I can’t believe almost a month has already passed since my last post.  It’s amazing how quickly time goes by when you are busy!  And was I busy!  I teach at a university so a lot of time was spent marking final assignments and exams.  At the same time my family was preparing for Christmas and my youngest daughter’s 6th birthday.  So, what do you get for the 6 year old who doesn’t really play with toys?  A trip to Disneyland, of course!  Okay, I will admit to the fact that the trip wasn’t just about her…but how cool is it to be at Disneyland for your birthday?  Especially at a time of year when your birthday is just about the last thing on everyone’s minds?  That is what this post is about.

My husband and I love Disneyland.  I have been 8 times and he has been about 5 times.  It’s not like that is our only holiday destination, though.  Between us, we’ve been around the world and back.  There is just something special about that Disney magic.  That is especially true around the Christmas season.  If you think you have seen everything Disney has to offer but you haven’t been there during the holidays, you are wrong.

Disneyland gets the royal treatment.  Of course, there are the mandatory wreaths and baubles and the huge Christmas trees.  There are the parades that now include Santa and Mrs. Claus…and SNOW (that’s a big deal in Southern California).  You see Sleeping Beauty’s castle all dressed up like an Ice Palace at night and thousands, if not millions, of lights adorning It’s A Small World.  That is all window dressing.  What you don’t see from the outside is everything they do inside the rides and exhibits.

It’s A Small World is transformed completely!  The song becomes a mash-up that includes We Wish You a Merry Christmas seamlessly woven into the original song.  The creepy dolls (Oh come on, you know you think that!) are festively adorned and even the scenes are different.  The Haunted Mansion is so different from the original that I almost forgot what it used to be like.  The theme is based on the movie ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ and is amazing!  My husband kept taking pictures so I’m hoping we aren’t going to have this theme in our decorating next year.  If you go to Soaring Over California in the California Adventure Park you see the Christmas theme extend to the final scene in Disneyland with all the lights and decorations.  Think of how much work must go into all of this!  It’s not like they just threw a few Santa caps on some pirates in the Pirates of the Caribbean.  That would be lame!

Back to my daughter’s birthday….We didn’t really plan anything special for that day but there a lot of options to choose from.  Everything from character breakfasts to getting all dolled up like a princess.  We did, however, make reservations at the Trattoria in California Adventure Park.  It was a lovely sit-down restaurant with a menu that included some good wines (I’m sure my husband will talk about those on his wine blog).  We chose the set menu that included tickets to a reserved area for the World of Colour show that night.  For the uninitiated, this is a show similar to Fantasmic! which is shown in Disneyland, except that this one involves some of the newer Disney characters.  Rose (the birthday girl) loved it!  It’s hard to convince a 6 year old to stand in the rain for an hour and a half but, afterwards, she agreed that it was worth it.  She also enjoyed it when everyone (including the characters in the mini-parade) wished her a happy birthday.  Here is a hint:  If you are celebrating a birthday or it is your first time to Disneyland, go to the City Hall and ask for a button.  You then put your name on the birthday button and everyone including other guests, park staff and characters wishes you a Happy Birthday.  You even get a bag of tortillas from the tortilla factory in California Adventure Park.

In the end, despite the torrents of rain that fell on us and the wind that whipped it into our faces, Rose (and the rest of us) enjoyed her time at Disneyland.  If you would like to go but you just aren’t sure if your kids are old enough or are too old, don’t sweat it – if they are breathing then they are the perfect age to go!  One caveat: you should probably check out the list of ride height requirements before you go.  It would be shame to pay all that money and not get to ride that one ride you had your heart set on! http://disneyland.disney.go.com/plan/guest-services/height-requirements/

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