This day was designated as a rest day. We had plans for a character brunch and then spend some time at the pool.
I'd love to say that we slept in but we didn't really. The kids were too excited to sleep.
Our original plans from waaaay back when planning began was to go to Ariel's Grotto for the little girls to see some princesses. Since it closed down I added a Surf's up Breakfast as a replacement fun activity. G was especially thrilled because she missed out on Stitch when we had gone to Disneyworld. She and I were in the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique when her Grandad and baby bro accidentally ran into Stitch and got good photo pass pics and everything. She was super jealous in a funny joking type way so I was really happy to get her a meet up with one of our families favorite characters.
I made our reservation at about 9am. We left our hotel and headed to Paradise Pier hotel at around 8:15. I guarantee that our hotel had a shorter walks to the park than this one had. When we got there the check in area was a hot mess. Kids everywhere, running around, badly behaved chaos! I was afraid that this did not bode well for a nice meal but luckily that was not the case. We were called very quickly and soon getting our picture made with Mickey.
Our waitress was really nice and we soon had drinks and were able to go get some yummy food. We were seated in the front room near the buffet and it really seemed like a small restaurant. It was easy to see the characters walking around so we could kind of tell when we should wait so we didn't miss them.
Here is G with her plate. It was too busy fro me to go get buffet pics. She got some bacon and sausage, breakfast potatoes, scrambled eggs, a mickey waffle and a mickey pancake, and a cinnamon roll and a cherry danish. Everything was good if pretty basic. She said she loved the mini cinnamon roll and the cherry danish which both tasted fresh. Her second trip included some fresh fruit and another danish. I believe cream cheese the second time.
Funny story, you can also see G's apple juice which came with a funny straw. All the kid's had fun straws as did I. My sister was definitely why I was cool enough to get a fun straw and she was not.
B got a mickey waffle, 2 kinds of mini muffin, a biscuit, some eggs, a bunch of fruit, and bacon. He was very pleased with his food as well. He got seconds on fruit and bacon.
I got some banana french toast, a mickey waffle, a chicken nugget, an eggs benedict, breakfast potatoes, bacon, some chiliquiles, some cantelope, and a cream cheese danish.
I really liked the french toast especially with the syrup that was better than regular syrup..which was also available. The waffles were hot and fresh. I got teh chicken to see if there was anything special about it since it seemed odd to me to have nuggets at breakfast. Nope a plain chicken nugget. I was not a fan of the eggs benedict. It did not seem as fresh, the ham was really tough like it had been sitting under the heat lamp too long. The chiliquiles were unique and very tasty. Uncle J loved those and got a second plate with just them. I love a nice cream cheese danish and this was delicious. Very soft and nice.
Daisy was our first visitor. Our character interaction here was not the best but it could definitely be because little B was really grumpy. The characters weren't unfriendly or anything but Daisy didn't hang around long either.
Grouchy girl would not let me get a pic.
Little C loved all the fruit options and had a really nice time at brunch.
Minnie is always so cute.
My guys love Stitch. We were so excited to see him. We had been showing the little girls a ton of Disney movies before we left so they would be familiar with as many characters as possible. They loved Lilo and Stitch too.
I love Stitch, he is a tiny little guy!
He made a big deal about our matching Stitch shirts.
They also have a character dance party during breakfast. Little C and my B joined in and had fun.
After breakfast we took some fun pics in the lobby of the hotel and headed back.
You can see in this pic that B had bought a Buzz Lightyear bubble machine the day before after having so much fun with the bubbles with the cousins. The chased and popped bubbles all the way back to the hotel.
We really enjoyed this meal. I would definitely do it again. The characters were fun, especially Stitch who really played it up with my kids when he realized how pleased they were to see him. He danced with B during the dance party for a long time. The food wasn't boring or overly exciting. Something for everyone and the quality was as good or better than what one would expect from a big buffet.
As you can see in the picture above it was pretty chilly that morning. We were hoping it would warm up for some pool time later.
After a delicious brunch we headed back through downtown disney and shopped a little on the way back to the hotel. The little girls were going to get in a good nap.
It was still pretty chilly but my guys decided that they just had to use the pool/waterpark again.
It was too cold for me so I just pulled up a lounger and watched them play. They said it was warm enough and played for a really long time. We had the area mostly to ourselves. It was really nice.
After a while the kids got hungry so we went back upstairs for a snack and just hung around the room. After a while the little girls finally woke up and wanted to go swim. My kids were pleased by the idea of going again so we did.
It was still a bit cool but much warmer so the pool was more crowded. My kids were pleased to hang out with the cousins in the little pool.
Little B loved it and played for a long time.
Little C is apparently not a pool kid so she hung out with me.
When everyone was done we went upstairs for showers and to get ready for dinner.
C and I enjoy checking out all things Disney so I suggested the quick service place at the Grand Californian since we had seen all of the other hotels and I had heard good things about the food here.
It was a quick walk and the hotel is really beautiful.
I had seen the nachos on the disboards and they looked really good so G and I got those to share. B wanted a grilled cheese.
These nachos were huge, that pic is after we had been eating for a while. There is a ton of food there. After so much swimming B was starving, he ate his whole grilled cheese and french fries and decided that he wanted some just cheese nachos too. He ate most of those! C and J got nachos as well and the little guys got a grilled cheese and chicken strips. All of the food was prepared fresh and tasted so good. The meat on the nachos was tender and so flavorful. We would definitely eat here again and the price was also really good for such huge servings.
We strolled out after supper enjoying the beautiful area and headed back to dd.
On the way back to the room we stopped at Jazz Kitchen and get some beignets. They were delicious. Soft and doughy and warm with tons of super messy powdered sugar.
Even miss Picky really liked these.
There was some live music playing and the little girls stopped to have a dance party of their own.
We rested up and went to bed early in preparation for another day in California Adventure.
The next morning we split up. I was taking my kids to ride soaring at rope drop and the littles wanted to go to Carsland.
The let us in the park quite early and all the way into the actual que for Soaring. It was a little chilly again this morning. We were glad for the sweatshirts.
None of us had ever ridden this ride before. We had almost ridden it in Florida when we were there when G was 5 but the fast pass line we were in was long and we had a meal reservation so we had to get out of line. I was really looking forward to it though I was a bit worried that B would hate it. He wanted to go so I certainly let him.
He loved it, once he realized that he could sit with his feet tucked under him so they wouldn't dangle. He loved announcing the different areas we were plying over. The man next to him was really kind and when he didn't know one area he leaned over and told him it was Fiji. I am glad he didn't seem to i=mind a very excited 6 year old narrating his ride.
Bad pic here, but next we met back up with our friends and did a few Bug rides with the littles.
The little girls really wanted to meet Anna and Elsa so we headed that way with a quick stop off to ride Monsters Inc. It was a cute little ride that we all liked.
I don't know how we got so lucky but we managed to walk into the Animation Academy and get behind 2 other families to see the Frozen characters. we waited like 5 minutes.
We did this meet and greet in 2 groups so the little ones could have their own pics. My kids weren't overly excited for this one but I was and they humored me nicely. Little B and C loved this and it was pure joy to watch.
B had a nice chat and then was done. It was hard to get sweet C out of there. Friendly girl would have hung out in Arrendale all week!
The Princesses were super funny with my big kids. They liked Brant's avengers shirt.
The lighting in there is awful though. I didn't mention to anyone else that there was usually an extra meet after the princesses just in case it didn't work out. Boy were they surprised when they got to bonus meet Olaf.
AFter our visit to Arendale we decided to watch the Turtle Talk with Crush show. It was cute.
We were getting a bit hungry at this point and my kids were really interested in the Cozy Cone Motel area so we headed that way.
There were only 2 open before lunch. The churro cone and the chili cone. It seemed really odd to me to have chili available before lunch and not the ice cream or the popcorn
We went with a churro.
This place was a bit of a zoo. There was only one worker in the cone to both take your order and then make it. I thought that they had different colored churros here but on this day it was just the regular one and it came with caramel sauce. We also got the pear-a-dice soda. It was really a pretty color and fun though not my very favorite taste.
The churro was excellent and fresh and the caramel sauce was also very good.
We hung around in Cars land for a while and I think that we had fast passes for the racers again during this time.
It was nearing lunch time and we soon decided to try something from the Boardwalk Pizza and pasta area.
G and I shared the chicken pasta. It was delicious. We ate almost all of it.
B wanted a salad.
He just wanted a side salad because he wanted dessert. This was a nice little salad, nothing special but he ate every bite. I don't have pics but the little girls got spaghetti that they loved and the other adults got pizza and they said it was fine too.
Overall we were pleased with this reataurant and would not hesitate to eat there again. We got there just before the crowds which worked out very nicely.
The kids had seen the yellow and blue treats from the ABominable Snowman treat stand and wanted one of those until we saw the line of at least 50 people. The then opted for a piece of the special Pixar cake.
This was so cute and really tasty.
The blue layer was vanilla, the red was red velevt, and the yellow was a lemon flavor. The icing was a nice cream cheese. It was good and we enjoyed it. I would definitely recommend sharing as that is a massive amount of rich cake. In a funny turn of events G liked the yellow, I liked the blue, and B preferred the red layer. It was all good and did not last long.
We took some pictures in the area while we waited for the little girls to finish lunch.
Next on the agenda was the Disney Junior Dance Party. I think that we hit the Little Mermaid ride on the way there.
Little B and C love Sophia and Doc McStuffins and B still enjoys the Lion Guard.
G was a good sport.
This was a fun show and the littles jumped and danced and really had a great time in here. It is definitely for the smaller guys but a nice break for the rest of us.
The 3 littler guys all loved it when stuff fell out of the sky.
After the show Uncle J took the little girls for a walk in the stroller so they could nap. C and G went to ride the river raft ride since I hate those things. Wet clothes just are not fun to me!
B wanted to go to the splash area in the Bug's life land. On the way I saw that Schmoozies did not have a very long line so we stopped and grabbed a treat.
This is the Monster's Inc. themed mint milk shake. It was really pretty and super fun. It was a thin shake and tasted really good. B even ate quite a bit which surprised me since he is not a big fan of mint or ice cream in general. It's fun appearance talked him into trying it and he enjoyed a new snack!
It was warm but not super crowded in the splash pad. B had a nice time running around getting completely soaked.
After some time he decided that he might want to go check out the Redwood Trail area again so we headed that way.
We explored everything! We texted C and she said that she and G were getting close to their turn so we went to the viewing area to see if we could catch a peek at their ride.
We waited about 3 minutes before we saw them go past.
They really liked this ride. All four of us felt that we had made good choices.
Our little guys had woken up and the fast passes that I had gathered up for Guardians was getting close so we met near that ride. The little ones were ready for a snack so we got them Olaf strawberry lemonade popsicles.
B also wanted one. I hung out with the 3 smaller ones while C and J and G took a quick ride. We could see and hear the Guardians dance party which kept the kids entertained while we waited.
B was thrilled when Thor walked by, he got a high five.
Starlord and Gamora came right by us as they left their little stage area. Little B was so cute, after they walked by she looked up at me with a confused grin and asked me why that pretty lady was green. Blew her mind.
It didn't take long for the others to come back. We decided that C and the little 3 were going to head back to the hotel to clean up. The ice pops had melted all over the little ones! G, J, and I would use the remaining fast passes for Guardians and catch up.
C and the 3 smaller kids headed back to the room and G, Uncle J, and I soon met up with them. We rested a bit and freshened up the sticky kiddos and then had to decide what we wanted for dinner.
Nobody but uncle J really cared so we let him choose. H wanted to try the Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney so that is where we went.
B wanted a burger. It was huge and had a nice grilled taste. It came with fries tat had some cajun seasoning on them that he didn't like very much. C somehow didn't have any seasoning on hers so they both happily traded to get what they wanted. Worked out perfectly.
G and I got the shrimp and chicken plate to share. She liked the chicken best and I preferred the shrimp so that worked out well too.
We were also excited to try mint julep for the first time. We had seen it mentioned in tons of trip reports and it sounded fun. Boy was it gross. It was not to our taste at all. G and I had one drink and were done. B said it was ok. In a funny turn of events the only person in our group that liked it was Miss Picky!
She loved it and still talks about the green drink. I was expecting a pepperminty taste which I like but it was more of a wintergreen mint flavor with lime and something that seemed bitter. That one goes into the never again category. The rest of the food was fine but not outstanding. B's hamburger was a huge hit with him and it was really big and filling. The fries were good but the shrimp and chicken were both a little tough. I think in the future we would stick to just the beignets here.
We went to bed early as the next day was our last day in the parks and we were going to use our early entry to try and get a ton of stuff done.
We had no trouble making it to the park before they opened the gates. It was chilly again this morning.
We decided to divide and conquer this morning. G and I headed to tomorrow land to ride space mountain and star wars.
She has no idea about anything from Starwars as she has not seen the movies but she enjoyed the ride. Space was one of her faves. We did Space first and it was walk on at rope drop as was Star wars a few minutes later.
The others rode the teacups, Alice, and the carousel. G and I caught up with them as they were about to get in line at Dumbo so we switched off. C went with G for another go at Space Mountain and it helped J take the little guys on Dumbo and for another round of the teacups.
My bitties wanted to ride with me so we had one flying pachyderm and the boys rode behind us.
The line for Space Mt. was at about 15 minutes so C and G weren't done so after a quick spin and some teacups we decided to go on It's a Small World.
C and G were waiting on us upon exit and we regrouped again. G was still dying for some more thrill rides so she and I scooted over to Big Thunder Mountain.
She insisted on taking a pic of me near the castle on the way.
The wait for it said 15 minutes but it was a bit longer than that. The line moved quickly though. We both really enjoyed this one. It is a really long ride for being a coaster. Since we were in the area we headed straight to Haunted Mansion. I stopped on the way to quickly check in for our flight the next day and texted C to come our way since the line for Mansion was still really short. We walked right into the stretching room and soon joined all of the happy haunts. this ride is my favorite! So Cool!
G was starving by then so while we waited on the others we grabbed two churros from a nearby cart.
G went with a regular churro while I tried the carrot cake version.
It was really just a plain churro with some colored sugar on top but it came with a tub of cream cheese style icing with raisins and nuts.
They were both fresh and delicious. G used my icing too. We were just finishing up when our friends caught up.
They had gotten hungry too and stopped and got donuts. Before their snack they rode the carousel again and looked for an open popcorn cart for a bit but couldn't find one.
The 3 kids all had a large chocolate donut with sprinkles or in Little B's case m and ms. C got the wilderness guide pastry and J got a maple bacon. They all liked them but said that they weren't great. I tasted B's and the chocolate ones were a tad stale but it sure did not bother the kids.
C and J and G got in line for Haunted Mansion while I hung out with the smaller guys. We strolled through New Orleans Square enjoying the ambiance.
We had a reservation for brunch at the Plaza Inn for the character breakfast with Minnie. After everyone who wanted to rode the Haunted Mansion we strolled toward our breakfast venue. We were a bit early but they checked us in anyways.
First we saw Minnie herself.
I have better pics somewhere with Minnie but I am too lazy to look! The character interaction was fine and soon after we were led to a table. We were seated outside on the porch area. It was a nice spot but a little far from the buffet. I would have been sad to have been seated all the way outside. That would have been difficult to manage with so many little ones.
There were a bunch of characters here so please prepare for character overload.
Before we had even sat down Dale came by to say hello. All of our experiences with the chipmunks was really good. They are cute and funny and friendly and they did a really good job playing with and including little B who did not want to get too close.
Chip came by next and he really helped little B come out of her shell with the characters. He was funny and they were precious together.
We grabbed some food. There were not a lot of choices here. One thing that really surprised us was the lack of fresh fruit.
I'll start with the good, there was a station that had Mickey waffles, french toast and a yummy banana caramel sauce. The sauce was quiet good.
This is what B chose. The eggs were basuc and coldish, bacon was pretty well done, and all of the pastry items were stale tasting and dry. The food here was just not great.
This is G's plate, the hashbrowns were terrible, cold and soggy with no crunch. We all agreed that these were the worst! The omelets were ok but both G and Aunt C mentioned that they would have been better had the fillings been cooked a little longer. The cheese wasn't melted and the onions, peppers, spinach, etc. were pretty raw.
In addition to what was mentioned before I tried an egg mixture that was scrambled eggs with different meats and cheese. It was yucky too. Everyone else who tried it agreed. Definitely skip this, this mixture was just a wet slimy mess. Once again the pastries were pretty dry and tasteless.
I know the focus here is on characters not food but I feel like for the prices Disney could easily do better. This is really the only meal where the food was a big disappointment. BUT.. the characters were wonderful and there were a ton of them. I might even do it again so don't let my review scare you off, just keep in mind that the food is definitely lackluster and adjust expectations accordingly.
After Hook came the character that I was hoping would be there during our visit. B is a big Lion King/Lion Guard fan. Seeing Rafiki made his day. Rafiki was very spunky and cute.
All the Rafiki pics have B in them.
As Rafiki was playing with our group Max, Goofy's son came over to join the fun. G used to watch The Goofy Movie all of the time so Max was a huge hit for her.
The little girls had no idea who he was until we told them. C called him Baby Goofy.
Max thought that was very funny so he and Little C had a good visit.
The characters were coming very quickly. It was great timing for the kids who never waited long to meet a new friend.
Next up was Eeyore and he was so shy and sad. C decided to hug him up and make him cheerful she said. She did. They were so cute together.
He was so lovable. We had a great interaction with him too.
He would leave and then C would say something and he would come back by. They were great buddies.
We were not at this meal very long but we saw several of the characters more than once. The kids loved it and the interaction was really good. The food however was pretty bad. Would I go back, heck yes! That many characters and some rare ones made it so worth it. We didn't leave hungry, I just felt the price and the food quality didn't reconcile very well.
Really enjoying your trip report. It’s always fun to do a family trip. We’ve done a couple with my brothers and their families.
Really enjoying all your character and food reviews too.
Your little C reminds me of my little guy the first time we took him. He was six and barely tall enough for almost all the rides. But he was a little particular and didn’t like surprises and flashes of light at that age. Each “big” ride I’d try to explain what to expect and offer to let him go do an easier ride with his cousin and every time he would say, “I think I should at least try it once.” And for most of them he came off happy that he’d tried it. All except Tower of Terror. We came off that and he immediately said, “I don’t ever want to do that again!”
We went back when he was 9 and then 11 and he was a big fan of the ride that time.
The last time we went I was a new single mom as well. So your story hit home and it was so nice to see you all having a great time.
Sorry to have disappeared on you guys. This time of year my job is 26 hours a day lol, plus both my kids have birthdays.
To anyone still interested I am going to finish up soon. Thanks for your patience.
I left off after a fun brunch with Minnie and her friends.
The little girls wanted to meet some princesses so we headed back to fantasy land. There were two choices. Flynn Ryder and Rapunzel were meeting outside and there was Cinderella and some mystery friends meeting inside. The littles were getting tired so I asked one of the cast members which line would be shortest for them and she was very confident in saying that Cindy's would be. She said that Flynn and Rapunzel really liked to chat.
That decided it for the small fries, they got in that line while my kiddos were perfectly happy to wait to see the others. Rapunzel was G's all time favorite Princess when she was little. She managed to talk different family members to taking her to the theater to see it at least 6 times when it came out.
In a funny turn of events we got to the front of the line very quickly. There were a ton of people ahead of us who left the line so we didn't wait even 20 minutes.
It was very worth it. The CM was correct in that the interaction was really fun and lasted a long time. No rush at all.
I cannot seem to find the pics my sister sent me of their meet and greet but I will keep looking and try to add them later.
They saw Cinderella, Ariel, and Snow White. They had a great time and the pics were adorable of course.
We did get done first. Our plan was to carry on with the fun while they were headed back to the hotel for a nap.
I wanted to just let the kids explore and do what they wanted so we just wondered for a bit.
They tried to become royalty and wanted to take a picture with the giant horses.
We got a few castle shots and then G decided that we should go see if Tinkerbelle was home.
The waiting area for Tink was beautiful and the line wasn't very long. We waited around 10 minutes. The was a CM near the front of the line that was wonderful. He was so good with kids and he and B talked extensively about pin trading. I wish we had come across him earlier in our trip.
Tink was perfectly Sassy. While Captain Hook loved G's red shirt, Tink mentioned that green was really the way to go next time.
B mentioned that we had seen Hook earlier in the day and she said she was sorry. She was a hoot.
As we left this area Aunt C caught up with us. We saw Peter Pan playing with a little boy whose name happened to be Peter. It was adorable.
The little girls did not lone Mr. Toad so we decided to get another ride on it while they were resting.
While we were in the area B saw Belle and the Beast on the carousel.
I found my pics of the bitties with Ariel so I thought we would start with that cuteness.
The little ones woke up and it was definitely snack time. C and J wanted Dole whips and so did G. C and G went to get some while B and I went in search of some cotton candy for him.
As we were walking along we saw Jack Sparrow running around. He was a hoot so we followed him for a bit.
We did eventually find a stand that had cotton candy and we shared it with the little girls before C and G caught up with us. We had headed for the train depot in the New Orleans square area hoping to make a round on the train and snack at the same time.
C, J, G, and little B all enjoyed a Dole Whip. Little C got a cup of strawberries and shared some more of my B's cotton candy. I decided to grab a souvenir bucket of popcorn to share on the train since G had mentioned wanting the bucket several times.
B was very pleased with the softness of his treat.
Waiting for the train. We left the stroller and rested our feet and took a train ride around the whole park. The 3 littler guys really like a nice train.
It was a nice break.
After the train we decided to head back to the hotel for a break since it was hot and getting pretty crowded. My guys needed a souvenir stop so we split up.
When we got back to the room C had gotten a few more snacks for us to sample.
These were twists from Maurice's cart in the Fantasy Faire area. They were delicious. With 7 of us we all got a nice taste of each. They were delicious. I wish we had tried these sooner as B and I would have definitely gone back for a few more of the cheese garlic twists. G preferred the grey stuff (oreo) version which B and I liked as well.
After a cool off break we headed back to the park. It was a zoo. It was apparently the last day for many of the cheaper annual passes and the line for security was a riot. We should not have left the park but I never dreamed it would get so crowded so quickly. We never waited more than 10 minutes for security before and that night it took like 30 minutes to go through it and then the line back in the park was worse. It was wall to wall people inside too. If it wasn't our last night and B didn't want to go to Hungry Bear so badly i think we would have turned around.
We slowly made our way to Critter County. I was relieved that the food line was still reasonable. Eating early payed off time and time again for us.
B got a regular burger and G and I split a crispy chicken sandwich. We also got the churro funnel cake to share.
While the food wasn't anything fancy or special it was hot and fresh and they gave us a ton of fries. The onion rings were crisp and super hot and yummy too. The funnel cake was heaven. Piping hot and topped with cinnamon and sugar and warm caramel sauce. I was happily surprised with this meal. I would eat there again with no worries.
There was an obnoxiously friendly duck that wanted food that loved our table. Little C did not appreciate this guy under her chair. It was pretty funny but it did keep her from eating very much.
After dinner we decided that we had to at least go into Toontown. I didn't want to miss it but boy the park was so super crowded.
We played around for a little while but it was really to crowded up to be too fun and everyone was pretty tired at this point.
We checked out the character houses but pretty soon the Little Girls had had enough and headed back to the hotel to pack up and get ready to go home the next day.
We stayed a bit longer to play and finish up our souvenir spending. We all 3 still had some gift card money left.
We grabbed some treats for later that evening as well. On the way out of the park we stopped and looked at Walt's apartment for a minute. We strolled around main street for a bit just soaking up the last bit of Disney magic we could.
A nice vendor let the kids hold his balloons and take cute pictures.
One last pic and then we headed back to get ready for an early flight the next morning.
After packing we had a few last Disney treats. B went with a Toy Story ALien apple. It was good but we all agreed that the Lightning McQueen apple was a but better. The sugar gave it a nice texture and kept the taste of the white chocolate from being so overpowering.
G went with a new to her flavor Mickey Macaron. I think that it was strawberry with a bit of lemon in the center. I believe that she preferred that raspberry macaron that she got earlier in the trip but she said that both were really good.
They both also chose a treat to take home. G chose another Matterhorn Macaroon which was still excellent several days later. B got a cheshire cat tail. It was good several days later but we liked the actual tigger tail better as it had milk chocolate as well as white chocolate.
I won't bore you with home travel details.
We had an easy uneventful trip home which is exactly how it should be. I will try to wrap it up with some favorites later. Thanks to all who have read along on our fun adventure.