After beginning our day at 4 a.m., we arrived in Orange County, California just after 1 p.m. on Sept. 23. When we got to our hotel around 2 p.m., they told us it wouldn't be ready until 4:00. So off we went for some ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery, then to check out Downtown Disney. And what a great thing that is. You feel like you're at Disneyland without having to use your tickets. It's got the World of Disney store, along with dozens of other stores, plus lots of restaurants.
Lily and Nana are the shoppers in the family, while Chris and I typically only shop when we need something (or have gift certificates or gift cards to use up, though after seeing this, that's hard to do, too). So, for Lily's first purchase – with the $25 Grandma and Grandpa sent her for spending money – was a Minnie Mouse ears hat. Nana also couldn't resist the urge to spend and got Lily a Minnie Mouse t-shirt and a Peter Pan playset. After a bit more walking and window shopping, we went back to the hotel to settle in.
|Nana and Lily play Peter Pan while Finn cools himself in his diaper.|
Anyway, we grabbed some supper at a nearby restaurant and went back to the room, put the kids to bed, headed to Target to buy a cheap stroller and snacks, drinks, etc., then caught some ZZZs before our first day (of four) at the happiest place on earth.
The next morning, we grabbed some "refreshments" at the complimentary breakfast, then went to line up for the 9 a.m. opening. It's funny. They have this completely understated sign (above); no inkling of what's in store for us. You first walk through these tents and get your bags checked for glass, etc. And then, since we had e-tickets we bought online, we passed the ticket booths and went to stand in line for the gates to open. They open a half hour before the park opens, so we waited.
You get in and see this, the train station I believe, all original from 1955. And this was just an inkling of what was to come.
And so we entered.
The detail of every single building on Main Street was perfect. 99% of them were all shops (no false fronts) with merchandise, candy, snacks and tonnes of specialty items like the magic store or the photo shop or the baby centre. It was pristine, clean and authentic. There were people waving and welcoming us. It was the best retro design I've ever seen collectively. The typography on every building was perfectly kerned. I have never seen such keen attention to detail anywhere – and likely never will again.
I thought Lily might burst. All that waiting, waiting, waiting.
But it was so worth it. Upon the official opening, we proceeded through Sleeping Beauty's castle to spend the entire day in Fantasyland. Our first ride was one of the longer waits we had to endure, maybe 10 or 15 minutes. Peter Pan's Flight was really lovely. We hopped onto a pirate ship and sailed through the children's nursery, flew through the stars, by Peter Pan and the children, by the pirates.
Then the tea cup ride. Actually the Mad Hatter tea party tea cup ride. Next was the Matterhorn Bobsleds roller coaster. Lily loved it, but was disappointed she didn't get wet! We hit It's a Small World which was so, so awesome; Finn woke up from his nap in the middle and was just mystified as to why all these little people were dancing and singing all around us... Bought an autograph book, then went back towards the castle.
Went through Sleeping Beauty's castle. It was dark with lots of very neat effects. You look through these windows and see scenes from the movie; they're 3-dimensional with animation thrown in for effect – like the dragon's flames. Then headed back towards the castle where we met Mulan. Well, Chris, Finn and I met Mulan.
While I fed Finn, Chris and Lily hit the Snow White ride and the Pinocchio ride. When they came back, we saw Princess Aurora trying to hurry away from her castle. Lily and Chris caught her, had her sign the autograph book, then I took their picture with her. Nice.
After King Arthur's carousel and the Dumbo ride (below), we headed back to the hotel for some lunch, then rest and swimming. Headed back a few hours later. Wandered over to Innoventions for an hour or so, caught the end of the parade, Celebrate! A Dance Party (where we saw Alice, the Mad Hatter and Stitch busting some moves), then had supper at the Plaza Inn before retiring for the night because it would be another big day the next day...this time driving an hour and a half to Temecula, California.
To be continued...