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Friday 28 September 2012

The Happiest Place on Earth - Day 1

Ok, so I've been a little slack with posting lately. So, so much going on over the last month. I think it's about time I catch up with a look at one of the reasons I've gotten behind in the first place.

So prepare for a total onslaught of photos...

Here it is...

Our trip to DISNEYLAND!!!

Ava had been looking forward to visiting Disneyland since well before we made our move to the States. In an effort to help her get excited about our move we'd told her than we'd be living in the same state as Disneyland. Ok, so we're at the other end of the state but compared to Australia San Francisco is pretty close to the home of Mickey Mouse. Knowing that Mickey and his friends were only a half day's drive away, Ava would ask almost on a weekly basis when we'd finally make it to Disneyland. Well, that day finally came a few weekends back when we made the trip down to sunny Anaheim to meet up with my sister, Kylie, who was on holiday in America. Disneyland AND seeing Aunty Kylie? I think all of Ava's dreams came true in one go!

Day 1

Where to start about Disneyland? There's just so much to see and do that it's hard to work out what to do first. Ava had made a short list of "must do" rides that was pretty much all located within Fantasyland so that made for a good place to start. Of course, getting to Fantasyland took an awfully long time as we were greeted with friendly Disney characters and photo opportunities at every turn! Lola had been a little (ok, a LOT) grizzly when we first arrived at Disneyland but that all turned around when she spotted Pluto. In the past she's been very apprehensive about meeting life size characters but she took to Pluto (and every other Disney character she met) straight away. It's amazing the transformation that cuddly pup brought about!

Hooray for Pluto!

I just love the look of adoration on Lola's face as she looks up at Pluto

Pinocchio checks out the girls' homemade Disney t-shirts

Goofy was Lola's favourite.
I couldn't get her to look at the camera as she just wanted to stare at him!

The girls meet Chip 'n' Dale

Welcome to Disneyland!!!

Watching Mickey & Minnie dancing

Watching Donald perform with a ragtime band

Lola loved the pony poles through Main Street so much she just had to pose for a photo with one!

Matching t-shirts all round!

Hello Walt

After stopping to meet Pluto, Pinocchio, Goofy and Chip'n'Dale, and watching performances by Mickey, Minnie and Donald we finally made it through Sleeping Beauty's Castle and into Fantasyland. Here the girls enjoyed the Teacup ride, the carousel (or Pony Ride according to Lola) and the Dumbo ride.

Ava and Lola ride the teacups with Aunty Kylie

Dumbo ride

Our break for lunch coincided with the first of the daily parades so we found a good spot along the parade route and sat down to watch the festivities. The girls loved the parade although the music was a little loud for Ava. She had her hands over her ears for much of the parade! On the flip side, the excitement of the parade tired Lola out and she promptly fell asleep in her stroller once it finished.

Minnie in the parade

Ava was excited to see Ariel

Princesses galore

Tiana from The Princess and the Frog

Dancers accompanying the Princess and the Frog float

Donald Duck

While Lola slept after the parade we thought we'd squeeze in a few "big kid" rides in Frontierland. Ok, so we didn't do any of the real big kid rides like Splash Mountain (too scary for Ava) but we did convince her to go on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - which Ava later renamed "Thunder of Fear"! Ava was a little nervous about going on Big Thunder as she was paranoid that it was a proper roller coaster. While there weren't any loops or going upside down it was still just a little too scary for Ava. I think it was the speed. I watched from the sidelines while Ava rode with Kim and Kylie. Apparently there was some pretty funny commentary coming from Ava along with a lot of screaming. She was pretty wary about trusting us after that one. Bad Mummy and Daddy!

While in this part of Disneyland we also took Ava on The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Now, you might think that a Winnie the Pooh ride might be a little on the babyish side for Ava. As it turns out this one terrified her almost as much as Big Thunder. While it didn't move overly fast there was an awful lot of darkness in this ride. The darkness was punctuated with psychedelic, neon coloured heffalumps and other crazy characters making it a little more interesting than we had anticipated! Ava was not keen on being in the dark and was pretty freaked out by the time it finished. Of course, afterwards she kept talking about how much she liked the Winnie the Pooh ride. Yeah, right!

Ava and Kylie in Frontierland

After Ava's terrifying rides in Frontierland Lola woke up and we headed back through Sleeping Beauty's Castle to Fantasyland and the ride that Ava had been looking forward to the most... It's a Small World. Last time Kim and I went to Disneyland we avoided It's a Small World like the plague. I had images in my head of Bart and Lisa's ride in Duff Gardens on the Simpsons; "Duff Beer for me, Duff Beer for you...". I didn't need to get an annoying song stuck in my head!
As it turns out, It's a Small World wasn't as bad as I had anticipated. Sure the animatronic people are a little cheesy, the backgrounds look a little dated and the song definitely gets stuck in your head but the boat ride was quite soothing, the kids absolutely loved it and (the best bit) it was air-conditioned! We'd been sweltering out in the heat of the SoCal sun all day so a 15 minute break or so travelling around the Small World was quite nice.

Ava with Sleeping Beauty's Castle

Heading in to It's a Small World

It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all...

...it's a small, small world.

From It's a Small World we headed to Mickey's Toontown. It was getting a little late in the day by the time we made it to Toontown so the character meet and greets had finished up for the day. All but one that is. Mickey Mouse himself was still available to meet. Now unlike the other characters that come and meet kids throughout the park, Mickey gets you to come to him. After a little tour through Mickey's house we waited in a nice cool room for about ten minutes before it was our turn to meet the mouse. I hadn't actually realised that we'd be meeting Mickey when we first entered the house so Kim and Kylie didn't join the girls and I. Once we realised we realised we were on route to meet him it was too late for them to catch up to us. That was ok; it just meant that the we'd drag them back again on day two and the girls and I would meet Mickey twice!

Lifting weights in Mickey's Toontown

Ding ding! Here comes the Toontown Express...

Meeting Mickey

Meeting Mickey

After meeting Mickey and hanging out it Toontown for a while it was getting quite late. We headed back out of the park to Downtown Disney for some dinner and before we knew it it was time for the nightly fireworks display. We found ourselves a good fireworks watching spot just inside Main Street USA and sat down to watch the extravaganza. One thing's for sure about Disney: they really do go all out when it comes to entertainment.

Just like the parade that lulled Lola to sleep earlier in the day, so to did the fireworks have the same effect - only this time with Ava. Miss Lola was still wide awake as we wheeled her big sister back to the hotel in the stroller.

It was a big day for us all and quite tiring. Time for some much needed sleep in preparation for day two. Stay tuned for more Disney fun...

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