Friday, October 5, 2012

Disney Dreams- California Adventure

My whole life I dreamed of going to Disneyland. I watched all the movies, heard all my friends talking about their adventures at Disneyland and knew one day my dream would come true. Well, that is not entirely true. I did get to go to Disneyland as a kid! We didn't move to California from Chicago for nothing did we? 

Alex and his family did not have the same opportunity as I did. They only lived 4,725 miles away and didn't manage to make the trip. Well, it was high time we made some dreams come true!!!  We would have waited for the girls to be older but kids under three are free which means, while Gemma will likely remember none of this trip when she is older, at least she was free!! It was also perfect timing since G&G England were going to be here in the Fall and we wanted to go off season to beat some of the crowds.

We made our plans to go on a Tuesday and Wednesday and stay over night. Go big or go home is out motto (not really) so we even stayed at the Disney Grand Californian Hotel! It was beautiful and located right next to the park.  We arrived on Monday evening and checked into our luxury accommodation. The girls wasted no time getting comfy and watching the Disney Junior channel.
We walked out of our hotel onto Downtown Disney and decided on the Jazz kitchen for dinner. It is nice that all the restaurants are really kid friendly. You don't have to worry about noise or messes. The food was really good too, and people watching on the avenue was great.
After dinner we walked around downtown disney. Too bad we already had dessert at the restaurant. I would have fallen for one of these fancy caramel apples! 
When we arrived back at our room (well after bed time already!) we found mickey had been by and left  us chocolate coins! Nothing like a sugar fix before bed, this is vacation after all! Right to bed after, we had a busy day ahead of us.
One of the big perks of staying in a Disney hotel is you get entrance to the park an hour before it is open to the public. Only remember that everyone else staying in the hotel is getting in early too! We went to California Adventure the first day. We lined up to get into the park and made our strategy for the day. Mostly it was to get passes to view the World of Color show that evening and then head to Cars land. It is both girls favorite movie (with Tinker bell running a close second.) 
We arrived in radiator springs along with everyone else. I guess you could say it is the most popular attraction at California Adventure. It was well worth the crowd though and we only waited in a short line to ride our first ride of the day!!! Radiator Springs racers. Nothing like taking Lily on a speedy ride to set the tone!
We failed to inform her you would have to wait in line for rides so she was a little confused in the beginning. Not to worry though, the ride did not disappoint! It was fun, cute, and yes....speedy!

The scenery was amazing. You really felt like you stepped into the movie!
Gemma didn't make the height requirement for this ride so she hung out with Grampy and Granny. The bonus of bringing a little one with you is you can request a parent swap pass. Essentially this means another adult can return to the ride with the older child and ride again without waiting in line! So Lily got to ride a second time with Grampy and no lines!!
We stopped for a drink and refreshment at Flo's V8 cafe. I want to live in this town. It is so cute. Lily was busy reading the map and planning the next ride.
Just down the road, who did we run into but the best race car ever!!! Granny sneaked this picture of Lily with her favorite character.
We saw Mater there later in the day too but he had quite the crowd. I guess we were supposed to wait in line to have an up close photo op but we were in a hurry to RIDE some RIDES!!
We jumped right on Luigi's tires and even Gemma could ride this one. It is like floating bumper cars.
To be honest it is a little anti-climactic. They don't move very fast AT ALL. You have to lean in the direction you want it to go but even then it doesn't move much. Cute concept though and it was funny to watch us make fools of ourselves.
Next up was Mater's junk yard jamboree. You can pose on the little mini tractor. They are so cute and we love them in the movie when they all tip over.
Luckily there is no tipping over in the ride. It is kind of like the scrambler from carnivals. It whips you around in loops and makes you squish into each other in the car.
Lily rode with G&G and Gemma rode with Mom and Dad. Gemma was not sure what to make of this ride. I think she liked it, once it was over.
Next it was on to Bug's land. The rides were all aimed at Lily and Gemma's age group. The lines were quick or none at all! Grampy was Lily's official ride partner for the day. I am not sure he enjoyed all the rides but Lily did!
I know you can't see Lily in this one because she was so small. I guess you don't need to see out to appreciate flying in the air in a chinese take out box.
By this time we were pooped and ready for a lunch break. We headed toward the main street and turned the corner to find...Mickey! He and his pals were just having a little dance party parade. 
He took off in a trolley car with his pals. The girls were so excited to meet him for the first time. Gemma was chanting Mickey, Mickey the whole time.
We cooled off in the A/C and had a bite to eat followed by a chocolate ice cream bar with mickey shaped sprinkles.
It is not going to be long before Lily catches on to bring Grandma and Grandpa on vacation with you as often as possible. Ice creams after lunch, followed by balloons!!!
How can you refuse when you see such a beautiful sight as a a giant bouquet of Mickey ear balloons. I think of the movie "up" every time. It was red for Lily and "boo" for Gemma. I have to say, it was a great $7 each investment. Those balloons are STILL flying high at home and it is 2 1/2 weeks later!!!
Lily consulted the map for our next move. We brought two light strollers which worked out perfectly. Lily doesn't use a stroller much but it would have been way too much walking for her. We could split up and leave one stroller parked if we needed to. I think all the adults wish we had a free ride at some point in the day.

We headed around the corner to ride the soaring over California ride and stumbled into....Minnie! Alex and I agree the soaring over California ride was one of our favorite. Lily loved it too even though it was high up in the air and she really thought we were flying. Even Grampy liked it. Gemma stayed behind with Granny (who doesn't like heights) and had a 5 minute snooze, her only nap for the day.
By this time it was about 3pm and we were hot, tired, and had looped back to the entrance to our hotel. We contemplated a ride on the roaring rapids (it turned out Lily was too short for this ride). We decided to head back to the hotel for a dip in the pool. We had seen it from afar and heard there was a water slide!
Let's just say this pool did not disappoint. Lily could have easily stayed in all day and never been tired. She went down the slide by herself over, and over, and over.
It was pretty fast and "spit" you out at the bottom where you could climb out and get right back in line.
They had a "mini" slide for tiny tots too. I am not exaggerating in saying that Gemma found her true love. Guess  Gop Gop needs to install a water slide in her pool to keep up. She went down the slide over, and over, with no help or prompting. All the other toddlers wore life jackets. Oh no, not Gemma. She went face first, flat on her back, belly down, you name it. All the other parents were seriously impressed. They kept asking how she knew how to swim so young, oh and they all thought she was 15 months old too. Tiny and fearless, with a big vocabulary.
Lily thought the life jacket was a novelty and since the big slide shot you out like a rocket I think she needed it. She also informed us that big people were not allowed on the slide (not true). Alex went down once at the end just to prove her wrong.
After returning to the room for a shower and fresh clothes we headed back to the park for more rides, dinner, and the water show! By this time it was around 5PM and we headed to paradise pier which we had skipped earlier. There were no lines anywhere and we hopped on rides right and left. The girls loved the Ariel ride and went twice. Lily wanted to ride the rockets. She was so brave.
Some other people were not so brave :)
It did go pretty high but gave great views.
We took on the carousel just as it was starting to get dark, then headed to get pizza for dinner.
The park "closes" and 8PM but I guess that just means the rides stop at 8. The World of color show was at 8:15. You had to get tickets to stand in the viewing area which we picked up right when the park opened that morning. We did stand around for about half an hour waiting but it was so worth it.
The water in the pond sprays in huge, huge waves and they project clips from all the disney movies on it while playing music from the movies. It was really awesome.
This is lady and the tramp, you can sort of see. The show was so cool and you left feeling so awed. Only Disney can do this kind of stuff. I think they should be part of the next Olympics ceremonies somewhere.
It was late and we were all tired. We had another big day ahead at Disneyland so it was off to bed to play sleeping beauty. 

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