We're slowly returning to normal life after a busy week last week. Disneyland was exhausting, but so fun! I am pretty sure they pump some sort of happy medicine into the air there- everyone is so cheerful!
We spent two days at Disneyland- decided not to do California Adventure on this trip, since the kids are still young. And we think it was a good choice. Ethan rode pretty much every ride in Disneyland (except Indiana Jones, which has a 46 inch height limit) and Vivian had a blast meeting pixies, princesses, Mickey and Co. and Winnie the Pooh and friends. She was so excited to hug everyone and sweetly posed for oodles of pictures. It made me happy to see her so excited.
Ethan measured in at 40 inches exactly, so was able to ride not just the little roller coaster in Toontown, but also Space Mountain (which freaked me out!), Big Thunder Mountain and Star Tours. Star Tours was SO cool- we did that one twice and I would have ridden it more if we had more time. If you're going to Disneyland, do not miss that ride!
Okay, so what worked for us and what didn't.
1) LABEL YOUR CHILDREN. Ethan and Vivian are what I refer to as "city trained". We do most of our errands on foot, so they are used to watching for cars and staying close to Mom and Dad, even when we aren't able to hold their hands. So I was not worried about them running off and it didn't occur to me to put our phone numbers on the kids some place. And we were fine for most of the trip. Except for right after lunch on the first day. We had met up with some friends from church (we actually randomly ran into them on the "Its a Small World" ride. Seriously, how ironic!) and went from four adults and two kids to six adults and four kids. The other mom and I were walking ahead with our girls, and Ethan was holding hands with his little friend. But the other mom and I didn't see that and didn't realize he was with us. And Daniel and all the other adults saw Ethan with us and didn't realize that we didn't know. Somewhere right at the door to Minnie's house, something happened and Ethan didn't make it inside.
So then we went all the way through Minnie's house and part of Mickey's house, then I went out to Daniel and commented "where is Ethan?" To which Daniel responded with the heart-stopping words "he's with H". But I knew he wasn't, since I'd been with her for the past 15 minutes. Fortunately we had lots of adults on hand, so we parked the little ones with the other dad and we split up.
And we found him within minutes of starting to look. He had done everything right- had stayed right where he was and a park worker found him and was waiting with him. Daniel's mom got to him first and he was just a little upset then. My poor brave boy!
Seriously, put a sticker on your kids or write your cell number on their arm in sharpie or put a note in their pocket and tell them to give it to a park worker. Kids get lost super fast and really often in Disneyland.
2) Bring lots of snacks. We were able to save a lot of money by packing tons of snacks with us. I brought ours from home since we were flying Southwest and had lots of free baggage, but there's a Target not too terribly far from Disneyland (easily accessible by the ART bus that serves the hotels and Disneyland), so you could pack up there too. We brought water bottles and juice and snack bars and applesauce pouches and tons of other stuff with us into Disneyland and only ended up buying lunch there one day. Saved a ton of money.
3) Most of the hotels are located on the same street as Disneyland, and there's a handy bus service that comes along about every 20 minutes and serves most of the hotels (different hotels are on different routes). It's not expensive for a multiple day pass and you can use it as often as you want. We stayed at a budget hotel "three blocks" from Disneyland, but the blocks were huge and I think it was more like a mile and a half. So the bus service was really handy and we were pleased with how easy it was to use. We also really liked our hotel- it had a basic pool and hot tub, and a really nice free breakfast. Our rooms also had a big fridge and a microwave, which also saved us a ton of money, as we were able to eat leftovers from earlier meals and also buy basics at Target and cook them in our rooms.
4) Maggie recommended buying the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland and I am going to hug her next time I see her, because that was SUCH a good recommendation. It is a great book with detailed information on every ride, including suggestions for which ages will like it/be afraid. There are also suggested touring guides for different numbers of days at the park and age ranges. This was so valuable to me- I knew exactly where we were going and having a plan took away so much stress. If I'd been trying to wrangle two kids, two seniors and my husband around the park with no plan, it would have been awful. Instead, we were pretty relaxed. We did do a few of the Day 2 recommendations on our first day, if we were nearby and there was no line.
5) If you can go on a weekday, do it. Our first day was Wednesday and our second was Friday and it was like being at a different park. Wednesday we had almost no lines for anything, even rides that the book said would almost always have super long waits. We never waited for anything longer than 25 minutes, even meeting princesses.
6) If you have little kids (four and under) and happen to have extra adults that might want to travel with you, take them. Even though Daniel's parents didn't do many of the rides, they had fun watching the kids have fun. And it was so nice to be able to leave Vivian with them and be able to take Ethan on rides together. We also were able to leave the kids with them one evening and go back to the park to ride rides on our own and see the light show. I was hesitant about the idea of them coming along, but it make all the difference in the world.
I think that's all I can think of for right now. I'm so glad Ethan and I talked Daniel into this trip- it was a really fun time for all of us, and we have great memories of a wonderful multi-generation family trip.