I love Disneyland. I’ve loved it as a child, teenager, and throughout my entire adult life. I still love it. I get giddy every time I enter Disneyland, and still insist on taking that famous entrance photo in front of the manicured lawn with Mickey’s face.
At 35, Disneyland remains the happiest place on earth for me, because I now get to watch the excitement on Bridgette’s face as we hop from land to land, lining up for character greetings on the way and stuffing our faces with churros and popcorn. (Don’t judge, junk food is very much a part of theme park fun!)
This year, I got double the entertainment of watching two little girls that were over the moon the entire two days that we hopped around the two parks. It was Brianne’s very first visit to the Disneyland in the U.S., which is about a hundred times bigger than the one she visits regularly in Hong Kong.
The week before the girls started school, we packed the van up and drove down south for our last adventure for the summer…
The girls were surprisingly tolerant of the 6 hour car ride. Besides Bridgette’s occasional “are we there yet?”, they pretty much entertained each other the whole time. They barely napped, and watched just one movie. For the remainder of the time, they simply chatted in a way that only BFFs could chat. 🙂
We left our house around 7am, and arrived to Santa Monica by 2pm. Our first stop to stretch our feet was Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, where we enjoyed some shopping, crepes + champagne, and the beautiful pier for the afternoon.
After the worse of LA’s traffic has passed, which was well into the evening, we continued our drive down south to Orange County, to the lovely home we rented. The home was located in a quiet cul de sac, just a few miles away from Disneyland. With 3 bedrooms, a large spacious kitchen, and plenty of room for the girls to run around, it was the perfect place for our stay.
The best part about renting a house was not having to cave into McDonald’s breakfast every day. Instead, the girls’ nanny cooked us healthy, delicious breakfast at the house every morning before we left for the park….a more nutritious way to start the day off, which made it less guilty for us when we indulged in theme park food later on. 🙂
We spent the first day at Disneyland, and we sure lucked out on the timing, as there were hardly any lines at all! In previous years when we went during the peak of the summer, we’ve had to wait an average of 1 hour per ride, which was very annoying. Theme parks are just so much more enjoyable without the lines! 🙂
This trip was a little different in that the girls were both tall enough to go on pretty much all the rides! Bridgette has always been a little daredevil, but surprisingly, even Brianne agreed to go on the more thrilling rides with us. Must be the peer pressure. 🙂 We went on Splash Mountain together and got soaking wet, but the girls loved the adrenaline rush and wanted more!
The girls each got an allowance of $20 per day, and they were allowed to use it within the park in any way they’d like. They had a tough time deciding, and got a reality check when they shockingly realized that the $20 didn’t get them very far after cotton candy, churro, and popcorn! Brianne managed to save enough for a blond wig that she had her eye on, and Bridgette used up her money for a small set of dress up toy.
The second day was spent hopping between Disneyland and California Adventure. We spent the morning catching Tinkerbell and Vidia at Pixie Hollow, as well as Merida, the brand new princess from the movie Brave. The girls were so excited to meet Merida, and even got a chance to test their archery skills!
We had lunch at the Blue Bayou, a restaurant that I have been dying to try for years! Pirates of the Caribbean is my favorite ride of all times, and each time I am there, I would wish to dine at that restaurant that appears to be floating on water in the dark, with lanterns above. Unfortunately, it’s nearly impossible to get a seating without any type of reservations, so we have not been able to experience it in previous trips there. This time, I remembered to make a reservation way in advance!
Admittedly, I was a bit disappointed with Blue Bayou. The ambiance was nice, but the New Orleans menu was very limited and the quality of the food was mediocre. The price was a bit outrageous, but I suppose one pays top dollars for that kind of ambiance in Disneyland!
After lunch at Blue Bayou, we made our way over to California Adventure, and started out with my favorite ride in that park–Soaring over California. Last year, we soooo yearned to get on the Grizzly River Run ride but Bridgette did not meet the height requirement. This year, we were elated to find that both girls were tall enough! We braved the rapids without any ponchos, and finished the ride off completely drenched from head to toe. Fun times! 🙂
The most thrilling ride of all for this trip had to be the Tower of Terror. I seriously can’t believe we allowed the girls to go on it, but they really wanted to. Well, that’s not entirely true. They didn’t know what they were getting themselves into, and Alan didn’t feel the need to share, so we all lined up to get into that scary elevator while my brother in law repeatedly gave us “the look” and asked what the ride was about (he’s scared of heights and sudden falls 🙂 ) Alan got a kick out of our nervousness while we anticipated the worse. I had been on the ride before, but didn’t quite remember what it was like other than the big drop at the end.
Girl #1: Wow, can’t believe those two little girls in the back would ride this. They are so brave! I’d never do it if I was their age.
Guy #1: They probably don’t know what’s about to happen (evil laugh)
Guy #2: Let’s take a picture of their happy faces now, and then another one of their crying faces after the ride is over! (more evil laugh)
Needless to say, they were shocked to turn around to find Brianne and Bridgette laughing after the ride. High five to my brave girls!
Booking a meal at Ariel’s Grotto is a no brainer for us. For roughly $30 a person, you get to skip the lines and have the princesses come to you while you feast on a relatively decent 3 course meal. This was Bridgette’s third dinner at Ariel’s Grotto, and though she was still happy to greet each of the princesses, it was obvious that her excitement for them has simmered quite a bit since previous years. This gives me hope that she will be outgrowing the princess phase very soon!
Before leaving California Adventure, we did get to make a pit stop at the new Carsland, with reported lines of over 90 minutes throughout the day. Alan lined up as a single rider and still had to wait for 30 minutes, but he said the ride was pretty awesome and worth the wait.
We had so much fun at Disneyland, but after two full 12 hour days there, our bodies were about to physically shut down! Luckily, we had planned for a relaxing day at Newport Beach on our last day in Southern Cal, which was just what we needed. Still, we couldn’t resist hitting up Disney downtown for lunch first, to get our last dose of Mickey Mouse and friends! 🙂
We hit Newport Beach in the afternoon and the girls soaked in the sun, sand and water with their daddies for the remainder of the day while my sis and I cozily rested in the awesome tent that Alan set up.
We had a wonderful French dinner that night, and were so full we had to bust out our yoga tree poses afterwards!
We stopped in L.A. the next day for lunch with my grand aunt Regina before heading home. It took us 8 hours to get home, with chatty girls in the backseats almost the entire way, but we felt incredibly happy and fulfilled with our vacation. So grateful for the time we spent together with the kids before they officially begin kindergarten….