What a great time! It was a bit too short. One more day would have been perfect. The kids had a blast, and the only thing that would have made it better for me, other than that extra day, would have been a new pair of feet. We walked so much! I don't know how we ever last at Walt Disney World, considering it is so much larger than Disneyland and California Adventure.
If you ever get a chance to stay at the Grand Californian, you should. It is a beautiful hotel. I loved the Arts and Crafts architecture and decor. Our 2BR suite was very large and we had a huge balcony with a great view of the Paradise Pier area of California Adventure. The view was especially nice at night.
We spent our first day at Disneyland. The kids noticed that some of the rides were different from the ones at Disney World.... Pirates of the Caribbean had 2 drops instead of 1 and was longer. They also said that Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was better at Disneyland. The Matterhorn (unique to Disneyland) was rated as rather lame, as was the Indiana Jones ride.
Day 2 was spent at California Adventure. I think this was our favorite park. The Grizzly River Run ride was the family favorite.... one of the few rides we *all* liked. We rode it 3 times in a row. Oh wait... I rode it twice and on the 3rd go-round, Halle and I stayed off and took pictures.
The thrill-seekers' (Brian, Emily, and Noah) favorite ride was California Screamin'. This is a fast-moving (although not as fast as Rock 'n Roller Coaster in Florida) coaster with an upside-down loop. Noah didn't ride it until our last day, but then he rode it 3 times in a row. The loop is inside the Mickey head.
While Emily and Brian were trying out the roller coaster the first day, the other 3 kids and I rode the Sun Wheel... a big ferris wheel with an unusual twist. Some of the gondolas are on a track that makes them slide and swing as the wheel goes around. (If you "click to biggify," you will be able to see what I'm talking about a little better.) I wonder what the ride's designers were drinking that day when they came up with that idea?
The kids talked me into riding on the Hollywood Tower of Terror with them this time. Halle stayed off, though. I guess once was enough for her (she rode in September at WDW). While I didn't hate the ride, I didn't see the thrill of it, either. Oh, and we did get to ride another favorite: Soarin'. That was one we got to try out last fall at WDW as well.
On our last day at the parks, we hit Disneyland first. The kids wanted to ride "Pirates" again and we also wanted to have the kids' caricatures done. There was a kiosk set up just outside the exit of Pirates, so Halle had hers done while everyone else was riding. It took just slightly over an hour to have all 4 kids drawn. I am hoping to put up shots of the caricatures later. I'm really pleased with them and am looking forward to framing them and hanging them up.
I was able to take a little break in the middle of the day and meet Mellie Helen at Downtown Disney for a chat. She was sweet enough to drive an hour and a half to come and see me. :o) I loved hearing about her experiences working for Disney and just chatting about "stuff." Thanks again, Mellie!! By the time we were done, Brian and the kids were heading over to California Adventure. I got there in time to meet them for lunch after they got off of Grizzly River Run. Halle was SOAKED. I wish I'd gotten there in time to ride with them, as I didn't get a chance to get back on later... that soaking soured Halle on it for the rest of the day. We ended up splitting up after lunch and Noah's 3 rides on California Screamin'. Halle and I did a lot of walking, then wound up grabbing Joel from the other 3 and closing out the park with a final flight on Soarin'.
We took a scenic route home yesterday, heading west on I-10 to Malibu and then up the Pacific Coast Highway a bit until we hit 101. It was a bit of a thrill seeing the Hollywood sign out our window as we were on I-10. The ocean view along PCH was beautiful, and the kids enjoyed seeing some surfers honing their craft.
I know I left out some good stuff. Maybe I'll talk about it later. Meanwhile, there is laundry and other stuff calling.