Alcatraz to Disney

IMG_20150331_104544From one of America’s scariest penitentiaries to the happiest place on Earth, our spring break plans took a major twist just days before we loaded into the car to head out of town.

And it all worked out for the better.

Gas was cheap, we got a nice tax return and my husband has unlimited personal time off so it was the perfect combination for a family road trip to California.

We chose to go to San Francisco and started dreaming of Alcatraz tours, sea lion watching and foggy views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The two oldest boys were totally stoked. They started online research; looking into places we could see on our trip.

But we didn’t have all our ducks in a row. We didn’t book tickets to Alcatraz in time and all the tours and ferries to the island were sold out. We decided to change our plans less than a week before we were to leave town.

I was scared to tell the boys that the trip to San Francisco was off. We had been talking up the Bay area for weeks.

But I’ll never forget the night we announced our new destination. We told them we were going to Disneyland instead and they screamed and cheered.

Keep in mind this isn’t their first trip to the park. We have been to Disneyland six times in the past 10 years. Not as many times as a Disney fanatic, but way more times than the average Utah family.

My oldest is 8 and he’s been four times. I would have thought the magic might have worn off a little. (Which is why we were looking at going somewhere new like San Francisco.) But it hasn’t. Later that night my husband overheard him saying, “Am I dreaming? Are we really going to Disneyland?”

Jackpot. It became very evident that this should have been our destination all along. The boys were just going along with our San Francisco excitement. They couldn’t care less about seeing Chinatown or the Redlands – at least at this point in time.

Our trip was an absolute dream. We drove to visit family for a couple days, spent some time on our favorite San Clemente beach and headed to Anaheim Monday morning.

Maybe it’s because I wasn’t pregnant during this trip or maybe it’s because my boys are finally tall enough to ride on the adult rides, but I can’t remember having a better time in the park.

The boys ran first to The Pirates of the Caribbean ride and shouted, “Yo Ho,” right along with the pirates as we floated down the river. I triple dog dared them to ride the Tower of Terror with me and I have never heard them scream so loud in my life.

(My oldest now claims its his favorite ride, I don’t know how he can tell, he has never really seen he’s only experienced it while closing his eyes and nuzzling into my shoulder.)

The youngest two loved the singing puppets on the It’s a Small World ride and the bright colors on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. And although they both started crying when we made it to see Mickey at his house, you should have seen their eyes sparkle when it started to snow in Arendale and they gave Olaf a warm hug.

It took my 2-year-old a day to get into things and realize that the rides were exciting and fun. I’ll never forget his giggle on the teacups as we spun around and how excited he was to “fly” with Dumbo and sit on top of Mickey’s Ferris Wheel.

We killed time in line by checking the wait-times app and researching Disneyland secrets on my phone. Who knew cats take over the park at night to get rid of mice and a family once sprinkled their son’s ashes in the Haunted Mansion?

To top it all off, my husband’s favorite ride, Splash Mountain, opened back up after months of renovation on our second day in the park. Thanks to Fast Passes and the Rider Switch pass we were able to ride several times in an hour.

We walked from sun up until sun down soaking in all that we could. We ate a turkey leg and listened to the Tiki birds, we watched Disney Junior live on stage and met Ana and Elsa. We petted goats in the ranch and zoomed past the stars in Space Mountain.

We even made it to the infamous Radiator Springs Racers ride – something we haven’t wanted to wait for in the past.

All the while we kept our eyes open for Captain Hook. We didn’t see him in person this trip but an outstanding Disneyland employee took my 6-year-old’s autograph book backstage so he could get a signature from his hero.

On the last day when we were cinching our lap bars down on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad ride, my 8-year-old turned to me and said, “This was much funner. San Francisco is just historical, there’s nothing to do like this.”

He’s right there is nothing to do like that in San Francisco. Disneyland is a magical place. I should have known we would have a great time there.

Sometimes I think we need to do more. My mom guilt takes over and I think we need to learn more. We need to experience new things. We need to broaden our horizons.

But this time I was way wrong. San Francisco will still be there in a few years when my boys are old enough to appreciate its history. Who knows how long Disneyland’s magic will last for them.

It’s all right that we went there AGAIN. In fact it’s more than all right. We made some amazing memories at one of our favorite places. Who knows, maybe we’ll choose to go there again on or next big family trip.

I secretly wonder if it was all meant to be. Sometimes what you think is a good idea, morphs into an even better one.

1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Elise
    Apr 23, 2015 @ 13:13:13

    I want to go again!!


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