Traveling to Disney with Sugarwings was a trip into the world of her imagination.
She is a kid who prefers pretending to playing with toys, and there was a lot of props for her to back up her stories at Disneyland.
Walking through the gardens from the Disney Hotel to the secret entrance to California Adventure, our kiddo had so much fun becoming Cinderella, that I didn't think we were going to make it to the park that day. We could have saved a lot of money by just playing in the gazebo all day. She loved running from it and losing a shoe along the way.
And before that, I didn't think we'd ever get out of the hotel room, because she had an apple for breakfast and every bite put her to sleep.
Once we got in the park, our first stop was stroller rental. Yes, the fairy child is 7, not a baby, but it was more for containment than because she was too little too walk. It made the trip much easier to have her riding instead of running. And she loved the "chariot". (the cotton candy is our traditional splurge at the end of the trip, her treat for staying in the stroller most of the time)
Every once in a while, she'd spy something that caused her to leap from her ride to get a closer look. It was the little details around the park that caught her eye. Like this statue.
First, the dancing royalty needed cooling off with her fan.
Then, she needed to act out the dance, with her own prince.
Ending with True Love's Kiss.
I'm afraid this encounter with Olaf was as close as she got to seeing anyone from Frozen. The line to see the two princesses was
FIVE HOURS LONG.
Who waits in those lines? We made a deal not to get in any line that was more than 40 minutes and she was happy with that. Not that we rode many rides that way, even in off season. But we have fun looking around, watching shows and being silly. And the older, less popular rides are pretty durn cool too.
Tarzan's tree house had interactive things to do, so we climbed it twice.
And the shows at the Royal Theater were so cute, we watched them 4 times. Sugarwings sat in front by the stage and at each performance, made a new friend. When I went to check on her, and asked what they were talking about, she said, "Princesses" in a way that implied I was deranged for even wondering what they might be talking about besides that.
Side note: The Royal Theater has a park employee at the entrance, no one goes in or out during the show. It's a small room, and you can see your kids down in front just fine. When the ushers asked all of us to slide down and make room on the benches, the lady next to us got volatile, flames shot from her eyes, smoke from her ears. She refused to move, said that she had to keep "eyes on her kids" the entire show. Well, it wasn't the sentiment so much as the way she said it. She yelled and stated that she is happy to "be a B" if it means keeping her kids safe.
First of all, her kids were safe. Second, all she had to say, was something polite, like "can I please remain in this seat so I can watch my kids?" The Disney employees didn't deserve her anger and pride in 'being a B". What was the chip on her shoulder about? I think that so many people go to the parks thinking that they have to squeeze in so much, be here, there, everywhere, that they forget to slow down and enjoy it. If you try to do it all, and fight the crowds, you will burn out. She was already stressed beyond her limits and it wasn't even noon yet.
In my mind, the trick to getting your money's worth from Disney, is just to slow down. Chose a couple things that matter to you, then just explore and take your time.
We also made use of the play ground in Toontown. Free time to frolic was important for us.
And finding lines to wait in, like the one for the show at BugsLife, where you could mill about, not zig zag back and forth in roped lines was good too.
At California Adventure, there is a room with giant screens that plays movie clips. It's nice on hot days because of the air conditioning and the comfy sofas. There is plenty of space to twirl and stretch too. The only downfall was that they repeated the life and love cycle montage from UP that breaks my heart every time I see it, and I got teary eyed over and over.
The room is an excellent break for a child who becomes overwhelmed with the park. The activities in that building are pretty low key, with no lines. but every bit as fun. I also recommend Tom Sawyer Island as a break from the hectic-ness of the park. It has green spaces and caves, plus a play ground and fort.
The hardest part for us, was simply getting back and forth to the park itself. I really really really love that you can walk from the hotels to the parks, unlike Disneyworld where it's a major undertaking to get back to your room.
But, we had to make our way through Downtown Disney, and that is nothing but one temptation after another. Between the Legos, fountains, live music, shops, it tries to trap you at every step!
I discovered that making it a game to get from one end to the other worked to keep her going. There were no strollers, so we had to keep her focused all the way through this wonderland. They play music from various Disney shows, and when the Beauty and the Beast theme began, I had an idea.
We decided to dance walk the route and pretend we were in a movie. We lip synced and danced the whole length (well except the Legos, who can resist those?) of the shopping district. We ran, twirled, jumped up on benches, leaped into the air, and made it all the way to the park with very little stopping.
After arriving, panting and tired, at the park, we found out that you can take a monorail and avoid the Downtown Disney trap! But when we went to take it home that night, it was broken down.
My brave, strong, husband, who was very ready to get back to the hotel for a glass of wine and to put his feet up, hefted our girl up on his shoulders and did his own version of the dance walk all the way back. Until they reached the bandstand. And had to stop for a grandfather/granddaughter dance.
Those are the moments we will treasure much more than any of the rides.