Last week my family took a trip to Disneyland. This was more than just a Disneyland trip to us....it was the first vacation that we took, as a family of four, that did not include visiting our families. Both sides of our families live in different states, so whenever we take a trip it's to visit grandparents, aunt, uncles and cousins. Which is great. However, it was so nice to have a vacation all to ourselves. We only live 90 minutes from Anaheim, so it was very close. We had two days and one night there. It was A's first time in a hotel, and while it was D's third time, the last time he was in a hotel was when he was two, so this was his first hotel that he remembers.
We had so much fun! The first thing I did was buy an autograph book, which got used quite a bit. We met so many Characters, including Mickey Mouse, Alice, Tigger, Chip and Dale, and Goofy, among many others. Each time we met a Character we not only got their autograph, but we also posed for a picture with them. Of course, A tended to be frightened of the Characters, and wouldn't hug them. She would either bury her head in my chest, or just cry. We even met three Princesses (Ariel, Belle and Tiana) and she was NOT pleased about it. Poor baby was scared. When we returned from our trip, D taped each picture next to the appropriate signature. What a fun keepsake!
Many rides we did together as a family, but at different points we split up. D is now old enough to do the "big rides" at both Disneyland and California Adventure, such as Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and the Tower of Terror. So one parent would take D on the thrill rides (usually me, as I love thrill rides too...they are never fast enough or scary enough!) and the other parent took A on more toddler-friendly rides. We did eat all meals together, including a fun Character breakfast where we paid for the experience of having several Characters come to our table, and took in two parades.
D has recently gotten into the music of Michael Jackson, so it was special for me to take him to see Captain EO, which they have brought back since his death. I hadn't seen the show myself in about 20 years....and it really held up!
One really neat part of the trip was going to see the Jedi Training Academy. This was a show at Tomorrowland, and many kids got called on to go on stage. D is a Star Wars freak, and was beyond thrilled when he was one of the kids chosen to participate in the show! He got to wear the brown Jedi cloak, learn how to operate a lightsaber, and eventually fought Darth Vader all by himself. It was certainly a high point, and an experience I'm sure he will remember for a long time to come.
We got to use a special guest pass for A, meaning that we got to bring her stroller in line with us (which is usually prohibited), and for rides whose lines couldn't accomodate a stroller we got to jump ahead a bit (ie wait to enter at the ride's exit, which usually bypassed some people). Because we carried A's tracheostomy equipment in the stroller, in particular her suction pump, we didn't feel comfortable leaving it out with the other strollers. For one reason, what if someone stole the stroller with her medical equipment in it? And for another reason, what if she needed to be suctioned while in line? Luckily, Disneyland is very accommodating with guests with special needs of all sorts.
Being in the hotel itself was nice. We stayed at the Paradise Pier, which is on the Disney property. A is still in a crib at home (we ARE getting her a bed for her birthday though) and instead of bringing the pack-n-play, we let her sleep in bed with me, while D slept with J. At first, when we went to sleep, she was sobbing "I want go home" but eventually she fell asleep. She is just not used to being in a bed, and although she has been at relatives' homes before and been fine, this was clearly a different sort of place for her.
Being away with my family meant so much, and while I am looking forward to our next visits with family, I am very much looking forward to doing more short get-aways with just my husband and kids. It was great to bond, have fun, get away, and most of all, create fabulous memories together.