Before we moved from Arizona I had wanted to take our kids to Disneyland. When we lived in Chandler, AZ we were only several hours from Disneyland. (Around 5!) I thought it would be way easier for us to hop in a car and drive a few hours and do Disneyland, than either drive A LOT of hours, or fly in an airplane. I was afraid that if we didn’t go before we moved, we never would. I also knew it would be cheaper to go then because Lillian could get in for free. Sadly we didn’t make it before we moved.
When we were in Seattle for a year I told Chris I still really wanted to go to Disneyland. He said if we could find good deals on flights we could go. So I started doing my research. I wanted to go when it wasn’t super crowded, I wanted nice weather so we could enjoy ourselves, and I wanted cheap flights. Lucky for us all those things aligned! I found a great deal on flights, less than $100 a person round trip so we booked our flights! Since I found a good deal on flights we really didn’t have much time until we talked about going, until we actually went!
Disneyland is expensive so we knew we wouldn’t be back for awhile so we wanted to fit in as much as we could. We decided on getting the Southern California City Pass which included Disneyland/California Adventure hopper pass for 3 days, Lego Land for 1 day, Sea World for 1 day, and the San Diego Zoo for 1 day. It was going to be a crazy trip, but we were all SOOOO excited!
We REALLY wanted to invite our families to come on this epic Disney trip with us, and we talked about it A LOT in the short time we had before we left, but we decided that it would just be our family. We decided to just do us because:
1. We hadn’t been on a family trip since Lillian was one.
2. We knew My family would love to come. We knew that Chris’ family would love to come. We knew that Chris’ Grandparents would love to come. If they all came it would be SOOOO many people and so many different schedules it just wouldn’t work. We couldn’t really invite just one side and not the other…plus how do we decide who gets to go on vacation with us? We didn’t want to play that game.
3. We wanted to do and see as much as we could and do exactly what we wanted when we wanted that it would just be easier to do with just us 4.
We were really bummed not to have our families come and we hope we didn’t offend anyone by not inviting them. We would have LOVED to have them all there, but we did LOVE just having our family too. I told both sides if we did a Disney trip with either of them they’d have to be the ones to invite us so we wouldn’t have to decide which family went with us!
Saturday January 28, 2017 we flew out fairly early and we were excited to have an early day in California, getting our car, and getting into our hotel. We were quite bummed when our flight kept getting delayed. We ended up being delayed for over 3 hours. Then when we did land we had to wait for our rental car for over an hour. By the time we got our rental car it was passed dinner time. (And we didn’t have lunch due to our delayed flight.) We were all hot, tired, and hungry! Plus Lillian had gotten sick the night before and she wasn’t feeling great. She had a small fever and a cough. (At least that meant that she slept on the plane!!!) We finally got our car and found a place to eat, and went to our hotel!
We got a hotel that was pretty close to Disneyland which was great, except Sea World, San Diego Zoo, and Legoland were all about an hour + away from Disneyland. We talked about getting two different hotels and basically doing 2 trips, but decided we just wanted to keep all our stuff at one place and we wanted to break up Disneyland and not do it in 3 consecutive days.
Sunday January 29, 2017 we decided on going to the San Diego Zoo. (Over an hour drive away.) We’d been here before as a family when Lillian was 1 and we knew we wouldn’t be here all day. We wanted to keep that day a bit more relaxed because Lillian still wasn’t feeling well. We had a good time at the Zoo and the kids liked it for the most part, especially riding the gondolas. Our kids don’t love the zoo as much as some other people do though and we were only there a few hours before they were starting to get bored. Plus now Ryan was starting to not feel that well. We decided to leave and go get some Texas Roadhouse. (Texas Roadhouse is Ryan’s favorite restaurant and we all miss it!) After eating we headed back to the hotel and went out for cookie ice cream sandwiches at Cream. Chris and I had eaten there before when we went to San Francisco and thought the kids would like them and they did! Then we went to bed a little early so we could be ready for Disneyland the next day!
Monday January 30, 3017 we went to California Adventure!! We were all so excited! Sadly the night before both Lillian and Ryan were sick. Mostly with coughs. Sleeping in the same room as two coughing kids made it so I didn’t sleep well either, but what can you do? Luckily everyone was so excited for California Adventure that no one was in a bad mood. We did have hopper passes, meaning we could go between Disneyland and California Adventures in the same day, but since we had little kids we decided that we would stay just in California Adventures the first day.
At first it was a little overwhelming with the crowds, figuring out where to go/what to do, and where to get fast passes, but we started getting our groove and I feel like we were super successful! We did a lot of reading before we went and we knew that we needed to get fast passes for the Cars ride first thing. Chris was our runner and he would go and get fast passes. While he was getting fast passes I would ride a ride with the kids that didn’t have a huge wait and we’d meet up afterwards. We rode the Mater Tractor ride first and there was a bit of a wait (about 20 minutes.) I was a little bummed that we had to wait so long because kids were starting to get antsy and I was hoping we would have even less wait times. (I do know that you can wait in lines for over an hour, but we came at off season where the lines weren’t supposed to be long.) Luckily this was the longest we waited in line. The only time we waited more than 10 minutes in line was for the Ferris Wheel and I think we had to wait a while for our fast pass to ride the Cars ride. Other than that we basically walked on every ride. It was awesome!
After Mater’s ride we met up with Chris. He said waiting for fast passes was a nightmare! First he went to the wrong place, then the computers crashed and weren’t handing out fast passes. Since they weren’t giving out fast passes, the lines to get fast passes were super long. So the whole 20 minutes we were waiting in line to ride the Mater ride. Chris was in line waiting for fast passes. He got the fast passes just as we were boarding the ride so he got to watch us. Fast passes are tickets that let you go to a short line for the more popular rides, but the fast pass only lets you ride that ride at a certain time. Not all the rides have fast passes, and once you have a fast pass you can’t get another for a certain period of time. We couldn’t use our fast passes for the Cars ride until almost 4 that afternoon. Luckily we were able to get a different fast pass much sooner than that though so we planned our day around those times.
Cars Land was getting a little crazy for us so we went to the Bug’s Life area. We rode the slow Caterpillar ride, and the bumper bug rides. Kids were starting to have a great time! We decided to watch the “Its Tough to be a Bug” 4-D show since there were no lines, it was inside where it was cool, and it looked fun. That was a bad idea. Both kids HATED it. It scared them both so bad. I think it mostly caught them off guard that it was spooky and Ryan had the best spot (worst spot for him) in the house right next to all the scary stuff.
After that ride we were able to get another fast pass for Soarin’ Over the World ride. That return time was much earlier than Cars and we only had about an hour before we could ride that one. We rode some rides around that one and went back to Soarin. We all loved that one and had a blast with that! We rode the Ferris Wheel (longer wait, still about 20 minutes.), the swings, and the Ariel ride. Lillian loved the Ariel ride and we rode that a lot when we wanted to sit down, cool off, and kill time. There never was a line at the Ariel ride so it was perfect. Kids were both too small for the Screamin’ roller coaster so we had to pass on that one, but we hit up a lot of rides! Ryan rode a few with Chris that Lillian was just shy of being tall enough. (Ryan was 45 inces and Lillian was 42 inches.) When we were waiting for the boys to finish their ride we ran into Chip and Dale and that was a lot of fun!
Finally it was time to ride the Cars ride. Even the fast pass line was long (at least 20 minutes maybe 30.) and it was hot and we were tired. We all were hoping that it would be worth the trouble. We finally got on the ride…and it was worth it! We all loved it! We were sad that we wouldn’t be able to get another fast pass for it that day. And there was no way we were going to wait in line over an hour to ride it again that day. We knew we had more time to spend in California Adventure and we knew we would ride it again!
We all loved California Adventure. Both kids did great, especially for not feeling great. They weren’t afraid of any rides (except that bugs life show) and were willing to ride everything. They kept up great with Chris and me and were happy riding ride after ride after ride. We didn’t watch any shows or spend time in line trying to say hi to characters. We rode rides and we ate and that was all we did. We did have our stroller so we could book it between rides and the kids wouldn’t have to try to walk the whole time or try to keep up with us. It worked out great!
Tuesday January 31, 2017 we FINALLY made it to Disneyland!!! We learned a few things from the day before and left even earlier than we did Monday. (Monday we got there about half hour early and it wasn’t quite early enough. There was a long line of cars trying to park like we were, and then there were a lot of people trying to take the shuttles to get into the park. By the time we actually made it to California Adventure it was about half hour after they opened.) We got to Disneyland about an hour early and the line to park was WAY shorter, we got right on a shuttle, and we got to the gates about 20 minutes early. At 15 minutes early they started to let people in. I also learned from the day before that I needed caffeine before we went in so we stopped by Sonic before we went to Disneyland and I got a Dr. Pepper for the day!
Since we had just done California Adventure we were more prepared. Chris booked it and got Fast passes for the Star Wars ride. The kids and I hopped on a ride in Tomorrow Land while Chris was getting those fast passes. Unlike yesterday we could ride the Star Wars ride pretty early so we rode a few rides in Tomorrow land, got fast passes for Space Mountain, then rode the Star Wars ride. We did Finding Nemo, then rode Space Mountain. I wasn’t sure how the kids would do since it was their first “roller coaster”, but they did well. Lillian didn’t like it since it was so dark, but there were no tears. Space Mountain ended up being Ryan’s favorite ride! (He calls it the dramatic ride).
We went to ride Matterhorn and Ryan was really excited for that one. I told him that was the first roller coaster I liked riding and we watched youtube videos of it, so he was excited! Lillian was too short for that ride by a few inches, so we did the rider swap. Rider swap is where everyone rides the ride except one person who sits out with the too small person. The Disneyland cast member gives you a voucher for you to ride again (for up to 3 people.) We swapped right away so Ryan waited in line once to ride the ride twice. It worked out great! Lillian fell asleep while the boys were riding and when Chris and I switched places she threw a huge fit. I still rode the ride thinking she would calm down right away, but she was still crying when I got back. (She still wasn’t feeling well.) Ryan really liked Matterhorn so it was a success!
Ryan was able to ride most rides at Disneyland (just a few centimeters short of being able to ride Indiana Jones ride) and Lillian was able to ride a lot of rides too. Since they were big enough they were able to ride most of the rides that Chris and I wanted to ride. We didn’t spend anytime in the younger kid sections and it was a blast! The only ride Lillian wasn’t so sure about was Space Mountain because it was dark. Lillian’s favorite ride was Splash Mountain. At Disneyland we were able to walk on most rides with no wait. It worked out great. Again we didn’t do any shows, or wait in line for any characters. We did run into Mickey Mouse and some Winnie the Pooh characters, but mostly we just rode rides all day. The kids loved it! That night we left Disneyland around dinner time. We were all hungry and kids weren’t feeling the greatest so we wanted to make sure everyone was well rested.
Wednesday February 1, 2017 we woke up and drove down to San Diego to go to Sea World. We had been to Sea World as a family a few years before and we all had a great time. We were excited to go when kids were a bit older to see how they liked it. We got there just after they opened and the park was fairly dead. We pet the sharks and rays at the front of the park, and rode some small rides. Then we went to the killer whale show. They’ve changed it a lot through the years and basically just talked about Orcas as the whales swam around.
We went to see the sharks, the penguins, and Ryan rode a few rides while Lilly looked inside gift shops. (Chris and I would switch off the with kids.) There were no lines at all and the park was super empty. It was fun to feel like we had free reign of the place. We went to the sea turtle exhibit and the kids LOVED that. They loved watching the turtles swim around and try to count them. It was a lot of fun to see them so excited.
We went to the Arctic area and Ryan was able to ride that ride, but Lillian was too small for it so her and I walked around the exhibit to wait for the boys. The boys were taking longer than we thought so we left them to save seats for the dolphin show. We got perfect seats and we were able to hang out and rest while we waited for the boys. The boys made it just in time to watch the show and we all really liked the dolphin show.
After that we were all tired (Chris was starting to get sick now, the kids were on the mend, but still not feeling well.) so we headed back towards the hotel. We stopped and ate at Texas Roadhouse again, we had to get our fill! Then went to the hotel. We went out for ice cream that night and Ryan had a coughing flare up and puked all over…inside the car no less. (He was asleep so there was no warning.) We went back to the hotel, cleaned up kids and the car/car seat and went to bed. Lucky for us the next little while we had a puke smelling car.
Thursday February 2, 2016 we woke up early to drive again towards San Diego (third and final time.) to go to Lego Land. Again Lego Land was fairly dead and we mostly had the park to ourselves. (We had to share it with a school that was taking a field trip there or something…) We rode some rides, the kids played in the sand, they played with legos, they rode rides. They had a really great time. That day Chris was feeling pretty miserable and the kids were still not feeling great. We were all tired from all the theme parks so we did duck out of this park early. We went to eat and started the drive to the hotel. On the way the car starting driving really weird. It wouldn’t go passed second gear so it was a long slow drive back to the hotel. When we got back to the hotel we called the rental car company to tell them our car was broken. They arranged for us to get a new rental car and to have the old one towed. We had to empty out the car to switch rental cars and then we went to bed.
Friday February 3, 2017 Chris woke up early to go get the new rental car and I got kids ready for another day of Disneyland. We got to the park early to use our magic morning passes (we could enter the park earlier than everyone else.) and Chris went right away to get us some fast passes. While he was waiting to get fast passes we waited in line to see some characters. We saw Minnie and Daisy and Lillian was thrilled. We were able to ride a few rides before the park opened, then we went to California Adventure to get fast passes for the Cars ride. We then went back to Disneyland to kill time before we could use our Cars fast passes.
In Disneyland we rode a ton of rides. The kids loved Thunder Mountain and we rode that a few times. (No lines at all, we just walked right on.) We rode Splash Mountain again because its Lillian’s favorite. We rode Space Mountain again because its Ryan’s favorite, then we went back to California Adventure. We rode all our favorite rides there and had a great time. That day was the only day we used our hopper passes and went back and forth between the parks. This worked out great for us. We knew the rides we wanted to ride again and we didn’t waste any time.
After we rode all the rides we wanted to ride we left Disneyland and California Adventure for good. Everyone had a lot of fun, even though everyone had been sick while we were there. We went to get something to eat, then we went to back to the hotel for bed.
Saturday February 4, 2017 we stayed in the hotel all day. Chris was pretty sick and the kids still weren’t great. Everyone slept in or watched movies. Its just the thing everyone needed!
Sunday February 5, 2017 we woke up, loaded the car and we were off. We had a few hours to kill before we went to the airport so we went shopping for new headphones for me. We went out to eat and headed for the airport. When we got the airport we found out our flight would be delayed due to bad weather in Seattle. We finally took off and landed to a winter wonderland in Seattle.
We had a great trip in California even though everyone got sick, except me! The kids did amazing and loved it all! We are all excited to go back! Although the next time we go we may not get hopper passes since we basically stayed at one park all day. We would probably just do Disneyland/California Adventure instead of trying to do all the other parks as well.
We also learned that Lillian is not a sunshine girl at all. Every time we would first step outside she would freak out! She needed her sun glasses on even to get into the car. Our kids are not Arizona kids anymore and having 80 degree weather was too hot for them!
We had a great time and we are looking forward to going back in a few years when both kids can ride all the rides!