That Time We Drove From Missouri to Disneyland, CA With Three Kids Six and Under.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

One day, we rented a minivan, packed it to the gills, loaded up three kids ages 6 and under, and drove 1,802+ miles and went to Disneyland. 

In between Ballwin, MO and Anaheim, CA, there was:
  • Milestone presents for the kids
  • Rest stops in Topeka
  • Lots of DVDs
  • Very few car naps for Quinn
  • An overnight in Denver, CO
  • Colorado playdate with friends in the area
  • A minisession for a client-turned-friend in CO
  • Cupcakes
  • Lots of tossing the binkie over the side of the car seat (Ugh, Quinn.)
  • Swervy, curvy, gorgeous driving through the Rockies
  • Several nights in Utah, seeing loved ones
  • A gorgeous mountain minisession for a UT friend-turned-client
  • A UT playdate with several dear friends and family
  • A backyard campout with Aunt Mary
  • A gorgeous stroll around Temple Square
  • Kids bonding with kids of our friends
  • LOTS of good eats
  • An early-morning puking Lucy the day we were leaving for CA
  • Lots of puke between UT and CA
  • A Capriottis rest stop in Vegas
  • A family session for a friend-turned-client on a gorgeous Ventura beach
  • Food truck deliciousness afterwards in Ventura (puking had stopped about 8 hours before, thank goodness!)
  • A late late drive to Anaheim after food trucks

And then: 
Two FULL, wearying, marvelous, awesome delicious exhilarating days in Disneyland.

No, we didn't go in to see Mr. Lincoln. Sorry Mr. Lincoln. We only had two days, and there were more fun things to spend that time on. 

Like MINNIE! Lucy got to meet Minnie within minutes of entering the park. She was in HEAVEN. Oh gosh, the way she waved at her before and after meeting her. So sweet!

My favorite thing about Disneyland: Main Street. Hands down. It sets the tone and makes me feel like a kid again. Always. 

Our first ride this time: Small World. Because back in 2009, it was almost-2-year-old Noah's absolute favorite ride. And we knew that Lucy and Quinn would fall in love, too. Plus the line was still short. 

Oh, our kiddos were SO good. So so good. And even with Quinn giving in to a stroller nap (!!), he still took a second nap later in the afternoon when we trekked back to our vacation condo for naptime. 

She may look uncertain, but mark my words-- she LOVED meeting the characters. Every time. ♥

(And when we snuck back into Pooh's corner after the characters had gone for the day, I got some of my favorite photos from our time in Disneyland. I mean, a bunny-girl like Lucy, plopped into Rabbit's Garden? I die.)

Because we had done a midday naptime, we kept them at the park late, to see the fireworks. And I cried. Like I did last time. Like I probably always will. It's seriously just so magical. I'm not being snarky here. I LOVE the feeling I get as I watch the fireworks and the show accompanying them. 

And I mean--- Main Street at night? Still my favorite. 

So then: Day Two. Best decision of Day Two? Paying $17 to park at the shuttle lot instead of walking the 1/2 mile from our condo to that parking lot. Because that 1/2 mile in the morning, then before midday nap time, then after midday naptime, then at the end of the day? TOO MUCH. WORTH $17 to avoid on Day 2. 

So Day 2, because we did that little thing, was JUST as fun and grand and good and perfect as Day 1. 

(Lucy works on convincing Holland to do the ONE posed portrait I'd planned for our trip to Disneyland.)
 This one:

And they just stayed so cute, that I kept snappin'. 

Because did I mention we dragged our dear friends, the Hess's, to Disney with us? we split the vacation rental and just had SO much fun sharing this trip with them.
Can you blame us for lovin' them? Oh, Hess girls. ♥ ♥ ♥

Oh Princesses.....

Oh Noah, putting fingers into skull eye holes. (We LOVED the Pirate's Lair island, formerly Tom Sawyer's Island. A great break for the kids to run around and explore freely without lines or fences... Quinn, especially, thrived in the freedom.)

Photo break, waiting for the raft to take us back to Mainland Disney. 

{Aside: after the island, we beelined to the First Aid office because I'd found a tick in Noah's hair. Probably a tick from Missouri or Colorado, since they're uncommon in UT or CA. Noah was freaked at the idea of a "procedure", but I was freaked at the idea of a clinger tick the rest of our visit... so we headed to First Aid, where Disneyland employs a handful of RNs to serve the miscellaneous needs of the park patrons. Needless to say, our tick issue was NOT an everyday thing for them. But Sue, our nurse, was AMAZING-- so good with Noah and his fear. She even gifted him "go straight to the front of the line" passes for a couple of rides as a reward for his bravery. This interlude was weirdly one of my favorite parts of our Disney trip. I love that they think of everything--- legit nurses in a legit clinical  setting... And have you guys been to the Baby Rooms? Oh gosh-- thoughtfully appointed areas for feeding and diapering your babies. The idea for the baby area was all Walt Disney's, from day one of Disneyland, and it is totally charming. ♥}

So then my girl met MICKEY! Another red-letter moment!! 

We took another midday nap break, this time just me with Quinn and Lucy (Hallelujah, $17 parking!! I love you like a sister!). Joe stayed in the park with Noah to do Jedi Training, and it was SO awesome. They sat through the presentation THRICE to try to get Noah up front to wear a brown Jedi robe and get to perform with Darth Maul and Darth Vader. And he finally got called up! Heaven!! (No photos from my big camera, sadly, because it was napping with me.)

When we reconvened, we happened to be in the right place at the right time for the evening parade, and though it hadn't been on our list of Must Sees, it ended up being one of our favorite parts of Day 2. Just seeing Lucy and Noah get so excited to see familiar characters, get caught up in the dancing and music... it was, to remain cliche, magical. So so magical. ♥

Then, because we'd done fireworks the night before, we just stuck around a couple more hours until dark, enjoying a few more rides and moments, and then we got a HUGE ice cream sundae and sat on Main Street in one of their plazas to enjoy it, everyone sharing spoons and tastes, and we headed home relatively early. (Oh, $17 parking-- we loved you in the evening, too. we really, really did.)

And then, at 2 in the morning, Lucy began throwing up again. After two full days without being sick. For now, let's just reflect on the Disney Miracle that she was perfectly well, as were our other kids, for the two full days we spent in Disneyland. We can talk about the ripple effects of her fresh bout of vomiting (remember the shared spoons just now?) another day. Another post. Or maybe never. Who really likes to talk about vomit? 

For now, we'll end on the high note of parade/ice cream/the lights of Main Street/the gloriousness of not walking home because we paid to park...  and we'll bask in a nearly-perfect family vacation to Disneyland, USA. We'll cover Part 2 next time: the beach, the friends, and the drive home.

(Thank you for sticking around for the month I didn't post a dang thing. I'm back now, and hoping to get back to blogging once or twice a week. Stay tuned! Missed ya!)


  1. In love with your blog today, Emily. Your family is absolutely wonderful. :)

  2. what a JOY to read. I got misty eyed. And nostalgic.

  3. Seems like you had a memory filled vacation! I cannot wait to hear part 2. Im a No. cal resident who went to DL for the first time last Nov. for our sons's 6th bday (along with our 3yo). We had the best time as you know only Disney can do. I understand the tears too for the fireworks. DL has an ability to do that. If you have a chance, follow a podcast....Wedway Radio. It's family friendly (my 6yo loves it) and follows the history and future of DL, DCA, and WDW.

  4. I think the images you captured are /perfect and priceless! While all the kiddos are cute at all their various ages, Lucy is seriously as cute as a button... the perfect age and so "in the moment" that I am in awe. Her facial expressions left me speechless.

  5. What a wonderful trip! Loved reading about it. :)

  6. I adore your pictures and I agree with everything you have to say about Disney! I have never been to Disneyland, but we have done Disney World twice and I am AMAZED that they literally think of everything. I can never explain to people how fun it is for ALL of us and how EASY it is too! Would it be weird if I looked you up on Facebook? haha! Our lives are oddly similar. We would be good friends!

  7. Reading through and enjoying your Disneyland adventure vicariously was, to also be cliche, magic! It brought back memories of my one time at Disneyland back in 1991 and, even better, the time Sarah and I went to Disney World in 2009. The fireworks were easily one of my absolute favorite moments- it doesn't matter how many times I've seen fireworks before, at Disney, they're truly magical. I can't quite pinpoint why, but I know I will still sit back in awe and childlike wonder every time I get a chance to watch.

    SO glad the kids also got to have a magical time of it. SO happy you were able to put up with so much to create such fantastic memories for everyone in your family.

    Thanks for sharing it all with us.


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