I know. You don't have to tell me. It's shameful. But I think there are a lot of Disneyland Haters out there. (You know who I'm talking about - Those adults that have it set it their mind that Disneyland is, in fact, the worst place on Earth. Or...the last place on Earth they'd like to be.) But I'm here to tell you, it's very possible to not only get them to step foot in the park...But *gasp* also enjoy themselves.

I digress.

It's me. I'm married to a Disneyland hater. And, embarrassingly enough, I also have a sister who scoffs at the idea. You see, my farmer is that guy who'd rather float the river for seven days than stay at a nice hotel. Or hike a mountain and ski down. Or or...basically he'd rather do anything except be conventional. And friends - Disneyland is conventional. And don't get me wrong...I LOVE doing those things too, but what's so bad about Disneyland?

I realized this three years ago when I started talking to my farmer about the idea of taking the girls to Disneyland for Thanksgiving break.We were going to be in southern California and Disneyland would be right there! It just made sense! (You know...since we had two daughters that dress up like Cinderella and Rapunzel every single day.)  He immediately dug his heels in and gave me all his reasons it would be a horrible idea :

7. The girls were too young.
6. The crowds. The horrifying crowds.
5. Everything is so expensive.
4. The girls won't be able to ride any rides.
3. They don't serve alcohol.
2. We won't have any fun.
1. Think of all the OTHER awesome vacations we could take.

But I'm here to tell you - Even if you're definitely married to a nay-sayer, they can be convinced.

7. The girls were too young, they'll never remember - Wrong. The girls were not too young! Kaye had just turned four and Saywer was newly two. As we walked around the park during the absolute perfect weather (hi 75 degrees) we saw, stopped, spoke with SO. MANY. PRINCESSES. And the ear to ear smiles on our girls' faces each time was worth it. At one point Kaye spied a Mickey and Minnie being escorted to do a show somewhere else in the park. She screamed with delight and made a direct line for them and quite literally flew into Mickey's arms. While it was clear they were on a schedule, they both stopped (as did their escorts), acted excited to see Kaye and gave her all the hugs. And just as quickly they were on their way. These types of magical moments happened all over the park. The girls were very into the all the spontaneous street bands and performances too. It was like a surprise at every turn of the corner.

6. The crowds - Okay, so having only been to Disneyland twice in my life (once at age four)...I can't speak to my knowledge on this. But what I do know is we took the girls the Monday and Tuesday after Thanksgiving weekend and while there were definitely people, the crowds weren't particularly notable. I mean, sure, it took 20 - 30 minutes to get on some rides, but we had manageable expectations when it came to the rides.

5. It's expensive - Isn't that the case with all vacations? They cost money. Have a budget, and stick with it. I wouldn't say it was outrageous, though. I mean, we bought a popcorn that was $6...which is exactly what you would spend at a movie theatre. We went for two days and bought the tickets where you go to Disneyland one day and California Adventure the next day. I think that saved us a grand total of about $150 (we didn't have to pay for a ticket for Sawyer because she was under 3). We chose this because we couldn't imagine being able to hit both parks for both days. We thought our girls would be zombies. So we focused on Disneyland the first day and California Adventure the next.

Another way to save money but still experience all that is Disneyland was our hotel selection. We stayed at The Hyatt House the day before we entered the park. The room had a wonderful set up with bunk beds / couch / TV for the girls. Their little room could even be closed off with a sliding barn door...which we definitely used. Then on the other side it had a king bed. They also had a free breakfast, and because Idaho time is an hour ahead, the girls were up bright and early. We were able to get ready, eat breakfast, pack up, and make it to the park with plenty of time before opening.

We splurged for night two and stayed at the Grand Californian. The staff was wonderful at check-in and offered to keep our bags until it was time for us to check in to our room because they knew we would be in the park. Because we were staying at the park hotel we were able to take the alley directly into Downtown Disney. It was perfectly easy. We had our single stroller. Sawyer rode in the stroller and Kaye hitched a ride on the front.

As far as food is concerned - We had a few snacks. Fruit blend pouches, Cliff bars, bananas - that's it. Our gals are little, so any food we purchased as adults, the girls just ate with us. So instead of having to buy four meals + snacks, we really only purchased for two. *Except for the character breakfast on day two at California Adventure. That was a splurge because...in two hours we were fed, saw five princesses and Kaye and Sawyer's minds were blown. #worthit

4. Lines + Rides - Because we traveled during Thanksgiving and hit the park after kids had returned to school that Monday / Tuesday I believe that cut down on the crowds significantly. I'm not going to say we were able to zip onto every single ride available...that wasn't the case. But, the longest we waited in line was 30 minutes, and that was for The Haunted Castle.

3. Alcohol - For some reason we had this notion in our minds that Disneyland was a dry park. This is so not the case! Let me put out there that this is by no means a park to tie one on at. Hi family fun! But, on a warm day, there's something to be said for a frosty beer or Moscow Mule. So yes, you can drink at the park.

2. No fun...more like all the fun. As first-timers at the park I will say there are things we would do differently, and our experience will be different no matter what because we'll have older children. But all in all - we all had fun. It truly felt like a special, memorable vacation. A lot of times vacations with kids can feel like a lot of work...but Disneyland felt special for our girls, which made it special for Russell and me too. There's nothing better than seeing your kids incomplete awe of their surroundings.

1. Other vacations could be better. Yes! There are definitely other vacations to be had. And we will take those trips! Skiing, river rafting, historical sights, etc. But that doesn't mean one or two or seven trips to something Disney-related is going to ruin vacations for a lifetime. My vote - do all the things. All of them.

And if all else fails and your Disney nay-sayer is still drawing a line in the sand...go without them. And when you get back and share your photos of a super fun vacation, maybe they'll change their mind next time.

What would we do differently next time?

1. We were told by multiple people that two days wasn't enough time to do both parks. And they were right. Unfortunately, it wasn't in the cards for us to stay any longer. We had to get back to the farm. Next time (there will be a next time), we will definitely be staying four or more days because there's more than just Disneyland to experience in the area!

2. Double stroller will be a must. Now that we have the three kids we'll need the double stroller. And we'll be bringing the double without fear. We were scared it wouldn't be maneuverable in the crowds, but as it turns out, we'd be totally fine. Especially if we go right after Thanksgiving again. (And there's stroller parking EVERYWHERE.)

3. Take breaks - We didn't take any breaks for the two days we were there. We stayed at the park from sun up until sun down. Next time we'll definitely head back to the hotel for some down time in the middle of the day. That way we can stay at the park into the evening and experience the fireworks. Plus I'm sure the crowds die down a smidge into the evening...right?

4. Meal reservations - The only meal plan we made was the Character Dining. I've heard there are some great (fun) restaurants in the park that we missed out on because...newbies. Next time we'll make a few reservations. It'll also give us a chance to sit down and relax.

And that, my friends, is how you can convince a Disneyland hater into a Disneyland fine, I'll go companion. (And they'll be glad they did.)
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