Thursday, December 25, 2008

Disneyland at Christmas

08 - WWYC_LOGO I still can't believe how much fun we had at Disneyland! Disneyland and California Adventure are really amazing places to visit during the holiday season. I had the opportunity to visit the parks with Chip and Lulu on three different days this month. We started out at an event for Mom Bloggers at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. This was the first time I'd been in the hotel and I was really impressed. It is beautiful and reminds me of a big craftsman-style lodge. There were Christmas Carolers all dressed in costume in the lobby and Chip got a real kick out of it. At the Mom Blogger event, Chip and Lulu got to spend quality time with Mickey Mouse and Goofy all decked out in their Christmas Sweaters. It was a fabulous event and I learned a lot about what the park has to offer at Christmas and what the plans are for 2009. I can't wait to tell you all about it!

Immediately following the blogger event, we were escorted into Disneyland! It was the first time I had been to Disneyland during the holidays. Wow, it is so amazing. The Christmas tree at the start of Main Street is amazing. The lights and decorations are spectacular. Sleeping Beauty's Castle is lit up in a lilac/icicle extravaganza that is impossible to describe. So please check out the videos below to see for yourself! At the end of Main Street, we were brought to a private viewing area for the bloggers where we were in prime position to view the fireworks display. It is one of the best fireworks displays I have ever seen. The sky totally lights up just above the castle. Be sure to get into position early as people start looking for good spots about 45 minutes before the show actually begins. That night we also had the chance to take a ride on Autopia which is Chip's favorite. It was such a blast to drive through the cool December air in our car as we made our way around the track. Reality hit that I needed to get the babies home to bed so we headed out looking forward to our next visit.

We returned the following week with my friend Heather and her daughter Bella, age 4 and son Harrison, 20 months. This was the best day at Disneyland EVER! We did and saw so much. We started out on Pirate's of the Caribbean which is one of my favorite rides. Chip is on a big pirate kick lately, so this was a dream come true for him. Next we headed over to Santa's Reindeer Round-up at Big Thunder Ranch. We ended up hanging out here for quite a while because it was so much fun. In here you can visit Santa in his house and check out all his reindeer in their corral. Chip and Bella stood on bales of hay at the fence and got such a kick out of the reindeer. Further into the Round-up is a large picnic table area and stage. There are various shows throughout the day. Also in that area is a cookie decorating stand. Chip and Bella both chose Christmas Tree shaped cookies to decorate. The kit comes with frosting in two colors, sprinkles, miniature candy canes and M & M's. They both had such a blast working on their creations. Also in that area were cast members coordinating all kinds of kid activities including coloring projects.

The best part for me was that the costumed characters entered and exited right near our table. We got to meet: Santa, Mrs. Claus, Pluto, Chip & Dale and Clarabelle Cow. Chip (my son) ended up totally hanging out with Pluto for quite a while because there weren't many other people around trying to meet him. Chip (the chipmunk) & Dale are my favorite characters. I finally learned how to tell them apart! Chip has a brown nose and Dale has a red nose. A cast member gave me a tip to remember who is who: Chip has a chocolate chip nose. We next headed over to catch "A Christmas Fantasy" Parade which is held daily at 3:30pm and 6:30pm. We staked out a prime location near "It's a Small World". The parade is absolutely amazing! Every character is in it and the music and dancing is magical. I learned some fun facts about the parade: Each performance of “A Christmas Fantasy” features 105 performers, 18 float drivers and 12 musicians, costumed as toy soldiers from the Disney movie “Babes in Toyland.” In all, approximately 200 performers appear in the parade. Lately, Chip has been really fascinated with Gingerbread Men. The parade featured a bunch of Gingerbread Men dancing which caused Chip to hoot and holler and jump up and down. So funny to watch him. Following the parade we headed straight over to "It's a Small World". The ride has just been refurbished and is better than ever. For the holidays, the ride is transformed into a worldwide celebration of the season. You can't help smiling for the whole ride. Lulu absolutely loved it proving that even an 11 month old has fun at Disneyland.

Next we went over to the Disney Princess Fantasy Faire where you can meet real live Disney Princesses! This was so exciting for Bella, she got to meet Mulan, Belle and Aurora. To be honest, I didn't know any of them, but got to up to speed very quickly. You get to spend time with each princess and have your picture taken with them. You can take your own picture as well as have the Disney photographer take it. They have a new Photopass program that is really neat. Every time you get your picture taken by a Disney photographer, you hand them a card that is linked to your account. They scan it and your pictures are uploaded to the Disney Photopass website. You log into the site and can view your pictures, order prints, e-mail pictures to your friends and family, and make things like cups and calendars. I made a holiday e-card that I believe is viewable for 30 days. We were excited to learn about the reopening of Sleeping Beauty's Castle after being closed for the past 7 years. You can walk through the castle and see Sleeping Beauty's story updated with new special effects. We next headed over to New Orleans Square for dinner at my favorite restaurant, The French Market. Chip and I shared a yummy chicken, mashed potatoes and veggies plate. After a long day with 3 toddlers and a baby, Heather and I headed home agreeing that we had such a great day and couldn't wait to come back.

We still had one day left on our Park Hopper tickets so we headed back this past Friday for our final visit. Park Hopper tickets allow you to "hop" back and forth between Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure Park. This trip, we were accompanied by Chip and Lulu's babysitter, Jessica, who was home from school for winter break. We arrived in the early afternoon and could tell the place was hopping. We ended up parking on the roof of the Mickey and Friends parking structure which is higher than I've ever had to park! Undaunted we entered Disneyland and went on The Astro Orbitor in Tomorrowland, per Chip's request. Jessica and Chip went in one rocket and Lulu and I grabbed another. That's the great thing about Disneyland, babies can go on most of the rides. Since we loved the "A Christmas Fantasy" Parade so much the last time, we strolled over to "It's a Small World" to stake out a good spot. Following the parade, we went right over to Disney's California Adventure Park just in time to catch the "Pixar Play" Parade. This parade is so fun, it includes all the Pixar characters from Disney films such as Toy Story, Finding Nemo and Ratatouille! Next we took a couple of rides on King Triton's Carousel and visited "A Bug's Land" which is the perfect area for babies and toddlers. I really love the food choices over at California Adventure, we had yummy chocolate chip cookies and coffee drinks at Baker's Field Bakery and really good pizza at Pizza Oom Mow Mow. To end our day, we walked over to Downtown Disney to do some Christmas shopping.

Coming up in 2009, Disney is offering for the first time: Come to a Disney park on your birthday and get in free! For birthday celebrations, they have cakes in pink jewelry boxes for girls and in blue treasure chests for boys. You can request that this be added to your meal.

Whew! What an amazing time we had at Disneyland this month. The Holiday Celebration continues through January 4, 2009 so there is still plenty of time to visit! Here are a couple of videos to help you plan your trip:


April said...

The girls and I love that area near Thunder Mountain. They always have fun stuff for the kids to do. Glad you had such a great time!

Mariah said...

Disney is so great in the winter...Too bad my kids are getting SO OLD! I need to adopt a younger one to have fun with again

Andrea Frazer said...

Was referred to you through someone in your moms group - Cynthia. So glad you had a great time!

Unknown said...

We went to Disney the last Sunday of our winter vacation and your comments were helpful! Such a big place to be wandering around without a preview. Thanks!

heathergothitched said...

Thanks Elizabeth for taking us to Disneyland, truly the most magical place on earth! Bella and Harrison had the time of their lives! (All 4 years for her and 21 months for him!) I think it's even more magical during the holidays and I hope everyone gets a chance to visit at least once during this time of year!

Love always,