Honestly, where do we even start? Should we roll the clock back to last year when we visited with Logan around the 18 month point and Joe and I decided we needed to head back to Disneyland while Logan was still free for park admission? Should I talk about the multiple hotel reservations I had while deciding on where to stay for this trip?
I was absolutely set on visiting around the holidays for a number of reasons. Selfishly, I had a work trip that could be tacked onto this visit, making the time away a little more bearable. Mostly, I hadn't been to Disneyland at Christmas in years and knew we wanted to share this magic with the kiddo.
A personal mission of mine was to be diaper free by the time we went to Disneyland. It looked iffy there at a couple of points, but at the beginning of November, it became more likely that this would hold true. A relief from a logistics standpoint...but would he be reliable enough to go without diapers all day long and rely on the potty? Fortunately, he did amazing and we only brought a ton of extra clothes and underwear...which would prove beneficial for us in the long run...
Armed with a customized plan from TouringPlans.com that was drastically different than their companion book, Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, a few dining reservations, a general idea of what we were going to do on what day and a positive attitude, we boarded the plane for sunny Southern California.
He was a total rockstar on the flight. From being so patient with his Olaf bag purchased just for this trip, to flying and everything in between. We had no issues. The iPad is, honestly, a lifesaver for flights. We don't allow much use of it (save for 10-15 minutes once a week or so), so it ends up being a treat with new games, movies and all sorts of goodies..
We made plans to meet up with a friend of ours from college. Now that we're all old, we have kiddos and an early dinner sounded perfect...we met at Bubba Gump and the kids all had a decent time...even amongst the shyness of new kids. When we were leaving, Logan did ask about his new friend Max...and I was told that Max did the same...sweeties!
We were up and at 'em early on the first park day (December 1st). We started with our new tradition - Minnie and Friends Breakfast at the Plaza Inn prior to park opening. We had an 8:40 reservation, with the park opening at 9am. It ends up throwing a little wrench into touring plans, but on the whole, I'd highly recommend starting the day with one of these amazing character breakfasts. And, the best part - kids under 3 eat free! The Disneyland meals are still a little bit random for who you might get. My friends and I had reservations to the same meal on different days at slightly different times and only had a few of the characters that were the same. The standards are Minnie, Chip, Dale...and from there it can vary widely. It's great to have the first seating because all the characters are there in your section immediately..and then you can focus on eating.
Logan loves this breakfast...the characters are so sweet and make sure to interact with each kid. He absolutely adored Captain Hook - so much so that he sought him out again to give a high five!
After the Plaza Inn, we quickly got our bearings and scoped out how tall Logan was for the big rides. When we determined he wasn't quite 40" yet, we knew it would be kiddie rides with a few short runs to the big kid rides in between. Which, honestly, is awesome for us...
We tried Buzz Lightyear as our first ride of the day...and it was a huge bomb. Too loud, too dark and just overall a disaster. This didn't bode well for Disneyland since so many of the rides are "dark" rides. Uh-oh.
Luckily, there are enough rides like Astro Orbiter, the Railroad, Casey's Roller Coaster, and Autopia that made this kid a happy kid. We tried a couple more dark rides...and they were all disastrous with the exception of Winnie the Pooh (and that was a little sketchy with the huffalumps) and Little Mermaid in California Adventure. Logan loved most of the outdoor rides with screams of happiness, arms in the air (on the roller coaster) and a general love of speed and heights.
Where did Tigger and Pooh go?!
The other thing we did again this time was the Photopass + card. When you prepurchase the card, it's only $70. It include photos from character breakfasts (normally an additional $25) plus ride photos (wait until day 2 for the really good ones!) and all the photopass photographer pics you can take. The photographers are a little hit or miss at times. But overall, this is a killer deal. It allows parents to put down the camera, enjoy the moment and then get the whole family in the picture.
After nap time (which is another huge plus that Disneyland has for us over Disney World at this age while the kiddo is still napping...hotels are truly 10 minutes away via a short walk), we hit a few more rides (including the wonderful Disney Railroad), has an easy dinner and went to Autopia. Logan loved (!!!!) this ride. He loved the independence (he "drove" and we did the gas), the fun of it and just the whole experience. Total hit.
Since neither Joe nor I are big into lining up for parades, we tend to wait until the end and grab a spot towards the park entrance. We ditched the stroller (another park necessity...even for a few more years) and speeded with him to near the fire station where we snagged a small shot behind the ropes. Now it was just time to wait...
Disney parades are always awesome and this was no exception. The winter and Christmas theme was fantastic...all the major characters were in it, the music was wonderful. Logan loved watching for each and every float.
We zipped over to Jingle Cruise (Jungle Cruise's holiday counterpart) and rode with only a 5 minute wait. You can't beat that...especially when this ride is way better in the dark with all the lights and decorations. We looked at riding a few times earlier in the day and we were talking waits of 30-45 minutes.
And now, time for fireworks.
The Sleeping Beauty castle never gets old. Ever. And I love the peek of the carousel.