On the morning of the day we left Disneyland, Kyle and I popped over to the hotel areas to meet friends for breakfast. We took a quick tour around the property and I was able to show Kyle some of the wedding areas I’ve gotten used to seeing on Magical Day Weddings (my Disney wedding blog).
We had breakfast at Steakhouse 55 and were waited on by a very nice woman who brought waffles out immediately for the baby and didn’t mind when Eva unceremoniously dumped them on the floor. Our friends, Hope and Mike, showed up and were able to meet the baby for the first time which was lovely. Hope and I met online because she’s also a Disney bride but they’re old friends now because I try to meet up with them whenever we’re in town.
The one thing that I was most bummed out about on this trip was that I didn’t see more of the Disney brides. There are a bunch that live in the area and in retrospect I really should have set aside more time to meet up. Some girl talk and a few cocktails would have taken that traveling mommy edge right off… Keep in mind that you might want to plan “grown-up” time into your Disney vacation if you can! I really think I would have been less stressed!
After breakfast we wandered around Downtown Disney a little bit and then headed back to the hotel to pack up and check out. Our drive home was uneventful and consisted of a quick stop at a Vegas Steak ‘n’ Shake (Utah doesn’t have them).
Other than that, we drove right on through for ten hours until we pulled into our own driveway at 2am. Again, it’s not easy to drive like that and I don’t recommend it unless you’ve done it a lot because I had to sing showtunes (loudly!) for the last two hours so I didn’t put our Subaru into the freeway median. Still, it was nice to not have to pack Eva into another hotel room and, even with our Disney withdrawal going strong, it was absolutely lovely to collapse into our own beds.
Overall the trip was fine, but I feel like I could have planned better and we didn’t get as much quality time with my family as I wanted. If I could go back, I would have spent less time worrying about the baby napping or melting down and more time just passing her around so we could have ridden attractions and done more inside the park. It was however, amazing how much fun she had at such a young age, and I don’t regret for a second that we took her when she probably won’t even remember the trip. We’ll remember her face on that first It’s a Small World ride and it was priceless!!
On our last full day in Anaheim, we put on Eva’s sweetest dress and pinned her little mouse ears to her head and took her to Disneyland with the full intention to ride all of the Fantasyland rides and have a lovely day with my family.
*sigh* This did not happen.
We had made a critical error by deciding to spend a Saturday in Disneyland. We knew it would be crowded, but we underestimated the crowds by about 50%. So, when Kyle and I made it to Fantasyland first thing in the morning, everything was busy and we weren’t able to ride anything besides Dumbo. Eva loved it, but by the time we peeled her out of the elephant the rest of the Fantasyland rides had very long lines. So, we got Mickey pancakes and sat quietly off to the side waiting for my family and trying to stay out of the way. This took an hour.
It is amazing how much time you spend sitting out of the way when you have a baby in a Disney park. We did nothing that day but sit out of the way. By the time my family came and we were able to slowly creep along as a giant group, it was warm and crowded and Eva wanted none of it. We made it to the Tiki Tiki Room but Eva didn’t want to watch the show and started fussing, so we sat in the very back corner and played with light up toys and tried to stay out of the way. After the show, my family regrouped and went shopping while we stood against the wall and tried to keep out of the way. This took an hour.
After the Tiki room we decided she needed to cool off and we tucked ourselves into the River Belle Terrace and tried let her nap in the corner, only to give up and pass her around. This took an hour.
After a few family members had came back to check on us, we rallied and made it over to The Jungle Cruise for Eva’s first watery spin.
The ride went well, but getting over there, getting on the ride, and getting back off took an hour. The baby was getting a little fussy, so we decided to try Toontown because she had liked it so much in the days before. Getting to Toontown took an hour. We sat in the shade in Toontown because it was too crowded and hot to do anything and we were close to the frozen apple juice stand. This took two hours.
You might ask why we were at Disneyland when we were just sitting around and not doing anything. The answer is complicated. For one, doing anything with a baby when it’s crowded and hot is difficult. Two, we were hanging out with my grandmother, who is in a wheelchair and gets tired easily. We wanted her to spend time with Eva so we didn’t want to ditch out and take the baby elsewhere. My parents didn’t want to do anything and ditch my grandma either. Three, we didn’t want to leave Eva with everyone else because she was so cranky about the heat. Everyone else sort of went off to do stuff but would end up feeling bad and they’d wander back to where we were.
And why not move to Disney California Adventure, where the crowds are thinner and it’s easier to cool off? We were waiting around for our Star Tours fastpasses because my brother had ridden it the day before and got a disappointing ride combination. We had agreed to ride it with him, so we waited until 5 PM for our Fastpasses to be good and literally rode nothing until then. It was an eight hour day that consisted of the Tiki room and a lot of frozen apple juice.
The worst part? We finally did our fast passes and somehow we ended up getting the exact same ride combination my brother had gotten the day before. He was right. It sucked.
Eva, however, had a ball during our Disneyland day. The heat did make her cranky, but she was constantly placated with frozen juice and cookies and ice cream and cuddles and new shirts and new hats and new toys. She was the entertainment and everyone doted on her every move. Not too shabby a day for the toddler.
The nice thing about sitting around and waiting was that by the time the parade was coming up we were already really good at sitting around and waiting for things. We got premium parade viewing space and Eva adored seeing all of the characters dancing around.
After the parade we made our way over to the other park for dinner. It was unexpectedly chilly so we didn’t walk around much and everyone was bumming out a little bit because it was the last moments of our trip. Finally, after passing the baby around for a quick ride on Soarin’, we called it a night and headed back to our hotel, exhausted from our day of sitting.
My family had a hard time staying together in DCA because there were more than twenty of us and we don’t move well as a group. Eventually most of us came together at the midway area. We attempted to ride the carousel, but someone had a seizure right before we got on, so we popped over to the games area and spent way too much money winning prizes for Eva. It is, as it turns out, insanely fun to be the only person with a little kid because that one little kid gets everything they want from every family member and you end up leaving with a lot of loot.
We had dinner at the pier (Eva enjoyed another round of toddler mac and cheese) and we were able to catch up a little bit with my family. I admit that Disneyland was turning out to be a rather crappy way to spend time with extended family that we don’t see often because the group wasn’t staying together and things kept shaking out in a way that paired us up with my parents. That’s not a problem because we like my parents a lot, but we see them all the time so dinner was a good excuse to sit and actually let the baby catch up with the California relatives.
We wandered around a little bit with everyone and did some shopping and mass pin trading. Anyone who followed our Disney wedding trip report will remember that my family became obsessive pin traders during that vacation. They’re like locust. Unsuspecting cast members never see them coming and suddenly there’s seven people standing on top of them, pointing at pins, demanding authentic pinbacks, and shouting at each other about how they think they have four of that one but they aren’t sure so maybe they should get it anyway. Luckily, my family also cleaned out all of the merchandise so I’m sure nobody was too irritated by us. Eva escaped embarrassment by sleeping through the whole thing.
That night my family all had passes to World of Color, so the Morgans headed back to the hotel, lamenting the lack of child care. We had bundled Eva into pajamas and actually gotten her to calm down so Kyle ran out to get us some sundaes from McDonalds. Suddenly, there were loud bangs and our hotel room shook and Eva actually clawed her way up and out of the pack and play so she could launch screaming into my eyes. Having lived in Utah so long and not used to urbanness, I assumed that the hotel was being shot at, but as it turns out the Disneyland fireworks are set off at a location directly parallel to the Howard Johnson. So, on the days that fireworks happen, the hotel becomes a war zone and toddlers everywhere think the world is ending. And that’s how we were all awake for three more hours.
NOTE: if I haven’t plugged this before, it’s a really good idea to take sleep sounds with you when you travel with a baby. Eva sleeps with a 99 cent ambient sounds rain track that we have installed on her iPad, all of our iPods, and my iPhone. If we try to put her down without that sound, she won’t sleep, which is probably going to bite us in the butt later in life but is really handy when you’re trying to block out hotel noise. It does not, however, help anything in a firework situation.
When you have a baby, you get weird about sleep. Your schedule starts to revolve around sleep times. You shush perfectly nice people all the time. You become obsessed with special sleep friends and zipperless pajamas. You lose sleep wondering if the sleep your baby is getting is the right kind of the sleep or the kind that will dissipate instantly if you roll over in bed.
At 4:30 in the morning on our third day at Disneyland, our sleep was disrupted by the family upstairs. They were leaving for the airport and apparently hadn’t packed, so they ran around and dropped their suitcases and shouted to each other about socks. It was great. Eva was completely understanding and we all sat around and remarked to each other about how wonderful it was that we could catch the sunrise as a family. We did not at all stomp upstairs to yell and chase those people into their airport van.
The crummy thing is that at one point you’re either going to be the sleeping family whose entire day is threatened by outside noise or you’re going to be the late family who might miss their flight if they don’t get their kids to freaking listen and get their stuff together. In theory, this should make us all understanding and loving toward each other, but I figure the universe owes me a really cranky calling out when it’s my turn to be the late family and I will take that reprimand happily as long as I can get my kids into the van.
Because our sleep schedule had an unplanned intermission, we missed park opening again. We decided to skip trying to make up for lost time and instead met my parents for breakfast at Mimi’s Café down by the Howard Johnson (where we were staying). That breakfast was fine (and reasonably priced compared to a lot of other options) but it was spent next to a table full of ill-behaved children who cried because the food didn’t come fast enough and then threw it at their parents when it got to the table. (One point for Eva being an only child forever.)
We made it over to the parks eventually and hit California Adventure because Disneyland had the early opening and we thought we’d miss the rush. Of course, we weren’t actually doing anything because we have a baby and were moving at baby speeds so we just sort of wandered around for a bit and looked at stuff. (It’s weird how hard it is to let go of that strategic park-mapping mentality and just go with the herd.) Eventually we ended up over by the characters and my parents got to grandparent it up with the baby and the big fluffy people while I stood a safe distance away and took photos.
We had brought Eva’s swim stuff, so we took her over to the splash area in A Bug’s Land. NOTE: there are two splash areas. One is for big kids and one is for little kids. We took Eva to the big kid area on accident and she got beaned in the head over and over again by jets of water. I just thought I’d let you know so you can take your toddler to the area that won’t give her an ear infection.
Beaning aside, Eva loved it and we enjoyed sitting in the shade and having something to entertain her.
Once Eva was finished, it was coming up on lunch time and we met up with the rest of my family. Eva attempted to nap in the stroller, but some well-meaning family members woke her up two minutes into it and killed any chance of an afternoon nap. So I gave her cotton candy to perk her up. (True story. Mother of the year.)
I also did something that ranks even higher on the questionable parenting scale. We had left Eva in her swimsuit and just wrapped her up because it was warm outside, but after we realized she wasn’t going to nap, I knew I needed to change her. Unfortunately the nearest bathroom turned out to be incredibly chaotic (and smelly!) and there was a two person wait for the changing table. Nice people would have waited. Really nice people would have walked the baby up to the baby care center. This person parked the stroller against the wall, stripped her kid naked, did a diaper change, and dressed her. I’m a public diaper change in Disney parks mom. Yeah.
For the record, I hate me. I hate seeing people change their kid’s diaper on the park benches or (barf) on the tables in the quick service food areas. When we visited Disneyland Paris and were standing in the queue for the Phantom Manor, a woman in front of us pulled her son to the side and let him pee in a bush not one foot from where we were. I hated that woman. My fury burned with the fire of a thousand suns.
So imagine my own surprise at being that mom with Eva (although we did change her in her stroller and she was low enough that you couldn’t see her and Kyle blocked us from view). Still. Still! There was an open diaper right there next to one of the attractions and my kid has officially been naked in public in a Disney park. So why risk being the scurge of humanity? I actually weighed being a hated person against standing in that smelly line and changing Eva on the public changing table and being hated won. It was just easier, as awful and lazy and irresponsible as that sounds.
By our next Disney trip, I’ll be renting an electric scooter because I don’t feel like walking and taking flash photos in all the dark rides because HEY I PAID FOR THESE MEMORIES.