This past year, Mrs. Kod and I agreed that we would try to emphasize experiences over "oooh shiny" with our dear little spawnlings. So for their Xmas present, "we" decided to take them to Disneyland.
Oski help me.
In a weird coincidence, our first trip to Disneyland was almost cancelled because I tore a muscle in my hip. My somewhat heroic response at the time was, "Let's just go for it. What are they going to do? Do surgery twice?"
Two years later, I've re-torn a muscle in my hip and am again scheduled for surgery. But, I dug deep for a less than heroic response to Mrs. Kod's inquiry about canceling, "Pain is just weakness leaving the body. Kind of like gas, only more ouchy and less smelly."
As many of you know, Mrs. Kod treats a trip to DL like coordinated air/land/sea/space assault on a fortified and dug-in position. She booked a Kids' Suite at the HoJo a year in advance, bought a double jogging stroller off Craigslist, and arranged to have an electric wheelchair waiting at the hotel for me.
Despite assurances that this trip was going to be more relaxed, I still received a six-page Google document as part of my pre-trip briefing.
As a microcosm of the "more relaxed" trip, she told me that we could just wake up leisurely on Thursday morning and drive down whenever.
What really happened: She was up at 5am...followed by a hyper dog...followed shortly by a couple of hyper girls. So, I taped up my forearms and legs, and away we went.
To get the girls ready, we had "Cars" on a DVD. This made for a more pleasant than usual drive because we could actually chat instead of continually answering questions or listening to safe-for-kids radio.
One little tidbit of scintillating discourse:
Mrs. Kod: Ee hee hee!
Me: Do I want to know?
Mrs. Kod: I have three different Disney apps. That way I can compare wait times on all the rides!
Me: Weet! Weet! Weet! (pantomines stabbing)
Mrs. Kod: Good thing you loooove me.
Me: At this point, I'm scared not to...
Pro-tip: Set the air to recirc when you start seeing signs for Cowling so that you don't smell all the cows around Harris Ranch.
We pit-stopped for gas and food in Buttonwillow. Tita's Pupuseria is a little hole in the wall, but the food is great. Mrs. Kod loved her pupusas with curtido. I enjoyed an assortment of lengua, al pastor, carnitas, and al pescado tacos.
Mrs. Kod's analysis: "I like Modelo. I feel goooood." Ah yes. Nothing like going to your happy place.
The drive was otherwise uneventful and we arrived at the HoJo to find my wheelchair charged and ready.
You shall be my battle chariot. And I shall call you George.
Mrs. Kod's crazy plan was to cram as much action into the less-crowded Thursday afternoon as possible. And so off we went.
Commence Super-Move....PINCER ATTACK!
While I got our photo pass, she got fast passes to Soarin'.
Then we met back up and went for...COMBO PINCER!!! While she took the girls to the Fantasy Princess Faire, I boxed out space at the Beauty and the Beast show. Give me a wheelchair and I'm good. Give me a double-stroller next to a wheelchair and I'm unbeatable.
I was, however, weirded and grossed out by the Best Nose-Picker In The World. Like not just a casual swipe. This kid went at it from every angle for almost a half hour. I kept cringing. Don't touch me! Don't touch any of our stuff! I wanted to slip his mom a five, "Please ma'am. Go buy him something _else_ to eat."
The show was an unholy union of Something Happened On the Way to the Forum and Beauty and the Beast. But the girls liked it. Meanwhile, Mrs. Kod slipped out to get Star Tours fast passes and churros. Clever girl.
Unfortunately, our Soarin'/Star Tours double-play was disrupted by the Pixar parade blocking our way. Besides, the girls got excited watching the characters on floats.
Idly, I thought about the hierarchy. There's the awesome: Toy Story acrobats and
DC Trocan Incredibles pogo stilt dudes. The okay: Finding Nemo Jellyfish dancers, Buzz Lightyear girls. And the lowest of the low: the Bug's Life centipede.
Seriously. Can you imagine telling your mom that you're the hindquarters of a centipede?
"I'm working at Disney, Ma!"
"What do you do?"
"I'm...um...the back of centipede."
"Do you talk? Sing? Dance?"
"I sort of shuffle around. I have to time my footsteps, though!"
"I knew all that time you spent in the marching band was a waste..."
We did Soarin' and got the kid swap pass. If one of your kids is too short, they'll give you an untimed pass (no deadlines) to come back with two riders. Little K and I had a good time together. But admittedly, it was a little sad for me. Two years ago, she really believed that we were up in the air. Now, she matter-of-factly explained to me that it was just a screen with fans and I was silly for pretending to avoid trees and for trying not to get my feet wet.
With no time left for the Star Tours fast pass (now they only give you a designated window instead of an all-day anytime pass), we took PTB on Ariel's ride. Pretty darn cute watching her wave to all the characters.
And here's where we took a little stumble. Literally. Mrs. Kod decided she'd like to try Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen per the recommendations of some DisBoard cultists. Told that it was just a "20-25 minute" wait, we took the girls to the lego store and let them play with the racers. Forty minutes later, we thought our pager must be broken and decided to go back to the restaurant. Aaaaand my electric wheelchair wouldn't start. Bad George. Baaaaad.
Naturally, customer support was closed for the night. So, I was left trying to find the fuses and circuit breaker locations from a manual which helpfully showed pictures...of a different model. Eventually, I found and reset the main breaker and Johnny Five was alive once more. Except, of course, that Mrs. Kod helpfully managed to break my walking stick while I was trying to fix the hyperdrive. Almost fell flat on my face upon arriving at the restaurant...which was less than ideal.
The live jazz was nice. Too bad the food was really not very good. But, I tipped the performer to serenade Mrs. Kod and we enjoyed a very non-Disney adult beverage before retiring for the night.
Told that we only needed to be at the park by 8:15am, I was promised a leisurely morn--ahahahaha! Who am I kidding. Both Mrs. Kod and Little K were up and excited at 5am. Again. For crying out loud.
To my sleep-addled brain, Mrs. Kod's battle plans sounded so complicated I asked her to send me a text. Basically, while she took the girls on Toy Story, I was to wheel my battle chariot into the fast pass line for the new Radiator Springs Racers attraction in Cars land. My secondary objective was to get another set of passes for the Screaming roller coaster. Then we were supposed to re-convene in time for breakfast at Minnie's. That line was a serious knife fight, but great success! We were almost late for breakfast because Mrs. Kod spotted Donald Duck and nearly wiped out a small crowd veering in his direction. Unlike our last trip, Mrs. Kod opted to splurge this year and buy their Photo Pass service. On the plus side, it's rather convenient having them take photos for you. On the other, having the service brought out the worst aspects of OCD combined with MUST-GET-MONEY'S-WORTH and resulted in random, frenzied detours towards wide-eyed photographers.
Wearing their matching mouse-eared hats, our girls were excited to meet several of the classic Disney characters who dropped by our breakfast table. Which is good...because it was a ninety-minute exercise in trying to get food/eat while keeping your head on the swivel to make sure you didn't miss any character visits. Multi-tasker supreme that she is, Mrs. Kod shamelessly ditched me at the breakfast to run out for Star Tours fast passes.
From a health perspective, this is absolutely the best buffet I have ever had. There is absolutely, positively no way you'll be tempted to overeat. As Master Sifu put it best, "there is now a Level Zero."
With full hearts and empty stomachs, it was off to Radiator Springs. We did the kid swap, but Mrs. Kod helpfully told the cast member, "my husband will go first!" Say...wha? I'm not good with rides. And yet, I found myself with a bubbly Little K getting strapped into a race car. "Is this a fast ride?" I actually asked myself. "You idiot. It's a race car," was the answer. Fortunately, the gut-lurching ups/downs were minimal even for a weak sauce like myself. And listening to Little K shriek with glee the entire time was simply awesome. I'm glad I was wearing my wraparound shades. The finish line photo looked like I was really physical, just flying around out there. But the shades most likely hid bug-eyed, "AM I GONNA DIE?!??!"
Because PTB was too small for most rides, we switched to photo-shoot mode. This was my moment. My time. I would go stand in line. When I got close, the girls would take my spot to get their photos while I moved on to the next objective. I was basically a human first down marker. For the record, I was very proud that none my girls jogged out of bounds before they got to me.
When it was nap time, I took PTB back to the hotel to recover while Little K and Mrs. Kod reaped the rewards of all those stockpiled fast passes. We re-joined them for Dumbo, a corn dog dinner and the Soundsational Parade. Afterwards, we had a great time on the race cars at Autotopia. I found it highly amusing that the park smoking area was located beneath the track maintenance bay. In addition to your nicotine fix, you get to double dip with gasoline fumes! It really is the Happiest Place on Earth!!!
I fear for my life in ten years when Little K starts taking driving lessons. She's too short to reach the gas, so I worked the pedal while she steered. And by steered, I mean crash into every single concrete barrier in sight. Those Asian female driver stereotypes? Not helping, kid. Not helping. I'm not sure if it's reassuring or disturbing that she found all the crashing to be hysterically funny. Then again, I did too. So, we got plenty of odd looks when we rolled into the finish laughing like maniacs.
PTB was fading, so I took her back while Mrs. Kod and Little K stayed to hit Space Mountain and all the other fast rides. Anticipating that we wouldn't want to go out for breakfast, Mrs. Kod bought me a giant turkey leg to gnaw on as needed. The crazy kid made it past the fireworks (10ish)...and was still up at 6 the next day raring to go. Fear.
Unfortunately for Mrs. Kod and Little K, Soarin', Space Mountain, Matterhorn, and Radiator Springs were all shut down. Apparently, in real life you can't treat your workers like the minions in Despicable Me...or OSHA lays down the ban-hammer. It wasn't too big a deal, however, because this was the morning the girls had their princess makeovers scheduled. Without delving into the gory details, let's just say that the Bibbiti Bobbidi Boutique is Mos Eisley with glitter.
The rest of the trip was more of the same. A couple of character meals interspersed with rides and ZOMG-PHOTO ops. We were all wearing down. PTB crashed early, and Little K had to take a power nap in the stroller before second winding for her evening fast pass rides. Embarrassingly enough, I fell asleep while stretching my leg and woke up around midnight on the floor.
That's when you know it's time to get out of Dodge. I set cruise control for the second star on the right, and then we made the jump to light speed before those mouse-worshipping zombies could eat our brains. Wish upon _this._