you guys rock. thank you so much for your sweet words of support and advice in response to yesterday's whinefest. i can't tell you how much that meant to me, and i actually do feel better about things today. yay!
now, on to the fun stuff: our first trip to disneyland since the teen's birthday extravaganza in '08! the ILs thought it would be fun to go while we were all home from school and work for the holidays, and well, hey - i'm not one to turn down a trip to the land of the mouse. taking a tip from a couple of friends who had also gone during the holiday season, we bought our tickets online and printed out our vouchers at home:
the bean loved that - monsters, inc. is one of her favorite movies of all time. heh.
the hub, not a big fan of amusement parks, standing in line, and crowds in general, bowed out and suggested meeting us later at downtown disney instead. the plan was to have dinner together and then he'd take the bean and whoever else wanted to go with him, leaving the car in the parking garage for me to drive the rest of us home later. good plan, yes?
of course, we woke up on the big day to find that rainclouds had taken over our previously bright blue skies. and as we piled into the car - MIL, FIL, the bean, the teen, BFF, cousin seven, and me - those clouds opened up and poured much-needed-but-badly-timed rain down on us. damn. but we didn't let that dampen our spirits - we forged ahead with our day of fun.
after a quick stop at the coffee bean for some caffeine and sustenance, as well as a crazy obstacle course around roadblocks through the streets of anaheim, we finally found our way into the parking garage. the teen had the forethought to snap this, so we would remember where we'd left the car:
considering the fact that that structure holds 10,000 cars, that was a stroke of genius that we'd be thankful for later on.
having decided to leave the stroller (which had a flat tire anyway) in the car in favor of renting one inside the park, we scurried downstairs to get in line for the tram that would save us the 10-minute walk to the front gates. come on, we were going to be on our feet all day as it was.
seven and i were totally stoked for a fun day of being a kid again.
the house of mouse really has their shit together. almost as soon as one stuffed-to-the-gills tram took off, another one was right behind it. quite efficient, i must say.
as we held her tight, the bean peeked out from under her hood to see what was going on.
there were long lines to enter the park, but they moved quickly.
just inside the gate, we stopped to rent the bean's mode of transportation and pick up a few rain ponchos. the ILs were all about staying dry, and we picked up another one to drape over the stroller. the rest of our vain asses skipped the ponchos and resigned ourselves to getting drenched as the day went on.
the wet weather kept most folks from crowding in front of the giant christmas tree for a snapshot. normally, getting a clear shot of it would be damn near impossible.
after ducking into a shop to scoop up a couple of umbrellas for the teens (who wailed "my hair!"), we headed to space mountain to see how long the standby line was. not really feeling the 70-minute wait, we picked up fastpasses instead and settled for saving the most fun ride for last. or, at least, much later.
from there, we headed to a ride fit for all ages, even the bean. although the line extended outside the building and wound around a bit in that typical disneyland ride line maze, we found ourselves boarding a buzz lightyear space vehicle in no time.
each car is equipped with two guns, which passengers can use to shoot at targets and score points. it's totally fun, and the competitive single-child syndrome kicked in as i used one arm to hold the bean (a little overwhelmed at the sensory overload and sleepy to boot) and the other to aim and shoot frantically.
at one point, the ride halted for about 30 seconds - conveniently, right underneath a target. seven and i laughed hysterically as we watched our scores climb higher and higher. finally, the ride started back up and dropped us off at the exit. not far beyond that were stations where you could view and e-mail the picture taken during the shooting extravaganza. i still have no idea where they snap it, because i'm always so damn busy aiming my gun with one eye shut, concentrating hard on the targets. lame-o.
after we bundled the bean back up in the stroller, we made a beeline to adventureland to see what the line looked like for the indiana jones ride. while i was content to stroll through the rain while the girls went on the ride, the ILs urged me to join them. "you love these rides, and we don't mind! go!"
i didn't have to be told twice.
the standby line wasn't awful, and we were prepared to wait. but as we stood at the end of the line, one of the cast members approached us and offered "single rider" passes. "if you're cool with possibly not sitting together, you can get on the ride in like 10-15 minutes, compared to the hour-long wait in standby," he said. sold!
we scampered past hordes of folks, making our way through the exit up to the front of the line, and were stoked to see how much waiting we managed to sashay past. i glanced down at my pass to read the text and blurted out "hey! mine's in spanish!"
i love this ride so. it's dark and bumpy and twisty-turny, and gobs of silly fun.
afterwards, we made our way through the crowds (frontierland is always so stinking jam-packed) and congregated in the hub between the entrances to all of the themed lands, in front of the castle and the statue of walt and mickey.
i called the ILs, who joined us with a sleeping bean in the stroller. FIL graciously offered to push her around on a walk while the rest of us happily got in line for the next ride (MIL included - she loves fast rides).
it was while we were standing in that line that i realized that my uggs, which i'd chosen for comfort and warmth, were soaked through. i wiggled my toes and realized that they were squishy and wet. yuck.
i pushed my discomfort aside and concentrated on enjoying myself. we screamed and hooted and hollered through the entire ride, laughing and having a fantastic time.
by then, it was time for lunch. we headed to new orleans square, where we joined FIL and the now-awake bean. we admired the pretty decorations that must take forever to put up and take down.
i'd dropped hints about heading to café orleans. it's right across the street from the pricier, harder to get into blue bayou restaurant, but serves some of the same items in a more casual setting.
i felt kind of bad after realizing that we'd had to wait for a table much longer than we'd anticipated, although most of the nicer sit-down eateries in the park had similar delays. we finally got seated, which was awesome - except that our table was outside, where it was butt ass cold and no heater in sight. oh, well. i perused the menu and zeroed in instantly on what i wanted: a monte cristo sandwich.
not wanting to make a total pig of myself, i enticed seven with a very complimentary description of the sandwich and talked her into splitting one with me. heh.
soaked through and freezing, most of us ordered hot drinks. i thoroughly enjoyed my hot chocolate.
silly bean. she colored a little with the crayon pack she'd been given with her kids' menu, but decided it'd be more fun to create a different kind of art with them.
mmmm. my gut-bomb lunch - a ham, turkey and swiss sandwich dipped in french toast-style batter, deep-fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar. it was so stinking good. and we ordered it with pommes frites, seasoned with parmesan and garlic. "stinking good" was right.
after filling our bellies and warming up a little, we boarded the disneyland railroad and rode it to fantasyland.
i knew the bean would be totally entranced at the "it's a small world" ride, especially as it was all dolled up for the holidays. we stood in line for a few minutes before the teen and BFF wiggled their way out and headed to nearby toontown to hop on the roger rabbit ride.
as we waited, the clock struck...something. i don't even remember what time it was. but every 15 minutes, it chimes and doors open to let the parade of internationally-themed dolls do their thing.
the bean was entertained for a little while, and then she went back to making faces.
she lit up like a christmas tree once we were seated in a boat.
she pointed and clapped her hands and even sang along to the chorus of "jingle bells" inside.
seven and i called out a "wassup" to our homey - the lone doll representing our homeland.
as the ride came to an end and we scrambled to get out of our boat, the clock struck again.
somehow, seven and the bean and i were facing away from the ride when the announcement came over the loudspeaker: "ladies and gentlemen, please direct your attention to "it's a small world," where the lights are coming on! 1...2...3!" and the trees around us lit up while the crowd cheered and shouted. we thought those trees were pretty, and then we turned around:
d-oh! we totally missed it. dorks.
from there, we made our way into toontown to see if we could find mickey. all week long, when i'd ask the bean "hey, where are we going?" she'd answer enthusiastically: "dizzyland!" and then i'd say "and what are you going to do when we get there?" her answer: "hug mickey!"
we found minnie mouse's house, where she was thrilled to touch and sit and pose.
we exited minnie's house through the back and joined the line to visit mickey's house, right next door.
the line snaked in through the front door, into all of the rooms of the house, and then a zillion signs pointed our way to mickey's barn, where the mouse awaited his many, many visitors.
even more signs, teasing and taunting. i swear, i would have never guessed that there was that much room back there. the line seemed endless.
and then, finally, we entered the last room and there he was, waiting with arms open. the very moment the bean laid eyes on him, not only was she completely unafraid, but she ran right to him and gave him the biggest, longest hug EVER. it was unbelievably adorable, and was worth every second of the long wait. she didn't want to let go - seven caught it on video, which i'll have to upload and post later. it's so cute.
and with that, we left toontown to meet up with the girls.
the hours had flown by, and i was amazed to realize that it was time to grab our fastpasses and get in our abbreviated line for space mountain.
FIL took the stroller with the slightly drowsy bean again while the rest of us gallivanted off to the best ride in the park.
remember, i'm totally ghetto. i don't buy these ride pictures (unless they're truly awesome), but i whip my camera out and take a picture of the screen. heh.
the hub had texted me to let me know he was putting his name in for a table at naples restaurant in downtown disney, so we scooped up the bean and abandoned the stroller. the girls were itching to go have some fun without us boring old adults around, and since they had zero interest in eating, we left them in the park and hopped onto the monorail.
i'd gotten a text from the hub earlier, asking if we needed anything before he left to join us for dinner, and with my feet frozen and soggy, i put in a request for a pair of fresh, dry uggs from my closet. i was thrilled when we met up with him and spied my lovely, warm boots tucked in the crook of his arm.
we enjoyed our dinner of caesar salad and thin-crust pizza, and found ourselves seated next to a girl who was wearing a sash and tiara. seven and MIL kept trying to figure out what her sash said, but i had the best vantage point. after a few furtive glances, i finally reported back: "it's miss teen northern california." we giggled, snorted and smirked as we watched her remove her sash carefully before digging into her meal. after all, nobody wants a marinara-splashed sash.
afterwards, FIL and the hub left to transfer the car seat from one car to the other. we stayed in the shopping area and went into a store called "studio disney 365." inside, we found all sorts of fun stuff.
the back wall was adorned with framed, autographed promo shots from the disney channel shows. there was lots of other memorabilia on the other walls, including outfits and accessories worn by none other than the teen's beloved jonas brothers.
after the ILs took off with the hub and the bean, seven and i hopped back onto the monorail and went back into the park. we made contact with the girls, who were in seventh heaven riding rides all around disneyland, and so we decided to ride some stuff on our own. the monorail station is right next to the new-ish "finding nemo"-themed ride, which we'd never been on. the line has always been an hour-plus long, and so we were stoked to see that the estimated wait was only 30 minutes.
it was cute, but there's no way i'd wait much longer than we did for it. and the bean would've been scared - it was pitch black in there, and faux explosions rocked the submarine a few times. meh.
the castle was all lit up and purty.
we met up with the girls to ride big thunder, and then decided to make our way back through fantasyland and hit up the matterhorn one more time before leaving. on the way, we lamented the fact that the weather had shut down a classic:
matterhorn is so way better at night. heh. with raw, sore throats, we grabbed hot chocolates and snacks at the bakery on main street, and then it was time to go.
oh, how i love disneyland. even in the rain.