Disneyland, Wookies, and Sharks…oh my!

DSC03568I’ve fallen out of the blogosphere, but have a good excuse (at least to me). My family went to California. Now, I won’t tell you that it was before Thanksgiving and I don’t really have an excuse for not blogging since except that I’m technologically challenged when it comes to getting pics off my husband’s phone to put on here. I won’t tell you either that I haven’t even tried to figure out how to get them off his phone…because then you might think I’m lame.

So since you don’t know about my laziness or techno-handicap, I will excuse myself because of vacation.

Our family loves Disneyland. We don’t go a lot (maybe every couple years), but when we go, we do the park HARD and make the most of our time there. At the end of each night, our feet burn, our legs drag, and we sound slightly like moaning zombies.

Still…best vacation EVER! Here are some highlights from our trip:


We were first in line.

On our magic morning, we made it onto seat 1 and 2 of the first car that took off for the new Hyperspace Mountain ride (Star Wars Themed). That is something to brag about because in order to do that, we had to be first in line at the park gates (which made for an early morning)…and then we had to speed walk faster than all the other people who were first in line in other stalls as we crossed the entire park to get to that ride before all of them (that was the ride everyone was trying to get to first–that and Peter Pan, which we hit about 10th in line the day before). Boo-yeah!

We ate the best food ever!

In the past, we’ve pretty much subsisted on granola bars and Rice Krispy treats to save money. Since we only had two kids this time, we decided to splurge and see what the park had to offer. Surprisingly, it has lots. My husband perused Disney blogs and made a list of the best places to eat…and we tried to hit as many as possible. If you’re trying to save money, don’t do this. Go the granola bar route. But if you have some cash to burn, try these places:

Fried Chicken at Plaza Inn

Taken from Disneyfoodblog. Check out this site for pics and reviews of park food. This was the best fried chicken I have ever tasted in my life. I did NOT want to share.


Pomme Frites at Cafe Orleans

Courtesy of the Disneyfoodblog. I am addicted to this site. This was my 2nd favorite meal…the Monte Cristo sandwich and pomme frites-fancy french fries that my family fought over.

Since you all know I suffer from a completely oversensitive sweet tooth, other delicious snacks were cinnamon rolls (oh my deliciousness!), Mint Juleps (a refreshing drink for hot days, which we had in November), and these babies:

Matterhorn Macaroons

Churro…you cannot have just one.

My best advice for eating at Disneyland is to not be on a diet. Savor the magic. Outside the park in Downtown Disney is the Rainforest Cafe. This jungle themed restaurant is one of my favorites. I had the Maui Meatloaf and it was quite flavorful. And having a life-size gorilla next to us shaking the palm trees and grunting wasn’t bad either.

Big kids rock at Disneyland. Here’s why:

  • I didn’t have to push a stroller and contribute to the traffic congestion.
  • I didn’t have to listen to whining kids say they didn’t want another dang granola bar.
  • And I didn’t have to worry about losing them in the crowds at night on the dark streets.
  • I could sit down and relax while my son and daughter wore their feet out running to get fast passes.
  • I could enjoy fun banter from witty teens.
  • And I could pay for meals and know my kids would appreciate the food, instead of throwing it on the ground for the aggressive seagulls to eat.


DSC03554Besides having their whole 60th Anniversary going on, Disney introduced Power of the Force the week we went. They upgraded Space mountain to be Star Wars themed, as well as added extra scenes to the Star Tours ride. Stormtroopers marched the street looking for rebel spies and we got to meet Chewbacca. The real deal. I know he was real because I hugged the furry beast and he did one of his Grahhhalehhgh growls. Can’t get more authentic than that.

Even though there were bigger crowds than we expected the week before Thanksgiving, we didn’t wait much. The park had every ride open and working at maximum capacity (something they don’t do when crowds are less). Overall, I think we did as good as when the park crowds are low.


When we arrived at Huntington beach, we noticed a helicopter circling the ocean. Being curious, we walked over to see if we could spot a shark, or a person drowning, or a beached whale…something interesting enough to grab a helicopter’s attention.

We saw nothing, but since a bunch of surfers had vacated the waves and the lifeguard truck drove over and sent a lifeguard into the water with a jetski to troll the area, we figured it must be a shark. Right?

But when the helicopter and lifeguard left and the surfers began to do their thing again, we figured it must have been a false alarm. Other families arrived who hadn’t seen the drama…and they skip-hopped their way into the waves with their little kids.

It was hot and perfect beach weather, so my kids started playing in the waves too, but not too deep since we still wondered what had been up with the helicopter and jetski. As more time passed and the lifeguard trucks didn’t seem concerned about people being in the water, my husband and kids went deeper.


Then the lifeguard truck returned and parked by me. I was enjoying the beach, because I don’t like California ocean (it’s dark, murky and cold).

The lifeguard asked if those people in the waves were with me. I nodded. He then told me they had spotted a great white shark half an hour ago right where they were playing.

I felt a little sheepish, because I knew that was right where the helicopter had been, but we’d been too lazy to move and there were others out deeper, so I figured they’d get eaten first if a shark really was there. (Sorry if you’re reading this and realize you were the other family by us. Yes, I was totally willing to let you guys get eaten first to warn me of danger).

So I stupidly ask the lifeguard, “Should I tell them to get out?”

He said, “The water’s not technically closed, but I wouldn’t want to be out there.”

Oh. That was a kind way to say DUH, LADY.

So I walked down to the water…

And JAWS jumped out and ate my 15 year old right before my eyes!!!

Just kidding.

My family met me and asked what the lifeguard said. When I mentioned the GREAT WHITE words, my son (the very son whose greatest goal is to go shark cage diving) said, “I’m out of here!”

I guess he’s watched enough Shark Weeks that he wasn’t going to tempt fate.

We vacated the water, but the surfers didn’t. I guess they’re more fearless than we are. I’m glad my son isn’t a surfer. Of course, that sport is hard to get into in Idaho.

And now you know why I haven’t blogged. My absence can be blamed on Disneyland…Star Wars…and great white Sharks.

What have you been up to? Would you have played in the ocean like we did after seeing the helicopter…or are you smarter than my family? Do you watch Shark Week each August? Have you ever hugged a Wookie? Do you believe in the magic of Disney like me? Please share.

26 thoughts on “Disneyland, Wookies, and Sharks…oh my!

  1. I know jealousy is a terrible thing, but I’m pretty jealous here! Mind you, wishing someone else’s family gets eaten by a shark is pretty bad too, so maybe you’ll forgive me 😉 I LOVE Disneyland and haven’t been in so many years, I want to go! Actually I love theme parks in general, and have been to quite a few over here in the last few years, but really Disney is where it’s at. And I want to do Universal again, loved that. Scary about the sharks! What does it take for them to close the water I wonder? Glad you all had a fab vacation! 🙂

    • I don’t know what it takes to close the water–maybe someone getting eaten? I love theme parks too, but nothing tops Disney, although I’ve heard Harry Potter land might. That’s on my list to do someday. One opens up in LA next year. Yea!!!

  2. I love Disney too, only we’ve been to the Florida theme park, never Disney Land. Your post makes me want to take another trip to the Magic Kingdom. Even though my boys are 15 and 18, we’d all still have fun. Plus, when we go to Disney World, we spend some time at Universal Studios too. In fact, the rest of the Harry Potter World theme park there is opening. Just read it in the paper today. Hmm, maybe this is all a sign I need to start planning a spring break vacation…

    • I know. I read that too and was like, ‘Say what?’ I want to see Harry Potter land super duper bad. My kids were 15 and 18 too, and we all had a blast. I loved sending one running off to get fast passes for the rest of us while I rested. Love their energy. I want to try out Disney World someday, but probably with only my husband since we would have to fly. I’m cheap about paying for flights for more than 2 of us.

  3. I’ve never done Disney “Land” BUT have visited Disney “World” numerous times and it never gets old. Love it so I’d say you have a very good excuse for not blogging. No sir-ree, you wouldn’t see me going into water above my ankles 😉

    • Disney World sounds pretty massive. I want to try that one someday. And I agree, ocean is scary. I don’t dabble too deep ever too unless I can see into the water better (which I can’t do in CA)

    • We’ve done it so many times with small kids, and it’s a different kind of fun then…but a little more exhausting. It was nice to go with energetic, happy big kids.

    • Does Disney not have a park in Australia? How sad. I would have put more pictures up, but hubby’s gone with his phone, and he took most of the pics. So I don’t have any cool ride pics to virtually show you, but they are so fun. Even if I couldn’t do rides, I could have fun in Disneyland just by studying all the theming details everywhere. It is so well done. Maybe someday, Mickey will land on your shores.

  4. That’s great that you got to meet Chewbacca! He’s one of my favorites and I keep trying to do his growl but can’t quite get it right. It’s pretty impressive to win that race when the park opens too. I’ve only been to Disney once a decade or two ago and will have to go again one of these decades. Those new rides sound like a lot of fun and I’ll have to seek out Chewbacca for a growling contest.

    • His growl was so cool when he did it. I think we all fell in love with him then. I haven’t practiced, but I say, keep working on it and maybe you can give him a run for his money someday…or at least impress everyone in the movie theater when the new movie releases.

  5. HI Char!
    I loved reading about your Disney adventure and seeing pics of you and your sweet family. Sounds like a fantastic time. I’ve only been to Disneyland once and it was when I was pregnant with my oldest (I was there for a conference). So, whenever my kiddo complains that she never went to Disney…I remind her that she did 🙂
    LOVED reading this. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

    • Merry Christmas to you too, Michelle. That’s funny about being prego there. I was pregnant once there too and got to see the behind the scenes Disney when I raced out of a line out an emergency exit to find myself throwing up in a back alley. It must have been monitored, because once I was done being sick, security guards showed up and helped me to the First Aid Center. Hee hee. I don’t recommend that tour though to anyone.

      • Oh Char…that is an awesome story!! I can only imagine the scene. I didn’t puke in the alley, but I knew something wasn’t quite right (I was only 7 weeks along, and didn’t know). I felt funky, was really sleepy and it was my mom who told me I was pregnant long before I took a test. Oh, the memories. Thank you for sparking them this morning. Your family is truly a ray of sunshine. xo

        • Funny. Ever since my icky time on that ride in Toonland, I’ve avoided the Roger RAbbit ride. Too many bad memories associated with it. Maybe that’s why you haven’t been back–it tired you out and even thinking about it makes you yawn.

  6. Wow, first in line for a new ride? That is quite the coup. And a much better memory to focus on than possible sharks. 😉 I would’ve had nightmares after that, even if it did make for a great blog post!

    Have a wonderful Christmas and very Happy New Year with friends and family, Charissa!

    • Yeah, the first in line ride part was awesome! I can ride high on that success for a few years. And the shark…yeah, not the most happy thing to write about–but at least he didn’t bite. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season as well, Jacqueline.

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