I don’t even know where to begin. I am so glad we took this trip. We had a blast. I forgot how magical disney really is. Let’s just start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.

Halle REALLY wanted to go to Disney at Halloween time to see all the fun decor and especially to ride the Haunted Mansion with the Nightmare Before Christmas overlay. She and I decided we needed to celebrate the fact that she as almost all her college applications done and submitted. So, we left a couple days earlier than the boys.

We scored $44 ROUND TRIP tickets to Orange County. The catch was we had to fly super early in the morning. No matter–we were at our hotel in Anaheim by like 9:30am. We stashed our bags and headed straight for Downtown Disney. First up, World of Disney. The biggest Disney Store we had ever seen. Halle scored this adorable little shoulder Zero. Apparently she got lucky–this thing sold out in a flash and she had envious onlookers for the rest of the week. We spent the afternoon shopping around and finding all the cute hidden pumpkins in Downtown Disney

After a nice little rest back at the hotel it was time for Goofy’s Kitchen! This was such a treat! We got to swing our napkins around, dance to the music and see some of our favorite characters. And eat until we were so stuffed we could hardly move. Funny story: The lady at the table next to us left her purse behind. I brought it to our waiter and we laughed about how she would be missing that pretty quickly. Especially at Disneyland where you are pulling out your wallet every 10 seconds. After our meal Halle and I were exploring around the Disneyland hotel when I discovered I had left my backpack at the restaurant. We ran back for it. As soon as the waiter saw us we all 3 just burst out laughing. He went and grabbed it for me and we all couldn’t stop chuckling.

We went back to our hotel and hit the hay so we could get a bright and early start at Disneyland the next morning.

Before the trip we discovered Disneybounding. Basically, instead of costumes or cosplay, you wear everyday clothing to represent Disney characters. We had fun making Halle’s ears, and putting together some awesome outfits. Of course, first on the list was Jack Skellington. I wish we had a close up of these 3D printed ears we got on Etsy. They were amazing. We arrived nice and early and secured a good spot in line for rope drop. Then we were off in a mad dash to Haunted Mansion. I think it lived up to the hype. The attention to detail was amazing. And the stretching room was so fun. We got the Wreath Treat from the French Market. It was pretty tasty, but mostly it looked cool.

For the rest of the afternoon we rode rides and ate treats to our hearts content. Pirates and Indiana, Jungle Cruise, Space Mountain, Astro Blasters, Matterhorn, Tea Cups, we did it all. We even tried the Grey Stuff. It was delicious.

In the afternoon we headed to California Adventure. We did Guardians of the Galaxy, Radiator Springs Racers, Incredicoaster and Midway Mania.

But perhaps the very best moments of the trip came next. CA closed at 6pm for the Oogie Boogie Bash. We had tried all the avenues we could think of to score tickets to this event. No luck. As we were making our way to the exit, Halle said, “Let’s just walk around for a little bit and see if we can see anything.” We saw a few treat trials, but cast members kept pushing those without wristbands closer and closer to the exit. Finally we were at the circle by the Headless Horseman statue. We sat down on a bench just to look at all the amazing costumes. By this time it was about 6:45. Halle said, “You know, the parade starts at 8. We wouldn’t be hurting anything if we just stayed right here and watched.” We decided to give it a try. We made it to 7:15 on our bench before people came checking for wristbands. So, we made our way to the circle where there were crowds of people getting pictures with characters. Our favorite being Cinderella’s step sisters. Or maybe Pain and Panic. We just milled around in the crowd for the next 45 min. Which went by so slowly because we were afraid of getting caught. But we made it!! We inserted ourselves into a little pocket in the crowd and watched the Frightfully Fun Parade. It was awesome! Made even better by how much fun Halle was having. My darling little rule breaker. As soon as the parade ended we booked it for the exit and breathed a sigh of relief when we were back where we belonged. I’ll never forget it!

Back to Disney to watch Halloween Screams. We grossly underestimated how hard it would be to get a spot for this. So basically we just had to walk around the whole time watching as we walked. It was pretty cool to see the castle all lit up with projections. Then it was Haunted Mansion at night, and ALL the Fantasy Land rides right at the end of the night. I think we rode like 4 in 10 min. We got stuck on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride to end our evening. A day we’ll never forget!

Friday the boys were set to arrive, but not until the evening. We decided we needed to see the ocean and eat a Balboa bar. We ubered to Balboa Island and rented a scooter. We took the ferry across and scootered the boardwalk for about an hour. We found some empty asphalt basketball courts and gave Halle a turn on the scooter. There had been an oil spill the week before and people weren’t yet allowed back in the water. So we stuck to the boardwalk and the sand and soaked in the sun and that wonderful ocean smell. After we returned the Scooter we got our Balboa Bars. Why are these things so heavenly? Nicole had told me about this pizza place that had hilariously large pizzas so we timed one to be delivered about when the boys were supposed to arrive. We thought we’d swim and have pizza. Well…things did not go according to plan for them. When the plane landed the captain informed them that they weren’t in Orange County, but in Ontario because the runway lights at OC were out. But Frontier wouldn’t let them off the plane. Instead, they all sat there for another 1.5 hours, THEN flew the 17 minutes back to OC when the runway lights came back on. Josh sent us a video of a baby who was screaming bloody murder. Josh said the baby cried for about an hour. So, by the time they got to the hotel the pizza was cold and the pool was closed. Poor them.

Luckily we had planned for a low key morning. We got to hit the pool then. Rusty, Josh, Blake and I played keep away with a beach ball forever. There were two adorable boys who were too small to play but wanted to sooo bad. So, we’d throw them the ball while they sat on the steps and they’d bop it back to us. It was cute. Josh and I were the last ones left at the pool so we treated ourselves to some Cokes and fries from the poolside bar. It was perfect sitting in the sun, munching on fries chatting with Josh. Josh said this was one of his favorite times on the trip.

We had two things planned for today. First up was Flight Deck Flight simulator. We were briefed on how to fly the planes and shoot our guns and missiles. All of which went straight over my head.

Rusty said he would pay 5 bucks to the person who got the first gun kill. Missiles were much easier than guns. No one was surprised when Josh got the first one. When we saw the results, we were all pleasantly surprised to see that Halle tied with Rusty for the most kills! Good job Halle! Blake and I were on the struggle bus. Even though we had the same number of kills, he still beat me because he landed his plane once. I crashed both times. I pretty much didn’t know up from down the entire time.

We wanted to show the boys Downtown Disney, so we walked over and browsed around. Blake loved Halle’s Zero so much that he got a shoulder Porg of his very own. We visited the Lego Store and the Star Wars store and had some hand dipped corndogs for a snack.

Our final event of the day was the Medieval Times Dinner. Both Rusty and I remember coming to this as kids and loving it. We hoped it would live up to our memory. And it did! We loved cheering on our Yellow Knight! And Halle even got a flower from our Knight. Blake loved that we had VIP badges and got to sit on the front row. (Thanks Groupon!) It was a great time. Except for the fact that it was like 30 degrees inside. SO SO COLD. And poor Josh is such a good sport. His allergies were going haywire but he never complained.

We came back to the hotel and got all our stuff ready for Disney the next morning. Then we fell asleep to a “spooky” show on Disney+ that we chromecast to our TV.

Finally! The day had arrived! The whole family at Disneyland! We decided to rope drop Space Mountain. Blake was a little nervous but of course, he LOVED it.

Now we were ready for some CA fun! Webslingers, Incredicoaster, Jack’s Nom Nom cookies + lots more!

We ended the night back at Disney. Aurora needed a few pics with the castle :). We got churros and settled down by Small World to watch Halloween Screams. And then a little night time fun taking the boys on Haunted Mansion. Now it’s bedtime!

Monday morning began in CA adventure. It was a tiny bit rainy, but nothing major. Not even enough to scare the crowds away. We decided to rope drop Radiator Springs Racers. And we FINALLY got to see Lightening and Mater in their “CARSTUMES!” Halle and I had been waiting all week to see them.

Blake and I have been looking forward to eating alllll the macarons. But yesterday all the lines were super long and I didn’t want to wait. He was really disappointed so today I resolved to wait. I’m learning more and more as I get older that it’s not about packing in every single thing you possibly can, but it’s about connecting. And I could connect with Blake by standing in a 45 min Starbucks line to get an Oogie Boogie Macaron. Everyone else did Monsters Inc and we met up when the target had been acquired. The macarons were delicious.

Seriously, the best ride in the whole Disney gamut is GUARDIANS OF THE GALEXY. We rode this a million times. And it also had a Halloween Overlay called “Monsters after Dark.” The best.

Today’s Disneybound: Buzz Lightyear! With a little side of Zero.

California Adventure had the most characters BY FAR. We loved spotting some pretty unique ones!

We passed the time in line by playing lots of Heads Up. Also, Disney had an app with some cute little line games.

How adorable is Josh in his Stitch Ears? I’m so glad he humored me and Halle and wore these the entire trip. Over his hat.

Other highlights of the morning included my Favorite Family picture of the trip and Midway Mania (My next favorite ride to GG)

Lunch was at the Lamplight Lounge. Where the boys promptly fell asleep and we ordered waaaayyy too much food. While the boys were napping Halle and I spotted Woody walking down the Pier. Naturally, Buzz needed a picture with Woody so we chased him through the entire park. Seriously, we were RUNNING. We caught up to him just as he was going behind the gates. Then we got caught behind a crowd waiting to see the Mariachi Divas! The very same ones Halle and I saw in Houston. We stopped to listen for a bit before we made our way back to the boys. What a fun surprise.

Now it was back to Disneyland. It was our turn to line up for Rise of the Resistance. But first, another Macaron. This line was also super long. So, I went up to someone near the front handed them a $20 and said if they’d buy me two mummy macarons that they could keep the change. They happily obliged.

At this point Halle was needing a little break. We had tried to go on Haunted Mansion but the ride was closed. She didn’t want to do Rise of the Resistance again so her and I ducked out of line in search of some other fun. Lucky us, the ride was opening back up right as we walked passed. We were able to jump right on with zero wait. How’s that for a little bit of Disney Magic? Then we decided to take the Railroad around the park and do some shopping on Main Street. That railroad is so random. And so old school. We loved it. Especially the dinosaurs. Seriously, how is there room for all this stuff in that park? We browsed Main Street until the boys were done. They stopped for some Dole Whip and then we met up again.

We wanted to do Space Mountain at night and all together. We’d mostly been doing the single rider line. And we remembered why. The line was so very long. Then back to CA for night time Incredicoaster. We wanted to hit Radiator Springs as well, but the park closed! We thought it closed at 10, but it closed at 9. We were a little sad, a little relieved to go home!

Tuesday was our final day! We dragged ourselves out of bed and rope dropped the Matterhorn. Which, in my opinion is THE WORST ride at Disneyland. But the boys wanted to do it, and so I was a good sport. We then spent the morning doing all the silly stuff. Small World, Many adventures of Winnie the Pooh, etc. And Blake got his final two treats–The Alien Macaroon, and Cotton Candy.

We had just a few hours left until we had to head to the airport. So, back to CA one last time. Mainly to get the chocolate marshmallow churro 🙂

My absolute favorite part of this day came at the very end. We decided to do the Pixar Pal Around swinging ferris wheel. Blake’s reaction was THE BEST. The video doesn’t do the ride justice. It really was pretty crazy. Sorry not sorry for my maniacal laughter. I couldn’t stop.

And just like that, it was over. THANK YOU, Halle for pushing us to come on this trip. I’ll treasure this memory of my teens at Disneyland forever.

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