On our first trip, when I was about 11, we stayed at the Disneyland Hotel and the whole experience was magical. The last night Jake and Dad used their last E ticket (yes, it was that long ago) to ride the monorail back to the hotel, but I didn't want to use my last ticket for something so mundane. My mom offered to stay with me to go on one last ride. What I really wanted to go on was Space Mountain, but I knew it wasn't her favorite ride, so I chose the Haunted Mansion instead. Then we trekked back to the Disneyland Hotel on foot.
The next trip, my dad took both of us over spring break because my mom had just gotten a full-time job. We acted like three kids all week long, playing video games in the Starcade, laughing so hard in the Mexican restaurant next to Thunder Big Mountain Thunder Railroad (we never could remember the name) and having an amazing time.
I met Jake down there once when he was driving around the western U.S. and we had our usual good time. A few years later Jake bought me a Haunted Mansion poster, a duplicate of the one in the tunnels leading into Main Street, and it didn't fit into his car after he had it framed. I think he drove home with one door tied shut just to give me that special gift.
Being able to take Griffin there was something I've been waiting for, at least for the past three years. Seven seemed to be a good age to take him for the first time, and it was. The best part was that he didn't know! I had been planning this trip since January, and we didn't leave until April 23. It wasn't until we pulled up at SeaTac that we told him, and the poor guy was so confused, but eventually he understood and was so excited.
The first night, just after we arrived, we went to a Character Dinner at Goofy's Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel. We met Snow White, Goofy, Minnie Mouse, Rapunzel, Dale and a few other characters. It was a lot of fun and the food was great, a big buffet with good adult and kid choices.
Going into Disneyland!
On Day 2 the weather wasn't supposed to be nice, so we went to the Natural History Museum next to USC, which has lots of dinosaur skeletons, and then we went to the Aquarium of the Pacific, where Griffin had a staring contest with a ray and they also have birds you can feed.
Day 3, Carousel in front of Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (which we rode three times in a row late one night)
Griffin was chosen twice for the Jedi Training Academy to fight Darth Vader!
Proving his worth
Meeting Mickey Mouse!
Riding the Railroad
Now, my favorite series of photos, from a few hours spent in California Adventure. They were doing a lot of construction so we didn't have access to much of it (Cars Land opened this last week and we will visit soon!). We ran into Sulley from Monsters Inc. as he walked out, so Griffin was one of the first to get a photo, or as it turned out, a series of photos. Sulley was great, goofing around with Griffin for a few minutes until we were both laughing so hard!
Just as we thought he was done, as I took what I thought was the last "real" photo of them together, Sulley put his hand up right over Griffin's face. It was hilarious!
It was an amazing week. Griffin and I both had a fabulous time, and I'm confident Griffin sees Disneyland through the same magical lens that I do still, even 30+ years after my first visit.