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??).
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.
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 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.
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.
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.