Overall, with 2 five-year-olds, a two-year-old, and 4 adults, we had three days of magic; there were loads of highlights frankly. But here are just 5 notables:
1. Pirate Lair on Tom Sawyer's Island
TIP: Hit the dollar store before you leave home and smuggle some treasure of your own onto the island ... quietly ... for the wee ones to find.
First the river raft ride to the island ...
Hiding from the pirate ship ...
Hunting for treasure exploring caves, crossing crazy bridges, running trails and climbing into tree houses ...
... and finding it ...
... but it always getting away ...
So, we didn't think to bring treasure with us. But we somehow managed to talk our little booty-hunters into leaving the island so that we could, in a cloak-and-dagger kind of way, get to the nearby gift shop across from the Indiana Jones ride, to buy some polished rocks and jewels. Each adult quietly lined their own pockets and also found a way to sneak some into the children's pockets without them noticing! Not easy. But with great reward.
Watching their little jaws drop upon discovering that somehow treasure found its way into all our pockets was a definite highlight of our trip. Um ... maybe even my life!
Spud announced, "Now I know what the pirate meant when he said 'go get your own treasure'. He meant it was in our own pockets! But Mama, how did the treasure get in our pockets?"
"I don't know. Maybe it was magic?"
"But there is no such thing as magic. I know, maybe the pirate ghosts snuck it into our pockets when we weren't looking."
So darn cute.
2. Indiana Jones Adventure may be just too exciting for the wee ones. In our case, the kids were either too short or too nervous to do this ride but we didn't want that to stop the adult fun.
TIP: Get the Switching off Pass; the whole family waits in line, asks for a switch off pass from the first ride attendant, half the adults take the ride while the other half wait with the kids then, the first half come back to watch the kids while the second half go on the ride. All without waiting in line again!
3. Bengal Barbecue, across from the Indian Jones ride, serves good quality meat and veggie skewers which are reasonably priced.
TIP: Nearby seating was at a premium and shade an impossibility. We walked around the corner and asked a staff member if we could sit on the upper patio of a different restaurant. He assured us it was fine and we found a perfect table in the shade and away from the crowds.
4. With our Magic Morning pass [allowed to enter the park an hour before the general public] we took full advantage of line-less popular rides like Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters. So much fun! In fact we rode it 2 times in a row without waiting. It was a great way to kick off our 3 days.
TIP: consider picking up your passes the day before you plan on redeeming your Magic Morning so you don't have to waste any time picking them up once the park is open for business.
5. The after dark Remember ... Dreams Come True Fireworks Spectacular was such a hit with our wee ones that they each announced "I'm going to remember this for the rest of my life".
TIP: an afternoon nap back at the hotel and a packed picnic dinner for the park meant we all had the time and energy to stay up late for the spectacular event.
Tinker Bell's appearance was icing on the cake.
Ever think that maybe Disneyland has lost its shine for you? This is a good article to read: Magic of Disneyland Endures
And a must read for many more tips: The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland by Bob Sehlinger.
San Diego Indoor / Outdoor Day
San Diego Zoo Day
San Diego Zoo Planning
One more sleep to California