Trip Report To Disneyland, with Love: A June 2013 Trip Report

What can I say, Disneyland?! I’m writing you this love letter because you managed to steal a little piece of my heart. The time we spent with you last summer was unbelievably magical for this little family of ours.

Seeing how long it’s been since my last trip report, I may be a new face to some of you! I’m Holly and traveling with me are my dreamer of a husband, Brett, and our little dreamboat, Lucas. More than ever, we’re loving life as a party of three. A little background for those of you who may not be aware… in June Brett completed a five-month professional internship with the Walt Disney Company. Over the course of those five months, Lucas and I were only able to spend a total of seven days with him. To say we missed the man would be the understatement of the century. And I feel certain this is why Disneyland settled so sweetly within my heart, it was the adventure that landed in our laps mere days after his return.

So, how’d this happen? Well, in early June a work-related trip to the west coast came across my desk. Not wanting to miss out on a great opportunity, I floated the idea out to Brett and we decided we must throw caution to the wind, pack up our tiny little human, and hop on a plane bound for Anaheim. There was a new adventure awaiting us on the horizon.

I booked our flights on June 12th and five days later we were en route to LAX. How’s that for last minute?! There was no planning, no spending days pouring over park maps and guidebooks, no stressing out over every last detail of the trip, and no perusing the internet for all the must-dos. There was none of that. What there was though was an excitement for something new, something unknown and magical waiting just for us. Can I let you in on a little secret? These are my FAVORITE kind of trips!

This trip report is for you, Disneyland, your magical highness!



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Day 1 – Monday, June 17th: GSP > MDW > LAX > Disneyland!

I was crazy nervous about the flight. CRAAAAZY NERVOUS. Less than two weeks prior, Lucas had had tubes put in his ears and here we were putting him on a cross-country flight. But my worry was all for naught, because this little guy was a dreamboat; albeit, a handful, but a dreamboat nonetheless. We couldn’t have asked for a better traveling babe.



We touched down in LA, found baggage claim and hopped on a shuttle for the west coast’s version of our happy place. We checked into the Fairfield Inn on Harbor Boulevard around mid afternoon. I’m not going to lie, being the resort snobs we are, it sucked not being at one of the Disney resorts, but even with a CM discount we couldn’t get the nightly rate into a reasonable enough range for me to warrant it on the company dime. So Fairfield Inn, it was. But next time, oh, next time, Grand Californian, you’re ours.

Not wanting to waste any time, we grabbed some essentials and took off on foot for Disneyland.

Now, for a little aside… standing at the intersection, I reached for my camera to take a photo of the entrance sign and I could no longer feel its weight around my neck. Turns out, my camera strap broke at the precise moment I grabbed for the camera and I somehow managed not to drop it. Whew! Close call. Sadly, that was only the first of three major camera-related incidents of the trip. The second happened on night two of our trip, when Brett went to upload the day’s photos to my external hard drive and his laptop wouldn’t recognize the drive. It wasn’t until a few weeks later, after it was in the hands of some professionals, that we learned the scope of damage done. While they were able to recover 90% of the drive’s storage (at a price that even I still can’t believe I was willing to pay), the other 10% experienced physical damage that could not be restored. The third camera-related issue? I was having problems with storage space on my iPhone (even though there should’ve been plenty) that was keeping me from taking photos, so the night before the hard drive went down we uploaded everything off my phone in an attempt to basically reboot it. So, many of those photos were also amongst the ones lost. Sigh! Considering how bad it could’ve been, I’m extremely grateful for all the great photos we do have.

Okay then, back to the magic… we found ourselves standing in the middle of the Esplanade, giddy with excitement. “Are we really here? Yes! We’re really here. How’d this happen?!” Less than ten days ago, Brett was still in WDW and this trip wasn’t even in the realm of possibility. With goofy smiles on our faces we couldn’t believe our good fortune. We were about to experience the Disneyland Resort for the first time. Together. As a family of three.


I’m forever thankful that the above photo was not affected by the damage. For it is the photo that takes my heart back to that exact moment in time, to that feeling of awe and wonder and pinch-me-is-this-really-happening excitement that we were feeling as we walked between the parks!

Then a well-meaning passerby offered to take one for us... we happily obliged.


This was a four-night trip, and initially our plan was to spend the first day getting settled in, explore the resorts and DTD the second day (after my morning business meeting), and go to each of the parks the last two days. But you all know that was a terrible plan though, right? Standing on the Esplanade, we quickly came to the same realization… we were going to need three days’ worth of tickets – there was no way we were going to be able to keep ourselves out of those parks that first full day. No way!

With that settled, we took off at lightning speed to experience the resorts and Downtown Disney that first evening. Jet-lagged, but supremely happy!




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Woohoo! So glad you are posting this! :D

So kind of the passerby to take a family photo for you, but the selfie definitely wins. :)


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We stopped in the courtyard of the Grand Californian to take it all in and marvel again at our good fortune. Brett was absolutely smitten with this resort upon first crossing the threshold. It felt a little too “Wilderness Lodge” to me at first, but I quickly came around later in the week when I fell in love with California Adventure and realized I could waltz right into the park from our resort if we were staying there.






After taking in the Grand Californian and perusing some of the shops in Downtown Disney, we meandered over to the Disneyland Resort with plans of dinner at the Tangaroa Terrace. It was a little slice of Polynesia right there on the west coast! And if you know me, you know that no Disney related venture is complete without some Poly love.







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We grabbed a flatbread pizza and some sort of fried fish (you’ll have to forgive me I didn’t take any notes on this trip). The pizza was delish, but the fish left a lot to be desired. Luckily, they came with some sweet potato fries. And if one thing is for certain, it’s that my son LOVES sweet potatoes, so those were a big hit!


Next stop was Trader Sam’s.




Don’t worry… we didn’t take a baby in a bar! We grabbed a couple seats on the terrace and each wandered into Trader Sam’s to scope out the place and get some drinks. Speaking of babe’s, this one was the epitome of dreaminess the entire time.





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I've been a quiet lurker on here for the past few years but just had to comment! You guys look just so smitten in these pictures! What great memories you guys must be making with your little man. Can't wait to read the rest!


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We wandered around the resort enjoying our drinks and the fabulous weather!





LOVED the Mary Blair murals:







Feeling the effects of a full day’s travel, we headed back through Downtown Disney, across the Esplanade and to Harbor Boulevard on the other side. Lucas was beyond tired. And let’s be honest, his parents were too. We wanted to make sure we started off on the right foot the next morning, so we called it a night.


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What an adorable family. I'm looking forward to reading your report.

Thanks, Raven! I'm looking forward to posting it.

Woohoo! So glad you are posting this! :D

So kind of the passerby to take a family photo for you, but the selfie definitely wins. :)

Hi, friend!! Gotta love the selfie shots... they always win.

YAY! So glad you're writing this!! I am heading to Disneyland for the first time with Mom and Ashley in April so this is PERFECT timing!! Other than reading @WDWFigment 's blog and @Disneyfalcon 's TR, I haven't done much research!! More, more, more!!!! :)

Darolyn!! Oh how fun, I'm so excited for you ladies - a cruise next month and Disneyland in April?! Life is good!!

I've been a quiet lurker on here for the past few years but just had to comment! You guys look just so smitten in these pictures! What great memories you guys must be making with your little man. Can't wait to read the rest!

Thanks, Kait! I've become quite the quiet lurker myself the last year or two. Smitten is the perfect word... we were just so darn excited to be there!


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Day 2 – Tuesday, June 18th: Disneyland, USA!

As expected, we all woke up at a ridiculous hour on Tuesday morning… east coast time, ya’ll! Determined to move things along, I headed out to my meeting early in the hopes that I could wrap it up quickly and get back to more important things... like Main Street, USA. It worked, and I was back at the hotel before lunchtime.

Brett and Lucas picked up our park tickets, grabbed some breakfast, and wandered around Downtown Disney and the Paradise Pier hotel while I was gone. Someone may have even taken a nap.


After a quick change of clothes we were on our way... it was shaping up to be a beautiful day!



Wait… where’s Sleeping Beauty castle?


“Geez, Dad! Stop squeezing me so hard… what’s the big deal?!”


And a super-duper excited trio shot in front of the castle castle…


Well, some of us were super-duper excited and others of us were frustrated with our parents for all the squinting we were doing!




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Yay!! I love reading your reports! So jealous that you got to go to Disneyland. We have a DCL/WDW trip planned in June, then hopefully our next big trip will be to California! I can't believe how big Lucas is in your pics, I can't even imagine how big he is now! I hope you have better luck with the ear tubes than we did! My 5 year old just had his 4th set put in on Christmas Eve day! Can't wait to read more!


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Brett grabbed our food while Lucas and I found an out of the way place to get out of the stroller and get out some energy. This kid started walking at 10 months... and by the time Brett got home from his internship (11 months to the day), he was really feeling confident. I joked that this trip would’ve been much easier if Lucas had been at that stage where he enjoyed standing up to things but wasn’t quite confident enough yet to take off. But alas, if anything, he was overconfident, a bit wobbly still, but on the move! It’s one of my favorite memories though, chasing him around that little seating area outside Aladdin’s Oasis, while trying to eat.






So let’s get something straight before we go any further... we had VERY low expectations of this trip with regards to accomplishing things (attractions, restaurants, shows, etc.). This was mostly due to our October 2012, February 2013, and April 2013 trips to the World. You see, Lucas spent the first eleven months of his life fighting double ear infections all day every day and all night every night. Ear infections might not sound like a big deal, but they’re surprisingly painful and result in sleep deprived babies and parents. Neither of which make for great company! As many of you may have read in my October WDW report, we were in survival mode for the duration of our trip. Our February and April trips weren’t that much different. They were better because we had learned how to better manage them, but when it came to “accomplishing” trip related goals, we learned to set very few.

So we went into this trip with an understanding that there was no way we could see and do everything. In fact, we went into it knowing that we probably wouldn’t even get to ride all the unique attractions to the west coast parks. And we were okay with this. We were happy just to have the chance to take in the ambiance and visit the famed Disneyland Resort. If we were lucky, we thought, we would maybe get to single ride a few things... Indiana Jones and Radiator Springs Racers were the ones at the top of a very short list. So, after devouring the Bengal Barbecue skewers, we tucked Lucas back into his stroller, grabbed fastpasses for Indy and went on our merry way, exploring the park.


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Can we talk about how weird it is to be in a familiar, yet foreign, place?! It’s like, we knew where everything was, and yet, it had been turned on its axis thirty degree northwest.

In some areas we really felt like the pathways were much narrower and harder to maneuver through, especially being stroller people now. Adventureland felt a little cramped, but the feeling really started in New Orleans Square and continued as we headed into Critter Country, Frontierland and Fantasyland. Of course it didn’t help that there were walls up all around Big Thunder, really taking away from the vibe of the land. It was a bit frustrating when trying to navigate through a busy park, but I can certainly see the appeal to having more winding walkways and changes in elevation. From a “show” perspective, I loved it.








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Frontierland dropped us off in the famed Fantasyland of the west coast. I was wishing for our morning back – how nice it would’ve been to see it for the first time in the A.M. when the crowds are low. It was maddeningly crowded so we wandered around looking for a Lucas-sized attraction that didn’t have a crazy wait. I recall really wanting to ride the Storybook Canal boats and Small World while in the area but both were down.

I’m sorta loving Sleeping Beauty’s quaint castle. Understated and elegant. Am I right, or am I right?!







This adorableness happened while we were on the hunt for a good family ride…



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And so we wandered around some more. While I enjoyed Sleeping Beauty castle, the Matterhorn was the real star of Disneyland, in my opinion.




Although we hadn’t ridden it at this point, I was starting to fall a little bit in love with the Matterhorn – she’s such a beauty. She even looked pretty great as a corrupted Technicolor file:


When Lucas woke up we hopped on Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, as it was a Disneyland specific ride and walk-on. Not on my short list, but hey, I’ll take what I can get. It’s hard to “review” it, as I don’t really remember it that much. Hah... maybe that alone tells the story.




Next up was Toontown U.S.A., where Brett wanted to ride Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin, and I just wanted to find some shade for Lucas as it was the hottest part of the day. We didn’t get to spend too much time exploring, but I really enjoyed the attention to detail in this land and the toon focus, as opposed to the part-country fair, part-toonness of the old counterpart at WDW.



Lucas doesn’t scare easily. He has no fear of the dark, loud noises never bother him, and popping up from behind something only serves to make him giggle like crazy, not startle, so color us both surprised when Brett grabbed this door and Lucas’ lower lip started to tremble. Oops!



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Yay, Holly! I remember you from two years back, and I always loved your reports, especially your wedding one. Glad to see you are back.


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The line for Roger Rabbit was ridiculous so we just found a shady spot to sit down for a while. Lucas tried his best to move these bricks, but he just wasn’t quite strong enough.




Eventually, we made our way back to Adventureland, where we trekked through Tarzan’s Treehouse before returning to Indy with our fastpasses.




Look at Tarzan, rocking that mirror shot.



Brett rode the much loved adventure while this happy boy and I got out some energy.


Then we swapped places and I went to ride. Add me to the list of supporters who feel that Indy easily trumps Dinosaur. I found that the track/technology lent itself so well to the Indiana Jones storyline and from what I could tell of it, the queue was rife with great details. Awesome as the queue may be though, I think I’ll always prefer the ever-campy pre-show at the Dino Institute. I mean, Dr. Marsh and Dr. Seeker get quoted on the regular at our house, and you just can’t beat that kind of thing.


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