You know how there are certain things in life that you look forward to for so long that you actually ruin with your own level of intense anticipation? Those things that you've built up in your mind so much that the reality could never hope to live up to the fantasy?
Disneyland was not one of those things!
Sure, there was a bit more crying than I had hoped for. A few more temper tantrums and blood-sugar meltdowns. The crowds were bigger than I'd anticipated. In short: it wasn't a perfect trip.
But oh my. OH. MY. It was so good!
Watching my family walk down Mainstreet was one of those moments. We'd barely even made it into the park, and I already had tears in my eyes.
Our first ride of the day was the Jungle Cruise.
Which wasn't exactly their favorite. In fact, it was "too scary."
So naturally we felt the need to traumatize them even more by taking them on Pirates of the Caribbean.
I won't lie, it resulted in some tears from both kids. But that's part of the experience... right?
We stopped for a photo op with an evil queen before heading over to the Nemo submarine ride.
Which was far and away Logan's favorite! We rode this one three times in two days.
And then the Disneyland classic:
I won't even say the name, because Lord knows that song will get stuck in your head the moment I do. Out of the goodness of my heart, I'll just spare you that one.
It was marvelous for everyone, but this is one that Miss Livvy particularly enjoyed. And, I SWEAR it was entirely by magical, Disney accident that it just happens that I took the above picture of Olivia right here, with Ariel in the background, five and a half years after we took this one:
I know you're about to call shenanigans on me, but really. It wasn't until I was going through the photos when we got home that I found that sweet connection.
There were so many highlights of the day, but I have to record two of my favorites, and I didn't snap any photos to go along with them.
The first was Leah's absolute insistence that she wanted to ride the Matterhorn. She has never been on a roller coaster in her life, and she had just finished crying on Pirates of the Caribbean. Still, she must have said it ten times. "I just can't stop looking at the Matterhorn!" "Mommy, please can we do the Matterhorn next?!"
We spent a few minutes watching it go so that she could see how fast it was. She was absolutely decided. Even the fact that it's a single rider - so I couldn't sit next to her, she would have to sit all by herself - didn't shake her resolve.
So we agreed to let her give it a try.
When we finally got to the front of the line, they put us in the very front. I tried to dissuade her from sitting in the first car with me behind her... but she was so excited to be in the front! I fully admit, I was nervous. I mean, the kid was brought to tears by Pirates of the Caribbean, which is gentle enough that even Livvy could ride it. They strapped us in, and I reached over the seat so that she could hold my hand, as she had requested.
Although it did go pretty fast, there weren't any big drops like roller coasters so often have. There were twists and turns, but nothing too scary. And my kid? She absolutely loved it! It was her favorite ride of the entire trip. I was so glad we decided to chance it!
The other moment that was beyond wonderful was watching my big girl meet the princesses.
It was an amazing moment, as I watched this little girl transform. I watched her eyes, listened to her voice, and got an advanced glimpse of the woman she will one day become. She was so awed, her little face just lit up with wonder and joy. Somehow, though, she still managed to remain incredibly poised. She spoke with each one with such an amazing, grown up elegance that it just blew me away and brought tears to my eyes. She was so precious, so brave, that wonderful girl of mine. It was my favorite moment of the whole trip - and it was a really, really good trip, so that's saying something.
Back to the photos I did remember to take...
Little Livvy took her nap on me again that day. The fact that she's not yet walking and so willing to stay a baby really paid off during this trip. The other two - Logan, in particular - would never, ever have consented to be carried around or nap on the go.
We stayed for the afternoon parade, which we only caught the end of, but it was really fun.
Because, oh my goodness, how great are these faces?
We just had time for a churro and a quick show. The Frozen kind.
And then it was time to go back to the hotel. Which, if you're my kids means
you don't worry about the fact that you've had a busy and exciting day at Disneyland! You take an evening swim while Mommy puts the baby to bed. Obviously.
The next day, we woke up early and got to the park as soon as it opened.
Two hours and more meltdowns than I can count later, we had three kids who were a complete and total mess. They were hot. They were hungry. They hadn't ridden anything, nor would they on account of the fact that they were totally miserable.
So we called it and went back to the hotel for lunch and a nice, long nap.
At about 4:00, we headed back into the park, and Casey and I were amazed. It was a totally different story.
We watched the Disneyland Band perform, and watched the entire parade.
Leah and her new favorite princess, Belle.
Logan was so happy to see Mary Poppins, the chimney sweeps and Burt. I think they were his favorite.
In a totally random coincidence, we also ran into a friend of mine, a girl I went to elementary school with. It was crazy! We have known one another since we weren't much older than our daughters.
We met up for dinner, and it was such a wonderful surprise to unexpectedly get to see her and meet her family!
After that fun surprise, we stayed to watch the lights parade. The kids did better at 10 p.m. than they had done at 10 a.m.
Casey and I had one more surprise for the kids. One of the things we are most proud of when it comes to our kids is the fact that they truly have hearts of gratitude. Here we were at Disneyland, surrounded by all the things and stuff, and not once did either of them ask for anything. Not one single thing, with the exception of rides they wanted to go on. Their sweet little hearts were content to look and experience without asking for more.
So, we agreed that they could each choose one thing, anything, that they wanted to remember their trip.
This is an opportunity that they have really never had before, to actually select for themselves, and it was so wonderful to watch the expressions of their hearts.
Each of them chose something so perfectly fitting their character.
Leah selected a Belle dress, after her new favorite princess.
Logan chose a Darth Vader doll. Seriously, for the boy who is constantly surrounded by girls, girl toys and girl-y dress up and is so wonderfully tolerant of it all, Darth was the absolute perfect gift he could have selected. Literally the most boyish toy possible in all of Disneyland. He has no idea who Darth Vader is, and has only seen Star Wars in the form of those giant cut-outs they had a Target for the release of the new movie. But I was so happy for how very happy this toy makes him!
And Livvy. Sweet, darling Olivia Joy. I spend a lot of time letting her explore her world. When we go to the store, she gets to pick up the produce and put it in the bag. If there is something she wants to touch while we're out and about, I try to make time to let her explore it or feel it. But I have never, ever seen her react to something the way she reacted to the toy we ultimately got for her. She was freaking out. Lunging, grabbing and pointing. She wanted that thing! What was the object of her desire?
This guy. The Lotsa bear from Toy Story 3. She would not put it down once she got her hands on it. She hugged and kissed that bear over and over, it was so adorable.
The best part of her choice is that, because the character in the movie is an old toy, this stuffed bear is all matted, off-color and looks like he is actually old toy (he's really adorable and impossibly soft, for the record). So here she is, my precious third child who has had very few things new, and when she has her first chance to select something brand new, she ends up falling head over heels in love with something that already looks old.
I loved their choices so much, I haven't even paused to think about what it means that two of my three children selected villains.
It was a wonderful trip. Filled with so many precious moments that I know I will remember forever. I hope it won't be our last visit to the Magic Kingdom, I'm already looking forward to going back!