Disneyland 2014!

My husband had to attend the PMA in Anaheim this October, so we deiced to take our two, sweet little kiddos to Disneyland!! I know it has taken me over a month to post this up– but luckily I wrote down our memories and experiences day by day as we were there, so I haven’t forgotten! Right now Braden and Gemma are the PERFECT age for disney– Gemma is 4, and is really into the princesses and disney characters, and Braden is 5, and is tall enough to go on almost every ride in the park! I thought I would write up a quick post for the memories, and also add some tips for those who are excited to take their young kiddos to disneyland too.

Before we left for the trip, I didn’t have much time to plan because we booked everything at such short notice, but I did order some CUTE outfits for the kids from the disney store–which didn’t actually arrive on time! :-( FAIL! Another thing I wanted to do, was really SURPRISE Braden and Gemma! We didn’t tell them we were going to Disneyland until we were at the airport, we got our phones out to film their HUGE surprised reactions as we told them we were going to get on one of the planes and go to disneyland in California– and they were both like: “Seriously?” “Cool!” In that moment Dean and I found the ONE drawback to having the calmest kids on the face of the planet! Haha. They were happy and surprised, but I would hardly send their video in to AFV! Haha.

We arrived in Anaheim on wednesday– the kids and I were extremely sick as we landed, and we couldn’t wait to get to the hotel to rest up and feel better. We checked into the Marriott, which was conveniently located RIGHT across the road from Disneyland. We went swimming– and made a quick run to target to get the kids some fun dress up clothes to wear in the park, then went out to dinner at Mimi’s Cafe. We were all SO excited to hit disneyland first thing the next day.

THURSDAY: DAY ONE 
Braden was dressed up as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle– and got way too much attention! Haha. I know it’s not exactly “Disney”… but what boy wouldn’t rather be a TMNT over Mickey Mouse?! Gemma wanted to be Elsa…. of course! I think every girl in the entire park was Elsa. A couple were Anna. On Thursday, we didn’t really have an “agenda” or really any ideas of what we wanted to do and see, so we just went straight up center street- hitting everything along the way that looked fun to us.

First we stopped to get the “classic” family shot in front of Cinderella’s Castle.
disneyland copybradenandgemma3 copy gemandbraden1 copyThe nice disneyland photographer took this adorable picture of Gemma with Olaf <3!
olaf2 copy

We did the sleeping beauty castle walk through– which the kids actually found pretty scary! Then walked right onto Snow White’s scary adventure, which they also thought was pretty scary! Followed by Pinocchio’s daring journey…. I didn’t even know Pinocchio was capable of being scary until this ride! Haha. At least it was the best place to come for Halloween right!? The kids were loving it.

We saw Anna and Elsa’s House in Fantasyland, and got in line for a fast pass to see them! (They came up with this system because people were waiting in line for FOUR hours to see them!) At 9:30 a.m. they were already ALL OUT of fast passes to see Anna and Elsa for the entire day! I was kind of sad for Gemma– Elsa is her favorite Princess, and we could hardly come all the way to Disneyland without seeing her! Still, we had a few more days, and we were told that if we came super early one day and RAN through the park, we MIGHT get lucky enough to see them! (We didn’t get our hopes up!)

While we were in fantasyland we went on the Dumbo ride–which brought back memories of the last time we were there, when Gemma was barely one, and Braden was two! (Going with older kids was definitely a whole new experience!) They were so well behaved in line– which was good, because it was super long! By the time we got there, I opted out, because I thought the ride would make me sick, but the kids weren’t big enough to ride alone, so I sat in the middle as we went round and round! The things we do for our kids! ;-)

From there we did Autopia. I couldn’t remember much from our last trip, but the one thing I remembered was how much I HATED that ride! Haha. I went on it for Braden and Gemma… and actually there was a big difference between letting a 2 year old vs. a 5 year old drive you round the tracks! It was still jerkier than heck, but it was funny.

From there we did the new finding Nemo Submarine Voyage– which is one of the park’s newest rides. It was actually pretty sweet, but again, we lined up for a LONG time! We did ‘It’s a small world’– which is just one of those rides you “have” to do, (even though the obnoxious song will get stuck in your head for the rest of the day, and the animatronics are from the 70′s!) We headed down to Toon Town to see Mickey and Minnie Mouse– which again is something you just have to do while you’re there. Braden didn’t really care to see Minnie… so he rode a roller coaster with Dean. Gemma was SO excited to see her.
minniehouse1 copy minnie6 copyminnie2 copy mickeymouse2 copymickey2 copy

After, we went to play on Tarzans Treehouse, which was awesome, not only because there was NO LINE, but because Tarzan is actually one of my kids favorite Disney Movies! We rode the Pirates of the Caribbean ride next door, and got lucky, because it was having some technical difficulties all week. It was definitely the BEST ride of the day! We tried to find a place for dinner around there, but everything was booked up fairly far in advance. The crowds were just getting bigger and bigger, and we were getting pretty tired, so we went home.

Our first day was fun, but it was just so busy that there was a lot of waiting around in lines all day, and a couple of disappointments with things being booked up! So that night, after our exhausted little kiddos were tucked up in bed, I decided to make a plan! First, I wrote down a list of rides and attractions we wanted to do and see, then I made a “schedule” for the next day, which included rides that were close together, show times, fast passes and even a lunch reservation at Ariel’s Grotto! I wish we had done this the night before, but at least we caught on pretty quickly. The park was a WHOLE different experience the next day!

FRIDAY: DAY TWO 
We got a late start in the morning as we waited for Dean to be done setting up his booth for the PMA. It took longer than expected, so we had to leave without him. The one thing Braden really wanted to do today was the Jedi training which started at 10:35, so we grabbed a taxi, and RAN through the park to Tomorrowland, and we made it JUST in time.

Braden and Gemma sat in the audience, and when they asked for volunteers, 100 kids jumped up waving both arms in the air and screaming and yelling: “Pick me, pick me!” Braden was standing still with one hand raised half up, shyly in the air– I am proud that my kids are so polite, but he would have been SO sad if he didn’t get picked, so I whispered, “Braden you have to jump up and down and yell if you want to go up there!” This, along with the fact that he was dressed up as Luke Skywalker, helped him to get chosen to do the Jedi Knight Training.
sw392 copy

He took his Jedi training pretty darn seriously. It was hilarious. They gave the kids a robe and a light saber, and let them practice some moves with it. Then they split the kids into two lines, one line fought darth moor, and the other got to fight Vader. He was pretty legit looking– the whole stage was AMAZINGLY done, with smoke and lights and the music and sound affects. Braden got up there in his Jedi costume, and robe and light saber, and fought darth vader like a boss! It was awesome to see. I am sad that Dad had to miss it. This was definitely a father-son kind of thing to do. But I had a feeling Braden would want to go again!
jedi4 copy jedi03 copyjedi02 copysw2 copysw54 copy sw34 copyjedi2 copysw1 copyAfter the show we went over to California Adventure, to ride the CARS ride at Radiator Springs, but we decided to wait for Daddy who was done working and was on his way to meet us. We did Luigi’s tires close by, instead. The large floating tires move the way you lean, so we were all leaning back and forward and left and right and looking pretty ridiculous.

From there we met Dean and lined up for the CARS ride, we were about 20 minutes in, when they were having some technical issues. I’m glad we didn’t wait it out, because it would have been a LONG time!! Instead, we had an appointment to be at Ariel’s Grotto for lunch at 12:50. We went in, and got to meet Ariel right away. Then we sat down for a three course lunch. They gave the kids ariel badges and coloring books, and a crown to decorate with stickers. The details were pretty amazing–down to the food, which was an Octopus hot dog, jello and a dessert with Mickey Mouse sprinkles, but the highlight was all the Disney Princesses that came to dine with us. They announced them one by one: Snow White, Belle, Aurora, Cinderella. It was SO cool not having to wait for an hour in line to see them and take pictures with them! They came to our table, and Gemma got to spend some time with them, and take photos with them. Braden got pretty into it too. In fact, when Aurora came out: he went: “woah.” Then preceded to stare at her for about 3 minutes straight. Dean thought that was pretty hilarious and awesome.pier4 copyprincess2 copyprincesscollage3 copyprincess3 copyIt was a little over-priced, but I don’t regret doing it! It made for some really fun memories and photos, and the kids LOVED it.

After, we got a fast pass to the Grizzly River Run, then walked right onto the little mermaid ride round the corner. Gemma absolutely LOVED it! I think it was her favorite ride yet. We played at the “campout” park to kill some time, and the kids loved that– they had zip lines, tunnels, rope bridges, and rock climbing walls. Then we went on the Grizzly River Run. I can’t believe they let a kid Gemma’s size on there, but I don’t think she liked it very much. Not only was it pretty fast and scary, but she had to be on that “one side” that always gets SOAKED, and she was pretty darn grumpy! Haha. I wish I could have caught her face on camera. For me, it was the best ride yet!

dadgem copy

We went back to CARSLAND to ride the radiator springs ride. We had to wait in line for an hour because there we no fast passes, but it was SOOOO worth it. We all absolutely LOVED it, and couldn’t wait to go on it again! The animatronics blew my mind, the cars looked so legit, and they were so fun to race!

carsland4 copyLast time we were at Disney my 2 year old little Braden was ALL about Lightning McQueen… it’s so sad that he’s grown out of his cars phase!! (Secretly he still loved it).
cars2 copyWe went on the tractor ride, which was super hilarious. You can see Gemma STILL soaked from the river run ride… although a lot happier now.
carsland32980 copy

From Cars land, we went around the corner to bugs land and saw “it’s tough to be a bug” show. My little guy is pretty obsessed with bugs right now. In fact, he found a snail as we were walking to the park, and was more excited about his new friend, “Barbara” than he was about going into disneyland! So, this place was all for him! The show was 4d, and the effects were really fun– a stink bug sprayed a cloud of green vapor on us, tons of black widows hung down above us, (which made me scream SO loud!) Some termites spit water at us– and some bees “stung” us! I didn’t expect to really like this show, but it was cool! And of course, Braden thought it was pretty much the greatest thing ever.

We got to meet Flik! My kids didn’t know who he was, but Braden liked hanging out with a giant blue bug!
flik1 copy
At Bugs Land they had a fun splash pad. I remembered how much Braden loved it last time, and again, he could have played here for hours! 
bugs4 copy

We went on the bumper cars, and some other little rides in bugs land, then the crowds started to pick up because of the friday night halloween party, so we decided to get the heck outta there! On the way out, we noticed everyone lining up along the street, and jumped in, right in time for the PIXAR parade. There was toy story, The Incredibles, Lightning Mcqueen and Mater, Monsters University, and the bugs from Bugs Life. It was a really cool parade, and was a great ending to an awesome day! With a little planning, we got a “lot” more done today, in a smoother, easier, less tiring way!
parade231980 copy parade3819 copyparade32 copy parade1 copyparade5 copy

SATURDAY
Dean had to work all day on Saturday, so I decided to take the kiddos to Disneyland by myself. I was a little apprehensive at first about losing them, or tiring them out and not being able to carry them around (like daddy always does). We didn’t take a stroller, and I didn’t want to manage too many “supplies.” So I put a couple cards in my pocket, my camera round my neck, and both kids in either hand and headed out.

We woke up at 6:00a.m– and were lined up 1 hour 15 minutes before the park opened to the public, so we could use our “magic morning.” (You can have one early admission if you buy a 3 day or more ticket, and are at the park on a tuesday, thursday or saturday). This was our only chance to use it, and I thought it would be our best chance of seeing Elsa and Anna. (The one thing that Gemma really wanted to do before we left).

When the gates opened, we rushed straight over to fantasyland to get in line for a fast pass ticket, but we didn’t know they’d be there already!! We were one of the first in line, and got to see them right away! Hooray! Gemma was so happy. Braden would never admit it, but he liked it too! ;-)

frozen01 copyelsaanna3 copy elsaanna2 copy elsaanna1 copy

After, Braden had a request to ride Space mountain. There were hardly any people in the park yet, so we walked right onto it, which was awesome– and at the same time NOT, because none of us were prepared for what was about to go down. Space Mountain was decked out for Halloween with an extremely scary galaxy ghoul, that screeched in the pitch blackness, and followed you around the entire time… I think we blasted off into its mouth at one point. I had put my little 4 and 5 year old together in the seat in front, so I wasn’t able to cover their eyes or their ears during their moments of sheer terror. This picture pretty much says it all. Gemma was shaking and crying when we got off, and Braden had nightmares for days after! :-(

spacemountain2 copy

We rode a few more rides around tomorrow land, back to back, because there were still no lines. We did Star Tours… the minute I walked into the room, I remembered how SICK the ride made me feel, but it was too late. The doors were shut, and the kids were excited, and I just “went with it.” By that I mean, I took off my 3-d glasses immediately and stared at a fixed object in the room, as sweat started to form on the back of my neck and I drained of all color. I made it out of there, but it was a close one for sure!

We walked right onto Astro blasters, which was thankfully a slow ride, where the kids got to shoot some aliens. Gemma beat Braden, who didn’t like that very much! When we were done with those three rides back to back, all three of us were pale and woozy as could be! We decided to get some food to settle our tummies, since it was breakfast time. We walked around the corner to this pink little house, and realized it was minnie’s breakfast buffet where you get to dine with all the disney characters! It was the only thing open, and we really did need to rest and eat something, so we decided to do it!

This was one of the BEST things we did at Disneyland! There were only a couple of families in there because it was so early, and the kids got so much attention from all the characters! Minnie played with Gemma several times, Chip and Dale came and sat at our table for a while and played with the kids, Captain Hook, Tigger, Rafiki, Pluto, Eyore, the Fairy Godmother, and others came and sat with us too! They loved the kids, and the kids had soooo much fun with them! The food was pretty good too- there were all kinds of juices and fruits and pastries, as well as sausage, bacon and eggs and biscuits and gravy. They gave the kids a free picture and a badge, and we came out of there feeling SO much better!

braden&Gemma copychip1 copybfast329 copy bfast10 copybfast23 copybfast0032 copybfast30 copybfast34 copybfastcollage1 copy bfast04 copy bfast01 copy

From there we went down to California adventure, and got a fast pass to CARS. It was one of our absolute favorite rides, but we were against riding in any more hour long lines! We spent a lot of time in Hollywood land.  We went into the animation academy– Gemma loves to draw, so I thought she might love learning to draw some disney characters. They taught us how to draw Tigger, step by step, and I think I had more fun than the kids!

Right next to that was talking with Crsuh the turtle from finding memo– this one was for Braden. He loves turtles. I wasn’t expecting much from this, which is probably why I thought it was so awesome! It’s an animation show where the turtle talks to you! He picked on Braden right away, and made him speak surfer– and gave him a surfer name, then the attention went right to his Mom, me! My surfer name was Shrimp Shack Sarah! Haha. He answered the kids questions, and was really playful and hilarious.

Next up we walked right onto the monsters inc. ride. Then saw muppets 3d. It was so 80′s! But a classic. Then we went to Disney Jr. Live, which made me so sad! The room was full of tiny tots, like I had last time I was at disneyland! They are so big now! But they still loved the show– especially with the new addition of Princess Sophia.

We got some turkey legs for lunch across the street! I thought our breakfast buffet would fill us up… but obviously the kids were still ravenous! Hehe.
turkey02 copy

Then we went to the Aladdin show! I think this is the BEST show at Disneyland, it was like being on broadway, I was very impressed, and absolutely loved everything about it. So far we had been on several rides and seen several shows, and it was only 1pm! THIS was the way to do Disney! Things were still pretty quiet in California Adventure, but we decided to head back over to Disneyland to do a couple more rides before the big parade.

We walked around frontier land, and got a fast pass to thunder mountain because the lines were INSANE, then went to the ranch close by to see a few animals. The coolest thing about frontier land was the Halloween theme! They had shows and carnival games, and were handing out prizes to the kids. I’m glad we spent time here, because it was WAY TOO CRAZY to ride any rides. There were hoards and hoards of people, that was pretty exhausting and intimidating with two small kids gripped tightly in both hands.

The kids just kept playing with the goat’s beard. They thought it was pretty hilarious. 
goat7 copy goat08 copy
There were carved and painted disney pumpkins on display that were pretty awesome. goat032 copy pkscollage copyAnd Goofy was there in his Halloween costume! 
goofy1 copyranch02 copybraden1 copy

The park was getting SO crazy, and we were getting so tired, that we decided to find an AWESOME spot for the parade and sit and relax. I got the kids a couple of fun toys to make the hour’s wait more fun!

The frozen parade was first, and Gemma loved seeing Anna and Elsa and Olaf on the beautiful float. We saw Mickey and Minnie and several other characters, but when the little mermaid came out, she seemed to be in the same spot longer than the rest… then 5, 10 minutes past, and we realized the float had broken down! :-( Ariel was up there spinning, and waving and smiling like nothing was up for ages, and I felt so bad for her! We waited another 10 minutes, but then decided to leave. The kids were tired and were asking to leave, and it was so crazy, I was more than ok with that!

We hit thunder mountain railway on our way out, just because we had the fast passes. It was AWESOME to pass the 2 hour long line, to walk right onto the ride! On our way out, we had to fight a SEA of people, and didn’t get back to our hotel until 6:30pm– which made for a 12 hour long day! But it was AWESOME, the kids and I had a blast, and I was worried for nothing. I had read so many articles about all the things you need to take with you into the park to be prepared to save money and get the most out of your day, but I went with a couple of cards, a camera, and two kids in either hand, and it was the perfect day.

MONDAY: OUR 4th & LAST DAY 
Monday was one of the days we were looking forward to the most, because we got to meet up with some of our family: My brother and sister in law, Alex and Kristen, and their cute kiddos Delson and Kambria (who are super close to Braden & Gemma, and the same ages). Kristen brought some of her family along too, so we had a fun little group of us.

We took a few pics while we waited for them to arrive.

disney1 copydonaldduck2 copy minnie01 copy
Here’s us with Al, Kristen, Delson and Kambria! They were with us last time we were here years ago. grouppic1 copykids1 copy In the morning we took turns to get fast passes so we didn’t have to wait in line for any rides, and it was awesome! Dean and the kids did the Peter Pan ride while I got tickets for Splash Mountain and the Thunder Mountain Railroad. Splash Mountain was the ONE ride we really wanted to do, but hadn’t done yet. This picture makes me laugh: Dean is on a boat with all the kids, and a random stranger! I love Gemma’s face!! splashmountain copyWe did the Winnie the Pooh ride and thunder mountain railroad, then went back over to tomorrowland and fantasyland. Kristen got us fast passes for space mountain and autopia… I thought there would be NO WAY the kids would EVER go back on that ride… but they did. And they hated it just as much the second time. AND it made Braden sick, a second time.
spacemountain1 copyDelson and Braden were both dressed up as Jedi’s and wanted to do the Jedi training together. I was SO glad they both got picked to participate, especially as Dean was even more excited about it than they were! Haha. Here’s Delson fighting Darth Vader: 
starwars2 copyAnd Braden: starwars1 copyjedi01 copyjeditraining1 copyWhile the boys did that, the girls went to see Tinkerbell and friends at Pixie Hollow. The fairies went above and beyond, and took the time to sit and chat with the girls, and gave them hugs. They all loved it!
fairy03 copyfairy8 copyfairy6 copyfairy3 copyAfter, we all had lunch together in tomorrow land, but Alex & Kristen and their fam wanted to go on all the rides we had already been on (that made us really sick!) And a few that Braden and Gemma weren’t tall enough for, so we separated and went to California adventure. But we had a blast with them, and were so glad we could meet up! 
parade03 copyWe got more fast passes to the Grizzly River Run (which is my favorite ride). Dean and Gemma didn’t really want to go on it, so Braden and I used their fast passes, and went on it twice, and LOVED it!! While Gemma had a nap on Daddy, and Dean was getting hit on from all the chicks walking by! Haha. dean&gemma copyWe went back to Cars land, because we wanted to ride our other favorite ride one last time! 
carsland7 copy
carsland8 copycarsland5 copycars1 copycars;and6 copycars2 copycars3 copycarsland1 copycarsland012 copygemma01 copygemmaportrait1 copyWe had dinner at the diner in cars land, and went on a few more rides, then got an awesome front row spot for the world of color show. This was the way to end the trip!! The show was INCREDIBLE! We absolutely LOVED it! When it was over, we picked up both the kids, and weaved between hoards of people to get out of there quickly and checked into our new hotel, and ended our night watching the Disney Halloween Fireworks display from our beds! We were all pretty exhausted, but had the most incredible 4 days at disneyland, and made so many unforgettable memories! 
night1 copy