California Adventure, at night. Lots of sparkly lights.
[Note: yet another catch-up post - this one is from February 2014 -- ed.]
2014 marked Ronan and Nieve's first trip to Disneyland, an apparent rite of passage for any American child. Poppa turned something-greater-than-twenty-nine and wanted to celebrate his milestone by treating his kids and grandkids to a couple of days at the oft marketed, "Happiest Place on Earth".
California The kids & cousins. Happy? Yep, happy.
Footage of our time on some rides
I, for one, never liked Disneyland, even as a kid. I've always had an aversion to highly controlled, artificial spaces, I loathe waiting in lines, and the It's A Small World ride scares me. Mostly, though, I get anxious in crowds. All that said, I am impressed (terrified?) at how well Disney understands the psychology of children; given how Ronan and Nieve seem utterly engrossed in all things Disney/Pixar, it appears the corporation has already set it's hooks in our family.
Want to make Disneyland more exciting? Add Stormtroopers!
Rather than fight a losing effort against the Disney manipulation machine, I decided to do my best to have a blast with the kids. Given it was Disneyland, with all of Mom's family, all I really had to do was not get thrown out of the park. I'm pleased that I can say, with accuracy, "mission accomplished."
Ronan, Mom and Poppa enjoying A Bug's Life ride
Ronan and the cousins riding a grouchy ladybug
I cannot say that I enjoyed the park itself, *but* I very much enjoyed watching Ronan and Nieve experience the parks with the family. That part was fantastic. Here are my top ten observations from our time at the theme parks:
Ronan's first ride at Disneyland? The Matterhorn.
1. There is a certain amount of charm in the old rides like the Matterhorn or the Tea Cups, but they don't compare with the sensory overload of the new rides, so best to do the old ones first.
Did you get your V8?
This sums up Day 1 at Disneyland. Radiator Springs at night was fantastic.
"Kachow!" Nieve nearly jumped a mile when Lightning McQueen started his engine.
2. Radiator Springs at night is fantastic. Given the neon lights and the build quality of the props, it seems as if you are on a movie set. It's engrossing and the kids thought it magical. If you are at Disneyland at night, this is a must-do.
Ronan loving the Pixar parade
Nieve pointing out the acrobats on the Bug's Life float
3. The parades are *loved* by children. Adults seemed to enjoy it as well. Who doesn't love a parade?
The California Adventure Carosoul at night. Pretty, but a very short ride.
A thoughtful Nieve on a carousel
Ronan is always a good sport, but the short carousel ride (at the cost of a long line) was not his cup of tea
4. Skip the carousels. Nieve tried both of them, and while she liked them (she *loves* carousels), neither was worth the wait.
Fun at Toontown
Arms out appears to be the proper pose for photos taken in Toontown
5. Toontown was great fun. The kids were able to run around, climb all over fun looking stuff, and have the freedom to play in a faux cartoon world. Ronan tried to leave his body silhouette by running full speed into a door (á la Wiley Coyote). Sadly Toontown only implemented cartoon aesthetics, not cartoon physics.
This photo cost us 45 minutes in a line. Ronan thought it was worth it; my math disagrees with his.
Nieve loved Minnie Mouse. She loved Cinderella more, but she still loved Minnie.
6. "Meeting" Disney characters, such as Minnie or Pluto, seems to be a hit with kids. I'm not sure why, but it is. Yes, autograph collecting from those characters is a thing. Just roll with it.
Crowd watching at Disneyland perplexed even Ronan and Nieve. Viewing was best done from the upper deck of the steamboat.
7. Disneyland may be the happiest place on earth, but it is filled with plenty of odd people. Bring lots of hand sanitizer. Use it religiously.
Nieve got her groove on, even to the fireman jazz brigade
When you get the urge... best to listen to your body and go with the music
8. If your child loves to dance, let him/her do it when he/she gets the urge. Hilarity may ensue.
Spend too much time at Disneyland and you will grow pink ears! Bow sold separately.
Or it may convince you that it may be possible to pull a sword from a stone
What does 10 straight hours at Disneyland do to you? This is what.
9. The cocktail of Disney-induced excitement, junk food, and sleep depravation makes for a powerful personality modifier. By the end of the trip, Ronan and Nieve were entirely different children. It took a week of sleep & mellow activities for their systems to return to normal.
A happy Ronan with cousins Maia and Makena
10. Disneyland is best enjoyed with a group of family or friends. The kids loved having their older cousins show them how to navigate the parks. It also affords tired parents small moments of reprieve that are invaluable for maintaining sanity.
The Disneyland 2014 crew. Yes, we are all wearing matching light-pink t-shirts to mark the occasion.
Thank you Grammy & Poppa for a fun trip!