I was wrong about a lot of things.
1. October is no longer the off-season. My own experience and many a website led me to believe we were visiting Disneyland in the off-season, i.e. during the school year when it wouldn’t be very crowded. Untrue. Even on a Tuesday, the place was packed all day long. We attribute the crowds to all the Halloween decorating and re-theming of rides as well as the simple fact that millions more people attend Disneyland each year now than did when we were kids.
2. The weather was not pleasant! When we landed it was 97 degrees and humid. Shame on you, California.
3. The babies were too young. I know I said Disney caters to all ages, and children are never too young. CHILDREN might never be too young: Fluffy had a beyond marvelous time, and even V. (our friends’ daughter) who is 2.5 had a number of options at Toon Town and Paradise Pier. However, does anyone over the age of 4 really want to go to Toon Town? BABIES, on the other hand, ruin, I repeat, ruin Disneyland for the rest of us. My babies do not sleep in strollers unless they are being wheeled around at a brisk pace for a very long time. Did I fly all the way to California and shell out inordinate sums to be wheeling babies around Disneyland at a brisk pace in 90 degree weather all day? No.
Additionally, they would not eat well. Since when does Peppers, the omni-est-of-vores start refusing food? I blame overstimulation and heat. After the first full day of carting around two hungry, tired, cranky, sweaty babies, I lay in bed awake for hours vowing never to have any more children and making mental lists of all the baby gear I was going to Craigslist the instant I got home. My new advice is take only children who no longer nap to Disneyland. Otherwise, you may end up looking like this when people tell you to “Smile!”:
4. I cannot take full credit for being wrong about not bringing a twin stroller. Mother after mother on the parents of multiples forums positively assured me that I should just rent strollers at Disneyland and save the hassle of bringing one. As I tried to push two strollers of sweaty cranky babies around while Kent took Fluffy on some rides (Disneyland only rents single strollers), and as I walked 15 minutes to the hotel in the aforementioned heat carrying 50 lbs of babies PLUS a giant backpack/diaperbag on my person (you can’t take those strollers outside the park), and as I chased the babies around for 3.5 hours in Denver when our flight was delayed and we had no stroller, I thought of those mothers and their awesome advice. And the phrase “Die in a fire!” came to mind.
5. I thought surely Mickey’s Halloween Party could not possibly sell out. I’ve never heard of Disneyland selling out. And at $70 a ticket for trick-or-treating from 7 to midnight (in addition to the regular park admission fee during the day), would every last ticket sell? Yes. Yes, they most certainly would. But since I had promised Fluffy we would go, and since I was also looking forward to some baby-free time in the park with my Angel Fluff, I posted 5 ads to Craigslist, talked to various people, waited at a meeting point for one seller who dogged me, and finally made a digital transaction with someone to get two tickets for $100 each. Gah!
6. I shouldn’t have bothered with DVD players and iPads with Baby Einstein for the boys during the flights. The babies don’t watch TV at home, so they completely ignored the puppets and toys on the screen yet attacked the buttons on the players with great interest.
Okay, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let me tell you some of the things that met or exceeded expectation.
1. Every moment I spent in the park with just my Fluffy was bathed in golden sparkling fairy dust. She was killing it the whole time. We didn’t even make it to the corner of the sidewalk beside our hotel the first day without someone stopping us to take a picture with her in her princess dress (one of four). She was so happy, I was so happy. We professed our undying love to each other a million times. I even found myself agreeing to a second turn on the Dumbos, and the Astro Blaster rockets, which for the severely acrophobic, are the scariest rides in the park. Fluffy is so brave! She was tall enough for every ride in the Magic Kingdom, and somehow wanted to ride the rollercoasters with me over and over. ”Let’s go on the Matterhorn. I just want you to be happy, mom,” she’d say. Then as she braced herself for a third terrifying run through Space Mountain she kept insisting, “Hold me as tight as you love me! Give me a goooood squish!” And I did. It was wonderful.
3. The Montecristo at the Blue Bayou was all that and a bowl of jam. Ed dubbed them the Calorie Count of Montecristos. Divine.
4. A month of Insanity workouts really improves your cardiovascular fitness. I ran without being weary and walked without fainting mile upon mile upon mile around the park. And physically, I was just fine.
5. I have the best friends and family in the world. I’ve missed my mom and her amazing backrubs so much. It was just so lovely to spend some time with my Mama, and to see my little Fluff glued to her within 10 minutes like they’ve been besties all their lives. Jenni is a saint. What other sister volunteers to take the same flights with you so she can carry one of your lap babies? Her husband Jeremy was right there, too, shielding Salty from the glare of the reading lights with his fedora so he could go to sleep. I was so relieved that Benadryl worked its magic on little Salty so that he didn’t cause too much trouble for his auntie and uncle. Peppers, on the other hand, was a whole different, squirming, babbling story. I. love. my. family. I am so lucky to have Buttercup and the Dread Pirate Roberts living near me.
Megan has been a kindred spirit from the word go. In addition to being superhumanly kind and thoughtful (like, “I’ll babysit your kids for you if you want to go on roller coasters with Kent” thoughtful–yeah, I want to be her when I grow up.), she is also just the right amount of snarky and 100% genuine. It was great to see her husband Rob again and to meet the other three of her superbly-gened offspring. If she lived near me, I would hang out with her every day until she got a restraining order.
And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but Erin Holsinger McPhie and five costumed reindeer! Let us recall that there was some awkwardness when Erin returned from her mission and I was dating her ex-boyfriend. We didn’t exactly hit it off. So when she sent me an email asking to have lunch with me to clear the air, I agreed warily. By the end of lunch it was clear we were going to be friends forever. And by the next fall, we were both D.C.’s exes and rooming together! Who knew? Now she has five glorious, glossy-haired children, the tallest of which is almost in YW. Boggles the mind. I deeply appreciated that in honor of our matchy-match family, all the children came in costumes. I only regret that most of the Cramenies had changed out of our pinks for the night.
I could have danced all night with the McPhies and still have begged for more, but alas, my babies began to crash like so much bubbled stock market. Nikki, Megan and Erin, I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions as I work on the new and improved version of my blog–to be launched before Christmas.
The biggest lesson I learned is that I really need to keep my Disneyland and my friend/family visiting separate. Despite the heat and the crowds and the two 17-month-old anvils around my neck, I felt compelled to grind it out to the bitter end trying to win at Disneyland. Jenni and I are professional Disneyland maximizers. We MUST keep our rides per hour at a certain level or we go berserk. We must game the system. We must wring the last drop of entertainment out of our Disneyland experience. We cannot begin to settle down until we have checked off everything on our massive to ride list. Now, who wants to go to Disneyland with me?! Not Kent. He’s one of those rational people who likes to slow down on his vacation and maybe even take pictures of the park as he leisurely looks around and thinks about maybe going on something. Dear, dear Kent deserves a medal for watching the debate while the babies slept in the hotel so I could take Fluff on 2 more hours of rides–and for the nail marks I left on his arm during a turbulent ascent out of Denver. I hate flying.
Basically, if I had it to do over, I would have spent the whole time just hanging out with my family and friends talking about something other than how best to utilize our next fast passes. Future Heather, please remember this 3-4 years from now when you insist that your napless, roller-coaster-height boys are ready for another trip to Disneyland. And take more and better pictures next time. Seriously.
Addendum: Kent says I was rather harsh on the boys in this post, and he’s right. The trouble is, I had been holding this trip out to myself as a carrot since before the boys were born. I kept thinking we just have to power through this, then we’ll go to Disneyland when we’ve made it. Unfortunately, it felt like we’ve made nothing. The boys are still babies, and this is still really hard.
There were a lot of cute moments though. The babies enjoyed the haunted mansion. The second time we went through, the ride stopped for about 30 seconds. The boys laughed and kissed each other and kissed both of us in the dark. It was adorable. Also, all that use of the Ergo carrier gave little Salty ample opportunity to smooch and smooch and smooch me. He loves me so much. And after schlepping the boys home for a nap, my Peppers woke up an hour before Salty and just stole my heart with his laughing and snuggling. He was just so cute that I let him open the dirty clothes and strew them about the room and throw all the shoes into various waste baskets. Sure, he trashed the place, but he was so happy and chatty, and kept running back to me and hugging me. And though he was a lapful on the plane, Mr. Peppers was a very sweet, loving lapful.