Warning: Photo heavy content to follow (it's Disneyland, so you can't blame us)
We just got back from day two of our theme park marathon. We spent yesterday at Disneyland and today at Universal Studios. I'll start with yesterday, our first in Anaheim.
Here we are just inside the gates of the park. At the risk of sounding cheeseball, I forgot how neat a feeling it is to walk into Disneyland. The kids were, of course, excited. Although, Finny was a little dismayed, she told me later, to see a lot of "shops and no rides". Main Street USA was a touch too commercial for her, I guess.
We took the double-decker bus down to the end of the street to Tomorrowland, where we got on the first ride we saw. TIP: go to Disneyland in November on a weekday...we walked onto virtually every ride.
With the kids initiated into ridedom, we upped the ante (that first ride was pretty tame, right?). We went on the new Toy Story ride, which was fun (and normally an hour wait, at least...now that isn't fun). Then...Space Mountain. My version of teaching babies to swim by throwing them into the deep end of the pool. I went with Molly and then Eric was going to go with Finny. Molly was a trooper. She was terrified, but brave. I congratulated her by letting her know that she had conquered the scariest ride of the day. Her first grown up ride. She was proud and so was I.
Then Finny and Eric left for their turn. When they returned, sort of glum, I thought maybe Finny had chickened out. Nope. Eric had. Or at least, they turned him away because he didn't fit in the ride. That's right. The strange thing is that we went on that same ride together when we were about 19 and I don't remember any problem. Either Eric grew, or that ride shrank. Neither seems probable, so I'm stumped.
Finny was feeling like she got saddled with a bum companion, so I went on again with her. She was so excited. She was talking a blue streak the whole way to the top of the first dark hill. Then there was silence, followed by a true blood-curdling scream. She was terrified. Like, for real. She was shouting "when is this done?!?!?!??!" into my ear for the whole second half of the ride. At the end, I gave her the same pep talk as I'd given Molly. She was more relieved that proud, I think.
Lucas meet his first grown-up ride around the corner at the Matterhorn. I was shocked to see that he was allowed on the ride and I think he was too. We all climbed on together. At the end, he said it was scared but it was okay because he just squeezed his eyes shut the whole time. He got the pep talk, too.
Here he is with the Matterhorn behind him, giving the thumbs up sign:
Then, since he'd been such a brave boy, next choice was his. The carousel. He totally dug it. As an aside, I almost got a hilarious picture of Eric talking on his iPhone while riding a horse on the merry-go-round. Darn it. It would have been good. It is hard to ridicule him if I don't have photographic evidence. Just trust me, it was funny.
Girls on the merry-go-round:
We then went on a long series of kid's rides. You know, Snow White's Scary Adventure, Peter Pan's Flight, Pinocchio's Daring Journey, Alice in Wonderland etc, etc, etc. I thought it was funny that the kids had come off some very adult rides that are meant to scare big people, but it was these "kids" rides that wigged them out a bit. They were kinda scary, actually. Or at least weird. I mean, Pinocchio is a strange story anyway, but the Snow White ride ended in a terrifying tableau, then the doors to daylight opened with a book page that said, "They all lived happily ever after". It's like they ran out of track or something. The last scene got cut from the budget. Eric and I actually laughed out loud. Walking onto these rides was fun, but I would not want to wait for 45 minutes for them.
I was also a touch disturbed by the new Bibbity Bobbity Boo Boutique that had every indulged little girl in the park decked out in hairspray, princess dresses and sparkles. It was intense. And impractical for rides. Do five year olds need spas? I say no. So does Finny. She also mentioned that the dresses would get dirty. Good point.
We had some PB & J sandwiches we'd brought for lunch then took the railway to the other side of the park. We did the Haunted House, which Lukey bawled through but the rest of us loved. Then off to Splash Mountain. Eric went on with the girls and I hung out with Lukey at the exit for the ride. He had the line up in stitches because there was a Pooh and Tigger taking pictures with kids. He was following them around saying, "I love them. I wanna hug those guys" over and over.
So when the girls got off the ride, he did. Look how happy he is here:
Then he made us all hug Tigger.
Finny had been so keen on Splash Mountain that she made me ride it again. I am glad she did, because it was my favourite ride of the day. It was a great combo between scenic and great attention to detail with a healthy dose of screech inducing hills and drops. The last drop was thrilling. Finny was most excited about the fact that there were no seat belts on the ride. I was pretty surprised, too. Here is the keener boarding her log:
We ran into Goofy.
Lukey saw a couple of fire trucks. He really likes fire trucks. We have to stop every time.
We went over to Tom Sawyer's Island. As the kids tore around the place, climbing in and out of caves and pirate lairs, ripping across rope bridges and scaling the rock formations, it occurred to me that they were as happy with the treehouse on the island as they were with the multi-million dollar rides. I had a thought. Kids take fun for granted. They love it when it comes and enjoy it until it's gone. They don't know that their first trip to Disneyland is a fleeting and precious family experience. Only Eric and I get that. The magic is mostly ours, not theirs.
They're just living in the moment, which is pretty awesome. Eric and I can think about being here with our families when we were kids. We can remember being here together in our late teens. Now we are here with our KIDS and hopefully one day, with our grandchildren. That's some heavy stuff. They're just playing in a treehouse. Good for them.
They found treasure on the island. So did I.
After the simplicity of Tom Sawyer, we headed over to Indiana Jones. Pretty much the opposite of simple. Both girls covered their eyes THE WHOLE time. Then the jungle cruise, which was hilarious. The guide had some funny lines. Molly laughed at the last part: "I want to thank my legs for supporting me, my arms for always being by my side, and my fingers and toes because I can always count on them". We've said it a few times since.
Then the parade, which the kids adored. There was dancing, frolicking and singing. This is the girls on the Conga line.
Then, the long walk back to the hotel. Eric pushed all three kids at Mach speed. They were tired but happy. Their parents were too.