Right, we snuck off to Disneyland. I meant to check in and report from there, but it seems I haven’t yet learned that I don’t get any work done when I go away. Especially when there are just under 48 hours to take in Disneyland with 5 and 8 year old boys. We were too busy having a blast. By the time we maxed out our days and nights and collapsed into bed at 11 or so (midnight our time) there was no way I could keep myself awake to check in here. I tried. I did not succeed.
Besides, this time it was all about paying attention to the boys and not being distracted by my laptop. W has in recent weeks gently but firmly removed it from my lap and closed it in an attempt to get my full and undivided attention. He has begun eye rolling. And growing up. And I’m feeling guilty about not spending as much time having fun as I should before he transforms into a sweaty teenager with dwindling interest in hanging with me. I can see it coming.
I wanted to demonstrate I could be fun too. Mike’s fun. He plays Star Wars and knows all the characters. He plays Lego and doesn’t have to feign enthusiasm. I had fun envy. What better place to get away and play? To be honest, I expected to tolerate Disneyland for the sake of the boys.
I loved it. I really did. It was so much fun. My cheeks hurt from smiling.
My last time in Disneyland I was about 12. We figured at some point as parents it was mandatory to go back. Much of it was just as I remembered, not even crumbling and weathered (like me!). Some were revamped – the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse (I loved as a kid) is now the Tarzan Treehouse. I remember climbing it with my mom and dad, and he excitedly pointing out details and referencing the book we had read together. Crazy to be the parent telling the boys not to run on the rope bridge.
I’m not sure how they do it. But Disneyland is not hot and crowded and midway-ish. There’s lots of green, and tons of shade, and not a bit of trash. It’s somehow spotless. We discovered fresh rosemary, sage and thyme growing in neat rows between the rides in Tomorrowland. Although there was no shortage of people, we never had trouble finding somewhere to sit down that was comfortable and shady. And somehow never felt boxed in or crowded. No one was rowdy or loud or obnoxious. How can you be at Disneyland? It’s like reverting back to childhood, and knowing Santa’s watching.
We stayed at the Grand Californian Resort, right at Disneyland park. Which I could not recommend more highly. When there’s so much to see and do, there is nothing like being able to take a break and jump in the pool or have a lie down in the afternoon, when it gets hotter and busier. The two mornings we were there we got up and dressed and were down at the park in about ten minutes. It was cool and empty, and we walked right on to Pirates of the Carribean and Indiana Jones, both of which the boys had been anticipating for weeks. By afternoon we could pop back into the hotel to change or take a load off. After watching the evening shows – World of Color and Fantasmic!
And the food! Not a deep fryer in sight. No deep-fried midway shock food, like deep fried Coke, or Oreos, or Mars Bars. There were fresh fruit carts everywhere. I did not see a chicken nugget, but I did see grilled chicken satay, and kabobs, and interesting grainy salads. For lunch the day I started writing this post we had rice bowls – the boys’ with Teriyaki chicken, ours with spicy Korean beef – both came with fresh pea pods, peppers, bok choy and other veg, with a side of steamed edamame, in their pods, with coarse salt. The times they are a-changin’.
The Stampede could learn a thing about midway food from Disneyland.
Our first dinner was at Napa Rose, in the Californian Resort. Stunning. Truly.
The kids’ menu had prime rib, with real mashed potatoes and steamed green beans. Nary a nugget.
It was a gorgeous restaurant, yet being at Disneyland, more than kid friendly. They celebrated kids by offering them their own selection of real food – the same food the grown-ups were enjoying – with white linens and china. I like exposing the boys to this kind of dining experience without feeling like everyone is giving me the eyeball for bringing kids into that sort of a restaurant.
They have an open kitchen, and impressive wine cellar. And an even more impressive breadbasket. I may have missed out on photographing it entirely in my rush to try each type of bread before it was devoured. This -right here? Is what we ate AT DISNEYLAND.
The Asian-style greens with tempura lobster? Never had a salad like it. So working on recreating this somehow. Otherwise I may have to make a pilgrimage back for another.
There were also some fantastic restaurants at Downtown Disney, which reminded me of some idyllic movie-set downtown, impeccably clean, well-lit, warm and breezy, and everyone’s happy. I half expected everyone to know my name. Wait, that’s Cheers.
Back out in Disneyland Proper it wasn’t all fruit stands – there was ice cream (a great parlor, with white moustached gentlemen in red and white striped vests behind the counter) and candy apples and cotton candy, so there great chocolate shops, so there was no missing out on treats. There was a great bakery that sold fantastic coffee, sandwiches and cinnamon buns. There just didn’t seem to be any junk – no deep fryer haze settled over the grounds like a greasy cloud. As W put it: “wow, all your dreams really do come true at Disneyland!”