Awhile back, Mark and I decided that when each of the grandkids turned 13, we would treat them to three days in Disneyland. Three days without other siblings, which gave them the chance to go on only the rides they wanted to go on.
Levi turned 13 last March, but at that point I don't think Disneyland was even open. We postponed our celebration by a year in hopes that the experience would be like the Disneyland pre pandemic.
So much has changed as they try to operate the park like the old days, but still limit the number of people. First of all, you purchase your tickets. We bought 3-day Park Hopper tickets. Then you have to make a reservation for the days you will be in the park. And then you have to state which park you will be entering first. Pre pandemic, with a park hopper you could start wherever you wanted, and then switch parks all day, spending as much or as little time in each. Now you can't park hop until after 1 p.m. After that time, I believe you can go back and forth as much as you want.
After purchasing our tickets, I received so much information--barcodes for the tickets, QR codes for the reservations for three different days, which of course being old school I printed out "just in case." We each had the Disney app on our phone--I don't know how you "do" Disneyland without the mobile app these days!
We made reservations to start our two first days in Disneyland and the third day in California Adventure.
We left early Saturday morning, checked into our hotel across the street and headed to Disneyland. The lines at the gate were short and it turns out all we needed was the barcode for each of us. Then they took our picture and printed out the paper ticket which had all the information for our reservations for all three days.
We entered the park at noon and headed to Autopia, the first ride Levi wanted to go on (maybe because he's already looking ahead at getting his driver's license??).
I will mention right here that 14-year-old boys are not fans of photo ops. So I have a fraction of the number of pictures as when we took Charlotte for her 13th birthday. :)
Then we headed to Red Rose Tavern for lunch. Hey, Disney, as a quilter I'm a big fan of the design you are using on your cups right now!
Then it was an afternoon full of rides. In the "old days" they used a system called Fast Pass which would give you a ticket with a one-hour timeframe that allowed you to go through a much shorter line. They still basically have that system. Only now in true Disney form, you have to pay for it and get something called Genie +, for which they charge $20 per ticket per day. If you are planning a trip to Disneyland, it will be well worth the price even though I hated paying it.
When we did have a somewhat longer wait, Levi played a game on his phone (he was not thrilled that I took this picture, but hey, it's all about documenting details). On the other hand, I have to say he was not glued to his phone and we had lots of fun conversations throughout the whole weekend.
This photo was taken in the line for Millenium Falcon, Smuggler's Run, which was probably one of our longest waits.
The Jungle Cruise ride is always a fun one.
Kind of to Levi's chagrin, we "made" him ride "it's a small world". He was a good sport about it.
Our only photo of the Sleeping Beauty Castle.
We watched the fireworks, always a Disneyland spectacular. This is definitely not the most spectacular example, but I put the phone away and just enjoyed the display.
Distance walked: 7 1/2 miles
On Sunday, our good friend, Jessica, joined us for the morning. She is lucky enough to live fairly close to Disneyland, so she and her boyfriend, Timothy, are there are lot.
Sunday was Levi's actual birthday. The one picture I really wanted was at the entrance. Jessie pointed out that for the first time in history, Minnie is depicted in flowers rather than Mickey.
The first thing we did was get Levi his Happy Birthday button and then talked him into a photo in front of these flowers.
The one thing he wanted to eat was beignets, kind of a Disneyland tradition in our family. We usually get them in Downtown Disney, but Jessie said we could get Mickey Mouse-shaped beignets right there in the park and they were the same recipe. And everything is better when it is Mickey-shaped. :)
We have been to Disneyland many, many times, but when you are there with someone who is there like every weekend, you learn even more little details.
For example, we have never noticed the "smallest house in Disneyland" near the entrance to Indiana Jones.
I decided to sit out Indiana Jones on Sunday morning. Pirates of the Caribbean was closed for refurbishing but that doesn't mean that it is totally ignored, as evidenced by this pirate ready to pose for pictures.
The great thing about Jessie is that she was able to coerce Levi into being in more photos than I ever could have.
A funny side story is that while we were waiting to get into Adventureland, a Disney employee was talking to the crowd and asking if anyone was celebrating a special occasion. Someone said it was their birthday and everyone clapped. Just as the employee was saying "anyone else here today with a birthday?" I was pointing to Levi at the same time he was saying, "Please, Grandma, don't say it's my birthday." But of course by then everyone was clapping for Levi. Jessie saved the day by saying that the "embarrassment bar" was a little different at Disneyland. No need for embarrassment--we were surrounded by people wearing Mickey ears! Oh, I should mention that Jessie is a teacher and has spent years working with middle schoolers. So helpful. :)
Jessie was even able to convince him to be in charge of the selfies.
We had lunch near the Tiki Room (there was no chance of getting Levi into the Tiki Room!). Jessie had gotten each one of us a super cute (and tasty) frosted cookie.
This is one of my favorite pictures because she is so fun and easy to talk to--she is like part of the family.
Before she left, we went back to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge to get on the new ride, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance. The line was so long, but for extra $ (of course--so many ways to spend money) you could get in a super fast lane. Mark was interested in this ride too so we did fork over the cash. It was amazing and I'm glad we spent the money.
Jessie grabbed a pretzel for the ride home and we headed over to California Adventure.
Sunday morning recap:
What I did not know until we were already there is that California Adventure is Levi's favorite of the two parks. The first thing he wanted to do was the two rides I told him that I was not up for: Incredicoaster (I don't like going upside down) and Guardians of the Galaxy (I don't like dropping two or three stories). In fact, he could have gone on those over and over and over. So he did, and I don't think he minded going alone.
I didn't take many photos here. But we had such a fun afternoon/evening. At first, many of the main rides were temporarily closed, but then they opened up and we accomplished quite a bit.
California Adventure is beautiful at night, with the lights reflected in the water.
My favorite ride is Radiator Springs Racers. Levi and I did "single rider" and ended up in the same car (that's him in the front, left side, and me behind him).
Sunday afternoon/evening recap:
Distance walked: 11 miles
We knew ahead of time that it was supposed to rain on Monday so we came prepared with our rain jackets. Levi went on the Incredicoaster first thing.
While he was on Guardians of the Galaxy, we ordered breakfast. That's another really great thing about the Disney app. You order online, choose a time slot that you want to pick up your food, and you avoid standing in long lines. Jessie had told us about the Pym Test Kitchen in Avengers Campus where some of the food is really big and some things really small. Mark and I each ordered the Calculated Breakfast, which came with a teeny fried egg.
Levi ordered the Ever-expanding Cinna-Pym Toast, basically french toast. It came with a teeny little fork.
He also ordered the Proton Punch, which came with this eyedropper to add some more flavor.
The food was very good and reasonably priced, something that you can't say very often when it comes to Disneyland.
We had planned on staying in the park until about 1 p.m. But after breakfast the rain really started coming down and a lot of the rides were temporarily closed. So we headed home.
Mark and I had the best time with Levi. He is an amazing kid--kind, thoughtful, appreciative, funny, sarcastic. He is easy going and rolls with the punches, never complaining when rides were shut down, willing to change plans (except Jumpin' Jellyfish--I couldn't get him to go on Jumpin' Jellyfish with me--although in his defense, it is a kiddy ride-ha!) In our eyes, he's pretty much perfect. Happy birthday, Levi! We love you so much.