Well, to set the record straight, we didn't exactly meet Mickey but we did just about everything else! We arrived in LA Friday evening after a long day trip. We couldn't leave until noon due to Steve finishing up his summer school class and turning in his grades so, that put us right in the middle of LA traffic upon our arrival. Luckily, we didn't hit any traffic until the last twenty miles. Yet sadly, the last twenty miles took us two hours!! I don't envy LA dwellers one single bit!
After some direction mishaps on my part, we pulled into a little Italian restaurant, Carolina's, down the street from our hotel where we met my parents for dinner. My Dad had done some "research" while waiting for us and he recommended this place. It proved to be a gem. When we arrived, it was 8 o'clock and we were all STARVING! My parents had ordered pizzas ahead of time for us and seriously held a table for an hour until we got there. They are saints I tell you. We devoured that pizza. It was the best pizza we have ever eaten. They also happened to have nearly 300 beers for sale. And since my husband is a beer connoisseur (aka Beer Snob as I call him), he felt totally blessed to go and find one of his favorite beers and enjoy it after an extremely long drive of baby screaming (for nearly the last two hours) and intense stop-and-go LA traffic. That night he won Best Dad/Husband of the Year Award for staying so calm. Seriously, it was some of his best stuff!
After our feast of amazing pizza, we all piled back into our Pilot (my parents included since they were smart and flew down yet as a result, were carless) which was a feat in itself since our car was packed with all of our stuff. I wish I would've gotten a picture of both of my parents sitting side by side in the front seat. They were adorable. But even more adorable was that my mom was so proud of herself that she got the seat beat buckled to ensure their safety! We were a total crack-up. Good thing we were just blocks from our hotel! My older brother and his family arrived right after us and the party began-which I will write more about next post.
Now for those of you who care to know some of the planning details of our trip, here is some of what we learned. Before we left, we made some strategic decisions that could've gone either way. Either they'd work out and we'd "look" brilliant or they wouldn't work out and we'd be up a creek. And I must say, my husband made the final calls on these things, and his reasoning did him credit. He was right. You see, brilliant!! Ha ha! For the most part, they worked out well and made our trip efficient and overall very reasonably priced.
Yet first and foremost, my parents picked up our hotel which made the whole thing possible in the first place. Without their generosity, we wouldn't have even been able to think about going. My Dad also got a decent discount on tickets from his work so that helped too. But after that, we knew we had to try and save cash because a Disneyland trip can drain you fast and most of all unknowingly. You know, a little churro here, a few ice creams there and before you know it, you're visiting every single ATM trying to keep up with the frozen lemonade demand coming from your kiddos. Plus, we have six mouths to feed which can add up quickly, if you know what I mean.
So we set the record straight from the beginning. We told the kids we would be having PB and J for lunch and that they'd get dinner and a treat from Disneyland later. One of our friends told us that was their strategy with their kids and it ended up working like a charm. So in turn, we brought a TON of food with us and it proved to be the best option. Not only does Disneyland let you bring in whatever food you want but we also found a way to refill our water bottles at the various water fountains so that we weren't buying $4 waters every twenty minutes (it was VERY hot). Buying dinner each day and a treat for the kids ended up making the trip really reasonable.
Secondly, we also decided to bring our double BOB. There were a lot of people there and the BOB is big so we were a bit wary-especially me. However, we know it turns on a dime and can weave through any crowd like a champ-- plus it has a ton of storage room. So we lugged it down with us. Therefore, when it came down to it, we had a stroller that could house all four kids if we needed (two can sit on the front) and all of our food. When we saw the strollers Disneyland offered for a decent fee, we were really stoked we brought our own stroller. That decision alone provided so much and saved us $50. It held all of our stuff and even gave the older boys a chance to rest from walking from time to time.
Lastly, we decided to walk to and from our hotel each day saving on parking, shuttle rides and adding to our overall exercise. We were a decent distance from the park (about two miles to the park entrance) but it proved to be a really fun option for us. I threw Elliana on my back into the ERGO and Steve pushed the three boys in the stroller. We were all hot and sweaty by the time we arrived and felt like we could eat ice cream that day without "paying for it!" Truthfully, we did it mostly for the exercise and not wanting to deal with our big stroller on a shuttle. Yet, it ended up being a really fun time of talking, laughing and prepping for the day. The only downside was that I was stuck at Disneyland. I felt like it was a really long walk to go back to the hotel just for naps so the two littles simply had to deal with it and try and sleep in the stroller. Joshy never did and merely skipped naps. That doesn't go over so well for him but, he survived. Both of them did just fine. And at the end of the day we were definitely tired but, we had to get back somehow...so it wasn't too bad to walk back.
These couple of things saved us and really added to the overall success of the trip. When you're paying beaucoup de bucks for the tickets, you really want the trip to be worth your while. And it was. It was an incredible time with family and an overall wonderful time. To be honest, we're already looking forward to next time.