Ava was introduced to the “most happiest place on Earth” a couple of weeks ago and it was such a memorable and fun trip for so many reasons.
You may remember, that our family Cali trip was a long-time coming. We had a very special and significant task at hand, which was burying my mom’s ashes in Monterey with her parents and younger brother. I’m not quite sure when I decided to expand the trip to a southern California leg at the beginning, but I know my thinking was to have something “fun” to do to balance the trip against the latter’s, bitter sweet moment. Thus our week-long California trip was born!
We arrived in Anaheim on a Sunday and stayed at Disneyland through Wednesday, on Wednesday we began our trek to Santa Barbara (where we were overnighting), making sure to stop at Universal Studios beforehand, and then continued on our way to Monterey. There was a lot of driving, but none of us seemed to mind as we had beautiful scenery to look at, Ava was amazing on the road, and we did make it a point to break up the trip a bit so there would be no burnout.
Here is a photo recap of the Disney portion if you’d like to see!
One of the reasons why this trip, especially the Disneyland portion of the trip, was so sweet was because I spent it with my two best friends from college. Sarah lives in LA with her sweet family. They were able to come and hang out on Sunday with us, as they were planning on heading back to Lake Charles so Sarah’s family could meet Baby Waverley. I’m soooo happy I finally got to meet this sweet baby of theirs. I can’t believe Sarah is a mom now!
Katie and her sweet family, who live in Dallas, had been my planning partner from the beginning as we were determined to do a joint trip with our families to Disneyland so our kiddos could finally meet. We also both wanted to get Ava and James into the park before they both turned three and would thus become paying patrons!
One of the highlights for our kids (and thus their parents) was having breakfast with Mickey & Friends at the Paradise Pier Hotel. Ava and James (though he was a bit more cautious with the characters than Ava was) got to meet Mickey, Minnie, Daisy, Donald, and Stitch!
Monday was our Magic Kingdom Day.
Rides ridden were Winnie the Pooh (x2), It’s a Small World, Mad Tea Party (x2), the Carousel (with Mary Poppins and Bert!), Alice in Wonderland, the Jungle Cruise, and the Monorail (not actually a ride, but the kids thought so). Ava and James also got a good amount of playground time in at Goofy’s Playhouse.
When planning our Disneyland adventure, Katie and I decided to splurge by staying onsite at the park in one of their resort hotels. We settled on the Disneyland Hotel and it was really the best choice for convenience and considering how young our kids were. We were able to head back to the hotel each day for some “quiet” time before venturing out to the park again in the afternoon, followed by dinner. It was a also a short walk from our hotel to both parks (Magic Kingdom and California Adventure).
Tuesday was our California Adventure Day.
Rides ridden were Flik’s Flyers, Francis’ Ladybug Boogie, Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train, The Little Mermaid, Red Car Trolley, and Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. Once again, Ava and James needed some running around/playground time and they found that at Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. Tommy got a chance to ride a roller coaster – Goofy’s Sky School! (We tried to have Tommy and Katie ride Space Mountain via Fast Pass on Monday, but the kids schedules and moods weren’t cooperating.)
Full disclosure: I blame Tommy for Ava’s mood on Tuesday regarding rides. I am convinced that the fact that he pushed a little too hard on the second Mad Tea Party ride, was the reason she suddenly became almost afraid to ride any rides at California Adventure Park. She cried on Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree (though this ride was surprisingly fast and spun A LOT) and Flik’s Flyers. She seemed more content to ride the “chiller rides” – Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train, the Red Car Trolley, and The Little Mermaid. A stark contrast to her “risk-taker” attitude on Monday. Oh well. I know she had fun and she got to see her most favorite (TV) person on Earth at Mickey’s Dance Party (a cute half-hour show featuring Disney characters, singing, and dancing), the one and only Doc McStuffins!
Ava and James getting their energy out at the playground/challenge course.
Our last dinner altogether. A great time had by all. When are we going again Keta?!
- Lodging: Disneyland Hotel
- Where We Ate (that wasn’t in the parks itself): Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen, Disney Character Breakfast at the Paradise Pier Hotel, Catal Restaurant, La Brea Bakery Express, Storyteller’s Cafe, Tangaroa Terrace.
- Tips: if you can, I highly recommend staying on resort, especially if you have younger kids. The convenience of coming and going into the park was invaluable. I would suggest packing water and light snacks to keep kids occupied during lines and nourished. We did splurge and buy lunch at both parks, and Katie and I each bought our little ones a Mickey Mouse ice cream one day, because why not?
- How we booked our trip: Katie and I are both Costco Members so we decided to give Costco Travel a shot and booked our Disney trip through them (flights not included). Everything was fine and met expectations, except for one thing – they didn’t reach out to us to reserve a character dining breakfast day and time at our hotel and by the time we were checking in, our hotel’s restaurant that offered this experience, Goofy’s Kitchen, was sold out. Luckily Paradise Pier Hotel’s restaurant had availability. While everything worked out in the end, Katie and I were both miffed that Costco dropped the ball on this.
- Ava’s Favorite Things: Seeing Doc McStuffins at Mickey’s Dance Party, eating breakfast with Mickey, Minnie and the crew, the Winnie the Pooh ride, and the Monorail.