Disneyland: at last! The first day

We arrived at the Disneyland Hotel around 2 in the afternoon. It was almost surreal to have finally made it there. There was Mickey Mouse’s statue waving to us, and teacup shaped chairs in the waiting area. The place was a madhouse! But Disney is ever efficient at lines and they had us checking in in no time. Patrick didn’t like Daddy checking in and help trying to trade saying “Daddy up. Mommy talk” and then turning my head towards the service counter.

But he forgave the woman at the reception desk for hogging his daddy as soon as she brought him a balloon, some “I’m Celebrating” badges and an autographed picture of Donald Duck. She called it “some magic.”

The room was, of course, amazing. The entire headboard can be lit up with little tiny LED lights making a picture of the Disney castle with fireworks all around. (Patrick quickly discovered the switch to turn this on and off, made even better by the fact that it played “A dream is a wish your heart makes” every time you turned the lights on. We must have heard this little song at least 3 dozen times during our stay, as Patrick would turn it on, listen to the song, and then do it all again.)

Brian parked the car and had the bell service bring our rooms up to the bag, as by that point we had 4 boxes of medical supplies that had been shipped to us, in addition to our 4 suitcases, 2 laptop bags, and 1 diaper bag.

It probably took an hour to get everything settled in the room and then we were ready at last to head into the park.

Our first stop was the monorail. This was a bit confusing to figure out with our stroller and a crowd, but we made it in the end. The monorail let us out in tomorrowland and then we wandered looking for Main Street.

On Main Street, we stopped at City Hall to get a pass that allowed Patrick’s stroller to be treated as a wheelchair. This was helpful in 2 ways. First, it allowed him to stay in it whenever we were in a long line. Patrick doesn’t do well in lines and his cerebral palsy makes it so he gets tired really quick standing. His tubes are definitely safer when they’re all gathered up in a stroller with a backpack hanging on the back than when he’s down free and running. Second, it gave him the chance to skip some lines. (No, not all lines. But some.) And that helped to keep him out of the sun. Dehydration is a big, big concern for SBS kiddos, especially one whose belly was as sick as Patrick’s was when we arrived.

So we got our pass and then headed back out to Main Street just on time to catch a parade.


I wish I could have captured the wonder and excitement on Patrick’s face when he first saw Mickey and Goofy arriving on a great big float. Instead I got this picture, a few floats in, once the parade was seeming a little too long and a little too loud for him. Still, Patrick seemed to enjoy it whenever he recognized the characters that were there. Not bad for his second every parade.

We kept getting conflicting answers about whether Patrick’s permit covered both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. So, we stopped there, too, for a pass. Alas, it was just the same and a waste of time, except that it looked nicer aesthetically, and so that’s the one we used.

But, with business settled, we were finally ready to explore the park. We wandered long enough to find the restaurant where we’d be having dinner, and then headed over to Cars Land, which has just opened a few days before and was a madhouse.

It was really impressive to see the detail with which they’d recreated Radiator Springs from the movie. I don’t know that Patrick recognized all of it, but the tire stack in from of Luigi’s definitely was familiar and he was really excited to see Lightening McQueen. (I’m still a little sorry we didn’t stop to meet him, as he was gone the next day.)

But, we had dinner reservations, and so we wandered through, and then headed back to Wine Country Trattoria.

We decided to splurge on this meal. It came with tickets to World of Color later in the evening. And it gave us a chance to try out the Disney Special Diets service. Disney promises that their chefs will do their best to accomodate all special diet needs. So, we called ahead and when we sat down at our table, one of the chefs met us at our table to discuss the menu.

She wrote down Patrick’s allergies and agreed that he shouldn’t be required to purchase a meal and arranged for him to have a ticket regardless. Then, she gave us recommendations about allergy safe pastas we could chose and made my plate (a seafood spaghetti) allergy safe so I could share it with Patrick. And checked in on the rest of the meal, too.

She really won our hearts, though, when dessert rolled around. She came to ask if there was anything she could make for Patrick. I told her that Patrick was really happy if you’d just let him taste chocolate syrup from your plate and asked if she’d drizzle some on a plate for him. She one-upped us on that. She melted pure chocolate onto a plate for Patrick.


Thankfully his belly was feeling better by this meal. At first, he tasted it with a spoon. Chocolate for dinner as his first food in a week.


And it was obviously a hit, as he licked the plate clean.

After dinner, we headed back to Cars Land to ride a few rides.


We started with Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. I don’t know quite how to describe this ride. The tractors spin around in crazy circle and you’re thrown to opposite sides of the car as they change directions. Patrick was just barely tall enough and LOVED being tossed around.

Then we went to ride the kiddie rides at Bug’s Land. However, after the big kid ride, these were a little boring for him. We got some smiles and a few chuckles, but nothing like Mater’s ride.

After the rides, we headed to World of Color. Our priority seating from dinner let us right down to the waterfront. But we opted to sit in the reserved handicapped area so we could keep Patrick on a bench instead of the ground. (Quick editorial comment. Being sick does grant you certain priviledges. But once you enter a handicapped area, you are no longer entitled to anything more than the other people there. Everyone else is there for a reason, too.)

World of Color was amazing! I can’t even put it into words! Just an breathtaking show! So much more than I imagined.

However, I’d advise that if your child is sensitive to sound, you should pack earplugs. It was loud. But, with ears covered, Patrick enjoyed watching it just as much as we did.

About halfway through, Patrick moved over onto my lap with his feet up on Daddy’s. And the excitement of the day overtook him. He snuggled down and slept through the rest of a very loud show.

We moved him to his stroller still asleep and headed out of the park. He woke at the exit.

We stopped on our way through Downtown Disney at La Brea bakery for a snack and some breakfast for the next day.

Then we went back to our room.


Patrick picked his Mickey Mouse pajamas, which said that he understood exactly where he was. Then he snuggled with daddy while I made his bed. (He sleeps on an air mattress when we travel) and got him his meds.

He fell asleep quickly with the headboard’s firework lights glowing, as happy as can be.

And Brian and I, too, fell asleep totally exhausted but feeling so incredibly blessed to be there.

Taking our little boy to Disneyland isn’t something we really imagined as possible. This time last week, we didn’t imagine it happening even. And yet, there we were. As a family. On our first leave everything behind, non-medical vacation since Yellowstone. The day had gone smoothly. We were all happy and safe.

It was just an amazing feeling. With days of fun still ahead!

Yup. Disneyland is magical.

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