Friday, January 22, 2016

Disney Day Two & the Vader Battle

When I look back on this trip, I will remember it as the trip of Princess Leia. June wore her Leia costume the first day, and when we woke up on the second day she insisted on wearing it again. I thought it over for .2 seconds and decided that she could. Why not, after all?

So she wore her Leia dress for the whole trip. Including the flight home.

The first thing June said when she woke up was how much she wanted to try fighting Darth Vader that day. We got ready and then headed to Downtown Disney to grab more beignets for breakfast.

We spent the whole second day at Disneyland, including an extra hour in the park in the morning since we were staying at a Disney hotel. That extra hour really is nice to fit a bunch of rides in before the lines get very long. So we did!

The Finding Nemo Submarines...

More Dumbo...

"Mommy, you just sit and RELAX. I will control how high we go." (In case you're wondering, it was as high as the thing could go.)

More Teacups...

Then we stood in line to sign June up to get Jedi Training and try battling Darth Vader. It was a pretty long line and I was getting pretty nervous that June wouldn't get a spot in one of the earlier shows. (We flew out that evening, so the later times wouldn't work.) While we were waiting, some Storm Troopers came along.

I was so thrilled that we got a spot! June was so cute, solemnly answering the questions that would determine if she could go on stage. ("How old are you?" "Can you take instructions from the Jedi Masters?" "Are you brave enough to fight a member of the Dark Side by yourself?" June gave the cutest, most determined nod to that question.)

Then it was off to more rides!

Finally, it was time for Jedi Training. First June got her Padawan robes and stood with her fellow trainees. We parents were ushered over to where the show takes place so we could get some great photos. 

You guys, it was SO CUTE. They were all so adorable and small. Getting instruction from the Jedi Masters:

Getting her own lightsaber:

Then they practiced a little routine of moves with it:

Then they all used their hands to use the Force to lift up a secret Jedi Temple.

The idea was that the temple held whatever your fears were, and that you had to face your fears. In that sense, they told the kids, Darth Vader wasn't real, he just represented their fears. (All the kids were so excited-slash alarmed by his presence, I'm not sure if the kids picked up on that whole briefing.)

There were actually two bad guys... Vader and a female bad guy called the Seventh Sister. In general, the little ones went against Vader and the bigger kids fought the Seventh Sister. I wasn't sure who June was going to end up against since she kept getting out of line to get a better look at the other kids' battles, haha.

Finally it was her turn! Oh my goodness, how my heart exploded to see her bravely walk across the stage to look up at this hulking, masked figure! She was so cute! The Jedi Master said, "I see you are half the size of Vader! But I can sense that you are twice as strong!" 

Some of the little ones just held up their sabers and Vader, a good sport, would 'attack' their stationary weapons. But June did it! She parried and ducked. (How STINKING cute is her little 'duck' maneuver??)

The only bad thing was that I got a leeeeettle too excited trying to take pictures and video at the same time. I was holding both cameras and got my signals crossed, meaning that I stopped recording for about a second of the encounter. Oh well! I mashed up my two clips I did get and got this little video. June and I have watched it about a billion times by now.

Afterward, she got a little pin to commemorate her victory. She was so excited and proud. I basically smothered her with hugs and kisses, telling her how proud of her I was. "I was a little scared when Darth Vader first came out," she said to me. I told her that that only made her even more brave, to be a little scared and do it anyway, and with such gumption!

We went on one more ride, got a little more ice cream and then headed for the airport. 

The trip was just so wonderful, you know? June was at such a great age, where the magic was there, where she was old enough to understand and look in awe at everything around her. I loved getting to spend the time with just her, in the hotel, in the parks and out to eat. I really think that these will be some of those memories that I keep in that best-of slideshow of my life.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Disney Day One

When we woke up on day one of Disney, June was ready to go within 5 minutes of waking up. I swear, I've never seen her so eager to brush her teeth. She put on a layer of clothes underneath, then put on her beloved Princess Leia dress on top.

I tried to see if she'd let me give her the signature buns, but she didn't like them and wanted me to take them out. I did get one picture though...

There it is, folks, the face of wondrous excitement, eager for a day at Disney.

Aaaanyway, after a quick breakfast, we headed out to the main gates. Since guests of the hotels got an extra hour in the California Adventure park that day, we headed there first. But the line to use the special entrance directly from the hotel was very long. On a tip from an employee, we went to the normal gates instead, and we were first in line at one of the turnstiles! It was so exciting! Poor June could NOT wait and she unfortunately had to for 20 minutes!

We - along with every single other person - headed straight for the Cars ride. This ride is the most popular in the California Adventure park and often gets a HUGE line. June had recently seen Cars for the first time, and since all the websites said that it was a great ride for little ones, we went straight there. 

Unfortunately it was a little too much for June. It went fast, was loud, it got very dark at times and had a big, scary tractor thing that alarmed her. She didn't cry, but after we got off the ride, she said, "I think that ride was too scary for me."

I felt AWFUL, but slightly amused that I had carried on the tradition of making a poor choice in first rides at Disney. (Last time we came, we went on the Buzz Lightyear ride and had a similar thing happen.) In hind sight, I should have taken her on a very tame ride to start with, but I had no idea that the Cars one was going to be like that!

We headed off to do more things around the park, including getting to meet Elsa and Anna! It was great timing... we just walked right in! I think we might have been the first people in the park to get to visit them. (Everyone else must have been over at the Cars ride still!)

June was feeling pretty shy when she saw them, so I got in the picture too. It was so cute, I asked if June wanted to give hugs goodbye, but June sort of hid behind this cutout in the wall. Anna then crept up and 'found' her. She was such a good sport about June's shyness and June loved how playful she was. She talked about her game of hide-and-seek with Anna throughout the day. 

My (and June's) first ever Disney churro:

On the trolley:

Doc McStuffins in the background:

At this point, I felt like we had done most of what we could do - or what June would be willing to do - at California Adventure park. We hopped on over to Disneyland.

June was so excited to see the castle at the end of Main Street (and so was I!).

(June got so many comments on her cool outfit, especially from adults!)

We rode a couple of rides before it was time to go to Ariel's Grotto for lunch to meet the princesses!

Even though it's expensive, I like character dining at Disneyland. You get to have a nice meal, rest your feet, and the characters come to your table to speak directly to you. Because we did this, we didn't need to wait in long lines to see the princesses at other spots in the park. I wasn't worried about missing their open hours or not getting to see some of the favorites. June got to see five princesses at this one spot!

We charged right on (instead of stopping for naps), something I don't think we could have done if Bennett was with us. We got a bunch more rides in.

It's a Small World...


Astro Orbiters...

I found that June loves rides that go around and around. All told, we went on the teacups 4 times, each of the carousels twice, Dumbo and the Astro Orbiters twice. I didn't mind...I just wanted her to have fun and not pressure her to ride things that might scare her (especially after the Cars ride incident!) I'm sure there will be many trips ahead of us where we go on all the big roller coasters, but for now, that wasn't the big goal of the trip.

After that, we went to see the Star Wars show. June said she wanted to see it, but that she didn't want to be one of the kids brought on stage to 'fight' Darth Vader because she might be scared. We sat in the front row and she sat on my lap, sometimes holding her hand out to help with the Force.

Afterward, she said, "I could do that! I want to do that! Can I do that?" I decided to wait and see if she was still talking about it the next day to see if we should really try to make it happen.

We ate dinner outside right on the river, with the lights of Disney and the riverboat reflecting in the water. There was music and barbecue food and I was in HEAVEN. I was so overcome with a feeling of happiness to be there with my girl, having a wonderful time. 

After walking around some more and riding some more rides, we got some ice cream for dessert.

Then hopped back over to California Adventure for a lights-and-water show, called the World of Color.

By the time we were back in our room, it was 9:15 and my legs were quite tired. I couldn't believe that June hadn't complained of being tired, but I certainly wasn't going to introduce the idea. June kept musing about how much she wanted to battle Darth Vader the next day.

When I turned out the lights at bedtime, June told me that she wasn't sleepy. I think it was only about 30 seconds later that I heard her soft, even breathing from across the room that told me she was already asleep. I think I was asleep about a minute after that.