August 25, 2007

Disneyland? or just MiniDisney?

Just back from a week in California that began in Santa Monica and wrapped up with a few days in Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure Park.

My sister and I took my mother to DisneyWorld back in the fall of 2001..... it was shortly before I got married. It was my first trip and I recall how amazed I was at all the pride and joy these employees ("cast members") had. It wasn't just the "Welcome Home" people at the hotels, it was the people running the rides, the people serving the food, the people driving the buses.... even the people cleaning the bathrooms -- they were all doing their work with a spring in their step.

Since that first trip in 2001, I've been back to DisneyWorld -- geez, it must be half a dozen times. My impression of the place hasn't changed -- everyone walks around like they are an owner -- and it's nice..... maybe a tiny bit irritating at times, but it's really nice.

Disneyland? Well, Disneyland was different. Don't get me wrong -- the 'lil Dubya had an AMAZING time. He got to meet Buzz and Woody -- he got to dance with Sully and Boo -- he shook hands with Mickey and waved sheepishly at Pluto. The dancers gave him high-fives and the photographers couldn't wait to take his picture. But....... there were also the usual disgruntled employees that you'd see anywhere..... well, anywhere except DisneyWorld that is.

It was really nothing too serious, just a guy who was annoyed by my coffee order..... a gift shop clerk who wasn't all that interested in answering questions.... a ride operator who didn't care when I told him that the monitor in our "car" was busted, a Buzz Lightyear who was 20 minutes late for his photo-op -- all things that happen anywhere, except of course DisneyWorld that is. The maps, well they weren't quite as detailed or easy to follow and the photo-ops were never where they were listed to be. I understand that this was largely driven by the heat, but...... it's Southern California -- uhm hullo, didn't they know it'd be hot in August?

The BlockParty Bash was awesome -- the 'lil man danced and Bo Peep twirled him around. It was a little boy's dream-come-true. My heart broke when he looked up with his enormous brown eyes and signed for "more, more" and we had to tell him that it was over.

I have to give two thumbs up to the waitresses that took care of us in Downtown Disney at the ESPN Zone and the House of Blues -- I mean, they really knew how to help out a couple trying to have lunch with two babies.

Side Note: I got a great tip from Kara over at CapeBuffalo one day when the Big Dubya & I were dining in a restaurant with the Buffalo family. I was still pregnant with 'lil Dubya and wondered why she ordered Baby Buffalo's food as soon as we sat......before she even opened a menu herself she was ordering a hotdog or something for kiddo..... it was a stroke of genius. The kid's food comes right away and you can help them get started with it before yours even comes -- isn't it amazing the 'lil tips you can pick up from the more seasoned moms????.

The ESPN Zone's food wasn't very good -- but the service was such, that we didn't really care. The food at the House of Blues was outstanding -- the Big Dubya even tried something new. I also have to note that I LOVE the dudes who do curbside check-in at LAX. When you've got two carseats, a double stroller, two squirmy babies and a week's worth of luggage..... curbside check-in is a gift from God!

Overall, I really liked Disneyland -- it is much, much smaller than DisneyWorld -- but the way the two parks and Downtown Disney all share a common courtyard makes it really manageable to hop from one to the other throughout the day, even with two wee ones in tow. It also makes the characters a bit more accessible. We got to see most of the ones we wanted up close multiple times because the crowds aren't so huge. It was also easy to find a quiet shady spot to sit and enjoy a cold adult beverage while the kiddies snoozed in the stroller.

If your kids are fans of the Pixar movies, and you have the opportunity -- the Block Party Bash is really worth it.


Sue said...

That never worked for us in practice (not the Disneyland, we haven't been yet) but the ordering early thing. Clare would eat her dinner then be ready to leave before we had even taken our first bite.

Sounds like the lil Dubya had a great time at Disneyland - very cute pictures with Mater and the rest of Cars.

Welcome back!

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