Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Never again Space Mountain; and some tips for your next Disneyland vacation.

Well of course we had to stop by Disneyland while we were in California visiting family.
Earlier I mentioned a funny story about me, Space Mountain, and the Disneyland nurses station...

It wasn't very funny at the time.

The day before we left for California my youngest, C, got a stomach bug and spent 24 hours throwing up continually. So I'd like to blame it on her for passing the bug on to me but to be honest I really don't know what happened.

I have ridden Space Mountain so many times before. It's not my favorite ride but it's never made me sick!
Well it did this time. I ran off the ride and straight into the restroom and didn't emerge until my sweet mom brought the nurse and a wheel chair.  Most embarrassing moment of my life... being wheeled out of the Tomorrow Land bathroom clutching a barf bag in front of hundreds of people. I spent the next 3 hours trying to get my head to stop spinning in the nurses station, hoping I would be able to return to my kids in time for fireworks. In the end I walked back to the hotel, too afraid to get on the swaying and rocking shuttle bus.
The next morning I was feeling a little better but not 100%. We had one more day planned of Disneyland so I did get to go back and enjoy some more time with the kids, but I stayed off of Space Mountain!

Anyway, I'm no expert on Disneyland but I have been there quite a few times (growing up in California, and literally minutes away, it was THE PLACE to go on your birthday) and I have my favorite, sort of "out of the way" spots. When I was little they would let you walk through Sleeping Beauty's castle and it was far and away my favorite thing to do. They closed it down for quite a few years but it's open again. My husband had never heard of it so I thought maybe not everyone is aware it exists. Tucked away to the left as you walk over the drawbridge and into Fantasy Land is a little door that will take you up and around the castle and out the other side. It's not the grandest attraction at Disneyland but as a little girl (and a grown up one too) I loved to pretend I was a princess walking through my castle. Throughout the castle there are scenes from the movie displayed on the walls.
Another area I really like is Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyers Island. I was kind of sad when I overheard the ferry operator say it wasn't one of Disneyland's "proudest" attractions. I think it's great and a really fun place for the kids to get out of the long lines and run around a bit. It's full of caves, drawbridges, and things to climb.  
Ok, is it just me or does anyone else love Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln off Main Street? C really loved all the miniature "doll house" Disney theme parks on display. It's also a cool relaxing place to stop when you're feeling a bit nauseous from all the spinning rides :)

Most people know about Snow Whites wishing well near the castle but don't forget to walk through it at night, it's extra magical. Perhaps I get a little tired of the rides and long lines after so many hours, but these are just a few of my favorite spots at Disneyland. Don't forget to also grab a Dole Whip on a hot day and head to the Tiki Room, climb Tarzans tree house (I still remember it as Swiss Family Robinson, and always will) and watch some vintage Mickey cartoons at Main Street Cinemas.  
My last little piece of advice about a Disneyland trip is our favorite place to stay. I'm not getting paid to say this or anything, I just really love Embassy Suites.
Without the kids I don't think it would be Me and Bruce's first choice, but for a trip with the kids it's perfect. If you're trying to save some money over the Disneyland Resort hotels it's a great choice. For off season dates I can usually get us a room for around 100$ a night. I've planned this trip a few times and I don't mean to put down any business but I've never found the package deals you can get to be, well, a very good deal. If you get a discount on your park tickets, your hotel is always more. If you get a cheap hotel there is no park discount tickets. I even tried to add it up if we got the free Disney character meals and Disneyland Dollars and it still came to more than I wanted to spend. I can do a nice trip for around $2000 if we drive instead of fly, stay at Embassy Suites, do a few days at Disneyland and a day at the beach. That includes food and souvenirs too. When I tried to book with a travel agent they wanted close to that for just the hotel stay and park tickets.  

Now that that rant is out of the way, my favorite things about this hotel...
1. All their rooms are suites, so mom and dad get a separate bedroom, complete with locking door, away from the kids. We squish all 3 of our kids on the fold away bed/couch (our kids are still pretty small) and can enjoy our evenings together... we are on vacation too after all! The rooms are also a pretty good size and have a dinning table where we eat to save money. I hear a lot of people say that they don't spend much on their room because most of their time is spent outside of the hotel but it's been my opinion that getting us a more comfortable room, at a good price, makes a huge difference in a relaxing vacation and a "I need another vacation to recover from vacation" vacation.   

2. Their free breakfasts. This is not your average donut and a cup of juice continental breakfast. Embassy Suites will make you a made to order omelet, French toast, bacon, sausage.. the works. And if eating a huge breakfast every morning makes you feel a little heavy they also have cereal, oatmeal, lots of fruit, and yogurt. *You can get donuts too if that's your thing* This probably saves our family close to 40$ a day as apposed to eating out. Also in the evenings they offer a Managers Reception where they have unlimited drinks (coke products, juice, tea, coffee) and snacks. Popcorn was the kids favorite but they also had chips and salsa, crackers and trail mix. You can fill up a tray and take it back to your room for a Disney movie night before a big day riding the rides.

3. The Lion. Perched on top of a "rock mountain" is an animatronic lion that wakes up, stretches and ROARS every 30 minutes. The kids LOVE it! We couldn't leave for the day until we heard the lion roar at least once during breakfast. The lobby is also surrounded by koi ponds and is home to a couple of turtles that just hang out on the rocks and watch you eat your breakfast.
4. Location. It's within walking distance of Disneyland, if you don't want to take the shuttle on account of Space Mountain and feeling like you may throw up all over the family sitting next to you. It's also right across the street from a Target. We always forget/need something when we go on vacation.
So far I've been very happy with our stays at Embassy Suites. The place is full of kids, and sometimes it shows a bit, so like I said probably not the best place for a romantic getaway (even though I've never had a problem with noise and think it's pretty quite) But the pool is also great (maybe not as extravagant as some, there isn't a slide. But it fits the bill when you need to cool off and relax), the glass elevators are a ride in themselves for the kids and you can reserve a room on the side facing the Disneyland fireworks. Do yourself a favor next time you go on vacation with the kids and take a evening to stay in your room, eat popcorn on the bed and watch a firework show out the window. Perfect memories!

 Just a side note, the second day we spent at Disneyland it was 103 degrees! In May! We survived, and even had a good time. I should get that printed on a t-shirt.