Amidst the heat, the crowds, and the occasional Grumpypants Grownup, the MAGIC remains in Disneyland.
I took my daughter, my best friend and her daughter for an overnight stay in Disneyland/California Adventure last week. Both me and my friend badly needed the getaway and the girls had been begging for months to go. My daughter didn't even know what Disneyland was, she just kept saying, "There's a Castle there! And Princesses! I want to go to Disneyland!"
How could I refuse? A Castle AND Princesses!
I was delighted to find that there was so much more. I haven't been to Disneyland in over 10 years and I'd never stepped foot into California Adventure. What a treat to drive 45 minutes from my house and find, truly, a Magic Kingdom.
Our tour guide, Cheryl, greeted us at the hotel and helped us get situated and make a plan to hit all the spots we wanted to see in 2 days.
The girls met the Princesses first. Look, I'll be honest, as a feminist I'm on the fence about Disney princesses in general (minus the bad-asses like Merida & Elsa and my favorite, Rapunzel... I guess Ariel's pretty cool too, but a little obsessed over the dude. And let's get real about Belle, people. Sista has Stockholm Syndrome, ok? Pocohontas & Mulan rock my socks, but they totally get the shaft from everyone). Anyway, my kid has all the princess dresses, but we do boxing lessons while she wears them, so I feel like I'm balancing it out, lol.
The Princesses in Disneyland are rad. They're so good with the kids. For some reason Snow White was scary for the girls, but this actress decided to play hide & seek with them and totally won them over! The Faeries in Pixie Hollow spent a nice chunk of time with all the kids that came through the line (usually because the line there is shorter than others, I don't know why). Meeting Tinkerbell was a total highlight for our girls. We also caught the Beauty & the Beast show at the little Royal theatre. It's a Small World is nice and cold inside and there's SOOOO much to look at-- most things have some element of glitter on them. That makes me happy :)
FYI there's also a brunch you can do where you meet 5 princesses and have breakfast with them. We didn't get in on it, but if you plan your trip with little girls, you'll want to know about that.
Other points not to miss in Disneyland were Toontown where Minnie & Mickey "live" and you can tour their hilarious homes. There is also a mini roller-coaster with some surprising d-force but not too much. It's a great way to introduce toddlers to coasters. The cafe on the Rivers of America is a really relaxing place to stop in the midst of the hot, busy day. I really liked the Fried Green Tomato Sandwich. And in that area, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride is fun, as is just sitting by the train station and listening to the seriously talented musicians play some dirty, old fashioned, New Orleans jazz. If we'd had time I would have loved to take the canoe tour on the river. It's so beautiful. And in that area, the Pirates of the Caribbean ride is fun, as is just sitting by the train station and listening to the seriously talented musicians play some dirty, old fashioned, New Orleans jazz. (Also, if we'd had time, we would have gone into Tomorrowland, but it was a little mature for them).
Instead, we took the train (which is it's own ride- giving you a private, prehistoric tour!) to the front of the park and made our way back to the Grand Californian Hotel. We took a little rest, a dip in the hot tub and had a glass of wine before walking over to California Adventure for the evening waterlight show called "World of Color". You guys. I've never seen anything like this in my life. I'm not even sure how to describe it except that it includes water fountains orchestrated to grew disney music-- oh, and watching movie clips that are projected onto water. It's.... unbelievable. Chills.
The next morning we had a leisurely breakfast at Starbucks in downtown Disney and then Cheryl met up with us again to hit a few more spots in Disneyland before landing back in California Adventure where we spent the rest of our day.
California Adventure reminded me of the Empire that is Disney. They own everything. Pixar, LucasFilms, Marvel, ESPN, Maker Studios... it's insane. First we took the kiddos to Monsters Inc. ride which was really like actually being in the movie... I'm not sure how else to explain that.... Then to CARS land and to A Bug's Life. Bugs Life section was great-- giant "leaky faucets" to run and play under, a Caterpiller "chew-chew" train that goes through all the food the caterpillar has eaten, complete with scent explosions (like"cupcake" scent when you drive through the cupcake), and some ladybug bumper cars.
Don't miss the Ariel's Grotto ride in California Adventure, too. I could have done this one 3 times over. There was NO line. Literally. And it was so pretty.
After watching the Sophia the 1st/Doc McStuffins/Jake & Neverland Pirate's marionette show in stage, we had a relaxing meal at the Wine Country Trattoria (pictured below - click on photo for a little song). Make reservations ahead of time.
The most fun for grownups there is the boardwalk where we got the best view in the house atop the Ferris Wheel at night. It took the girls all of 2 minutes to fall asleep in their strollers as we walked back to our hotel to get our bags and put the sleeping beauties into the car to drive them home.
Thank you Disneyland for coming through, big time.
...now if I can only figure out a way to explain to my adamant daughter that we can't go there every day...