Now, I've never been much of a Disneyland person in general - partially because my parents generally avoided all the "contrived, expensive manufactured fun" of amusement parks, bowling alleys, skating rinks and other such places. They raised us with the belief that exploring nature, enjoying the beach, reading books, going on hikes and traveling far and wide were more worthy ways to spend our time and money (and with nine kids, I think expense was part of the reason that this "manufactured fun" wasn't on the agenda very often). Similarly, Jared and I have put a real emphasis on hiking, biking, books, museums and travelling with our kids.
But I'm all for some "manufactured fun" sometimes. We love a little laser tag and bowling and roller skating and those trampoline places are totally fun. We go to the big amusement park here every year (Lagoon) and have such a great day as a family there. And it seems like all kids need a little Disneyland experience somewhere in their lives since Disneyland is such a part of kid-talk and kid-culture. So when Disneyland offered us some free tickets (thanks to my Power of Moms partner April's Deliberate Mother's Guide to Disneyland) and April and her family offered to accompany us and be our personal tour guides, we very happily packed our bags and headed to California.
April is a Disneyland guru. She used to work there as a teenager. She lives nearby and takes her kids all the time. She knows all the tips and tricks to making it the totally magical experience it should be. She knows which shows and rides are really worthwhile. She knows how to minimize line-waiting and make the waiting you have to do into a fun part of the day. She knows how to help kids feel even more joy in their experience as they learn to watch for great service from the wonderful employees at Disneyland and give special little notes to those who go out of their way to make Disneyland extra wonderful. And she knows how to pack the right food to keep kids happily munching along rather than begging for the overpriced food available around every corner.
Our kids looked at the Disneyland website and made a list of their top favorite rides and attractions and April and her family put together a perfect one-day itinerary that included everything the kids wanted to do at California Adventure AND Disneyland. She planned it out so well that we did a ton but didn't feel rushed or stressed at all. It was heaven to just follow along and have someone else plan everything out just right. It was just a perfectly magical and fun day.
A few favorite moments from the day:
- Seeing the kids' eyes light up again and again all day.
- Watching Oliver and Silas fight Darth Vadar after they got picked to be trained as Jedi Warriors in the Star Wars show. They were SO excited and their faces were so determined and tough as they faced the big guy.
- Seeing Ashton practically skip around with excitement (his surly teenager attitude totally dropped away for the day)
- Seeing Isaac buddy up with April's youngest son (5-year-old Spencer) and make him feel cool by asking him his opinions about rides.
- Chatting with Oliver in line for Star Tours. It was the longest line of the day I think but Oliver and I had such a great chat. He told me everything about his latest favorite thing - Ninjago. It was great to have time to just listen and listen and ask questions and give him my full attention. Before we got on the ride, he said "I'm so glad Heavenly Father sent us to be in the same family. You're the best mom in the world." Priceless.
- Strategizing about Power of Moms projects and ideas with Jared, April and Eric in lines, catching up on each other's lives, just enjoying some fun together as we laughed on roller coasters and watched our kids having so much fun.
- Seeing Eliza have so much fun with her dear friend Grace (April's daughter) and seeing her get excited about princesses - she's still young enough to get stars in her eyes about that sort of thing.
- Having all the kids just so happy all day long - they were so grateful for every lovely snack handed to them (thanks April for packing so many fun things!) and for every ride they went on and kept saying "thanks for bringing us here!"
- Having the whole park to ourselves after our last ride and just before the whole park closed - everything lit up beautifully, perfect weather, enjoying some last snacks as we meandered through areas we hadn't had a chance to get to earlier in the day. Sitting with April to record a podcast as the dads took the kids to a couple shops, reminiscing about our perfect day and what made it all work out so well. (Here's the podcast if you're interested.)
Here's the day in a smattering of photos (my real camera wasn't working - these are just phone photos and April has better ones, but this is a start!)
Here we are ready to head into the park (our family, April's family and the family of one of our fabulous Power of Moms' board members - so fun they could join us for part of the day as well).
We started off at California Adventure:
All the Loosli and Perry kids - ready for big-time fun.
California Screaming was a huge hit with everyone (that's me and Oliver on the front row)
The main street there in California Adventure was lovely and we learned all about how they do animation plus saw the top-notch "Aladin" show.
April had yummy exciting snacks loaded up in her stroller that kept the kids extra happy all day. All waiting time was made fun with snacks.
Cars Land was amazingly well done. We thought we were back at home in the red rock of St George!
Had to get a photo of Jared with the leaning tower of tires since he designs software for tire companies.
We felt like we were right inside the Cars movie.
Tower of Terror was another big favorite:
Then we went over to Disneyland.
The twins were thrilled to be picked to participate in Jedi training (thanks to the Perrys for making some signs they could hold up that made them a bit more likely to be picked...)
The Disneyland Parade was so well-done and fun with music and lovely costumes. We ate dinner while watching. Perfect.
What a wonderful day we had! Thank so much to all the Perry's and to Disneyland for the free blogger tickets. Thanks to all the people at Disneyland who make everything so clean and pleasant and fun and beautiful. I love how every little detail is nicely done, how every employee (or cast member as they're called) is so kind and helpful, how quickly they move the lines along, how just genuinely happy and nice the whole place is. Way to go, Disneyland! Way to go, Perrys!