souvenirs go.  It was only around $6 which meant he even had some money left over.  He was not without this sword for much of the day.  If he couldn't take it on a ride he would ask for it the second we got back to the stroller.  I think he also took a few people out with it by accident (or not). 
The first thing we did was have a character breakfast at the Paradise Pier Hotel after we checked in.
Meeting Mickey first thing was a good way to start the day.
We loaded up at the buffet with lots of Mickey waffles and Minnie Pancakes.
 Stitch came by to tease us and steal Jimmy's sweatshirt.
Pluto tried playing Peek-a-boo with Nora but she was not too sure about him (or any of them for that matter).
The boys were excited to see Goofy.
Apparently, Daisy is rare to find, but we were lucky I guess.
Then we walked ourselves over to the park.  Jimmy would have run the whole way if I would have let him.  
My Three Mouseketeers were pretty cute in their Mickey hats and shirts.
Waiting can be agony, but swords can help with that.
Then we finally made it in!!!
What a beautiful sight!
We all took in the glory of Main Street and just as we came down, Mickey was leading a Marching Band.
We mailed our postcards to family and friends.
I stopped by Refreshment Corner (aka: Coke Corner) to ask a question and noticed my very favorite characters ever just standing near the back with almost nobody waiting to meet them.  We went over, but Gus was the only one interested in meeting them with me.  He immediately put up his sword and Burt was quick on his toes and fought back with his cane.  Mary Poppins then joined in with her umbrella.
They couldn't have been sweeter and more fun.  I think it was my favorite moment of the whole trip and it was only in the first 10 minutes of being in the park.  I will always remember this moment with Gus and treasure this picture:
As we went to leave, Mary Poppins sort of bumped Gus' head and got lipstick smudge on his forehead.  Her accidental kiss became quite a thing to brag about.  He still tells people Mary Poppins kissed him.
We stopped for the mandatory family shots by Walt and Mickey and Sleeping Beauty's Castle.
Gus tried to pull the Sword from the Stone just like he said he would.
We had warned him that it was unlikely he would get it out so he was pretty cool with it (but I wish they still did the show with Merlin were a kid really does get to pull it out... Bring that back Disney!!!).  Good thing he had his own sword to keep him happy.  He was using it to point out the small spot where you could still see Mary Poppins' lipstick.
After the Peter Pan ride unexpectedly broke down while we were in line we decided to jump ship and head for Buzz Lightyear's Astro-Blasters in Tomorrowland. On our way the Wicked Queen from Snow White walked right by us and she was so wickedly cool.
Buzz was Gus' favorite ride at the Magic Kingdom.  We got pictures from it emailed to us.  
(Jimmy's and mine didn't come through-Boooo!).  
Nora's score is pretty pathetic though.
 Next up: Jedi Training Academy:
This was #1 on Gus' priority list, but as we sat there waiting, I suddenly panicked that he wouldn't get picked.  It is actually supposed to be for 4 years and up and some kids just won't get called on.  Jimmy got called up first and we told Gus to just keep jumping and waving his arms.  His persistence paid off because the Jedi Master finally called on him as the very last kid.  Relief flowed through my whole body.  
They were given their robes and light sabers and taught some moves before the Storm Troopers rushed out and were soon after followed by Darth Vader and Darth Maul.  Both my boys got up on the stage to battle against Darth Vader.  Jimmy did all the moves he had been taught exactly to form.  Gus just went to town swinging like crazy and Vader followed along.  
Jimmy thought it was super fun, but I am pretty sure this was the highlight of Gus' life so far.
Next, we did Autotopia.  The only reason I like these cars is because they are old-school Disneyland.  They really aren't that fun if you are an adult.  However, if you are a little boy driving a car for the first time they are amazing.
We decided to go to Adventureland next by way of the Disneyland Railroad.  We planned it this way so we would get to see the cool diorama, most importantly the dinosaurs.  Jimmy has known about these from a Disneyland Map in the boys' room, but we missed it on our last trip when he was two.   His love for dinosaurs has not faded and he really wanted to make sure we saw them this time. I didn't take pictures of them, but I highly recommend the ride.
One of the longer lines we waited in was for sure the Jungle Cruise.  It keeps winding you around and upstairs and it felt like it took forever, but I think this ride is classic and wonderful. The cheesy jokes from the boat drivers are great and the girl teased Jimmy a bit since he was sitting right up front. Any ride we can all go on together as a family is for sure a favorite in my book.
#1 on my priority list was getting Dole Whips and going to the Tiki Room.
If you haven't had this pineapple soft serve you are missing out on life.
The Tiki Room is so charming and I love anything that I know Walt himself innovated.
Somewhere in here we split up for awhile and rotated taking Gus to Fantasyland stuff like Casey Jr., Dumbo, Pinocchio, and the Carousel while Jimmy did Tomorrowland. He was most excited about Space Mountain, but didn't really love it because he said it was too fast.  Star Tours was his very favorite so he did it twice.  It probably would have been Gus' favorite, too, if he was big enough to go on it, but at least he will have something to look forward to when he is bigger. Thank goodness Jedi Training gave him his Star Wars fix.
During moments of having our group separated I got to eat churros with Gus and I got to go on Thunder Mountain Railroad with Jimmy. 
 It was the only roller coaster I went on with him and I loved watching him both scared and loving it.
We found some decent seats for the second parade of the day.
I love the parades because you get to see so many great characters.
This was our only Minnie spotting.
Nora was not a fan of the Three Caballeros trying to be friends with her.
Things got a bit confused near the end of the day and we all got seperated and had dead phones, but we worked it all out and ate dinner together at the Jolly Holiday on Main Street right before we staked out a spot for the fireworks show.
Nobody does fireworks better than Disney.
The boys both promptly fell asleep in the stroller on the way out.  Nora waited until we got back to the hotel.
We hadn't been to our room earlier that day so when we looked out our window we discovered a pleasant view of where we would spend the next day...
Jimmy and Nora were early risers with me.  We also got a wake up call from Mickey that Jimmy couldn't quite believe.  He didn't know why I was telling him to answer the phone and his eyes sure got big when he heard the voice on the other side.
Off to California Adventure!
First stop was, of course, Carsland.
We are huge Cars fans, so this was one of the things we were looking forward to the most.
I might have been just as excited as my kids.  It is pretty amazing.
Lightning McQueen was just driving away when we got there, but never fear, Mater came right behind him.
Then we went on his Junkyard Jamboree.
Each house is just so perfect and worth a visit just to look at all the little details.
These guys couldn't believe we were in the real Radiator Springs.
We met Red the Firetruck and he was Nora's favorite.
We went on Luigi's Flying Tires.
Then Jimmy got to go on Radiator Springs Racers two times in a row (thanks to a stroller pass).
It is easily the best ride.   
I was very sad Gus couldn't go on it yet.  There were tears at home when we realized he wouldn't be tall enough, but he had mostly forgotten (or at least come to terms with) the fact that he couldn't go on it.  He was more than happy with his purchase of a Luke Skywalker Lightning McQueen.
Apparently, these Star Wars Cars were a brand new item at Disneyland and I can't help but feel like they knew we were coming and made them just for us.  Zach bought a set of Darth Mater and Obi Wan Doc as his "present to himself."  We wanted to buy every single one in the set, but that is because we are a bit crazy.  Thank goodness our bank accounts don't allow us to do everything we want.
Next, we went over to check out Toy Story Mania which is a 3-D shooting ride.
Bug's Life Land is good for really little kids (skip Heimlich's chew-chew train though!)
The Disney Animation Exhibit is a favorite of mine that seems like a hidden gem.  We went here specifically so Gus could do Turtle Talk with Crush, but you can also go into the Beast's library and find out what Disney character you are most like or Ursela's Lair and put your voice into Disney movies.  When my kids are bigger we will definitely do the drawing lessons from Disney Animators.
Next we did Mike and Sully's to the Rescue.  Then while everyone else went to Muppets 3-D I took Jimmy on his second trip on Soarin' Over California.  Gus fell asleep in the stroller so we headed over the the boardwalk area and played a few games.  Jimmy won a Mickey stuffed animal and Nano won a Big Dumbo for Gus.  We went on Goofy's Fly School twice in a row until the littles both woke up.
We had a nice Italian Dinner at the same spot Zach and I ate on our honeymoon.
 If you time your meal right, you get a great view for the Pixar Parade.
After dinner we went back to Radiator Springs to check it out at night.
We timed it perfectly because we got to hear "Life Can Be a Dream" and watch all the neon signs come on while we ate Ice Cream Cones at the Cozy Cone.
We also lucked out and got to meet the real Lightning McQueen.
It might possibly be even more amazing at night...
We got really close seats for The World of Color, which meant we also got a little bit wet.  
The glowsticks I brought helped keep the kids entertained during the wait.... a wait that is well worth it.
This show is awesome! I didn't take any real pictures, but they probably wouldn't have turned out well anyway.  The whole thing is done with spraying fountains, lights, and projections onto a screen made of water.   It is beautiful. This is only what it looks like at the end of the night, and it doesn't do it justice.
That night when we got back to the room we found that the cleaning staff had found all our various Mickey hats and Disney toys that were scattered about and neatly set them up above the TV console.  I thought that was really cool and just one of those extra little touches that you only find at Disney.  The boys were harder to wake on Day 3. 
But once Jimmy is awake he is raring to go just like Mom. Gus takes a bit longer just like Dad.
The  last day was our "Magic Morning" at Disneyland so we wanted to make sure we were able to take full advantage of it.   I somehow got some misinformation from the guy at Guest Services who said the gates would open at 7:30 to let people onto Main Street, but the rest of the park would open at 8:00.   I thought I had been told some great secret, but it wasn't true.  It did help us get a good spot in line though.
We booked it to Peter Pan since we missed it the first day and thought it would be the best long line to avoid. It was amazing and as always is my very favorite ride.
Next we did Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, which is weird since you go to hell and all, but I still love it.
I had to get a picture of Nora by this door because it is just what I love to do.   I have one of me there when I was little, too.
The boys were happy we made it on the teacups and fortunately no one got sick.
Jimmy went off to go on the Matterhorn with Dad, Angie, and Nano while Nana and I checked off the rest of the Fantasyland rides with Gus.  We did Snow White's Scary Adventure and then the Storybook Land Canal Boats, another favorite of mine. 
Once we were all back together we walked through Sleeping Beauty's Castle.  
I love doing this because it usually isn't very crowded and is just something I think everyone should experience.
Next we headed to Critter Country and New Orleans Square.
Nano and I took Gus and Nora to Winnie-the-Pooh,  I wasn't too sad about missing Slash Mountain especially since I got to see Jimmy's freaked-out face during the fall.
We got Clam Chowder and Gumbo in Bread Bowls which is my personal favorite meal at Disneyland.
Mickey beignets are pretty delicious as well.
We then took the Disneyland Railroad over to Toon Town so we could check off the last thing on our list:  Gadget's Go-Coaster.  This one was important because it is the only Roller Coaster Gus was tall enough for, and it was his first ever.  I just turned around the whole time to watch his face so it was a great time for me as well, even though it seems to last for less than a minute.  His face had the biggest smile I had ever seen and Zach said he giggled the entire time. 
We didn't do much else in Toon Town, but we had time to crash Goofy's Car.
We got in a few last souvenirs before we took the Monorail back to the hotel.
These smiles should be enough to sum up the whole trip.
Thanks for everything Nano, Nana, and Aunt Angie!
We had an unforgettably happy time at the Happiest Place on Earth!