Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Disneyland, Day Two!

Our first full day in Disneyland was a big'un! We left the hotel room at 6:30 for breakfast (thank you, Lord, for letting us work on Texas time!), and didn't get back again until 10:00. It was a doozy of a day, but worth every second! 

Let me just cut in and say that Jack? Was OBSESSED with Dumbo. He just couldn't get enough. We seriously must have ridden it four or five times, and every time we would walk by, he'd start yelling, "Duhbo! Duhhhhhbbbbooooo!" Cutest thing ever. He still talks about it nonstop :)

Y'all know that Ava is the bravest girl of all time, right? Well, despite being a thrill junkie, there were a few twists and turns in the acid trip that is Mr. Toad's Wild Ride that had Ava in tears, quite to our surprise, and so it was the perfect time for our scheduled appointment at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. I just want to toot my own horn for a second here. I once made it out of my subdivision without realizing I had forgotten to put shoes on, and yet? I remembered to call sixty days in advance to make  this reservation for Ava! WINNING.

Y'all. It was such a special part of our trip! We made our appointment for 10a.m., which I would highly recommend, since that way your little princess gets to stay in character all day. We also brought our own dress - a Rapunzel dress Ava received for her third birthday that was really beautiful and detailed - which helped to save a lot. Considering the prices of alternative things you could purchase at Disney, I feel like this experience was the absolute best way that we could spend the money. It was worth every single cent. Later that night, as we were walking back to the hotel, Ava was still over the moon about her princess transformation, and while recounting the experience, from the hairdo to the manicure to the make-up and all the things she was sent home with (she got to keep all the make-up and hair things and nail polish that they used on her, as well as a sash, the hair jewels, and a special cinched backpack with the BBB logo - such great keepsakes!), she said, "I didn't even know they were going to do all that! They just kept making me feel more special!" Awwww!

Once her royal highness Princess Ava was all styled out, we were off to meet the Princesses in the Royal Hall at Fantasy Faire. This was an awesome order to do this in, since they would see her all dolled up and bow to her and address her as their peer princess - it was such a special experience. She really and truly felt like she was a Disney princess for a day - a huge thank you to the characters that made this such a magical time! THANK YOU!

We then spent the day hanging out around Frontierland and Critter Country, meeting with some of the characters that like to frequent that corner of Disneyland. We got some serious signatures this day! We also were so fortunate to have one of our best friends, who just so happens to live in L.A. now, join us in the park for the afternoon! The kids were so happy to see Uncle Tyler, and this mama was, too!

Next up was a trip to Toontown, and though there were many highlights, here's my personal favorite:
We were actually the second to last family allowed in to meet Mickey before he had to dash from his house to Fantasmic! Whew! It would've been so upsetting to be the one to just miss getting let in! 

We finished the night watching the 'Paint the Night' parade and the Disney Forever Diamond Celebration fireworks - an absolute must-see if you go this year! Ava, unfortunately, fell asleep literally seconds before the parade began. Whomp, whomp.

How's that for getting my steps in? 

Stay tuned for our foray into California Adventures tomorrow!

Monday, August 3, 2015

We Went to.....DISNEYLAND!!! (Day One)

Maybe to you, a vacation to the Happiest Place on Earth, complete with your recently divorced parents, your dad's new girlfriend, your in-laws with social anxiety, and your extended family, complete with three teenage sisters, four cousins and your aunt and uncle, sounds like chaos. And, to be ever so slightly honest, chaos did ensue from time to time. But, honestly? Though the combination had the potential to be straight up explosive, we just got back (well, a week and a half ago, but I'm only just now feeling back on track schedule-wise!) from what is definitely, hands down, the best vacation our family has ever had!


A little back story: we started planning our trip just after Christmas, knowing that two of my three younger sisters were going to be dancing in Disneyland's 'Dance the Magic' parade in early-to-mid-July. Though we booked our hotel and flights in January, we didn't tell the kids (Ava in particular, since it's not like Jack was going to blow the surprise...) until about a week and a half before we were scheduled to leave! Seeing as how Ava asks me just about daily how many more days until her first day of Kindergarten, it seemed obvious that telling her any further in advance would be straight up torture for all parties involved ;)

Not to out myself as secretly super Type-A (not that it's not obvious on any given day), but I did a LOT of planning and research about the trip. We had five day passes, so we knew we'd have ample time to do both Disneyland and California Adventure parks, but I still wanted to have a plan in place - from fast passes, to best hours for each ride, to best order to hit the different lands in, to which night shows were most worthwhile. I had it ALL laid out. And, though that sounds the opposite of vacation-esque thinking, having a plan was an absolute lifesaver. We were able to do absolutely everything we wanted, multiple times over in most cases, and there is literally nothing I felt I missed out on when we left. It was awesome.

Now, enough chit chat. Let's get to the good stuff - the memories. I'm going to split the Disneyland posts by day because, embarrassingly, I took over 1000 pictures, and that's after editing down the blurry/duplicate/crap ones. Whoa. While I won't bore you with a thousand pictures of my family on vacation, there are some memories that I just must memorialize, seeing as how we use the blog to turn into a memory book each year, and so prepare yourself for an onslaught of pictures this week - one post for each day. Enjoy!

I mentioned before that my in-laws joined us, and it was great to have them. Though we keep different schedules and like to move at different paces, it was such a lifesaver to have the extra hands! We left on a Tuesday, with our flight heading out around lunchtime, and so a large chunk of our first day was spent traveling. I much prefer the flight to Long Beach and trip to Disneyland to our normal 3+ hour flight and 3+ hour drive we take when we usually go to California, so the trip felt like a breeze in that regard. Neither kid slept, thanks to being so excited, but both were great.

Once we were on the ground in Long Beach - a most chill airport! - we slipped into a discount van, and were zoomed away to our hotel - the Best Western Park Place Inn & Suites, DIRECTLY across the street from the resort entrance. Aside from staying on property, we couldn't have asked for a better location!

We couldn't go to the park right away, since we were waiting on my mom to arrive (she had our tickets) and she was stuck in notorious L.A. traffic, so we went upstairs to hang out with my aunt and cousins, who had arrived just after us, and got to spend some time with our family. Once my mom arrived with our park-hopper passes, we gave them quick hugs and kisses and then hauled it over to the park for the kids very first taste of Disney!! I had only been twice before - once at 12, and once at 16 - so the childhood magic had always been lost on me. Not the case anymore. Seeing Disneyland through a child's eyes, especially that first time? Now THAT is magical.

Stay tuned for what our first full day had in store!
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