“I spoke to the elves and they agreed you all qualify [for 1st visit buttons].”
Tim and I kind of considered this our first visits because our actual firsts were at two years old. However, though she won’t remember it, Eliza thoroughly enjoyed her first visit even as a ten month old. Normal naps and bedtime were tricky, or in the case of the latter, just didn’t happen. But Eliza enjoyed looking around at the rides, laughed with glee upon meeting characters, particularly masked animals like Mickey, Minnie, and Pooh and friends, and often stopped crying when we got moving after being placed in the stroller. Sara Ellen dealt with long lines for rides and princesses just fine, especially when she made friends to laugh and play with. She loved taking pictures with characters, chatting (even those masked), and filling our homemade autograph book (it’s quite pretty and more personal if I do say so myself).
We brought our regular all-terrain Quinny Speedi. It had it’s extra kiddapottamus shade and Ju Ju Be stroller clips for my backpack. A simple Tinkerbell tote held our jackets and other things in the open bottom basket. A sea creature toy mobile was clipped for play and recognition. We also rented a stroller for Sara Ellen all three days which was one of the best investments. She didn’t always use it but it kept her close and enabled us to avoid three days of “I can’t walk anymore”. That we only endured on our final exit of the park around 10pm. We and everybody else left our strollers parked nearby our current location. We always took the backpack and left the tote. Both bags had to be briefly inspected upon entering Disneyland, California Adventure, and leaving Downtown Disney.
We started each day relaxed, waking between 7 & 8. The hotels breakfast ended at 9. Some certainly begin their day earlier but we usually headed out between 10 & 11, about Eliza’s 1st naptime. We didn’t do much, if anything before lunch but it worked well that way. It was warm by then so we didn’t feel the need to dress warmer then change. The afternoon is long and there’s always something going on in the evening. Eliza and I left earlier our first day. I was grateful to reach my bed by 8:30.
We spent lots of time in lines to see Princesses or Fairies. Sometimes we tagged teamed, taking turns standing in line, with or without Sara Ellen, but it was always worth it to get those brief minutes with a friendly lady dressed up playing a character we all like, seeing Sara Ellen enjoy herself taking pictures and getting autographs. We stood in a few lines for rides which was sometimes worth it. Some of the rides are just so short and basically zip you through the story. Hopefully next time we can find a true “off season” and get in more, as well as some more grown up lines. I planned on using their Baby Swap feature which is like fast pass for families with kids who won’t be riding, but we didn’t do it for one reason or another. Sara Ellen went on two carousels two times each (mostly with Tim), we all went on the Disney Railroad Park Loop, It’s A Small World, Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh. I went on Haunted Mansion myself while Eliza napped (not as much fun without Tim) and Pinocchio with Eliza after she napped. Us girls went on the Mad Tea Cups while Tim watched us “crazy people”. He and Sara Ellen went on Autopia at night at as we were planning on leaving. We all saw the pretty fireworks show that night but in different locations (as parent/child pairs of course).
We did spend a day in California Adventure though didn’t do most rides. We had a reservation at Ariel’s Grotto for the Princess lunch. We highly recommend that as the best way to meet princesses. The food is awesome too. You meet Ariel even before you’re seated and it was the one time they pre-print photos for you. Those were the only professional pics we bought. After lunch in that park I think Sara Ellen’s favorite feature was posing inside an empty Toy Story toy box. We walked around the park, including It’s a Bugs Land and Hollywood Backlot. I opted out of the 3D show not wanting to experience the special effects of bugs on me. I don’t know if it was actually sunscreen irritating her eye but Sara Ellen was rubbing it, complaining, and beginning to melt down. She passed on all the buggy rides, fought me on eye drops and jumped at leftover dessert but wilted again. I insisted we go back to the hotel and on the way to the shuttle she fell asleep. It wasn’t a long nap but she woke refreshed. Back at the hotel, we all bathed, took advantage of Homewood Suites included dinner, and relaxed which gave us energy to trek back to stay up late and stand in line for World of Color, the amazing water/color/music/film show over the water in front of Paradise Pier’s Roller Coaster and Ferris Wheel.
On our last day we started at Downtown Disney, where we took a local friend to lunch at Rainforest Cafe. It really is “a fun place to shop and eat”, but I prefer it without little ones. We also visited the Lego Store and World of Disney where Sara Ellen finally got her wish of Tinkerbell wings and a wand (a gift from our friend). I’d hoped to get a black and white caricature done but was disappointed. And we didn’t find any souvenirs we just had to spend our money on. It seems some special restaurant meals were the best treat. We tromped through New Orleans Square and ended up having a lovely dinner at Cafe Orleans. I tried French onion soup for the first time but was slightly grossed out, having no idea what to expect, so it was taken away. I did have a wonderful salmon on mixed greens (I sighed after every bite of caramelized pecan), followed by Mickey Mouse shaped beignets. Tim did not partake in dessert as he’d had the Monte Cristo and said it was like ham and cheese wrapped in a funnel cake. New Orleans Square was quite narrow and busy with all the restaurants and the exit for Pirates of the Caribbean, which we missed and was the area’s main ride apart from Haunted Mansion, it’s mostly food, shopping, and some shows.
Despite being so busy, the weather was perfect, and three days was just the right amount of time to do what we could without getting completely exhausted. It’s a Land, not a World and still had more than we were able to get to. I look forward to returning (perhaps with others to help with kiddos).