By Diane Ako
Fall break for Olivia arrived, and we found ourselves at Disney theme parks for the second time this year. As I read over what I wrote, sounds a little crazy, considering we fly up from Hawaii to go to the theme park - but it makes Olivia happy.
Mid-October at Disney is a great time. The weather is cooler than at spring break, and the lines are shorter. If you go at the park opening, you'll encounter a long line at the gate, but few lines at the rides for the first couple hours. Terrific!
We spent two days at the parks - one at California Adventure Park, one at Disneyland. We got so lucky because it was fairly overcast on the second day so we weren't scorched. We chose to spend the third day at my good friend Joann's house in Irvine just hanging out.
At California Adventure Park, Olivia wanted to ride Tower of Terror first. It's my favorite adult ride, so I was game. She rode it for the first time in March, and claimed it was her favorite - but when we entered the spooky lobby, she changed her mind.
"Too late!" we told her. She enjoyed it less this time around, but perhaps a day later it then became her favorite ride once again. I think it's the mark of being a big girl.
We also took her on California Screamin', an inversion roller coaster, and Cars, which was the longest line we encountered - an hour and 45 minutes for a fast spin around a track. It was all fun.
We had to get up at 6 a.m. the next day to get ready for Disneyland. The plan was to make sure to see the Frozen princesses. We tried the day before but learned the tickets are all gone within the first 30 minutes or so of the park's opening.
When we lined up at the front gate, people were counting down the seconds until the gates opened. The lines were about 50 people deep by the time we got there, but it didn't take us that long to get in.
I saw people running at full speed once inside, so my Type A personality ramped up and I grabbed Olivia's hand and ran to Fantasyland. Here is how it works: it's so popular to meet the Frozen princesses, you have to line up first thing in the morning, present your park pass, and have the entire party present to receive a number.
At the front, a staffer gives you a ticket of when to return for your 20 minute window. You have to present your Frozen ticket and your park passes when you return, then you line up again to meet them. You cannot line up earlier than your window, and you cannot miss it.
I had 90 minutes from the time we got the ticket, to the time our turn was up. I looked at my watch like my life depended on it. Like I was Brad Pitt in World War Z trying to catch my chopper to safety. I would never hear the end of it if we left Disneyland without meeting Anna and Elsa.
As I said earlier, the lines were short to non-existent, so Olivia was able to ride the Mad Tea Party a whopping 14 times without waiting in line. The first four times, she would exit the teacup and run back into the line. After the fourth time, the attendant told her to just stay in the cup.
Early on, Claus and I (otherwise known as Old People) chose to abort the cup because all that spinning made us dizzy, but young people are so much more durable, so she loved it. By the 10th time, we noticed she was stalking another little girl (doing the same thing, just sitting in the ride consecutively). She walked over and let herself into the cup, and they became friends for the rest of the morning until the girl had to leave.
We also walked right into Peter Pan's Flight, which appears to be one of the more popular rides in Fantasyland. There was absolutely nobody in line and nobody in the cars. I haven't seen that in ages.
We probably rode about two dozen rides at Disneyland - amazing - but Olivia's favorite was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, because it was fast enough to rate as a Big Girl ride, but not scary.
On our third day we just hung out with a dear friend Joann, who is Olivia's godmother. I love that feeling about good friendships - that there can be time and distance in between visit, but the same closeness remains. I fell in love with her two year old, Jake.
It was a quick but easy trip. I have a park credit for about $100 that I have forgotten twice now this year to bring along and use. It's my excuse to Claus to return. In the woman's mind, it makes total sense, right, to return to Disney again soon just because I need to use this credit? LOL