Memories of the Happiest Place on Earth Pt 5

California Adventure is a step back into the California that Walt Disney arrived at when he first set about his path to Mickey Mouse. Stepping back into 1923 Los Angeles with buildings and characters of the like Walt encountered when he stepped of that tram. It is this side that you will encounter more recent Disney characters along with a theatre, animation studio, at the time of our visit the Tower of Terror was still operating, Cars Land and Bugs Land. Mish was a huge fan of the Cars movie so for him to see Lightning McQueen, Mater, Luigi, and the others driving around and posing for photographs was more than his little heart could bear. The first time he saw Lighting as he slowly drove by, he burst into tears “because he is REAL!” When we went to get our photo with Lightning, Mish slowly approached, gave the car a pat and then a hug. During the day we went on Lugi’s tyre ride, through the underground with the bugs – the 4D Bug’s Life theatre was so much fun. You get sprayed at by termites, “stung” by wasps and have roaches run under your bottom!

There is a water park feature which was fantastic in the Californian summer heat. The kids got absolutely drenched and loved every moment of it. We saw the performance of Aladdin at the theatre, which was AMAZING! The actor who played Genie was so very much like the late and great Robin Williams, he would have been proud of this actor. He had everyone laughing and cheering along. Over near the massive Mickey ferris wheel we jumped on the Little Mermaid ride (located in Pacific Pier) before making our way to meet up with Woody, Buzz and the gang from Andy’s room in Toy World. Jesse spent some time with Tilly and Mish as we waited to meet Woody and Buzz, she took them over to look at the water and the roller coaster that would whoosh past, filled with screaming laughter, and ironically the ride is called California Screamin’.

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Eventually they got to meet and have photos with Buzz and Woody, Mish was a little nervous at first. The Toy Story ride/shoot em’ up laser game is a lot of fun. Mike and Tilly versus Mish and me, we jumped into our carts and made our way through the course, hitting our targets, getting sprayed with water and cold air. Very competitive and the kids got right into it. We stopped for lunch, some more gift shopping and then more rides. We finished off the night with the Radiator Springs Racers ride. Out of all the rides, this one had the longest queue time, and by that stage Mish had fallen asleep in my arms as we slowly made our way down the line to the ride. It was worth the wait though – like Space Mountain, it is a fast ride and it is incredibly fun (all rides as Disney Land are fun). Afterwards we walked through the neon-lit Radiator Springs towards the pier for the World of Colours show. Wow. Absolutely stunning and a spectacular way to wrap up our short stay. Disney never does anything by halves, and I have not seen a light show that comes close to what we watched that night.

At the end of the night, as fireworks lit up the sky, we said goodbye to an amazing experience. A final photo with Pluto, and we walked out of the park. The kids loved every minute of it. Mike and I loved every minute of it. It was definitely money well spent. The memories will last a lifetime. Growing up on Disney movies, as a kid I was forever drawing the characters – telling myself that one day I would be an animator for Disney. Well, I never achieved that, but I did get to go and spend some time at the Happiest Place on Earth, and that is just as good for me. Mike and I have made a vow that we will return one day, and now that the kids are older we will be able to stretch out our visit, taking in more of Anaheim and surrounds.

If you ever get the chance to visit Disneyland I highly recommend it. Especially if you have kids – you get to live the experience through their eyes and it is like reliving your childhood all over again.


*Space Mountain is a very fast ride!

*Get a photo pass card. As you go through the park there are photographers with the characters. The photographer scans your card, and takes your photos. At the end of your visit you can log onto your account, select the photos you want and download them or have them sent to you on a CD (this is what we did).

*Hug as many characters as you can!

For more information check out:

The End 🙂

Memories of the Happiest Place on Earth Pt 4

Sleep we did – we slept through our alarm by an hour and we quickly got up, got the kids showered and dressed for the day and out the door to walk to Disneyland. Even surrounded by shops filled with Disney products and buses driving past us with Disney emblazoned on them, it didn’t twig with the kids as to what was going on. That was, until we actually entered the park and approached the ticket booth to pick up our pre-paid tickets. Standing in the centre, with the original Disney park to our right and on our left the California Adventure park, and in front was the iconic Mickey Mouse flower bed, behind it the train station with people hopping on to the little train, the penny dropped and both kids dissolved in excitement.


You really can’t describe the atmosphere – it is truly something else. I found it hard to believe that I was about to enter Disneyland with our kids. Mike had been when he was a kid, but it was a first for me. All of a sudden the jet lag vanished and I was ready to race off and have fun. So were the kids. We headed down Main St U.S.A – Main Street was a hive of activity. Quaint little shops selling various treats and trinkets, abound. We picked up Mickey Ear hats for the kids and some sunscreen. Then it was over the drawbridge of Sleeping Beauty’s castle into Fantasyland, stopping to take a photo of our feet surrounding the first nail to be set in the ground for the park. We stood in the shade and looked at the map, where would we go first? Easy. New Orleans Square! Our first ride at Disneyland was the Pirates of the Caribbean ride – and yes, it had been kitted out with Jack Sparrow animatronics much to the delight of the women (and maybe some men) on the ride!


The kids screamed and laughed their way through the first ride. Mike and I gave each other a high five – this was going to be a great day. We walked through New Orleans, looking in the gift shops. Making our way round to the next ride on our list – the Haunted Mansion. This, I think, would be my favourite ride. Walking up through the ghoulish garden that is filled with tombstones of people and pets, something would move out of the corner of your eye. The lines moved very quickly, and we were led through the foyer of the mansion and into the parlour room. Surrounded by portraits, all eyes on you, when all of a sudden the floor drops and you feel yourself going down, down, underground. Lights flicker and dark voices whisper, groan and laugh. Tilly, who has a thing for the macabre laughed and clapped her hands in delight. Mish clung to me, he wasn’t too keen on the falling down. We were then taken from the parlour room and down through the halls to our little carriages. The portraits on the walls began moving now. Faces changed from flesh to skulls as we moved by. Tilly and I jumped into one carriage, Mike and Mish on the one behind us. The carriages led you down through the mansion, past corpses, and talking heads. In one room sits a table with a crystal ball and the gypsy’s head appears within the crystal ball, her glowing green eyes – she looks at you and gives you warning. But you can’t escape, and she laughs as you are whisked further on towards the ballroom. You look down at a large table covered with food and decorations. When you lift your eyes up, dancing high above are ghosts, waltzing around your head. Some will fly past you, howling, talking, laughing and singing.

The guide informs you that you have made it through and you will be out on the other side soon enough. You leave the ballroom and your carriage locks in and you slowly glide past a mirrored wall. Then you see it. Sitting right behind you in your carriage is a hitchhiker of the paranormal kind. Your own ghost who has decided to jump in and try and leave the mansion with you. It was brilliant, and the look on our kids’ faces was priceless!


It took us the whole day to cover all the rides in that part of the park. The kids met Disney characters – the Briar Fox pulled Tilly’s hat down over her head and tweaked her nose to the delight of Mish. Winnie the Pooh came up for hugs. Mike quite liked the Princesses. Ride after ride, feeling more and more like a kid again – all the worries of adulthood long gone. Mike and I were immersed in the world of play and imagination with the kids. We hugged every character we came across, we yahooed on every ride. We chowed down on burgers, hot dogs, corn dogs, fairy floss, hot chips and soft drink (with lots of water!) There were carts filled with fresh fruit and bottles of juice and water available. The kids would snack on fruit between rides. When I saw the tea cup ride I lost it – for as long as I can remember I had always wanted to go on the tea cup ride – and we did! You could not wipe the smile off my face.


The kids loved the It’s a Small World ride, the little singing dolls from around the world, and by the end of it Tilly and Mish were singing along and continued to sing the song for the rest of the day. Mickey met us in his house and insisted on having his photo taken with us, he was a bit cheeky too, mucking around with the kids.


We would have little rest breaks, sunscreen top ups, water refills. There are plenty of benches and quiet places to stop for a rest. We finished the first day off with Tomorrowland. As we were walking in to Tomorrow Land we were approached by a mum and her daughter, they wanted to know if we would go on Space Mountain with them. They had a fast pass but it was for 6 people, they needed another 4 more in order to go. I eagerly agreed, telling Mike as we went with the mum and her daughter to the fast pass line that the ride was nothing more than an optical illusion. That you don’t actually move fast, it is the lighting that makes you feel like you are going fast. Oh my God no. No. It is not an optical illusion. It really does tear you through space and time. I clung to Mish for dear life – it was probably a blessing that he was not tall enough to see over the carriage front (but he was tall enough to go on the ride). Tilly was white-knuckled gripping the safety bar, her eyelids peeled back by the speed of the ride as it zipped us side to side, up and down. Mike sat up straight, stiff upper lip throughout the ordeal.


When the ride finished we thanked the mum and her daughter. I was twitching, Tilly’s eyes had dried out so much she couldn’t blink and her eyebrows had been lifted up to her hair line so she looked like she was frozen in a state of surprise. Mish hopped out and looked at Mike and me and squealed “that was fun! Can we go again?” Tilly turned and looked at Mish and he pulled back in horror at her frozen expression. He had his answer.


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By the time we left the park on the first day it was just after midnight. On the way out we enjoyed the fireworks over the castle and then popped into a gift shop in Main St and picked up some little souvenirs, and the kind lady behind the counter upon learning that we had just come off Space Mountain, gifted the kids with “badges for their bravery”. It was really lovely. We stopped off at IHOP for a quick late night bite before walking back to the hotel.


As we approached the hotel, there were cop cars all over the road, cops out and walking around and a man was sitting on the kerb, hands cuffed behind his back, answering questions from a cop. I won’t lie, in my head I immediately began singing the Bad Cops song, and kept an eye out for a camera crew. This could be our first cameo! No cameras, but as we walked by the suspect and the cop, Mish points to the man on the ground and says “you’re going to jail!” The cop tried not to crack a grin as he motioned for Mish to keep it down. No camera crew. Would have made for great TV. Just sayin’.

The next day was our rest day – all that walking (and remember I had recently broken my toes) had worn us out, so it was to be a day of rest. We stocked up on snacks and games from the little shop nearby and relaxed in our cool hotel room. I indulged in the many television channels, watched the local news, read some magazines. When it got a little cooler outside we walked over to a shopping complex and had a look around. Subway for dinner and an early night in preparation for the second part of our Disney adventure the following day.

To be continued…


Memories of the Happiest Place on Earth Pt 3

It was around midday and we had some time up our sleeve before we could check into our hotel, so Mike wanted to show us Santa Monica (he has been to LA a few times with his work, so he knows his way around). The kids were amazed at the amount of traffic around us. I was enthralled by the art deco buildings around LA and Santa Monica – that old Hollywood vibe. It was a beautiful day for us to arrive into LA, they must’ve known we were coming and they turned on the charm!

We got a car park at Santa Monica pier and we wandered down the boardwalk. We stood at the end of the boardwalk and looked out at the ocean, hard to believe that we were now so far away from Australia, it felt very surreal. The kids were impressed by the “mega seagulls” that plodded along (they are huge over there). We had lunch on the boardwalk and the kids went on their very first rollercoaster rides at Pacific Park. Tilly and I took on the big rollercoaster while Mike and Mish went on the pirate ship one. We played games, explored the big dragon’s head, before making our way over to check into our hotel.


We had booked a room at the Castle Inn Suite, Anaheim. It is situated across the road from Disneyland, and the rates were really good at the time (August 2012). It was neat, tidy and walking distance to the park. Along the road were restaurants and diners, little convenience stores filled with Disney merchandise too. The kids loved the big knight that stands in the foyer (he is pretty cool). We checked in and went up to our room. The plan was for us to keep ourselves awake until after dinner in an attempt to set our body clocks. The jet lag was kicking in. Yawning, bleary eyed, all four of us made the mistake of flopping down on our beds. Next minute we know it is almost midnight when we are wide awake on Australia time. Noooo!

All I can say is thank goodness for IHOP for being open to serve dinner at midnight. We went in hungry and came out full to the eyeballs – the small portion over there would equal the large here in Australia. What I really loved was the waitress who immediately poured me a cup of coffee – the first one I had had since leaving Townsville. It was amazing, and even more so when she informed me that the refills were FREE! Cue my happy dance! With full bellies and caffeine levels replenished, we headed back to the hotel to try and go back to sleep for a few more hours before we were to head out to Disneyland.


To be continued…

Memories of the Happiest Place on Earth Pt 2

I spent that day icing my foot and trying to rest it, which is hard to do when you have to take the eldest to and from school and keep up with a very active 3 year old. I just hoped that it would settle by the time we had to board the first flight the next day. It didn’t. I ended up hobbling onto the plane with my foot strapped up and held in tight by my Converse sneaker. It worked – my foot handled the flights from Townsville to Brisbane, Brisbane to Los Angeles and then Los Angeles to Toronto.

Broken toes aside, the first flight was uneventful. Townsville to Brisbane is a relatively quick flight. Once in Brisbane we collected out luggage and then made the trek over to international terminal. I loved that I wasn’t lugging a baby on the hip, a stroller, booster seat, nappy bags this time round. Both the kids walked with us, holding our hands, on their backs they carried their own little carryon bags. It was definitely less stressful. We checked in for our flight to LA, headed over to the lounge to rest before being called to board the flight. This is where the fun began.

I was seated with the kids on the left side of the cabin. Mike was over on the right side of the cabin, the centre aisle separating us. No biggie, the kids are older, we have our bags, there is inflight entertainment (I was stoked to see that Virgin Australia had gaming consoles in their seats!) I didn’t have to change nappies this time, so bathroom trips would be easy. We can do this. As I settled the kids in their seats, I looked over at Mike who had already set himself up in his seat with his books, crosswords, headphones on and was listening to music. Take off, the kids and I squished our faces into the little window to watch Australia slip away from under us. Mish was thrilled to be on a plane again. Tilly was excited to be on her way to Canada to see the grandies. I set up the inflight entertainment consoles for the kids. Tilly played games and Mish watched cartoons. All was going well. Food was served and they ate their meals, happy, happy – this was easy! Then came the toilet times and the little walks up and down the aisles to stretch legs. As the hours rolled on, sun coming and going, the kids good graces started to wear thin. They wanted out. It was enough now being crammed in such a small space for so long. When they slept, they slept on me which made it hard for me to sleep. I sat under a crumple of kids, looking across the cabin at my husband who was enjoying a snack, cold drink and a movie. Laughing to himself. Then he would be reading. Or sleeping. Lucky him.

We finally started the descent into Los Angeles. As the kids stirred and returned to their seats next to me, I looked out the window and caught my breath. I was actually going to be in Los Angeles! No freaking way! I looked at the highways – bumper to bumper cars. I saw the Hollywood sign. I saw the LAX airport. My red eyes were wide open, my sleep deprived brain was now on hyper alert. We were landing. I looked over at Mike who was waking up now and getting his seat back upright and tucking his belongings back into his bag. He looked nice and fresh as a daisy.

lighted hollywood signage during daytime

Photo by Pixabay on

When we disembarked, I was bursting with excitement. I was looking about in the hope to spot a celebrity – not that I would approach them, I had had no sleep in over 24 hours and looked like I had been dragged through a hedge. I just wanted to see a celebrity in their natural habitat.

LAX is HUGE! We were herded into the lines for customs, dragging our luggage along, passports out and ready with the customs declarations. As we approached the counter, Mish decided he was going to make a break for it and he bolted through the gates and past an armed guard. Mike just about had heart failure and ran after Mish as I handed the passports over to the customs rep, apologising for our son’s attempt to enter their country illegally. Mike returned with Mish under his arm. We were stamped up and welcomed into America. We made our way out of the terminal and into the bright LA sunshine to catch the bus to the car hire company.

Outside the noise hit us. Hustle and bustle on a scale that we were not used to – even coming from Sydney and Brisbane. A limousine pulled up and a smartly dressed chauffer got out and went around to the passenger side to wait for their pick up. He was set upon by photographers and journalists, holding recording devices out at the ready. This was it! I was going to see a celebrity. Would it be a Kardashian? An A-list actor? A musician? Tilly and Mish were standing with me watching the melee going on. Mike was struggling with the luggage trolley. All of a sudden he lost his grip and our luggage spilled out onto the road. In his Canadian-Australian accent, he loudly exclaimed “FARKIN’ HELL!” So loud, I was sure that the gathering crowd over at the limo would hear. I quickly helped him pick up our bags, getting them off the road in time as the bus finally rolled up. On the bus, the kids and I were still watching the limo to see who the fuss was for, but unfortunately we will never know as the bus rounded the corner, leaving the airport before we could see who was stepping out the airport terminal door.

two black bridge and dslr cameras

Photo by on

 To be continued…


Memories of the Happiest Place on Earth Pt 1

It was August 2012. After months of planning, preparing and excitement, Mike and I had booked and were on our way to surprising our kids (then aged 3 and 6 years) with a stopover in LA to visit Disneyland on our way to Canada for a family wedding.

Travelling with kids is an adventure in itself. The amount of careful planning and manoeuvring that is involved in getting a child or children ready for a trip away is an art form that over the years I felt I had had a good grasp on. Prior to this trip overseas, we had been to Canada for our daughter’s first birthday, and we had made numerous flights to Darwin and North Queensland with both kids as babies and toddlers. This time there would be no nappies, no baby food, no bottles, no stroller, no port-a-cot, and no baby bag.

First up we had to get the passports done. Tilly’s baby passport had expired since her previous trip to Canada, and Mish had not had a passport yet. It was like herding cats in the photo shop. Tilly kept tilting her head, posing more like she was sitting for a clothing catalogue shoot than a passport photo. I would lean in and hold her head up and facing forward, yet just as I would let go for the photographer to get the photo, she would tilt her head, drop a shoulder and smile, her fringe flopping down over her eyes. Eventually we got a photo of her that would be suitable. Next was Mish. Now getting a 3 year old to sit and stare down the lens of the camera is near on impossible. After each photo, we would see he was looking up, down, at his sister, eyes closed, mouth open, and tongue sticking out, tears and temper tantrum and the best one – just the top of his head as he slid off the stool to leave the shop as he had had enough. With Mike, myself, the photographer and retail assistant, we managed to pin him still for a photo.

Passports were sent off and processed. Mike had his leave from work approved. I finalised my last lot of freelance articles ready for me to take a little break from work myself. I pulled the suitcases out ready to be filled and we set about booking the airfares to Canada. Now, we were originally looking at just going to Canada, but it just so happened that on Foxtel, the TLC channel was running a series on Disney parks and Mike and I were glued to the show. Maybe? No. But what if we? We couldn’t possibly! How about we? Hmmmm… So we looked into it and crunched the numbers and decided that it would be a nice surprise for the kids to break up the travel over to Canada with a few days in California, in particular at Disneyland. The more we looked into it, the more we watched this show, the more excited about it we became. So we booked our airfares to include the stop in America, we booked accommodation near Disneyland and the hire car for the few days. Much excitement filled the Jarvis house following the bookings.

Two nights out from our flights was when I set about packing the bags – the kids had no idea that we were going to visit Disney Land – I put on You Tube videos of the Disney park experience as I set about sorting, folding and packing everything we would need for the trip over. As I zipped up the last suitcase, I turned the TV off and went to get up and go to bed. I stood up and as I stepped over the suitcase, my right foot connected with the metal bracing at the base of the suitcase. Internally screaming so as not to wake the family, I limped off to bed. The next morning, the day before we were to fly out, my foot was a mess. Swollen, bruised down the outer side and my two little toes were completely mangled. I had broken them! I didn’t think I hit the suitcase that hard, but I did and now I was stressing out over my big fat ugly foot and manky toes. This was not good.

To be continued….