Thursday, June 14, 2018

Ben's 1st Disneyland Trip! Part I

A moment we had been dreaming of since we began our family journey.....

Ben's 1st visit to Disneyland!

The road to magic
Ben's 1st trip to Disneyland not only marked his first trip to the parks, but also his first trip away from home. We kicked off our vacation with a road trip from home here in the Bay Area/NorCal to visit my sister in Los Angeles/SoCal. We were nervous about Ben's first long car ride and how he would do... Fortunately, he loved the car ride. He's loved anything with motion from the start, so he slept through a majority of the drive down. It was a success, we survived our first road trip!

We spent our first few days hanging out with my sister and brother in law in Los Angeles. One highlight from our non-Disney portion of the trip was our visit to the Petersen Auto Museum. Peter is a HUGE car geek and he loved exploring the museum, along with bestowing his "car knowledge" to baby Ben. There's also a little dose of Disney Pixar magic at the museum with a life sized Lightning McQueen car!
Welcome home
After some quality time with my sister, we finally made our way to the magic, the Disneyland Resort. I can't tell you how good it felt to be back "home". There's just something so heartwarming about being back, this time with our little Benjamin.

We kicked off our magical stay with Ben's first stay at the most whimsical hotel of all: The Disneyland Hotel. We wanted to be surrounded in the magic and the hotel is just bursting with fun around every corner, so it was a natural first choice for our big trip. It's hard to believe the last time we were there it was back when Ben was just a little (big) baby bump!
**PB&J family tip** Staying on property is definitely a perk, and we're so thankful to have been able to stay on property for Ben's first visit. Even though the official Disneyland resort hotels can be pricey, it's well worth it for a big celebration, milestone, or special vacation. Magic mornings, where you're let into the park an hour early, are a definite plus. But overall, it's the proximity you are to the parks is such a highlight. I can't tell you how grateful we were to be within walking distance to our room for those much needed park breaks, milk pumping sessions and much needed nap times. With a baby, your hotel room becomes more than just a "shower/sleep" situation, it's literally home base and you're definitely going to want a comfy spot to wind down mid-day or after a long day playing in the parks.

Disneyland has a ton of really great "Good Neighbor" hotels within walking distance to the parks as well! Some hotels are probably the same distance, if not closer to the park gates as the on property hotels are! So if the official resort hotels are booked out, definitely check those out as well! All information on Disneyland official hotels and "Good Neighbor" hotels found HERE *Disney Hotels*

*Hope & Hearts* take over Disneyland
The emotion that we felt finally walking Ben through the Disney gates was one for the PB&J Adventure Books. I can't tell you how many times I've envisioned being here with our rainbow... and for the moment to finally happen was truly incredible. We soaked in our first stroll down Main Street and took our very first set of castle photos together, this time as a complete family. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't super emotional and teary eyed at this point. Our most magical castle memory yet!

First Stop: To infinity and beyond! 
After the excitement of the first walk down Main St. and stop for castle pics, we made a beeline for the #1 thing on my Disney trip list this visit: ALL THE ALIEN THINGS! This was not only great because we got to check out all the Little Green Men fun offered, but it was the perfect spot to take a break, get a nap in for Ben, and relax. If you're wondering what I thought about all the Little Green Alien food offered? I think the photos sum up my reaction: BLISS! No really though, the alien macaron was sugary perfection and the alien parfait was the secret star, sooooo YUM.

Pixar Fest fun!
After an out of this world alien break, we headed over to check out all the Pixar Fest fun over at DCA.
We weren't sure how Ben would do meeting characters for the first time, but we're happy to report that he did great! Thankfully the characters he met were Dug and Russel from UP. Ben loves dogs, maybe because it reminds him of his big bro, Datsy? Regardless, he was super curious about the giant characters in front of him, especially because one was a giant dog!

Day one and done!
The reality of being at Disney for the first time with a baby is one that is definitely different. I've heard of stories from previous Disney mama friends/families that they'd only last an hour or two before having to leave or dealing with a baby meltdown. We definitely learned what they were all talking about, HA! The thing with babies is that they're so set their schedules, between feedings, diaper changes and nap times, there's little wiggle room for a whole consecutive day running around the parks. It's quite an adjustment doing Disney with a baby. For this Disney girl, I'm so used to being at the parks for hours on end, zooming from one side of the park to another, basically soaking in all the Disney things until your feet fall off. With a baby, YEAH NO. There's just so many new sounds, sights and smells that pretty much overwhelm a baby and gets them tired and overstimulated, fast. We knew that between just getting him into the parks, a few photos and a character meet in greet, a total of about 3-4hrs, we were already pushing it meltdown wise. Ben was such a Disney trooper until he was finally DONE.
We headed back to the room for a break, a much needed long nap, refresh and headed back into the parks for one last *first day* hurrah with dinner and fireworks.

One of the questions I got from people is how did Ben do with fireworks? The answer: He slept through the whole thing!

**PB&J Family tip** We know how crazy the crowds get after fireworks finish since everyone is herding themselves out for the night. We found a nice spot at the very end of Main Street near the Main St. Emporium for fireworks viewing which gave us a great view of the projections on along the buildings and best part? Made for the easiest and quickest exit from the parks to beat the mad rush of guests leaving.

All in all, Day one at Disneyland was a success! Despite a meltdown, Ben did great and it made us so excited for day 2 of his Disney adventures. There was lots more magic and fun to be had, but that will have to wait until my next post aka Part II of our Disney adventures with Ben! Thank you for reading along, as always. Until the next post! 💜

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Maira Gall