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Heather Tanner -- February 2005 -- Disneyland (Offsite)


  • Heather, 32 - expert. Trip Report Writer. Spent many, many childhood vacations and at least one semester of college in Disneyland!
  • Carl, 37 - my dear husband. This was his 4 or 5 trip to Disneyland.
  • Josh, 1 - his first Disney trip, ever!!!
  • Grandma, younger than any of us - If it’s Disney, she’s there. Throw in her first grandson, and she’s there, even if not invited!! (Just kidding!)
  • Uncle Will, 34, my brother. He knows Disneyland like the backside of water.


We stayed at the Ramada Inn Maingate. At $50 per night/per room, it was just the right price. Nothing fancy, and certainly not the Wilderness Lodge; but we had a great set of adjoining rooms right across from the pool, and the hotel was totally walkable from Disneyland (DL). Throw in the free breakfast, and it was such a bargain!!!


As every Disney fanatic knows, the best, and longest, part of a Disney trip is the planning phase! We decided to take this trip sometime in November, around Josh’s first birthday. We were planning on going to WDW in 2006, but I just couldn’t get the thought of DL out of my head!! I wanted to go and I wanted to go, now!

My mom (Grandma) had been a lifesaver over the past year. She comes over and stays with us 2 days a week to help out with Josh. Carl is a stay-at-home dad, running his own business out of the house, while I trot off to be a lawyer all day. Well, with an infant-turning-toddler at home, Carl barely got anything done. Mom stepped up to the plate and has come over and taken her grandson all day twice a week so that Carl can get stuff done.

With those two things in mind, Carl and I decided that we really, really owed my mom. When we started talking about taking a small weekend vacation to DL, well, it was no question that we would invite her - - and, as a thank you, we’d pay, too.

Right after Josh’s birthday, we handed my mom a package. Inside, were a pair of Mickey pajamas and a note that invited her to “Joshy’s first DL Slumber Party!!!” She was told to save her food and spending money, and the rest was paid for! Boy, was she excited!!!

In turn, my brother, Will, decided that he really wanted to go on a DL trip, too. So, he was added to the list!!!

We initially talked about flying Jet Blue. They had decent prices and were offering several deals. We would only be able to fly into Long Beach; as I went to Long Beach State, that wouldn't have been a problem. Shortly before we were going to buy the airline tickets, however, we got some really, really bad news. My aunt was diagnosed with cancer earlier in the year - and now they knew it was an inoperable brain tumor and she would not survive. Unsure of what the future would hold, we decided against plane tickets which would be non-refundable, and opted for a more flexible rental car, which we could cancel at the last minute should our plans need to be put on hold.

Finally, we bought the park-hopper tickets about 3 weeks ahead. DL came out with an ‘adults play for the kid’s price’ deal, and we snapped it up!

Now its time to pack and go! Yippee!!!

FEBRUARY 3, 2005 - The First Step - A Journey of a Thousand Miles

The night before a Disney trip, it seems, no matter how well we plan, we’re always up too late. I don’t know what it is - it has nothing to do with our excitement level, either! This night, we were up packing, and making brownies and cookies. Josh, our 1 year old, was long asleep, although he was coming off of a cold and teething, simultaneously, so he kept waking up. Mom and I were excited. I’d had a very ROUGH day at work (let’s just say I work for an affiliate of the Devil). Plus, it seemed, we had twice as much stuff to pack. Never thought I would have to take a whole suitcase for Josh! But add in bottles, diapers, wipes, toys, and enough clothing for 4 days, and it adds up!

Nonetheless, we were up and actually ready to go by 8:00 - the designated pick-up time. My brother had picked up the rental car (a Dodge Caravan) and was outside, waiting for us, at 8:05. We came down with one suitcase apiece, a cooler, a stroller, a car seat... I thought he was going to kill us! - Especially when I saw the size of the “trunk” area. Still, we managed to fit it all in - all we had left to do was to drive by our truck and put our registration sticker on. We didn’t want to come back and find it towed away!

At 8:20 we were on the road at last! We had planned on stopping every 2 hours or so - not having traveled on many long trips with Josh and my being pregnant - we wanted to stretch our legs. Josh actually did very well in the car; alternating between napping, snacking, reading with grandma, dancing to the mix tape Will made and playing “Where’s Josh??” (Underneath his blanket!). He only cried when we got to L.A. rush hour traffic and crawled the last 20 miles for an hour and a half. He was fine once we got out of the car, though!

Along the way, our first stop was at a Denny’s in Gilroy, California. They were busy for a Thursday morning. I had the meat lover’s skillet - it was decent and the right price. Carl and Josh split the kid’s French toast - way sweet, but they liked it. Mom had the veggie omelet which was really good, and Will had another of the skillets - I don’t remember which. The meal came out to about $40 with tip. Not too bad.

Our next stop was a Taco Bell somewhere near Kettleman City, I think. It’s not a very memorable stretch of road. Josh didn’t care too much for Taco Bell - he had part of a taco, I believe - but he LOVED the “wet floor” sign. He dragged it all over the restaurant and it took a bribe to get him to put it back. Ahh, to be one again! As for the rest of us - I think I had nachos and a chicken something or other, Carl had a chicken burrito - and I have no idea what the other two had!!!

We were so full at this point that we drove the rest of the way to DL. It helped that Josh finally fell asleep and napped until we hit the aforementioned traffic. Uggh, L.A. rush hour traffic…uggh.

At about 6:40, we finally made it to our hotel. Check-in was very quick and efficient. Our rooms were ready and very close. I walked - I could not stand the idea of getting back in that car! 6 months pregnant, I had to pee and my legs were cramped…no thank you! We unloaded the van and talked about what we wanted to do for dinner. There were all sorts of restaurants on our little strip of hotels, so we decided to just walk up the strip until we found one we liked.

We ended up at Mimi’s Café. They seated us in about 10 minutes. The only thing I didn’t like was that they don’t let you take your stroller with you to the table. I understand why you can’t, but you have to leave it in the lobby, and well, it didn’t seem like they were very well monitored. I wonder if anyone has had theirs snagged? Not that it matters - ours wasn’t!

Our waiter was decent - brought bread right away and a milk for Josh, which was fabulous because 1 year olds don’t have much patience when they are hungry. I have to say, however, that Josh is really good in restaurants. When he’s not, we take him outside - plain and simple. I never want someone to feel like I am “inflicting” my son on them. Plus, if he’s that fussy, it’s better to remove whatever is bothering him at the time.

We all loved what we ordered! We ordered steamed veggies for Josh (they were fine but came out BLAZING hot), I had the Gorgonzola Alfredo (tasted like regular fettuccine to me, but was really good), Will had the jambalaya (YUM), Carl had the salmon (MY favorite of everyone’s) and Mom had a chicken pasta dish (also good). Josh had some of everyone’s and thought it was great. The food was delicious and the price ended up being about $10 per person - totally inexpensive for the portions. We ended up taking ½ the food back to the hotel and stashing it in the cooler - I ate mine for breakfast the next day!

Back to the room and to bed for Josh. He had a hard time adjusting the first night to a weird crib and pitch-dark room. That was the only thing about this room - it was PITCH black. Luckily, we had a flashlight, or we couldn’t have gotten to the restroom at night! After Josh was in bed, we opened the adjoining doors and went next door to play mad-libs for a little bit. Then, we went to bed ourselves.

Tomorrow - Disneyland!

FEBRUARY 4 - The Birth of a New Disney Generation

We weren’t certain what to expect today. It was the first time any of us had been to DL with a young child in tow. We got up around 7:00 with the goal of leaving by 8:30. After showers, getting dressed, packing the diaper bag, setting up the stroller, and my husband, Carl, HAVING to go get his free coffee from the continental breakfast - we were only a few minutes behind schedule.

The walk to DL from the Ramada takes only about 5 minutes. Being 6 months pregnant and having back issues, I was afraid of doing too much walking. I wasn’t that tired, though, after we walked to the entrance. The only annoying part about the walk was the pamphleteers and survey takers stopping you every two minutes. Josh got his first ride of the day - the Uncle Will stroller ride. He LOVED it. In fact, the only time he would willingly stay in his stroller the whole trip was when Uncle Will was pushing it.

We walked into the park right after opening and just stopped and stared. Josh was in awe - he wanted out of the stroller right then and there! Grandma let him out and he wanted to run. Word of advice to those with a 1 year old at DL - they never look back. They assume you are following them. Josh thought the curbs were the best he’d ever seen and spent about 5 minutes climbing up and down the curbs. Then, he found one of the facade doorways with steps leading up to it and had a great time climbing the steps and banging on the door. At this rate, we’d need 47 years to see the whole park once...

We were all a little hungry and decided that we would eat breakfast first and decide how to manage our day from there. None of us knew how Josh would react on the rides, so we had no idea where to start. Breakfast outside at River Belle Terrace seemed ideal. The weather was nice - not too hot, not too cold - and I had been craving their waffles. Unfortunately, they don’t sell them anymore… (Sigh). Why is it all the great memories from my childhood are going away? No strawberry waffles at RT, no Big Thunder BBQ...

Carl and I split a Mark Twain, I believe - it had eggs, potatoes, and sausage on it. Joshy had the Mickey pancake. He thought it was o.k. Mom had eggs and I forget what Will had.

After breakfast, the guys decided to take Josh up into the tree house, while Mom and I went browsing through the New Orleans shops. None of us had been up in the tree house since they changed it to Tarzan. Apparently, there is now a motion-activated panther or tiger that growls at you as you go by! Uncle Will almost dropped poor Josh! Josh thought the panther was funny.

After the tree house, and seeing that Josh laughed at the panther, we thought he might like the Jungle Cruise. Boy, were we wrong!!! First, he didn’t understand why a lady was shouting at us (we sat right next to the driver and the microphone was a little loud.) Second, he didn’t understand why he couldn’t run all over the boat! Finally, there was too much happening in too short of a time. We got to just about the part where she fake shoots at the hippos, and Josh started to wail. Sorry to all those on the boat with us - we would not have taken him on the ride if we knew it would scare him!!!

At this point, we weren’t sure what to do. We didn’t want to further traumatize him by taking him on another, potentially worse ride. At the same time, we didn’t want to miss taking him on a ride he might really enjoy. What a dilemma! We decided to head towards Fantasyland and “it’s a small world”. What little child does not like IASW? On the way there, we found a junior high band playing at the Plaza Gardens. They were GOOD. It was pretty hot now, though, and not much shade, so we kept going. We got to IASW and Joshy took off from his stroller straight into the toy store. LOL!! He saw some stairs and, well, it was play time! After gathering him back up, we headed to the short line and on our trip thought Saccharine-ville.

Poor Josh - I had NO idea that the ride was so loud!!! I hadn’t remembered the singing being so loud. He was o.k. on the ride - just a little overwhelmed. He curled up with Grandma and had a bottle, and the rest of us sang along so he would be o.k. (Now that we’re home, he loves to have us sing this song to him... I guess it wasn’t so bad!).

After the ride, I decided that we all needed a break. I had to sit - I’d had enough walking. The boys needed some thrill rides - after all, this was their vacation, too. And Mom? Well, she wanted to go buy things for her grandson! We decided to split up for an hour and meet at the Village Haus Restaurant for lunch.

This is the part of the trip where we discovered how much “fun” it can be to go to DL with a one year old. Joshy, well, let’s just say he’s a kleptomaniac. In the store at the end of IASW, he saw a Nemo stuffed animal. He picked it up and ran out of the store with it! Mom and I chased after him and brought him back in the store to return it - - only, he would not let go! Nothing we could do would get him to let go of it. Normally, my son is not spoiled, one bit. But, for some reason, he just LOVED this Nemo. So, I used his Christmas Disney dollars and bought it.

Mom and I headed off towards Main Street via Tomorrowland. Josh got out of the stroller and ran around, which was great for him! We stopped in at the Baby Care Center - I have to tell you, this place is delightful for parents. It has everything you could possibly need - changing tables, quiet areas to nurse, a kitchen and microwave. Plus, it’s air conditioned and soothing in there - a great place to take the little ones for a good time-out. Joshy needed a change, so we took him in and did so. Then, we sat in the lobby for a few minutes and just let him be.

A little recharged, we headed to the Emporium and did a little shopping. There really wasn’t much that we liked. We saw tons of stuff for Josh, naturally, but I worry about him growing up spoiled, so we didn’t buy any of it. The only thing we did buy was one of those spinning light toys. He had fallen in love with them at the Disney store back home, so I promised I would buy him one in DL. (He still plays with it at home and just loves it!). We also wanted to get him some Mickey Ears. Every kid has to have their first set of Mickey Ears.

It must have been a special music week because while we were hanging out on Main Street, all sorts of marching bands from various high schools and junior highs kept coming by and playing. They were all really good and Josh just loved to sit and clap for them. We also saw Mickey. These are things I probably never would have noticed if I weren’t pregnant and needing to take it slow for myself and Josh. I got to see a completely different side of DL! I was having a blast.

We headed to the Village Haus Restaurant for lunch with the guys. Another word to those with kids - the kids’ meals are quite a rip-off, especially if your little one is still in the stage of eating off your plate. We could have EASILY shared our meals with Josh - instead of paying $7.00 for 4 chicken nuggets. Although, I have to admit, the carrying case that the lunches came in was pretty cool. Oh, and one more thing about the prices (trust me, I expected them to be Disney prices, but I found some things to be ridiculous!) - - why did it cost $1.80 for a school-meal sized carton of milk????

We spent about $60 here - I owed Mom lunch, so that’s for 4 of us (including Josh). Mom got a pizza, Carl and I got cheeseburgers, Josh got the chicken nugget meal, and we shared a fruit salad. I also got bottled waters since it was so hot out and we were all dying of thirst. The cheeseburgers were really good here. I still miss the topping bar at WDW - wish they would put that in here. The fruit salad was huge, though, and we could not finish it between the 4 of us. Josh loves fruit and vegetables, so he barely wanted any of his nuggets. I think Daddy ended up eating them...

Josh was getting hot and cranky at this point, so Mom and I decided we would take him back to the hotel for a nap. The boys wanted to stay and ride more rides, and they would meet back up with us at the hotel between 4pm-5pm for a rest. We would all come back for dinner after that.

While the boys tromped all over DL, Mom and I got out of the sun back at the hotel. It was a much-needed respite. Josh took a nap almost immediately, and we both got off our feet. The boys came back early and Will wanted to go in the pool. That sounded really good, so I decided I would join him. Little did I know that the pool was freezing! I think I got in up to my ankles... However, they did have a nice hot tub and, well, since my back was aching - it was the thing the doctor ordered. Being pregnant, you have to worry about spending too much time in a hot tub - so, I sat on the first step, which was just low enough to hit the sore spot in my back. Truth be told, the hot tub was more like a warm tub, so I really had nothing to worry about.

At a little after 5, we decided to head back over to DL for dinner. We decided to check out Rancho del Zocalo Restaurante - which used to just be Mexican but is now in some sort of transition phase. It was odd. Carl and I decided to split a meal and chose the chicken and shrimp, and a few drinks. Ours came out to under $20 by splitting the meal. It had chicken, shrimp, pineapple, rice and mashed potatoes. The potatoes and shrimp were my favorite. Mom got a chicken burrito - it was very bland. I think Will got nachos, but I’m not sure. Josh loved his bites of every one’s meals.

After dinner, we headed over to do Pirates of the Caribbean. I really wanted to ride a ride! However, as we got closer, we remembered that Fantasmic would be starting soon and decided to head over to Haunted Mansion first, as it would be much harder to get there later. Mom offered to hang out with Josh; so Will, Carl and I went into the HM. The line was pretty long for what I’m used to - still, we were in the foyer within 10 minutes. I had heard they had made some changes to the HM and everything looked like it was in great shape.

After being spooked by the “hurry back” girl, we met up with Mom and Josh. Boy, was the Fantasmic area getting crowded!!! We headed over to Pirates to do the baby-swap thing. We asked at the door and were assured that Josh could go on Pirates - there is no height requirement. However, we did not think he would like the ride, particularly the drop, so we told the guy at the front of the queue that we wished to do the swap with him. Mom, Will and I took the first boat. When we came around, I stayed in my seat - then I suddenly realized there was a problem - people were getting in the same seats I was in! The ride operator came over to see what the issue was - I told him we wanted to do the swap - he’d forgotten. He asked me to wait and said he would get us on the very next boat. When the next boat came, he told us first to sit in one row, then another, and finally a third. We did - and were surprised when the boat took off with just us in it!

After Pirates, it was getting to be Joshy’s bed time. We were all a little pooped, so we decided to go back to the hotel, after a stop for some ice cream. The Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street was PACKED. Still, we all really wanted ice cream, so we grabbed a table and waited. For some odd reason, both times we stopped for ice cream this trip, we encountered weird, weird people in line. There was this mean, abusive guy in line in front of us. He kept asking his daughter what she wanted, and when she finally made up her mind, he told her she was getting something else. At one point, Mom and another daughter came - the second daughter CLEARLY had to go to the bathroom and Mom couldn’t find one. Instead of offering to take the daughter, he kept yelling at the wife where the bathroom was - and I mean, yelling! At any rate, we were glad when they got served and left so we could enjoy our ice cream.

I had a hot fudge sundae with chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream and mint chip. YUM! I think Carl had a scoop of coffee ice cream. Mom had a cone of vanilla yogurt, which she shared with Josh and I’m not sure what Will had. He wanted a milk shake, but was told that they don’t make them anymore. (Turns out, they do, just weren’t that evening).

On the way out, Josh got his first Mickey balloon - he LOVES balloons. Every time he sees one now, he yells out, “DIDNEY!” He tried to take it to bed with him that night and had to be satisfied with it hanging over his head!

We realized that we were out of milk a little too late - as we were almost back at the hotel. I offered to go to the little store and get some and meet them back at the room. Unfortunately for me, the store was closed. I ended up walking two more blocks to another hotel that was open. Man, my back hurt sooooooooo much! I finally got back to the room about 35 minutes later, and Josh was just crying like crazy for his bottle. Poor guy! I got home, took some Tylenol, and Josh went to bed - what a trooper!!!

FEBRUARY 5, 2005 - A Whole New World

Today, we were all going to Disney’s California Adventure - most of us for the first time. Mom had been to a convention here (late in 2004), but only went to part of the park, so technically it didn’t count.

After being on my feet most of yesterday - I could barely walk. I decided to rent a scooter. As dumb as I felt driving around at first, the scooter was a lifesaver. It costs $60 - with a $30 refundable deposit. You can take them between the parks, but not to Downtown Disney (DD). Josh loved it until a security guard told me he couldn’t ride on my lap... Poor kid!

After renting the scooter, we went to get breakfast. I don’t know the name of the place, but it is in the first little section with all the train cars. I had a roast beef sandwich, Carl had a pecan bun, Mom had a turkey sandwich, Josh had part of a muffin, and I forget what Will had. My sandwich was good and filling.

After breakfast, since none of us had ever been to the park before, we decided to explore. First stop, Soarin’ Over California. We decided to get FastPasses and then continue on our tour of the park. Again, we went into a store and again, Josh took a stuffed animal and went running outside with it! Our 1 year old began his life of crime! Luckily, a security guard stopped him. We made him give the bear back to the cast member. I know he’s only one and had no idea what stealing was. But, hey, he’s learning how to behave and at the same time we’re learning how to discipline - good practice for both of us!

Next, we discovered the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. I didn’t want to go in since it looked like a lot of climbing, so I decided to explore while the rest of them went in to play. Apparently, they have a huge slide in there - and Joshy loved it! They all thought the Redwood Creek Challenge was fun!

While they climbed and slid, I drove down to Paradise Pier and watched all the cool rides. This area reminded me of Oktoberfest in Munich - my dad had taken us a few times when we were kids. I especially loved the Orange Stinger swing thing. That used to be my favorite ride at Oktoberfest! I really thought this area was beautiful and thoroughly enjoyed hanging out by myself and taking pictures.

After about 20 minutes, I drove back and met up with the gang. It was time for our Soarin’ FPs. The guys went first, while Mom and I watched Josh. It’s amazing what little kids find fun to do - he had a great time picking up rocks and throwing them down. At one point, the Monorail came over head, and he was in AWE!

After the guys’ turn, Mom and I went on the ride. This was the only ride I went on that was not recommended for pregnant women. I thought I would get up there and see how the ride looked - if it didn’t look safe for me, I would not ride. Turns out, it was just fine. I think maybe for people in their first trimester who are still experiencing morning sickness - this would not be the ride for you! Otherwise, I absolutely LOVED this ride. It was so unbelievably cool!

After Soarin’ we decided to look for lunch, and headed towards the Pier area. We stopped and did the Mission Tortilla Factory tour - that was fun! It was really short and it was hard to corner the scooter in there, but I did manage. The warm tortilla at the end was good, too.

On my solo adventure, I’d seen a corn dog stand down by the Pier and thought there might be some interesting places to eat down there. I was wrong. The corn dog stand wasn’t open yet, and all they had down there were a McDonalds and an expensive pizza joint (which did not look very good). We didn’t want cheap-tasting food, nor did we want expensive. We ended up making a huge loop back to the wharf/tortilla factory area.

Mom and I went to the Boudin Bakery. Now, being from San Francisco, we have a Boudins like every 15 blocks or something... (O.K., I’m exaggerating - but it’s just a normal place to us, nothing special). But, at least we knew what to expect. Mom got a vegetarian chili in a bread bowl, and I got the Shrimp Louis in a bread bowl. Will went and got chicken nachos somewhere else and Carl wasn’t all that hungry, so he just picked off mine. Josh LOVED the Shrimp Louis. There was a band playing that was really loud (but really good), but it was kind of annoying because they kept stopping in mid-song. I don’t know if they were having technical difficulties, if they were sound-checking, or what.

We had plans to meet a friend of mine from college that night for dinner and realized that it was already almost 2pm. We wanted to go back to the hotel to rest and make sure that Josh had a nap. Josh RARELY sleeps in the stroller, so Mom and I offered to take him back to the hotel while the guys did more rides.

After we got out of the park, however, we discovered two things: 1. I could not take the scooter into DD and 2. Joshy had fallen asleep. So I turned my scooter in at DL and Mom and I walked over to DD to do some shopping. I had a hard time spending my money this trip - not because I didn’t want to, but because I couldn’t find anything I wanted to buy! I bought Josh a t-shirt, a blanket for Nat (the one on the way), a picture frame and an IASW bath toy (Josh thinks that this is the most fun!).

On the way back to the hotel, Josh woke up. So much for Mom and I getting a rest! A word on the adjoining rooms - they were fabulous. When we wanted privacy, we shut the doors. When we wanted to all hang out together, we opened them. Josh thought it was great to get to run back and forth between the rooms! And, we could all hang out at night while Josh slept in the other room - no one had to stay behind with him.

Mom and I took turns reading to Josh and playing balloon with him. Mom had also bought him a Disney ball, so we took turns playing “catch.” Jen (my college friend) was scheduled to meet us at 5pm, and the boys showed up about 10 minutes before.

Jen showed and we piled in the rental van and drove to Hollywood - Fairfax Boulevard - to go to Canters. Canter's is a Jewish deli that is closed only on Rosh Hashanah, and has been around since Hollywood’s hey-day. It has some of the best sandwiches in the world! The trip to Canters was a little hairy since both Carl and I thought the other one packed the bottle... Joshy cried a LOT! But, we finally got there.

Jen had a grilled cheese and fries (she said it was really good!), Will and I had what we always have - a Brooklyn, which is about a pound of meat and coleslaw on rye bread. He has his with pastrami and I have corned beef. Mom, I think, got a turkey Brooklyn. We ordered potato pancakes and cooked carrots for Josh - he hated the pancakes, but LOVED the carrots. I also had a serving of their potato salad, which is my all-time favorite anywhere.

On the way out, they have a take-out counter. Will and I both got sandwiches to-go (for the next day - that is how much we LOVE Canters - we could, literally, eat it every day), and we got a variety of goodies from their bakery for dessert. The prices are relatively cheap - I think I got a full bag of pastries, cookies and cheesecake for $10.

Back at the hotel, Will, Jen and I decided to head out to DL for some fun. Jen is an AP holder, so she loves the opportunity to go with people! Carl stayed behind with Josh and Mom was pooped.

Back at the park, we decided on HM first. There were a lot of rides closed, and, being pregnant, not a lot of rides I could go on. Really didn’t affect me, though - I had fun on all the rides! (The only one I really, really wanted to go on, but couldn’t, was Tower of Terror) Once we got into the HM stretching room, a CM announced that the ride was down and they weren’t sure when it would be back up. We could wait or come back another time. One guy left. 1 minute later, the ride was back on!

After HM, we went to Pirates again. Seems to be a theme - I get to go on HM and Pirates this trip!

It was getting late, we were very tired, and Jen had to drive back to Stanton (it’s only about 5 minutes away, but she had to get up early the next day). We stopped to get a hot dog from Coke Corner, and ate for a few minutes. It was too funny - I ordered the foot long hot dog - they gave it to me on a regular-sized bun!

We did some shopping on the way out and then walked back to the hotel. I bid Jen good-bye. She is truly one of my best friends and it was so fun to get to see her while we were in town!

We went back to the room, wound down with some mad-libs, and called it a night.

FEBRUARY 6, 2005 - Where did all our Time go?

Today was clean-up day - our last official day in the parks. We decided to hit DL and try to get Joshy more comfortable with some of the rides. With that in mind, our first order of business was Fantasyland. Will and Mom went over to Blue Bayou to get lunch reservations; while Carl and I rented another scooter and got him and Josh some breakfast (I think it was another ooey-gooey cinnamon roll).

We waited for them by the King Arthur Carrousel. While we did, the heavens opened up and it started to pour. I hadn’t brought the ponchos we had at home because I didn’t think we’d need them. Boy, did Carl laugh at me now! Well, no since waiting in the rain - off we went on the Carrousel.

We decided that the bench in the middle of the Carrousel was about Joshy’s speed. He wasn’t too sure at first, he clung to Daddy, but he loved the music. There was a sweet boy sharing the bench with us. He was developmentally handicapped - I think about 12, maybe. He told me how much he loved Disneyland and horses. He laughed through the whole ride and was just as sweet as could be. It was nice to see someone experiencing PURE joy.

When we got off the Carrousel, Will and Mom arrived. Josh wanted to go again, so Mom and I went on with Josh while the boys took pictures. Josh had much more fun this time.

Next up was Casey Jr. Circus Train. A funny little boy behind me in line kept pulling my very long hair and chewing on it! He was Japanese and his mom kept yelling at him in Japanese. I tried to tell her it was o.k. - now that I have a son, I understand they aren’t always predictable and can be very odd creatures at times! Besides, I have VERY long, blond hair - I’m sure the texture and color was just fascinating to him. He probably was just trying to figure out what it was!

We sat in the open car at the front of the train. Josh sat with Mom and Carl, and I sat in the second car by myself. Actually, Josh started out with me, but before we took off, he climbed over the top of the seat to see Daddy. Again, he wasn’t too sure of the ride - but, he didn’t hate it. He just didn’t really do anything but take it all in - much better than Jungle Cruise.

After Casey Jr., we headed over to the Monorail. This would be Joshy’s favorite ride. He bounced all over the train, from window to window. He even took a picture with my camera!

We got off the Monorail and headed for a little snack at Club Buzz. This had to be my worst meal - ever. I paid $6 for a chicken sandwich combo. The chicken in the sandwich literally looked like and tasted like it had been sitting there for a week. It was disgusting. But, hey, I’m pregnant and hungry, so I ate it. Will also had a chicken sandwich - only he got the spicy kind. Carl got a funnel cake. Oh my, that was good!!! We all shared with Josh.

After our snack, we had just enough time to head over to Toontown before our Blue Bayou lunch. This is the absolute best place for kids. Josh had the time of his life running all over Toontown - touching this, pulling that… Once he figured out that some buttons made noises, he wanted to push them all! We also got to meet Pluto. I told Pluto that Joshy had never met a real-live Disney character up close before. Pluto was great at letting Josh lead the interaction. Josh is a little shy in new situations, so he didn’t quite warm up to Pluto, but he did not cry, which is a GOOD sign. Plus, now every time he sees Pluto at home, he squeals in delight!

It began to rain again, so we were off to Blue Bayou. I’d forgotten how dark it was inside! We got there and for the life of us couldn’t tell where we were supposed to go to check in. The line outside appeared to be for people making reservations. Eventually, we figured out that it was for both, but the signs were not clear.

We were seated about 15 minutes later, towards the back, in the path from the kitchen to the dining area. I didn’t mind not being near the water, but it was really hard with the high chair, to be stuck in a path where someone was always walking by. We kept having to shift our seats, or move the high chair. Ahh, no worries, it all worked out.

Josh was getting hungry and cranky, so we immediately ordered him some milk. That always works - then he can get something in his stomach while we wait and he’s not getting more and more frustrated. At 1, kids have NO concept of patience. Once the drinks came, our waiter said he’d be right back. And we waited and waited and waited. (Sigh).

We all loved our meal. I had the prime rib - it was awesome! I couldn’t eat the whole thing - but it was so good. I shared my veggies with Josh who thought they were great. We ordered Josh a side order of mashed potatoes. Will had the Monte Cristo and a bowl of chowder. Carl had the jambalaya special. I’m not sure what Mom had, but I remember it was Cajun-flavored and she really liked it. We were all waaay too stuffed for dessert, so that was it! I think, total, Carl and mine's came out to about $50 - including Joshy’s mashed potatoes, drinks, tax and tip. Expensive for a lunch, but not too bad.

After lunch, the guys decided to take Josh shopping and back to the hotel so that Mom and I could do whatever we wanted to do. Funny - Mom and I went shopping for awhile, had some ice cream at Gibson Girl (and there was another weird guy behind us in line. To woman: “What are you ordering?” “A Sundae” “NO, I’ll tell you what you are ordering...” It was odd!). I got a strawberry sundae, which, I found, by ordering the topping separate was cheaper than the sundae they had listed on the board! I think Mom had a scoop of vanilla.

We bought more stuff for Josh and Nat, a few things for ourselves. By then we were pooped and went back to the hotel for a rest. Josh was napping, so we all hung out deciding what to do that evening. Mom was tired and wanted to rest. I wanted to go back shopping with Carl to get a few more things for the kids. Still hungry, I had ½ of the corned beef sandwich I brought back from Canter’s Deli. Yummy!

About 6:30pm everyone was ready to go eat. Tony Roma’s was right nearby, so we decided to go there. Weird thing - we were seated at a big table in the back. Another family came and sat next to us. Now, we were nice and quiet - even Josh - and they were very, very loud. About 3 minutes after they sat down, we looked over and they were gone! We don’t know if it was because they didn’t want to be seated by Josh, or what?

Mom ordered a salad, Josh had some veggies, Carl ordered a side dish of some sort of soufflé, Will had a plate of ribs, and I had the mixed grill plate with ribs, steak, and shrimp. Yum! The thing about being pregnant is you crave things you wouldn’t normally eat - in quantities you’d never eat them in. For me, this time, it’s MEAT; anything with protein - gimme, gimme, gimme. I wasn’t all that hungry, though, so I just ate the meat and gave the side dishes to Josh and Carl. The steak was awesome! The ribs weren’t my favorite, even though they tasted really good. The shrimp were too spicy for me, but that didn’t stop me from eating them!

After dinner, Mom really wanted to go back to the hotel. She was very tired. Everyone else wanted to go back to the park, but Josh was tired, too. So, instead of sending the two of them back to the hotel (I couldn’t do that to my Mom - make her take care of a tired Josh when she was tired!), we all went to the park for a little bit. Carl and I finished up some shopping - I wanted to buy some art for the nursery - we are changing the theme from storage room to kids’ room for the two kids. After that, Mom and I headed back to the hotel with Josh while the guys went on a few last rides.

Back at the hotel, Josh went to bed while Mom and I packed. We managed to get most everything packed before the boys came back. So, we took it easy and played mad-libs while winding down.

FEBRUARY 7, 2005 - The Long Voyage Home (or, I came, I saw, Now what did I do?)

Waking this morning was much harder than it had been all weekend. There was no park to go to, no rides to ride, nothing but a long trip home. We got up about 8:00am and got into our swimsuits. We’d wanted to introduce Joshy to swimming while we were here, but the pool was always so cold! So, we got into our suits and took him into the hot (warm) tub. He liked it - somewhat. But at one point he was walking along and slipped into the tub - Daddy grabbed him just in time to stop him from going under. After that, he sat on my lap - except when Daddy “swam” him across the pool.

Once out of the pool, we took quick showers, got dressed, and finished our packing. An hour later, everything was packed, everyone was ready, and I checked us out at the front desk.

The drive home was very uneventful. We stopped again at Canter’s for lunch - Carl had the Buck Benny hot dog (we laughed - we used to get that when we were kids), Josh had a fruit salad - it was HUGE and great! Mom, Will and I all had Brooklyns. Yum, yum, yum. On the way out, we stocked up on food. I had to get my other brother, Dave, two sandwiches - he watched our dog all weekend and that was his one request. We also got more sweets from the bakery.

After lunch, we let Carl wander around Hollywood. The plan was for all of us to go with him, but we couldn’t find parking. It was awful. He had never been and really wanted to explore a little, so we drove around and around looking for parking while he took pictures. I felt bad for Carl - it wasn’t exactly how we’d planned to tour Hollywood, but it would have to do. Next time, we’ll make a whole day tour out of it!!

We stopped at Jack in the Box for a snack around 3pm and then a few minutes later, we had to go to McDonalds after we were back on the road and Joshy woke up. After that, we stopped at Casa de Fruta for a restroom break. Then, it was home, home, home. We got home about 8pm. Carl took my mom home while I put Josh to bed.

(Sigh). Now all we can do is plan our trip to WDW in October 2006.

Final Thoughts

Traveling with a toddler is fun. You gotta realize it’s going to be much slower and geared towards their level of comfort - even if you try not to gear it to them. If you try it any other way, everyone - you, the kid, and those around you - are miserable.

It’s weird what toddlers like. Climbing curbs and stairs. Looking at train tracks. Balloons. Light-up toys. The fake Autopia car (he could have stayed in that for hours!). The pirate menu mask at Blue Bayou (especially if Mommy wears it and makes funny pirate noises). Slides. Shrimp salad. The warm tortilla.

It’s weird what toddlers don’t like. IASW. The chicken nuggets you bought just for them. The animals on Jungle Cruise. Daddy on the Orange Stinger ride. Staying in your stroller (unless Uncle Will is pushing!).

I thought I would be bummed out by all that I couldn’t do at DL and DCA due to my pregnancy. I think it was a blessing. If I had been able to do everything, I think we would have spent so much more time doing baby swap and so much less time trying to find little things we all could enjoy.

Try to have time for yourself in the parks when you have a kid - even if you have to hire a babysitter for a few hours. Then you can ride all the rides the kids don’t want to go on! Also, if you’re traveling with people who don’t have kids, remember it’s their vacation, too. I really tried to do this so that my husband and Will got time to go off and have a good time on the rides.

Nap time is essential. Kids need down time. There is so much stimulation at the parks - it’s hard for them to process all they are seeing without a break. Josh also had to be restrained a lot more than at home - by going back to the hotel, he was able to let out some pent-up energy by running around the room and climbing up and down from the beds. He was much better behaved in restaurants and in his stroller because we let him get this energy out.

The Baby Care Center is fabulous!

If you have any sort of back problems, don’t hesitate to rent a scooter. I felt silly at first, but my vacation would have been ruined but for that precaution. By the end of the first day, I could barely walk. However, by renting a scooter, I was able to keep up with my group while not taking a toll on my health or strength. I was happier and did not have to ask for “rest” stops very much. I *did* let my brother and Carl try the scooter once or twice. They had fun, too! They are fairly easy to maneuver.

Start slow with the kids on their first rides. Take them to something simple - like the Carrousel, or one of the cars on Main Street. Progress forward to something a little more advanced each ride. It builds their ride confidence. Maybe next time, Joshy will go on Pirates with me!!

Spend lots of time in Toontown with the kids! I wish we had spent more time - since Joshy clearly had a blast here. I would have loved to take him into Mickey and Minnie’s houses.

Thanks for reading this! If you have any questions, please feel free to email me.

Heather Tanner


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