Disneyland is such a magical, happy place! Growing up my family took many, many trips there together, so it reminds me of being young, carefree and of family. We took O to Disneyland for the first time when he was 20 months-old. It was a great trip and he liked a lot of the attractions, but I don't think he got it back then. This trip was totally different. He absolutely got what was going on around him and was really into all the rides and sights to see!
The drive down to Anaheim was pretty smooth. Having packed the car the day before, we just woke up around 5am, got ourselves showered and waited on waking O for a little bit. Murphy's Law would have it that he only "sleeps late" when we want him to wake up. After hitting up Starbucks for coffee and turkey-bacon breakfast sandwiches we were on the road by 6:20.
O did great in the car! He ate some snacks, played with his cars (and a $1 pack of 3 plastic airplanes from the gas station - great purchase) a bit and watched one episode of Kung Fu Panda on the iPad, but mostly he just looked out the window at the farmlands. He was an angel!
We made great time, only stopping twice to stretch our legs and use the bathroom and were meeting up with our friends and checking into our hotel by 1pm. We stayed at the Best Western Plus Anaheim Inn this time and it was great! It's clean, across the street from the park entrance and hosts a pretty fat continental breakfast -- only downside is that it is lacking in the magical-magic of the Disneyland Hotel.
After unpacking our cars and packing up some supplies, we headed into Disneyland! As you know O is not quite 3 yet, so this was a perfect time to take him again since kids are free under three. And also, he is at a great age to enjoy the magic.
O was excited to get into the park and go on "fun rides" (his words) with us and his friends S & L. Going with friends who have kids close in age was a great plan. O & his friend S, who is 4, kept each other entertained in line and had a ball riding together in the stroller, and we loved having our friends around to chat with too, of course.
The crowds weren't too terrible during the day. We used a Disneyland crowd calendar to help us plan the trip around when it has been historically less crowded in years past. The park was extra crowded at night in the areas of the park where there was a special event or attraction happening (the parade, fireworks or Fantasmic), but overall most of the lines weren't around a 15 minute wait, with exception being 40 minutes for Peter Pan (first thing in the morning) and about 30 minutes for Toy Story Midway Mania.
As you can see, the kids were the ones calling the shots about what rides to go on next. They loved using the maps to discover new places to go. O's favorite ride was Pirates of the Caribbean, with Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters being a close second. There are so many cute toys and goodies to buy in Disneyland, but I think that one of O's most favorite ones was Stormtrooper drink holder that came with Keith's lunch on the first day.
The best part of the trip for me was just getting to enjoy O for 5+ days without any obligations or distractions. We loved watching him light up on the rides and smile just because he was so happy to be there. The days were exhausting and we were all beat each night by the time we returned home to our hotel, but there were very few unreasonable tantrums. I just enjoyed our little guy so much, and I know he enjoyed himself! I wish I could spend everyday with him there having fun!
During the 5 days we were in the park we hit up almost every ride and attraction that O would be allowed on, sometimes even twice! We watched the parade, ate at Goofy's Kitchen, saw the Disney Jr. show, fireworks, Fantasmic, World of Color, rode the train,... the list goes on and on. This is a great age for Disneyland, and I think it will only get better from here.
Like I said, Toy Story Midway Mania was a pretty long line, but things like friends, fruit snacks, 1.25 adults per child and silly glasses + the promise of fun at the end, make the long wait bearable.
O has not been riding in the stroller for what seems like forEVER, but we went ahead and brought it to Disneyland just in case, and I am so glad we did. I don't know if it was all the crowds and walking, or seeing his friends riding together in theirs, but he was totally into it. We brought it in the second day and we used it the whole time. O would usually jump right into the seat after a ride and then call for his buddy S to jump on in front of him.
Our backs were supper happy to have the stroller too and I was so thrilled to have all our stuff packed away in it. And nap time, glorious nap time, was a breeze! He would fall asleep in the stroller and we'd take the opportunity to either head back to the hotel for a rest or go on rides for the big kids.
And OH, the food! Disneyland has some of the best park food ever. I'm a total sweets person, so thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to try it allll out. That little piece of heaven is a hand dipped chocolate covered ice cream bar -- a total dream. We mostly stayed in the park for meals since it was just the easiest and most time efficient option with kiddos. O ate his entire corn dog from Little Red Wagon on Main Street and we all enjoyed Big Thunder Ranch BBQ (kids under 3 eat free -- O loved the chicken).
I could never go to Disneyland and skip getting beignets from Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney -- perfection with a coffee!
A few highlights for O were...
Watching the Jedi Training Academy where little audience members are pulled on stage to practice their 'saber skills and battle Darth Vader or Darth Mal. The minimum age is supposed to be 4, so O couldn't participate, but he sure LOVED watching the other kids.
Have you noticed I have ZERO pictures here with Mickey, Goofy, Minnie, etc.? Well, that's because my son didn't want pictures with him. We tried, and he liked them last time, so I don't know what happened, but he was not into it. He was into taking pictures with superheroes and Pluto, though. Captain America, Thor and Pluto were the only happy, smiling pics we were able to get.
Oh, and the Native American statue. O saw him and requested a photo with him. Not sure why or what, but something about it must have struck him and he liked it.
Disneyland is so much fun at Christmas! O has asked to go back everyday since we've been home. I keep telling him we'll be back again soon, and that it no lie -- we love Disneyland!