Gabes 2nd Birthday, Anthony’s 21st again and Jayme’s 10th. MORE then enough of a good reason to go to Disneyland and meet the Mouse.
Our fight was a 7:00 am direct on Jetblue to Longbeach Airport. This would be both Gabriel’s and Elijah’s first commercial airline flight. With Jayme we had to do a visit to the airport and lots of special airplane books. Not so much with these two. We did give Elijah Jayme’s old airplane books and he did read and enjoy them, but he is not Jayme.
We got to the airport on time and parked in long term parking. When the shuttle bus came up the driver was none other then our friend Alan, he runs tree farm for the annual Christmas tree hunt that we take the boys to. Very strange to be greeted by the shuttle driver at the airport by name. The boys got a kick out of seeing someone they knew as well.
We packed Gabe’s car seat for the flight but found out at the gate he did not need it for the flight. This was great as he HATES being in the car seat. So they checked it for us and we piled into the plane. We must have been a very strange sight, 5 guys all moving in a disordered mass down the gang plank. We all sat in one long row. Elijah in the window, Gabe in the middle Anthony in the aisle seat, then Joshua in the middle seat directly across and then Jayme on the far window. The amazing part, no crying or fear. Elijah was in TV land and ignored most of the flight and Gabe was just one happy little dude.
We landed in Longbeach and after getting our bags and making the required restroom break we headed out to wait for our shuttle. But that too was a short wait and a direct trip to our hotel, the Desert Palms Hotel and Suites. As we pulled up a huge union strike picket line was in front of the hotel (ok perhaps not huge, 7 guys). So just to check in we had to be a class traitors and cross the line. But with a non-refundable vacation paid for and 3 kids ready for Disney, we somehow found the will.
Check in was a snap and they even had our room ready, which was nice since it was well before the stated check in time. Our room was a bunk bed suite with a nice king bed for the Dad’s. We didn’t stay long. After everyone changed in to shorts and used the potty we were out the door and headed for the parks.
Disney’s California Adventure was our day one park. Knowing how impulsive Elijah can be and not knowing how he would react to the park so we over prepped for any outcome. We wrote our cellphone number on his upper arm, gave him long talks about staying close and as we entered the park stopped to introduce him to some cast members. The cast members were happy to let us use them as props as we showed Elijah their cast member name badge and told him if he got lost anyone with a badge like theirs is someone who will help him find us. After our talk the cast members gave the boys Mickey stickers and we headed in to the park.
We made a bee line for Cars land, remembering how crazy the lines for the racers can be. By the time we got there the line was over 200 mins again, so we let Jayme and Elijah play on the other attractions. Elijah got to meet Mater and Lighting McQueen and even the big red firetruck (Red). He didn’t really seem to connect with them. Gabriel would have NOTHING to do with them. He just saw them and cried and ran to Daddy Anthony. He did do great in his stroller, for the most part he kicked back, waved at everyone and enjoyed the ride. For Elijah, itwas a bit like Jayme was on his first visit, quiet and overwhelmed.
After CarsLand, Jayme wanted to do California Screamer. So Joshua and Jayme headed off and Anthony, Gabe and Elijah followed slowly behind. The three of them took the scenic route to the Pier area. Alone the way they found a Donald Duck meet and greet. Elijah waited for his turn and then ran up to Donald and gave him a huge hug. Elijah was all smiles. Donald made a big deal about their shirts matching and then Elijah took off his Mickey sticker and gave it to Donald. It too a moment for Donald to understand what had happened, but once his handler told him, he made a big deal about Elijah giving him a sticker. As Elijah and Donald’s moment came to a close the handler asked if Gabe would like to meet Donald. Anthony took Gabe out of his stroller and Gade took 4 steps toward Donald, turned, screamed, and ran crying back to Anthony. Ah… Disney magic. (Photos on Shutterfly BTW it’s hysterical)
Lunch time was a 2:00 pm reservation at Carthay Circle. We love eating at this place. We normally do the World of Color package, but since WOC was down for refurbishment it was just for lunch this time. Not sure if was just a bad day or if Disney has been dumbing down the menu, but our lunch lacked some of the food magic we have had in the past. The food was still great, but not as great as it was before. Now we also had an almost 2 year old toddler, a 7 year old and a moody pre-teen… so that might have had something to do with it as well. That said all of the boys loved their lunch, it was a great family moment as we grazed off each others plates and made jokes.
Per our family schedule after lunch is nap time! Best tip we can give anyone going to Disney, always take an afternoon nap. You come back to the parks recharged and get to watch people who didn’t deal with tired kids and tired parents. Thankfully our hotel this time is pretty close, about a 10 min walk away.
By the time we got back it was starting to get dark. Jayme wanted to do Tower of Terror so we split up again, this time Anthony with Gabe and Elijah, Joshua with Jayme. While the boys did the tower, Elijah and Gabe took the Red Trolley. The Red Trolley is a very short Trolley that takes you to the front of the park from the Tower of Terror. Anthony got on board with the two boys and Elijah started to ask questions to one of the conductors. Before Anthony knew what was happening, Elijah and the very very cute conductor were playing hide and go seek through the windows. Elijah was having a blast. The ride itself was a bit of the let down for him, since it was so short. Once off we walked back to the Tower and met up with Jayme and Joshua. Jayme wanted to go again. Anthony said it was unfair to Elijah, but then Elijah said he wanted to go on it too. He was just tall enough, so with some worried looked between the Dads we agreed and Joshua lead Jayme and Elijah back onto the ride.
This left Anthony with Gabe. Now Gabe so far has not been a very good rider of rides. On the merry go round he screamed his head off and every other ride he as a bit of a cry at some part of it. But that did not stop him from pointing and indicating that he wants to go on a ride. So Anthony wandered with the stroller until they got to Bugs land and Gabe started pointing at a simple safe ride. Anthony then parked stroller and the two of them waited to go on the little bug ride. The ride itself is very tame. You sit in a little booth with wide benches, you are lifted a few feet off the ground and you go around in a slow circle. It was of course scream city until Anthony pulled out his iPhone and gave it to Gabe. It was easy for Joshua and the boys to find Gabe and Anthony, they just followed the wails. Elijah LOVED Tower of Terror.
With the close of the evening and with our fast passes in hand we headed down as a group to Radiator Racers. We all headed up and got a child swap pass. This one works with one Dad staying with Gabriel and one taking the boys on the ride, then switching. Joshua headed in first with the boys and Gabriel and Anthony tried to find something to do. It was almost 45 mins later when the boys came back out and Anthony was able to head in with Elijah and Jayme. While in line Elijah and his ZERO stranger danger came out. He started talking to some kids. Per our normal with him Anthony asked if Elijah knew their names and when he said he didn’t Anthony followed up with how do you know they are safe? It was at this point the kids mother chimed in that her daughter can be very scary. Everyone laughed. For the rest of the wait in line the two boys chatted with the two other children. By the time we got to the ride loading area we had become a group of six and all rode together in the same car. After we got out we lost our new friends in the crowd.
The problem with going to Disney World is that Disneyland is so little by comparison. Jayme, Anthony and Joshua had the “oh that is in Magic Kingdom” morning and Elijah and Gabe just had smiles from ear to ear.Sadly Splash Mt and the Railroad was down for refurbishment. But Elijah got the grand tour of everything else. We spent the whole morning hopping from attraction to attraction.
Gabe was getting better now at being on rides and we had much less yelling today. In fact, this marked the beginning of Gabe’s Roller Coaster mania. Ever since this trip, Gabe loves to watch YouTube videos of roller coasters. He throws his hands up and screams in joy.
The case of the missing bunny
It only took a few minutes of being in the hotel room before Elijah noticed Rabbit was missing. The cleaning staff had made all of the beds and on the pull out sofa arranged all of the boys stuffed animals in a nice row, well all of the stuff animals except Rabbit. Rabbit was one of the two main stuff animal friends that Elijah clings to, numero uno being Dog. But Rabbit is a very close second.
Anthony tucked all boys into bed and then climbed into bed with Joshua, who was already face down and near unconsciousness. It was then Jayme made his partial admission. “Dad, I think Rabbit might have been thrown away. I think Gabriel might have put him in the trash can before we left this morning”. Translation: “I threw Elijah’s stupid Rabbit away and I don’t want to get in trouble.”
Anthony remained in bed for a few moments and thought about how he might have felt as a child if one of his stuff animals was throw away. So while everyone slept, Anthony headed out the door in search of the maid. He found her down the hallway and he quickly explained the lost Rabbit tale. Now the next bit is a bit of translation issue for this writer, as most of it was in Spanglish. 3 maids and their two supervisors all checking to see if Rabbit was swept up into the dirty laundry. This was done by yelling down in the hallways in Spanglish and via radio. After which all of them were very certain that Rabbit was not with the bedding. So the search headed to the trash can option. Anthony and one of the supervisors began to empty the maids full push cart trash bag into another empty trash bag in search of a white stuffed Rabbit. Then at the bottom, all wrapped up in a clear plastic trash bag liner was Elijah’s Rabbit.
Reeking of 10 rooms worth of garbage, Anthony returned to the hotel room with a safe, but smelly Rabbit. The only words mentioned were to Jayme who’s guilty head popped up as the room door opened. “YOU OWE ME.”
Fantasmic – The new stupid way
So in the past we have treated Jayme and ourselves to the Dessert Fantasmic Party. While not cheap, you get seats, drink service and a huge dessert box. Plus the huge bonus of not having to cue up for hours and sit on the concrete for the show. Well Disney has killed this service. In it’s place is a Meal Package plan. Eat and pay for a meal at a higher set rate and you get Fast passes for Fantasmic. We opted for the Blue Bayou. Readers of this Blog will know how this place has let us down many times in the past, the most notable being sat by the toilet all night and the fragrant orders that fell upon us. But this time the gods smiled upon us with river front seating and while nothing that we ate was memorable, the food was not bad. At the end of the meal, the waiter gave us 5 huge 1/2 inch foam seat cushions for the show that night and 5 fast passes. Thank goodness we had the stroller to haul them around.
Later that evening we arrived at the Blue Bayou Fantasmic check in area. Which can only be described as a every man for himself area. Elijah once again forgot his stranger danger and befriended an elderly couple. Combined our expanded group were the first into our reserved area and the 7 of us got front row on the ground seating. This was fine for our family, but our new friends had a very hard time with it. Disney dropped the ball on this one.
The show started and Gabe stood up and yelled ICKY!!!! ICKY!!! ICKY!!!! Gabriel is in love with Mickey Mouse, insane in love. Goes nuts when watching the Mickey Mouse Club, loves his Mickey dolls and seeing Mickey in person was just to much for him.
The show as always was great. Both Elijah and Gabriel loved it. The Dad’s didn’t like the new seating, hated not having drink service and had a longing for a return to the chairs.
DAY THREE – GABRIEL’S BIRTHDAY or How to spoil your 2 year old
The morning started with a short walk from our hotel to Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel and Mickey Mouse’s PCH Grill for a Character breakfast.
True to form, Gabriel saw Mickey ran towards him for a big hug, got a hug, then turned and ran in abject terror. Elijah and Jayme did much better. It was very cool to see our moody pre-teen Jayme forget to be moody for a bit and be a kid. He, out of all of them, spent the most time with the characters.
Breakfast was a slow buffet. All the Characters came over to our table more then once. At the end they sang happy birthday to Gabe and brought our a chocolate birthday cupcake with a candle (Video on Shutterfly). This was not a cheap meal, but so worth it. No one was frowning, no one was moody and Gabe got to see Mickey!
One negative we had was the photo person forgot to bring us our photos from the Mickey meet and greet. So when we asked for them they gave us double the photos to make up for their mistake.
After breakfast, we walked to Disneyland via Downtown Disney and the Grand California Hotel. Once in the park we redid some of the rides the boys loved the day before and hit a few we missed. We also took a swing up into Toontown for Gabriel and a visit to Mickey Mouse’s House.
Gabe got to interact with all of the weird things in Mickey’s house and after a short wait was face to face again with the Mouse himself. This time Gabe was able to keep his cool. After a big hug he just wanted to sit at his Mouse masters feet and worship him. Elijah was quick to ask Mickey how he got there from breakfast so fast. But Mickey was ready with an answer and flashed a shocka to Elijah to let him know he was the same Mickey from the Beach party themed breakfast. The moody pre-teen just wanted to go back to Star Tours and pretty much hated the whole event.
As the day came to a close Anthony and Gabe headed to a good spot in front of the castle for fireworks. As they got to the middle area a voice rang out “Hello Again!” It was the mom from our first night who’s family we befriended and rode with on Radiator Springs Racers. She was sitting on a bench with her new infant son and she invited Anthony to join her. A few minutes later both of our families arrived and we had a large group of 11 people sprawled out waiting for fireworks. The kicker for this second chance meeting was their family is from the Portland area too!
After a 5 min firework show (yes they must be saving money for the 60th), Anthony, Elijah, Gabriel headed back to the hotel to sleep. But Jayme had struck up a new friendship with the oldest boy from our run into family and the two of them spent the next few hours on Space Mt and other rides talking Pokemon and Doctor who.
This was pretty easy. We used the same shuttle service and they got us to Longbeach airport with 2 hours to spare. Now we had a chance to enjoy the new airport which is a huge improvement over our last visit where they stored us in a hot box.
The flight home was quick. Gabe was bit more fussy this time and he ended up sitting with Joshua and playing iPad with daddy.