Wednesday, April 2, 2014


When we started planning our Grand Californian Adventure for Spring Break, we knew we needed to add in some time with our favorite mouse, Mickey.

It helps that Carl's grandfather lives only twenty minutes away. :)

Carl's mom also came out to California during spring break, and we met up with her once we hit Orange County.

It's always nice to visit Disney with grandparents. We first brought the boys to Disneyland five years ago with Chris and Al, and I'm so glad we have those memories. Look how much they've grown!

We were pretty excited to find a lot of characters waiting for us right inside the front gates, including the all-important big get, Mickey himself.

My big thrill was Mary Poppins and Bert, who talked in their loverly British accents.

We've never really "met" Mary before. Alex did get to dance with her once before (and I promise, I'll limit my flashbacks with this post) when she pulled him out of the audience (he always has the best luck).

Tomorrowland was our first stop for Disneyland, and we headed right for Star Tours.

This might be my most favorite ride at all of Disney.

Its just done so perfectly... and the queue as you wait to go on the actual ride might be most favorite part of all.

We had some slight issues as we exited through the gift shop. Ryan was ready to part with some of his Disney Dollars. I, however, was not ready to waste important early morning, less-wait time in a gift shop.

Up next: Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters.

Another Team Danger favorite.

And another ride that understands the importance of a well-themed queue to keep the masses entertained whilst waiting.

We managed a few more rides before I had to cave in and return to the beloved Star Wars gift shop.

A note on the Star Wars gift shop.

You might recall that the first time we went to Disneyland, I adamantly refused to let Alex build his own double-sided lightsaber, never dreaming it would be near-impossible to find one back home. So we made building their own at Disneyworld three years ago a Big Deal, as a way to make it up to them. I also have a pet peeve when they choose for souvenirs the kind of toys we could easily pick up at Target back home, and do my best to encourage them to get the Mickey as Luke Skywalker toy, rather than the Star Wars lego models. Needless to say, I was pretty pleased when Ryan came across the Star Wars Droid Factory.

Yes, building your own Star Wars droid was ridiculously overpriced.

But how cool was this? And how original?

Whereas Alex wanted... a blue lightsaber. Mind you, I came home and counted THREE blue lightsabers in our weapons bucket. Sigh... at least one of my children gets it.

Fantasyland is another one of my favorite areas of the park. Sadly, Its a Small World was closed for renovation. And the lines for my beloved Peter Pan's Flight were over an hour, with no fast passes (Disneyworld did have fast passes, so I had made my plans for the day assuming we could pick some up. No dice in Cali, so no flying over London.)

We chuckled a LOT at the poor souls with little girls who had to wait over 230 minutes (aka, almost FOUR HOURS) to meet Elsa and Anna. Wish I had taken a picture of the whacked out lines, but we were pretty excited to see Olaf just sitting on top of the Frozen meeting place.

Many rides at Disney have single rider lines. Basically, if you are willing to ride without the rest of the party, you can stand in the single rider line which is massively shorter (ie, 10 minute wait, as opposed to 60 minutes). Since not all rides are Fast Pass eligible, this comes in handy. We did that for the Matterhorn Bobsleds, and the boys weren't phased at all. Love how big and brave they are now!

Alex displaying our Fast Passes for the Indiana Jones ride, one of the few rides unique to Disneyland and not found in Florida.

One ride that is in both places, but which is WAY better in DL over DW is Pirates of the Caribbean.

This ride must be twice as long, and thus twice as fun.

Both feature a lot of Captain Jack, which is always a plus.

This is a picture of the Blue Bayou restaurant, as seen from the Pirates ride. I've wanted to eat here  since I was in college and first recall seeing these lucky folks.

Which is why 90 days out exactly, I made our reservation for dinner inside the Blue Bayou. It was expensive, but worth it. While this wasn't a technical Travel Bucket list item for me, it was a short list contender.

Our fast passes for Spash Mountain weren't until the evening. It had gotten pretty cold by then, so this was one of our last rides. Carl and Chris opted not to ride it, for fear of getting wet in the cold wind. I rode with the boys once, and then they went a second time by themselves with Carl and Chris' fast passes. We were actually able to do this quite a bit on the trip, with two adults sitting out on a ride, and the boys loved going by themselves. Again - Disney is a blast with taller, older kids who don't need adults for protection.

A few last pictures of Disneyland at night.

And we had one last character meeting as we left, Pluto.

Somehow, I never got a good picture of the castle during daytime. I've always loved this statute of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse, with Sleeping Beauty's castle in the background. Not bad for a cell phone picture, actually.

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