I have now been to a Disneyland 4 times. The first time was back in college with Josh, Neal, and Anna. The second time was in 2006 when Angela2 and I went in Tokyo. However, today I actually brought a kid with me for the first time (if you don't count the 8 month pregnant visit in Tokyo). And, oddly, we only spent $14 for parking, gas $, and $3.50 on popcorn. A pretty good deal for 5 hours of entertainment. (Previously Dan and I bought Disney Annual Passes, the cheap ones where you can basically only go on unpopular weekdays, which is when you would want to go anyway.)
Will was so excited. Like many activities, I describe what we are going to do ahead of time. If possible, I use our TiVo to show him a youtube video on our TV about where we are going. This way he knows what to expect and gets even more excited. This tactic works pretty well, except when things don't quite happen the way I described. For example, prior to our New York City trip back in August, I explained the Statue of Liberty and how we could go up inside it. He was very adamant when we got to the Statue of Liberty that we had to go around and go inside the doors and go to the top. However, we didn't have monument passes, so he kind of missed out.
The same thing happened today with the Small World Afterall ride. I showed it to him on youtube, there was a boat going through a tunnel and the song. So he got excited and started singing the song before we even left our house. However, the ride was closed today. I guess it is in transition between Christmas and regular Small World version. Will was pretty disappointed and I had to explain that it was closed and that there wasn't even any water for the boats. That said, we still had fun. After nearly every ride, Will would say, "I had fun on ...
We started by parking near Downtown Disney. For those of you who are planning on going to Disneyland, I can't promise that I know all tips about the best place to park, enter, whatever, but this worked for us. The alternative is to park in the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure which takes a while to get to, then you have to drive up and up and up and around and around, then take a tram to the park entrance. By parking at the Downtown Disney lot, we paid basically the same price for parking, but were fairly close to the monorail entrance and we didn't have to go in the main entrance, just the monorail entrance. As we had the annual pass, we just scanned that and we were in. I don't know how it would work otherwise. Plus, since Will loves trains and had never been on a monorail, he was very much into this way of entering the park.
The monorail dropped us off in Tomorrowland. We go to ride the Finding Nemo Submarine, which was the scariest ride. Will didn't like the eels and I covered his eyes for the lantern fish. Next we went to Autopia. Will was excited to get a "driver's license" and loved steering the car. Then we watched the Jedi training academy and completed the Star Trek theme by peeking inside Star Tours to look at C3PO and R2D2. Will is under the 40" minimum height for this one. Then, although I was a little concerned that Will would find Zurg too scary on the Astro Blasters, we went and he loved it. I think it helped that I explained that there would be something scary. And of course, you know I am being a great parent when I say, "Don't worry, you can shoot at Zurg with the blaster."
Our final stop was Toon Town. I had been here once before, the first time I went to Disneyland. We entered and Will decided that he wanted to check out the Roger Rabbit Car Toon Spin. It was as mediocre as I remembered and Will just thought it was kind of weird. We wandered around Toon Town for a little bit more and I pointed out Mickey's House and asked Will if he wanted to meet Mickey Mouse. He was in favor of the idea. When we went into the room with Mickey, Will was 2nd in line to get a picture with The Mouse. He was a little timid, but through some sort of Disney Magic, Mickey convinced him to come over and pose.
Overall, Will did great. We were there for five hours. I was originally concerned, because I see so many tired, crying kids at The Happiest Place on Earth. Plus, we didn't bring a stroller because I didn't want to deal with parking it and folding it and stuff. The only time Will cried was when a 3-year old pushed him in line and kicked him too.
Obviously we have to go back and ride the Small World Ride. Will thinks that should happen tomorrow, but really, our passes don't let us in on Saturdays. We will probably go during February, maybe again during March, and of course, on Will's birthday in April since Disney's promotion this year is attend free on your birthday. Then... it is expensive for Will to go since he will be 3 years old. We shall see.