The trip was AMAZING. We all really needed it, and we squeezed every drop of fun out of it that we possibly could. We got park-hopper passes on base that are good for three days - and you don't have to use all three days at once, so we're saving our third day for later (maybe around Christmas?) Oh, and if you're not a local, "park hopper" means the ticket is good for BOTH amusement parks, Disneyland & Disney's California Adventure. The two parks sit side-by-side, along with three Disney Resort hotels. We stayed at the 'nice' hotel this time, Disney's Grand Californian, and spent WAY too much for it. But our 'Premium Room' had a BUNK BED for the boys,
We got there early the first day, so we could pre-check in at the hotel and drop off our luggage. Of course check-in time is not until 3 PM, but they let us leave our bags with bell services, and they even gave us our personalized room keys, promising to send us a text message as soon as our room was ready. Awesome, right? Then it was off to Disneyland - er, I mean, DisneyLINE, as Knucklehead calls it now. We stood in line for 5 minutes to go through security where they pretend to check your backpacks for anything 'bad' and then waited in another line for 20 minutes just to get in the gate (at park OPENING, 8 AM! It's totally not supposed to be that crowded so early in the morning!) Once inside the park, the boys ran ahead with hubby to get to Tomorrowland, where two of the most popular rides are: Space Mountain, and Star Tours. The Star Tours ride was recently re-done in 3-D, just opened last week, I think....so that line was already ridiculous! That's where we figured out the BEST way to use the parent 'Switch Passes'.
The guys went on Space Mountain first, which only had like a 10 minute wait at that point, while I went over to the employee at the line for Star Tours and asked for a Switch Pass. These are for parents who have to wait with a child who is too small to ride, while the other parent takes older children on the ride. The parent who waits gets a special pass (you have to ASK for it) and then gets to jump to the front of the line as soon as the other parent comes out of the ride to switch places. The theory is that Mom already waited once, while Dad was on the ride (or the other way around) so she shouldn't have to wait AGAIN. So, on several of the rides that I wasn't really that interested in going on, I went up to ask for the Switch Pass, as if my family was already waiting in the LOOOOONG line.....instead, they were waiting nearby, so I could hand them a switch pass and they could go to the front of the line, as if they had just waited with Bobblehead while I rode. I guess the park employees have figured out that people pull a fast one like that, because on several rides, they hand 'parent A' a lanyard to wear through the line. When he/she gets to the front of the line and gets ON the ride, then they give them a switch pass to go give to parent B. In other words, no faking the line-wait part. *sigh* Still, those switch passes really saved us, as the lines for most attractions were more than an hour long by noon. The Star Tours line was already 90 minutes long first thing in the morning! Crazy.
Anyway, thanks to the switch passes, I actually got to go on a few rides, too. The new Star Tours is AWESOME! It's still the same basic ride, but now there are like four different versions of the 'movie' you watch on the ride. They all start with a droid trying to stop the craft you're on, saying "We are trying to locate this REBEL SPY" while displaying a random picture of someone who is on the ride with you. When I went with the boys, Knucklehead (my 11 year old) was the random photo they showed! HA HA HA! It was so much fun.
We did all the 'major' rides at Disneyland before 2 PM, and several of the small rides. I really wanted to take Bobblehead on the "Small World" ride, but the line was LOOOONG, and in the sun. We decided to let that one wait for Day 2. We got over to the second park, California Adventure, and the guys went on some of the 'good rides'. The hang-glider simulation ride had a pretty long wait, but is always worth it.
A Bug's Land is also fun - for the LITTLE ones, anyway. :)
Our hotel had a separate entrance that opens up into Ca. Adventure, so as soon as our room was ready we went up, changed, and went SWIMMING! They had several pools, and a cool waterslide that Bonehead and Knucklehead each went on dozens of times.
Bobblehead had only been in a pool once before, and the water was too cold then, so he didn't like it. At the hotel, however, the water was PERFECT, so he turned into a little fish and absolutely did NOT want to get out of the water.
A few showers later, we were dressed and back on the rides, and ready for the new water/light/music show "World of Color". I can't possibly do that show justice within this post, so I'll have to do a separate post later with pictures AND video. But it was AWESOME! I wish I had put the baby in his jammies before the show though, because he fell asleep in his stroller (it was WELL past his bedtime, after all) and didn't like it when I woke him to change back at the hotel later. Oh well, live and learn.
Day 2 was our 'Magic Morning' with early entry into the parks - an hour ahead of the general public. Since Disneyland opened at 8 AM, we got in at 7 AM...which meant we had to be up by 6, and thank goodness I had brought food to stock our little refrigerator! We had a little 'continental breakfast' in our room for a fraction of what we would have paid in any of the restaurants there. The boys got to do the big coasters again, and we had NO wait at all for Small World when it opened at 8. (only selected rides are open for the Magic Morning thing at 7, and Small World was not one of those).
Bobblehead decided that Disneyland was a great place to take LOTS of naps. They were short ones, but at least he got them in! I'm so happy that I brought that baby carrier with us, so I could strap him to me for some of the 'family' rides.
By 10 AM on day 2, we literally had done everything we needed to at Disneyland, except for see the new Soundsational Parade (I have video that I can't upload right now, so maybe I will add that with the World of Color post later on). Since the parade wasn't coming through til 4 PM, we went back across to California Adeventure. One of the new rides over there is called "Ariel's Undersea Adventure" and it basically tells the story of The Little Mermaid. We skipped it on day 1 because the line was more than an hour long, and, well, none of us is a four-year-old-girl. But on day 2, we found the line was only about 20 minutes long, so we went. And I CRIED like a baby, missing my little girl! "Airhead" is 21 now, and still not speaking to me. But when she was little, we watched The Little Mermaid together literally hundreds of times (maybe thousands?) This was before DVD, and we actually WORE OUT a VHS copy of the movie and had to get a new one. I still have the whole thing memorized, and could probably recite it for you, beginning to end. Verbatim. So, yeah, the mermaid ride REALLY made me long for those days again. *sigh* I got over my mommy mood swing by the time the ride ended, though.
We went on more rides, including a few more turns on California Screamin, the best roller coaster there. We had lunch at my favorite "Downtown Disney" restaurant, Tortilla Joe's, then made it back to Disneyland in time to see a couple more shows AND the parade I was waiting for. If we didn't have that hotel room, we might have just headed home after that, because we really had done everything we really wanted to in both parks! AMAZING. It seems like we always rush around like crazy, trying to fit everything into one day, and still always feel like we missed something. But this time, two days almost seemed like TOO LONG (?) okay, well, maybe it was just right. Anyway, since we DID have that nice hotel room, we went back up and changed into our swim stuff and went back out to the pool. After swimming, we planned to go outside to watch the fireworks display that Disneyland puts on every night, but we were so tired, we gave up. I did see PART of the fireworks show from the hotel, but it's not the same as being there on the ground, with the music, etc.
Overall, it was an incredible trip. I didn't get to spend much time with hubby, as we were kind of taking turns taking the older boys on rides, since one of us had to wait with the baby for the bigger rides. But a couple of times, when we all went on rides as a family, hubby actually HELD MY HAND in line, or even kissed me on the cheek! He has never been one for PDA, especially with this huge wall that sprung up between us after this last deployment. (or was it DURING? yeah, probably) I don't want to get my hopes up (again) about things getting better between us, but is was so nice to at least PRETEND we were a real family for a little while. And, no matter what else happens from here on out, my children will all have the fantastic memories of this trip. :)
Every time we go, we take a picture in front of this airplane - so fun to see how everyone has grown!
Here's one from last year:
And from 2004 (ish):