Living Disneyland – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Living Snoqualmie packed up and took living to Disneyland, with one husband and four children in tow.  A week’s passed since our return to the valley, and I am ready to admit, it was one of those trips.  The kind you hear about from friends and think, that doesn’t sound like a vacation you want to remember.  Looking back, it had some of those qualities, but was definitely a vacation I don’t think any of us will ever forget – even if we tried.

First, it was hot. California in August, heat is expected.  But we’re talking heat that made the locals whine and park employees not required wear the vests and bow-ties of their uniforms.  The heat wave was all over the California news.  Schools even closed early.  The coolest of our 5 days in the park was 90 degrees – and that’s in the shade.  Add thousands of people and miles of Disneyland pavement and it was easily 10 degrees warmer.  The hottest day  was 102 – in the shade!

But we powered through.  We welcomed the warmth after the cool June and July at home.  We went early; took lots of breaks; ate in air-conditioned restaurants. We went on water rides repeatedly and gladly got soaked.  We had a pool to jump in and air-conditioned hotels.  We were fine.  Plus, California Adventure sells ice-cold beer for suffering parents.

Kink #1:  Bringing along a child with a cold (and a cough) that seemed to linger forever, especially in the night hours.  She powered through, too, making it to the park each day and taking her cough medicine at night because, although she could sleep through her coughing, the rest of us could not.

This is our third trip to the “happiest place on earth” in as many years.  This year we splurged and stayed 3 of our 7 nights at the Grand Californian Hotel.  Half way into the vacation we left the Sheraton – and the people smoking (in a non-smoking hotel) in the room next door.  The smell made it under the locked and closed connecting doors between our rooms.  But we did get some entertainment from the loud, intoxicated and smoking woman next door.  It was like Disneyland’s own soap opera. There were kids involved and an “other woman” who was apparently pregnant.  Jerry Springer would’ve loved these people.

Our Sheraton check-out and Grand Californian check-in could not have been timed better – except for our teenager still coughing and getting worse.

View from our Grand Californian hotel room

Bright Side: Our new room was beautiful (and ready early) with sweeping views of Grizzly River Run and Tower of Terror.  You could hear the rushing water of the ride and people screaming in fun. The room had access to a concierge’s lounge for meals, drinks and snacks.  Plus the Disney chefs made special meals (at no extra charge) for my daughter allergic to everything.  Service reached a different level at the Grand Californian.  And let me add this, if you are traveling out-of-state with sick child, it is the place to be staying.  They offered an on-call doctor service, which we utilized our second day as our daughter’s cold turned into a word you don’t want to hear while sharing close quarters:  STREP.

Luckily, the on-call doctor also carried antibiotics for strep.  Unluckily, he didn’t carry the type needed for the eye infection that sick child also developed courtesy of sleeping in contacts.  That medicine involved at $40 cab ride to two different pharmacies.  All of these medical receipts are still waiting to be submitted to our insurance company.  That should be fun.

Kink #2:  Son and husband start to feel sick.   The nice on-call  doctor looked at their throats, but couldn’t see signs of infection.  Because we were heading home in two days, he advised us to see a doctor when home if symptoms worsened.  He guessed they were getting same virus our daughter brought with her.

Bright side:  We were at a hotel with the perfect location for attempting to enjoy Disneyland while sick and during a heat wave.  We could walk right out the hotel doors and into the park. We could easily walk back in for lunch and pool time.  Many people told me: “You are paying for location and convenience.”  They were right.  Because of sickness and heatwaves, they were spot on.  It’s too bad three of us enjoyed the dream hotel stay more than the rest.

Kink #3:  Biggest kink yet.  Because of health issues, we were ready to get home and leave Mickey and Minnie.  And we did try to leave.  We got all the way to the airport TSA line; actually half way through the long line and waiting to go through the metal detectors when our son said he didn’t feel well, said he might vomit.  Hello, Murphy’s Law.  But it didn’t happen.  Instead, he fainted.  Yes, fainted.  Passed out for at least 5 seconds in the Orange County Airport TSA line.

Paramedics were called.  As a mother I panicked, not helping the situation.  But in my defense, I have never witnessed someone pass out; it was my child; and it looked like he wasn’t breathing.  Panic from the four females in our family is an understatement – we caused a scene.  My husband remained calm and took charge.

Our son was okay, but was transported (by ambulance) to a hospital for tests, which determined the virus (picked up from his sister) was the likely fainting cause. So Orange County got us one more night and we checked into our third hotel in eight nights.

Bright side:  Alaska Airlines was great, immediately changing our flight and upgrading the seats.  And the Orange County Sheriff’s Officer who got our bags off our flight went way beyond his job description.

We made it home.  It was a vacation to remember.  For the healthy ones, it was most memorable.  For three days we stayed in California Adventure until park closing, with the lights twinkling and watching fireworks from Disneyland.  My girls even did cartwheels down the Paradise Pier Boardwalk with no one else in sight.  We got into Cars Land an hour before everyone else.

After staying at the Grand Californian Hotel, we probably won’t stay anywhere elseIF Disneyland can lure us back.  Only time will tell.  I imagine somehow, the magic of the mouse ears will make us forget “the bad and the ugly” of our 2012 Disneyland vacation.

And there was “the good,” too.  There’s always good at Disneyland.  Even if one iPod landed in a Sheraton toilet and one MacBook isn’t working due to a drink spilling on the plane.  “Electronics down!”

In California Adventure after closing

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