Final Thoughts from February 2018 DLR Trip

Here are some post-trip thoughts. T and I talked about them and wrote them down on the drive home, and within the first few weeks after our trip. And I’m glad we did!

Things learned from Feb 2018 Disneyland trip:

  • No doing laundry! Bring a full week of clothes. Mom and Dad needed more sleep.
  • Get P on a bedtime schedule so Mom and Dad can go to bed. (That has been successful! A month or two after our trip, we got P on a bedtime routine. Now he goes to bed around 9 or 9:30. He loves it and even asks to go to bed early sometimes. So much better than staying up until midnight like he used to!!)
  • Bring ear coverings for S. Fantasmic! and World of Color were loud and he would have enjoyed them more.
  • Bring ear plugs for T for Indiana Jones.
  • Use the middle gate that doesn’t look like an entrance at Disneyland!
  • Meet more characters (about 3-4 / day would be good)
  • Search out photopass photographers and ask for magic shots!
  • Take more videos!!
  • Tom saw shirts he liked with the castle in a Mickey head. Have him help design it.
  • Tom wants to plan a trip. He’ll give the rough idea, I’ll fine tune the details. He said this one will be hard to beat. I told him we don’t need to beat it.
  • The mini mylar balloons were a hit with P. Just don’t bring one already blown up to the parks.
  • World of Color: Hydrant spot was great. Have our family’s standing room right against the railing. Sit on cushions before show starts, leaning against railing. Place the stroller parallel to the railing behind our spot. Just plan on holding the kids during the show. Unless they are asleep, it will happen anyway. And that way everyone can see.
  • Fantasmic!: Loved our seating area. We kept ourselves along the back of the roped area, as close to center stage (Blue Bayou area) as we could. But make sure we are enough left that the pole won’t be in our way. Had to park stroller outside. It was fine. Eat at Hungry Bear earlier, while light, to enjoy atmosphere and food more.
  • Have a plan for where to meet if separated every day. Mark phone number on younger kids.
  • Make the train a priority to do during the day.
  • Make tiki room a priority. N loved it and if E and I want to do other things, we can.
  • Motion sickness medicine for everyone before Tomorrowland. Space mountain,star tours, autopia, and orbiter combined left us feeling ill.
  • Having P face away from the characters at the breakfast was a good idea. We could get a photo of them and him without him knowing.
  • Start the trip with Small World to start the littles on a good note with the dark rides.
  • Get photos with the Grizzly Peak waterfall.
  • Don’t bother with park hoppers at this stage in our family. We didn’t hop once, didn’t even think about it. Save the money.
  • Take half a Benadryl before bed so I can sleep instead of think
  • Maxpass was awesome. Definitely worth it, at least up to $15/person/day. (We happily paid $10.)
  • Bring 2 thin fleece blankets, at least on nighttime show nights.

Things we missed that we want to do next time:

  • Star Wars Land model in Launch Bay
  • Mr Lincoln
  • Rest of Animation building
  • Trolley Boys show

Saturday 2/10 – “Surf’s Up!”

Saturday we would drive home :( after a breakfast with Mickey Mouse! :)

I can’t find any notes from that day, so we’ll just have to go on memory and photos.

We actually scheduled the latest breakfast available (I think 10:50) so it was actually an early lunch. So we ate a little bit first at the hotel breakfast. I got an omelet and biscuits and gravy. We had a nice view of Guardians of the Galaxy and the back of Cars Land from the breakfast room.

We packed up and said good-bye to our hotel room.

Then we drove over to the Paradise Pier Hotel!

We were brought in about 15 minutes after our reservation and led to where Mickey was greeting in his lifeguard outfit. I really wanted P to walk to Mickey, and he got most of the way. I shouldn’t have said anything about giving a Mickey a hug. Lol

There was a PhotoPass photographer, but we also gave one of our cell phones to an attendant to take photos. (That’s a flaw with the current PhotoPass/Maxpass system. On days when you’re not entering the parks, you cannot purchase a Maxpass to use for PhotoPass. We just used the photos from our phones instead of purchasing the PhotoPass ones separately.)

We were then taken to our table, and before we could all sit down, Daisy came by! She gave everyone hugs, posed for photos, and signed our autograph mat.

We were sneaky and took a group photo behind P.

Daisy was great with P, and tried to get him to interact with her, without freaking him out.

She spent almost 10 minutes with us, and immediately after Daisy left, Minnie was there!

She played really nicely with P, too.

After Minnie left, I finally went to get myself a plate. But while I was serving up (this breakfast is buffet-style), I notice Stitch over at our table. So I quickly went back for his visit.

Stitch gave E a hard time for giving him the sharpie with the cap on. Lol.

Stitch also noticed our shirts, with him and Mickey surfing together. He crossed off Mickey with his finger.

Then I went back to finish filling my plate. And this is what I ended up with. It was all pretty good.

Minnie returned and got farther with P. She got some kisses.

Then Stitch came back and handed out special “Surf’s Up!” buttons.

And then Stitch picked his nose and wiped the booger on the Mickey on J’s shirt! And licked S’s head! He was a lot of fun.

Then Daisy came back.

And Minnie again!

Then Stitch came back and the real shenanigans started! J was gone at the bathroom. And Stitch stole his seat! And “ate” his bacon! He hid it under a napkin after T (or E?) suggested it.

Then J came back and Stitch was like “I didn’t do anything!”

He gave back the bacon.

But then he blamed T for the idea. And he blamed me!! Naughty Stitch!

J loved it!

We saw a lot more fun while we finished eating. There were a couple little girls who kept following Stitch around and he would “scare” them. So Minnie put him in the corner! Daisy kept motioning that Stitch is crazy.

The restaurant was clearing out. We paid the bill, and then we got a private dance party with Stitch!

Even P couldn’t resist getting in on this!

As we were leaving, I got some photos of the decor.

The characters had all gone out to the Paradise Pier lobby to visit. We hung out with Mickey a little longer.

Stitch licked the envelope that held our autograph mat (and P’s pacifier).

We went back to the car and were packing up when a couple of the kids realized they needed to use the restroom. When I took them back in, I decided to get a photo with just me and my girl, Daisy.

And then we were off! We had had a wonderful, wonderful trip!!! 

I’ll have one more post with some final thoughts.

Friday Evening 2/9 Disneyland – “Exhausted”

I was curious about Disneyland’s corn dogs, since I’ve heard they’re the best. So we headed across the street to the Little Red Wagon. T (Dad) and E (14) chose to get food at the Jolly Holiday instead. We all sat over there to eat.

The corn dogs were super yummy! The batter was so thick and had a nice crunch. E took a bite and said the batter tasted like a donut. (She eats a lot of donuts. They’re her favorite.) And it comes with apple slices, which are a perfect accompaniment. The cold, sweet crunchiness offsets the salty, hot corn dogs. Plus, you remember that you don’t eat as many fruits and veggies on vacation. You can see how thick the batter is here:

E got the Jolly Holiday Salad. It had cranberries, pecans, and feta cheese. It also came with a breadstick. She loved it! She said the breadstick and the salad were amazing! The soft feta cheese and the vinaigrette really made her love the salad.

T ordered the famous Jolly Holiday Combo (grilled cheese and tomato soup). He also really enjoyed this.

Everyone was happy with their food.

We had promised the kids Dole Whips after dinner. But we were getting cold and didn’t want to get ice cream anymore. I suggested maybe we’d get churros instead. N (7) was upset about it. She had been complaining all day because we weren’t doing roller coasters that day. I was getting tired and cranky.

E and J (12) went to the Adventureland bathroom and we were going to wait for them at the table. But T suggested we head over and wait outside the bathrooms. Since it was dark and pretty crowded, I was nervous about missing them. T assured me we could catch them so we headed over. We had only been there a minute when I noticed E walking the way we’d come. I’d almost missed her! A moment later J comes to us upset because he had returned to our table at the Jolly Holiday and we weren’t there! Thank goodness we had all found each other!

So, we were right by the Tiki Room and remembered we hadn’t done it this week. Now, E and I hadn’t planned on it. (Whisper: We don’t like it.) We were going to do something else while the rest of the family watched. But we were tired and cold. And if we went inside, we could have Dole Whips after all. N was happy! J complained because he wanted a churro. Grrr. Good grief, kids! But J said he was fine with it.

So, we did the tiki room. And E and I were again weirded out a little. I mean, the decor is all Polynesian. The pre-show is Polynesian gods. The first time I saw it, I expected… a Hawaiian themed show. Right?? Then the show starts. And it’s hosted by a parrot named Jose. I just remember sitting there wondering what happened. Where were the flamethrowers and the hula girls? Or anything islander?? I just was not expecting what I got. At all.

At least this time we would know what to expect. E and I were ok because this time we wouldn’t be disappointed. But there were some things I’d forgotten about (or they added). Like the CM YELLING a welcome (S jumped twice). Then the sing along, and the whistling. N LOVED it! She stood up with the most excited, radiant smile, clapping and cheering! I just love her. All the family loved it. E and I just kept looking at each other, and chuckled a little. At least it wasn’t cold inside.

After the show, we were ready to ride the train! We hadn’t done it yet! So we headed up to the Main Street station. We could see a bit of the construction at the hub from the top.

I had forgotten to get the fleece blanket out of the stroller, so T was sweet and went back down to grab it. It was nice to have on the cold, dark ride. And it was dark! We couldn’t see much, but we were glad we did it.

The kids still talk about a little boy, probably 4-years-old, that ran after the after the train as we were leaving, crying, “NOOOO! Don’t leave! I want to ride!” We all felt bad for him, even though he’d get to ride in 15 minutes.

It was now 9pm and the park was open till midnight. But we were done. I felt bad that I felt completely okay leaving Disneyland for the last time (well, for seven months). I was just so tired. So I got one last quick click of City Hall, and we left.

I didn’t even ask the family what their favorites were that day. At least, I didn’t write it down. Looking back at the pictures now, and remembering that day, J says his favorite was the Mickey and the Magical Map show; N says Tom Sawyer Island, the Royal Theater shows, and the Magical Map show. E liked meeting all the characters; she really liked when P had a crush on Belle. But she is sad that we didn’t meet Rapunzel the whole trip. S says his favorite thing was the Peter Pan ride.


We did end our trip much more chipper the next day with a Surf’s Up! breakfast with Mickey Mouse!

Friday Afternoon 2/9 Disneyland – “Cell phone fiasco- again”

We ate lunch on Friday at the French Market in New Orleans Square. It is a quick service, cafeteria-style restaurant with delicious Louisiana-inspired comfort food.

T (Dad) ordered the Cajun Meatloaf.

E (14) and I shared the French Dip Sandwich with their house-made seasoned chips.

J (12) and N (7) shared the Slow-Roasted Louisiana Beef Stew in a sourdough bread bowl. And there are those Mickey ears I was looking for. N liked that touch, too. They both said this was delicious and amazing!

S (3) and P (20mos) shared a pasta kids meal.

I had also ordered a fruit salad that we all picked off of. It was refreshing and delicious.

This restaurant only has outdoor seating. It was very nice. It was crowded, even having a late 2pm lunch. But we managed to find a table big enough for all of us.

During lunch, we talked about how perfect our trip had been.

After eating, S was being silly and put his bib-shirt on his head. (We use a slightly big shirt as his bib. It covers more and doesn’t fall off as easily.) “I’m a dragon!”

At lunch, of course my phone was getting low on battery, but when we went to charge it, we realized that we had left the portable charger in the hotel! T offered to go back after lunch to get it. I needed to go to the photo shop on Main St anyway. The Jedi Training photos from Wednesday weren’t all showing up in the app yet. I wanted to get that fixed before our trip was over. So I talked with the Cast Member in the photo shop while the kids waited outside. I was done before long and went out to join them.

By now, my phone’s battery was down to under 5%. T would still be a while. I had already texted him and told T we would wait for him in the shade on the side of the photo shop, so I didn’t want to move. I hated wasting our last Disney day just sitting there waiting. But I was a lot more worried that my phone would die and T wouldn’t be able to find us if we moved. How in the world would we find each other then?! And I had a huge headache! It had started at lunch, and now it was pretty massive. I sat right on the cool concrete with my back against the shaded wall. I took some medicine, and drank water, and watched the balloon guy trying to keep the ginormous Mickey balloons from getting tangled. I was exhausted after a busy, fun-packed week. I was frustrated and in a bad mood. This was my low-point in the trip. And it felt like it lasted a really long time.

And of course, I wasn’t alone. I have five kids. But again, like when we had to deal with our camera phone crisis on Monday, the kids were wonderful. They sat, mostly quiet, with me, or wandered around the area. They were bored, but they behaved very well anyway. Finally, S started getting restless (he’s only 3 afterall!), and E offered to take him to the carousel. (The line there was pretty long- couldn’t check it with my app!, so they did the castle walkthrough again instead.)

It was about an hour before T returned with the charger. Looking back, there were things we could have done differently. First of all, I should have taken the kids to the Mr Lincoln presentation down Main St. It was on our list of things to do and we never got to it that week. I could have sent one last text, then even if my phone shut down, he could meet us there. Or another thing that I’m just now realizing as I’m typing this is that I think E had the kids’ cell phone in her hydration pack the whole time. I could have simply turned off my phone and communicated with T using the kids phone, and did anything in the park we wanted. But I was too tired and feeling sick to think. I just needed that break.

Then when T got back, everything was fine. We picked ourselves up and T said that there were a whole bunch of characters meeting in the front of the park. He took the kids, and I took a few minutes break for myself. I found a cute, quiet little bathroom, halfway down Main Street, tucked deep behind the Carnation Cafe.

The crowds were definitely much worse on Friday. This is what Main St looked like that afternoon:

By the time I met up with the family, they had already met Chip. They were actually in line to see Tiana, when Chip sneaked up and was trying to scare people.

When they gave Chip our autograph mat, he signed it, and then started running off with it, motioning for the kids to follow. He crossed over to Dale (who was meeting other guests) and kept tap, tap, tapping him until he got Dale’s attention. He showed Dale that he had to sign it, too! When Dale was signing, Chip was very pleased and started jumping up and down. Then Dale and the kids joined him and they were all jumping! So funny. Then Chip met the other guests, while Dale met with my kids. T had stayed in the Tiana line and so only got photos at a distance.

And they met Tiana!

(Where was S? I don’t know. Sleeping in the stroller, or shy.)

E asked Tiana what the latest recipe was that she’d learned, and Tiana replied that she doesn’t use recipes much anymore. She likes to make things up. So E asked what the last thing she made was, and Tiana replied that just that morning she was with Snow White and they combined both of their favorites. Snow White loves making gooseberry pies, and Tiana loves beignets, so they made gooseberry beignets and they were delicious!

I met up with them and took the girls over to see Cinderella.

Cinderella was a hoot! She immediately noticed that Aladdin had signed the mat upside-down. “Silly, silly, Aladdin! Over, sideways, and under.” She asked the girls what their favorite rides were and N said, “Indiana”. (Yes, even though she told us earlier in the week that she didn’t like it because of Mara and the snake.) Cinderella said, “Indiana and I have something in common. We both run away from the ball.” LOL.

I took a photo of this art on Main Street with a good, old-fashioned message.

After some fantastic character meets, we headed to the Mickey and the Magical Map show. When we were at Disneyland 5 years ago, the show opened 2 weeks after our trip. We remember seeing them working on it while we were on the train ride, as the train passes right next to the Fantasyland Theatre.

We arrived at 4:20 for a 4:45 show. They keep everyone out of the theatre in a holding area until a certain time. We managed to get the front row of the 2nd section. It was great! They keep the stage covered until the show starts.

The show was amazing and P went crazy!! He started out on our laps, but quickly slid down so he could stand against the rail, and dance, and clap, and yell.

The use of the tri-level stage and the projection screens was so artistically impressive! We were all thoroughly amazed!

Bubbles were blown through the audience during Sebastian’s scene.

The show is so worth it! If you haven’t seen it, I recommend looking it up on YouTube.

We were all in a great mood when we left the theatre. Here’s J tickling P:

Then we went through the castle again, at S’s request. It was his third time!

Next up was another show! We saw the 6:15 Tangled performance at the Royal Theater.

Our cheering lady this time (I didn’t get her name) remembered us from getting photos with Belle after the show earlier. I couldn’t believe it because she must see so many families through the day. She even mentioned that P had been wearing a Chip and Dale shirt the last time she’d seen him, and now he was wearing a sweatshirt. P was giving her smiles and she loved it! She said, “Well, see here Belle! See here.” She was happy to steal Belle’s boyfriend. Lol.

We were so sad that Rapunzel didn’t come out after the show! :( We’ll have to make sure to meet her next trip. But the show was very entertaining! They do a great job!

The kids had been asking for dinner since before the show started, so that was our next stop.

Friday Morning 2/9 Disneyland – “The beginning of the end”

It was our last day in the parks! The original plan was to spend some time in each park, getting to things we hadn’t done during the week, and repeating favorites. But I think by the end of the week, we knew we would just spend the day in Disneyland. There were shows that we wanted to watch that were only performed on Friday. And we had finished up California Adventure very nicely the day before.

Breakfast for me. Strawberry waffles! T was not quite as thrilled as I was with the breakfast food that week. But he had always found things he would be satisfied with and learned to add salsa or ketchup to his plate to add flavor.

We left the hotel at 7:50 for a 9am Disneyland opening. There were quite a few people checking out of the hotel that morning and heading out.

12 minutes later, we were at the security checkpoint with no lines! We did have a minor issue at security. P (20mos) was holding a mini mylar balloon and it ends up you can’t bring them into the parks. So we had to sneak the balloon away from the baby so the security could throw it away. I believe we just took the balloon off the stick and let him keep waving around the stick. P wasn’t happy when he noticed the balloon was gone, but I don’t remember a big tantrum.

We managed to get our favorite spot in the front of the middle line again!

At 8:25, this is what the lines looked like behind us:

When we were let in the park, we headed straight for the castle! We would attempt Peter Pan first thing. During our trip, the rope drop for Fantasyland was right up under the castle. I believe normally it is farther back. Maybe the change had to do with the walls that were up along Main Street?

While waiting, I blew up another balloon for P and stuck a Mickey sticker on it. Happy baby!

N (7) studied her map in her trip journal.

At 8:50, this was the crowd behind us:

We were getting antsy and couldn’t wait for the rope to drop!

At 9am, we were let through. It was mayhem! Lol. Everyone rushed forward toward Peter Pan. Our group got separated, but we got back together and were on Peter Pan very quickly.

The ride is too short, but very sweet! We were off by 9:10. The girls asked S what he thought about it. He likes Captain Hook.

Next, we met Tinkerbell at Pixie Hollow! I think we had wanted to do Alice next, but it was shut down. And N especially wanted to meet Tinkerbell. I think we were Tink’s first group. There was no one behind us and she spent plenty of time chatting. She was so cute! She recognized that our kids’ names have a theme and complimented them.

While she visited with the kids, I enjoyed some of the details.

By the time we left Pixie Hollow (it was still only 9:20), Alice was back up and running. It was posted as a 5 minute wait, but took closer to 10.

I was trying to get a photo of the Caterpillar’s tiny shoes on the mushroom. My darn fingers got in the way.

I love the part of the ride where you come outside. I took a photo from the top.

And T (Dad) took a photo of us from down below. I guess he had stayed off with P.

After the ride, the kids visited the White Rabbit’s house.

Then a photo op at the teacup. P crying. Lol. Not too good.

At 9:38, T and the kids rode Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. The app said it was a 5 minute wait, but it was slow to load and it also was 10 minutes. I stayed off with P.

P and I hung around and took photos of Fantasyland.

And then I saw Gaston!! He was asking everyone where Belle was.

When the family came out, we got a quick pic of S on the Toady. The kids thought the ride was crazy. N didn’t like it. She doesn’t really like Mr. Toad in general anyway. E (14) liked traveling through the different scenes. J (12) thought it was funny that Toad runs into things. S liked it fine.

Then we went to follow Gaston. “This way to Belle Land!” Gaston shouted.

We followed him for a while, with him admiring himself and calling out for Belle.

He stopped in the courtyard outside the Royal Hall. And he held a competition for a Pro”pose”al. It was very funny. He chose some kids, posed them, then had us cheer to vote for the best pose that he should use to win over Belle. J got to help in the competition.

I took the chance to get a photo of the Royal Theater times for later in the day.

Off to the side, Aladdin was greeting! E asked about Genie and Aladdin said its hard to get him back from Hawaii.

We decided to head to Toontown so the little ones could play a while and J could meet Goofy. J had really wanted to meet him 5 years ago and somehow he missed it while some of us got to meet him.

Isn’t this pretzel stand near Small World adorable?

We saw Pluto first, but he was heading out so we didn’t get posed photos.

Then to Goofy’s house!

And J met Goofy!

Goofy loved J’s shirt, of course.

I asked Goofy to sign our photo frame mat, and he tried to use his ear.

P was curious about Goofy’s hands and Goofy gave him some time to touch him.

Then the kids played at Goofy’s house.

At 10:32, S rode his first roller coaster! Gadget’s Go Coaster. The app said 5 minute wait, the sign out front said 30 minutes. It was 8 minutes. S didn’t like it; he said it was too fast. But he wasn’t traumatized or anything.

We spent a few minutes at Donald’s Boat, then N wanted to go through Chip and Dale’s Treehouse. So I took her, but that one is disappointing.

P liked playing with his Mickey Mouse socks.

Next, we got a real meeting with Pluto!

N showed him the Pluto on her shirt.

S loved Pluto!!

As we left, Pluto patted S’s head and gave him a high-five.

And P was craning his next to keep watching Pluto as we left.

We fooled around with a Toontown postal box.

As we came out of Toontown, we got some Disneyland popcorn. It smelled delicious! It didn’t taste very good. Lol.

But we caught a bit of the Disneyland Band and they were awesome!

Then we got in line at the Royal Theater for the 11:30 showing of Beauty and the Beast.

Our cheering lady, Lily, said she was working here 5 years ago when we were here last. She was great.

While we were waiting, we realized that N had left her hydration pack somewhere in Toontown! T left to look for it. During the show, I texted him to remind him what color it was and ideas of where she may have taken it off, but he didn’t see the texts.

The show was great! Super funny and well done.

Our favorite part was when the one guy played the parts of Lumiere, Cogsworth, and Mrs Potts, and changed his hats and voice so quickly.

During the show, T returned and stood in the back. He had finally found the hydration pack (in Goofy’s house). He had thought it was a different color, and the Cast Members he’d talked to hadn’t found it, and it had taken him a while, and he wasn’t in the best mood.

But, after the show, we got to meet Belle!

P was smitten! Hard. For at least half an hour, that baby boy stayed in a daze, with a little twitterpated smile. And when we showed him the photo of Belle on my phone, he got the same dopey smile every time. It was so cute!

After the show, we had a restroom break in Frontierland. And E and I realized we had both left our hydration packs at the theater! For heaven’s sake! E quickly ran back and got them and we decided not to tell Dad. lol. I don’t know where he was at the time.

We headed to Tom Sawyer Island Pirate’s Lair. The park was getting busy! The crowds that hasn’t existed all week had showed up. Yuck. I didn’t like it.

On Tom Sawyer Island, T and I found a quiet, shaded place to sit with P while the other kids ran around and explored.

A view of the Star Wars construction:

The boys found a pirate ship and S did not like the voice talking in there. But they liked exploring the caves, especially the “treasure cave.” N was so excited to be given a wanted poster of Jack Sparrow! She still treasures it.

This photo of us heading back to the raft gives you a feeling of the crowds coming in.

When we finally got back to the mainland, it was nearly 2pm and we were ready for lunch. T thought the French Market sounded good, so that was our next stop.

Thursday Evening 2/8 California Adventure – “Ending a perfect day”

We had had a perfect day in California Adventure. The morning was magical on the pier. We enjoyed Grizzly Peak and the Lunar New Year processional so much, and had a blast at Turtle Talk with Crush. And we all got in another ride on Racers. We would be getting in line soon to get spots to see World of Color a second time. So we headed to the wharf for our dinner.

We got dinner from Pacific Wharf Cafe, which is the Boudin sourdough bread company from San Francisco. We enjoyed seeing the shaped loaves while in line.

I ordered the kids the Potato Soup in a Sourdough Bread Bowl.

I knew they would get a kick out of eating their soup out of the bread. But I was secretly disappointed that they didn’t make the bread bowl look like a Mickey head like I’ve seen in photos. I think that was at a restaurant in Disneyland, though.

I ordered another Potato Soup, and also a Broccoli and Cheese Soup, with the soup served separate from the bread bowls. That way, if we didn’t finish the bread, we could take it with us in some plastic bags I had brought.

That ended up being very useful, because we had plenty of bread left over when we were all done eating. We enjoyed snacking on that sourdough over the next couple of days.

We all shared both soups and I believe we all liked the Broccoli and Cheese best. Of course, we all loved the sourdough. It reminded us of our trip to San Francisco when we ate Boudin sourdough bread everyday. I do think the ratio was off, though. We would have appreciated a little more soup, and could have done with less bread. But the meal was delicious!

And the atmosphere was lovely with the pier lit up behind us.

T (Dad) and E (14) had FastPasses to ride on Guardians of the Galaxy one more time. So they headed for that after dinner. Ends up, E was freaking out the whole time in line, except when she was distracted by the amazing queue, because she wasn’t really sure if she wanted to ride it again. But she did ride and liked it even better than the first time!

They had gotten this photo from the ride photo area, but hadn’t gotten the numbers, so we couldn’t download the pic. They are in the middle back.

Meanwhile, the rest of us went to get spots for World of Color. I was really hoping for a specific spot this time, called the “hydrant spot.” It was a little confusing at first where blue FastPasses enter (I should have studied the map I had seen better). Then it was really frustrating once we got into the waiting area. The Cast Member was only saying that the lower levels would be opened later. I hated not knowing where I should go to be ready when those levels were opened. He wasn’t friendly or clear. The area he was directing everyone to actually had a decent view behind a rail, so we just placed ourselves there. It would be ok. But the Cast Member kept telling us we needed to move into the crowd of people. He kept saying, “It’s not single line viewing. We need everyone to fill in the space.” I told him we want to just stay here. Finally, he left us alone. Eventually, he announced that the crowd he was forcing us into would be the first ones into the lower level. Oh! This was just the holding area! Somehow I hadn’t gotten that. All these people would be going down. So I did need to be in this crowd to get the hydrant spot. Got it! (Just wish that had been more clear in the first place. I should have asked more questions.) But then I worried that in this crowd of people, someone might take my spot. It’s a small spot, only big enough for one group. (Until they trim that hedge!) And we did have a decent spot up here behind the rail…

So J (12) and I made a plan. I would go into the crowd with N (7) and wait, and when it opened up, we would try for our spot, and make sure it would be good viewing for the little guys. J would stay here with the stroller until I motioned for him. Waiting in the holding area, away from the other kids, not knowing why T and E were taking so long (found out later they were looking at a cute Groot picture book in the gift shop), I was feeling really anxious. I just wanted to be settled.

Then, Finally! the line was opened and the crowd moved, and all my fears and stress were in vain because the crowd did indeed all move quickly down as far as they could go and I slipped right into my spot behind the fire hydrant. I relaxed. Then I motioned for J to join us.

There was a little more stress as the lower levels filled and people started filling in around us. T and E still weren’t back and I was trying to make sure there would be comfortable room still for all of us. When they found us, they told me about E freaking out, and about the book, and I was just glad we were all there.

Now, about the hydrant spot. It is really good. The projections looked amazing (made a little more sense than they did from the far part of the bridge on Tuesday night) and we could see the whole scope of the show. But there’s this hedge. It is just too there. It really needs to be cut down about a foot. It makes the ideal viewing area pretty small and unless you’re pretty tall, you can’t see over / around it. I don’t think I missed much of the show because of it, but the hedge definitely makes it harder for little people. Afterward, I wondered to T if it would be better for our family to just claim a spot on the close side of the bridge. He liked the hydrant spot, though. We just need to plan on holding the kids during the show, rather than them staying in the stroller.

World of Color is a beautiful show!

As we were all leaving the park, we saw a wedding being set up for “Jessica and Amir” on Buena Vista Street. Someone said it was a TV wedding that would be happening that night. I think reality TV? Anyway, it was very pretty.

We were back to the hotel by 9:20. We had walked 9 ½ miles. And it had been a wonderful day!! Probably my favorite day in the whole trip.

Thursday Favorites: T- beating the family at Toy Story Midway Mania, taking S on the Golden Zephyr, but #1 Turtle Talk, R- everything!, but probably my moment on the Little Mermaid, E and J- Grizzly River Rapids, N- Lunar New Year processional, S- Triton’s Carousel

Thursday Afternoon 2/8 California Adventure – “Right here!”

After a perfectly wonderful morning on Paradise Pier, we moved into Grizzly Peak. We ate lunch at Smokejumpers Grill at 12:30.

While waiting in line to order, we enjoyed looking all around at the decor.

We loved the baby Groot there.

Ordering and getting our food took a while. My food photos are time-stamped at 1pm, so it took 30 minutes from the time we entered to the time we brought our food to the table. (I’m excited to try the new mobile ordering on our next trip!)

E (14) and I split a Bacon Cheeseburger (no cheese, please) with Onion Rings. We loved it all.

T (Dad) ordered the Spicy Buffalo Chicken Sandwich with Waffle Fries. He said it had good kick and good flavor. But it was really messy and he had to clean his beard afterward.

J (12) ordered the Campfire Chili Cheeseburger with Onion Rings. He said the chili on the burger was delicious and the onion rings were super delicious. Lol.

N (7) and S (3) got the Chicken Tenders. P (20mos) must have snacked off of all of our plates.

Smokejumpers is a great place to eat! The food was very tasty. I think the best part is that they have a toppings bar where you can load up your burger with as much of whatever you want. E and I got lots of veggies. J got none. Perfect.

We chose an outdoor table and it was very nice.

While we were in the area, I got another idea for some homemade shirts…

We had Soarin’ Around the World FastPasses ready to go. And at lunch I booked some evening passes for Radiator Springs Racers.

T took E, J, and N next door on Soarin’. The little guys and I stayed at our table and S colored in his trip journal. P walked around the tables receiving compliments from the other guests. Then, I took E and J back on Soarin’ with a Rider Switch.

We picked up Mickey bars on the way to the 3pm Lunar New Year Processional back at Paradise Pier. We passed Grizzly River Run and the FP line was crazy long! We had planned on riding again that afternoon. But we weren’t sure if we wanted to after all, even with FPs.

Oh, the Lunar New Year Processional! When we got there, people were already lining up along the side of the pathway. Not having a clue where the processional would be happening or what it would be like, we almost just took a place next to a family already there. But I asked a Cast Member where I should go to get a view and she said, “Right here!” She was laying down tape in the middle of the path. She said, “This will be the front of the ‘stage.'” “Really?” I asked, surprised. “That’s perfect!” She said that because of the sun, they don’t put down the line earlier. They were about ready to start. We plopped ourselves, with our sitting mats, down right along the line and others did the same. All of a sudden, there was no pathway anymore, just a crowd of people waiting. I’d guess that’s another reason they don’t put it down early, so as not to block the path. If we had stayed where we were, we wouldn’t have been able to see. But, besides the sun being in our eyes, the spot was perfect! Amazing seats front and center!

We enjoyed our delicious, cold Mickey bars waiting for the show.

Here’s the beginning:

Mulan and Mushu came right up to us several times during the show.

I thought the show was beautiful!! And our seats were great! But I think our phones got too hot in the sun and some of our videos turned out choppy. Does anyone have tips on how to keep your phone cool in the sun?

The kids thought Goofy was funny. He would try to imitate the performers.

After the show, T, E, J, and N rode the Golden Zephyr. They found out in line that there wasn’t a height requirement, so E came back to get S.

There he goes!

The family enjoyed the Golden Zephyr. It was relaxing, and a good way to cool off. They also said the view was cool.

S loved his first “big” ride!

At some point, I had booked another Grizzly FP, just in case. We walked back and the line wasn’t as long, but T still didn’t want to wait for it twice so he said not to bother getting a Rider Switch this time. But the line moved very fast, so I decided to go back and get a RS in case T wanted to do it after all. Super fun time!

T went to the viewing areas and got pics.

After, we decided to let the kids use the Rider Switch on their own. It was fun to watch them. And we got some mom and dad time (with the littles with us, haha).

E told us that only two other people in the raft spoke English. The others spoke Spanish. But they all talked together and the others translated. They bonded over the splashes and falls. E said it was her favorite time on the ride.

It took about 40 minutes for both groups to go through the ride.

As we walked through Grizzly Peak, I took pictures of the area. My favorite thing about being in Disneyland is experiencing the theming.

We were heading to Hollywood Land because we hadn’t participated in Turtle Talk with Crush on Tuesday and we just had to do it. On the way, we got our photos taken with the Storytellers statue.

They gave Mickey some love.

I got a couple funny photos of P outside the Animation building. He must have seen something that amazed him or something.

The animation building is so cool.

Turtle Talk with Crush was incredible! We went 5 years ago and thought the Disneyland version wasn’t as good as the one in Disney World. This time was better than ever. Crush noticed N and talked to her first. He called her “Nautical N-“. Then he talked to her dad. He asked how many kids we have and T said 5. “You’re just getting started!” LOL!

Squirt and Marlin came.

Dory and Destiny called a humpback whale over!

We went next door to the Off the Page shop to admire some art. P really liked the vintage Mickey. E loved the Thomas Kinkade ones, particularly the Tangled one. “It’s so perfect!”

We saw Groot. E really wanted a high 5, but he was finishing his meet and greet and it wasn’t happening. His “helper” was not about to let anyone close to him.

We walked through Bugs Land on our way to use some Radiator Springs Racers FastPasses. And we actually rode a ride! We never stop in Bugs Land. S chose the ladybugs. The theming in this land is really good, too. Bugs Land will be gone by the time we go back to Disneyland, to make room for the new superhero land.

We moved into Cars Land. And we got to see “shboom” again! (That’s when they turn on the neon in the evenings.)

T, E, J, and N used the Racers FastPasses. Here’s their ride photo.

S, P, and I walked around taking pics of the neon.

They took longer than I expected. S spent another 10 minutes putting his hand in Stanley’s water fountain. Again, thankfully P is a laid back guy and is happy to sit back in the stroller and watch.

Then the girls Rider Switched Racers. I took pics of the queue.

I was excited to notice Lizzie’s and Stanley’s suites.

Then I got a couple crummy videos on the ride.

And our ride photo. My hair is everywhere.

Exiting the ride:

DJ came out again while we were riding. S was one of the first kids dancing (staying right next to his Dad) so the Cast Member invited him to come up closer to DJ. (Blurry pic) No way! He shrunk back behind T. He kept dancing though, right near Dad.

I couldn’t resist getting a few more photos of the area.

And I got a few more homemade shirt ideas…

Then we got a (rather goofy) family photo with Radiator Springs behind.

It was 6:30 now and time for dinner at the wharf.