In what may have been one of the less-smart decisions that I've made (recently), I decided to ignore my hip injury and took the girls to Disneyland this past weekend.
a fox Oski drinking through his eye! The surgeon told me that I couldn't make it any worse just walking and standing, so I packed up my cane, put the electric wheelchair company on speed dial, and away we went.
Yes, I know that Disneyland will likely still be there in the future. Would it have been better to have waited? Hell to the yes.
But for some perspective, take a look at the plan that Mrs. Kod has been working on for months. Be sure to make the "weet! weet! weet!" Psycho sound while reading. Miming the downward knife stroke is optional.
Aaaand, here's her research on the local food situation.
She even calls me out on her board:
Frankly, he has little (if any!) affection for Southern California in general, so he's grudgingly going to DLR for me. He's a die-hard Nor Cal man, 4th generation Cal Bear. So let's call him Grumpy Bear.
Hey wait a sec...Well, that's all true. I don't 'get' Disneyland - really never have even as a kid. I dislike crowds, am not fond of SoCal, and I don't enjoy going on roller-coasters. IMHO, we should have waited another year until PTB was 3ish. But...I thought we should have waited before having Little K...and before having PTB after having Little K...I seem to be sensing a pattern here. Clearly, I'm doing this marriage not to win.
Mrs. Kod and I wanted to keep this a surprise, so we covertly packed under the cover of darkness. Although we had agreed to wake up at a reasonable hour, she woke up at 5am because she was too excited. It was the first of many sighs uttered (silently) throughout this journey.
Nothing like hitting the road to the rousing sounds of...Taylor Swift!
She wears short skirts, I wear T shirts...
I feel you, T-dawg. *sniff
I feel you.
My inner voice throughout the drive down shifted a bit in tone. Geez, thanks for cutting me off. Learn to drive, stupid. Why the eff can't you pick a speed and stick with it. I think I hate the grapevine. I effing hate LA traffic. I effing hate goddamn effing water-stealing soulless bastard LA drivers. THAT'SITIMMAGONNAKILLEVERYONE!
What I really said, "We're almost to the water park. Yay!" (sighs)
To avoid TL:DR, I'll go into summary mode from henceforth. But, I found that the key to enduring enjoying the Disney experience was to ignore just about everyone and everything else and focus on watching my girls. Kind of like almost going full-retard.
Okay, I was wrong(ie. Mrs. Kod was right, part 1):
I originally envisioned the electric wheel chair as a Stephen Hawking type of deal. And I was opposed. I thought it would be too slow, too unwieldy, and would interfere with my enjoyment of the girls' experience. Instead, it turned out to be like an underpowered moped/scooter and was actually a lot of fun to drive. I could go as fast as a slow jogger, and the girls liked to take turns having me carry them while zig-zagging around. Besides, a few hours of trying to limp around with the cane had me convinced. It was pretty brutal.
For all the rumors that they let disabled guests go straight to the head of the line, it was mostly false. In most cases, they let you wait by the exit, but you still have to wait your turn while your family goes through the regular line. And for the newer rides, they're all wheel-chair accessible, so you wait your turn with the rest of the horde. Mrs. Kod did say that on some of the older rides, she did see them moving people right through. Frankly, I'm glad that they usually make everyone wait. Although there were a few injured, elderly, or differently abled riders, the vast, vast majority of people on wheelchairs were simply morbidly obese. I can see why people on the Disney boards complain about the so-called "Fat Pass."
One corpulent lady had the nerve to glare at me several times when I snuck Little K on my lap into the handicapped zone to watch Mickey's parade. I'm not sure what her deal was. I kind of wanted to say, "Look manatee, I need hip surgery. You need liposuction. Let my kid watch the parade and keep your head on swivel for harpoons." But I was in my happy place, and remained on good behavior.
I left my electric wheelchair parked to join my family in watching the Aladdin show. While we were gone, it got towed by security. And we had to track people down to help us find it. (sigh)
Most embarrassing moment:
Keep in mind, I waited in line for the "Princess Fantasy Faire," "Bippity Boppity Boutique," "Pixie Hollow," among others. And this is still worse.
Normally, the cast members would let me hang out near the exit while my family waited in line. When it was our turn, they let me in so that I could take pictures.
When it was time for meeting Minnie, they had changed cast members immediately before and the old guy forgot to tell the new guy about me. So, I limped forward, got my cane stuck in the gate, and kind of stumbled inside. The cast member goes into full bouncer mode and gets up in my face with, "Sir! Are you trying to meet Minnie Mouse?"
Yes, kid. You're on to my evil plan. I was going to club you senseless with my cane and then dry hump Minnie's leg.
What I said, "Um. That's my family over there. I'm just supposed to take pictures."
The "Rapunzel" experience involved waiting in line for 40 minutes. Once you get inside, this girl in a costume says hi, autographs your book, poses for a picture, and then they boot you outside again. Seriously? They should at least let the kids climb her hair or something.
There were some adults without kids at Ariel's Grotto for the special "Meet the Princesses lunch." I did not hear whether their reservation was "Chris Hansen, party of two."
Mrs. Kod was right, part 2:
I thought it was silly to buy the girls noise-reducing ear muffs. But they were really useful during all the fireworks/water/music shows. The World of Color show at California Adventure was pretty amazing. Besides the normal lasers, water, and music, they used the water to create a screen for LCD projections of different movie scenes.
As the designated place-holder, I didn't go on too many rides. Instead, I mostly parked myself and waited while Mrs. Kod ran around collecting fast passes or took the girls on something. I did take them on a few of the more sedate ones (Dumbo, Tea Cups, Carousel) while Mrs. Kod was otherwise occupied.
During naptime, I supervised the girls back at the hotel while Mrs. Kod returned to the park to go on all the scary and/or fast rides.
She loved the Halloween version of Space Mountain and the Tower of Terror. Little K's favorite was Goofy's Skyscape. She was initially too scared to go on, but after finally agreeing to try it, she came out yelling, "That was awesome!!!"
I enjoyed the new Star Tours, but mostly 'cuz I'm kind of a Star Wars nerd. The Indiana Jones ride was really overrated. If you want the same experience, blind-fold yourself, put the sound track on high, then have a few friends mosh or beat you with pillows for five minutes. Really. Stupid. I did enjoy Soarin' Over California. It simulates being on a hang glider and flying over some of the prettiest areas of the state. (Sacramento?, noticeably absent) Also, it was a lot of fun riding with Little K next to me and hearing her shout with delight at each new scene.
We didn't want to buy overpriced, nasty food if necessary. So, we brought bread/condiments and made our own sandwiches with leftover steak from our Harris Ranch pitstop on the way down. We also brought a lot of fruit, hardboiled eggs, and crackers for the girls. Our one bad splurge was at the Corndog Castle...but they were so, so good. Although we planned to leave the park for dinner and then return...we did get stuck the first night up in Frontier Land when PTB started yelling, "Meat! Meeeeeat!" Their Thunder Ranch BBQ wasn't awful(chicken breast and beans were surprisingly good), just really expensive. Otherwise, we snuck out to a nearby Vietnamese restaurant, the OC Poultry and Rotisserie Market for some excellent rice plates and plenty of banh mi to take for breakfasts and snacks.
Our plans to visit Lizarran for tapas was nixed due to exhaustion. Instead, we gave in and grabbed some 5 Guys. (better meat than In n' Out, vastly better fries. In'N Out has better bread, better toppings. IMHO, before the flame wars begin.)
The souvenirs - Mrs. Kod was right, part 3:
Mrs. Kod did some clever shopping beforehand and was able to get a lot of Disney-related gifts at big discounts. She was quite proud of getting $60 princess dresses for $5. We did succumb to the $17 face-painting (Had we known the cost before the lady started, we would have said no. But they are very sneaky about ambushing you in front of your kid.) and a $15 pair of balloons. (sigh)
- Seeing and hearing all the squeals and giggles as the girls excitedly settled into their hotel room.
- When we walked up to the entrance of Disneyland and Little K slowly figured out that this ain't no water park.
- Watching Little K and PTB run to give the princesses/fairies/Mickey/Minnie big hugs with pure joy on their faces.
- Learning how to sketch Mickey at an animation seminar and having PTB happily yell, "Mickey Mouse!" while bringing me pencil and paper to sketch him again. And again. And again.
- Watching Little K's eyes bug out as she realized that the princesses were going to come talk to her at our table. (Ariel's Grotto - special lunch)
- Going home each night with a daughter passing out in my arms, feeling worn out but absolutely content.
I still dislike crowds, roller coasters, and SoCal. I don't like Disneyland for a variety of reasons. But it was a special trip; our first true family vacation since we had PTB, actually.
It was pretty darn exhausting and I really hope to not go back for quite a while.
But seeing my daughters experience their first visit and watching them get so excited about so many things made it all worth it.
Okay, I learned that sharing is caring. What was your favorite family vacation? Worst? Most interesting? Did any of you try to meet Minnie??!?!