Monday, June 26, 2023

California Trip Part 2 - Disneyland!

We did it, y'all!  We did Disney!  So here's the deal - Dave and I have both been to Disney World (we went in high school), but neither one of us grew up going with our families.  We didn't have a strong desire to hit up Disney World with small kids, and, if I'm being honest, the more people told me, "you HAVE to take them when they're young" the more I didn't want to. hahaha. 

I knew that Disleyland was a bit more "manageable" than Disney World and we're SO HAPPY that we went!  Since we were only adding on two days to the trip we knew one day would be travel and the second the parks - we opted for a Park Hopper pass for Disneyland and California Adventure and then added on the Genie Plus option.  

I PROBABLY could have done a little more research and planning before we left, but it felt a little overwhelming so we decided just to wing it and it was fine!  So if you're like me and are a bit overwhelmed by all things Disney just know that you can absolutely do zero planning and still have a great time. 

The plan was to be there when the park opened at 8:00, but our kids weren't up and it had been a LONG day the day before so we ended up getting to the park right around 8:30 after we grabbed bagels from Panera on the way (I am not here to give y'all pro tips BUT we ordered half a dozen bagels and threw them in our backpack and my kids snacked on them all afternoon).

We hadn't even made it to Main Street before we had to stop and hug a couple of characters...

None of my kids had any interest in standing in a line for photos BUT I will say that I was surprised at howshort the lines were.  Like MAYBE 12 or 13 kids in line to meet Minnie, etc.    

Throughout the day we also saw Goofy...

... Aladdin...

... Merida...

... the Genie...

... and Clarabelle to name a few ;)

We're ACTUALLY here!!!

We started with Star Tours because there was zero wait and we all loved it.  We really haven't done amusement parks and therefore rides so it was a fun one to start off with.

After that we did Autopia which was a fun way to see some parts of the park...

... and then we did the Nemo submarine ride which was SO COOL!!!  This was in my top 5 for sure!

We rode the Matterhorn bobsleds which was HILARIOUS because this was when Mason realized he didn't love roller coasters.  


Luke was pretty much in charge of the app and our lightning lane reservation things and he just told us where to go and when ;)  I'll pretty much ride anything EXCEPT a ride where you get wet and then have to walk around in wet clothes.  Like, strap me into a roller coaster that goes upside down, backwards, WHATEVER but if you get splashed - I'm out.  That said, the rest of my family loved Grizzly Peak!

When we decided to go to Disney I asked G if she wanted to wear Minnie ears and she was an EMPHATIC yes!  We LOVE a theme so I wasn't surprised ;)  I ordered from  this etsy shop and she couldn't have been sweeter!

We were back and forth between Disneyland and California Adventure all day and hands down our very favorite area was Cars land.  IT WAS THE COOLEST!!!!  I feel like the Cars movies are both my boys early childhoods (especially Luke!) and they both kept saying things like, "wait! this is just like the movie" and "this is the coolest ever" and were absolutely blown away. 

And it was even cooler at night!

We had the BEST soft serve ice cream I've ever had at the Cozy Cone...

... we got to see Mater...

... and our unanimous FAVORITE ride of the entire day was Radiator Springs Raceway.  IT WAS INCREDIBLE!!!  From the little "scenes" you drive through before the race, to the cars themselves, to the scenery to the actual race it was UNREAL!

At one point in the day the boys went to ride some rides in the Star Wars part of the park...

.... while Griffin and I checked out The Little Mermaid (OH MY WORD!!!) and a few other rides in that area (she loved the jumpin jellyfish ride)...

We made it back to Main Street for the parade which completely blew my mind. hahahaha  It was a parade meets broadway production and was FABULOUS!

Other highlights included the water show at California Adventure which was unlike anything i've ever seen before...

... the Avengers campus...

...Big Thunder Mountain...

... the castle (duh!)...

... Space Mountain with these two...

... and Dumbo!

I know a lot of people do a lot of the dining experiences while they're in the parks and, honestly, that just wasn't high on our priority list since we were only there for a day.  When we'd get hungry we'd use the app to see what was around and order ahead.  Certain areas were busier than others and our favorite snack/meal part of the day was our late dinner in the Paradise Garden Grill area - it was way less crowded than other areas and was so pretty at night.

Griffin and Mason maxed out around 10:30 pm so Dave took them back to the hotel and Luke and I made a plan to check a few more rides off our list like The Haunted Mansion and Indiana Jones.  

After a quick souvenir shop stop we were walking out just after 11:30 pm EXHAUSTED and happy! 

There you have it!  Disney from non-Disney people ;)  I know that for YEARS people have been telling me to take our kids when they were little because "magic" and, honestly, it was STILL magic at their current ages and we were able to pull a 15 hour park day with no strollers or meltdowns ;)  They could ride everything, navigated the parks for us and were still blown away at the details.  LOOONG story short - it was PERFECT!!!

HAPPY Monday, friends!!!


  1. I'm just saying, I knew you would love it ;) .

  2. Now you need to go to Disney World, when I tell you it's even more magical than Disneyland, it is! I agree, the kids at their ages now enjoy it more! There is nothing like Epcot, now they have to see that! And main street in Disney World..!!!!!!

  3. I was never a Disney person either, but we went when my kids were 2 and 7 and it was pretty great, I cried when the Fairy Godmother opened Magic Kingdom, and loved every minute of it. We said we would go back with the 2 year old turned 7, so that's what we are doing this fall. Then that should be enough for us. I'm so glad you enjoyed it and felt all the magic.

  4. I love this!! I've never been to Disneyland. I've been to Disney World multiple times, and this looks awesome!! :)

  5. Makes me want to book a trip to Disney right now!!

  6. Yay!!! I love Disneyland; and went as a little kid (under 5) and then in college and for sure, my favorite memories are from when I was older. :) Your day looked awesome!

  7. Thank you for sharing!! I have zero interest in taking my littles to Disney and doing all the research/planning that some people do, but this trip looks just perfect. I love that it was still magical and so much fun. I'm saving this low key Disney idea away for when my kids are older.

  8. I have never, ever, NEVER had the desire to visit Disney with my kids (although I went to Disney World a time or two as a kid) but this post made me want to book a trip!! You don't hear much about Disneyland over here on the east coast - mainly Bob Goff is the only person I know who talks about. Now I can't wait to go. . .I think even my adult (but yet-unmarried) children would love it too. I agree with you, for the amount of money it costs to get in, stay, and eat there, wait until they are older and can enjoy everything! Love your detailed family trip posts -- we don't do more as a family because I hate to plan, but now that you've done a lot of the research and legwork for us on New York and now southern CA, you make it all seem possible :). Thank you for writing/sharing this all with us!

  9. That does sound like a wonderful day! And I feel the exact same way about getting wet while in the amusement park (I often wear my poncho on any water ride!).


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