It was a spur of the moment trip with only about a week to prepare. Which ended up being perfect. I didn't have time to talk myself out of anything, or think too much, or worry. We just did it!
We ended up doing a 3-day park visit, so to maximize our time we did Disneyland Day 1, California Adventure Day 2, then Disneyland again on Day 3.
Leading up to the trip we made tutus, shirts, and autograph books:
In the car ride down we had Disney themed snacks:
and brought along Disney themed friends!
The Minnie Mouse doll sitting with Kate was the one I got on my first trip to Disneyland 22 years ago :)
The kids had NO idea where we were going or what Disneyland even was. We put them in the car while they were still half asleep and just told them we were going for a drive... a long, long drive.
When we finally got to our hotel, the kids were super excited! They just really liked the room :D (and we did too!)
Kate in her pull-out sofa bed--she climbed right in and hugged her blankets because she was so excited!
Edwin got to sleep on the twin air mattress which we pushed partway under the desk in the room so that he had a little cave. He was thrilled!
That night we took the kids to dinner at the Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney.
They each got a souvenir cup with dinner to kick off our vacation!
After dinner we played at the Lego store, and Jon made a Ravenclaw wizarding version of himself ;)
Our first day at Disneyland was a blast! We surprised the kids with handmade t-shirts that said 2017 with Mickey Ears on them, had an excellent breakfast buffet at the hotel, then stopped at the Candy Palace on Main Street for giant lollipops.
Our first official ride of the day was the Jungle Cruise in Adventure Land. When we exited the Jungle Cruise, Moana came right up to talk to Kate! We had only seen the movie once in the theater at this point, so I think Kate was a little unsure of what was happening.
Moana gathered some more kids around and played a shape-shifting game before heading on her way to find Hei Hei. We headed over to the Tiki Room and ate Dole Whip while we waited.
That day we also had our silhouettes done on Main Street. It's something I had wanted to do for years!
Bonnie was incredible. She has been cutting silhouettes at Disneyland for 43 years. She does it all by hand in under a minute. You just sit in front of her and she cuts away! No shadows, no computers, no tracing. We were mesmerized and so impressed. Plus she's a hoot to talk to. We are stoked to hang up our family cut-outs on the wall :)
Things really got exciting when the kids got to meet Pooh bear. They squealed with excitement! We rode on the ride through the Hundred Acre Wood, and then came out to see Eeyore, Tigger, and Pooh bear waiting to greet us. Kate and Edwin could hardly wait! That was when I knew that Winnie the Pooh would be the theme for Edwin's birthday :)
After Adventure and Frontier land, we headed over to Fantasyland, and Kate got a great first look at King Arthur's Carrousel:
We got First Visit buttons, lanyards, and Mickey ear hats with our names on them. :)
We were able to meet lots of great characters, like Pocahontas! Kate enjoyed showing off her bubble wand.
The Dumbo ride also ended up being a favorite, although Kate just wanted to stay flying low the whole time.
It was great taking turns doing things with the kids so that Jon could ride the big coasters (like Thunder Mountain Railroad) and we could meet characters, or he would take them on Snow White and Pinnochio while I waited in long lines (like for Peter Pan).
Having the sit and stand stroller was also AMAZING. Edwin was able to get some naps while we walked around in the afternoon. :)
For dinner we ate at Cafe Orleans, which looks over the river in my favorite part of Disneyland. :) The Shadow Man came by the tables out on the patio while we were waiting.
Edwin slept in the stroller for pretty much all of dinner:
That night ended with the Main Street Electrical Parade (which was incredible!) and we had an excellent night of sleep when we made it back to the hotel. :)
The next day started early with a Princess Breakfast in Ariel's Grotto. Our outfits that day were character themed from some of our favorite movies:
Ariel's Grotto was super fun, and the first stop on the way in was meeting Ariel herself! (The kids were a lot more excited than they look, haha)
A royal announcer introduced each princess, and they would come in about every 5 minutes and do a little dance before coming around to each table and greeting us:
We got to meet Belle, Rapunzel, Cinderella, and Tiana :) Most of the good pictures we took with the Instax camera for the kid's autograph books.
After breakfast we wandered through the California Adventure park, and the kids got to meet Woody from Toy Story!
We explored Bug's Land and Car's Land,
and Edwin got a giant dill pickle all to himself :)
I got to walk around with Edwin, and he picked out his very own Lightning McQueen Hot Wheel car, while Jon and Kate got to ride the big Cars racing ride together. :) Edwin and I watched their yellow racing car come over the hill and zip around the bend. Jon and Kate were in the back seat, so it is a little hard to see them in this picture.
We spent some time in Downtown Disney that afternoon and Kate built her own Pretty Flower Bear at the Build-A-Bear workshop. She also got a Woody doll from Toy Story.
That night for dinner we ate at the Storyteller's Cafe in the Grand Californian Hotel. Our last ride of the night was the Toy Story Midway Mania, and Edwin got a light-up Buzz Lightyear toy as we headed out of the park for the night. :)
Our third day at Disneyland started off to be the most exciting. The kids were finally getting the hang of it, and could hardly wait to go out the door! We knew this would be our longest day at Disneyland so far, because this night there were fireworks and the park would be open until midnight.
Our outfits for the day were traditional Disney theme; Mickey, Minnie, Darth Vader with a Mickey balloon, and Sleeping Beauty's castle.
We spent most of the day in Fantasy Land and Tomorrow Land, riding Peter Pan, the Tea Cups, Alice in Wonderland, and meeting lots of characters like Tinkerbell, Gaston, Alice and the Mad Hatter, Mary Poppins and Burt, and the Fairy Godmother.
Kate and Edwin also got their faces painted :)
We spent the afternoon in Toontown, (met Mickey Mouse!) and then headed back to the hotel for naps. We got back to the park at sunset to enjoy Disneyland at night :D
We rode the Buzz Lightyear astro blasters ride and Finding Nemo's submarines.
Edwin had a lot of fun styling Jon's hair while we waited our turn :)
Jon and Edwin also got to ride the rockets at the entrance to Tomorrowland, and earlier in the day they rode Gadget's Go-Coaster in Toontown. Edwin loves the fast rides and roller coasters! As he gets taller I'm sure he will be a fan of Thunder Mountain Railroad and the Matterhorn too.
The kids and I took a nighttime flight on Dumbo, while Jon used his fastpass for Hyper Space Mountain, and then we met up again by the carrousel for fireworks! Kate enjoyed them thoroughly, but Edwin was a little unsure.
Of course we were the first ones back on the carrousel when the fireworks ended early due to wind :)
We went from the carrousel to Casey Jr, then got a churro and rode the teacups and Alice in Wonderland. By that time it was 11pm and we were super proud of the kids for staying up that late! We headed to the potty and planned to walk back to our shuttle, but then Kate said, "Mom, can we ride Peter Pan one last time?" -- well, how could I say no?? Peter Pan has always been my favorite :) We waited in line for Peter Pan under the glow of Sleeping Beauty's castle, and even though Edwin ALMOST drifted off to sleep, he made it through and we had an excellent end to our longest Disney day!
We walked back down Main Street at midnight, and I loved how the kids' Mickey Mouse balloons looked against the lights of the shops. The whole trip was just magical.
The following morning as we packed up to head home, the kids were devastated that it was over! I'm finding that it's challenging to teach kids about time and helping them to understand values of days, hours, weeks, etc. We tried to talk about how we spent three GREAT days on vacation and now we were going home, but all Edwin said between his tears was, "I want to stay at Disneyland forever, because I do!" ;) Me too, little dude.
We stopped at Denny's for breakfast after checking out of the hotel (because it was something that I had remembered doing with my family from my first trip to Disneyland as a kid) and then we took the long drive back north to Roseville.
The kids talked all about the rides and the characters and the fun things we got to do. We made a plan to save money for going back to Disneyland again someday.
When I woke up on Sunday morning, Edwin was standing by my side of the bed wearing his Mickey ears and with his special buttons pinned to his jammies. haha! I loved it!
We decopauged jars for the kids to save money in for Disneyland. Now whenever they get some spare change or birthday money it is the first thing they want to do with it! It's been awesome to see them so excited about saving their money for something big, and it's given us a good chance as a family to learn about tithing and then saving and budgeting.
It was definitely well worth the trip, and the kids were really at perfect ages for such a grand surprise. :) We can't wait to go back to Disneyland again someday and have even more exciting adventures!