Disneyland Vacation, Day 4 – Brunch with Mickey

January 8, 2022

This day was a non-Disney day. I specifically planned for this because I did not want to fight the weekend crowds in Disney. In addition to regular tourist crowds, locals also go to Disney, especially on weekends. I made a reservation for a Disney character brunch at Storyteller Cafe instead. This will still give us a Disney feel, without going to the park. I booked this brunch 60 days out because I heard that reservations were hard to obtain. I basically counted 60 days before this day and booked the reservation on the Disneyland App. 

The storyteller cafe is located at Disney Grand Californian Hotel. I didn’t know the directions, so we followed google maps. We left about an hour before our reservations to give ourselves enough time, in case we get lost. We did the usual trek to Disneyland parks and went through security. Instead of going to the parks, we followed the sign to Downtown Disney and hoped for the best — that there is a sign that will lead us to Disney Grand California. Well, I was wrong. We walked all the way and were about to leave downtown Disney. I asked the security and she mentioned that we passed it. So we went back. Another person from one of the stores, gave us a better direction to turn right after The Disney’s Dress Shop store. We saw the store and I followed the signs to the restaurant. We got there 10 minutes before our reservation and checked in. We didn’t have to wait long until our table was ready.

The brunch is a buffet style with a typical brunch menu. I wasn’t impressed with the food on the buffet – I mean it was good, because bacon is good. I don’t think you can screw it up, but it also doesn’t have a lot of “healthy” selection. I ordered off the menu, and the food was better. The chicken skewer was actually delicious and the avocado toast was decent. I also ordered some chicken and fries for the kids, and of course they enjoyed it. The highlight of the brunch was the character sightings. The kids watched out for it, but it was just OK. Because of COVID, the characters just walked around the restaurants. I expected this, but we already saw the same characters at the park, so it wasn’t new to the kids. AHP also had a hard time sitting and started running around the restaurants. There was one time he ran to the characters – which of course you can’t do. Since AHP is about to be 2 next month, I asked the server for a special cake. He got him a rainbow cupcake for the boys and we sang Happy Birthday to AHP. He didn’t know how to blow a candle, and was about to cry. Unfortunately, the singing stopped and he enjoyed the icing on the cupcakes. 

Here’s Pluto, followed by Mickey and Chip and Dale

The kids are definitely done with the restaurant after an hour and 3 sightings of the same characters. AHP and I stayed outside the lobby while MBP and my husband used the restroom. AHP had fun running back and forth while one kid try to chase him. When MBP saw the kid, he immediately says “Hey, a friend is here”. He always try to say hi to other kids at the park and is always very friendly. I think he really misses his classmates, which is weird because he really doesn’t play with them in school.

We went back to our hotel on a leisurely walk, just in time for AHP’s nap. MBP had some quiet time, but didn’t really nap. He usually doesn’t nap at home, but park days make him tired, so he’s been napping the last 3 days when we visited the parks. 

The afternoon was just hanging around our room, ordering some more fruits and water bottle from Instacart and getting pizza for dinner. Tomorrow is another non-Disney day.

Total Money Spent for the day: $131.8

Brunch – $97.15 (Excluding the $70 gift card balance from we received from my brother for Christmas)

Instacart – $31.4 

Laundry: $3.25

Disneyland Vacation, Day 3 – Finding Treasures

January 7, 2022

We’re going back to Disneyland today for the second time. We packed quite a bit on our first day, so I’m just taking it slowly today. We had breakfast – cereal for the boys and my normal oatmeal. I eat this breakfast daily. I prefer having a consistent healthy meal to start the day. It takes out the mental capacity of thinking what to eat, when you just wake up. We packed our snacks and lunch. We are having chicken salad this time from the leftover rotisserie chicken, with some bread. 

The only agenda is to see the other side of the park, mainly Adventureland and Frontierland. I can tell that it was more crowded today, being Friday and probably with the last weekend of the Holiday shows. Our first ride was Jungle Cruise. This was a great ride and the boys loved it. I loved this too – there were so many animals and they looked real. After the cruise we ventured out and took a raft to Tom Sawyer Island. I really like this side of the park because the kids can just run around and it wasn’t too crowded. At this point, the crowd was starting to get to me, so I’m glad to just be in this little area. When we got back, the boys had their snacks and we headed out to ride the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. We didn’t have to wait at all on this ride. Max ran to the gift shop after the ride. Those gift shops are strategically located once you exit the ride. You have to look to your sides to bypass it, which of course MBP will not do. MBP got some bubble wands, which every kid in the park has. I used the Disney gift card that my brother gave us for Christmas. The cashier took out the tags and got the bubble wand ready for action. We also saw Winnie the Pooh on the way out. We stayed for a bit because there was a nice area for the kids to play with their new toy. 

Finding some treasures
Bridges – be careful!
Yay, no lines!

We then head back to Toontown for lunch. We stayed at Chip and Dale’s treehouse and had our lunch there. The kids ran around and MBP played with his bubbles, which all other kids love. There was a boy who wanted to borrow his wand and took it. MBP flat out said no and took it back. Luckily the parents were there, so no crying was involved. We stayed there and we were able to convince MBP to try the Gadget Coaster. My husband and MBP were in line while AHP and I stayed in the tree house. The lines were short, so when they were about to exit, I asked the cast member to do a ride switch. I have to asked MBP to ride with Mommy this time and after some convincing, he did it. I can tell he was scared but after the ride, he got out of the chair, and screamed “it’s the most amazing ride ever”. I asked him if he wanted to do it again and he said no. I honestly don’t know what’s going on in his head. We stayed in Toontown for a bit since the crowd was dispersing. Before heading back to the hotel, we had time for another ride and decided to do Dumbo the flying elephant.

Toontown with Bubbles

We trekked back to our hotel for naps. At this point, everytime that we have to go back to our hotel, I wished that we are closer. Granted, it’s probably just another 5 minute walk – but that 5 minute walk can be brutal. 

We had our dinner after naps and dealt with some internet connectivity issues. The kids wanted to watch their shows and the internet was not working. My husband prepared dinner – our last leftover rotisserie, with rice and steam veggies with beans. Once everyone’s bellies are full, we headed back to the park, packed with some water and snacks.

It was also a bit cold today, so we made sure to bring a blanket with us. We first tried to take the train that goes all the way around the park. We left the stroller by main street and took the train all the way to Toontown, until it broke down… it was actually a good ride, especially at night so I was a bit disappointed. We now have to get out of the train and find a way to get our stroller back. Good thing though is that the train stopped close to the It’s a small world. The whole castle was lit, which we hadn’t seen last time. MBP requested to ride the boat again. It was a long wait, but it will give my husband enough time to get the stroller from the main entrance back to the ride. The kids were getting used to waiting in lines and we had enough games to play. MBP was also entertained with all the lights, which would turn off sometimes. I told him that it was Tinkerbell and her pixie dust. I was actually so glad to get on this ride again at night. It was just so different. There wasn’t enough time for another ride before the fireworks, so we decided to get some Beignet and sat down for a snack.

This is better in person
Our attempt of family selfie

We went back to main street just before the fireworks. This time we were not front and center and got some space closer to the main entrance by the tree. The kids were more interested with all the lights from the buildings in main street. The “snow” was also more powerful in this area. AHP was really worried about the snow on my hair and kept telling me to take it out. We headed back to the hotel, did the normal night time routine and tucked in for the night. Tomorrow is a non-disney day and I’m actually looking forward to some rest. 

You can still see the snow – and I capture some good photo of the couple there

Total Money Spent for the day: $9.15

Bubble Wand – $0 (It was $30, but I used a gift card we received from my brother)

Mickey Mouse Beignet – $9.15

Disneyland Vacation, Day 2 – You’ve got a Friend in Me

January 6, 2022

The kids woke up around 6:50 AM. I was up before that, since it typically takes me a while to get use to sleeping on a “new” bed. Today, we are visiting Disney California Adventure. From what I remember, this park has more “thrilling” rides. After nursing AHP, I prepared the usual breakfast of oatmeal with some apples and strawberries. I also prepared the boys’ snacks, the usual, apple, strawberries, raisins and goldfish crackers. Preparing the boys and getting out of the hotel always takes a while. We packed our lunch for the day – turkey meat and mini bagels and some water bottles. 

There were more lines in the security this time and more lines in the gate entrance. The wait was about 10 minutes in total and was manageable. I wasn’t able to find any map when we got in so we just started walking. Luckily, we stumbled into the “Little Mermaid” ride and there wasn’t any line. We rode it and enjoyed the under the sea adventure. We were really lucky because the ride was out for refurbishment during our next visit. We headed to the Pixar Pier and rode Jessie’s Carousel – again, no wait. I asked MBP if we can ride the big wheel, but he kept on saying no, so we just started walking. The next ride was the Toy Story Mania. This was a bit of a wait, but shorter than what it says on the app. MBP really loved this ride. At this time, AHP was getting fuzzy, so we ended up giving their snack while waiting in line. Another perk of bringing your own food. After the ride, we sat on the bench to finish their snacks and just walked around. It was almost lunch time, so we found another bench close to the water with some enclosure and had our lunch there. So far, we’ve been lucky on finding a really good lunch spot. My husband ordered some churros for a special treat. It was ehhh. I know that folks rave about churros, but it was just ok. I’d rather have an ice cream. 

Jessie’s Carousel

Hello! Uhmm who are you?

We started walking again and saw Woody and Little Bo Peep on stage. Our next ride was the Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind and waited for about 15 minutes. The kids don’t really know the characters but they like the different colors of the balloons. Our next ride was Golden Zephyr – a little bit higher than our usual ride, but again the kids didn’t mind it at all. We headed back to get our stroller and walk around Cars land. I was super impressed with this. It is the Radiator Spring with all the shops around. We managed to ride Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree with minimal wait. Initially, I though that AHP was too short to ride, so we waited by the exit, but then I saw that other little kids were riding it, so I measured his height and he is just an inch above the required height. Yay! This was faster than our usual slow rides, but he seems to enjoy it. The line for Radiator Springs Racer was long and MBP keeps on saying that he doesn’t want it “too fast” so we skipped it.  

Cheese?
Selfie in Radiator Springs

Those are all cars, right?

We then head back to the hotel for our nap break. The kids slept right away and I did the usual dishes from the morning breakfast. After nap, the kids had some screen time and we had our dinner. Pasta with red sauce with some rotisserie chicken and steam veggies on the side. All cooked in the rice cooker. The chicken and the red sauce was surprisingly delicious. We packed up some snacks and water and we headed back to the Disneyland California Adventure. 

It was busier than normal, probably from the weekend crowds. We waited about 45 minutes for the Monster Inc ride, which in our mind, was not worth it. The kids still loved it though. We stayed in Hollywood and watched a 3D Philharmonic Show, which MBP dubbed as the concert. At first, I thought he would be scared, but he LOVED it. AHP didn’t want to put on the 3D glasses so everything’s so blurry for him. We stayed there and went to a store, where I found a penny press! I was disappointed to see that it’s not the old school press anymore where you have to crank it up manually. Now all you need to do is press a button with the choice of your design. Ehhh… good thing MBP still had fun with his coin. We went to an Animation studio where we learned how to draw Tiger. I had fun and it’s so funny to see MBP’s version of Tiger. We ended up having some cotton candy and called it a night. It was AHP’s first experience of cotton candy and for some reason, he cried – probably because the cotton candy just disappeared from his mouth – he ended up eating the dried mango that we packed for snacks. We left at the right time because the fireworks just started. We were able to watched it from a distance, while the kids were sitting in their strollers. It was a lot more convenient than waiting more than half an hour before it started.

Night Snacks

We got back to our hotel, and did the usual night time routine. The kids, exhausted, slept quickly. I did the dishes from dinner, surfed the internet and called it a night. Tomorrow is another day at Disneyland.

Total Money Spent for the day: $16.5

Churros – $5.5

Cotton Candy – $11

Disneyland Vacation, Day 1 – It’s a Small World

January 5, 2022

I’m pretty sure I was more excited than the kids. I was awake at 6AM, but didn’t get up just before 7AM, basically when the boys woke up. I prepared some oatmeal, using the rice cooker and cut up some apples and strawberries. We had oatmeal with raisins, with brown sugar and flaxseed with the cut up fruits. After breakfast, I prepared the boys snacks – apples, strawberries, raisins and goldfish crackers, packed in a 4 compartment bento box. For lunch, we packed some turkey lunch meat and wheat bread. My husband got some ice from the hotel and packed it in a zip lock bag, which we put in our lunch bag, along with the meat. We got our water bottles and off we went!

It took less than 10 minutes to get to the gate and probably another 20 minutes to get through security and entrance lines. We got inside Disneyland around 8:45. The crowds were not bad. It has been 18 years since my last visit, and I can’t remember the layout of the theme park. I do remember the rides and the LINES. Once we passed through the main street, I saw the castle and Tomorrowland. Our first ride was Astro Orbiter. I’ve been watching some Youtube videos of the rides with MBP and AHP so they noticed the rocket ships right away. Lines were reasonable at around 10 minutes but we definitely had to explain to MBP the concept of waiting for our turn. We lucked out and rode Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters just right after. The lines were short and we only waited 5 minutes. MBP was definitely entertained with this ride. When we left the ride, I noticed there were more people. We started walking around and for some reason ended up at a “It’s A Small World” castle. Since the line was short, we rode the boat. I was definitely impressed by this ride. Disney still had the holiday theme and everything was so colorful. We sat by the bench after the ride and the boys had their snacks. AHP was very methodical about his snacks. He will first eat the goldfish crackers, then raisins before eating the strawberries and apples. We soaked up the Southern California Sun for a bit, had a bathroom break and let the kids run around.


Our First Minnie Sightings – the kids don’t want to look at the camera
Buzz Light Year from AstroBlaster
Holiday Theme for It’s a small world

Snack Time

We found our way to Fantasyland and rode the Carousel, Pinocchio and Mr. Toad’s wild ride. AHP was a bit scared of Mr. Toad, but was such a good sport. We then head to Toontown. There were a lot of character sightings at Toontown and it was a great place to let the kids run around. We had our lunch at Toontown Park. It’s a great place to have lunch, since it is shaded and somewhat enclosed. AHP can’t really sit down for more than 5 minutes. He will walk/run around, go back to us to take a bite and will run around again. We stayed in Toontown for a bit and let the kids explore the character houses and say hello to all the characters. We saw Mickey, Minnie, and Donald Duck here – just one of the many sightings on this vacation. We then headed back to our hotel for some nap breaks. On the way back, we lucked out and there was a mini parade with Donald, Pluto, Princess Anna and Elsa and Chip and Dale. It was a packed morning. 

Toon Town

We got back before 2PM. The boys were exhausted and napped right away. I cleaned the dishes from breakfast and also had a nap. MBP woke up before AHP and we gave him the iPad. AHP napped until 4:15. We prepared some dinner of rice, rotisserie chicken with BBQ sauce and steamed veggies. Once our bellies were full, we headed back to the park. 

The park was so different at night. The Christmas tree was lit and the main street was transformed with all the lights for the holidays festivities. I was so glad that we went just after the holidays. I was able to see all the holidays decorations without the holidays crowds. We went back to fantasyland and rode the mad tea cups and the carousel. We then waited in line for the Casey Train Ride, which the app said was a 5 minute wait. Well, that wait was 45 minutes. Good thing, the kids were entertained. We then head back to get some seats for the fireworks. We settled around 8:15 and waited for the show. During the wait, the kids snacked and we played a lot of games and sang some songs. It was probably the hardest wait for them since they cannot run around. The fireworks show was great and ended with some “snow” (it’s really soap). We had a little bathroom break before heading back to our hotel. 

The Park at Night
Waiting for the fireworks

It was a rush to get the kids ready for bed, but they definitely slept well that night. Overall it was a good day!

Total Money Spent for the day: $0

Disneyland Vacation, Day 0 – Travel Day

January 4, 2022

I call this day travel day. The day leading up to the Happiest Place on Earth, our vacation to Disneyland in Southern California. We started packing days before the trip. The night before our trip, we loaded our Prius with most of our luggages. We have 3 suitcases to check in. I checked in our flights and paid for 1 checked in bag. The other 2 suitcases were free using my Alaska Airlines Credit Card. Our flight leaves at 11:56 AM, boarding at 11:10 AM. We wanted to be in the airport around 10 AM, which means leaving the house by 8:45AM, at the latest. 

The alarm went on at 6:45 AM. My husband got up and prepared breakfast. By 7:15, I woke up the boys, changed them and had breakfast. By 8:30 AM, we left the house to my parent’s house. My father gave us a ride at the airport. I squeezed in between the car seats and luckily fit, so the 5 of us went to the airport in the Prius. 

My husband took our luggages while I unbuckled the kids. Just before we entered the airport, a lady wished us “good luck”, while my 4.5 year old started running towards the gate without us. There were some chaos in the beginning, since we didn’t know where to put our already checked in luggages. I printed out the tags, but I needed a way to tie it in our luggages. We briefly stand in line the kiosk to print our boarding passes and our luggage tags. Luckily, a lady working in Alaska was there. I showed her our printed luggage tags and she gave us the “self-tag” bag that we can clip on our luggages. She directed us to another line where we can drop off our luggages. My husband hauled our 3 luggages, while I carried our almost 2 year old (AHP) and our 4.5 year old (MBP). It was a lot easier once we checked in our luggages and headed towards security. The line was short enough and the boys cooperated, for the most part. We headed towards our gate, which included a shuttle ride. The boys were excited. MBP started counting down before the shuttle took off, which gave some giggles to other passengers. We had ample time before boarding so we took a bathroom break and refilled our water bottles, before going to our gate.

Luckily, we didn’t have to walk too far to get to our gate. We grabbed some chairs, and tried to entertain the kids. My husband got our lunch while I watched the boys. I took out the Ipad to entertain MBP, while AHP kept on running away. I offered AHP some snacks and finally took out my phone just before my husband came back. We ate our lunch and used the restrooms before boarding the plane. The airlines typically let you board early if you are traveling with kids, but I like to do the opposite and board the plane at the very end. This lessens the wait time inside the aircraft and hopefully less screaming and / or crying inside the plane.

It was an uneventful 3 hour flight. The kids did great. The folks behind even told us that they did really well. Yay! When we got to baggage claim, the driver from Lansky was already waiting for us, with my name and a cart for our luggages. I was so glad that I paid for this service. It was expensive but definitely worth it. He helped us load the luggages in the cart and pushed it while we carried the boys to the car. I checked the car seat and buckled the boys in. Initially, we thought of stopping by the grocery store, but decided not to. Instead we ordered our groceries from Instacart. We got to our hotel and MBP fell asleep on the drive. AHP on the other hand was wide awake and talking A LOT. He keeps pointing out different colors of the cars. 

We got to the hotel and I took the boys with me to check in. Our double stroller and bed rail from City Stroller were already waiting for us. This is another service that I’m so glad I paid for. It was super convenient and I’m so glad that I rented the bed rail.

Our Stroller for the next 9 days

We settled in the hotel room, which consists of a double bed and bunk beds. MBP was on the top bunk while AHP on the bottom. AHP usually sleeps in the crib at home, but there wasn’t really enough room for a crib. Luckily the bed rail worked out and the boys actually liked the set up. 

I ordered our groceries from Walmart via Instacart. Free delivery for 3 months were included as a benefit for new customers paying via Chase Freedom Flex card, which I opened to pay for our Disneyland Tickets months ago. We had dinner in the hotel while waiting for our delivery, which arrived around 7PM. For dinner, it was simple rice with sardines that we packed with us. Rice was cooked in the rice cooker which we also packed with us. We entertained the kids for a bit and put them to bed before 8 PM. When they fell asleep, I cleaned the dishes, took a shower and turned in to get ready for the big day tomorrow!

My first Instacart order

Total Money Spent for the day: $158.86

Airport Lunch – $67.37

Driver Tip (20%) – $20 

Instacart – $83.84