Disneyland or BUST!

In celebration of Emily's 2nd birthday and as our annual Family Vacation for 2008, we headed off to Anaheim, CA for a week-long visit to Disneyland and boy, did we have fun and learn a LOT!

We flew into LAX instead of John Wayne because the flights were nearly $50 cheaper EACH and it would've cost us the same to ride the Super Shuttle no matter which airport we chose. I highly recommend Super Shuttle as it's $16 each way, per person and is door-to-door so, they will pick you up from anywhere and take you anywhere! You can make your reservation online and you just can't miss the big blue buses on the curb, outside the airport. :)

The Hotel:
Even though we get 30-50% off at The Disneyland Resort Hotels and would have loved to stay there, we decided not to because we really needed a 2-3 bedroom suite so that Emily could have a room all to herself while the rest of us had a room to talk, watch television and just hang out without disturbing her. In hindsight, this was the best decision by far because she napped and slept perfectly, just as if she was at home (in her Pack 'n Play... she still fits!!!) and, the rest of us (me, David, my mom and my sister) all had an entire room and bathroom to ourselves to relax and be comfortable. We ended up across the street from Disneyland at The Carousel Inn & Suites in their brand new, renovated Resort Suite on the 4th Floor with a great view of the park. It was literally about 1 block from the front entrance, a super easy, SHORT walk every day to the park and just perfect, in my opinion because we avoided having to take the Monorail to get into the park everyday had we stayed at The Disneyland Hotel or Paradise Pier.

Walking to Disneyland, just outside our hotel (you cross the street at the light up ahead)

When you walked into our Suite, there were two Queen beds in the main room with an armoire (which housed a Fridge/Freezer, microwave, television and storage cabinet for food and/or dinnerware) and a full-sized bathroom, complete with a separate room with the tub/shower and toilet, double-wide vanity with granite counter tops and a HUGE closet with a safe. These amenities were the second reason we chose this hotel: we brought all kinds of snacks and food for Emily (we checked a cooler bag as luggage at the airport) and loved having some of the comforts of home!

Off the main room of the hotel was a separate room with another Queen bed, separate air conditioning unit, armoir with television and safe AND full-sized bathroom, separate vanity and closet.

We were all so impressed with this hotel (except for their FREE, Continental Breakfast because... well, who likes that crap anyway?!?!?!) and will stay here again, in the future, until Emily is old enough to sleep in a Queen bed by herself and is on a schedule more similar to ours. We really loved the Quiznos in the hotel that delivered (room service), the McDonald's two doors down and the Mimi's Cafe next to the McDonald's, as well as the Denny's and Tony Roma's on the other side of our hotel from the McDonald's. Great food (the salads at McDonald's, that is) and great lunch options rather than eating in the park every single day... the food is really high-fat, carnival-like food, something you would see on a cruise or at a State Fair.

The Park:
Disneyland isn't huge, it doesn't take long to figure the park out and it's really easy to walk around in, just be sure you pick up a map and wear good, walking shoes, not flip flops! Wear sunscreen, purchase bottled water outside of the park to bring in and be sure to bring in some snacks for yourself and baby because there's not much to eat in the park that's not fried, although we did see the cutest "Farmer's Market" stands with juice, fruit and nuts for sale!

We spent a lot of time at ToonTown and in Fantasyland because all the rides, shops and play areas are very "Toddler Friendly" and Emily had an absolute blast! She loved Micky's House and Minnie's House, Chip 'n Dale's Treehouse, Donald's Boat, The Dumbo's, The Carousel, Alice in Wonderland, The Casey Jr. Train and of course all the little shops where she was constantly screaming "Mickey Mouse" while pointing to the stuffed dolls. She wasn't scared of the characters or rides, she never cried, but she was quiet impatient with any and all waiting!

Photos of all of Emily's Favorite Things To Do at Disneyland

Kid-friendly rides to avoid with a 2 year old because they are in the dark, TOO LOUD and a bit scary: Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin Car Ride. We road these and Emily did get freaked out. She clung to me and cried a bit and we all couldn't wait to get off. These rides are really really really jerky, loud, uncomfortable and there's just too much activity: flashing lights, things popping up out of the dark... it's just not something most smaller children will enjoy.

To our surprise, the best part of Disneyland for Emily was actually California's Great Adventure because of all the Pixar film-inspired shows, rides, places to eat and play areas, perfect for wild, uncontrollable toddlers who'd rather run around free than ride quietly in their strollers. ha! :) Emily LOVED the Pixar Play Parade (every day at 5:15pm, which is perfect for her schedule!), mainly because of the dancers, which all came over to give her a high-five or a kiss and the water that was shot off all the parade floats. She really enjoyed The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Show most of all... we think because it had all her favorite characters from her favorite shows: Handy Manny, Little Einstein's, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and My Friends Tigger & Pooh! She was mesmerized at first but then got into, dancing, jumping around and clapping. It was indoors, in the air conditioning and the best part of that particular day!

Photos from Pixar's Play Parade, which Emily enjoyed from her stroller while sucking on a Mickey Lollipop (brilliant idea, mom!!!)

Photos from The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Show in California's Adventure Park - 30 minute show with all the favs: Tigger & Friends, Handy Manny, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Little Einstein's.

While the rest Disneyland really is great, there's tons to see, toddlers can't go on many of the rides (age & height requirments), the lines are loooooooooooooooooooooooooooooong (toddlers hate to wait!) and it was just too darn hot down in L.A. to be standing around outside. It just wasn't much fun for Emily and she's the reason we took the trip. We quickly realized we would have to take the day in shifts, with one of us babysitting Emily in ToonTown or Fantasyland most of the day while the rest of us road rides and explored. This really worked out great and we all ended up having a great time, especially on Friday night when David & I got to sneak away for about 5 hours and enjoy the park, which was open until 11:00PM!

Enjoying some time alone, David & I road Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, The Indiana Jones Adventure, Splash Moutain, Pirate of the Caribbean, Space Mountain, Matorhorn Bobsleds, The Tower of Terror and California's Screamin Rollercoaster... just to name a few. ;)


The best places in the park to eat with a toddler: Red Rocket's in Tomorrowland and the Pilot's House Grill in California's Adventure Park. Everything else is hot dogs, corndogs, turkey legs... all things Emily won't eat! We were NOT impressed with Rancho del Zocola although Emily loved her burrito, rice & beans but we absolutely loved Goofy's Kitchen, which we made reservations for Friday night at. The food was really great, tons of options and the Characters come right up to your table! It was well worth the $38 each (although kids under 3 eat free)!

The Disneyland Parade:
Although we skipped the parade each night (because it started around 7:30PM and that was just too late for Emily), we caught it on Friday night because it started early and it was fantastic! Emily was ecstatic over her "bird's eye view" of the parade from daddy's shoulders and was clapping and singing along to the songs.

All kids are different but for us, after a week at Disneyland, we feel 2 years old is still really young for Disneyland, it's a really hard age; it's easy to get overwhelmed with all the lights, sounds, activity and crowds, meltdowns occurred when she had a poopy diaper (twice a day) or when she was hungry and she seemed to have lost all communication ability, which resulted in multiple tantrums and us desperate to try and decode what she needed. All she really wanted to do was run free, wearing her Monkey Backpack Leash ;) so, we basically just pushed the stroller around with our video camera, camera, water bottles, diaper bag and park maps in it. The park closed everyday at 8:00PM because it was "off season" but that was perfect for us all because it was really hot there (nearly 90 every day!!!) and by the time we road a few rides between 4PM and 6PM, we were all ready to sit down, eat and head back to the hotel to turn in early. We think the ideal time to take a child to Disneyland is closer to age 4 and to go in either the fall, around November, or in March/April when it's much cooler! Going during the week was fabulous, we didn't wait in a single line until Friday and we were so happy to be leaving Disneyland on the weekend when people seemed to pour in! We'll definately going during the week for future trips as well.

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