Summer Vacation 2011 – Legoland!

Had Legoland been around when I was a kid, I’m certain the number of times we visited Disneyland would have been far less. I don’t know what it is about it but it has a charm all its own.

I wasn’t a huge fan of Legos when I was a kid. I remember being more entranced by Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys and the like. Don’t get me wrong, I did play with Legos, it just wasn’t a big thing to me. This is contrary to my husband’s childhood experience who was/is still very much into Lego building. Luckily, he has developed such an addiction in our twin daughters as well.

That being said, I love Legoland. I may not have been a kid who gravitated toward those colorful bricks whenever possible but I can appreciate the awesome things people create with them. Like the prisoner transport airplane one of my daughters built one day and the prison that my other daughter created for those prisoners. Or the shopping mall one daughter built while the other created a police station. I love that my girls’ imaginations are so inspired by these simple, colorful blocks and accessories.

And Legoland, the amusement park, is just as entertaining. The life-size animals and people or the miniature versions of buildings throughout the world built with Lego bricks are truly awesome. I’ve seen these before but I’m amazed every time I peruse them again.

We had gotten an early start to the day because a handful of rides opened up early – 9:30am – before the general park opening at 10:00am. The Volvo Driving School was one of those rides – last time we visited, we waited one hour to get on that thing. So, after the Safari Trek, we headed there. OMGoodness, talk about grrrrrrreat planning. There was barely a line. We must have waited for 5 or 10 minutes, at most. Whew! Favorite ride – check!

This was the second time we’ve taken our girls to Legoland. We decided to see the park from the opposite direction we had in the past (turning right instead of left from the entrance)…and discovered several rides and sections we hadn’t seen before. We bypassed these areas in past visits because by the time we got there, we were on park overload and ready to leave. We also saw one of the many shows throughout the park for the first time – one of my daughters got to participate as a jouster. What fun!

Legoland includes a great mix of extensive play structures and rides to accommodate my 7-year-old girls’ need to be in constant motion. In fact, at many rides, there’s a mini play area furnished with tables of Lego bricks next to the waiting lines for rides – simply genius! While parents wait in line, kids expend their energy building things within the play area. When the parents approach the beginning of the line, there’s a gate for kids to exit the play area directly to their waiting parents. Such a fantastic idea.

Though I didn’t take advantage of it, there’s a package holding/dropoff service available. Essentially, you can purchase any item at any retail location throughout the park and leave it there. Within the next two hours, an employee will bring your package to the front of the park where you can pick it up before you leave. Isn’t that the best? No need to worry about carrying and keeping track of your purchases throughout the park. Another great idea.

And there’s this enormous water play structure (Soak ‘n Sail) next to the water rides in the Pirate Shores section. Water shot out from everywhere but the two huge buckets at the top ensured that you were completely drenched. Luckily, I’d brought a change of clothing for each of our girls, just in case.

After 9 hours, we were ready to go home. We didn’t do any souvenir shopping mainly because the girls had [each] already won a rather large stuffed animal (puppy dog) at one of the game booths, as well as a cute little chameleon. And because…we bought season passes. Hahaha  Sounds a bit silly, doesn’t it? Particularly since we don’t live in southern California. Oh but the price of a season pass will be earned back in a second visit. And what are the chances that we’ll be there again in the next 12 months? Good. Very, very good.

An original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.

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Summer Vacation 2011 – Disneyland!

This summer vacation would not have been complete without a trip to the happiest place on Earth. Hahaha  This was the girls’ fourth time visiting the theme park in seven short years. Does that seem a bit much? Not by a long shot. After all, one of those times was at the invitation of Disneyland PR that we couldn’t pass up. But mostly because I grew up in San Diego and being so close, my own parents took us there as often as possible – at least, it seemed that way.

I gotta say though, that Disney magic hasn’t gotten old. The anticipation of going there puts a smile on everyone’s face in our family. And while the sun may beat us down as we stroll from ride to ride and the waits in lines test the patience of a couple of restless 7-year-olds, somehow we bear it and at the end declare what a wonderful day we had. That’s gotta be a certain kind of magic.

This time around, we seemed to spend quite a bit of time in ToonTown. Our girls were particularly taken with Mickey’s and Minnie’s houses, wanting to return there after we’d thought they were done with it and had moved onto several other sections of the park.

Our girls were also done with princesses. Now, I knew they were done with playing dress up but I was a little surprised that they had no desire to check out the Princess Faire, though I pointed it out to them a couple of times. They still love watching the princess movies but for some reason, they had no particular interest in seeking them out at D-land.

The faves of the park? For both, it includes Buzz Lightyear and Peter Pan. For Songwriter, the Indiana Jones ride and the Go Coaster are additional faves. And Storyteller loves that Jungle Cruise (so many animals!) and Dumbo ride. Thrills versus animals – I shoulda guessed.

The collection of souvenirs included a collection of Buzz Lightyear, Woody, Jesse and the space rangers. That Toy Story movie series made a real impact on them, I guess. They’re looking forward to bringing them all home to play with Bullseye, the horse.

11 hours after we arrived, we wearily trudged to the tram to take us to the parking garage. We seem to be on an every-other-year schedule for our Disneyland visits. And unlike other amusement parks, I don’t worry that they’ll “age out” of going there. Disneyland is one that appeals to all age groups. I should know. The thought of going there still puts a smile on my face…and I can’t wait to go again.

An original post to It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog.

Weekend Getaway to Disneyland

Christmas Fantasy Parade (1104-DL-9999)
(photo courtesy of Disneyland)

“This is the best hotel ever!” exclaimed Songwriter as she watched yet another fireworks display explode in the distance from our hotel window. Munching on room service in the Grand Californian Hotel as we ate dinner last night, our little weekend getaway (courtesy of Disneyland, my connection to Silicon Valley Moms Blog and active writing on our family blog) has already sparked a little magic for our girls. And for me, a trip down south to Disneyland to enjoy the opening of the Christmas holiday festivities, is just one of those things I’ve wanted to do for many years…an idea that has laid dormant in the back of my mind. Until now.

But now, I’m a blogger; a mommy blogger at that. I have children. We love to travel and both Truls and I LOVE Disneyland. We have only fond memories of childhood trips to this park and it’s something we want our girls to share. Sure, we’re alerted to the over-commercialization of Disney-fied fairytales but that’s a daily worry with many things other than Disney. And a trip to the park is always something special.

So, here we are – our second trip this year (the first being on the girls’ birthday in March). And we’re all excited and can’t wait to run around the park in all its holiday glory. Yea, we’ve already been here this year but I’ve heard so much about what Disneyland does for the holidays, my curiosity has built to the we must go point.

The first thing I want to see? It’s A Small World. It has not only been renovated, it’s now decked out in holiday decor. I haven’t seen It’s A Small World since I was a child and it was always one of the first things we’d do whenever we visited. It’s been under renovation and when it opened, well, the line was so long, I couldn’t even begin to imagine standing there with two restless 5-year-olds in tow. But this weekend, we have priority access and that line will not be a deterrant this time.

Other things I can’t wait to see? How about snow on Main Street, Sleeping Beauty’s castle set in winter, the Christmas Holiday parade, ToonTown at Christmas and a new show based on the story of the Princess and the Frog. Oh, and the rides. Yes, the rides…of course!  🙂

It’s now 7:00am as I finish this post…waiting for my family to stir. We can enter the park right now because we’re staying at a Disneyland hotel. But Truls is not a morning person. Hmmm…maybe if I open this curtain just a little bit….

An original It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog post.

You may also find MommyTwinGirls at Silicon Valley Moms Blog telling tales of parenting in Silicon Valley, at Mad About Multiples recounting the ups and downs of raising twins and at Solheim Photography posting favorites from her latest photo shoots.

The Land of a Million Dreams!

Quicktrip_img_2438_copy_blog_3 It was the stop they had both been waiting for…the home of Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy, Mickey Mouse, and Cinderella (and all the princesses!). 4 years old is a good age for a first trip to this wonderland. Before the girls started talking about it (after fellow classmates had already made their first visits), I always thought that 5 or 6 years old would be the youngest we’d want to take them. After all, with entry fees the way they are, I wanted to make sure they remembered this first trip.

But honestly, whether they remember this trip in detail or not just doesn’t matter. It was one of those living in the moment kinds of things. The excitement they exuded after each ride, the wonder at all the princesses and cartoon characters they recognized, the sheer happiness written all over their faces – it  made me realize that *I* would certainly not forget our girls’ first trip to Disneyland. Watching them all day made me think what a great thing it is to be a parent.

We began with a short ride in an old fashioned car to the front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle. Unfortunately, this is a facade, for the most part, and “K”‘s curiosity to actually see Sleeping Beauty’s sleeping chamber was not possible. Our first stop, however, was to find some breakfast…which we did, in Tomorrowland. Then we decided to obtain all the FastPasses we could to minimize any waiting times for rides. Buzz Lightyear was first on the list but as it turned out, it was best to simply wait 5-10 minutes to do the actual ride. Splash Mountain was the only ride that was worth a FastPass. All day long, the wait time was about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Ugh! We decided no ride was worth a wait that long – especially with twin 4-year-olds in tow.

It was a long, very long day but surprisingly, far less stressful than I anticipated. In fact, it was downright fun! “L” and “K” were real troopers, soaking in everything they saw (Snow White, Cinderella, Goofy, Minnie Mouse,  Dumbo), enjoying every moment on a ride (Buzz Lightyear, Peter Pan, Dumbo, Thunder Mountain Railroad), savoring every treat (funnel cakes and ice cream!).

We arrived at 8:30am, departed at 10:30pm. I thought “T” might have to carry “K” all the way to the parking garage. But once we were in the middle of our last shopping stop, she woke up to choose her last souvenir. “L”, on the other hand, declared that she would sleep when we got to our truck. I had a feeling that she wanted to make sure she didn’t miss a single thing before we left.

A successful first trip? Absolutely. In fact, the question, “When are we coming back to Disneyland?” was asked in earnest before we even walked through the gate.

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Original It’s Never Easy But It’s Always Fun blog post by MommyTwinGirls.

Disneyland – Thrillseeking At 4 Years Old

Disneylandsvmoms_3 Yup, you read it right. We took our girls to Disneyland for the first time ever! Of course, they've already asked when we can go again but for now, we'll just savor the first experience. I've got a lot to say about everything we did but first off, check out this post I put up on Silicon Valley Moms Blog about our rollercoaster riding experiences.

I promise. I'll write more. Like the very limited planning we did beforehand…or the trips to Yosemite and Mono Lake a few days before…and the bikeride through Yosemite Valley with our 3-seater tandem bike and bike trailer hooked up to it at the end…and my beautiful new cruiser bike (bright yellow!) and our final destination in San Diego. Yup, all in one week…last week, to be exact.

Until then, enjoy!

Original It's Never Easy But It's Always Fun blog post by MommyTwinGirls.