Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Deans Take Disney

Disclaimer: This post is very long mainly so I will remember all we did for the next trip to Disney.  Forgive me!

We just got back from an AMAZING vacation at Disneyland.  It was highly anticipated by Olivia, and lucky for us, on the last night there she dubbed it the "best trip ever!"

She insisted on squeezing herself into her too small Minnie dress for the plane ride.  She wasn't excited at all about leaving...

Um, how awesome is the Family Room at the United Club?  A little room with little tables, games and a TV where my daughter can run around like crazy without disturbing others, while Matt and I have a beer and eat some free food?  Yes please.

She did great on the plane ride over - playing with all the new toys I stuffed in her backpack, watching Peppa Pig on the iPad (her latest obsession), and taking a little nap.

Unfortunately, the plane ride was super bumpy so her poor little tummy was sick and she threw up several times as we were waiting to de-board in California.  (Note about the kindness of people - Here we are on a crowded plane with people all ready to get off and run to their next flight, catch a cab, etc but this little 3 year old starts throwing up and complete strangers are handing me towels, wipes, water and hand sanitizer!)

But, she perked right up as soon as we got to the hotel - Paradise Pier.

I had read that if you ask for a surprise for your child at the hotel, they will usually do something small.  So, when we got to the hotel, she was greeted with an autographed picture of Minnie and a pink Minnie balloon.  It was such a great way to start the visit.

We then met up with Mimi and Grandpa (who were conveniently staying only a few rooms down from us at the hotel) and went to Downtown Disney for dinner.  We grabbed a quick bite at a local sandwich shop, walked around a little (check out this awesome display made with Legos!) and then headed back to bed, knowing we had an early morning the next day.

I didn't realize at the time just how early our morning would 4:00 am.  Olivia was still on Houston time, but thankfully there was a Starbucks in Downtown Disney that opens at 5 am.

Once the sun came up, we headed to California Adventure.  Olivia knew we were meeting Anna and Elsa this morning, so she was ready to go in her Elsa dress.

Unfortunately, it was pretty rainy, but we put on our ponchos and didn't let the rain detour us.  The first ride we did was Toy Story Mania and Olivia loved it!  You basically sit in this moving carnival car, wear some 3D glasses and all of a sudden you are in a live video game.  You can shoot various targets.  This kid loves a competition, so playing against Matt for the most points was right up her alley!

After that, we let Olivia, Mimi and Grandpa duck and cover from the rain, while Matt and I braved the elements to score a Fast Pass to meet Anna and Elsa.  Luckily we were able to get one of the first times.

Now, like most 3 year olds, Olivia is a die-hard Frozen fan so Matt and I knew how much meeting them at Disneyland would mean to her.

(I love how she is just staring at Elsa in this one!)

And, as embarrassed as I am to admit it, as I stood there watching my little one almost bursting with happiness, I couldn't help but tear up.  She was just so happy!  And, as soon as Matt saw me tearing up, he did too.  We love this little one way too much!  (PS - the good people at Disney Photo Pass took this picture, as well as many of the other ones.  Pretty good little system - at every one of these "meet and greet" type experiences, there are Disney people taking pics.  Afterwards they give you a card.  When we got home I created an account, linked all my cards, and found all these amazing pics that I would have never thought to take.  I would definitely recommend it!)

We then headed to the Anna & Elsa Boutique for a princess make-over.  They go all out, and my little girlie-girl was over the moon with all the nail polish, make-up and attention.

And....the finished product....our own little princess!

(Another story for the memory book - Matt and I always tell Olivia that if she works very hard in school, she can be whatever she wants when she grows up. I guess she really took it to heart because at Disney she told my mom that she was going to work very hard to be a princess. But she was very quick to tell Mimi that she doesn't work hard enough, so she could never be a princess!)

After that, she was very concerned that her hair would get messed up in the rain (Matt now sees what his future with a daughter looks like!), so we hung out at Starbucks while the rain died down.  She and Grandpa enjoyed a fruit and cheese box.  (Note they each have their own box because my little mouse refuses to share her cheese!)

And, thankfully, the rain did stop.  Right in time for us to head over to Ariel's Grotto for Lunch with the Princesses.

This was probably best lunch Olivia has ever had where she didn't eat one bite!  She was too excited about the princesses.  When you walk in, each family gets a little time with Ariel.

Then they seat you and every few minutes they announce the arrival of a new princess and the princesses then circle the room.  Our table was right by the hall where the princesses walked out, so she got an early glimpse of who was coming.  To say she was enchanted would be an understatement.  She also had her routine down pat --- as soon as she saw the princess finishing up at the previous table, she would run to meet them half-way, arms extended for hug.  She would then ask them to sign her autograph book and then take a picture with them.  She takes pictures like she's been in a sorority for years - arms around them, hand on her hip, cheek-to-cheek smiles.  How she learned this is beyond me.  I kind of blame Aunt Naz. ;)

Then we headed back to the hotel for a nap.  After nap we went to the Frozen Sing Along and then sat down for the Pixar Parade.

After that, we went to Paradise Pier to ride some rides (carousel and Little Mermaid were some of her favorites) and then we grabbed a pizza dinner at Boardwalk Pizza and went home.

We started the day at Breakfast with Minnie at Disneyland Park.

Again, she was charmed by all the characters.  The first one we saw when we walked in was Chip.  She was a little shy at first, but he quickly won her over.  And, I think he took a liking to her (or they do it with all the kids, and I'm crazy...) but he kept coming over to play with her and make her laugh.  She loved it and soon she started getting a little possessive over him.  She started saying things like "Where is my best friend?" and when Matt/I would ask who she was talking about, she would exclaim "Chip!" in an exasperated tone, like we were the crazy ones.  But, again, she got all her autographs and pictures.

She was a little intimidated by Captain Hook (kind of a bizarre choice for a breakfast with Minnie?!) until he took Matt's sunglasses.  Then she thought he was hilarious!

After breakfast, we rode the Astro Orbiter several times.  (Another pause for a note to self, the Early Hours at DL that you get if you stay at a park resort are freaking awesome.  We rode the busiest rides then over and over with little to no wait.).  Miss O is definitely a thrill seeker.

Then we met up with Mimi and Grandpa and headed over to Fantasy Land.

We rode all the classics - carousel, Dumbo, tea cups, Small World.

Then we headed over to Pixie Hollow for a meet-and-greet with Rosetta and Tinkerbell.  While we waited, Olivia took a picture of all the grown-ups.  (Another memory - while we were waiting, we saw all these characters walk right past us - Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Pluto, Alice, Mad Hatter.  Olivia LOST HER MIND.  She screamed each of their names at a decibel I have not heard before come out of her mouth.  It was so loud that each character did in fact notice her and wave to her.  She continued this loudness at each parade.  So cute.)

Olivia loved it when Tinkerbell asked her if she "tinkered" her autograph book (which she did!) 

We had lunch at the Jolly Holiday Cafe (from the movie Mary Poppins) and I would say it was one of the best meals we had (but maybe that is just my unrefined pallet - I guess some wouldn't consider tomato basil soup and a grilled cheese sandwich to be fine dining!).  Unfortunately, Mary Poppins wasn't there, but it was pretty cool to see memorabilia from the movie.

After nap, we headed back to Disneyland Park and went to Toontown.

As we were walking back we noticed there was only a 15 minute wait to meet Snow White, Cinderella and Belle.  You can't pass that up!

Then we headed back to Main Street to catch Mickey's Soundsational Parade.  I think we all really enjoyed our late afternoon parade time - it was nice to sit down, have a little snack and watch the parade.  And, this one could not have been better!  It started out with a Frozen float pre-parade and then the main parade included all the classic Disney characters, almost all of the princesses, plus Mary Poppins & Burt.

After that, we headed back to the hotel where Olivia enjoyed a special dinner with Mimi & Grandpa at PCH grill where she got to make her own pizza and had a huge scoop of strawberry ice cream for dessert!

While my parents had Olivia, it gave Matt and I the chance for a little date night.  We went to Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen and had a delicious cajun meal.

We started our last day at California Adventure enjoying the Early Hours.  The park opened at 7:00 am, so Mimi & Grandpa decided to let us enjoy the Early Hours on our own while they slept in a little.  We were out of the hotel by 6:45!

Everyone told us to use the Early Hours to explore the popular Cars Land.  Olivia has read the book about Cars but never seen the movie.  But the entire exhibit looked like it was right out of the movie.  It was here that we really experienced the difference between our girly-girl and what it must be like to have a boy.  There was a line of people and she asked what it was for.  We told her to take a picture with a car (we don't know the names) and asked her if she wanted to do it too.  She looked at us like we had lost our minds and wouldn't even dignify the question with a response!  So, for now. its all princesses at Casa Dean....

There was only 1 ride there that she was tall enough to ride - Mater's Junkyard Jamboree - and she LOVED it!

After about 4 times riding it, we convinced her to go back to Toy Story Mania for one more competition!  (I think that was Matt's favorite ride!)

Then we headed to Bug's Land!

Her favorite ride was Flick's Flyers - you sit in these little boxes and it flies you around!

Soon Mimi and Grandpa arrived.  Mimi and I made a quick trip to Starbucks while Olivia, daddy, and Grandpa went to meet Goofy.

When we were leaving Starbucks, we saw Mickey outside doing a photo op. We quickly headed over only to learn that he was leaving.  Olivia immediately burst into tears.  The sweet handler helping Mickey came over and said that he was sorry Olivia couldn't take her picture with him but that if she wanted to hold his hand as he walked away and go with him to the door around the corner, she could do that.  He offered this as some sort of consolation prize?!  So my daughter can't stand in this long line and take a picture, but she can walk down Main Street holding Mickey's hand in her own personal parade.  Um....okay....I guess we will take that.  She was a little shy at first, so she and I both walked along with Mickey but soon Pluto unexpectedly walked up and she quickly shoved me aside so that she could walk with both of them.  Are you kidding me?!  Best walk ever.

We then went back to Disneyland Park and went to Adventureland to go see the Tiki Birds.

I had been wanting to get Olivia some Dole Whip and the timing worked out perfectly.  My sisters and I loved eating Dole Whip when we were little at Disney and I was hoping Olivia would too.  We were first in line to wait for the next show, so I got a Dole Whip float (soft serve pineapple ice cream on top of pineapple juice) to eat while we waited.  She loved it - she sat right next to Grandpa for the entire show and ate the entire thing.  I am never sure how Olivia will feel about food - some things that I think she will like (e.g. SMORES) she will refuse to try or take one bite of and pretend to gag.  So I try to be pretty nonchalant about most things and see if she will like them.  I guess she overheard me telling my mom that it "seemed like she liked it"  because for the rest of the time we were at the show, she would take a few bites and then lean over to me and say "Does it seem like I like this mommy?"  I would say yes and she would smile, eat a little bit more and then ask me again.

After that we headed over to New Orleans Square.  We checked in for our lunch reservation and then while we waited, Grandpa spotted Tiana.  So we headed over for a picture.

We had lunch that day at Blue Bayou - a restaurant inside the Pirates of Caribbean ride.  

It's supposed to look like New Orleans at night, so it is pretty dark inside.  As we were walking to our table, Olivia loudly asked the hostess "Why is it so dark in here?!".  I heard to ask for a seat by the water, so Olivia could see all the boats coming by for the ride.  We did, but it was almost too dark to see the boats.  I think she still liked it though...

After lunch, we rode the ride and then headed back for naps.  (PS - how awesome are naps?!  We all napped each afternoon and it was heavenly!).

After naps, we went to California Adventure to catch the Aladdin show. It was this great Broadway-type show that told the story of Aladdin in about 45 minutes.  Olivia doesn't know that story at all, but she really liked it.  The genie was pretty funny and many of his jokes were based on current events - I think Matt and Grandpa really enjoyed him.

She had on the cutest outfit this afternoon - I ordered a little dress from Etsy that says My First Disney Trip.  I didn't get many pictures of it bc it was kind of cool so she had her jacket on, but it was just too cute not to post a pic of!

Mimi & Grandpa said they would buy Olivia one present at the end of the trip. She took this very seriously and decided she wanted a doll (shocker) and made Matt & I go over all the princess dolls we had so she could get one we didn't have. She decided on Cinderella and was pretty consistent all afternoon.

 We went to a toy store inside the park that had this huge revolving castle display in the middle with all the different princess dolls on the display. 

Olivia walked in and announced "THAT!! Mimi, that is what I want!! That spinning thing!" :)

Unfortunately, we told her that wasn't for sale and we started to look for a Cinderella doll. But, then she spotted Elsa and said she had to have Elsa. The fact that we already have an Elsa doll at home did not detour her. So she got Elsa and she was thrilled.

And, we ended the trip with Fireworks. Now, for those that know me well, I am sort of psycho about Olivia's schedule. Its really important to me that she is on a schedule and gets enough sleep because I think that is when she functions best. And, truthfully, the consistency of a schedule really helps this Type-A mamma manage motherhood! But, I decided that this is vacation, so on the last day, I would let Olivia stay up late and we would watch the fireworks at the park together. My plan was working out pretty well. With about 10 minutes before the show was going to start, we headed over to Main Street. I figured there was no "bad spot" to watch fireworks, so no need to get a seat early. I mean, fireworks are in the air - how could you get a bad seat?! Well, we sit down in front of the castle on the floor and Olivia immediately bursts into tears and says "I'm just SO tired! I just want to go back to the hotel and go to sleep!" I refused my child her sleep and declared that the fireworks were going to be starting soon and that we would go back to the hotel as soon as they were over. And, a few minutes later, the fireworks started. Up in the sky. Right behind the GIANT TREE blocking our view. I am smiling as I write this because I love that the universe always brings you down when you get too big for your britches. I had just told Matt on the walk over how awesome the trip was and how well planned everything was. Message received universe - no more bragging and no more getting off schedule!!

Olivia fell asleep in the stroller on the 5 minute walk back to the hotel but hopefully visions of princesses danced through her head!

Starting on the first day we were there, Olivia would constantly ask me if it was the last day of the trip. So, on our last morning, she woke up and the first words out of her mouth were "I don't want to go home today!" and tears.  But, luckily I anticipated such a melt down and had one last surprise -- breakfast with Mickey at the hotel before we headed back to TX.  Mimi & Grandpa met us for breakfast and it was another fun time.  She got autographs, saw Daisy (one of her faves) and stuffed her belly with Micky-shaped pancakes and bacon.

Then we headed to the airport and back home!

For me, this trip was more sentimental than I thought it would be.  Growing up, Disney was a big part of our lives  We went to Disney World on vacation several times and my sisters and I loved all the princesses, just as Olivia does now.  So, it really struck me on the first night we were there, how awesome it was to be back as a mom, sharing the experience with my own daughter and having my parents there as grandparents to enjoy it as well.  And, Matt had never been to Disney either growing up, so it was neat to see his reaction to the rides/experiences as well.  But, I just don't think it could have gone any better and its a memory I will always treasure.