June 3-7, 2013
Let’s be clear. Jeff LOVES Disneyland. Before we had Ellie, Jeff took me to Disneyland because we knew we wouldn’t be able to go back for a while, and as soon as Ellie was approaching five years old, Jeff started talking about making it a family vacation. Not that I wasn’t a willing participant, but this was totally Jeff’s idea.
Our friend Salle came with us for 4 of the 5 days, and then my mom and brother joined us on the last day.
Some highlights and memorable moments (with lots of photos further down the page):
We had an initial roller coaster misstep at Splash Mountain (that last drop was just too much too early in the trip), but on this trip we discovered (well, confirmed) that we have a roller coaster junkie. The first time we took Ellie on Space Mountain there were no tears (like on Splash Mountain), but she wasn’t entirely sure she enjoyed it either. After going on Matterhorn a few times (at her request) and loving that, she was ready to try Space Mountain again. While in line, she was getting herself worked up and wanted to be held. She told me, “I’m not sure if I’ll scream out of fear or delight.” Afterward, she was grinning from ear to ear and proclaimed, “That was awesome!” When I asked if she screamed out of fear or delight she said she couldn’t scream because she forgot to breathe. Yep, I get that.
Much to my disappointment, Big Thunder Mountain was closed for refurbishment while we were there. I can’t wait to take Ellie on that one.
Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique
The Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique is a beauty salon in Sleeping Beauty Courtyard where “girls can be transformed into little princesses!” To be honest, I was rather skeptical about doing the princess thing. Ellie has never been overly into princesses or super girly things in general, but her cousin Emma had gone to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique when she was Ellie’s age, so we sort of felt obligated to take Ellie. Boy, am I glad we did! It was a fantastic experience from start to finish.
When we got there, a Fairy Godmother in Training took Ellie shopping for her dress. She got to choose from about 10 different styles. Ellie chose the yellow Princess Tiana dress from the movie Princess and the Frog. Then she got to pick out which hairstyle she wanted from a brochure. She quickly chose the Disney Diva, which gave her hair extensions. Although they had colors that matched her hair, Ellie decided she wanted the very blonde one. When I expressed some concern about the choice of blonde hair, Ellie replied, “We are not here for you, Mom.” Indeed, it was her time and I kept my mouth shut. So, she got into her new dress and the makeover began.
One lady did her hair while another did her makeup and nails. She sat still and didn’t complain at all. When it was time for the Big Reveal, the curtains parted, exposing the mirror (that—I’m not kidding—twinkled!) and allowing Ellie to see herself. She seemed surprised and happy, then sat up a little straighter.
They took her to Cinderella’s Carriage where she was the star of her own photo shoot, and then provided her with an escort to the Royal Hall where she got priority entrance (skipped the line) to meet the “real” Disney princesses.
For the rest of the day, she carried herself a little more formal, with good posture and grace. All over the park, cast members called her “Princess” and went a little out of their way to give her special attention. Disney knows how to do fantasy right!
By staying at Paradise Pier, one of the Disney hotels, we got Magic Hour access (one hour earlier than the general public) to the parks every day at 7:00am. The first few days we were good about taking afternoon naps and going to the pool before heading back to the park, but as the week went on, there were too many reasons to skip nap time.
As we wanted to be up late to see the Fantasmic, fireworks, and World of Color shows (all evening entertainment), it meant the days were long and tiring. Ellie was a trooper, though, not requiring a stroller even once. (Still, a long and tiring experience at Disneyland is quite different from most other experiences.) Every night, Jeff ended up carrying an almost-comatose Ellie back to the hotel (about a 10 minute walk). He loved it. She cuddled up and clung to him and he got lots of hugs and kisses on the way back. As soon as her head hit the pillow she was asleep.
On Thursday night (the same day we did the princess makeover), we were at the California Adventure side of the park. Jeff and Salle (and her friend Jana) decided they wanted to do the Tower of Terror so Ellie and I went off to do some other rides. When I told her it was time to go back and go to bed, she burst into tears. She really wanted to go swimming and knew we wouldn’t get a chance on Friday since we had to check out of our room. It took only seconds for me to decide that we MUST go swimming. We walked back, got into our bathing suits and went down to the pool. After playing in the pool for a few minutes (while I tried to get the metric ton of hairspray out of her hair), we settled down in the hot tub and watched the fireworks display from there. It was pretty awesome and one of my favorite memories from the trip.
On Friday, my mother and brother joined us and we had a great time showing my brother that Ellie was up for almost anything. That night, Ellie asked to do one more ride – one we hadn’t done yet – before we left Disneyland to go to Glendale. There weren’t many options since we had been on almost everything, but we decided on Storybook Land Canal Boats in Fantasyland. Because the fireworks were about to start and the castle was closed, we got detoured through a back alley. We stopped and checked with a cast member to make sure we were heading the right way. We told her that this was our last ride then we were heading home. She smiled, assured us we were going the right way, and graciously provided us with a pass to skip the line. She said to hurry because the boats don’t run while the fireworks are going off. As it turned out, we got there right as they were stopping the boats so they had us sit in the Exit area and we got to watch the fireworks from there. The best seat in the house. The fireworks were right above us! We had our last ride and headed home.
At the front gate upon arrival
On Main Street, meeting Minnie
Sword in the Stone
Fancy mouse ears
Looking out the submarine porthole
Jazz hands with Walt
Taking a break at the hotel pool
Giant water slide!
Hanging with Lightning
Tractor girl at Cars Land
Jeff meets his heroes
Posing with Mike Wozowski
On Flicks Flyers in Bugs Land
Of all the frilly, girly options, my daughter chooses a rocket. Right on!
A bear hug from Baloo
Salle meets a dog who is a chef – doesn’t get better than that
Ellie is a little nervous about meeting Tinkerbell, her favorite fairy
Ellie makes a friend
Changing into the new dress
Have I mentioned that Ellie really doesn’t like to have her hair brushed
Hey, Ellie! There’s a tribble on your head
So much attention from the Fairy Godmothers in Training
Some magic drying polish
Can they cover the black eye?
Such a beauty!
The big reveal…and her admirers
With her woodland animal friends
Showing off the dress
My favorite picture – she’s so happy
In Cinderella’s carriage
Princess in the sun
This princess thing is tiring
Showing Uncle Robert the petting zoo
Grandma Patty and Uncle Robert
We had such an amazing time, and much to our surprise, we could have easily stayed longer. We anticipated having lots of downtime, hanging at the hotel pool, going on Small World 15 times, and exploring Tom Sawyer’s island. But, we only did the pool a few short times, Small World once, and never even made it to the island. I guess we’ll have to go back for more…soon!