I have to start by saying: We did it.
(I have to follow up by warning you – this is a long post and is probably more for us to look back on and remember.)
B turned 4 last week, and we surprised him with a trip to Disneyland…which honestly, before last Thursday, I don’t even think he knew existed.
We left on Friday in a rental car (after some issues with a potential slow leak in the first car’s tire) (but the second car was better anyway) and made pretty good time until we got to LA. At which point we ran into rush hour. We battled our way through it and got to our hotel around 7:30. (For the record, B did amazingly well in the car, even though it was 8 hours altogether. He was patient and calm, alerted us when he needed a bathroom, read books, sang songs, told us stories, and asked a couple times, “Can I make a loud noise?” at which point we would say yes, go ahead, get your louds out, and he would shout for 10 seconds.)
We checked in to the hotel, got B a “We’re celebrating!” button at the front desk, and found out that we were eligible for Magic Morning at 7am at Disneyland the next day.
We were staying at Paradise Pier, a Disney resort right next to California Adventure. When we got to our room we realized we could actually see the whole park, including World of Color, which played at 9:00 and 10:30, or something like that. (We could also see one end of the fireworks.) And our TV had a channel that played the audio for both shows! Disney is amazing.
B would not go to sleep, despite being clearly exhausted, so we had to turn all the lights off and also go to sleep around 10pm. Just as I would start to drift off, he would go, “…Mommy?” and then tell me some random fact that he could have saved for the morning. I thought he had finally gone to sleep when World of Color started again, and he whispered, “Mommy, I heared something,” which I thought was so cute. (Also he called it World of Best Colors.)
My alarm went off at 6, but we intended it to be a suggestion – we didn’t want to overly plan or try to cram everything in. We left the hotel around 7:15, walked over to the park, and were in Tomorrowland by 7:30. I thought that Magic Morning was just Main Street, but they opened Tomorrowland including all the rides…so we started with Space Mountain. Plus, it’s Halloween so it’s Ghost Galaxy, which is kind of scarier, because it’s all these creepy ghosts rushing you with arms outstretched…but B did great. He took it so in stride. Like, we started him off on SPACE MOUNTAIN GHOST GALAXY, and he was just like, Cool. What’s next? We did Astro Blasters, Star Tours, and that Orbital thing (rocket Dumbo) and it was like 8am.
We wandered to Fantasyland and started doing dark rides – he loved the carousel, and it was actually really cool because we both got to go on horses with him. Usually at the zoo and stuff we cheap out and just buy him a ticket, but this time we could all be riders! He tried to pull the sword from the stone (no luck), and we made the rounds of the dark rides…which are mostly stories he’s not super familiar with, so those rides must be weird for him.
We walked through Sleeping Beauty’s castle (stairs! and Maleficent! he loved it), and then went to Frontierland, where we found a bathroom and made him drink some water. It was already getting hot and I was having visions of Survivor contestants passing out on day 3 from dehydration. (Actually, while they were in the bathroom, I went to find water, and I walked into a dry goods store where three employees were leaning against a counter and talking about how they couldn’t believe people paid so much for water when you could get it for free, and I walked up behind them and said, “Speaking of which, where can I buy some water?” and the male employee just like facepalmed while the others pointed me toward a store that sold bottled water. Haha)
We did Pirates of the Caribbean and fastpassed Haunted Mansion…and I’m literally already forgetting what we did next. I think we went to Splash Mountain? I know we did Tarzan’s Treehouse (twice) and got some lunch. But I can’t even remember the order of events anymore.
At some point, we thought we should go back to the hotel because we both really, truly believed that B was going to take a nap. He looked so exhausted. We decided to take the monorail to Downtown Disney, and on the way to the station Drew grabbed fastpasses for Star Tours. I mean, it’s totally up his alley – he somehow knows some things about Star Wars, like who Yoda is, and he loved the flying through space stuff. He totally wore the glasses without any protest, which amazed me. (Oh, also on the way to the monorail, I hit 10,000 steps on my fitbit, haha)
At the hotel, of course he didn’t nap at all, no matter how much we all laid in a dark, cool room together. So after an hour or so, we gave up, collected our stuff, and walked back to the park. We did Star Tours and Astro Blasters again, and then went to do Alice and the Teacups and the other Fantasyland stuff we’d missed earlier. While we were walking toward Small World, B wanted us to take a detour to go past a water fountain, and while he was getting water, I saw a little kiosk with no line, where they sold ears and did the name embroidery. So I got those, and then we were standing right near where the parade was about to start, so we managed to get 2nd row viewing for the parade, without having to wait a long time or plan ahead. (Yay!)
B actually watched the parade too, while wearing his Mickey ears. I mean, he was so tired, and Drew was holding him the whole time, but he watched the parade and waved at Mickey, and seemed to enjoy it. He also got a little rest (being held), I guess. Then we went to Small World, and afterwards wandered into Toontown, which I knew nothing about. I have never gone in there. We got a Mickey ice cream bar (I couldn’t believe he ate the whole thing) and then the sugar rush seemed to invigorate him, so we went to do the Gadget Go-Go Coaster, which he loved, and then we were right by Mickey’s house and the Disneyland app said the wait was 30 minutes, so we went in there.
You walk through Mickey’s whole house, and then out into his backyard, and then into his movie barn, where they’re showing clips of old Mickey cartoons…they were showing Through the Mirror, and I noticed earlier they were playing music from the Pied Piper short, I think. It was cool that there was old stuff there that we recognized…although they must know these things are on Netflix and get watched, so I guess it’s not unbelievable. Then (after less than 30 minutes) we got taken in to meet Mickey! And it was so awesome.
First of all, let me say all the Disney staff members are amazing. The photographer and his assistant (?) didn’t make anyone feel rushed through the process. And they were so sweet and welcoming. And the assistant took my phone and got pictures on my phone of B and of all of us with Mickey, in addition to the professional photos.
Second, the Disneyland app was totally worth it, for wait times and for reserving a place for dinner…but mostly for the photos. Every photographer that takes your picture, you have them scan a QR code on the app, and then all the pictures go there. Plus you can enter the codes from your ride pictures. Then at the end of the day, you pay a flat fee to download everything. So I paid one fee for 5 pictures with Mickey, ride pictures from Splash Mountain and Space Mountain, plus pictures of strangers from each of those rides, from when I entered our codes wrong and added the wrong photos to our collection.
B went right to Mickey and hugged him, and we got the cutest picture of the two of them, that I never EVER expected us to get. It totally made me melt.
After that, we walked back through the Small World toy store, to pick out some stuff for Baby H. (Another shoutout for Disney: if you’re staying at a Disney hotel, they will take anything you buy throughout the day and send it back to your hotel for you. An amazing service. I’m super grateful for that.) It was starting to get dark, so we went back to see what the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad line was like, and then waited for that one. It was a 25-minute wait, and felt like it…and I have to say, that was probably the longest we waited for anything all day. And we only did a couple fastpasses. We had good luck with lines. And I think it only felt so long because it was the end of the day.
When we got on Big Thunder Mountain, B told Drew that “you have to put your hands up, like this!” and threw his hands in the air. It was so cute.
After the ride, we headed to dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel. BUT FIRST, we were walking through Frontierland and B asked, “Can I have one last churro please?” so yeah, of course you can, putting our daily churro total at 5 and his personal churro total at 3. Then we were walking past the Dole Whips and the line was short and it had been so long all day, so I jumped in line for a Dole Whip, which we all ate standing on Main Street. Then we finally went to dinner (after churros and Dole Whip).
Goofy’s Kitchen is character dining, so B got to meet Chip and Dale, and Pluto. (He passed on Goofy, actually.) The staff brought him a birthday cupcake and sang to him (the first of I think 6 birthday cupcakes/songs we heard before we left). He also got a Happy Birthday button. Also, all the characters were dancing to Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah at one point, and people were waving their napkins like rally rags, and B totally did it, which was so adorable. He loved it. Then he started getting silly, like he took off his shoes and socks, and he put mustard on his watermelon, and he was just getting giggly…because it was almost 9pm and he had basically survived all day on churros and excitement, I guess.
We stopped at a gift store in the hotel, because we wanted to get him a sweatshirt, and we also got him this light up Buzz Lightyear, which he played with on the entire walk back to our hotel, and it was SO CUTE HE WAS SO HAPPY YOU GUYS.
We watched World of Color again, and this time he was really into it, like he dragged the chair over to watch out the window. It was really cute, because he’d been kind of in and out the night before. Then fireworks, then we went to bed (again we all had to go to get him to settle down).
This morning he got a wake up call (we were already up) from Mickey, which was really sweet. We packed up and got out of there. We made great time all the way back.
He did such a great job. We went into this knowing that he could melt down, he could get tired, we were just going to be chill and relaxed and not have expectations. But he stayed with us for the whole time. There was one meltdown post-Toontown, when he was tired and hungry and it was getting close to his normal bedtime (and he now says it happened because “I didn’t know what I wanted,” which is very wise). He was sweet and nice, and every time we took a picture of or with him, he looked nicely at the camera and smiled and said cheese. He stayed with us, he held hands, he said please and thank you. He was WONDERFUL.
If this is four, sign me up.
What a fantastic little boy. He’s so great. I’m really glad we were able to do this with him…and with just him. He’s adjusted really well to having a little sister, so I’m glad we could reward him for that by giving him a really special, big boy trip. And now he knows what Disneyland is, and he’s already asking to go back!