Ava, being in love with all things princess could hardly wait to see all the fairytale characters. Jax, talked often about Disneyland, but I think his excitement came from copying his sister. Me, on the other hand, I was genuinely thrilled at the idea of seeing my kids' faces as we walked the streets of the Happiest Place on Earth.
Andy and I took part in Disney's volunteer program this year, collecting books for United Way. As a result, we earned free tickets for the two of us, Dusty and my best friend Jaime. Sadly, Dusty couldn't join us, but Jaime and her son Joey met us there for a day of fun. It was a sweet little reunion for Ava and her buddy (and future husband). They took breaks in almost every line we stood in to hug each other or laugh at their silly jokes. It was very sweet.
Anyway, on to the rides. I mapped out our plan of attack in advance and decided to start in Toontown (at the back of the park). However, on our way there, we were sidetracked by "It's a Small World" (Andy was dreading it) and took a ride. Fortunately, the line was short and in just a few minutes we were on the boat preparing our ears and mind for the inevitable pounding of "It's a Small World" into our brains. As soon as we entered the tunnel, Ava, Jax and Joey were in awe. The ride's been changed up a little to include Disney character in some of the countries, so it made for a fun game of "I Spy" with the kids. Seconds after the ride came to an end, Ava was ready to hop back on, but at Daddy's urging, we went on to Toontown. Here they visited character's houses (Ava's favorite was, of course, Minnie's) and rode their first roller coaster. Jax met the height requirement by the hair of his mohawk. I'll admit, I was a little concerned about the potential freak-out from one or both of my kids that could come from hopping on the roller coaster, but to my surprise, both loved it. Okay, Ava loved it, Jax had a scared look on his face the ENTIRE time, but as soon as it was over said, "Again!"
In jail in ToonTown
We, of course, hit the necessary rides: Teacups, Peter Pan, Dumbo, Pirates of the Carribbean, King Arthur's Carousel, along with some new ones. Each one elicited wide-mouthed smiles and squeals of excitement from all three kids -- and, admittedly, the adults too.
Trying with all her might to get the sword out of the stone!
My only disappointment with the entire visit to Disneyland was that the characters no longer roam the park like they did when I was a kid. Rather, they stand in designated areas, and like everything else in Disneyland, you wait in line to see them. We would have loved to have seen as many characters as possible but top priority was, of course, the princesses. Andy, being the cute dad he is, bought Ava a little princess autograph book and pen and stood in line for over an hour just so she could meet the REAL Disney princesses. She had her hopes up that Snow White would be available for a photo, but unfortunately, she was busy. However, she did get a chance to chat with Ariel, Cinderella and Mulan. She beamed!
Andy took Jax back to the hotel around eight, while Jaime and I stayed with Ava and Joey until the park closed. We ended our fun day at Disneyland with one last trip though "It's a Small World."
As we walked back to Jaime's car, Ava thanked me for the "best day ever!" She simply couldn't believe the day had finally arrived and was exactly how she dreamed it would be!
Disneyland has always been one of my favorite places, but it was definitely a different experience going with our kids. I wasn't concerned about lines, or which rides I wanted to go on, I would have been happy not riding a single ride as long as I got to see that joyous look on Ava and Jax's face. It was priceless! I have to say too, both Ava and Jax were on their best behavior. I don't think we had a single meltdown the entire 10-hour day. Ava walked the whole day, while Jax spent equal time in the stroller, on foot, and on Daddy's shoulders. The kids were patient and courteous, stayed right next to us just as we asked, and constantly told us how much fun they were having. It really was a great day, I couldn't have imagined it any better! Best of all, we spent some much-needed vacation time as a family. It was a long time coming, but so worth the wait!