Tuesday, September 16, 2008

We're Baaaack!

How can I possible sum up our week's vacation in one post? We had an incredible time. Morgan is becoming such a great traveller. A couple of mornings were a bit rough and she had a HUGE meltdown the second morning at Disney (to the point we thought we were going to have to leave) but she always pulled it together and the afternoons were pretty much a breeze.

When we first arrived, we went to Downtown Disney for dinner. We got in pretty late, but figured we might as well head down there to eat. We were going to eat at the Rain Forest Cafe. She really enjoyed exploring it, until we were on the second floor and the "storm" kicked in. That was enough to send her running outside where we promptly had to find another place to eat. We found a non-threatening Mexican restaurant. After dinner we did some shopping and watched the different street entertainers. Morgan wanted to watch a violinist for a really long time. We kept trying to get her to go, but she wouldn't budge until he was done. Wonder where she gets that from?

This was probably the best day we had. There were hardly any people in the park so we got to ride everything without long lines and see the shows without huge crowds. We actually thought the Monsters Inc ride was closed because there was nobody (and I mean nobody!) in line. The only downfall was that Morgan was a measly 1 inch short of the 40" requirement for a bunch of rides. She really wanted to ride them, but handled this fact quite well.

Morgan wore her Snow White costume and got treated like royalty. The whole staff made a point of calling her Princess and treating her extra special. She was in heaven. In Talk to Crush, only three kids got to talk to him, and Morgan was first. He said he never spoke to royalty before and asked her lots of questions. She wasn't shy at all and spoke loud and clearly into the microphone. I wish I got that on video!

Her favorite part was lunch at Ariel's Grotto with Ariel, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Belle and Cinderella. She is usually a bit leery around characters, but she had no hesitation in hopping right in the princesses' arms. She ate octopus (hot dog cut to look like one) and fish (goldfish crackers on top of mac and cheese). Unfortunately Jasmine (her favorite princess) was not at the lunch, but she was fine with finding her later.

Mark and I took advantage of the kid-swap - where one parent waits in line for the ride while the other parent waits with the kid who's too small to ride. Then when the riding parent gets done, the other parent gets to go right up to the handicap entrance and immediately get on the ride.

All of us agreed that the Ferris Wheel was the scariest ride. Yes, the Ferris Wheel. We went on the cages that swing along the spokes of the wheel, and let me tell you, first thing in the morning, those things are greased up and slick. We went FLYING! After getting over her initial fear, of course Morgan loved it and we rode it three times.

When the parade came at the end of the day. Morgan freaked out and started panicking. I guess she didn't know what to expect and was very overwhelmed. She did calm down a bit and watched it from a safe distance.

This park closes early, so shortly after the parade, we headed to Disneyland for dinner. We were able to catch the parade at Disneyland too and this time Morgan had completely warmed up. She was getting so excited about what float was next and was waving very excitedly to everyone.

Like I said above, the morning started off pretty rocky. There was lots of temper tantrums, whining and fits. We had some lunch and then she was a new little girl.

The park was a bit more crowded then California, but still not bad. I think the longest wait we had was for the Nemo Submarine ride and that was about a half an hour. The Matterhorn was about 20.

We discovered that Morgan is a thrill seeker. She likes the adrenaline rides, but is scared of the intense visual rides (or at least intense to her). For example: her scariest ride - Winnie the Pooh. Yes, Winnie the Pooh. Why you ask? Well, because she was scared of Pooh's dream of the Huffalumps. She also did not like Pinnochio or Roger Rabbit. We didn't even try the Snow White ride. Her favorite ride was the Nemo Submarines and Gadget's Go Coaster. She would have like the Matterhorn if it wasn't for the "scary gorilla" flashing it's red eyes.

She also loved the Disney Princess Faire, where we stood in line of an hour for her to meet the princesses again. Good thing too, because this is where Jasmine was. Being as Jasmine is her favorite, Morgan was a bit more shy around her. We also watched some of the princess shows. And yes, in my pictures, that is how empty the place was. We overheard one of the dads there say he was about princessed-out. To which Mark replied "Well then you are at the wrong park!"

We stayed until the park closed and Morgan caught some of the parade again. With Morgan, again, frantically waving at everyone.

DAY 3 - La Jolla and Whispering Sands Beach
Today we headed down to La Jolla and checked into the cottage we were renting. The cottage is only a block away from the ocean, so we walked down and spent the day there. It was the first time Morgan has seen the ocean. She was bit leery about the waves but did get into the water a little bit. She mostly wanted to look for seashells, dig holes, get buried in holes and chase birds. It was a very relaxing day.

DAY 4 - SeaWorld
This isn't the same SeaWorld I fondly remember from my own childhood. It had a lot of really neat hands on stuff, but it kinda has sold out to corporate America. There were ad placements through out the shows and the Shamu show wasn't all that interesting. Most of the show was a new chant and hand signal everyone does so the whale splashes them. I thought this was a bit corny. Of course Morgan loved it and was chanting the chant on the rest of our trip. My personal favorites were the Artic Wild exhibit and feeding the dolphins. They didn't feel anything like I thought they would - much harder than I expected. Morgan's favorite part was holding the star fish. We went back to that exhibit at least two (maybe three??) times. Followed close behind was the Sesame Street area that is exactly like some of the rides at Sesame Place. Hmmmm, didn't we do this already??

DAY 5 - La Jolla Tide Pools, Children's Beach and La Jolla Cove
Another relaxing beach day. It was cloudy and cooler today, but still comfortable enough in the afternoon to be in a swim suit. We walked the two blocks from our cottage to the tide pool area and did lots of morning exploring. We found fish, crabs, and hermit crabs trapped in the rocks, but no starfish. Then we made our way down the beach to the Children's Beach, which is now were the seals hang out. After sitting and waiting to watch the seals slowly scoot across the beach, we dragged Morgan away for lunch, again only a couple blocks walk away.

After lunch we spent the whole afternoon at La Jolla Cove, a protected underwater ecological park. The water was bit cold to swim in but we still got in for a while. We saw a seal peak it's head up about 20 yards away. Morgan made a friend. A girl also on vacation named Rita. The two of them spent hours digging in the sand, getting water in a bucket, hunting for sea shells and exploring the cave/tunnel that opened into the ocean. It was amazing how much braver Morgan was in the water when another girl is with her.

DAY 6 - Legoland
This day had all the right possibilities and started out great. Morgan wasn't afraid of things on the ride since they were made from Legos and obviously fake. We quickly got on two rides, they were really neat with all the Lego stuff... but then it went down hill for Mark and I. We waited in line for an hour to go on a ride that is a car that rides in a circle around a track elevated in the air. It wasn't even that busy and the line wasn't even that long! Then we got to the log ride which was two tiny loops with two tiny drops. The line, which was so short it would have taken 15 minutes max at any other park, took over an hour! Of course Morgan wanted to wait and she did a great job waiting, but us parents were not too pleased. Any ride that would have been fun for us grown-ups had WAY too long of lines. Also, the park had really weird height requirements. Rides she normally rides, she was not tall enough to here - including a teacup-type ride.

Morgan's favorite ride was the Beetle Bounce, where you go up in the air and drop. A mini-version of the one she did at Sesame Place. She rode that thing four or five times. Her second favorite ride was the Fairy Tale water boat ride.

Day 7 - Returning Home
Before we left, we made a quick stop at Balboa Park. We arrived just in time for a puppet show so we decided to do that. Puppet shows kind of freak me out and this was no exception. Morgan seemed to enjoy it and even participated by shouting out answers. After the puppet show we grabbed some lunch and ate in a nice open air courtyard with a sculpture garden. Morgan could run around a bit without bothering everyone else eating. Finally, we stopped at the Japanese Gardens. I love Japanese Gardens and wished we had a little bit more time, but alas, the vacation was over and it was time to head back to reality.

The Loot
We let Morgan pick one souvenirs each day we were out there. Each item, she would play with when we got home each day. Here is the run down:

1) Downtown Disney - A Tinkerbell doll playset
2) California Adventure - A Disneyland coloring book and crayons molded on top with the characters
3) Disneyland - A stuffed Jasmine doll that she calls "Baby Jasmine"
4) SeaWorld - Two small stuffed seals. One seal's arms hugs the other one
5) Legoland - A set of regular Legos.

Why is that Lego sets nowadays only cater to boys?? Every set but one on the huge wall contained boy related things to build and most of them include some type of weapon. Sad.

To view all the pictures from our trip click HERE

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