Thursday, January 7, 2016


It is no secret that I love me some Disney. I'm especially fond of Disneyland and was getting a hankering to visit for my birthday while Christy and Cali were with us in DC. At the time the flights were too expensive, but one day I checked and they were pretty cheap so I booked them as a present to myself. I really struggle with giving presents to myself (he I don't).

We flew in Saturday night and spent Sunday with everyone. We went to church while Christy got set apart as the new YW president and let the kids have a fun time hanging out together, which they love to do.

Monday morning we got ready to visit Disney's California Adventure. We've never been there so I was really excited to check it out. I was also very excited to see both parks decorated for Christmas, which was so fun. We had freezing cold weather, but we layered up and at least when the sun was out it wasn't too bad.

The first item on the agenda was getting me my birthday pin so everyone would know that I was beginning the celebration of my birthday. Honestly, I hate getting older, so why not at least make it fun? After I got my pin we waited in line to see Mickey. He was dressed all festive and looked adorable as usual.

It was finally time to check out some new rides. It was really fun to go on rides we have never tried before. However, poor Stella did cry on one of the kid rides because...well...I don't know why she was scared, but she was.

We headed over to Radiator Springs for lunch. We didn't go on any of the rides there just yet. But it looked so cute that I had the kiddos pose. Then I made them pose again by the iconic DCA Mickey Mouse ferris wheel. The sun was coming down and it was beautiful.

When we made our way to the boardwalk area it started to get colder, but that didn't stop us from enjoying the carousel and the hilarious Toy Story ride where I, like an idiot, left Christy's camera just sitting on the floor of the ride. Thankfully we got it back just in time to meet up with Geoff. With Geoff there to help out, Christy and I got to go on California Screaming, which might be the most fun roller coaster I've ever been on. The music was so fun, it was just the right amount of scary without making me sick, and the view was awesome. I loved it.

Soon it was dark and cold and cold and cold. We didn't have time to do everything, but we had already had a pretty full day. Geoff took Em and Cali home so we could have a turn on the Cars ride right before the park closed. I made a big deal out of asking what time the line closed because Stella was very concerned about missing that ride. But we made it and the line wasn't too bad, especially since Christy bought me some Ghirardelli hot chocolate. It was a great ride to end the day on.

Such a fun day! Over a month later though and I still remember the chill of the day. But of course it was a delightful day from start to finish. And I am now officially a fan of Disney's California Adventure.

After we left DCA we stopped at the shops to pick out some Minnie ears. I've wanted some for a long time, but I can never decide which ones I want because they are all so cute! Stella just HAD to have some. She said that going into Disneyland the next day would not be as magical if she couldn't walk in wearing Minnie ears. Christy was sweet enough to buy my ears for my birthday. Best gift ever!

We got started at the park a little late in the day, but the magic of walking in with our mouse ears was epic. When we first got there we waited in line to see Minnie. She was so sweet and a very gracious host. The park was all decked out for Christmas and the 60th anniversary celebration and it looked beautiful.

Stella always makes it a top priority to hit all the rides that they don't have at Disney World. And so Alice was first on the list. After waiting in line for a good while the ride closed so we got out of line and popped into the teacups. Then the Pinocchio ride was closed too! Thankfully it opened soon though so we were still able to enjoy it. However, by this point I was getting a bit worried about all the closed rides!

Now that Stella has had the horrible realization that the princesses are not real* I didn't really feel like we needed to make the same effort to see them as we have in years past. But as we wandered over to the Princess village, I could see that the line to see the princesses was extremely short, so we went ahead and had a quick visit. 

*A background story on this turning point in Stella's life: She came up to me and asked very seriously if it was okay that she didn't think Minnie and Mickey were real. I told her that it was. She was very sad, but not as sad as she was when she asked me about Tangled. I told her that Tangled was just a cartoon and that no, the characters were not real. "What about all the princesses?!" She fell to the ground as she angrily exclaimed: "What was the point of even meeting them?!" She asked me how I was even able to have any fun at Disney and I told her that it was the magic, that when you walk in the gates, the characters feel real because it is so magical. "What about Tinkerbell and all of her fairy friends?!" and "There's no point in even meeting Mulan now!" were other favorite quotes of mine from that night. But as you can see from these pictures, she was still able to feel the magic as she entered the park...just like I was. Honestly, for a minute I forget that they aren't real too, really I do.

It was then time for the Christmas parade. We didn't have the best view but we were still able to see it. Stella was thrilled to finally see Santa (who is real, obviously) in the parade.

Suddenly it was dark and we made our way over to the Haunted Mansion which was the #1 most important ride of the day for both Stella and me. And then we got there and it was freaking CLOSED! I was so worried about it not being back up and running before we left. We decided to have dinner at my favorite place close by and kept checking the line. As soon as we were officially done eating we saw the line moving again! I took the kids and we ran over there so fast. It was great because we didn't really have to wait in line, but just kept walking to the front. The kids all wanted to go on the ride together so I had to go alone :( but it was still amazing. The Nightmare Before Christmas decor makes this a MUST see, and makes me a bit emotional to be honest. It is so great and clever, I think even Brent would like it. ;)

Another ride to enjoy during the Christmas season is Small World. They have it all lit up for Christmas and all of the dolls inside are Christmas-themed. And then they sing Christmas songs. It was so fun. Even though I have never waited that long to ride this ride, it was so worth it!

Our time at the most magical place in the world was quickly coming to a close. We tried to fit in as many rides as we could before the firework show, because I was NOT going to miss the fireworks--they are my favorite. As we were exiting Buzz Lightyear, BOOM, the first firework went off and I was kind of in a panic. We were stuck in a whole crowd of people and I was trying to get to a spot where we could see them. Suddenly we had this perfect view and I realized that we were right by the VIP section. A guy was guarding it and so I asked him if we could stand there. He asked me how many people were with me and then when he saw our small group he said: "Let me make this happen for you." He opened the rope and walked us down to a row of special VIP seats with the most amazing view of the fireworks show in the whole park. I was so emotional and teary-eyed. I already get teary during the fireworks, but I was trying to keep myself from bawling because our seats were out of this world and I couldn't believe our luck. People normally pay a lot of money to sit there and, uh, it was THE BEST. Disneyland will have my heart forever!

That night they were having a pass-holder only event and I was able to stay late with Christy and one of her friends. I hated saying goodbye to Stella, but I was excited to hit all the big kid rides that I haven't been on for YEARS. After going on Indiana Jones, we had some Mickey beignets (such a long line, but I got a cute picture!). Then we hit Pirates, Big Thunder, and the Matterhorn. It was FREEZING. Seriously, I wished I had on my puffy winter coat. Christy and I on Big Thunder were laughing so hard because we were SO COLD. We stayed until about 1:30 am and then finally threw in the towel on our magical day.

However the magic didn't end there. As we were sitting on the tram the guys working on it all sang "Happy Birthday" to me, and then the tram guy got on the intercom and said in this monotone voice: "Happy Birthday Michelle, we hope you had a magical day." To which I yelled: "I DID, THANK YOU!" Then as we got off, they gave me another "Happy Birthday Michelle." I mean, come on! Disneyland, you are amazing. I couldn't have bought myself a better birthday gift and I'm so thankful to the Douglas clan for taking us in, driving us around, and sharing in our magical days.

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