Saturday, June 18, 2011

Disneyland, or We Did It!

We have now taken our first-ever family trip to Disneyland. Yes, we live in California; no, we had never taken our kids to Disneyland. Scandalous! (A friend suggested we might have been in violation of some law to have never taken the family there. I wouldn't be surprised). But this year, we finally took the plunge. We realized our kids are getting so old—our oldest daughter just turned twenty, and we’ll have two in college next fall—that if we wanted a full family trip to Disneyland, we’d better hurry and do it before the kids started to scatter to missions, marriage, grad school, etc.

We left the day after my daughter Shauna graduated from high school. Shauna didn’t feel particularly sentimental about leaving high school; she’s not one you’d see crying at graduation. Her take on graduating was more along the lines of, “It’s over! Hahahahahaha! You can’t make me go back!” She had some great teachers and great friends, but high school was never her scene, and she’s thrilled to be heading to college in the fall.

On the way to southern California, we stopped at Pismo Beach and wandered around. (Bugs Bunny fans may recall Pismo Beach as one of the many destinations Bugs Bunny was trying to reach, but missed when he didn’t take that “left turn at Albuquerque.”). The sand there was super fine and it was windy, but I didn’t worry about my camera since it’s one of those cameras that you can get wet or drop. This doesn’t mean we won’t break it eventually; it just means we’ll have to work harder to achieve that goal. We could accidentally break Fort Knox, given the chance.

So it turns out that a lot of people like going to Disneyland. I knew there would be long lines, but didn’t realize the streets themselves would be packed solid with people. This website puts summer attendance between 50-60 thousand people daily. Good heavens! That’s a decent-sized city, all packed into a theme park! And attendance peaks at Christmas break—70 thousand visitors will be standing ahead of you in line, waiting for Splash Mountain, so I hope you brought something to read (which, I did, actually. I had my Kindle in my purse in case I needed it, and I did pull it out a couple of times—once when Indiana Jones broke down and once when I was sitting outside Space Mountain waiting for my daughter). My husband was reading War and Peace on his phone when he got bored. War and Peace is a good choice for Disneyland: no matter how long the line, your book is longer.

The Fastpass system worked great for avoiding super long waits on popular attractions. We would trade off so my youngest daughter, who didn’t want to do the crazy stuff, could do more kid-friendly rides while others went on the wild ones. Longest lines were for the new Star Tours, so we got Fastpasses there. They have different storylines for the ride, so it’s luck of the draw which one you get, and I think I must have gotten one of the less thrilling ones, since afterward I felt like meh, it was okay, but I sure wouldn’t wait two hours in line for that. But others in the family seemed to enjoy it more.

Everyone had fun, even my husband who was still suffering from a serious case of poison oak (poor guy), my older son who formerly hadn’t liked amusement parks, and my second daughter who isn’t keen on crowds. I loved it—I’ve always loved amusement parks. When I was a kid, our family trip to Lagoon was almost as exciting as Christmas. Few things were as thrilling to me as racing around with my sister, going on Dracula’s Castle or that old wooden roller coaster. I’d love to take the family back to Disneyland some day, so, taking a cue from my brother’s family (huge Disneyland fans--he even has the CD of all the ride music which means he voluntarily listens to It's a Small World), I’ve started a Disneyland jar where I put spare change. I always have a container on top of the drier where I can put the change I find in people’s pockets, so why not take a jar, label it “Disneyland” and put that on the drier instead? It makes it a lot more fun to check pockets. If I fill up the jar, I . . . well, maybe I’ll be able to afford a frozen chocolate-covered banana for everyone. Hmm, maybe I'll need more than one jar . . .


  1. "no matter how long the line, your book is longer." Truth!

    We took the whole family about five years ago, and spent four days there park hopping with my daughter and her (at the time) two kids). It was a lot of fun, but only one of our teenaged boys was really into it. What's with that? A sixteen year-old-boy who'd rather stay in the hotel room and play video games?

    That FastPass system makes things so much better.

    So glad it was a trip you'd like to make again. Money well spent.

  2. By the end, my 14-yo son and 17-yo daughter were both SO ready to go. I would have loved to stay longer (and the other three kids would have liked to stay), but ah well, the party has to end, especially when you have a long drive home.

  3. Hi Stephanie. Just wanted to let you know that because you are so very awesome, I am awarding you with The Irresistibly Sweet Blog Award. There are rules in accepting this, so be sure to check out my blog to view them. Have a great day! BTW, we haven't taken our kids to Disney Land yet, but we hope to soon. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I've only been to DisneyLAND a couple of times, but Disney WORLD probably closer to 15 times. (I did grown up in FL. It was a popular destination.)

    I will pass these bits :

    Wear comfortable shoes (go Keens!)
    Space Mountain is better in California. The music alone puts it over the top, plus the more comfy seating.
    Splash Mountain is better in FL, again, better seating there.
    My favorite ride: the Matterhorn! (I am also partial to California Screaming, but it doesn't really count)

  5. Aww, thank you, Kimberly! I'm honored!

    Jon, amen about the shoes. I was wearing my comfortable running shoes, and my feet were still SO TIRED by the end of the day. It blew my mind when I saw a couple of women wearing high wedge heels. How in the world did they survive?

    Sadly, the Matterhorn was closed. Bummer!

  6. I agree, Sarah--it was great! I hope we go back someday (and hopefully in the off season . . .)