You know what it’s like to have a dream or vision finally come true, but it’s not exactly how you envisioned it?
That’s what happened to me during a family trip to the ‘happiest place on Earth’ in sunny California in mid- November.
Although it was warm enough to sport capris, a tank top and slather on sunscreen, Disneyland was transformed into a festive winter wonderland with holiday decor at every corner. Some of our favourite classic attractions had been changed up a bit for the season, and the food wasn’t your typical theme park fare.
And don’t even get me started on the portion sizes.
All of this combined was simply too much for this Valley Mom to digest without breaking down…
Into fits of happy hysteria that is.
Disneyland is without a doubt, the most wonderful time of year during the holiday season. From the Haunted Mansion Holiday and ‘It’s a Small World’ holiday to the spectacular seasonal shows, festive fare, parades, aroma of freshly baked gingerbread wafting in the air and nightly snowfall, every sense is heightened when you step foot inside the theme park.
It’s a good thing I brought my sunglasses, because the emotions would take me by complete surprise at all hours of the day. Even Jason fell victim to the infectious overwhelming euphoria one morning at 6 a.m. while getting ready to embark on another magic morning. Trust me, there is normally NOTHING magical about being up at the crack of dawn with our clan, but we checked out of reality when we checked into Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and began our trip.
Here’s why holidays at the Disneyland Resort Made Me Cry 9 times!!!
1- The Thrilling Text Message
It was around two months ago when I received the text that started Disney cryfest 2016.
“You got it, you got DISNEY,” messaged my amazing agent Emily.
I could barely get the words out when I called Jason at work to tell him the great news.
“What’s wrong? Are the girls’ okay??? he asked.
Between sobs, I managed to get out two little words: “It’s happening…”
I had wished on every loose eyelash, birthday candle and shooting star that this would someday transpire through the blog AND it actually did. Yes, I know families go to Disneyland all the time, but to be able to do it all on my own and show my two girls they can achieve their goals if they work hard enough, well, it was such a rewarding and emotional feeling that will stay with me forever.
2- Yes, We Totally Tricked Them
We jumped on the ‘surprise-your-kids-about-Disneyland’ bandwagon, which resulted in some pretty misty eyes at the YVR Airport. Molly and Zoe were in complete shock – both girls though they were going to be saying goodbye to me and then head back to school. SEE VIDEO.
I lost it when Daddy rolled up from behind with their little pink Hello Kitty suitcases and delivered the news that were going on a trip to Disneyland during the holiday season.
3- Our Grand Festive Accommodations Were Indeed Grand.
I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post that the last time I went to Disneyland (ages ago, long before California Adventure Park was even a thing), that my family spent the night in a rented motor home, parked at Walmart. Of course, I never minded that one little bit as teenager, but our recent stay at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa was quite the upgrade.
I honestly felt as though I had walked into a Hallmark Christmas movie when we all stepped foot into the lobby and saw the towering beautiful tree that was home to thousands of beautiful, twinkling lights. Everyone in that lobby was so darn happy, and why wouldn’t they be?
A fellow blogger mentioned that when in Disneyland, you feel like you’re in a bubble shielding you from the real world. The people are nicer, the grounds are so much cleaner and everything tastes better. I was about to experience exactly what she was talking about times by 100 since it was the holiday season, and it all came to me at once. As you can guess, it didn’t take long for my internal sprinkler system to go off — scanning our hotel key in the door and walking into our beautiful room didn’t help matters.
4 – The Most Magical of Mornings Without the Spilled Milk, Sibling Rivalry or Meltdowns
As mentioned above, mornings don’t usually go smoothly in our abode. Someone is always yelling, crying or spilling something — we’re also always chronically late for everything. Trying to get our kids out the door is like pulling teeth, but not at the most magical place on Earth when time stands still for one extra magic hour.
Note: With the extra Magic Hour, an early admission option, registered Disneyland Resort Hotel Guests enjoy—during every day of hotel stay—admission to select attractions, stores, entertainment and dining locations in Disneyland Park or Disney California Adventure Park for one full hour before the parks open to the general public on select days.
VM Tip: To enhance the early entry experience, arrive at least one hour and 15 minutes prior to regular park opening.
Since it was mid-November, the air was crisp, which meant bundling up in cozy sweaters and sipping on hot coffee as we literally skipped through the near-empty park at 7 a.m. Christmas carols were playing on the speaker system for everyone, but it kind of felt like they were playing exclusively for our family.
There were no spills, sibling rivalry or meltdowns, but there were tears – tears of joy from this proud Valley Mom. Molly and Zoe were all smiles and dimples while they held hands and took in all the spectacular festive sights, smells and sounds.
5- Tears of Sheer Terror
If you have the chance to visit California Adventure Park this year, make sure to head straight to the Tower of Terror for one final ride. This popular attraction will be closing in the new year (Jan. 2/17).
This was my first and last time on the ride, so I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Jason also failed to warn me that I should make sure my purse is zipped fully closed — big mistake.
During the big drop, I screamed in absolute terror as the contents of my purse rained down on our heads — I’m talking about loose change, tampons, blog notes, etc.
In hindsight, it was quite comical at the end, but that unexpected drop, or three, brought out tears of terror. LOVED that ride and am seriously bummed it is closing forever. On the positive side, this classic horror-themed ride will undergo a Marvel-themed makeover in the new year, transforming into a Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout.
6- Just a Small Town Valley Girl, Visiting It’s a Small World…
On the first night of our media trip, I said goodbye to the family and joined a group of bloggers for the annual light-up event of the ‘It’s a Small World’ attraction, which was roped off to the general public.
I’ll admit that I felt like small potatoes sandwiched in between national television news anchors, reporters and the editor of Today’s Parent magazine, holding up my little iPhone, but it was also a big defining moment in my blogging career that I will never, ever forget.
As you can probably imagine, it was super emotional to see those lights of my favourite classic Disneyland attraction go on for the very first time that season. Words can’t even describe how beautiful the whole facade is during the holidays, which is why I’ve included a photo below.
7- Babys’ First Parade
I have to fess up here, even at the risk of sounding like a ‘bad Valley Mom.’ While I often blog about all the local parades coming up around Christmas, I never attend them with our family. I guess I just hate the idea of being cold, finding parking … and did I mention how I hate being cold?
As we watched our favourite Disney characters join Santa for a merry musical celebration down Main Street, U.S.A. I realized I need to rethink this whole parade thing. My girls, even myself and Jason, were completely mesmerized by the whole festive experience. And I’ll admit, it’s definitely enjoyable to take a break from walking and soak up a few rays in the middle of November. Plus, you don’t have to worry about parking once inside the park. A big highlight for Molly and Zoe was watching Anna, Elsa and Olaf bid a warm winter welcome from their Frozen float, while I enjoyed watching the Disney Princesses dance and crusty and the Candlelight Ball.
I didn’t bawl like a baby watching my girls light up as the floats went by, but did get a little choked when Zoe whispered to me:
“Thank you so much for taking me here Mummy – I love you.”
8 – Walking in a Winter(ish) Wonderland
Of all the aforementioned tear jerkers above, this one tops the cake. Big time.
We were all a little tired and hungry as we headed back to our hotel through Main Street, but stopped in our tracks as the lights all started to dim.
“What’s going on Mom?” asked Molly, craning her neck to see what everyone was looking at.
Daddy put her on his shoulders so she could get a better view.
All of a sudden in the distance, Sleeping Beauty’s Winter Castle started to light up while “snow” soap bubbles cascaded down along Main Street.
I seriously lost it – I’m talking messy, snot-bubble tears — as my girls reached out to grab the “snow” that ticked their cheeks while ‘I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas’ played overhead.
“Again??? asked Jason, as I tried to regain my composure, giving my hand a little squeeze.
Since the death of my dad and, and most recently, my grandmother, Christmas hasn’t really ever been the same. But at this moment, I felt that childlike wonder and magic again, which I could also see shining in the eyes of our girls.
9- It’s so Hard to Say Goodbye
The worst part about visiting Disneyland is having to eventually leave that magic bubble and go back to our daily lives.
Jason helped us ease into the real world by waking us all up in the morning with the ‘magic morning’ song that we had grown quite accustomed to during our stay — I even attempted to make Mickey Mouse pancakes when we got back.
On the plus side, Disneyland is just a short 2-hour flight away AND there’s a special discount that’s exclusive to Canadians that runs until Feb. 28, 2017. Experience more magic for less with special savings on multi-day tickets and upgrades to Park Hopper tickets — all with Magic Morning early access (Magic Mornings are the absolute best). Save 25% on 3-Day or Longer Tickets and Enjoy More of the Disneyland Resort.
And while staying at Disney’s Grand Californian was a dream come true, there are lots of affordable options out there for families in close proximity to the parks.
For more information about planning your Disneyland Resort holiday, check out the Disneyland Parks website. Also, make sure to visit VM again for more tips on visiting during the holiday season.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.valleymom.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/AB0_0175.jpg[/author_image] [author_info] One of Vancouver’s top Mommy Bloggers, Kristyl Clark resides in the beautiful Fraser Valley region of British Columbia, Canada surrounded by lush countryside, urban shopping centers, wineries and parks. This work-at-home mom of two little Valley girls is proving there is nothing bland about the burbs. This adventurous family seems to always be out on some sort of crazy quest, from helicopter rides and wild river rafting, to top-secret paranormal investigations and living the high-life sampling the fine wines and foods of the Fraser Valley region. Kristyl also publishes a monthly column in Black Press publications throughout Metro Vancouver titled ‘Pink Laundry’. The ValleyMom.ca blog inspires her loyal fanbase through the trials and tribulations of suburban family living, guiding readers to local hotspots and hidden gems in her Canadian backyard.[/author_info] [/author]
Disclaimer: This was a once-in-a-lifetime media trip, but we paid for the flights for Jason and our girls. All opinions are 100% my own.