Friday, October 17, 2008

the week of disney

Last Thanksgiving we went to Disneyworld for a week and to say we had a good time would be an understatement, yet we still found some room for improvement. This past spring John suggested we go to Disneyland during Erin's fall break and plan a few things differently to make for an even better trip.

First, a bonus, Erin's break is a very off-peak time of year for a Disney vacation. Second, we were going to stay longer. We did 4 parks in 5 days at WDW, which gave us enough time to see most of the attractions, but we never had enough time to go back to the resort/hotel and just relax or swim or hang out there. In John's world eating meat on friday is fine but going someplace with an awesome pool and not using it is a major sin. Third, we missed going on several of the big thrill rides last fall because the kids were too small to take on with us and we didn't have anyone to watch the kids to allow us to ride them alone. This year, our plan was to bring the (ex-)nanny and her fiance and provide them a hotel room in exchange for some babysitting throughout the week. Everyone involved thought it was a pretty good deal.

So we set off by car on sunday October 5, which, as the Disneyland Hotel informed me no fewer than three times during the preceding month (by email, mailed letter, and a phone call) was to be a private sweet 16 birthday party for that spoiled rotten useless chick that plays Hannah Montana on TV, and therefore Disneyland would be closing at 5pm that day. Just. For. Her. Oh good grief...whatever. I think it's really only a matter of time before she enters a 24-hour marriage, shaves her head, and speeds down the freeway in a luxury convertible, fleeing "baby daddy" with a toddler on her lap. Call me cynical, but once you get Disneyland, all of Disneyland, for a private birthday party as a teenager I'm guessing the only place left to go in life is down. And we didn't plan on going into the parks that first night anyway (insert loud raspberry here).

We all arrived at the hotel in the late afternoon and after settling in a little bit we went to nearby downtown Disney to look around and have some dinner. Downtown Disney is all of 30 yards from the Disneyland Hotel, yet almost instantly John and Jacob and even Danielle were convinced by small people to become sherpas.

We enjoyed the lego store, and the giant giraffe that I tried but couldn't manage to fit into a photo. We went into a Disney store and Allison thought she found the perfect "little" souvenir. Think again.

The next morning the fergyfive had an early reservation for breakfast in Goofy's Kitchen, featuring many of the classic characters:

The girls love these meals since the characters make the rounds to all of the tables and everyone has a chance to visit with them and take pictures. At WDW last fall the park was so crowded that all of the characters inside the parks had lines an hour long to meet with them, so our only real encounter with characters was at these special meals.

After eating we went to the California Adventure park first, which was so empty that we had many rides all to ourselves.

The girls loved playing in the "It's a Bugs World" area (from the movie) where everything is designed to make you see things from a bug's perspective.

And that afternoon we made good on the "thou must enjoy the unique swimming pools" commandment and took a good long swimming break back at the hotel. The pool area had waterslides and a jacuzzi and this pirate ship in the middle, and was overall, just cool, and huge.

So that was monday. The following day got a little more, ah, interesting. To back up, Allison came down with a cold about a week and a half before this trip. She missed a day of preschool, it spread to me, then to the other kids and finally, when Allison and Erin were back to normal and Kate only had some residual sniffles, John got it about three days before we left. That first day in the park and swimming all the kids seemed fine. John still had some sinus congestion but was managing okay. On tuesday by mid-morning Allison was obviously sick again and at times seemed a little wheezy. She rode in the stroller rather than walked, but still wanted to go on some rides.
We went back to the hotel in the afternoon, the other kids swam with Danielle and Jacob and John and I put Allison to bed. When she woke up she looked horrible, was soaking wet with sweat, and wheezing tremendously. Conveniently, Kaiser Permanente has a hospital in Anaheim and so I took her to the ER there.

That evening we had planned on Danielle and Jacob babysitting all the kids while we went out to a very nice dinner with good friends Trish and Hugh, who live in Irvine, but obviously those plans got scrapped.

A couple of x-rays and a consult later, Allison didn't have pneumonia, which is what I initially suspected. She "just" had croup. So the hotel provided us with a humidifier for the room and we put her to bed and the next morning she was already a good deal better, and we just made sure she always rode in the stroller and again in the afternoon we brought her back to nap, and a couple of long steams in the shower helped out too. The rest of the week went alright after all.

On wednesday was the planned belated birthday surprise. Near main street in Disneyland you can make a reservation to celebrate a birthday with Pat E. Cake, a crazy disney chef guy who sings and brings all the birthday kids cakes for them to decorate. Then he and the kids have a little parade over to Mickey and Minnie, who make an appearance to greet all the birthday kids. The girls had a really good time with all of this. I have much more video than photos of this event, but I'm not going to be able to upload that in the near future, I think.

That evening we had a really, really good Japanese dinner, and the hostess gave the kids training chopsticks to try. Erin made a good attempt with them but went to her fork after several minutes. It's hard enough to convince Allison to use utensils, so new utensils didn't go over well. Kate on the other hand, was a natural, even with her rice.
After dinner we went back to Disneyland to catch the evening parade:
On thursday we had the very important "meet the princesses" lunch scheduled. The girls had been looking forward to this all week.
Though Erin was willing to socialize with other characters too. Unlike WDW last year, the parks really weren't crowded and the girls got many opportunities to visit with the characters in the parks as well as at special meals.
John and I went on Star Tours, and he was happy to see some of the large LCD panels that he designed way back when for the rides' entrance area were still there and in operation:
Last day in the parks, last chance to ride those favorites one more time, which for Erin meant her THIRD ride on Space Mountain, a second ride on the Tower of Terror, Matterhorn, Star Tours, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (another fast coaster)...basically, Erin is a six year-old adrenaline junkie. The bigger and faster the ride the more she liked it. She's tall enough now to ride on all of Disneyland's attractions except for one (Indiana Jones). She LOVES them. When we spent what she considered too much time catering to her sisters' ideas of excitement, on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride or Dumbo or the Winnie the Pooh adventure ride or whatever else, she'd say, "Can we go on something FAST now? We haven't gone on a FAST ride in a loooooooooooong time! This is a BABY ride!"
Our last ride of our last night was on Splash Mountain, which even the twins were tall enough to ride. None of us had managed to get on this one throughout the week and it's one of John's favorites, so we had to be sure and make it on. Most of the ride is pretty tame, but there is one big drop near the end with the anticipated big splash at the bottom. The ride has one of those cameras that take every boat's picture as it starts to make that drop and here is a picture I took of that picture as it appeared on the monitor at the end of the ride. This was not Allison and Kate's favorite attraction:
"Don't take me on Splash Mountain again, mama!" Yes, dear. Aaaaaaarrrrrr.

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