Tuesday, July 24, 2012

disneyland {part one}

Look who we spotted upon entering the gates of Disneyland??  None other than the Mouse himself!  Kerigan liked his bow!  Ha!  I had left Craig and mom responsible for this photo (which I sort of regret now!  Ha!) because I made my way to city hall first thing to obtain one of these.
Let me tell you, this little card was literally our "key to the magic."  Two years ago when we took Andrew to Disneyworld in Florida, we didn't know about this little gift of magic for people with special needs.  Thanks to other heart families who let us know, I decided this time I wasn't going to let it pass by.  Heart kids are eligible to obtain this card, no questions asked (although I did bring his health plan from his IEP and was fully prepared to lift up his shirt to show his scar!).  While being a "heart" family isn't something we asked for or particularly enjoy (three open-heart surgeries and 10 cardiac caths later), this little card allowed all of us to basically get the most out of our trip.  A little "perk" for everything we've endured.  For the 2 days we were there, we were allowed to enter through the exits of most all the rides, and we never waited more than 15 minutes for anything the entire time (and most rides we had no wait at all).  Amazing.  And just another one of those magical things about our trip to Disney!  And we DID have a magical time!
Knowing we wouldn't have to wait in line almost made me giddy.  I didn't even know where to begin, totally tossing my plans I had written up ahead of time, including which rides to get fast passes and which rides to go to first, which ones to ride while waiting for our fast pass rides, etc. (Yes, I worked on that until about 2am a couple days before we left.  I didn't want to take any chances that perhaps they wouldn't let us get the Guest Assistance Card).
So at Andrew's request, we headed to the Buzz ride first.  This was one of our favorites from last time, and it didn't disappoint.  We rode it twice in a row!
Even Kerigan rode it and she loved all the lights!
Daddy and Andrew scoring big by shooting Buzz's enemy Zurg!
Daddy and Kerigan (aka Woody and Jessie!)  So sweet!
I remembered this ride from when I was a little girl- only it is now called Nemo's Submarine Voyage and they have added scenes from Finding Nemo.  It was one of our favorite rides!  We all loved it!
You walk down these steep steps into a submarine!
Then you peer through little portholes and see all kinds of neat undersea creatures!  Every once in a while, characters from Nemo were there, and they had audio playing so you really felt like you were under the sea with them!  It was amazing.  Only Disney.
Kerigan loved it!  It was great to be able to take her on alot of the rides, and she did great!

The thing I loved about Disneyland was everything was within walking distance.  The two parks (DL and California Adventure) face each other, and Downtown Disney branches off in between.  We had to make it to a character breakfast at the Grand Californian Hotel, and we still had time to ride those rides, and visit Donald and Goofy with about 10 minutes to spare.  I was worried we weren't going to make it.  But it was no problem!  We made it in plenty of time!  
Totally different than Disneyworld.  There you have to wait for buses and waste so much time getting from park to park, or to restaurants, etc.  I honestly can say I enjoyed Disneyland more than Disneyworld.  Not to mention the weather in CA was spectacular the whole time, where in Florida we were drenched in sweat the entire time.  The only thing I'd do differently and I told Craig when we come back (because we WILL be back!  Once you've been to Disney you can't stay away!) we are staying on the property (the hotels are all in Downtown Disney), and we are staying for at least 5 or 6 nights.  Squeezing everything into 2 days was tough.  Plus it would have been nice to have the hotel within walking distance so we wouldn't need a car, and Kerigan could have gone back and napped, or we could have done a few things each day and had more relax time in between.  We felt a little bit like we still had to rush to get everything done.  And we did get to it all, but with very little time to spare, and only thanks to the GAC so we didn't waste time in lines.  Those are the main things I would recommend to anyone planning to go.  In the future, San Diego and Disneyland should be separated into two separate vacations.  Live and learn!
Anyway, this character breakfast was spectacular!  It was called the Storyteller's Cafe and it was a "Critter Breakfast."  At first I wasn't sure about it, but when the lady on the phone told me there were 5 ANIMAL characters from various movies (Brother Bear, Jungle Book, Tarzan) I was sold.  I knew Andrew would go nuts.  Those are some of his favorite movies, and he is crazy about animals.  Luckily, we went during the week and they weren't too busy so the characters had lots of time to spend with us.  We even got an extra greeting while waiting to be seated!
Andrew just went nuts when he saw Terk from Tarzan.  
At the character meals, they come right to your tables and spend one on one time with your child, sign autographs, etc.  It was one of our favorite things about Disneyworld, so we wanted to do it again.  It is just so much fun seeing who's coming around the corner next!
And the Mickey waffles?  Yeah, they are as good as they look!  Amazing!  I could go on and on about the food.  It was the best breakfast I've ever eaten!  We stuffed ourselves so we didn't have to eat again until dinner!
Andrew has really gotten into Chip and Dale lately (and don't ask me which is which because I honestly have no idea!)
I love that my children are not scared of characters!  Ha!  Kerigan was right in there, smiling and squealing like she was having the time of her life!  She loved touching them, their noses, fur, etc.
Big bear hug with the bear from Brother Bear!
I thought this was so neat, they had "Critter Kyle" who walked around signing autographs for the bears since, you know, they have claws so they can't write!  Ha!
This is the baby from Brother Bear (don't ask me their names, but Andrew knows!)
Here's Chip (or Dale!)  Ha!
Look at my daughter getting ready to sink into his paws!  Ha!  That girl!
We had an amazing time at Storyteller's Cafe.  We will definitely be back!

Andrew was super excited this trip because he was big enough to ride all the roller coasters, his favorite being Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!
Craig and I went with him while Ga Ga sat this one out with Kerigan.  We were shocked at how fast and wild it was!  But Andrew laughed the whole time!  Since we didn't have to wait in line, he talked daddy into going on it again!
Tarzan's Treehouse was pretty neat for this Tarzan-lover.  He went through it several times.  He wanted to stop and have me take his picture next to everything, but especially the tiger!  Ha!
The treehouse had things set up just like the movie so it felt like you were really there, experiencing things like the characters in the movie.
My sweet babies in front of Sleeping Beauty's castle
Little Minnie got quite a few stares and smiles from pretty much everyone who saw her.  I have to admit, she was a doll in her little tutu!  
I love that she was just learning to stand by herself.  She was so proud and just grinned from ear to ear!

There's just so much to say, I have to do a part 2!  

More Magic Kingdom coming soon...

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