Monday, February 11, 2013

Day 1- Thurday (headed to Disneyland!)

So today was our travel day but we weren’t leaving until 3:00 so we had the whole day to do normal activities. I went to work, Matt stayed home with the kids (they had a half day which equals about 2.5 hours of school) and Clara took the day finishing up her projects for school. For those reading who didn’t know, Clara is my youngest sister (she’s 14) that we are taking on this weekend trip. She has never been to Disneyland- in fact she has never even been on an airplane before! The kids are very excited to show her around :)

So 3:00 rolls around and our ride shows up- a limo! The kids were really excited. Little do they know that we actually paid less for this then a regular town car lol. Normally to the airport we take shuttle express but the pickup time for our flight was when I was still scheduled to work so we couldn’t. Paying for parking at the airport would’ve been less too but that is time that we just didn’t have either!

So we make it to the airport around 4:00 (boarding for our flight started at 5:18) and we trek down to security. We had paid for express security which saved us a ton of time even though the airport wasn’t too busy since it was a Thur evening. We all got dinner while we waited for our flight then boarded without issue, on time.

We landed around 8:00 and got right into a taxi (we didn’t check our luggage) and headed to Disneyland hotel. Normally we chose to stay at the Grand Californian hotel and spa but they can’t guarantee a bed set up for 5 so we needed to venture somewhere else. The kids were excited to stay there and we were very open minded to trying a different hotel, especially since the hotel as undergone a huge refurbishment the last cpl years. In the end it served our purpose but if it were just the 4 of us we wouldn’t go back (more on that later).

We got to the hotel around 8:30, checked in and the kids were totally wired. It’s too bad the parks closed at 8 today because all they wanted to do was go on rides! We got them into bed around 9:30 after a quick snack run and walk outside. Everyone was off to sleep!

Day 2- Friday!

So today we all got up super early (with 3 of us needing showers and wanting to get to the parks at opening it required a very early alarm set). Because there are 3 of us to get ready, we had a little down time waiting in the AM so Matt went and took a walk to get coffee and take some photos of the hotel grounds.

We left the hotel at 7:15 (for an 8:00 entry time). Today was early entry for onsite hotel guests at California Adventure park. We got to bag check at about 7:25 and then were held there until 7:30. There weren’t many in front of us (surprising because in September people were lined back at least 50 people in each line by 7:20). We walked up to one of the front gates and were happy we were first! Since Carsland opened, it’s very crucial to be one of the first in line unless you want to wait an hour for Radiator Springs Racers.

So while we were waiting we noticed the group of cast members inside the park doing their morning huddle and kept glancing over at us. I even mentioned to everyone it would be neat to get chosen to be the family that helps open the park- we had the most kids with us and were closest to the front of the line compared to others with kids that were waiting. Sure enough, around 7:45 a cast member approached us asking if we would help open the park! Kids were VERY excited, we have never gotten picked before. So they let us in early, gave us pins, fast passes for rides and explained how it would all work (doing the countdown very loudly, saying “let the adventure begin” . She introduced us then we did the whole little thing, then we were on our own- and ahead of everyone (well not everyone as some people literally ran lol).

We got walked all the way to RSR (Radiator Springs racers) and were in the first sets of cars. Clara isn’t big on thrill rides so she was a little rattled I think (it’s not that scary just has some moments of weightlessness). It was a fun way to start the day though. Next we did Luigi’s flying tire ride (I rode alone and had a hard time getting my tire to move- not enough weight on me lol). Up next was Mater’s which is one of the kids’ fav rides- it’s like tea cups on crack- more of a spinning then whipping motion. Super fun though! By then it was only 8:30 so we popped over to ride Toy Story Mania (3D video game type ride) and then off to get Starbucks!

Disneyland opened at 9:00 so we made our way over there right around then. We ran into Pinocchio right away which was fun- the girls were getting autographs (they sell autograph and photo books to fill) so this was their first one!

Matt then and ran to get Fast passes for Indiana Jones (kind of like front of the line passes that are free to use but you have to come back later- it’s their way of dispersing the lines). We then rode Pirates of the Caribbean (we all loved this one but Clara kind of freaked out on the drops) and then Haunted Mansion. We headed over to Adventureland then and used our fast passes for Indy . Clara loved this one so that was fun:) We shopped a bit in the area and ran into Princess Jasmine. After that it was Dole Whip time. It’s my favorite park snack (Matt’s is Churro’s). Piper had never had one before so she ordered one as well and even got a button that said “my first dole whip”- it was cute!

We looked over and Princess Jasmine was gone but Aladdin and Genie were there so we got their autographs too.

It was about 10:45 now so we decided to head back to California adventure and ride a few rides before the Aladdin show (like a mini Broadway scale show). We first hit up Soarin over CA and used one of our fast passes that were given to us this morning from the cast member. I really hate this ride (as does Piper) so we spend most of the time with our eyes shut (you are essentially hang gliding in front of a big IMAX screen). It makes us both really dizzy so we just keep our eyes closed most of the time. After that we rode Goofy’s Sky School using another one of our free fast passes(one of Piper’s favorite rides) and then Little Mermaid – which we got stuck on for about 5 minutes which was interesting. I thought for sure for a minute there that we were going to get evacuated off the ride!

At around 12:10 we went to go get in line for the Aladdin show. Everyone was kinda tired by this point, and it was really hot out (about 80 degrees) so we were all looking forward to just sitting for 45 minutes in the air conditioned theater. The show, as always was really good! 

We were all hungry by this point (it was 1:30) so we went over to get lunch at Paradise Garden grill and Boardwalk pizza and pasta. It’s one of our favorite eateries in Disneyland- giant grilled skewers of veggies/tofu or meat with dif sauce choices and rice and pita. Not your typically park fast food so it’s a great alternative. Boardwalk pizza/pasta has some more gourmet options too so that’s nice for the kids.

After lunch we were all dragging and made our way out of the park. Matt grabbed all our stuff out of the lockers (hoodies from the morning) while we all sat in the shade and relaxed. The walk back to our hotel seemed so far! The kids wanted to swim so we let them play for about an hour while Matt and I had some grown up drinks and sat in the sun:)

By this point it was almost 4 and we had dinner reservations at 5:30 so we went back to our hotel and just rested for a bit to wind down from the day. We headed downstairs and to a dif tower of the hotel for dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen.

Piper especially was excited for the dinner as our last trip he was a character that we never saw. You are only guaranteed to see him but many other characters show up. We also saw Minnie, Aladdin, Cinderella and Chip/Dale (though we left before meeting them). The girls were happy to start filing up their autograph books and Piper was happy to get another chance to flirt with Aladdin (who she whispered she had a crush on lol). The food at the buffet was decent- some good, some not so good. The kids were mostly happy with the dessert buffet:)

After dinner our plan was to ride the monorail (which was right outside our hotel) back to Disneyland (it drops you off in tommorowland) but the line was crazy long so we just decided to walk it. We rode Buzz’s Astro Blasters (about a 15 minute wait) and then trekked back to Main Street (and ducked in a hat shop to get the girls Mouse Ears) to camp out for the fireworks. It was about 8:00 and they start at 8:45- but we just get a seat on the curb on main street and it doesn’t seem too bad of a wait since we can sit!

At some point Piper fell asleep on my shoulder while waiting- she was so tired from the day! She woke up as soon as fireworks started though and happily watched them. The fireworks were great this trip- during our summer trip it wasn’t the same show as the classic Remember Dreams come True one (narrated by Julie Andrews and highlighting many rides) so we were all excited to catch it on this trip.

As soon as fireworks were over we headed back to the hotel. Again, the walk seemed so long and we wistfully walked past our normal hotel (The Grand Californian) as we continued down through Downtown Disney. As soon we got inside the kids were all asleep! I fell asleep much quicker tonight too- my body was tired!

Day 3- Saturday!

Today was early entry into Disneyland park (at 7:00) and we were running just a tad late so we got there right at 7 when the gates opened. We did the normal lineup since only Fantasyland and Tomorrowland are open- Peter Pan, Dumbo, Mr. Toad, Alice, Snow White, Pinocchio then Nemo and Space Mountain. At this point it was normal park opening (8:00) so we grabbed fast passes for Space to ride later (Clara actually liked the ride!) and then we split up. The boys and Clara went to ride Star Tours (which makes me and Piper dizzy since we get motion sick) and we rode Autopia (which Piper loves).

We all met up for breakfast around 8:30 or so at Tomorrowland Terrace for French toast (which was just ok but not awful). We sat for almost an hour just because we were already tired of walking lol. The girls wanted to go meet characters that Aidan didn’t want to meet so the boys decided to take the monorail back to Downtown Disney and make Aidan’s remote control car at the custom build your own car place.

Us girls headed off to meet some girly characters but first Piper wanted her face painted. It took about 20 minutes or since there were 2 girls ahead of her but it gave her time to figure out exactly what she wanted to get (a unicorn design).

Next up was Pixie Hollow (about a 30 min wait here) to meet Periwinkle (the newest fairy) and Silvermist. After that we headed to the Brave meet and greet and met Merida (who Piper adores and was beaming at the whole time).

The boys were just getting done with making Aidan’s remote control car and headed back to meet us in Tomorrowland to do a few rides before lunchtime. First though, it was Churro time! Matt’s favorite snack is a Disneyland Churro so everyone got one (except me- I wasn’t too hungry so I just nibbled off Piper’s). Then it was off to ride Jungle Cruise (since it was awful lines the day before). Well the lines weren’t much better today and the crowds were picking up so we just decided to get in line and deal with the wait (which we never do on our Disneyland trips- we avoid lines and crowds at all cost). We waited for maybe 20 minutes or so.

 After that we headed back to Tomorrowland and rode Autopia and Space Mountain using our Fast Passes from earlier.

Up next was lunch and our plan was to eat at the Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney so we took the monorail back without much of a wait. We placed our orders to go (very reasonable prices and very tasty sandwiches!) and headed back to our room to eat. The kids (and us grown ups) were completely exhausted - it was around 1 or so and had been on the go since 6:30. We all fell asleep right away. Me and Piper (and then Aidan) woke up around 3 and they played their DS’ while I tidied up a bit and got semi packed for tomorrow while also getting ready for our date night tonight.

Everyone else was up around 4 and we all got ready and headed out around 4:30. We popped into a cpl shops (build a bear mostly) and Piper decided that is what she wanted for a souvenir. We didn’t have time to do it then though, so we had to promise her we would come back. We checked the kiddos into Pinocchio’s workshop (the kids club at the Grand Californian hotel) and then walked Clara to the Downtown Disney entrance, explaining how to get back to the hotel lobby to wait for us. Her plan was to shop and grab a light dinner while Matt and I were out for the evening.

By now it was about 5:10 and our dinner reservations at Napa Rose was at 5:30 so we got a cocktail at the Hearthstone Lounge in the hotel and then headed over to dinner. We got seated right away and soon realized our waiter was the same one from last time. His name is Saucy and he is great- amazing service and he’s a sommelier on top if it so he’s very helpful in choosing a wine. Our dinner was great - except I had a wardrobe malfunction and my strap broke soon into dinner! We shared appetizers and got scallops in a lemon lobster vanilla sauce and also Yellow tail sashimi which was amazing. For main courses I got cod with a cranberry and walnut sauce over pesto (actually really really good) and Matt got monkfish and mussels. We each got our own desserts too- I got a dark chocolate and grand marnier mousse and Matt got hot chocolate and doughnuts. Everything was really good- we love that restaurant!

After dinner it was around 7:15 so we met up with Clara (who only had gotten one thing shopping so no big bags to lug around) and then all went to grab the kids from the clubs. We decided to head right over to California Adventure using the private hotel entrance and made our way to Carsland. We all really wanted to ride Radiator Springs racers at night but the lines for it are so long (1-2 hours) unless you do single rider (they pop you into cars wherever there is room so you know you will get split up). Kids were totally comfortable doing so though so we headed over and rode with only about a 20 minute wait. Such a great ride:)

At that point we rode Mater’s again (fun in the dark) and then all decided we wanted dessert (Matt and I were full but still wanted Ghirardelli’s lol). Aidan wanted churro bites from the Cozy Cones so we got that first then headed over to get ice cream from Ghirardelli’s. Matt and I (and Piper shared with me) the peanut butter sundae- which I think is my favorite thing there and Clara got a cone.

Our plan was to leave at this point but World of Color had just started and the kids wanted to watch. We lucked out finding a circular planter bench kind of set back with no one on it and the kids were all able to stand and watch the whole thing with no waiting like we’ve had to do prior and a decent view. As soon as it was over we headed back and all fell asleep so fast!