The minute we stepped back through the turnstiles leading to Disneyland an overwhelming feeling washed over us.
It felt like being home.
We surprised the boys with annual passes for Christmas and after taking a year off, the anticipation of going back was palpable.
I understand that not everyone feels as passionately about Disneyland as my boys and me. My husband in particular can't get past how ridiculously expensive, commercial and crowded it is. I can see that waiting in line for an hour to ride on a big plastic elephant while sipping on a $10 Diet Coke does seem sort of crazy.
Yet, there's something about the thrill of rides, cheerful music playing at all times, street carts pumping out the sweet smell of churros, the pristine condition of every inch of the park, hunting for hidden Mickeys and watching our favorite characters come to life before our very eyes that keeps us coming back for more.
For me, going to Disneyland represents a time when I can give my undivided attention to my children without the distractions of work, bills, laundry, dishes and on and on. With my task-orientated personality I often find it difficult to let loose and enjoy the moment. Disneyland gives me that gift.
Yes, I'm sure I could replicate the feeling of detachment from everyday mundanity without having to be in a place like Disneyland. But there's just something about being in the happiest place on earth that allows me to fully escape our complicated everyday lives.
I like the plaque on the railroad track overpass just before you hit Main St. that reads, "Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy." That sums it up perfectly. You're not entering a land of reality, you're going somewhere quite far away from it.
Living close to Disneyland is starting to play a huge part in our boys' childhood. So many of their memories start with, "Remember when we...", followed by something we did together at the park. I'm certain that their love for Disneyland will expand on to their future families. It's a treasure of joy and magic that can be passed down from generation to generation. I can picture the boys all grown up, passing through the entrance tunnels and sitting on many of the same rides and attractions holding the hands of their future children, the same way they hold on to my hands now.
Clearly, I'm pretty passionate about the tourist trap that is Disneyland considering I just wrote ten paragraphs justifying our love for all things Disney.
I could go on and on about the people we meet from all over the world and how they also keep coming back for more, but that's another story for another day so let's jump into the pictures.
We had one more week of Christmas break after New Year's and we made plans to hit the park a couple of times before getting back in the swing of school. We spent the drive home from vacation plotting which rides we’d go on and in what order.
Our favorite moment after entering the park was seeing the iconic castle come into view. It was still decorated for Christmas and there was nothing like spotting the decorated towers reaching towards the sky.
I knew that on our first visit in a year, Blake and Nash would be dying to go on thrill rides and not want to be held back by their little brothers. So, I lined up childcare for the littles and spent the whole day with the older two.
Even though we were a few days into January, we had no shame in letting the Christmas spirit live on a bit longer.
With no school to get up for the next morning, we took advantage of the late night holiday version of World of Color.
The show was phenomenal. I've seen a few versions of World of Color and this one was my favorite. Especially when a giant fireball lit up the sky and we could feel the heat on our faces.
We threw all caution to the wind and figured if we had stayed up that late, we might as well view the Fireworks Spectacular before calling it a night as well.
A couple of days later, we were crazy enough to battle the Christmas break crowds once again and this time bring along the little brothers.
Crew made himself comfortable in Cars Land.
Finn was much more excited about the puddles from a recent rainfall than being strapped in a stroller.
Can you spot the hidden Mickey?
His pants got drenched but I just couldn't put an end to that moment for him.
Blake and Nash were good sports about going on the kiddie rides with their brothers since they already had a whole day of high-thrill rides under their belts.
Sadly, our Christmas break did eventually come to an end. But when the early-out school bell rang the following Wednesday and our evening activities were canceled that night, I whisked everyone away for one more spontaneous Disney trip; our third visit in a week.
I love how Crew's facial expressions progressed from slightly nervous to loving it on the carousel.
Finn's crazy long out of control hair caught the light perfectly while he experienced pure joy.
We made sure to hit up Small World before they took away the holiday version.
Undoubtedly, I should have probably been focusing more on cutting the boys' hair than taking them to Disneyland three times within a week, but I don't regret it. We upped our count to eight visits by the end of February and somehow it's still hard to leave at the end of the day.