Saturday was finally the big day! We'd been concealing the surprise for five weeks and finally the day had come. I'd been building up to it, letting the kids know that we'd be doing something fun for The Boy's birthday. They'd been trying to guess but I wouldn't give it up.
Saturday morning they got up at their usual weekend hour of 6am, ate breakfast and we had them get ready. We piled our luggage in the truck and took off. About 30 minutes down the freeway, The Boy finally said, "So WHERE are we going?!" I handed him a birthday card from his grandparents that held a card that said, "Happy Birthday and enjoy your day at DISNEYLAND!".
I told them about how I'd won the Grand Prize from a radio station's website and they were thrilled to hear the story. The Boy was over the moon excited, I was so happy to see! We arrived at the hotel and checked in. It was wonderful not to have to hand over the credit card! She gave me a packet with our hotel keys and the four tickets, good for two days and "Park Hopping", so we could go between Disneyland and California Adventure on the same day.
We started off at California Adventure. The lady at the front desk had given The Boy his birthday button and he wore it proudly the entire weekend. I would bet that he received over a hundred "Happy Birthday" greetings from cast members through the park! He loved it.
We picked up our Guest Assistance Card for The Girl and headed straight into Elias & Co. to see Santa. The Girl was not pleased.
She wasn't up for riding anything fast this trip so Tower of Terror and California Screamin' was out of the question for her. The bumper "bugs" in Bugs Land are always a fav, though.
And Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, another fun one she loved.
And despite a brief fast section, she still loved the Radiator Springs Racers.
The guys rode the fast rides multiple times over the weekend though, they both love the fast rides.
The Girl and I did a lot of patient waiting for our guys while Baby D napped.
It wasn't too long before we were hungry for lunch. We'd decided to go all-out with the meals this time around since the trip had been paid for. We had money on our Disney Visa Redemption card so we used that for all of our meals the entire weekend. In all, we spent less than a hundred dollars (including filling up the gas in the truck) which was a great price for a weekend trip! We ate at three restaurants that we'd never eaten at before.
First meal - Wine Country Trattoria
Danny ordered the sea bass served with fingerling potatoes and tomatoes. He was in heaven, he said it was wonderful. And this is from someone who A.) Doesn't like to eat in restaurants, B.) Doesn't like to spend money on food and C.) Is a fisherman who knows fish and is picky about quality.
I ordered the lasagna which was also very tasty. The kids ordered off their menu (spaghetti & meatballs for The Boy, grilled chicken and broccolini for The Girl). And of course, lots of beautiful rosemary rolls with olive oil and cracked black pepper on the table. I also ordered a glass of wine, which I never do! I got something called a Snapdragon, nice and fruity...just how I like it.
This tree in the Paradise Pier area was amazing! Covered in gold and red ornaments, all in a seaside theme (see the shell tree topper?). Did you know that Disney frequently uses "forced perspective" in their parks? They use ornaments at the bottom that are very large and the same design of ornaments at the top of the tree that are smaller so they look really far away...clever, huh?
And under the tree was Donald Duck, taking photos!
The baby's favorite ride? Toy Story Mania! The funny yellow glasses helped, I'm sure!
Around 5pm we headed over to Disneyland with the intention of staying there for a few hours but the crowds...oh, the crowds! They were preparing for the Candlelight Processional and were diverting (cattle prodding?) the crowds through the busy Main Street. We walked to the back side of the park towards It's a Small World. I loved Daniel's reaction when he saw the ride lit up with a million tiny rainbow-colored lights. He gasped with the surprise of it! I didn't get a photo of it because I was terrified to let go of the kids' hands for fear of losing them in the mob.
That was the only ride we went on that night. We took the Monorail out of the park (instead of braving the Candlelight crowds on Main Street again), exited at Downtown Disney and walked to the Grand Californian. We had reserved seating for dinner at the Storyteller's Cafe at 7:45, a time we would normally be headed to bed!
Gingerbread house in the restaurant
Second Meal - Storyteller's Cafe in the Grand Californian Hotel
Dinner offered us the ability to order either of a set menu or choose the buffet. Danny and I ordered the buffet and the kids just shared a plate of nuggets and fries. The yummy bread basket was constantly full so they filled up on bread and butter too.
The buffet choices were simple but quality. I had a salad (there were no fixings, just plain lettuce and two dressing choices), corn chowder (which was so delicious I had two bowls!), strip loin, garlic mashed potatoes, steamed veggies and two mini-desserts (the cheesecake had a tiny white chocolate square with an impression of Santa). My husband loved the salmon, he had quite a few filets. I don't think I ate enough food to make up the cost of the buffet but I liked the quality of the food and the atmosphere of the restaurant was pleasant at the end of a long day.
Next up, day two and our adventure at the Big Ranch Barbeque!