G’day USA! Los Angeles part 1 – Disneyland
After planning and saving for months and months the big trip is finally here! The whole family voted and we decided on the US. We’re doing a bit of a whirlwind tour during the school holidays, starting with LA, then moving on to Las Vegas and finishing in New York.
The flight leaves at 10am on Friday morning, goes for nearly 15 hours and lands in LA at about 8 on Friday morning. It’s one of those rare occasions in life where if you do a day really badly, you get the chance to do it all over again.
The flight itself is a bit nightmarish for Mick and the boys, economy seats are not designed for people over 6 feet tall. It’s one of the very few circumstances where stumpy little legs are an advantage in life. Poor Joe struggles badly with air sickness as well, so he is very relieved when we finally land in the enormous and confusing LA International airport. It’s unhelpful that I get the song “LA International Airport” stuck in my head on a loop.
We will only be in LA for 3 days and have decided to do Disneyland, a tour of Warner bros and the Hollywood Hills, and Universal Studios. We have elected to hire a car, and also because there are seven of us (me, Mick, the three boys and mum and dad), we have rented an apartment rather than stay in a hotel.
It takes a couple of hours to collect the rental car. It is a massive SUV, way bigger than even our van at home. I accidentally get in the drivers’ seat, forgetting that it’s on the left side of the car. Mick is going to be the driver and I will navigate. Almost nothing can go wrong.
The freeways here are insane, the largest we drive on is six lanes each way, currently undergoing an upgrade to be ten lanes each way. Trying to adjust to miles instead of kilometres, to the thousands of cars all around us, not to mention driving on the wrong side of the car AND the wrong side of the road, makes for a fairly stressful trip. Especially for Mick. And possibly a few American drivers.
We get to our apartment, dump our bags and quickly freshen up before we jump back in the Big Black Truck and head for Disneyland. I had pre-booked our tickets online to avoid queuing for them.
Because it’s October the park is decorated for Halloween, complete with a giant Mickey Mouse jack-o’lantern.
My first meal in America is a chili cheese dog. I thought it would be a spicy hot dog with cheese, but of course chillies here are called hot peppers and chili is a spicy meat sauce. I have never seen a hot dog with meat sauce on it. It’s about what you’d expect from theme park food. Tom orders a mac and cheese hot dog which just looks disgusting, but he likes it. All the hot dogs are served with a little bag of potato chips and you could fit your whole head into the drinks.
None of the boys are into scary-type rides, so dad and I end up going on the bigger attractions together while the rest of the family, for the most part, pikes out. My absolute favourite is Space Mountain, I love zooming around in the dark and I would go on it again but the queue is massive.
There’s no kind of ticket you can buy for Disney that allows you to skip the queues, but they do have a fast-pass system where you can get a ticket at certain rides and instead of standing in line, it tells you what time to come back and you can go straight on. You are only allowed to hold one fast-pass ticket at a time, but they are a great idea as I’d rather wander around and look at things than stand in a line.
A highlight of the day is the parade. I am a huge fan of Disney movies, and seeing all my favourite characters on colourful floats is cool. One of the worst things about the boys getting older is that I no longer have an excuse to go to all the Disney films as they are released in the cinema. (Middle-aged people going to kids’ films on their own is a bit creepy. Just saying.)
Friday has now gone on for a ridiculously long time. Jet lag is making us all a bit fuzzy around the edges. We shop for a few Disney souvenirs and head back to our apartment. Because we are all exhausted we order some Mexican food to be delivered to the apartment. It’s delicious and we completely smash it before turning in for the night. Hollywood hills tomorrow!