The Most Magical Birthday

Is there a better more magical place to celebrate your 5th birthday than Disneyland?  We literally planned and talked about this trip for 2 years and were more than ready, excited, and prepared for our big adventure.

The week of their birthday we had a quick party at school with their friends on Monday.

We went home and packed .. with a few surprises the next morning we were off on our big 5 year old birthday adventure.

new headphones, books, and disney dollars!

little traveler 

how did they get so big? 

traveling #likeaboss

Funny halloween decoration in airport 
lunchables on the plane 
birthday gifts at 25000 feet... kept us busy!
The flight was 2.5 hours and they did great!  Next stop LAX for luggage, more buses, and rental car.

Within 5 minutes they were both O-U-T.  So Dad and I pulled the car up to an outside table at In & Out burger and enjoyed a California lunch. 

After a magical check in where they received birthday packages and special photos from Goofy, we hit Downtown Disney for some afternoon shopping fun.

cartoons in the lobby 

The "build a bear" of race cars.. pick and build.  the HIGHLIGHT of the trip. 

serious drilling 

black and green spiderman car

Swat team monster truck 

Amazing lego creations 

Seriously the cutest thing ever?  When we could get back to the room at night, the turn down service would put the penguins to bed!

There really are so many amazing things about the trip I could include from start to end.  It could fill up an entire blog much less one point so I'm going to hit the highlights. 

Day One - Disney's California Adventure.   Magic Hour.  In line by 6:30am.  Opened for Magic Hour (hotel guests) at 7am and everyone else at 8am.  BIRTHDAY DAY!

These guys are 5!!!!  And ready to rock Disneyland!
The madness of the early morning.  Running.  Not joke.  The gate opens and people RUN like crazy people.  At DCA they are headed to CarsLand.   Which generally has a 3 hour wait BUT we went at the best time of year and had hardly any wait.  It. Was. Awesome.

yep.  Just running ahead of all these folks trying to beat them in. 

And these folks ahead of us.  Heading to Cars Land!

We loved everything in Cars Land.  All of it.

One of the BEST things that we did was buy the Disney Photo Pass Plus and it was so worth it!  We got great pictures of all 4 of us without harassing anyone AND it paid for itself by including all the character pictures for no extra charge.  

Some of our other favorites?  Toy Story, Little Mermaid, Disney Jr live show, Monsters Inc,  Soaring over California, and Eli's favorite?  Tower of Terror.  Can't even believe he rode that! 

After a full day of rides (with a glorious nap in between) we headed back to watch the parade.

We booked the World of Color dining at Trattoria.   It was a gorgeous and I have to say for a splurge/special treat (only going to Disneyland once) worth every penny.  I also special ordered the boys a surprise... It was truly magical.  I wish I could describe the wonder and awe in their face when the cake came out and they sang Happy Birthday.  

The World of Color dining comes with a reserved spot to the famous water & light show.  I was expecting something great but honestly I stood in amazing and wonder.  How in the world do they do that with lights and water?  The reserved ticket was huge because we were able to ride Cars Land and experience DCA at night and not worry about standing room, general admission to get a spot.  Some people lined up over an hour before it started to get a standing room only spot.  We went right up to the front 5 minutes before it started.  If you are only going for 1 day and want to do everything.. it's the way to go.

Could Day One have been any better?  Absolutely not.  The perfect 5th birthday!!

Day Two - A little later start.  Magic Hour 9am and park opening at 10am.     Gave us a little more time so we started with a little in room dining :-)

Best thing to keep them occupied while waiting?  Maps.  We seriously went through so many maps but if they had one in their hand.. they were happy.  With a pen to mark everything they have done or mark everything they wanted to do.

And then the preparation for the MAD DASH.  I mean run.  After polling the crowd, we decided to follow the main rush to Peter Pan.. every small female ran straight for Frozen.  (Did say a small praise of thanks that we did not have to battle those lines!)

You will not beat this guy off the line.  

Their favorite?  Star Tours.. Star Wars (and I got sick but that's another story!)

so excited they could not stop hugging

Disneyland for us had a couple of #parentfails. Ha!  Matterhorn bobsleds.. still having night mares about the Yeti.   Pirates of the Caribbean.. Beckett said "this is worse than my nightmares"  Which scared them off of most rides after that.  Good thing Disney has plenty of other fun things to offer!

One major important attraction at Disneyland is Innovations which house 2 major character meets.  Thor and Captain America.   Both were incredible cool and overwhelming for the boys.  When you enter the Thor experience there is lightening and the room fills with "smoke".  And then Thor appears.  He is loud and looks incredibly huge and powerful.  Eli was chosen to pull the hammer and was stunned speechless!

A little unsure about this 

trying to pull the hammer 
Look at that face!  

The Riley family meets Thor
Eli was so overwhelmed by his Thor experience that he did not want to meet Captain America.  Although he did give him a shy high five on the way out.  No worries though.. Beckett was CRAZY excited to meet him.  It impresses me that the characters spend so much time with the kids.  He talked to him, asked him questions, let him touch the shield and took an endless amount of photos.

Part of Innovations had an Iron Man Hall of Armor.  Beckett asked to take a picture with each one. I'll spare you 10 pictures but it was really really cute!  They also played the Iron Man experience where on the screen they had armor, were flying, etc.  It was awesome.

After all that excitement (and a delicious fried tomato remoulade sandwich with sweet potato fries from Bear Country.. I mean wow.) It was time for a nap. After we rested up, we came back and caught the Disneyland Express train that circles the entire park.  Its the way to go to navigate around the park for sure.  The boys loved it.  And you know what they really really loved?  Mickey's Toon town.  As we got off the train Eli said "what kind of funny town is this?  They laughed and giggled at Goofy's messy house!

the sky was so beautiful it almost looked face

Mickey's garden 
He knew what this was called but I don't remember

And a very special surprise at Mickey's house! 

The parade did not disappoint either!  The boys oohed, ah'ed, and screamed over every float.  

I have to admit I was sad as we left our last night in the park!  It was super fun to see the Halloween decorations and it definitely added to the magic.

I also love that we never tried to push ourselves or the boys past what they could handle.  They were hungry but most definitely not in the mood to sit at a table for awhile so we ordered at the counter and took our pizza back to the room.  Perfect ending!

some great conversation about the day (and the cheese)
The next morning we scheduled our only character meal while we were there.  It was later in the morning so these cuties headed to the lobby to grab mom some coffee and while we were there they enjoyed some hot chocolate with Dad.

Our breakfast was at Paradise Pier - another hotel in the resort that had a beach theme.   Although the prices were in line with what you think of for hotel buffet breakfast, the food was so good.  Really.  The food the whole time we were there was impressive. Fresh fruit, avocado, house made sauces, we didn't eat anywhere that wasn't good.

sweet Daisy 

Their favorite character meeting the whole time - PLUTO

And my favorite!  Waited and waited for her!
And the photo pass pictures for the win!

We did pick up one last treat on our way out ---

After that we headed out to enjoy the rest of our California Friday before hitting Legoland.  We decided to cash in Justin's points and stay at Dana Point (which is near Laguna Beach).   The boys and I had our first California Beach day.  It was cold and windy but it was so great to just relax, not be on a schedule, and enjoy the gorgeous creation around us.   

gorgeous coastline

new bubble blasters daddy gave them 

those 3 guys I love right there 


loves the ocean 

we went exploring on the rocks

my love 

sand castles 

boogie board 

We saw some guys surfing and Eli asked "are you a real life surfer?"

such conversation between these two. all the time. 
 I brought their costumes since it was Halloween but we had planned on them going to kids care at the hotel while Justin and I went to dinner but they would not stop talking about trick or treating.  I called the concierge and found the name of a non-gated community about 10 miles inland and agreed we would check it out.  Total change of plans.  We did however, grab a drink, and perfect spot for one of the most famous sunset watches in the world.

Some hilarious guests made the boys night and threw candy to them from the balcony!

And then we began our Halloween adventure.  After scoping out a couple of neighborhood we settled on Marina Hills in Laguna Hills, Ca.  Armed with a hotel laundry bagged we crashed it and the boys had a BLAST trick or treating.  We met some sweet families and had a great Halloween evening in the OC.

And the boys joined us for our fancy schmancy Halloween dinner ocean front in Laguna Beach and did great.  A sweet relaxing family evening.  Could not have asked for a better down day.

By the next morning we were ready to pack up and head out to our next stop.. Legoland California in Carlsbad.   A DREAM of the boys.  They were way more excited about Legoland and have talked about it non-stop.

Fun Legoland tradition.  You can trade mini-figures.  Before we left, we packed 2 of our least favorite mini-figures and the boys checked out all the options with the Legoland workers.

What's awesome about Legoland is the mix of age appropriate rides and hands on activities.  The rides were more their speed (not exciting for me and Justin but hey.. not my birthday, right?)  

Even more than the rides, they loved all the opportunities to explore and build.  Hero Factory, race car, and huge playgrounds = WIN.

And what's a trip to Legoland without a visit to the REAL Lego movie set?  This amazed Justin and me.  

And everything really is AWESOME.. because we met Emmett!!

And we tried the signature cinnamon apple fries with vanilla whip cream.  #forthewin

Something about these parks just knock them right out!

Our last night on our fantastic vacation and we spent in downtown San Diego.  The boys woke up late so we headed out on foot for a late dinner.   As we were walking to dinner the boys could not get over the fact "we are walking to dinner in the city??"  Restaurants on every corner, beautiful evening and they were having the best adventure "in the city".

Just walking and talking so big.  Be Still My Heart. 
As we were leaving we saw a neon lit, loud music playing, awesome pedicab and hopped a ride.  For a 5 year old, this was crazy over the top.  Singing songs, riding through "the city".  Could not have topped the trip off more perfectly!

Best pedicab ride. Ever.  

Buses, taxi's, pedicabs, planes, rental cars.. these travelers were awesome.  

And like that, the vacation of a life time was over and we were back in Houston waiting on one last bus.

Even as I write this, I want to do it again.  There was nothing stressful, everything turned out magical, and it was the adventure of their lifetime.  I thought before going that I was "doing this for the kids" and expected one of those vacations were you just push through and hope the kids have great memories.. but boy was I wrong.  It was magical for Justin and me to!  We both say it was the best vacation we have ever been on.   Thank you California and Disney for the MAGICAL MEMORIES!
The Riley FamilyComment