Sunday, September 29, 2013

Best Summer Ever {2013}: First Time to Disneyland

We've finally made it to "The Happiest Place on Earth". I haven't been here since I was a kid, and all I remember was having to wait HOURS in line for rides and I wasn't a happy camper. Now that I'm coming back as a parent, I honestly wasn't too thrilled to take on this beast of a theme park but I was excited to have JAM experience another first in his life. We made it a huge family trip with 8 kids in tow under the age of 10. Lucky for us, there were more adults than kids so everyone buddied up and away we went to start this magical journey.

Like I said, it's been a long time since I've been to Disneyland. JAM and I saw a lot of fun attractions on the Disney channel prior to our trip so we were super excited to check some of them out. Come to find out, a lot of those attractions featured on TV were actually a part of Disney California Adventure NOT Disneyland haha. Whoops. Regardless, I knew that Disneyland was definitely a place I wanted JAM to experience as a kid. Looking at the map as we entered, there was no way we'd be able to cover it all in one day so the adults huddled together to decide on the major areas we wanted the kids to check out. I honestly can't recollect the different "villages" since there were so many, but all the themes in each area were so fun to experience. We saw Goofy up ahead so we stopped at the first store to buy an autograph book for all the kids. Sadly though, once we approached the line there was an associate telling people the line was cut off so Goofy could grab some lunch. Bummer.

To keep the momentum going we decided to choose our first ride. The cool thing about Disney rides is that they have these fast pass machines. Every ride has one. If you don't want to wait in line, you use your Disneyland ticket stub to grab 1 fast pass per ticket stub and the fast pass will have a time stamped on it to let you know when to return. When you do come back at the said time there's a special fast pass line to basically walk to the front of the line! So if you time it correctly, you can grab a fast pass for a ride that has a long line and ride another ride while you wait. For example, It was 11:30am and Space Mountain's line was super long so we grabbed 8 fast passes to come back later. The fast passes said to return at 1:30pm.While we waited we grabbed a bite to eat and rode a ride nearby. It took about 45 minutes to go on the nearby ride so by the time we finished the ride and grabbed a bite to eat it was time to head to Space Mountain. We walked up the special fast pass line and waited only 10 minutes to be seated on the ride! Awesome!

What movie is this from? hehe

Like I said, this was JAM's first time to Disneyland so his first ride here had to be epic. My little cousins recommended the Star Wars ride (AKA Star Tours) first. Along the way we passed many storm troopers. To my surprise, they never wanted to stop to take pictures or interact with the kids. JAM was kind of bummed about that so I just told him to stand near one of them while we were in a traffic jam and snapped a quick photo. The attentiveness of the Disney characters who walked around the premises were pretty crappy throughout the day. We learned really quickly that the only way to snap a pic or get an autograph from the characters was to visit the themed villages were the popular characters "resided". Anyways, back to the Star Tours ride. The line wasn't too long and JAM was so excited to see familiar characters from the movie as we walked through the line. Once we arrived at the boarding area, JAM was thrilled to find out 3-D glasses were required because everyone knows how much this kid loves 3-D anything. There was an "A" and "B" section and once the doors opened we walked to the end of our designated row and buckled up. We were inside a Star Wars aircraft to complete a mission! According to my uncle, the scenario is different in the "A" section from the "B" section we were in. This Star Wars ride was actually super fun! The whole thing moves around as you fly through space and other different areas and it rattles as our enemies try to shoot at our aircraft. The graphics were amazing, which wasn't a surprise since we're working with Disney standards here.

We visited a few other places such as this building where JAM got to virtually transform into Iron Man, and rode other rides like going underwater in a submarine to see Nemo. P.S. I'm you're claustrophobic, I suggest you don't ride this submarine. There's only one way in and one way out plus you're seated in a tight and confined area. One lady almost lost it because she was seated in the middle of the row and felt like she couldn't breathe. Luckily she made it through the whole ride without panicking.

Next stop was Toon Town so that JAM and the rest of the kids could get a few autographs. This place was so cute. There was a cul-de-sac filled with the homes of the Disney greats: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Pluto, and Goofy. The stated wait times were definitely way longer than actual time. The sign in front of Mickey's house said a 60 minute wait but we only waited about 30 minutes, if that. It was so neat too because you get a chance to walk through Mickey's home. It was actually pretty big! You can sit in his chair and check out all the details. The sign said he was in the backyard barn filming a movie, so some people stayed behind to check out Mickey's house while some zoomed right through to the barn. The barn is where the actual line is. Everything was organized real well by the associates letting in two families at a time to Mickey's filming area so that you didn't feel rushed or crowded to snag a photo and autograph from Mickey. Once inside, the associate took photos with our cameras and camera phones then Mickey signed all of the kids' autograph books. By the way, props to "Mickey" for having such an awesome signature with those huge hands and provided tiny pen haha. We also got to have tea with Minnie and act goofy with Goofy. Pluto hung out by his doghouse, and Donald and Daisy weren't home but had pretty neat houses to check out.

While some of the kids rode a couple quick rides, JAM took a power nap (haha). Then it was off to Tarzan's treehouse and a visit to Merida. I told JAM that you can't visit Disneyland without riding "It's a Small World". He wasn't too enthused but it was a must on mommy's list. It ended up paying off because Tom Brady and Gisele were on our boat! We didn't make a scene and told the kids not to either so we politely said hello. They clearly were enjoying a day with their kids too and we didn't want to spoil it for them.

Oh hey Tom Brady! :)

The adults took turns riding a few rides too. My favorite ride definitely had to be the Indiana Jones ride. You swear you were in the movie. Anyways, the day was winding down so we all decided to grab some dinner. There were endless options, but we decided to eat at the Stage Door Cafe since they has simple and easy choices for the kids to eat. Mommy on the other hand didn't want chicken fingers so I walked a bit to grab a bowl of yummy goodness.

Steak Gumbo in a bread bowl. YUM!

The sun was setting and we grabbed a seat on the barricaded walkway to get ready for Fantasmic. This show is a definite MUST SEE when visiting Disneyland. Around 9pm, you find a spot surrounding the waterfront and they have this great show with Mickey and many familiar Disney characters. Especially if you have little ones, I suggest that you reserve your seat early so they can get a good view of the show. Nearing the start of the show they barricade off the section so passerby-ers can still navigate where to go. I don't want to spoil too much off the storyline, but just know, the closer you are the more wet you get. Don't worry, it's just a little mist but I noticed some little kids cried because they got wet in general so if your kiddo is one of those, back up a little hehe. Well, there you have it! JAM's first trip to Disney and we survived! We all had a blast and it was definitely one to remember. Maybe next time we'll make it a whole weekend trip so we can cover more ground.

What's your favorite attraction at Disneyland?