Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Happiest Place On Earth

At the beginning of October we went to Disneyland with my parents & siblings. It's taken me a few weeks to gather all the photos from various cameras, but here it is. Major picture overload!!

We stayed at the Grand Californian hotel, which is right next to California Adventure and has its own entrance into the park. It was amazing!
Emme's favorite things about the hotel were A) the chocolate coins with Disney characters they left on your pillow every night (she's still playing with them) and B) the TV in the lobby that plays fun old Disney cartoons 24-7 with itty bitty rocking chairs set up in front of it. We walked past it every day, and every day she asked to go sit and watch "doofy."

{Jamers, Emme and Melmo all in the zone}

Our first day in the park we took a giant family photo of the whole group with all our Disney t-shirts on that Julie designed. She made them all with her Cricut using iron-on vinyl and they were so cute! We got compliments on them all day long.

Chris's shirt had a block U, Emme's shirt had a zebra print Mickey with a bow, and my shirt had the Mickey on my belly, with a blue pacifier for baby brother.

My parents shirts both said "Happiest Grandma/Grandpa on earth" and their Mickeys both had reading glasses on. (My dad's reading glasses were way down low like he wears them on his nose - hilarious!)
Jamers and Brent had matching Lightning McQueen shirts, and Melissa and Melmo had matching purple sparkly bows on theirs.

Michelle's Mickey was a basketball with a bow on it, Stu's Mickey had a blue moustache (his inside joke), and Amy and Stella had matching bows with sparkly stars all over the front.

I didn't get a picture of Daniel & Julie's family somehow (ergh), but Daniel & Tucker & Graydon had matching DC logos on their shirts, and Julie & Nora Jane had matching classic Mickeys with red bows.

I also missed Nate & Brooke, and Nate had a block U like Chris and Brooke had a classic Red polka dot Mickey with a black bow. Very cute.

After the photos were done, we took off for the rides! We headed to Fantasyland first, to get the kiddos excited. Perhaps it was a mistake to take Emme on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride first (which is dark and twisty), because she clung to me the entire rest of the day on every ride...including the train. Is this girl claustrophobic or something? She did NOT want to get in that cage!

Trying to soothe her fears with fruit snacks. It almost worked.

Next we went on It's A Small World. Emme had me in a bear hug across my chest the entire ride, poor thing. We should have gone on it again later in the week because by then when she had warmed up I think she would have loved it!

The kiddos were in HEAVEN in Toon Town. Emme just couldn't believe we were actually in Mickey's house!! It was by far the highlight of the trip for me to watch her excitement when we saw characters out on the street and during the parades. What fun!

The line to see Mickey himself wasn't very long so we hopped in and waited. Chris was off gathering fast-passes for the group and he missed it. But Emme was in awe. She was so excited to see Mickey and not scared one bit. She gave him a huge hug (she's still got her arm around him in this photo -- she didn't want to let go!)

Later in the afternoon I took Emme back to the hotel for a nap. (The absolute best thing about having the hotel so close was the ability to take our much-needed naps every day!) Since my preggo self can't go on many rides, Chris opted to stay out with my siblings and go on rides while we napped. Julie and Stella had never been to Disneyland before, so he told me he was being a good brother-in-law by making sure they got on some good rides that day. ;)

This is a picture from Tower of Terror, the ride Chris loves to hate. He loves it, but it scares the crap out of him, ha ha! So fun.

Every night we all gathered for a big dinner either in the park or out in Downtown Disney. This night we ate at Tortilla Jo's. Yum! Their guacamole is amazing.

After dinner we headed over to see World of Color at California Adventure. Chris & I missed it last year because Emme couldn't make it that late, so we were excited to see it this year. It was an amazing show! Emme loved pointing out Ariel and Buzz & Woody as we watched.

The next morning was our early-entrance morning (the perk you get for staying at a Disneyland hotel). We busted our butts and got there right as the gates opened and headed straight for Peter Pan and the fantasyland rides. Of course, the carousel is always a favorite of the kids. We probably rode the carousel 4 times while we were there.

Then Emme and I got in line for Dumbo, because it was a ride I could do with her. Yay! She loved that we were flying in the air. Uppa down, uppa down, she'd say.

Then we let Grandma & Melissa take Emme with them on the teacups. I knew I'd lose my breakfast if I went, and Chris gets sick on spinning rides (even the carousel). She had a blast!

{Grandma & Grandpa with the kiddos. Perhaps the best smiling picture of Emme we got the whole trip.}

Next we hit Toon Town again. Who can resist the my-sized couches for the kiddos to sit on?

Emme finally started to warm up and loved the Buzz Lightyear ride. She's in love with Buzz & Woody, so I let her help me shoot with my gun (as evidenced by our scores...). However, it should be noted that on the Toy Story ride in California Adventure, I nearly beat Chris one-handed the first time we rode the ride, all with Emme's help. :)

Next we rode Autopia, because Jamers is in love with cars. He was in heaven! Melissa & Brent weren't allowed to touch the wheel at all while he drove. It was hilarious to be behind them and watch their heads jerk side to side while Jamers was steering.

We headed over to California Adventure to hit the Toy Story ride. Chris & Melissa had both been hankering for a giant turkey leg all week, so we bought them and ate them while waiting in line. They were huge!

Chris showing Melissa how it's done.

The "Ariel ride" was one of Emme's favorites. I think we did it 3 or 4 times while we were there. Every time was just as exciting as the first for Emme!

The other big favorite was the Winnie the Pooh ride. The night we trick or treated with Mickey, Chris went on Splash Mountain with my parents twice in a row and Emme and I went on Winnie the Pooh, which is nearby, at least 3 times. She loved the part where Pooh gets stuck in the honey -- it was hilarious to her. I think it's sort of a strange, psychedelic ride but Emme loved it.

Right after dinner we caught the Main Street parade. Emme was in heaven! She watched in awe and would jump up and down and wave and reach for all the characters as they went by.
Among her favorites are Ariel, Mickey, Donald Duck, Goofy, Buzz & Woody, and for some odd reason...Captain Hook & Smee. (I think it must have to do with Jake & The Neverland Pirates that we watch sometimes?)
Chris wanted to see Emme visit Mickey again since he missed it the first time, so we headed back to his house one night and the wait was only like 5 minutes. When they opened the door and let us into his room, Emme was in shock for a second, and then yelled "Mickey!"

This time she knew the drill and she knew she got him all to herself for a few minutes. So what did she want to do? Kiss his nose, over and over. She couldn't take her eyes off him. This, my friends, is what it's all about. What other vacation could you take that would be so thoroughly enthralling for a toddler?

It was the best part of the trip for me, and she still talks about it. If someone asks her about when we went to Disneyland, the first thing she says is "kiss Mickey's nose!"

The next day we decided to hit our favorite rides again. We hit Autopia once more for Jamers.

And we hit Toy Story once more (so Chris could redeem his score, which he did). This time we were all about business. We wedged Emme in between us and locked her in with our knees so we'd both have two hands free for shooting. Chris beat me, fair and square. :)

Later that night we had dinner at the pizza place in Downtown Disney before we headed over to trick or treat with Mickey. Grandma bought these awesome buckets that lit up for the kids. Emme couldn't resist putting it on her head, and the other kids naturally followed suit.

We put Emme's elmo costume on at the last second because it was like 80 degrees out, and it only stayed on her for about 15 minutes before she was sweating to death in it. But she sure was cute!

Once inside the park, there were little trick or treat paths set up and roped off in the dead space between rides. One station would have three or four stands of candy inside it, where workers would put a handful of candy in your bucket. After hitting only two stands, our buckets were over half full, so we called it good. Emme was in heaven.

They even had packages of apple slices and princess fruit snacks mixed in with the candy, which I thought was nice for the kids. But Emme truly loved the chocolate.

{I love my candy THIS much!}

We parked it on the curb with our candy and waited for Mickey's Halloween parade, which was awesome.

I was skeptical about the additional cost of the trick or treating night, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and I think I'd do it again! It was less crowded than it had been during the day, and I thought the trick or treating was set up really well. We had a great time that night.

This might be my favorite picture from the trip. It captures Emme so well -- reaching out and waving to all the characters as they walked by. I'm sure this trip was the highlight of her life so far! She couldn't have loved it more.

Big thanks to Grandma & Grandpa Pace for taking us on such a fun trip! We love you!


V said...

I LOVE THE SHIRTS! How clever that every family has a theme.

Nikki said...

I can't get over how cute those shirts are! What a FUN trip!!