We have spent a lot of time at Disneyland, but this time was different.  It is a fun and comfortable place for us to start our adventure.  We have dear friends, Heidi and David, who let us use a condo in Dana Point, CA so we have been lucky enough to come south many times over the years.

We have never been here for New Year’s Eve, or in the rain, or with our good friends the Reynolds family, or with a daughter in a wheelchair.  This reminds me of two things that I have discovered about traveling – you can’t go back and experience a place the same way you did last time and good friends make travel better.  You might think that there is nothing else to write or discover about Disneyland but it really was an two day adventure of new experiences for us.  Even when you visit someplace familiar each time ends up being unique; you can never go back they say, and I find this to be true.  What I have come to embrace is there are some places that seem to lend themselves to making great memories – my grandparents home for holidays, the beach and of course, Disneyland.

First the wheelchair.  Kate hurt her Achilles tendon first day of basketball practice in early December and ever since then we have been on crutches (thank you Ena for the loan) and in an orthopedic boot.  No way to cruise around Disneyland from Small World to Indiana Jones and back to Hyperspace Mountain when you are barely able to walk.  So we learned the wheelchair access rules – go to the exit and talk to the cast member there. For several rides, where a person must transfer from the wheelchair to the ride there at the exit, they treat it like a FastPass.  For example, I went to the Indiana Jones exit and after they scanned in the whole group’s tickets, we were told a specific return time to come back so we could access the ride through the exit.

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I think we managed to mess up the approach at almost every turn – we either didn’t know where to park the wheelchair (everywhere), went past the cast member directing us (Haunted Mansion) or went down the wrong pathway (Indiana Jones, Screaming over California).  In true Disney fashion there was only one slightly annoyed cast member (at Matterhorn) but for the most part we were gently steered in the right direction and I was amazed at the accommodations (which I had never really noticed before) that are made for anyone with limited mobility.  Kate could not have enjoyed the adventure without the flexibility that Disney has made.  Awesome.

The rain.  In preparation for the Trip we had our rain jackets – more on packing in our next post – and believed the forecast so we were mostly ready.  Except that Kate decided to not bring anything but a shirt and the rain jacket, not the fleece or the other things as an underlayer.  Hmmmm.  So she got to buy herself a sweatshirt at Disneyland.  Judi and I were so happy that we bought water resistant shoes – Judi says the Salomon shoes she got from REI are the best shoes she has owned.  We should have worked out how is it that the rides all function perfectly fine in the rain a science project – more on home schooling in later posts.

Friends make everything better – even bubbles.

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Sharing fun places with great people, like our friends the Reynold family, makes fun places magical.  Oh, and if you add in Little Mermaid Bubble machines, you are guaranteed to have a wonderful time.  Where John is sitting with the bubble brothers, Jude and Weston Reynolds, is a central hub of Disney’s California Adventure.  We had never really sat there, I don’t know why.  The sunset was perfect, we bought wine and beers (DCA has adult beverages while Disneyland proper does not), and the boys chased bubbles right along with the three and four year olds.  Bubbles are so light, so temporary, so fun; a bubble can be chased and popped with no consequence, it can catch the sun and look like a rainbow prism and bubbles make everyone smile.

So after watching the best fireworks show we have ever seen on New Year’s Eve and sharing some wonderful meals and lots of rides, it was getting to spend the time with dear friends that made this time in Disneyland the most memorable for all of us.  John loved getting to run around with his best friend and be at the age when they could take off and know how to safely return.  Places can be special but it always seem to be the people in the places that breathe the magic into the experience.  As we start off into more uncharted waters for us it is important for us to remember this and be open to meeting new people wherever we go.

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14 thoughts

  1. I’m so excited to be reading this….living through your family is so much fun…I love Disneyland. Your family adventure is so inspiring, I hope one day Jason and I will be able to do something like this with our kids. I’ll be thinking of you all a lot. Judi, never fear, I will have a super fun tax case for you when you get back…:-)

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  2. Thank you so much for sending me this blog link. I’m thrilled to follow your adventures. Disneyland seem like the best place to start. Did you go to It’s A Small World” ? Bon Voyage you four!

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  3. I love that you started the Trip in such a special place with friends! What a great start. And Kate, of course you make sporting a wheelchair and boot look both cute and stylish… how do you do it? Cheers!

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  4. I am thrilled to get to watch your journey. You’ve been talking about it since the kids were tiny. They’re so big and you all are so wonderful, I read this with a warm heart and tear filled eyes. Please tell everyone I say hello. 🙂

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  5. Love, love and love you guys. We were honored to share the crazy rain, wheelchair and New Year’s Eve Disney experience. Can’t wait to watch your amazing journey unfold! You are an inspiration to all of us! xoxo, The Reynolds

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