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:
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.
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)