Thursday, August 17, 2017

Our Disney Vacation | Day 3 (Part 2)

I had originally reserved a spot for Mila to get a perfectly princess makeover at the famous, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique inside the castle, but cancelled my reservation a few days before we left for a number of reasons.  1) I really didn't care to be tied down to a schedule while on vacation, 2) Mila is a glass case of emotions and the princess makeover was too expensive to chance a meltdown, and 3) Mila is not a fan of the signature Cinderella "bun", making that clear time and time again during our season of dance.  No, Mila prefers her princesses a little unruly, evidenced by the fact that most of her toy princesses lack of clothes and legs or both.  While packing for the trip, though, I threw in Mila's Elsa dress, a last minute decision just in case.  And after spending two days admiring all her favorite princesses in the real, and being called a princess herself by nearly everyone she met, Mila was adamant by the end of our day that it was her time to "Let it Go," and let her true ice princess show.  So instead of paying $60 for a tight sparkly bun, we dressed her up in her Elsa dress and I did my best to give her an Elsa braid that would make her fit for the crown.  Then she hopped in her chariot and we made our way back to Magic Kingdom for a night truly fit for a queen.  And her handsome big brother.


Disney was packed that night, but I hardly noticed.  I couldn't take my eyes off Cruz's sun-kissed cheeks and big brown eyes as he drank in the sights around him, Mila's soft blond braid and how sweet she looked in her little Elsa dress against the grand splendor of the backdrop.  The California weather just couldn't be matched, and I felt over the moon happy to be there with my sweet family.  While I could have just waltzed around Fantasyland all night, soaking in the sights and photographing our cute kids, Beau had other ideas and became quickly impatient with the very long lines!  If I'm the dreamer, he's the doer, through and through!  We did the carousel and the famous tea cups, then made our way to the Blue Bayou Cafe for one special dinner reservation.

A few final pictures by the castle before the sun went down.  These are some of my favorites and say so much about our little family this summer.

When doing a little research preparing for our trip, I was ecstatic to discover that this was the first summer the famous electrical parade would be returning to the streets of Disneyland.  Due to a monsoon rain that cancelled the much-anticipated parade back at Disney World on our last trip, I wanted to make sure I had a front row seat to this iconic Disney tradition.  The message boards I read all said the same thing - because the parade had been on hiatus up until this summer, the crowds were out of control.  We either had to find a spot on the sidewalk literally hours before the parade started, or sign up for an electrical parade dinner package with reserved seating for the parade.  And because we had to eat anyways, this seemed like the perfect splurge for our special night at Disney. 

The crowds were no joke and this little decision became one of the best of our trip.  We dined in the famous Blue Bayou restaurant, a New Orleans' style four-course feast fit for adults and kids of all ages.  We became props in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and watched as boats of riders made their way down the river next to our table.  It was expensive, but well worth it as we received four golden tickets to a roped off VIP area right on the sidewalk just minutes before the parade was to start.


The night was just as I anticipated it to be, with a few added bits of pixie dust for the taking.  We ended up sitting right next to a family we had met in the elevator the day before, a magical coincidence in and of itself with literally millions of people in our proximity.  This family had a little blondie about Mila's age and the two became instant friends in the elevator.  And to add to their new little friendship, Mila was dressed as Elsa and her friend as Anna.  Much like the cinematic sisterhood, our girls were soon holding hands and sharing a bond that seemed just as Walt himself had envisioned so many years before.  Her family, who had been to Disney many times before, asked if our kids wanted to share a blanket, handed them a bag of snacks and glow sticks, and prepped our kids for all that was to come.  

Soon enough, the parade started, and it was just as I dreamed it to be.  It was old Disney in all its glory, and I felt as if I had stepped back in time.  My eyes darted back and forth from the grand lit-up floats, to the lit-up faces of the kids who waved their lit-up wands and waved their tiny hands to Mickey and Donald, Cinderella and her Prince Charming, and Captain Hook and Tinkerbell.  They were in such a good spot, had the opportunity to interact with several characters, and I shook my head in amazement at how lucky they were to experience all this.  We laughed when one of the Ugly Step-Sisters pointed to Cruz and asked if he was her Prince Charming, and I did my best to take it all in before the last float made its way by and we all turned our sights toward the castle for its grand finale. 

After Tinkerbell flew through the sky and tapped her little wand on the top of the castle, after the sky was lit up with lights and melodies of Star Wars and Pirates and Beauty and the Beast, and after we made our way through the thick crowds hand in hand back to our little home away from home, Cruz looked up at me and said, "Mom, I wish I had a time machine because I would go back to this night forever."  He had officially fallen victim to the magic and would never be the same again. ;)

And Elsa wouldn't be either!


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Our Disney Vacation | Day 3

After conquering Disney's California Adventure Park, we were up and ready at 7, excited to take on Magic Kingdom for their early magic hours.  While it felt like we had the place to ourselves for the first hour or so the day prior, the noticeably bigger crowd that made their way to the front entrance told us today might be a little different.  We got in quickly, though, passed under the bridge with Walt's famous quote, "Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy," and turned the corner to Main Street USA, a sight that I'm quite convinced would never grow old.

While Main Street USA was nearly a carbon copy of that in Florida, the castle was very different and while pretty, not near as epic as Cinderella's grand castle at Disney World.  We snapped a few pictures, then scooted over to Tomorrowland with our sights on Space Mountain.  

I guess after Cruz had conquered so many big rides the day before, I decided I was overthinking any concern and didn't put much thought into what would be age appropriate for the day ahead.  And after discovering Mila was indeed tall enough to ride Space Mountain, we went for it.  I had actually never been on Space Mountain myself, so really had no idea what we were getting ourselves into!  She never appeared fearful, even as we entered the loud and dark space ship's waiting area for our seats aboard the aircraft.  But I tell you what, I was thankful Beau had her in his seat and I was behind them with Cruz because I think I would have been freaking out!  The ride was much darker, much faster, and much jerkier than I expected, and while it was quite the thrill, I was counting down the seconds until it was over pretty convinced we had scarred our three year old daughter for life!  Surprisingly, Beau agreed with me and immediately said, "I can't believe we just took her on that" as soon as we got off.  Mila, well, she wasn't jumping up and down in excitement asking to do it again, but didn't seem too scarred.  Her eyes were a little bigger, and for the first time all week, she didn't have a whole lot to say!

Her face shortly after.  I think she's ready for the roller coaster!

We stayed in Tomorrowland for most of the morning, thankfully riding rides that were a bit more geared toward younger riders.  We rode Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blaster two times in a row, the kids loved the Finding Nemo ride deep under water in a submarine, and we all loved the Star Tours ride, a small preview of the Star Wars overhaul coming to Disney in the near future.  By 9:00 or so, we had officially conquered Tomorrowland and were ready to head over to another part of the park.

The crowds were starting to pick up mid-morning, so we grabbed a Fast Pass for the Big Thunder Mountain roller coaster over in Frontierland and decided to explore Adventureland while we waited.  One of the best parts of Disney is when you "magically" happen upon something you weren't planning to do or see, such as our primo spot in line to meet the cast of Frozen the day before.  This happened yet again as we saw a small line start to form right under Aladdin's Oasis and discovered our most recent favorite, Moana, had just arrived to say hi and sign some autographs.  The kids immediately asked for their autograph books, and we prepped them with journalism questions to ask her.  Cruz asked her where Maui and Hey Hey were and Mila just wanted to show her Olaf's funny signature in her autograph book.  She was warm, personal, and sweet with the kids, and Beau and I felt as though we had hit the character experience jackpot thus far!

We spent the rest of the morning riding rides, luring the kids out of shops (this is the part of the trip when Mila began relentlessly asking for an Anna doll to go with her Elsa one), and steering our stroller through what had become a very busy place.  We laughed at the dry humor of our witty tour guide on the Jungle Cruise, Cruz loved exploring Tarzan's tall tree house, and we used Mila's morning nap in her stroller as an excellent opportunity to take a break in Frontierland with Mickey Mouse ice cream treats.  Mila woke up just in time for our Fast Pass on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and the kids loved every second of this rugged thrill ride.

Before we left Magic Kingdom for lunch and naps at the hotel, the kids got to each choose a souvenir from Main Street.  It made my heart smile when they each chose a light-up wand toy, similar to the one Cruz picked out on his first trip to Magic Kingdom when he was Mila's age.  Cruz picked out a Mickey wand that not only lit up, but also blew bubbles, and Mila chose a princess want with twirly laser lights.  I told them they would both be perfect for our night back on Main Street later.  We strolled out of there, happy and content and ready for an afternoon siesta.  It was going to be a late night and we needed our beauty sleep. :)

Part 2, to be continued.       


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