Disney Land, our First Vacation in Six Years.

I swore I wouldn’t do it. But I did. I went on a vacation. As Fran likes to point out, it’s our first “real” vacation in over six years (a “real” vacation is a trip where we’re gone longer than overnight- seems fair). The destination? Disney Land. We felt like the kids were all finally big enough to enjoy it. We went six years ago with my parents. This time my Dad decided to come with us which worked out really well; three kids and three adults.

We decided to drive there this time around (my Dad drove separate do do some sight seeing). We broke the drive up over two days each way. On the first night we swung through  Las Vegas and ate at the Rainforest cafe at the MGM Grand Casino. The food was okay and the atmosphere was exceptional. I have to confess that it was a little weird walking though the casino with our kids. Despite their protests I didn’t let them gamble.

The drive went really well and our kids were great (my mom had prepared little game bags which really helped). We rolled into Disney Land Tuesday evening. We had reservations at Disney’s Paradise Pier. We’ve stayed previously at the Grand Californian hotel. Paradise Pier isn’t as luxurious, but it’s definitely more kid friendly and still very nice. The next morning we were off for days of fun and adventure in Disney Land and California Adventure Land.

My Dad has his birthday while were at Disney Land. He wore his “It’s my Birthday” pin most of the time and used his clout to score several pictures with celebrity ducks.

I think it’s fair to say that the six of us had a great time. It was a little harder than I expected with three kids. I was very grateful that my dad had come with us. The kids constantly wanted to be carried, couldn’t agree on rides, argued about who would sit with who on the rides, obsessed over churros and relentlessly overpriced imports but it couldn’t overshadow the magic of the Disney Land park.

We ate in the park. This is astronomically expensive, but if you let cognitive dissonance do it’s job you can escape with the illusion that somehow it was better and/or worth it. Red’s Rocket Port has some great salad and pasta. It was as good as I had remembered.

Old favorites like Space Mountain, Splash Mountainm, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Indiana Jones still delivered all the thrills I remembered from six years ago (our last visit). Since we opted to go during school, the crowds were nearly non-existent. Most of the rides we walked right onto and worst case we waited about 15-20 mins. There were several new attractions, but nothing really stuck out over the classics.

We also ate the the French Market (and here’s a photo of all of us). Fran was disappointed and I’m pretty sure I got food poisoning there (chills, headache and vomiting ensued). Being sick put a damper on the trip, but I recovered quickly enough .

After spending a day in Disney Land we headed over to California Adventure Land. They had pulled out a couple of rides to make room for a new attraction based on Cars (they’re basically building out a Radiator Springs). California Adventure isn’t quite as magical as Disney but it’s still got some fun rides like Screaming, Soaring over California, Tower of Terror and the 3D shows.

There’s my dad with the Ferris Wheel of death behind him. Some of the cars on the Ferris wheel slide along rails. It made my Dad and me really sick. As I get older motion sickness isn’t fun like it used to be. California Adventure is a blast, but with thin crowds  there’s not quite a day’s worth of stuff to do and so we headed back to Disney Land. Just to prove how tough we were my Dad and I rode the teacups.

One of the trip highlights was the Wold of Color, in California Adventure. We went to the show on Friday night (and by Friday the crowds had increased exponentially). The show consists of water, lights, projected images, lasers and music. My picture doesn’t do it any kind of justice (you can find the show on You Tube).

And then it was time to head home. We briefly considered hitting Lego Land or the San Diego Zoo, but we were pretty exhausted (I would say the recovery time for me personally, once we got home, was about a week). The only real casualty of our trip was the mini-van. Our kids have a gift for making messes. Here’s the back of the car by the time we got home.

Overall a great trip. Looking back we might have waited one more year to go, and we may have flown. But hopefully we built some good memories and the kids will look back with fondness on our trip. I’ll be ready to go on another vacation in about six years.

Posted November 7th, 2010