Recapping a visit to the magical world of Disney is always overwhelming to me because one day holds so many wonderful and fun memories, and actually sitting down and writing about them always leaves me a tad stressed.
So it was UEA weekend, the most popular time of the year for those living in Utah to travel to California. I knew I wanted to go and visit the Douglas fam and take a visit to see Mickey, but even far in advance the price of plane tickets was insane. So I sort of packed our stuff with the idea that we would go to the airport and give it out best shot. I was pretty sure we would end up spending our days off at home in Utah. But by some stroke of luck, Stella and I got the last two seats on the first flight we went out for, and suddenly we were off to Anaheim for a few days.
When we got there, the kids were reunited and had a grand old time playing and imagining great adventures. We turned in pretty early because we knew we would want to get an early start on the next day.
So just so it is clear, I am no big fan of Halloween. Seriously, I don't get the holiday at all. So knowing that Disneyland was all decorated for Halloween wasn't of any interest to me. However, I was totally surprised at how much I loved all of the decor. Perhaps I should have known that if anyone could convert a non-Halloween lover, it was Disney. But come on...how could you not love all of the freaking Mickey Mouse Jack-o-lanterns?! So stinking cute.
One thing that Disneyland is much better at than Disney World is seeing the characters out and about. The moment we walked in we spotted Minnie, and then Mickey came right out and the kids followed him and Pluto, skipping and laughing to the spot where Mickey was to take pictures. It was such a fun way to start the day.
We headed off to kid land since Stella had a few ideas about which rides we were to go on first. One that we missed last time and that they don't have in Florida is the Storybook Boat Ride. It was early in the day, but it was already pretty busy by all of the kid rides. Stella was so excited to be with her friends, they got lots of hugs while they waited in line, and the girls (with their matching outfits) got to sit at the front of the boat.
The highlight of the day for me was enjoying the Nightmare Before Christmas haunted mansion makeover. Before my friend Stacy told me about it recently, I had no idea they did this. I wanted to go on the ride so so badly, but I've never gotten Stella into the haunted mansion before. She loves TNBC though, so she was willing to give the ride a try even though she was still super scared. Aedan and Cali, who hadn't seen the movie before, skipped out at the last minute, which was probably for the best because it is still kinda spooky if you are a kid and you don't already love Jack and Sally. There are times in my life when Stella makes me so freaking proud. Being brave and going on this with me was one of those times. When we were done she declared that she loved it and wanted to give the regular mansion ride a try now.
Then of course we hung around because we had to meet Jack the Pumpkin King! Probably the only character that we've met where I have been more excited than Stella. Stella gave him a message from her daddy: "Leave Christmas to the experts," she told him. Jack didn't really seem to like that advice. But man, did he charm the socks off me!
We had a really delicious lunch, went on Pirates, and then headed back to Fantasy Land. On our way though, we made a magical stop. Dear old Mary Poppins and Burt were doing a show right in front of the castle so we stopped to watch. All of the sudden Mary grabbed Stella to pull her onstage, and then Cali came too. The girls danced with their brooms and then skipped in a circle with Mary, all with the castle in the background. Oh my goodness, it was so cute and...what is that word again? MAGICAL!
We were heading to Dumbo but first got some pictures in front of the castle where we saw Bobbity Boo (aka Fairy Godmother). She was practically all alone so we got right up there and met her. We then went on a few more rides including one that I didn't even know existed: Pinocchio. We watched the Tangled show, which was adorable, and then it was time for the parade. And boy, did we get excited for the parade.
After the parade, we had just enough time to hit Small World, Finding Nemo, and Buzz Lightyear before the park closed for a Halloween party.
That evening we drove to the beach. I don't know what we were thinking when we dressed the girls. They got wet and sandy right away, but they were giggling the whole time. While watching the sunset I spotted about five dolphins jumping up and playing right where the waves were breaking. They were so close that Stella and Aedan spotted them right away too. The kids kept busy chasing waves, writing their names in the sand, and building castles. After the sun went down it got cold fast so we headed home.
We had a pretty tricky time getting a flight home. We even tried to go home Sunday, because Monday morning (my original plan to get home) was not looking good anymore. We didn't make the Sunday flight, so we stopped off at an Outlet Mall and did some shopping (can you say one dollar shoes at Nordstrom Rack?) Then we got to try another one of Christy's favorite treats: Vince's Spaghetti for dinner. Which is a place where you have two choices for your dinner: regular-sized spaghetti, or large-sized spaghetti. It was pretty good, and Stella loved it.
Monday we spent a good chunk of time hanging out at the airport and thankfully got the last two seats on the 5 PM flight, only to be asked to get off the plane because someone had a "broken" seat, then told to get back on again because the seat was actually fine. Stella was in tears by the time we sat down because of all the hubbub of being told she wasn't going to get to sit by me anymore, me demanding my luggage back, etc. The flight was easy and fast, but when we landed I realized that I had lost Stella's Kindle Fire. It must have fallen out of my bag in all the mess of getting on and off the plane. Unfortunately, it has not turned up in lost and found which means that someone took it, which was pointless because it no longer works since we reported it lost to Amazon. Honestly, I didn't care that much. I was just so happy to be home and glad that I didn't lose something I couldn't replace...like my beautiful baby cakes, Stella.
Overall, the travel pains were worth it. We had the most magical day at Disney, and we had so much fun with our friends.