We had made lunch reservations at Wine Country Trattoria because we wanted to get a pair of Reserved Viewing tickets for World of Color. Kyle and I had never seen World of Color, but we’re familiar with the mad rush that sometimes accompanies the end-of-night fireworks viewing in the parks and we didn’t want to deal with trying to find a good spot. So, when we found out that certain lunch or dinner reservations at restaurants in Disney California Adventure come with passes for special, less-crowded viewing areas, we were completely sold.
I love eating in the Disney parks and most of the time you need dining reservations if you hope to get a table. The only downside is that end up being tethered to whatever time you choose when you make the reservation (it’s recommended that you call at least two weeks in advance and a month if you’re going during busy season). So, once we figured out that the Monster’s Inc. ride wasn’t operating, we found ourselves with a solid forty-five minutes to kill before lunch.
That’s such an awkward amount of time in a Disney park. It’s not enough time to run around and ride anything (especially if you have an infant) but it’s too much time to just wander around and shop without getting antsy (especially if you have an infant). Luckily, we were close to the Disney Animation building and they have a large air-condition area showcasing clips from Disney movies – perfect for entertaining Eva.
It had started to warm up as we got closer to lunch. When we left the hotel in the morning, it was raining a little and cool enough to warrant bringing hoodies and a blanket for the baby. Just a few hours later, we were getting worried about keeping Eva cool enough in her long-sleeved shirt and pants. Somehow, despite bringing fifteen pounds of crap in the baby’s diaper bag, we had not managed to pack her a 2nd outfit. Lesson learned. We thought about using the 45 minutes to walk back to the hotel to change her, but we decided she’d be fine if we hopped from one air-conditioned room to the next and it wouldn’t be worth it to walk all the way back. This, ultimately, was not a good decision.
Rule #4 when traveling with a baby at Disneyland: If your baby starts to get uncomfortable and you have a chance to help the situation before it gets bad, you need to stop and focus on the baby…no matter how tempting it is to have the baby tough it out for convenience.
Of course, we wouldn’t know for a while that we had made a major error in baby-Disney-park-parenting. For now, Eva was gleefully walking around the nearly-empty Disney Animation building in her bare feet, loving all of the projections and the music.
I have to admit that I had myself a little sentimental moment as I sat there and watched Kyle walk around with Eva. She was so happy and he’s so sweet with her and there was all this Disney music and it was like being in one of those commercials that makes you want to procreate just so you can take a family vacation to a Disney park.
We wound down to the time of our reservation and ended up being one of the first tables of the day over at Wine Country Trattoria. We had to park the stroller outside of the restaurant, which wasn’t a huge surprise because those things are pretty bulky. The only catch was that we had to park it in the general waiting area for the restaurant and a few minutes later a couple of waiting patrons sat near it and used it as a drink holder. Not a real problem but I could see it bothering someone who was bringing in an expensive stroller. There’s a vote for secondhand Gracos!
I enjoyed our lunch at the Wine Country Trattoria, but we had a few issues right away that had to do with the baby. Lunch seating is apparently outside-only, which didn’t help the fact that we were worried about keeping Eva cool. Even if we had stripped her and had a naked baby lunch, she would have been way too hot in the sun. They were able to seat us next to the restaurant, in the shade, but it made me wish I had made different lunch reservations and we almost called around to see if we could get a table somewhere else.
The second issue was that our waiter was very nice, but we asked for water and something for the baby to snack on to be brought to the table right away and that didn’t happen. This is something that separates waiters into two categories for us: waiters that are used to kids and waiters that aren’t. Waiters that are used to kids know that you need to have kid-related items on the table A.S.A.P. You need waiters to bring you fries at a break-neck run. You need ten straws for every plastic cup of milk. If I ever open a restaurant, I’m going to have plates of mac and cheese just sitting on every table, like salt and pepper shakers.
Anyway, our waiter was nice, but he didn’t seem to quite be in “work mode” yet and we waited 20 minutes to get cups of water after we sat down and then another 10 to get bread on the table. Eva started to lose it, so we introduced her to the wonderful world of crayons. This combined with letting her drop all the forks on the ground, letting her play with my credit card, and letting her empty my travel Kleenex bought us another 20 minutes.
Since we were receiving the World of Color passes, we had to order off of a set menu. We each got salads, I got a sandwich, Kyle got lasagna, and Eva got chicken fingers. Honestly, the food was fine but it wasn’t amazing. I did see some items on the menu that looked incredible, however, so I’m wondering if we need to go back for a round two taste test and give this place another shot at dinner time. We’ve heard so many rave reviews, it really surprised me that we her take-it-or-leave-it about our lunches. Then again, we were pretty big fans of the dessert spread included in the set menu for the World of Color package.
After lunch, it was time for Eva’s nap, so we figured we would pop back to the hotel for an hour or so and let her sleep while skipping the hottest part of the day. Great plan, no? What we didn’t figure on is that the walk was very warm and her lunch was very filling and despite our best efforts (including shaking her in public – a parenting highlight), we weren’t able to keep her awake on the way back to the hotel. So, when we got her back to the room and stripped her down, she was both overheated and under the impression that she had already taken a nap. The next hour and a half was spent with her standing up in her crib, bright red, screaming her head off…something I’m sure everyone in the hotel enjoyed as much as we did.
Note: I don’t feel like Kyle and I are bad parents when it comes to Eva’s sleeping situation and I don’t think of her as a light or difficult sleeper, but the sleeping was absolutely awful on this trip. I think the combination of a weird schedule, a foreign crib, and the pressure of needing her to sleep at specific times just backfired into a hornet’s nest of not sleeping. On future Disney trips, we’re taking more bedding, more stuffed animals, more sleep sounds, and allowing more time for winding down before we expect her to sleep. Just something to keep in mind for those of you traveling with kids!