Day 3: Disneyland

Our third and final day at the Disney parks was spent back in Disneyland. We used our “Magic Morning” on this day, which let us into the park at 7am instead of 8 when it typically opens to the public. Let me just start right off by saying that the Magic Morning really didn’t seem to be worth it. The gates open at 7 for you, sure, but you’re still standing in line with hordes of other people who had the same idea. Around 7:15 you finally make it in, and you can start checking in for Fast Pass with the app, but the first return times don’t start until 8am when the gates are open to everyone. Finally, half the rides were still closed! We made a beeline for Tomorrowland, the one area we had not visited on our first day in the park. First on our list was Nemo’s submarine ride, which always has long lines later in the day, but it wasn’t open yet. So we tried Autopia but, nope, also closed. So by this time it’s after 7:30, half of our extra hour is gone and we haven’t gone on a single ride (but we’ve done a lot of walking!). We finally ended up on Star Tours, and I think that was the only ride we completed during our extra hour. I much would have preferred the extra hour of sleep, and I think the kids would have too.

Waiting for Star Tours. I think they believe we actually went to outer space.

After Star Tours, we hit up all the other highlights of Tomorrowland: Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters, Space Mountain, Autopia, and Finding Nemo’s Submarine ride. We had a bit of an unpleasant experience getting on to Autopia, as we utilized Zoey’s disability access pass and were confronted with an exceptionally grumpy cast member who basically yelled at us because another cast member had directed us to her and we did as we were told. Altogether unpleasant and very uncharacteristic of most interactions with staff at Disneyland. We did finally get to ride, though, and the girls seemed to enjoy it (we rider-swapped so Zach and Alden went second). I found an awesome new hoodie for myself, with Minnie Mouse themed sleeves and even ears and a bow on the hood.


Space Mountain was a fun surprise for me as I had never been on it before. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t pitch-black darkness for the extent of the whole ride. I did enjoy it, though.

This photo sums up my, Zoey and Ellie’s reactions to Disneyland better than any words could.
Have you every noticed that the speakers in the seats look a bit like Hidden Mickeys? Speaking of hidden, Alden is in that seat next to Zach.

Dinah absolutely loved the Finding Nemo submarine ride. We let her look out one of the “portholes” and I don’t think she blinked for the entire ride.

The submarines are a hit for everybody

After Tomorrowland, we headed off to see more of Adventureland and Critter Country. We saw the Tiki Room (one of my personal favorites), Tarzan’s Treehouse, and, yes, another trip on the Jungle Cruise.

This was either our third or fourth trip on Jungle Cruise; I lost count. Check out Zoey’s face compared to Ellie and Zach’s if you want to see exactly how everyone felt about that.
Still gonna check out the elephants, though. Except Dinah. She just wants to check out, period.

One of the best things about booking our trip through Costco turned out to be the voucher for the lanyards. We each got one, and they came with a Disneyland pin on them. I explained to the kids about how they could ask cast members to trade pins with them if they saw a different one they wanted more, and from that moment on, Zoey was on a mission. That girl had eagle eyes for spotting boards of pins for trading. Both Ellie and Alden were given an extra pin for free by cast members, and we found another pin someone had lost when Zach stepped on it. So the three older kids each ended up with two pins that they traded multiple times. I traded Dinah’s pin for one of a baby in Mickey Mouse ears, which seemed appropriate, and kept my Disneyland one so we’d have one of those.

Ellie was so sure she was going to be the one to pull that sword out. Boy did she try!

By midway through the day, we had pretty much been on most of the rides we wanted to so we had the luxury of moving slower and doing repeat rides. We rode Thunder Mountain Railroad again, as it was a favorite for both Zoey and Alden (okay, and me).

Poor Alden was so exhausted that he didn’t even make it to lunch time before he passed out while riding up on Zach’s shoulders. We laid him in the stroller and let him get a good long nap while we ate lunch and Zach made the trek back to our hotel for our portable phone chargers we had forgotten to grab (pro tip: get these! They are SO worth it. The Disneyland app will suck your battery like nobody’s business. We got one for each of us, and it kept us charged all day long).

The final pin in our day was going on Splash Mountain. Silly me, I had bought ponchos for our trip in case in rained, but left them in the hotel as the weather was hot and sunny during our trip. Also, it’s called Splash Mountain, not Soaker Mountain. I had never been on it before, and I honestly thought we’d get a little misting on us, maybe a bit a splash on our legs or shoes. About halfway through the line (which was long even with our Fast Pass), I began to have misgivings as I saw people putting on rain ponchos to cover themselves and their bags. Surely they were overreacting?
I was so wrong. Ellie sat in the very front of our “log” with Zoey behind her. Alden was behind Zoey and I was behind him so I could make sure he stayed in his seat. Eleanor got positively soaked from head to toe. Zoey and Alden were both pretty wet, and I shamelessly ducked behind my four year old to avoid the spray.

A highly accurate rendition of their personalities.

Zach, the lucky jerk, avoided getting wet completely by waiting with Dinah. Immediately after the ride, all three kids were insisting they wanted to go on it again using the rider swap so Zach could go. That lasted only a few minutes. This happened to be the one day were the temperatures maxed out in the upper sixties (as opposed to near eighty like our first day) and it was overcast and already nearing dinnertime. The kids quickly realized they were quite cold and had absolutely no way of drying off or warming up, especially poor, soggy Eleanor.

Ellie, all bundled up in my new sweatshirt and sipping cocoa to try to get warm.

We tried to find a restaurant with seating available for dinner (this was the one day we hadn’t made a reservation for) with no luck whatsoever. So we got hot cocoa and clam chowder from Harbour Galley (it was quite good) while Zoey and Ellie wrapped up in the fleece blanket we’d been using as a stroller cover while Dinah napped. It was rapidly becoming apparent that our time at Disneyland was at an end. Everyone was worn out and now we had thrown cold and wet into the mix. I was a bit bummed that this meant we wouldn’t get a chance to go on the Disneyland Railroad that encircles the park, but we’d been able to do so much else that I couldn’t be too disappointed. We took our time leaving, taking a stroll through Pixie Hollow and one last ride on It’s A Small World.

Altogether, I’d call it a highly successful Disneyland trip. We rode a ton of rides (some of them a few too many times *coughJungleCruisecough*), the kids all got mouse ears, I got mouse ears in the form of a new hoodie, nobody got sunburnt, and, most of all, we made some incredible memories. We walked more than twenty-five miles over the course of three days, and barely said a word about their feet hurting or their legs being tired. There were very, very few tears (a monumental feat with kids this little, especially when two of them have Autism!), remarkably few requests for us to buy them things…we really do have amazing kids. I am just so impressed with them and how well they handled this whirlwind experience. I am so, so thankful we could give them this.

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