When we first moved to California, we took an impromptu trip to Disneyland. We had to go to LA to pick up our car that we had shipped from Germany and we still had an empty house because our stuff hadn’t arrived yet. So we figured we may as well turn the trip to get our car into a fun family vacation! It just so happened that our nieces and nephews in Texas had a school break at the same time, so they flew out and came with us! Getting in some more good cousin time after the kids had a blast together during the summer, was priceless! Here’s an overview of how we spent our 3 days in the parks.

We stayed off property at the Anabella Hotel. We got a great rate, I think around $89 a night, plus about $15 per night for parking. That rate is a perk of going during the slow season. We were able to walk to the parks from there.

Our first morning we headed straight to the Magic Kingdom. Our first few rides were Pirates of the Caribbean, the Jungle Cruise, and the Haunted Mansion. The big kids rode Indiana Jones while I took our daughter through Tarzan’s treehouse. You might be surprised at how many rides babies and toddlers can ride. And surprisingly none of the rides scared our little girl. Perhaps she was too young to know she should be scared!

After a dreadful experience in Disneyland Paris trying to meet princesses, I didn’t have high hopes for meeting princesses at Disneyland. But when we passed by the Princess Pavilion, the wait was only about 10 minutes and there were 3 princesses inside so I decided to give it a try. Luckily this time it went much better! She was still a bit shy and didn’t want me to put her down, but there weren’t any tears and she even seemed a little excited to see the princesses. This was encouraging since I was planning for her to also meet Anna and Elsa!

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After meeting princesses, we found a spot on Main Street and waited for Mickey’s Soundsational Parade to begin. While we were waiting, my Little Miss took a few strolls down Main Street, I’m pretty sure she thought all those people were sitting there to watch her!

That evening we stayed late to watch Fantasmic. It was a really exciting show and the perfect end to our first day at Disneyland. The next day began with the requisite meltdown:


Who knows what it was about, but meltdowns and tantrums are bound to happen…even at the Happiest Place on Earth! She rebounded quickly, thank goodness! The big kids wanted to do Buzz Lightyear and Space Mountain when we got in the park, so I went shopping for Mickey ears and then took my girl on a couple Fantasyland rides and then made my way to Toontown.

I didn’t realize that Toontown opened later than the rest of the park. So when I got there the rope was still up. A minute or two before 11:00 Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy, and Goofy all came out and mingled in the crowd! This was a total surprise to me and I was so disappointed that the rest of the family wasn’t there because my little girl just lit up and got so excited to get a hug from Minnie. And I wasn’t able to take any pictures of it because I was holding her! Lesson learned!

The other great thing about being there at that time is we walked right into Minnie’s house and did not have to wait at all for pictures. We caught Pluto on his way to take a break. I was so surprised how much my daughter loved these characters. She didn’t really know who they all were before going, and she was intimidated by the princesses. However, she had no hesitation giving these guys big hugs! Later we met back up with everyone and got our group shot with Mickey!

After all this, it was about time for our reservation at the Blue Bayou. If you’ve never been to Disneyland, this is a fancy-pants restaurant that overlooks the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. The atmosphere is really magical, like you’re really out on the bayou. The food is also delicious, not your typical theme park fare. If you want to dine here be prepared for the steep prices and make sure you make a reservation well in advance! We got lucky with an opening the day prior, but we were also there in the slow season. Something else magical happened during the meal, our daughter fell asleep on the table! This NEVER happens, and has not happened since! Most of the time she either has to be in bed, in the stroller, or in the carseat to sleep. All the excitement must have really gotten to her!


That afternoon was spent at California Adventure. The big kids rode Tower of Terror a few times, and we took a spin the big Mickey wheel. At that time they were doing refurbishments on World of Color so we weren’t able to see it.

The next morning we went back to California Adventure. We raced to get Fast Passes for the Anna and Elsa meet and greet and then raced to get Fast Passes for Radiator Springs Racers. While the big kids re-rode the Tower of Terror, Moms and little kids took a spin on the carousel, and on Toy Story Midway Mania.

The Anna and Elsa meet and greet went well. My girl wasn’t as excited as I thought she would be but I think that was partly due to timing. Our Fast Pass time was for lunch/nap time, so she seemed a bit out of it. We also met Olaf at California Adventure and he gave us a nice warm hug!

Maybe the most fun my little girl had that whole day was that evening after dinner. The big kids were riding Tower of Terror…again, so it was just her and her cousin. He busted out the lightsabers and she thought they were the funniest thing she’d ever seen. We sat at the tables watching these two cousins crack up at waving their lightsabers around and knocking cups off the table. Hilarious!




One more little piece about our trip. Uncle L decided our little girl needed this giant Olaf balloon. What I mean by that is, he thought it would be hilarious to watch my hubby (his brother) drag this inconvenient monstrosity through the crowds. A word to the wise: if you are going to get a balloon, get it at the end of the day so you don’t have to deal with it hitting you and other people in the face. But the bonus is, this balloon lasted a good month after our trip. Making it a very worthwhile souvenir in my opinion!

We had so much fun at Disneyland, and we were so happy that family could join us on such short notice! It was a trip that we will remember for a long, long, time and hopefully not the last one! I’m in the midst of planning one more trip to Disneyland before we move back to Europe…stay tuned for more on that!