Backpacking Dad’s Southwest Road Trip, Part 6: Disneyland

This is Part 6 in a series of stories (and tips) from our most recent road trip. Read Part 1, on the Calico Ghost Town, here, Part 2, on Las Vegas,here, Part 3, on Flagstaff, here, Part 4, on the Grand Canyon, here, and Part 5, on Phoenix, here.

We wouldn’t be us if we didn’t include some kind of Disney destination in our planning. Our Southwest Road Trip led us all the way from home to our home away from home.

One very nice thing about Emily growing up in Orange County is that she still has friends and family there: Grandma and Aunt Bonnie always join us at Disneyland, and Steven (Pop Culture Maven on the Internet) usually comes along too. This meant that as soon as we rolled into Disneyland, we had not one, not two, but three babysitters just waiting to take the kids for a while.

TRAVELING WITH KIDS TIPE #16: Always bring Grandma. Or Aunt Bonnie. Or Uncle Steven. When you are away from home for any length of time, your patience with the kids will grow thin. Take any opportunity you have to let other loving friends or family members spend some time with the kids, even just an hour, while you take a break. It isn’t always feasible, but try to make it happen. And always be the friend who can give other parents a break. You want that to come back around.

Emily and I relaxed for a bit.

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And a bit more.

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And a bit more.

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The timing of our trip nearly coincided with Erin’s birthday, so we treated it a bit like a birthday trip. We were also joined by two other families from back home: all the adults are friends, and all the kids are friends, so we were a giant pack of pals roaming around Disneyland for a few days.

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We spent a lot of time in the Radiator Springs area of California Adventure.

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We rode every ride there: Luigi’s tire thing, Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree, and of course the Radiator Springs Racers.

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We did Turtle Talk, Disney Jr. Live on Stage, The Little Mermaid, Soarin’ Over California, all of the Bug’s Land rides, and Toy Story Midway Mania.

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The kids strolled around the pier, declining to go on the Ferris Wheel.

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I don’t blame them. I kind of hate Ferris Wheels.

TRAVELING WITH KIDS TIP #17: Glowsticks. You can buy tubes of  them at your friendly neighbourhood whatever (rhymes with Schmarget) for a dollar each. No kid can turn down glowsticks. They’re decoration, which the kids like, and they make the kids easier to keep track of at night. Everybody wins.

But they do like the carousel.

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Since we were there, putatively, for Erin’s birthday, we had lunch with the princesses one day. All of the pictures from that lunch have the other families’ kids in them, so here is one of Adrian with Ariel just before lunch. The rest of lunch was just as glittery.

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Over the next few days we played at both parks, and in the hotel pool (monorail water slide FTW, btw). And we got both kids to go on Pirates of the Caribbean. Erin has refused to go near that ride for years.

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And we rode the Spin n’ Barf…er…Teacups. Here’s Uncle Steven photobombing, well, himself really. I was trying to take his picture too.

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And I made Emily take a picture with me in the spot where I proposed in 1998. (Hi, have we met? I’m a cheeseball.)

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In the end, we hated to leave, just like we always do.

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But everybody has to go home some time, and this was our time. So we packed up the car, waved goodbye to Disneyland, and, after a quick carwash, headed home.

TRAVELING WITH THE KIDS TIP #18: The carwash is your friend. Take a few minutes after getting gas somewhere with a carwash to actually drive through it. It can be in the middle of your trip, or toward the end. It doesn’t matter. It’s not just a good idea to get all the road crap off the car once in a while, it’s another cheap, low-pressure entertainment that the kids can enjoy and you don’t have to unbuckle them for.

Our grand Southwest Road Trip was over.

Until next time, Road.