Sunday, May 31, 2009

A Week in Anaheim

This last week we went to Anaheim to go to Disneyland and California Adventure Land. For family members that receive a weekly e-mail from me, much of what I write here will sound a lot like our weekly family e-mail. For those who don't receive our weekly e-mails, I'll try to spare you some of the details.

With a five-year-old daughter, a three-year-old daughter, and a fourteen-month-old son, you can imagine some of the challenges the trip posed for us. Fortunately, we were able to play Disney movies in our van as we made the seven-and-a-half-hour trip (it was actually a couple hours longer due to some stops we had to make and some heavy traffic as we neared our destination). Additionally, we had to walk about a mile to get to the park. Two of the kids generally rode in our double stroller, while the other often rode on my shoulders.

After checking into our hotel on the afternoon of Memorial Day, we made the walk to Disneyland, where we finally revealed the destination to our children. While it was a great surprise for them, we aren't sure what is better--the surprise or letting them know well in advance so the anticipation builds up. What do you think?

We had a great time meeting Disney characters throughout the week and getting their signatures and pictures. The longest line we waited in all week was the one to meet different Disney princesses (An hour and a half). While Debs waited in line, I took the kids to the It's a Small World ride and then I switched places with her. We were fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. We were visiting with Mulan when Princess Aurora came to take her place, so the girls got to see four princesses instead of three.

Since Gabs was the only one tall enough of our kids to go on several of the rides, we used Bells' ticket to get an extra Fastpass to allow us to skip the long lines. That way either Debs or I could go with her on some of the rides while the other took Bells and Erik to more suitable rides for their age. Gabs would literally skip from one ride to the next, and was constantly talking. Both Debs and I were glad to finally get the chance to give our children some one-on-one quality time. It was like Christmas every day for an entire week.

There was one ride at Disneyland that Gabs couldn't ride, since she didn't meet the height requirements. It was the Indiana Jones Adventure ride. Debs rode it by herself, while I took the kids to another ride, and then I rode on it. Halfway into the ride, the truck in front of use broke down. Consequently, we sat in our truck, unable to unbuckle, for half an hour. They finally escorted us out on foot, giving us a Fastpass good for any ride in the park for up to six people. While I enjoyed the part of the ride that I was able to do, I realized that it was not nearly as fun as when I rode with my daughter or family. Both Debs and I enjoyed seeing our kids' excitement much more than the rides themselves.

As for how we afforded to make such a trip on such a small budget, Debs found a great five-day deal for a hotel and park-hopper passes that included a $50 gift card. In addition to the things we bought with the gift card, she also brought Disney games and toys that she had found on clearance during the last year. To further help a budget strapped family, she started experimenting with recipes she found online for our rice cooker. Yes, rice cookers can cook a lot more than just rice.

On Saturday, after checking out of our hotel, we went to Huntington Beach for a little more than an hour, so our children could see the ocean for the first time and collect seashells.


Cameron and Katie said...

I am so impressed and so jealous. You have to share all your "tricks" with me as to how you did it on a budget so we can go some day, too.
Plus, Erik looks so OLD! So sad since we haven't even seen him yet, he has to stay little until we can at least meet him!

cking said...

Fun! Sounds like you had a great time. I smiled to see the girls in matching clothes:) I was talking to a friend the other day about how our parents did that to us when we went to Disneyland:)

Trena Doll said...

Sounds like so much fun! I love watching kids totally "buy in" to the magic of the out-of-the-ordinary. Its a feeling that wish I could recapture more easily.

fawndear said...

Thanks for letting us live Disneyland vicariously through you. Love that place! So glad your family had such a wonderful time.