Baby Trip Report: Eva Goes to Disneyland (Part Three)

Posted by Carly Morgan

Baby in Disneyland Toontown

 

From It’s a Small World, we headed over to Toontown. I’m actually not a huge fan of Toontown, because cartoonish-type things creep me out a little (Who Framed Roger Rabbit = terrifying!) but we knew that the bright colors would interest Eva.

We were right in thinking that she’d love it, but she also wanted to touch EVERYTHING. She became obsessed with a mailbox that makes noise when you open it and started to throw little tantrums because she didn’t want anyone else to touch it.

Baby in Disneyland Toontown

She’s also in the phase where her fingers are constantly in her mouth, so she would grab things and then try to suck the germs off of her hands, which meant that I went through about half a bottle of Purell while we were in Toontown. That’s another thing to add to the diaper bag when you’re packing for the parks, because the last thing you need is to have your baby come down with something after the first day!

We (Kyle and I) got bored in Toontown pretty fast because we couldn’t ride anything and the stroller was too bulky to take into the shops and houses. We were starting to get a little hungry, so we headed over to New Orleans Square for a little dinner. We picked the French Market Restaurant and found out that Disneyland offers toddler meals which were perfect for Eva. There aren’t a lot of options, food-wise, but the little cup of mac and cheese was fine with us and it came with a cup of applesauce and milk, all for a reasonable price. Plus, the toddler meals are packed into the cutest little boxes.

 

 

If you’re planning a trip, you should know that toddler meals aren’t available everywhere. They seem to be a quick-service-only type of meal, as most of the sit down restaurants have more expensive options for kids. Some of the quick-service restaurants also only had kid’s meals, which are larger and have more options. Also, if you have a good eater, you might want to bump up to a kid’s meal even if your kid is technically a toddler. Our mac and cheese meal worked for Eva on this particular night, but at other times we needed to supplement with snacks from the diaper bags. By the end of the trip, we were spending a couple more dollars to get the kid’s meals so that she could have larger portions of pasta and rice and we were pocketing the sides (string cheese, grapes, applesauce, etc.) to give to her later or take back to the hotel.

Dining at the French Market Restaurant means sitting outside, so we grabbed a table in the back by the mint julep window and the entrance to the train station. The tables are pretty tight together, so we parked the stroller outside (in eyesight because I’m paranoid). The table behind us brought their stroller in, however, and nobody seemed to mind so I’m not sure if there’s a hard rule about strollers in the dining areas.

We also used one of the Disney-provided high chairs for the first time and learned that the high chairs at Disneyland are quite small. They worked for Eva, but they probably won’t work for much longer and they would have been way too small for her cousin Lily, who is seven months older. This is interesting, since most restaurants have high chairs that could fit a three-year-old child. So, if you have a squirmy-type kid who needs to be belted in at dinner, you might need to improvise and use your stroller, a portable cloth high chair, or a travel harness that attaches to dining chairs.

 

 

Eva was in a good mood at dinner and really enjoyed watching all of the people who were walking by. I don’t always like dining with her, even though she’s mostly well-behaved, because she tends to drop food on the floor and squeal loudly when she gets excited. In Disneyland, however, there was always another table with another kid who was behaving terribly, so I wasn’t as stressed about it. It probably makes me a terrible person, but there’s something so comforting as a parent about being able to look across a restaurant and say, “Whew! Well, I’m glad we didn’t bring that kid.” Until, of course, you realize you’re the parents of the kid that everyone else is looking at, which only happened once on this trip (more on that later…).

 

Baby in Disneyland

 

After dinner and beignets, we walked up to the Winnie-the-Pooh ride and rode it twice in a row because there was no wait. I thought Eva would be nervous with the heffalumps and woozles, but she was into it and laughed at everyone bouncing around. The sun was setting as we left the ride and even though she was in good spirits, we decided to call it a night and figured we’d have plenty of time to do everything else at some point in the trip.

 

Rule #1 when traveling with a baby at Disneyland: do everything you possibly can until you have to leave, because you don’t know how the parks or your baby will be the next day or the day after that. There’s a good chance you’ll kick yourself later on…

 

On the way out of the park, we were talking about being a little bummed that we had to leave so soon. I pointed out that only one of us had to leave to put the baby to bed, so Kyle ended up staying in the park for a few more rides while Eva and I walked back to the hotel to unpack and turn in.

Eva was in a great mood until we actually got back and I put her in pajamas and tried to get her to lay down. She then screamed bloody murder while standing up in the crib, watching me put the luggage away. I resisted picking her up because I wanted her to sleep, which was working until Kyle banged the door open, woke her up, and promptly picked her up (starting a nice fifteen-minute discussion between parents in which I may or may not have called him a few choice names). Ultimately, we hid in the bathroom with the lights out until she went to sleep and then we crept around and turned in ourselves without watching HBO or taking long showers or doing anything we usually do in hotel rooms.

And that’s why Eva is getting her own room next time.

 

Disney Mickey Mouse Beignets

Baby Trip Report: Eva Goes to Disneyland (Part Two)

Posted by Carly Morgan

After we unpacked the car and got our stuff into the HoJo Anaheim, we packed up the stroller and headed to the parks. That sounds like a simple operation, but in reality it consisted of packing snacks, a sippy cup, bottles of water, diapers, wipes, a changing pad, a sun hat, a change of warm-weather clothes, a change of cool-weather clothes, a rain jacket, an extra pair of shoes, an extra pair of socks, baby sunglasses, a camcorder, a digital SLR, a bag of animal cookies, and sunscreen.

Things actually needed on day one of being in the park with the baby: animal crackers and digital SLR.

Going through security with the stroller was easier than I thought it would be. I was afraid that they’d want us to take her completely out so they could pat down her ride, but they just peeked under the stroller, looked in our bags, and let us through. In fact, I feel like having the baby and the diaper bags meant that security was more lax than normal. They’d open our bags and see huge piles of baby stuff that they didn’t want to poke through so they’d just wave us on. So, if you ever wanted to smuggle those bottles of liquor into the park, apparently the secret is to travel with a baby.

(I’m so kidding, btw. Please don’t do that.)

Anyway, we were directed to go all the way to the right side of the park gates to get into Disneyland, because that’s where you’ll find the entrance for wheelchairs and other service vehicles. Strollers can actually go through the middle of any gate unless it’s a double stroller, but the service line was a lot shorter, so we used that for most of the trip.

When we popped into Disneyland, I did think that Eva was going to be excited. I thought she’d clap and squeal and get into it. She didn’t. In all fairness, going through the gates just means that you can now see more crowds and some flowers in the shape of a Mickey head, so why would she have had a huge reaction? Still, I was disappointed and thought I’d share my let down so you can lower your expectation bar.

 

Baby at Disneyland

 

When we moved onto Main Street U.S.A., she definitely got a little more interested. The music was playing and there were people everywhere and I think she caught the excitement that her dad and I were feeling. She wanted to look at everything and kept pointing at the lights and the shop windows. There was still no outright joy, but she had just spent twelve hours in the car and was a little worse for wear, so we were just trying to keep her from totally falling apart from overstimulation.

We went up through Fantasyland, where the crowds were pretty thick, and learned that having a stroller doesn’t give you much of a pass as far as having people move out of the way for you. It makes you feel like people should move, but most people seem to be immune to strollers (or they have strollers themselves) so it’s every man for himself. It wasn’t terrible, but it was impossible to hurry with a stroller, so it took us longer to move through the park than it did when we were two newlyweds zipping around on our own.

The first ride we decided to take her on was It’s a Small World. There were a few reasons for this: (1) it was closed for refurbishment during our only other Disneyland trip, so Kyle and I had never ridden it together, (2) it’s pretty slow so we thought it had less chance of freaking her out than Dumbo or Peter Pan, and (3) Eva loves music and we play the Small World theme for her all the time on her iPod. We also knew that she would love the outside of the building, which has the clock and the moving pieces. (So much better than WDW! So much!!)

We parked the stroller in a sea of strollers outside the ride. I admit that I was nervous about it and tied an old Target plastic bag to the handle because I thought that people would be less inclined to steal the stroller with the garbage stuck to it. After stroller parking for a full trip, I now know that I had nothing to worry about. I’m sure that strollers do get swiped every now and then, but if I had been a stroller swiper, I sure wouldn’t have picked our cracker-crusted Graco. People bring the nicest strollers to Disneyland! I saw a Stokke Xplory and Bugaboos and tons of Peg Peregos! For those of you who aren’t stroller buffs, we’re talking thousands of dollars worth of strollers here.

I was also surprised to see what people left in the strollers. Stuffed animals, sweatshirts, merchandise bags, cameras, and diaper bags were all perfectly visible in other people’s strollers whenever I parked (and emptied) ours. I even had a real personal-ethics moment when I parked next to a stroller that had a Petunia Pickle Bottom Cake carryall sitting right on top, which is a $350 diaper bag that I’ve been drooling over ever since I got pregnant with Eva. For the record, I didn’t even bring my eBay hand-me-down $40 Petunia Pickle Bottom bag to Disneyland because I was afraid someone would tear it off of my arm, but it turns out that every mom who takes their baby to Disneyland takes a Petunia Pickle Bottom bag. The trip was like a big trunk show!

Anyway, I parked and emptied the stroller and we got in line. Eva was excited about the clock on the outside of the ride and we coaxed a smile out of her. Unfortunately, I had my SLR on manual and forgot to check the settings, so I ended up with the world’s most overexposed…I mean, artistic…shots of us in line.

 

Baby at It's a Small World

 

On the ride, Eva was excited about the boat and had a great time until we actually entered the ride. The sudden darkness made her pretty wary and even though she liked looking at the dolls and scenery, she did have a moment where she reached for me and made the transfer to my lap for a little extra reassurance. (Eva wants to be with Kyle 90% of the time because she’s a big time daddy’s girl, but for whatever reason when trouble looms suddenly it’s mama mama mama.) She got into it, though, and started laughing and pointing and wanting to get out and run around. I tried to take photos, but my camera just isn’t set up for good dark ride photos.

 

Baby on It's a Small World
Baby on It's a Small World
Baby on It's a Small World
Baby on It's a Small World
Baby on It's a Small World
Baby on It's a Small World

 

She fussed when we left the ride because I think she wanted to keep riding, but we wanted to see more of the park, so we headed over to Toontown.

 

Next Up: Part Three (Toontown and Toddler Meals)

Trip Report: Eva Goes to Disneyland (Part One)

Posted by Carly Morgan

On this particular Disney trip, my little family of three packed up our car and drove from Salt Lake City to Anaheim. It’s an eleven-hour car ride, so those of you with little kids might think we’re nuts, but I really love the long desert drives. There’s also an argument to be made that we saved money by not flying and were able to take more luggage with us, but it’s a close call. The trip cost us about $200 in gas money and with Southwest’s generous luggage policy and random sales, we might have been able to come close to that price. We also weren’t able to pack as much as you’d think, because we have a mid-size Subaru and the stroller we decided to take took up the majority of the cargo space.

 

Stroller Review – the Quattro Tour Deluxe by Graco

I’ll interrupt this trip report right now to give you a review of our stroller, since that’s a pretty big decision when you’re planning baby’s first Disney trip. Eva is spoiled rotten and has four strollers, which is ridiculous since we rent and don’t have a garage. She has a jogging stroller, a light umbrella stroller for the mall, a heavier umbrella stroller (with iPod player!) for longer family outings, and a full-size stroller – the Quattro Tour Deluxe by Graco.

We debated long and hard between the full-size and the heavier umbrella stroller, since the umbrella is easier to pack and isn’t as difficult to maneuver in tight spaces. We ended up going with the full-size because (A) we decided that the cargo space underneath the stroller would come in handy since we’d be hauling a ton of baby gear into the parks and (B) the full-size reclines all the way, which would theoretically be more comfortable if Eva needed to take a nap.

I say “theoretically” because Eva did not once sleep with the stroller reclined. For some reason, if we try to lay Eva flat in the full-size stroller, she panics and acts like we’re trying to lay her down on a bed of molten lava, no matter how many pillows or blankets we add to cozy it up. Instead, she falls asleep like this and wakes up with big creases on her face:

 

Disneyland Stroller Review

 

Ultimately, we think she could have been more comfortable in the umbrella stroller, since she wouldn’t have felt inclined to lean forward on the tray. As for the rest of the stroller…

  • The tray in front was very handy for snacks and we filled it with ripped-up pieces of pancake so that she could feed herself on the way to the park in the morning. (Yes, we fed her pancakes for most of the trip. Yes, we packed alternative, healthier breakfast foods. No, she did not eat afore mentioned healthy foods. More on that later…)
  • The cargo space under the stroller was very handy, as we thought it would be, except for two things. One is that we emptied it every time we left the stroller in stroller parking because I was paranoid that someone would steal our stuff, so the more we stuffed down there, the more we had to turn around and carry onto the rides. Two is that the availability of the cargo space meant that we didn’t limit ourselves when it came to tossing things into the diaper bag and ultimately we hauled around about 40% more baby gear than we needed.
  • The full-size has lots of little compartments that came in handy, including spots for our drinks and sunglasses. However, I didn’t always remember to empty all of the compartments, so I spent an entire Jungle Cruise paranoid about the iPhone I had left sitting in stroller parking. I seem to be more worried about stroller thieves than other people are (more on that later…) but that’s something to think about.
  • The full-size stroller has much more sun shade than the medium-sized umbrella stroller and that came in very handy both on rainy and sunny days.
  • The full-size was definitely a pain to maneuver and I couldn’t pop in and out of the shops with Eva so we had to switch off if someone wanted to go look at something.
  • We used the full-size for a handful of diaper and outfit changes, which definitely opens us up to judgment, but we can talk about that later. Obviously, we wouldn’t have been able to do that in an umbrella stroller.

So, there you have it.  Am I glad we went with the full-size instead of the umbrella? Yes, but only on this trip. Now that I know what we’ll need in the parks, we won’t be carrying so much gear and we won’t need the full-size when we visit Walt Disney World.

 

The Long Drive

 

 

For the car ride, we knew that it would be easiest if Eva could sleep for a long time. She’s driven back and forth from Salt Lake City to Napa, California, twice and she’s always been ok, but it’s harder on her to drive all day than it is to try to split it between day and night. So, on Tuesday morning, Kyle and I got up at 3 AM, packed the car, moved the baby, and were on the road by 4 AM. I drove the whole way both ways, so Kyle and Eva were able to catch some more sleep and wake up four hours later in Southern Utah when we stopped for coffee.

I want to be sure to caution anyone that wants to try this that if you aren’t used to it or haven’t done it before, be sure that two of you are up so one can keep the driver awake. We weren’t too worried about this because I’m a night driver by preference, but I passed a lot of swervy cars that weren’t quite doing the speed limit and at 4 AM the scariest thing on the road is wondering if the people around you are going to fall asleep.

As for the rest of the trip, we didn’t have any problems. Eva fussed a little as we moved towards California, but we had a lot of snacks on hand and we were able to entertain her with books and Sesame Street on her iPad. However, when my niece was Eva’s age and we drove with her to California, she was unhappy for hours and hours and nothing we did could change her mind. So, I have no amazing, sage wisdom about keeping your baby happy in the car. It seems to be different from kid to kid.

 

Car Trip with Baby

 

The HoJo Anaheim

We arrived at the Howard Johnson in Anaheim at around 3:30 PM, which was perfect for check-in. I’ll save my review of the HoJo for the end of the trip report, but check-in was easy and we were settled into our room and on the way to Disneyland within 30 minutes.

Note – There wasn’t a crib in our room when we got there, which was a little annoying since I had requested one and called that day to follow up, but luckily we didn’t have to put Eva down for a nap like we thought we would. From what I’ve seen after traveling around with the baby, they never remember to have the crib waiting for you and it always takes about a half hour to get one delivered. Something to think about if you’re arriving during nap time or late at night. Oh, and don’t forget to pack a mattress pad and crib sheets! The HoJo delivered a regular queen-size sheet to use with the crib, but Eva’s a mover and would have kicked that thing all over creation.

 

Next Up: Part Two (Eva’s First Disney Ride)