Originally we planned our Disneyland vacation for February but because Brandon was struggling in school we didn't feel like it would be a very good time to pull him out for a week. So we changed our plans to leave the day after school got out! It really made school getting out more exciting for our family and even though, in May, Disneyland was more crowded than we like, the beach was warmer and we were actually able to get into the water and play. It was a perfect vacation. We loved every second. Even the bad ones.
We left Saturday, May 25 and drove all the way to Mesquite NV. The first few hours in our car were absolutely miserable. The kids were fighting, it seemed like we had to stop every 10 minutes because someone had to go to the bathroom. "Why didn't you go when we stopped a half hour ago???" "Because I didn't have to go poo then!!! Now I'm going to poo my pants!!!" You get the idea. After lunch we finally seemed to get into our groove and were able to drive for hours at a time instead of minutes.
Upon arrival, we were disappointed to discover that the awesome deal we got on our hotel, didn't turn out to be so awesome. I had found a condo that was advertised $100 a night. It was three bedrooms, two bathrooms, full kitchen, dining and living room. The lesson that if something seems to be too good to be true, it probably is was definitely realized when we got there and found that in addition to the $100 we already paid we had to pay an additional $125 "resort fee". "What if we don't use the pool or anything?" we asked. We were informed it was non-negotiable. So we reluctantly paid. Thankfully we loved our stay there. The kids ran around the house screaming how much they loved it. Exclamations of "It's my dream house!!!" "I love it here!!!" alleviated our resentments. And to be quite honest, it was absolutely relaxing not worrying about being too noisy, fixing our own dinner and breakfast, swimming, and watching movies.
playing safely away from the unknown.
As if tide pools and day at the beach wasn't enough, we decided to have dinner on the pier. After getting everyone cleaned up we went to a seafood restaurant. This was a personal highlight and I'm totally disappointed that in my wonder and awe and confusion and happiness I didn't get any pictures. The restaurant - I think it's just called Quality Seafood - was such fun experience. You get to choose your fish, clams, lobsters, octopus, whatever you want to eat. Some of it is alive in front of you. All of it is fresh. They clean and cook your choices however you want. It was so busy, and so loud, and so intimidating and confusing but absolutely exhilarating for this self-proclaimed "foodie." I loved every second of the meal. We tried fried cod, shark, tuna, a whole tilapia - with it's head on and everything (soooo good and my favorite), salmon, shrimp, calamari, and big tubs of clam chowder with sourdough bread. It was the best seafood feast I've ever experienced and am so glad to know we can go do it again next time we visit!!!
There is a new ride in California Adventure called Radiator Springs Racers. It is awesome. But what efforts we had to make to get on the dang thing!!! We tried Wednesday but the line was never shorter than an hour wait so we decided to get up really early Thursday morning to get fast passes. We were at the gate before 8:30 (the park opens at 9) and when they let us in I ran -literally ran- to get in line for fast passes. Shane and the kids ran to get in line for the ride. Our plan was to ride it first thing and then get to ride it again with the fast passes. With everyone's tickets I was ready. But the dang machine wouldn't accept 3 of the tickets! The girl told me I would have to go back to the front gate, have them re-scan the tickets and then come back. "But the times won't be the same if I do that! The fast passes could be gone by the time I get back in line!" The line wrapped around and around and around. It was ridiculously long. She said with a smile, "Well, just hurry and come right back here. It'll be OK. You at least got four fast passes!" I wanted to yell at her, "So which of my children should I tell can't go on the ride you dumb girl!!!" I was beyond frustrated, especially because I had witnessed a woman 3 in front of me experience the same problem and the same girl call her manager over and he inserted his magic fast pass card and she was able to get the tickets she needed. Then to make matters worse... the stupid ride was broken all day. We tried 5 times waiting and it never was working. We were meeting family for dinner that night and couldn't wait any longer. I asked the Cars workers if our fast passes would be valid for the next day. They said no because the day was far from over and the ride could start to work before the end of the day. On our way out I stopped at the chamber of commerce (customer service) and asked if I could get fast passes for the next day. At first he said no. Until I threw a tiny fit. I passionately explained we had tried for 3 days to get on this ride. We were leaving tomorrow. We got up early to be here and have a family dinner to go to and can't stay and wait for the possibility of the ride working again any longer. Please isn't there anything you can do??? Hooray! He gave me two fast passes that were each valid for 6 people. But when he asked for my fast passes in exchange and I could only give him 4 he said, not kindly, "You said you had 8 people in your party." "I do." "Then why only 4 fast passes?" Then I had to explain my struggles earlier in the day and how I was unable to procure more fast passes for the rest of my family. I am pretty sure he thought I was one of those crazy angry people who threw fits and lie to get what they want. But oh well. He gave me the passes and I, totally shaken from the encounter, presented them to my cheering family. Was the ride worth all that aggravation? Why yes. Yes it was.
Logan was so excited about Star Tours. He loved this part in the line when he got to see the real live R2-D2 and C-3PO. He was so much fun on this trip and surprised us a lot by loving the roller coaster rides. IT all started with Splash Mountain and every single one after that his enthusiasm about all the rides was very contagious. He even tried Tower of Terror. When Shane asked him if would go on it again he said, "Yea. But not right now." Star Tours was, of course, this super star wars fan's favorite.
We left the parks early on Thursday so we could have dinner with our family. Gramma and Frank took us to this awesome park by their house where we met cousins and had a bbq rib picnic dinner and played all night long. It was a much needed break for us and felt very relaxing. 4 days in a row at Disneyland, we found, is a lot to ask of a family. Although we were very very grateful we could go at all, this little picnic at the park was just what we needed to revive our Disneyland spirits, which that night, needed some serious reviving. IN fact on the way home when the kids were asked what their favorite part of the vacation was they said "The night we played at the park with our cousins." Again there aren't pictures to show for this night except for this one of Sophie on the swing. All the kids received some money to spend on a souvenir. Sophie chose this Jesse doll and they have been inseparable ever since. She was burying Jesse in the sand and I tried to get her to stop because she was getting her new doll all dirty. Sophie didn't care explaining that she would just wash her. This made me stop and think that Jesse would love being buried so I didn't say anything else about it :)
Friday came. Our last day and we all wanted it to be a really good day. Especially considering it was also Lindsay's birthday! Lindsay had her 9th birthday on our last day to Disneyland. She got her favorite cereal in the morning and we decorated the car for her on the inside and out.
Everyone was able to do and see exactly what they wanted the last day at Disneyland. We got a great seat for the parade. We chose to stay for Disneyland's parade because last time we were in CA we went to California Adventure's Pixar Parade. I loved the parade in Disneyland, but I think my favorite of the two is the Pixar Parade. It's such a great one!
Before finding a place for fireworks we went on the Buzz Lightyear ride for our last ride. It was Logan's favorite last time we came and we thought it'd be great to have something the whole family could go on. While we were in line we realized our last ride 2 1/2 years ago was Buzz Lightyear and our first ride this time and last was Pirates of the Carribean. We decided that we would make it a tradition to always go on these rides first and last whenever we come.
It was really important to me to get a good seat for the fireworks and see the whole show because we missed a lot of it last time. We found a good seat with a bench that we turned around to face the fireworks. Peter fell asleep in my arms. This hasn't happened since he was maybe 6 months old. We ate churros, played with little toy souvenirs, and Lindsay answered birthday texts while we waited for the show to begin. They announced the fireworks might not happen because of the wind and my heart sank. Luckily the show went on. What an amazing, perfect way to end our trip.
We had a wonderful time. What a great thing to be able to take vacations with your family. They don't need to be extravagant to create wonderful memories. We will cherish these memories always.