The Noahs are back in New York, after a fun-filled week of sun, swimming, and Disney magic. Since we first told Eli that we were planning on visiting Disneyland, it’s never been far from his mind. He talked about the characters we’d meet and the rides we’d go on. And while I was a little afraid that the actual park wouldn’t live up to his expectations, I think it’s safe to say that the trip was a great success.
Our first day at the resort, we didn’t go to the park – instead we hung out by the pool. Eli immediately decided he wanted to go on the big water slide with me, and when he found out that he’d have to ride solo, he wasn’t deterred. Not in the slightest. In fact all he wanted to do was go down that slide. Repeatedly. Relentlessly. And why not – everyone loves a good water slide.
The next day, when we were going to Disneyland proper, we began with a character breakfast with Mickey. We got pictures with a bunch of the characters, but Eli really just wanted to keep on hugging Mickey Mouse. It was really sweet – and a great way to start the day.
Inside the park we went on as many rides as we could – the Toy Story ride, Autopia, classics like Dumbo and the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, and newer rides like Finding Nemo and Winnie the Pooh. (They nay not actually be that new, but I don’t remember them from our last visit ten years ago, so they’re at least newer.) And what was Eli’s favorite ride? That honor goes to the Gadget’s Go-Coaster, a kid-friendly roller coaster located in the Mickey’s Toontown section of the park. I love the fact that he’s such a little daredevil, and hopefully as he gets bigger, we can go on more (and bigger) coasters. We ended the day eating dinner as we watched the parade, then by takinga monorail ride out of the park.
The next day we had another character breakfast – Chip & Dale and friends this time – and set off to California Adventures, Disneyland’s second park. There are definitely less rides over there, but I was very impressed with the park’s design and execution. First off all, it has a very nostalgia-heavy vibe, with a nod to early 20th Century California, and a section designed to look like an old-fashioned pier. But everything was deceptively modern. The retro-looking Ferris wheel (pictured above) actually is 2 rides in one – a standard boring ride around the wheel, and other cars that swing wildly as they go. There’s Toy Story’s Midway Mania, which is a throwback to olde tyme Boardwalk games, but done as a 3D video game that tracks your score as you compete with large groups of other players. Very cool.
I also liked how there were entire “lands” of the park dedicated to a single movie, as opposed to the old format with a big movie only inspiring a single ride or two. The drawback of doing that is that if you’re not that into, say, Cars or A Bug’s Life, then those large chunks of the park will hold little interest for you. But it’s still nice to have a large, immersive area that recreates and draws you into a movie’s world, and it does make you more likely to want to see the film that inspired it if you haven’t before.
Other than Disney, we also had a good time visiting with family and friends out west – we spent a lot of time in G-pa’s pool, and we visited the Kidspace Children’s Museum, which was effectively a large interactive playground. It wasn’t a relaxing trip by any stretch of the imagination, but it was definitely a fun one, and hopefully it will be something that Eli remembers!