Based on how much fun our second trip to Disneyland was this year, I might have to re-think the title of this post. I already got a few, “You went to Disneyland again!? Why!?” Not that Disneyland joy needs defending in any way, but after a 5-year drought of not going to Disneyland, our first trip as parents was so unexpectedly awesome that we basically wanted to return right when we started driving away.
This was definitely a week-of, unexpected trip—we had initially planned a family trip to Carmel to celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary, but I was sick, and we decided long amounts of time in the car with an infant and toddler while being under the weather wouldn’t be the happiest anniversary present…especially if it was just for a night or two. 😉 We’d danced around with the idea of taking the girls to Disneyland for a second time this year, and Aaron decided we should just go for it.
All of the on-park hotels were already booked, so we went with the Courtyard Marriott. I can’t keep quiet about how much I enjoyed staying here—it’s only a few months old (so my inner germaphobe was celebrating the cleanliness,) the walk from your room to being inside Disneyland is about 10 minutes, the beds are so comfy, it has a really nice, attached waterpark for little ones, and our room came with a breakfast nook. I brought a toaster, some bagels, cream cheese, blueberries, and bananas so that we would have a simple breakfast every morning, since my girls get hangry the moment they wake up and need food…stat! (They got that from me!)
We got Sadie a new carseat for the drive, and a few dvds for Hadley to enjoy. Overall, it wasn’t a bad road trip at all. We left way too early for my liking (up at 2:30am, some difficulties…then finally a 3:45am departure,) but we made it to our hotel by around 11, then opted to immediately get the girls and ourselves down for a nap so we could get to the park around 2. We met up with our awesome friends (the ones who also joined us on trip #1) and we explored Carsland, got a bacon mac n’cheese cone (don’t knock it ’til you try it!) and went on a few rides. We quickly discovered the girls were as big of fans as their mama is of The Enchanted Tiki Room! Who ever knew that little animatronic birds singing sweet melodies could bring little ones so much joy!? We grabbed an Olaf cake-pop for Hadley (oh so many rules go out the door when you’re at Disneyland!) and a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie from Pooh Corner’s bakery, watched the fireworks, and called it a night.
My biggest concern this time around was how Sadie would do. She is active, crawling, and loves to roam all over on her little hands and feet. I was so pleased by how much the visual stimulation was enough for her, so she was as easy as could be. The Ergobaby (I prefer the original over the 360) saved the day, as many naps happened in that…oh, and I definitely still took advantage of nursing and diaper-changing at the wonderful baby care centers in both parks (although by a landslide I prefer the one in the Disneyland Park over DCA.)
Some tidbits of joy from the rest of the trip:
-The Jolly Holiday Cafe: oh my goodness, their grilled cheese and tomato soup were divine! We loved it so much we went two out of the three nights we were there.
-The Wonderful World of Color, Winter Dreams Edition: Olaf is a big hit in our house, so we all enjoyed seeing the beautiful water show to the tune of fun Christmas music!-All of the holiday decor! Even though I spent a majority of my childhood/teenagehood in Southern California, but my dad always opted out of Christmastime trips to Disneyland due to crowds. I loved getting to see how much festivity was in as many places as possible, especially the “Jingle” Cruise.
-We had a pretty epic photobombing situation. Yes, my bearded hipster friend, you made it to my blog! haha! -I bought my first pair of mouse ears…ever! I also grabbed a pair for my friend, because she’s too sweet for words and she has never had a pair either. 😉 -Critter Country–why can’t it be bigger!? It’s just so cute, quaint, and I love the little forest animal feeling you get everywhere. (Don’t get me started on the goodness of the Pooh Corner Bakery, either!)
-Having wonderful friends that enjoy being with our girls almost as much as we do! And it only gets better that they’re basically Disneyland experts (if you are on Instagram, check out @thedisneydudek2, that’s our friend and he takes beautiful pictures of the parks..they’ve been featured by Disneyland!) They would take turns on a few rides so we could do the rider-swap and enjoy a few rides without the little ones.
-Getting to meet up with my Aunt Julie on our last day there! She is so sweet and delightful, and I loved getting to catch up with her over some delicious soup and sandwiches. We got to talk and walk around Downtown Disney together, and she surprised the girls with a few treats.
-Minnie Mouse! Yes, I waited in the (what felt like 200*) sun for 45 minutes while the others explored so that Hadley could meet her. It. Was. So. Worth. It. She was speechless and couldn’t take her eyes off her. They high-fived, and basically every night since, when I am getting my bedtime snuggle on with Hadley I hear the recount of, “Mama, Minnie Mouse is soooo nice. She likes me. We hive-five.” 🙂 -The Fireworks. Unbelievable. To think they put on a fireworks show like that for their guests every night!? Leave it to Disneyland.
-Hadley went on a rollercoaster. And not just a little tiny baby putt-putt coaster, but one that seemed pretty intense. Anddddd she loved it. That little one is fearless, I tell you! 🙂
Some “mom tips” I learned this time around:
-Bringing breakfast! Gosh, that helped! Aaron looked at me like I was a madwoman when I said I am bringing our toaster, but guess who ended up loving freshly-toasted bagels every morning? Hmmm? 🙂 I also brought paper plates and enough disposable knives for each morning. Only regret: not bringing good coffee creamer!
-Nap breaks are worth it. As much as it stinks leaving the park mid-day, if you want to stay for the fireworks, there’s a major payoff in letting your little ones get some quality rest so they are recharged or at least somewhat coherent for the evening. (Oh, and if you have a baby/child that can sleep anywhere, I officially
hate envy you!) 😉
-Go to the baby center! It’s a nice little break to take with your baby, even if my breaks are now only about 5 minutes, we can get some quality snuggles in and have some quiet time together.
-Pack snacks! I am sure this is a big “duh” to a lot of you, but I didn’t do this the first trip, and I am so glad I did this time! I love having healthy snacks on hand but being able to indulge in a few treats at the park. I made individual snack-sized ziplocks for the girls of: nuts (for Hadley,) dried berries, graham crackers, etc.
-Pouches for baby! Another “duh,” but were these ever a lifesaver! It was sort of my “insurance policy” if I was thinking Sadie didn’t get enough nutrients from food for the day. I packed about 3 pouches per day for her.
-Oil up! I recently started dabbling in essential oils (cue the eye roll, haha) and I brought our diffuser to use in the hotel room. Having your hotel room smell like a spa with peppermint and lavender isn’t too bad of a touch to make sure your zzzzz’s are really nice, right? Also, I rubbed Thieves on my feet every night and was the only one in my family who didn’t come back with a cold…coincidence!? 😉
-Bring lots of blankies. Aside from the toaster, I got majorly judged by Aaron for bringing a ton of blankets. “We don’t need all of these!”- Aaron…”Yes, yes we do.”-Me. I won’t even go into detail, but each one was used, whether as a window shade from the blaring I-5 sun, a sleep cue in the form of their favorite blankies, or my own comfort to snuggle with, or some added privacy for attempted stroller naps. If in doubt, just bring some of your favorite blankies!
-This time, we put Sadie in the bathroom in her pack n’ play with a nightlight and white noise machine. She slept like a baby (pun intended) and didn’t get disturbed during naptime.
-Have a stroller with a snack tray! This often doubled as Sadie’s highchair, or snackstraction (snacks to distract from moments of baby anger!) and was beyond helpful!
-Disposable placemats: these came in handy more than I imagined, since during the times where Sadie was able to eat in an actual high chair, we could just put food all over it and not fear for a germ party!-We drove home around 3pm—right when the girls would normally be taking naps. We did it on purpose, so they’d be super tired, sleep, wake up and have some Chipotle over the Grapevine, and then go back to bed…and it happened just like that! 🙂
I could go on an on forever, but I seem to have already done that, so I should stop while I am ahead!
Thanks for reading!
(You can follow along with my of my shenanigans on my Instagram @henleyandhadley) 🙂