Well, if you are reading this, a few things have happened.
- I actually stopped playing on the computer during naptime and packed suitcases.
- We survived a really long drive to Anaheim and surprised our children with a two-day trip to Disneyland.
- Our mouse ears are firmly in place and Real Gil is smiling from ear to ear. I'm counting heads...
But there are definitely some things to consider if you are going to be planning a trip to Disneyland. Seeing how we are not California residents and this is our SIXTH Disney trip in six years, I consider us to be fairly seasoned Disneylanders. So, with that in mind, I thought I would tell you what I do to plan for a trip to Disneyland. If you have no intentions of ever seeing Disneyland, you can just skip this post. Or you can read it and laugh at our masochistic tendency to choose and pay for this chaos.
What I pack
- Lots of drinks, mostly waters. Also, in the years we were really strapped for money (and even the ones when we're not), we bring powdered drink mix and add them to our childrens' water bottles. It's a treat for them and a lot cheaper than the $4 Cinderella grape juice.
- Our really ugly garage-sale double-stroller that we use once a year (today). We decorate it with a helium balloon tied to the top so I can distinguish it from the mass of strollers (as if its ugliness doesn't make it distinct already).
- Princess dresses and hair ties to do "fancy hair" for my girls. My all-time favorite website for doing little girls' hair is found here. If you haven't been to Disneyland in a while, this is a very popular thing for the little girls to do - wear princess dresses and even get their hair done-up. We do the white-trash version of this.
- Lots of snacks, most of which were purchased at WalMart. Kids are excited to have candy and Real Gil saved an arm and a leg by buying them before we got to the park.
- Light-up spinners (bought at garage sales through the year, usually for about a quarter), Minnie Mouse ears (from last year), and any other Disneyland paraphernalia we have laying around the house that we can blow the dust off and repurpose in the park.
- Our e-bay purchased Disneyland park-hopper two-day tickets. We have done this many times and have had great success. So far, no one has asked us if our name really is "Mateo Cervantes" or where the rest of our boy scout troop is.
- A parade schedule.
- Lots of childrens' Advil and Tylenol. And lots of Adult Advil and Tylenol.
- Changes of clothes and a full package of baby wipes.
- Dog tags that the kids wear around their necks with our cell phone number and their full name on them. Let me be honest on this one: I thought I was the most prepared, organized mother when I had these made. Unfortunately, I'm not the most prepared, organized mother. Case in point: I think we've lost two of our three dog tag necklaces. So-o-o, this year we will be doing the ballpoint pen version of this on those who no longer have a dog tag. They will have their full names and our cell phone number written on their arm with ballpoint pen. (Wa-hite Tra-hash!)
- As bonding as Disneyland might be for kids, it ain't the romantic destination for parents. Our first steps inside the park are together and then, Real Gil and I split up and conquer. He goes with those taller ones who can get on to the 40-inches minimum rides. I take those who might miserably fail that test and hit the Teacups. We have also heard that once in the park, you should always go left to beat the crowd.
- We get fast passes to everything we can. They are worth it for sure.
- We do not go back to the hotel for toddler naps. We load the sleepy ones into the stroller, lean back the seats, and pull the shade down, give them their special blankets, and go for a bumpy ride on the Main Street cobblestones. Like riding in a hot, moving car, it puts all children to sleep, trust me.
- Some of our kids love the rides, and others just like to explore. Real Gil takes the thrill-seekers and my favorite thing is to take the others to Tom Sawyer's Island. We lose track of time playing in all of the tunnels and caves. It's the best playground ever.
- We always eat breakfast before we go into the park, and we usually eat dinner on our way back to the hotel. (Recommendations: our favorite hotel is the unassuming, not-flashy Candy Cane Inn. Check it out.)
- Do you have little girls who might want to see princesses? Or little guys who love some of the Disney characters? If so, you should consider one of the character meals. Every year, this is one of our favorite events. It is expensive, but we save ourselves countless hours standing in lines to meet the princesses - in fact, we laugh smugly at those poor people - because we've eaten a meal with Tinkerbell, danced a little ditty with Winnie the Pooh!
- Before we go to Disneyland, we let our children watch Youtube videos of the rides themselves if they are a little fearful. This helps them to know what to expect. And it helps us to know if they are ready for a certain ride. For example, Punkin watched a video of Tower of Terror and emphatically said she would not go on it. 'Nuf said, we won't try it this year.
So, that's my advice on Disneyland. If you see me on the evening news tonight because I accidentally forgot a child in the stroller and got on a ride...well, let me tell you that it isn't the first time. Don't believe me? Just you wait. I'll tell you THAT story another day.
Resting in Him who Makes Disneyland Look Like Chump Change,