It’s a lovely morning in Anaheim, California. Birds chirping, cool breeze coming in from the open window and children sleeping peacefully… Who are we kidding the only reason we are in Anaheim is because it is the home to Disneyland. Our morning looks more like preparation for defeating the Whitewalkers on Game of Thrones rather than a trip to the happiest place on earth. Crammed in our tiny hotel room there are exactly three coolers, one air mattress, one Bob Revolution Stroller, four suitcases and five humans (three of which are so excited they can hardly stand still).
My husband and I awoke to screaming babies not chirping birds, and we did everything in our power to find the most potent form of caffeine available knowing full well our day is going to be long, strenuous and a true test of who we are as people and parents. After packing the Bob Stroller with no less than 60lbs of stuff we make our way to breakfast where we have to force feed all of our children because we are determined not to spend $30 on Mickey Mouse pancakes. After lots of empty threats and promises of returning to our hotel room, our kids finally put down a satisfactory amount of food and we are off to the trenches.
Clad in fatigues that are adorned with a mouse, we begin to make our way into a battle that will test not only patience but stamina. Our weapons of choice...Purell wipes and sanitizer. This battle is going to get dirty and we need to be prepared. Of course we are not staying anywhere near the actual Disneyland park therefore we must walk the half mile to the security checkpoint which will clear us to walk another half mile to the actual entrance, which will then clear us to walk another half mile to the first attraction!
Along the way we question our intentions. Was this a good idea? Why do we spend this much money for this? Will the kids even remember it? This was however no time for second guessing, it was time we took our preparation and training (nine years of parenting and previous park visits) and put it to good use. With that said, we needed to maintain focus on the big picture and our number one objective… Conquer Disneyland and resist its attempts to lure us into its clutches of consumerism and the “spell” that it manages to cast on all of its patrons. There is no time to shop, meet characters or eat. We came here only to ride rides and that is it! So we must remember our goals if we want to complete the mission at hand.
Goal 1: Leave no child behind. Each kid received a strongly worded pep talk on the consequences of leaving our sides. They were also thoroughly trained in what to do if they were to find themselves lost, and interrogated relentlessly on what our phone number is (also we wrote it on their arm in sharpie). Can’t be too prepared!
Goal 2: Spend exactly zero dollars. This one is going to be an uphill battle! Before we even enter the park we must make our way through the battlefield of crap (AKA Downtown Disney). We must remind our soldiers not to get distracted by the shiny trinkets and subpar goods.... We must wait to get in the park before we find the “good stuff”. This is a diversion tactic that will hopefully lead to distraction in the park and forgetfulness on the part of the soldiers .
Goal 3: Ride as many rides and physically possible. This goal is a testament to preparation therefore, we must map out our route and “FastPass” as many rides as possible. We must also use our asset (AKA baby sister) to our advantage and “rider switchback” all the rides so we can maximize our ride potential meaning that each parent can ride with their child allowing our kids to experience 2x’s the fun.
Goal 4: Have as much fun as freaking possible! We paid a gajillion dollars to be here and damnit we are going to have fun if it kills us! That means no crying, whining or complaining (yeah right). And only adoration and love for your fearless leaders (bahaha). Also beer helps, cheers California Adventure to taking pity on us little guys fighting the good fight!
The second we enter the park the true battle begins. We now have officially T-minus 12 hours to accomplish goals 1-4. Can we do it? Will we make our deadline? Can we maintain focus and keeps our eyes on the prize?
First stop, Star Wars Land. One thing you should probably know about our family is that we have never seen a Star Wars film (with the exception of my husband) but we have been told it's all the rage so here we are. For a family that cares very little about Star Wars it is still a sight to behold. The ride, although only a simulation, is pretty cool but the environment is what takes the cake. Slowly but surely Disney is beginning to show its magnificence and our military strategy is starting to fail. Disney, you may have won this battle but the war is not over.
Next, we FastPass Big Thunder Mountain which we then “rider switchback”. So far so good we have already hit two rides and it's not even noon yet. The day continues on in a similar fashion hopping from ride to ride taking only precious moments to sit down and inhale whatever Disney considers “food”. With each attraction, parade and character meeting the lure of Disney begins to take hold and before we know it we are all mouse ear wearing, Pineapple Dole Whip eating, song singing Disney fanatics. We raise the white flag and give into all that Disney has to offer.
Before we know it, we have walked a half marathon (seriously, 13.20 miles), encountered more germs than we knew were possible and deescalated many potential meltdowns. We arrive back to our semi-seedy hotel room only to do it again in the morning. Disney is overpriced, overcrowded and stressful but in the end totally worth it! As much as we claim to only do this for our kids there is always some magic that we get out of it too. Maybe I am drinking the Disney Kool Aid but each year we return only to find pure happiness and endless entertainment. So to you Disneyland, I tip my hat. Although we started the day prepared for the battle of the ages we came home ready to spread peace, love and joy... even though our pockets are now empty!
Stay tuned for more about our trip to Disney and how we conquered it all while managing Type 1.