I’ve been dreaming of taking my family on a Disneyland vacation long before I was married and had kids. Disneyland is a classic family vacation filled with magic! My first Disneyland experience was in the 5th grade and I’ve been obsessed ever since. I’ve visited Disneyland multiple times, but nothing can quite compare to that magic of a child’s first visit. Now that I’m a parent, I’ve been slowly watching Graham (my youngest and shortest son) grow with Disneyland in the back of my mind. I’ve been waiting for that milestone moment where he would be tall enough to go on most of the rides. We reached that perfect height this summer and I promptly suggested we take a Disneyland vacation!
This trip came with other first time experiences for the boys such as their first flight and first time to Southern California. The whole airplane heard them loudly exclaim over palm trees as we got ready to land. The boys enjoyed their first flight and were excellent travelers. My parents joined us for the adventure so we took up an entire row on the airplane. Graham flew down with the grandparents and Owen sat with Jeremy and I. We switched kids for the flight home to mix it up. Once we got into LAX, we picked up our rental car and took off for our hotel, dinner at In-N-Out, and grocery shopping. We went to sleep in matching Mickey Christmas pajamas that I bought specifically for this trip and the holiday season.
Our first day was at Disneyland! The park was all decorated for Christmas which made the experience extra special. Our strategy was to start with the smaller rides in Fantasyland to get the boys warmed up. Things started well with our first ride on Alice in Wonderland. Then Jeremy diverted from the plan when he saw the Matterhorn Bobsleds had a 5 minute wait. We might have traumatized the kids with the yeti on that fast-paced, jerky ride. Oops! Owen loved Big Thunder Mountain, but that was too intense for Graham. At one point during the ride, Graham told us his heart was racing. Both boys loved Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters the most. Part of the fun of the first day was introducing Graham to Disney churros. I got a tasty Gingerbread cookie shaped like Mickey. We watched the Christmas Fantasy Parade. Our kids are now obsessed with the song that played a dozen times on repeat. We didn’t do the big rides or anything spooky. I thought I might miss them, but I didn’t. I had so much fun watching the boys enjoy themselves that I didn’t mind sacrificing some of my past must-do rides.
Our second day was at California Adventure. We did Radiator Spring Racers right when the park opened because the wait time for that ride is insane. The boys loved all the rides at Cars Land. Honorable mentions would also be Goofy’s Sky School, the Pixar Pal-A-Round, and Soarin’ Around the World. One of my highlights was the Boudin Sourdough Bakery at the Pacific Wharf. I enjoyed a sourdough bread bowl with mac & cheese for lunch. We also bought a pull-a-part loaf of bread in the shape of a Christmas tree. The loaf turned out to the huge! Oops! We were able to munch on it throughout the week and then we packed it home. After lunch, we went back to the hotel for a rest. Everyone napped so we would have enough spunk to make it through the evening. It’s magical to see the parks all lit up at night especially with the extra Christmas lights and decorations. After an evening of rides, we made our way to Salt & Straw in Downtown Disney for ice cream. We got back to the hotel in time to watch the firework show from the window at the end of the hallway.
We park hopped on our last day. We started the day in Disneyland. We did a few new rides and repeated some favorites. We secured a boarding group for Rise of the Resistance which was a bucket list ride for both Jeremy and my dad. Even though the boys have little Star Wars knowledge, they enjoyed it. In fact, all the Star Wars rides were a hit. Actually, almost all the rides were met with enthusiasm. Just not the Matterhorn. It became a running joke that we wanted to go back to the Matterhorn and the boys would groan. Our last day was also our shopping day. Both boys settled on bubble wands as their souvenirs. We napped in the afternoon and then started our evening at California Adventure. We revisited a few favorite rides before heading back to Disneyland for the firework show. We waited for the show while munching on snacks of churros, Dole whip, and popcorn. As we walked out the park that night, Owen got a bit teary. He didn’t want to leave and honestly, I didn’t either! Owen quickly cheered up as he got use his bubble wand for the walk back to the hotel. We filled the roads around Disney with bubbles! It was like taking a bit of the magic with us outside of the parks.
3 days in the parks. 30 miles of walking. 37 rides. A parade and a firework show. So many magical moments! We were tired and worn out, but happy in a way that only the happiest place on Earth can provide. I was definitely ready to rest, but now that I’ve had a day at home to recover, I’m ready to go back. Anytime. Tomorrow would be great. Okay, I don’t know when our next Disney adventure will happen, but I am so thankful for the experience that we just had. Disneyland did not disappoint. It was exactly the trip that I dreamt it would be. What a magical Disneyland adventure we had!