Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Disneyland Resort: Christmas 2003 (Monday)

I started this report a LONG time ago... actually, I wrote some chunks of it on my laptop in our hotel room down in Anaheim. Some more of it got written the week or so after we got home. And then never finished it.

So, what with the planning beginning in earnest for our second big Disney vacation with the boys (coming up in December), I figured I'd pull this stuff out of the virtual basement and get it published.

We decided pretty last minute (if my memory serves me correctly - and that certainly isn't always true! - right after Thanksgiving) that we wanted to go to the Disneyland Resort with Braeden while he was still under age 3. You guessed it - kids under 3 are free.

We left late on Monday morning... trying to time our driving so that Braeden would fall asleep for his afternoon nap as we drove. This worked... getting to our hotel (Portofino Inn & Suites) around 4 pm. There was a problem with our room (it was billed as a suite but some worker had removed the connecting doors) so they upgraded us to a "family" suite (complete with bunkbeds) which Braeden loved... and which looked out over towards California Adventure.

The hike from our hotel to the maingate was about 10 minutes - not bad with our umbrella stroller. That put us inside Disneyland around 5:45 pm - and I was already feeling like I was 5 years old again. (As you'll figure out, I _love_ the Disney parks.)

The park was pretty crowded, so we made our back through the castle to Toontown... and began riding.

Gadget's Go Coaster: A surprisingly fast little rollercoaster - although quite short (maybe 90 seconds long)... I think it was dusky enough that Braeden didn't fully realize what he was getting into. He didn't scream or cry, but he looked like he was in shock after we'd finished riding it. We kept telling how brave he was - but that didn't change the fact that every time we've brought up the Go Coaster since, he makes sure to let us know that he doesn't want to ride it.

Mickey's House: We wandered into Mickey's House to find it nearly empty. Braeden was fascinated by the carrots in the garden (they go up & down) and the rabbit who's eating them. Then there was a bit of confusion as we got to go onto the "set" of The Band Concert & meet Mickey dressed up in his band costume... it was unclear if that part of the house was open, and when they opened the door, Braeden squirted out ahead of me. Once we finally got to meet Mickey & take pictures, Braeden gave him a huge hug and was very sweet with him. As he was walking away, he said, "I love you, Mickey", and Mickey motioned him back over and gave him another hug. It was a magical time. (The picture that heads this post was taken during this visit.)

Minnie's House: We wandered through Minnie's house (though she wasn't home)... Braeden was especially fascinated by the birthday cake in the oven (it inflates & deflates) and the dishwasher. He told he wanted to hug Minnie... something we needed to take care of later.

Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin: Once again, Mom & Dad get Braeden on a ride that's really a little too intense for him. This is kind of like a cross between the spinning tea cups & Mr Toad's Wild Ride, and it's here that we discovered for sure that Braeden is not yet at the point where he enjoys "dark" rides. Again, he toughed it out like a trooper, but he was very clear that he didn't want to ride it again. (Dad spent all his time on the ride trying to keep our spinning car pointed at the car Mom was in... less than successfully.)

It's a Small World: After the two rides we'd subjected him to, it's a wonder he was willing to trust us a third time... but we kept assuring him that this wasn't like Roger Rabbit's ride. While we were in line, the parade began (it starts next to Small World) and we got to see the first part of the parade while standing in line. Braeden was very interested in the toy soldiers. It took him most of the ride on Small World to relax... we kept pointing out things we thought he'd like, and by the end he was enjoying himself. For the rest of the trip, he called it "the doll's house" and was always willing to go see the dolls. (BTW, they redecorate the outside AND the inside of Small World for Christmas - it's amazing. The outside is multi-colored... and the inside has all sorts of extra stuff as well as giving presents & Christmas props to the 'dolls' who are already there.)

Dumbo: One of the things Braeden had been planning to do since seeing the vacation package video was to ride on "flying Dumbo". Mom bowed out and Braeden & Dad went up and around. Still nervous about the whole riding-on-things thing, he held both my hands and wouldn't let go of them, even to wave at Mom for a picture. Braeden told me at first that he didn't want to fly high, but once we were spinning, he was ok to go up - in fact, he didn't want to go back down. We spent a lot of time figuring out where Monstro (the whale) was - he didn't want to ride the Canal Boats (which go through the whale's mouth), but he wanted to make sure where he was. When we'd ask, he'd say "not today, maybe tomorrow."

Casey Jr Circus Train: He was beginning to wear out a bit when we went on the circus train - and, though it was fun to ride on, the dark meant we didn't get to see much.

King Arthur Carrousel: Braeden loved the carrousel... this time, Dad rode next to him (on a horse with blue trim we named Ol' Blue) while Braeden rode on a horse with red & green trim we named Christmas. Mom stood next to Braeden.

Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: From this point, we took a long detour across Frontierland & New Orleans Square to Critter Country (what used to be Bear Country) to ride the Winnie the Pooh ride. Though Braeden called them "honey pots", you actually ride in beehives. This was another ride he enjoyed a great deal... mentioning not only Pooh but Kanga, Roo & Piglet, too.

Disneyland Railroad: As the park was closing up for the night, we walked by the New Orleans station just as they were getting ready to load up the train. So, we caught the train and toured around the edge of Disneyland on our way out. Braeden would shout "all aboard" each time we loaded up new passengers, and he was a little taken aback at the dinosaurs/primeval world stuff, though he seemed to enjoy the Grand Canyon dioramas.

All in all a lovely first evening... as we plan for our visit this year, we're trying to find a way to arrive during daylight. My theory is that the rides will seem less scary if the boys can see more of what is going on around them.

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