Thursday, January 30, 2020

11 Reasons We Go To Disneyland (Again And Again)

"They're too young to remember."
"It's so expensive."
"They can't do the big rides."
"It's so exhausting."
"There's so many other, cooler, places to go."

We've heard all kinds of reasons not to do a Disney vacation. In passing, online, or directly to our faces. Here's the thing though - you can tell us how Disney is a megacorp who owns everything and is ruining arts for everyone and we won't even 100% disagree with that - but this family will still go to Disneyland right now. Kind of a lot.

Of course, we'll go other places too. When the kids get older, Disney vacations will probably be less frequent and longer trips with more varied destinations will crop up. For now, an hour flight to the happiest place on Earth is too easy to pass up.

Everett, Obie O, and Stitch - February 2018

1. Toddlers have a blast at Disneyland.

Look, we waited until Everett was walking and that was probably a good choice. We've taken Imogen much younger incidentally, and she's always had a good time. There are tons of rides with no height requirement - more than 25, and we haven't even ridden them all yet in six trips. Then there are shows, parades, play areas, and characters. Our little kids have found big smiles in all those categories.

Will they have actual long-term memories of trips from when they were under three? No. Will we talk about it with them for weeks afterwards when they do remember? You bet. Will we have adorable pictures? YES WE WILL.

Riding Jessie's Critter Carousel (and loving it) - August 2019

2. It isn't too much work to schlep them around.

Elizabeth remembers saying she wouldn't take kids to Disney in a stroller. She was WRONG. Strollers are the best. A handy place for the kid to nap so you don't have to leave the park and a handy place to put all the stuff you need that no one wants to steal - like wipes, goldfish crackers, and extra kid clothes just in case.

Disneyland makes it EASY to have babies and toddlers there. Because they are smart. They have food our kids want to eat, changing tables everywhere, clean facilities, copious stroller parking, and you can even babywear on certain rides. It was a BREEZE having infant Imogen in the park and nursing her. We still haven't taken advantage of the Baby Center or taken a rest / nursing break in the Main Street Cinema for privacy and cooler air - two of the top tips we saw when researching "infant in Disneyland." Elizabeth just sat on a bench to nurse and people-watched while Chris and Everett rode a ride or something.

Meeting Mickey - February 2018

3. It's not cost-prohibitive.

Every family has to prioritize their spending. For us, we find it worth the money. Of course, if we had to do a cross-country flight we would see things differently. We're taking advantage of living close to Disneyland while we do - and Southwest fare sales.

Plus, the ability to stay with family instead of always requiring a hotel helps too.

Dumbo after dark (and sick of smiling for Mom) - August 2019

4. We can do it in a weekend.

We can do Disneyland in a long weekend, and that's how we like it. Yes, committing a full week and two weekends for a Disney vacation feels like a lot of time investment. Maybe we'll do that to go to WDW in a few years. For now, we usually take a four or five day weekend and have two park days. It's the perfect amount for our family right now. And it's one of the pluses of Disneyland over WDW - you CAN just take a day or two and not feel like you missed out on everything.

Watching "Mickey and the Magical Map" - February 2019

5. We can be more relaxed about "doing it all."

We'd be stressed six ways to Sunday if we tried to do it just once and do everything. We've been enough now that it is no big thing if we miss a few rides or shows, if something is closed for refurbishment, or if we just want a lower-key day. So we didn't ride "Peter Pan's Flight" - we'll catch it next time. Because we go frequently, there isn't that intense pressure to maximize every minute. Oh, the kids want to go play with some beads that hide a back door to a snack shop? Go for it.

Behind Fillmore's in Radiator Springs - February 2018 (and many times after that)

It means we take the time to see the live shows and savor treats and let the kids run around the playgrounds. And let us tell you - we've never been disappointed by the less flashy or famous attractions and activities they have.

Along the same lines - when the kids aren't tall enough to ride the "big rides," it frees up a lot of time for the less popular, but still magical, experiences.

Our first rodeo as Disneyland parents - April 2017

6. They are the right age for magic.

They still believe it. They can still be swept up in it. It is a whole new world experiencing those little eyes light up and those little jaws drop. Our hearts MELT. Big kids, teenagers, and young adults can all feel the Disney magic... but it's not like this for long.

Immy dances with Minnie - August 2019

7. They'll grow and the experience will change.

Everett just hit 40", so many of the new rides are available to him now. On his sixth trip to Radiator Springs in Disney California Adventure he was able to ride "Radiator Springs Racers" for the first time. Which he LOVED. He already loved Cars Land, and this new experience just made it that much better. There are still many of the "big rides" he hasn't tasted yet, and we're already excited about our next trip when we'll get to experience those with him.

In a couple years, Imogen will get the same experience of enjoying something she already loved THAT much more. And we'll love watching her.

Everett and Lightning McQueen - January 2020

8. We hang out with family.

Of all the trips we've had to Disneyland the past few years, exactly one park day was just our immediate family. We've had extended family with us on every other day. Chris's brother lives in SoCal, so it makes sense we've had the most park time with them. It's adorable to watch the cousins together.

For non-local family, sometimes it's nice to fly across the country and meet at a destination (like Disneyland!) instead of just hanging out with us in San Jose. Both are nice, but it's a good option with a built in plan of what we're going to do. We've been in Disneyland now with all of Chris's immediate family and all of Elizabeth's.

Thoma cousins - October 2018

9. Holidays at Disneyland bring EXTRA magic.

We've been at Lunar New Year, Halloween, and many moons ago Christmastime (NYE, actually). Disney really brings it for holidays and festivals, and we take advantage when we can. Everett saw a picture of us with "Dracula Mater" on a photo calendar and asked when we can see him again. Who knows? Maybe Halloween 2020!

"Monster Truck" Dracula Mater - October 2018

10. It doesn't take an inordinate amount of planning energy.

We just GO. Maybe we plan some stuff out because the anticipation is fun, but we don't need to. The Disneyland app has all the showtimes and allows us to order ahead food. We know where stuff is so we can just walk to the things we want to do.

Magic photo moments - January 2020

11. It's always been part of our story.

Of course, we didn't always go twice a year like the current cadence, but we always had a magical time. We were even there before we knew Elizabeth was pregnant with Oberon.

Our second anniversary, pregnant with Obie but didn't know it yet - April 2014

P.S. Our bright, bold, boundless Everett turned FOUR YEARS OLD this month. We love him so much, he's growing so fast. He started preschool and he's doing amazingly well - better than we could have expected! We're sure the bumps are coming, but for now it's smooth sailing. Oh yeah, and his birthday party? Disney's BOLT!

Everett is FOUR! January 7, 2020

Happy BOLT Birthday Party - January 11, 2020