At the end of September I packed a suitcase and hopped on board an airplane headed south with my mom. No kids, no husband. Destination: Orange County. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Five days, four nights at a beautiful hotel on Laguna Beach, just me and my mom. God, I was so overdue for a break like that. My cousin was getting married and we were headed off to celebrate with her.
Our hotel was literally two blocks up off the beach, directly on the main strip with all the shops and restaurants. We ate great food, strolled the beach, watched the sun set over the waves, drank lots of wine, read actual books and swam in the hotel’s pool to our hearts’ content. Oh the pool! It was in the center courtyard of the hotel, surrounded by foliage and pool chairs. The best part: it was a saltwater pool. No chlorine. Amazing!
Now, you might think that those five days of relaxation would be enough for us. To that I would say, “You don’t know my mom and I very well.” We headed to California on a Thursday afternoon, the wedding celebration was on Saturday and we were going home Monday evening. Friday was spent in complete relaxation by the pool. But what to do with Sunday?
Go to Disneyland, of course.
That’s right. I went to Disneyland WITHOUT MY KIDS. Once we decided that was what we wanted to do, I kept it a secret until we got there. Then I sent Zach a picture of us in front of a giant Mickey Mouse face saying, “Guess where we are!” I continued to send pictures to Zach and the girls all day long. Meanest. Mom. Ever.
Actually, the girls really enjoyed the photos I think. I had brought along a small Ariel (the Little Mermaid) figurine and been sending them photos of Ariel on the trip: Ariel on the airplane, by the pool, at the beach, etc. So now they got lots of photos of Ariel at Disneyland. I told the girls we had to check out all the rides at Disneyland so we’d know if they were old enough to go there, and what rides they would like (side note: my super sensitive kiddos are definitely NOT ready for Disneyland. I think we rode all of three rides that wouldn’t make them cry).
My Garmin fitness tracker registered more than 20,000 steps that day. Over nine miles. And that’s just the ones it actually picked up, so not anytime I was carrying something in that hand. I swear we must have ridden almost every ride there. We skipped the ones like Space Mountain that would have been too rough (my mom’s neck is recovering from a car accident) but we rode just about everything else. Despite it being a weekend day, it wasn’t too horribly crowded. We got there shortly after the park opened at 8am and stayed until it closed at 11pm. We only stood in two lines that took forty-five minutes (those darn submarines and the ridiculously short Peter Pan ride) and everything else was fifteen minutes or less. Turns out October is the perfect time to do Disney!
The whole park was decorated for Halloween, with pumpkins and orange bunting everywhere. At dinnertime we headed to a restaurant on Main Street and were seated outside, just in time to watch the parade. We got a table right up front, directly behind an emergency walk-through space that the employees were keeping clear, which meant we had a great view. I had never seen the Disneyland parade before, so this was pretty spectacular and magical for me. I definitely did not start crying when the princess float playing the love song from Tangled came through. Nope, not at all.
After dinner it was more and more rides until it was time for the fireworks show. Again, something I had never seen before. I think the show was set to start at 9:15pm. We walked out of a ride in Tomorrowland at approximately 9:10pm, headed for a roped off area where people had been claiming seats for the show for the past two hours and immediately came upon a perfect, front-row spot just exactly the right size for the two of us to sit and stretch out our legs. We had a perfect, unobstructed view of the fireworks over the castle and were far enough back we didn’t even have to crane our necks. It was amazing! Short waits for lines all day, the perfect spots for the parade and fireworks show both found at the last minute, no tired and whiny kids, no arguing over what to do next because it was just me and my mom and we work really well together; it really couldn’t have been a more perfect Disneyland experience.