Sunday, March 24, 2013

Good Weekends, Present and Future

Our last few weekends have been a bit hectic- too many commitments, and not enough time to relax. This weekend was a better balance- we had an evening playdate/dinner with one of Petunia's classmates Saturday night, but were otherwise unscheduled at the start of the weekend. We got enough of our chores done on Saturday that we decided we could have a Family Fun Day today, as long as we picked one of the things that wouldn't actually take an entire day. So we decided to go on a surrey bike ride in Coronado.

We got a late start because we all slept in a bit- which is still rare enough to shock me when it happens. It was 11:30 a.m. by the time we set out from the rental place by the Hotel del Coronado. They were out of single surreys, so we opted for a side-by-side recumbent Deuce Coupe instead, which was also fun. I wanted to see Silver Strand, so we headed south. This was a bit of a mistake, because for most of the ride we couldn't see much water at all, but we did get a great view of the Coronado Bridge at the start.

A nice start
We rode for about an hour, then had lunch at the Coronado Brewing Company and a quick play at a nearby park, and then drove home.

Later in the afternoon, the girls decided they wanted to do some art, so I set them up on their little plastic table outside and spent about an hour thinking I would get to sit and enjoy my drink, but getting up every couple of minutes to help someone squirt paint from a tube instead. But the girls had fun.

Artist #1

Artist #2
And they produced quite a few paintings.

Future fridge decorations
The single color ones are largely Pumpkin's. She called them her portraits, and specifically chose to do one in each color.

I also spent about an hour researching Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. We've decided to take our first trip to Disneyland with the kids, in honor of Pumpkin's 6th birthday. I found it too stressful to figure out how to handle a birthday party this year- we have friends from day care, kindergarten, and before/after care. We have no desire to orchestrate a party for that many kids, no real idea for how to prune the guest list without causing offense, and no idea how to deliver invites to the kids at school. Mr. Snarky laughed at me for worrying about those things, but quickly came around to my way of thinking when I said that he could be in charge of figuring it out. So we are buying our way out of the dilemma and going to Disneyland. Pumpkin is incredibly excited.

This is not a cheap solution at all, and we have no intention of returning before Petunia's 6th birthday presents the same set of problems, and then probably not for another 5 years- I just can't see how it can possibly be worth this much money to go more often. Therefore, I'm determined to make the most of this visit. Pumpkin's birthday falls during spring break, so we can actually be at the park on her birthday, which I hear is a fun thing. We've bought two day park hopper tickets for Friday and Saturday. We'll drive up Thursday evening, and drive home Sunday morning.

So now all I need to do is figure out how to arrange our two days of Disney fun. We aren't going to try to see everything- which is helped by the fact that I don't really like roller coasters (I get motion sick) and Mr. Snarky went with a friend from New Zealand not long before Pumpkin came along, so he's had his chance to do the bigger rides. Therefore, we're focusing only on things for the kids, except perhaps a visit to the Muppet attraction for Mr. Snarky.

However, even with that focus, there are a lot of options, and a lot of ground to cover. Given my planning tendencies, I can't help but try to plan it out. I want to have a loose plan, with enough slack for improvisation. Here is what I have so far:

Day 1 - Start in CA Adventure, end at Disneyland

Morning: Ride Red Trolley, Car’s Land, Paradise Pier
Lunch: Ariel’s Grotto
Afternoon: A Bug’s Land, over to Disneyland for the Disneyland Railroad
Dinner: Somewhere in Disneyland?
Evening: Disneyland Parade

Day 2 - Disneyland

Morning: Main Street USA, Fantasyland
Lunch: Daisy’s Diner in Toontown
Afternoon: Critter Country
Dinner: Downtown Disney (Rainforest Cafe)?
Evening: Swim at the hotel? Stay for Parade again? Go see the World of Color?

Are there any Disney-philes out there? What do you think? Am I missing something that a 3.5 year old and a thrill-adverse 6 year old would really enjoy? I have heard that it is nice to start to with Main Street in Disneyland, but I want to do the Ariel's Grotto Princessapalooza on Pumpkin's actual birthday, which is the first day. Am I making a mistake by not having Main Street be their first taste of Disney?

Any and all advice gratefully accepted!


  1. What a great idea to avoid the party challenges :)

    I have twins, in different classes, so I'm firmly in denial about what this birthday will end up being.... bearing in mind we have had very full parties for the first 3 years without any school friends.... :)

    This blog has tons of posts about Disney planning -

    1. Thanks, I'll check the blog out!

  2. I'm sure the girls will have a wonderful time! A few tips, based on trips to Disneyland as an adult and memories of when I was a kid: Mr. Toad's Wild Ride is not that wild. In fact, it's quite good for the risk-averse. There's one moment in the Snow White ride that can be scary. And even before the purchase, there was a ton of Star Wars stuff at Disneyland.

    1. Since Pumpkin can't really handle plots in her movies yet, we haven't tried to introduce her to Star Wars. And Mr. Snarky and I checked that stuff out pre-kids. I think we'll skip it this time. We might do Mr. Toad's "wild" ride, though!

  3. Anonymous6:10 AM

    Well, last time DC1 went to Disneyland at age 3.5, he went with my MIL and my SIL. I strongly recommend that option! (When I was 5 or 6 on a school trip I found the Small World ride to be the most terrifying, far more scary than getting lost in the gift shop and having to make my way to the land of lost children.)

    We didn't do a birthday party this year either, and instead DC1 got a whirlwind adventure to SeaWorld, LegoLand, and the San Diego Zoo! (Also with my MIL.)

    1. Amen to putting Other Loving Relatives in charge of amusement park visits! Disney isn't my thing, but my DH and my dad are totally into the idea and will do that with the kids at some point while I enjoy a nice staycation!

      I don't love hosting kids' birthday parties either. (But I'm all about hosting other types of parties, such as the Easter Egg Hunt we host every year). We plan to celebrate our kids' birthdays with invited friends only at ages 5 and 10. Two big parties for each kid is all we can handle. DS had a great 5th birthday party last fall, and we did it up, and had a ton of people over. It was great. But yeah, I've only got 3 more of those in me, tops.

    2. I don't really mind the parties in general, it was just this year's one that had me stressing out. I think by next year, the concept of actual friends may have settled in- right now, she says all of her classmates are her friends. Which is sweet, but also patently not true. There are some she talks about more than others.

  4. No advice, since I haven't been there since I was about 10 and don't remember much, but I think it's an awesome idea - especially getting out of the birthday party fiasco :)

  5. We had passes when Audrey was Petunia's age. We actually promised her a trip for the 6th birthday instead of a party but are just getting to it during Spring Break due to rain sickness etc.

    Thought #1 It will be very busy. Don't try to rush the kids. Let them enjoy the place and don't force the actual rides as much.

    #2 Adventureland with the Jungle Cruise and Pirates (and kebab place) is a great place for kids. What is Critter Country? Where the Winnie the Pooh ride is?

    #3 The bug's land rids are very simple. Petunia will love them. There also shouldn't be terribly long lines, so it may go quicker than you're anticipating.

    #4 Main street is overrated. If you're staying at a Disney Hotel, they won't even notice it.

    1. Yes, Critter Country has the Pooh ride, and Petunia loves Pooh. It also has the canoes, which sounded like a good one for us. Good to know about Main Street- although we opted not to stay at a Disney Hotel. The budget could only stretch so far....

  6. Here's my hard-won knowledge: if you do World of Color, take the "splash zone" signs very seriously. You will get SOAKING wet and it won't be fun. It's a neat show otherwise, but probably not essential.

    1. Having seen what the other parks around here do in their splash zones, that doesn't surprise me. We'll skip the soaking!

  7. Another thing: it's a small world was much better at 9am than 8pm (but we were there during June Grad Night madness).

  8. We have all our kids' birthday parties at a public park, a quiet one (we are lucky enough to live in a town with an abundance of beautiful parks with playground structures). I found the perfect one - little playground and big playground on either side of a shaded picnic table area. I provide: fruit; drinks; bagels & coffee; cake. Kids run around. I don't have to worry about how many to invite or not invite. Everything is relaxed. No opening presents at the party. We have the email addresses of all the preschool families in the directory, so one can email just certain parents/kids.

    I don't think I could handle Disney, so I'm a bit relieved to live so far away from both Disneys that it'll never be an issue.

    1. I think that if we had birthdays in less variable-weather times of year, we'd do the park party. I like those. In early April it makes me nervous, though.

    2. I thought there was so such thing as variable weather in SoCal!

  9. My husband is the optimizer of Disneyland with kids. Contact him for details. I'll email you his contact info.

  10. My parents have already planned to take the kids to Disney in a couple of years so I'm off the hook (oh wait, do they want us to come too???) We haven't done any birthday parties yet, but mine are still really little. A lot of people do friend parties for 3 year olds but we are holding off until at least 4, if not 5 (I like Hush's idea of parties for 5 and 10 year olds only, may have to come up with a schedule like that). The problem is my kids have fall/winter birthdays, so my fantasy of a cheap & easy park party is completely out.

  11. We took our kids a little over a year ago. At the time they were 4 (almost 5) and 16 months. My parents met us there to help watch the 16mo so we could focus on the older. A friend told me to be sure to take an autograph book or buy one there (I would have had no idea). We bought one the minute we got to the park, and my daughter had so much fun taking pictures with the characters and having them sign her book. She pulls it out all the time to look at it. She hated Thunder Mountain but loved Goofy's Sky School (if Pumpkin wants to try a roller coaster). She also loved the Peter Pan ride, and we had to do it over and over again.

  12. I'm interested in what you find out and what you end up doing. Hubby's new job has free Disney visits as a perk (yay) so we'll be going sometime this year, even though it's way earlier than we'd planned when we thought we'd be paying for it ourselves :) Still, we'd like to actually have fun...

    Re: birthdays, I love parties, but only small ones at home, so we invite OUR friends with kids T's age. Not sure how long we'll be able to get away with that...

  13. Anonymous9:45 AM

    We did a big weekend at Disneyland when my girls were 7 and 4, and we stayed at one of the resort hotels. It is more $, but the early entrance to the park (Magic Morning) was a huge help. We picked out a ride or two that would have long lines later in the day and got them crossed off our list first thing in the morning. Also, when it got hot and crowded mid-afternoon, we went back to the hotel and went swimming in the pool for a couple of hours. We then went back to the park in the early evening when it cooled off.


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