Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tuesdays in Twinland: Disneyland!

I'm sorry, peeps. I know my Twinland posts are spotty at best. All I can say is life with twins is exhausting.

This particular post I've been thinking about for some time. A few weeks ago, husband and I loaded up the kids and headed to Disneyland! Hubby and I are HUGE Disneyland fans, and this is a trip we have been planning and fantasizing about for years, long before the twins were even born.

So hubby graduated from college in December. FINALLY!!! Sweet mercy, but it's been an eternity that we've been in the "college" phase. Hubby has been in college our entire marriage, 5 years. But I was in college for 3 years before that, so I've been in the college phase for 8 years. Needless to say, graduation felt like cause to celebrate.

When I graduated with my bachelors, we took a Mexican cruise. We had the time of our lives, but with the twins it just didn't seem practical. I can't bring myself to leave them for a week, and the idea of them on a cruise ship (where they most definitely will try to jump off the deck into the very scary ocean) sends me into a panic.

We decided a much better idea to celebrate hubby's graduation was Disneyland. The timing is perfect...the twins are old enough to enjoy the park and have a good time, but not yet old enough we have to pay for their park entrance fee. For cheapskates like us, that's music to our years. :)

I was nervous for how Disneyland would go. The last major vacation we took was San Antonio, and the twins were still babies then. We'd never had that long of a road trip. But the children did fantastic, and we had a blast! In fact, we had so much fun we extended our trip by two days, just to soak up all the fun we could.

Before leaving, I scoured the web for advice on doing Disneyland with young children, or even twins. The information is plentiful, but most of it is along the "bring snacks, did you know you can stroller swap for rides, here's where the best changing stations are" type information. After going to Disneyland with 2-1/2 year old twins, I've compiled my own list of advice for a fun vacation.

1. Bring movies for the trip down. If you're driving to Disneyland, make sure you have a DVD player. We wouldn't have survived the drive there or back without it.

2. Don't wait in line, at least not for long. At this age, the children care less about which ride they go on, and more about how long the wait is. By about day two, we figured this out. From then on, if a wait was longer than 20 minutes, we didn't go on it. Sometimes this meant riding Buzz Lightyear three times in a row. This meant only going on Dumbo once. But the twins didn't care! They just wanted to ride something, and they totally didn't understand the whole "it's not our turn" concept. (Keep in mind we went during off season.)

3. Let them sleep when they can. If your kids fall asleep in the stroller, just push them around until they wake up. I promise, you will regret it if you don't let them get their rest. My kids took about a two hour nap in their strollers every day. This meant we lost 10 hours of riding rides...the equivalent to an entire day at the park. But they woke up much happier, and excited to go again. it was worth it, promise. Hubby and I used nap time to wander into some of the exhibits, do some shopping, and buy yummy treats like ice cream. :)

4. Expect meltdowns. If you go into it expecting the children to be angels, you will be disappointed. Meltdowns will happen, and that's okay. Roll with it. Realize that this isn't home, and so maybe you need to handle the situation differently. At home, when the kids are really cranky and tired I put them in their room and let them fall asleep. At Disneyland, we did whatever kept them happiest...carrying them, giving them snacks, letting them examine all the treasures in the ride gift shops. If you know meltdowns will happen, you'll be more patient and less frustrated when they occur.

5. Take advantage of the shows. I've never really paid attention to much but the rides (okay, and Fantasmic and the Aladdin musical) at Disneyland and California Adventure. This time, though, we saw all the shows and most of the parades. The kids absolutely loved them, and it was a great break from "waiting" in line for a ride.

6. Take leashes. You can call them child safety harnesses if it makes you feel better. We call ours backpacks (since that's what they're attached to). But we all know they're really leashes. And they are totally worth the peace of mind they create. My children are runaways, and they were attached to their backpacks every second of the day on this trip. It gave them the freedom to have both their hands free, and me the comfort of knowing they couldn't dart into the crowd and disappear forever. You will get rude comments from others ("oh look, puppies!") but you are the parent, and you are responsible for your child's safety.

7. Have fun. Sounds like silly advice, but the truth is family vacations are stressful and sometimes that overshadows the fun. For us, the key to having fun is being flexible. You're traveling with toddlers...things won't always go smoothly. That's okay. If they're hungry, stop and eat. If they want to go on Casey Jr.'s Circus Train instead of Snow White, let them. If they're tired, try and let them sleep. If they want to play in the water fountain for awhile, that's okay. A vacation is about building memories, and you want them to be good ones.

I'm already planning our next trip to Disneyland, and it's going to be soon (I hope). We had SO much fun, and I can't wait to do it again!

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