amtrak travel, anti-princess, california vacation, disney, disney princess, disneyland, family travel, magic, southwest chief, Star Wars budding fan, travel, travel by train, travel with children, traveling with kids, vacation with family
This is an old trip, two summers ago, but since I never stopped to tell about it I figured taking care of some backbloging might be in order since I seem to be on a bit of a roll with the writing thing.
We’ve been on the train before for long haul trips. We took our first train from Washington, DC towards Portland in the summer of 2012 on the Empire Builder. It was a wonderful trip, even with derailment delays and rerouting and not fully getting to see what we had planned on seeing. So we were looking forward to the new trip. This time we were to take the Southwest Chief from Chicago to Los Angeles. We wanted this route as it would take us along the route that plays a prominent role in my mum’s Last Crystal trilogy. She wanted to make sure that what she remembered from her first trip was accurate so that the place setting would be true. She was taking notes for the final book so we all went along on the train ride that took us to Los Angeles and then eventually to Anaheim and Disneyland! I won’t actually tell you about the traveling itself as some in our party did not pack things to keep “entertained” with so were rather grumpy along the 40+ hour journey. But there are interesting people to find a conversation with if you’re willing to start with a simple “hi” or “is this seat taken?” in the observation car.
I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Disney. I’ve gone through cycles of really loving the movies and the tv programs to really loathing them. I grew up with Sunday evenings being filled with supper in from the The Wonderful World of Disney and the movies/series they produced. And have hated some of the liberties taken with favorite fairy tales and legends. I never forced the movies onto my daughter, to some extent because they are rather terrifying and to another we don’t have cable so she wasn’t exposed to the channel of non-stop Disney stuff. I asked her once when she was in the second grade if she wanted to go to Disney World (lots of her friends were going with their families) and her response was, “Why would I want to do that?” So as we drew nearer to visiting Disneyland with my cousin and her husband who are true Disney fans she had one stipulation⎯KEEP ME AWAY FROM THE PRINCESSES. I did remind her that Disney was more than princesses, that they owned the Star Wars franchise so there would be plenty for her to enjoy other than running in the opposite direction should a Disney heroine other than Rey or Leia make eye contact.
I wasn’t expecting to fully enjoy Disneyland. I was expecting to enjoy the company of family, but not the park itself. However, being that my cousin and her husband and fans, go every opportunity that they can get away, are planning their retirement around joining the Disney family I had a blast!
We stayed at the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa all the staff, or cast members, were lovely to interact with. Checking in was easy, getting to our rooms was simple, and the resort was well laid out. And best of all it had its own entrance to the park itself so no waiting in massive front gate lines, just the lines from one part of the park to the other but once the first rush got through there was really little waiting time and this was in July. AEB’s uncle (okay, so technically he’s a second cousin-in-law, but I decided a long time ago that children of my cousins’ should call me aunt as it was less confusing and didn’t leave me feeling like I needed to sit at the kids table because I was being called “cousin” by 3 year olds.) took us to the pool to relax and settle in before taking her to The VOID to immersed in Star Wars before hitting the actual parks the next day. AEB loved it! And begged to go back but uncle Richard only goes once because the story doesn’t change and he wants to keep it enjoyable. Bummer. But good on Richard for standing firm and not caving in to her puppy-so-sad eyes. He even bought the girl her first pair of mouse ears. They’re Star War themed and flash, very cool!
One of the things that Disney does is try to help families by creating all inclusive packages. And I have to say that helps a lot. Many families have budgets that they absolutely can’t be flexible with and being able to plan a vacation that lets you know what you’re going to spend is so helpful. Of course, there are always the take homes that aren’t part of the package and you can get caught spending more on the credit card on a watch or the chance to have lunch at the Blue Bayou Restaurant with the Pirates of the Caribbean ride floating past you at regular intervals.
There were plenty of rides for those that aren’t into roller coasters or being turned upside down. So there really was something for everyone. Of course there were characters walking about the park and you could have dining with certain characters if you wanted, but we were there to enjoy and be led around by the professionals.
I’m sure I could say more, but since I was going with the flow and just enjoying myself and others did the planning. If I were to go again I’d probably do the same and find a time to join up with Shannon and Richard and just tag along for the ride. Being at Disneyland is a bit like being around bubbles. It’s hard to grumpy around bubbles, they just make people happy. And that, I suppose, is why they say it’s the happiest place on earth.