Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A "How To" Guide to Disneyland

My friend just asked me some Disneyland advice for her first trip there in awhile....I think she hasn't been since we were there in 1989 and Splash Mountain had just opened. It's changed a tad.

Anyway, it got my juices flowing. I can't believe we have been home for a month. Time flies. I feel very knowledgeable about the place, and I don't feel knowledgeable about a lot of things, so it's nice to have something I'm good at. Here's my advice for what it is worth:

1- Disneyland is no place for least young kids. Kids under 2 struggle and should be left with a relative or have a grandma in the park with you. Quinn once screamed all through Pirates when he was 20 months old. Not too fun.
Grandma & Grandpa Newman with at 20 month old Quinn

2- Pack lunch. There is a little convenience store by our hotel and we do PBJ for one meal. Then you don't stress so bad for paying 6 bucks for a hot dog later in the day. Plus, it takes precious time to stand in the lines for so-so food.

3- Speaking of food, don't freak out on the prices. There are some really yummy (though pricey) food experiences that are part of the fun. Blue Bayou is mine.
Emi 2008

4-Stay as close as possible. We usually stay at the other side of the crosswalk to D-land. I don't believe in hotel shuttles or parking lots. Our hotel is frills, basic pool, but we are barely in the room. It has a great quick breakfast. There were healthy options, but I let my kids down several donuts each morning. Hardly the breakfast of champions, but it's quick.
The view just steps from our room

5-Recycle your souvenirs. I bring the same ears/hats, t-shirts,etc. Saves a lot of cash.

6- Bill and I created a ridiculous point system for our kids so they could earn a trip gift. We had no real plan with it, but would give and take points willy nilly according to their behavior. It was kind of a "Whose Line is it Anyway" point system. It worked like a charm.

7- We don't spend a lot of time on the characters. There was a 90 minute line for Rapunzel. Ummmm, no. My kids don't know what to say to them, they don't care about autographs, we see the lines for them and just laugh. We will often do a character dinner or breakfast so they have some assured pictures.

(O.K....well sometimes we do characters. I hunted Minnie down like a dog. Emi was 3 and HAD to meet her. 2006 )
8- Stop and watch the magic. I'm a big sap when it comes to Disney. My kids have each had very magic moments in this park. Watch the New Orleans jazz band, or the Dapper Dans, or heck...even the street sweepers! One stopped and with his broom, he drew the greatest pic of Goofy on the sidewalk with water. It was so cool.

9- Make a schedule for your last day. We don't really follow a schedule the first 2 days, but I have each kid tell me what they want to hit again so we leave happy. I map it all out.

10- Google the dates that you want to go before you book. Hint...first weekend in Oct is unofficial California Gay Day (found that one out the hard way) and my cousin Brooke discovered that Mother's Day is Goth Day. Those events will not be listed in the official website.

11- Don't wear flip-flops. Or high heels. I'm always amazed at the footwear people choose to wear while trudging around Disneyland. Comfy, comfy secure shoes are a MUST.

12- Know ahead of time what rides will be closed so you can warn your kids. It saves a few tears. Splash Mountain was closed this last time and my kids really were cool about it because I had warned them for months ahead of the trip.

13- Realize that you will have a major family fight/meltdown at some point. This last one (mostly between Bill and myself) involved cough medicine, a run back to the hotel, construction, and a World of Color fast pass. We got over it, but it was ugly. Pirate Island was the one last time. The time before was somewhere on Main Street when I was prego with Quinn and we couldn't find anywhere to eat on a crowded Friday night. Growing up, my family had a famous one that involved cherry cokes and a hot mid-afternoon parade full of Sorcerer Apprentice brooms.

14-Force your kids to go on certain rides. They sometimes won't want to go because of the fear of the unknown. Drag them on (unless, of course, it is Space Mountain or Tower of Terror). They will usually be happy you did and then they didn't miss out on it.

15-This might be our most important rule, but not one many can use. We have a "Dis-ney-bility". Having Parker on the Autistic Spectrum kind of sucks most times, but it does award us a guest assistance pass. It basically sends us through fast pass or wheelchair lines. I often feel guilty since he is not severely disabled, but if you have stood anywhere with Parker for more than a few minutes, it's not fun. Lots of sensory and other various things are going on for him. It's tricky. It makes the day nice for him and his siblings.
(Parker 2008)

Anyway...that's all I can think of, but we live by these rules as if they were gospel. Sad. But we always have an AMAZING time, so I guess they are worth it.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Dinney-Land (That's not a's just what we call it)

Sooooo....the day after my recital, we hopped the Jet Blue to Cali and partook of the Disney experience for a few days. My mother-in-law thought I was half crazy to leave on a trip the day after recital, but she stayed home with Macy, so she can call me anything she wants. It was a tad stressful, but really nice to have oodles of family time after I have had to ignore them for the past few weeks. I think I planned this trip out of mommy guilt, but whatever.

We got down there and strolled around Downtown Disney. Nice weather, fun to shop, and all that good stuff. I'll admit, I was TIRED! I should have taken a sleep day before this trip (yeah right)

We ate at the Rainforest Cafe. Our first time. It was cool, but I'd never worry about doing it again. It was like a really expensive Mayan, but without the pasty white cliff divers.
Day One in the park! Sweatshirt weather in the morning, which was perfect. Crowds were not too bad (as it wasn't Memorial Day weekend), but our regret about coming was that Splash Mountain was still closed for refurbishment, and the official Star Tours opening wasn't until June 3. When I booked flights, it was going to be open. Stay tuned......
Donald greeted us. My kids are not big into the characters, which truly saves us lots of time. They never know how to talk to one of them. I don't either!
The nice sweeper man took our pic.
We always start in Fantasyland. The reason we did this time was to kind of sell Quinn on Disneyland. If we sprung the big stuff too soon, it wouldn't fly for him. He was too young to remember our last trip. The funny thing....I NEVER rode on Dumbo, Tea-cups, etc. until I was much older. I was the youngest and was dragged to the big rides first thing. I guess Macy will experience that one day.

Quinn was all about having his picture taken EVERYwhere.
We spent the whole day in Disneyland, enjoying almost everything. Super fun. We watched fireworks....with NO Tinkerbell. Last time Tinkerbell had a malfunction as well, so I was a little miffed.
Emi woke up with a nasty cold on the second day. She coughed literally everywhere she went, but would not slow down. She coughed in front of Tink and Tink was not pleased. Bring on the hand sanitizer.
Off to Goofy's Kitchen....Parker and Goofy have a special relationship. I love their food, though my kids hardly eat. My parents treated us to this because of their guilt. They were once coming with us, but had to pull out because of my mom's surgery.
I'd be a littled bugged if I were Jasmine....just saying.

The rest of the day was spent in the construction zone they call California Adventure. I still love that park....they are changing thing up a bit to make it less Californ-y and more classic Mickey. There is some good and bad with this. The huge Cars land opens up next year. From what we could see of it, it will be really cool. Quinn had been soaked from the River Rapids, so he is sporting a big shirt from Parker.
All I can say (other than this pic sucks) is ....World of Color= AWESOME! I was stunned. So fun.
Onto the last day....Bill tried tirelessly to get us into the new Star Tours. They were doing showings for Cast Members and annual passholders who won a lottery. No luck. ON the last day, he finally pled his case to the right guy. The manager. We got in. So, so cool. 54 different combinations. 3D. It almost made me a star wars geek like 1/3 of my family.
Quinn's favorite ride...the Gadget Go-Coaster. However, he always wanted to ride it when we were as far away as possible. Typical.
It was a good day for Star Wars geekidom. I did nothing short of showing some leg to get Parker up there for Jedi training. He was great.
He fought Darth Mall (is that how I spell it? um probably not)
We dined at the Blue Bayou. My favorite, favorite place. Pricey, but worth it. I'm sucking down one of my four Mint Juleps. UMMMMMMM.
Parker and I on Tower of Terror. Love this ride. I love feeling weightless.
We had never tried the fun wilderness area in California Adventure. Way funner than Pirate Island.
The thing I love about Disney is the cute little surprises everywhere. We kept seeing this cute little grandma around the park. Notice her polka dot dress and yellow shoes. She's all Minnie'd out. Bill had to get a pic.
Goodbye Disney! Back to reality.
Oh....P.S. They should never have brought Captain EO back. I'm a huge fan of the MJ, but I had forgot how horribly campy it is. Pretty embarrassing for us kids of the 80's.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

What ever happened to Dick and Jane?

Well... I have made it to the end of another crazy school year. Other than making lunches late at night, I hate doing math homework with Parker the most. He has a hard time focusing on the work and it's like babysitting him to get through it. The one bit of pleasure I took from this experience were the names they used in his story problems. Seriously. I'm not making up one of these:
Kim Ree
Rafiki (isn't that the monkey in the Lion King?)
L'Rae (enough with the apostrophe!)
Shay Zee

My spell check is going nuts right now. Anyway, it must be boring writing a math book and this is how the people pass the time.