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Brilliant Plan:  Roadtrip!  Colorado to Southern California.  Two days in the car. Sixteen hours of drive time. Two kids. Concoct biggest surprise said children have had in their short lives.

Chalk this one up to “seemed like a good idea at the time.”

By all accounts, the actual trip was awesome.  The little people were relatively well behaved, Nathan and I were in good spirits (most of the time), and we only realized that the air conditioning in our road trip car was non functional once we reached the desert.  Nice.  Yeah, and we had to replace a set of tires in the middle of nowhere, Alice face planted at Walmart and just barely escaped without stitches in her lip… And that massive surprise was kind of a bust.  But other than that; good times.  Good times.

We headed straight out to Disneyland in complete secret.  Finn thought we were just out for another camping trip while I was busy sneaking autograph books, Mickey ears and Disney pins into my suitcase.  We planned on walking him into Downtown Disney, seeing how long it would take him to notice where we were and then blow the top off the whole charade.  In my mind, I pictured Finn bursting into heaving sobs of joy; hugging and kissing his parents and showering them with gratitude…  Kinda like this kid whose mom reunited him with his best friend after three years of separation.  I seem to have forgotten that my life is not a movie.  And Finn is five.

As we walked, Finny began to notice the signs for Disneyland.  And the monorail.  And when he saw crowds of people walking back to their hotels carrying Disney bags, we thought the cover was blown…

“Wow.  All those people must have just gone on vacation to Disney.  That is really weird.  Look at their bags,” Finn remarked as yet another monorail passed overhead.  And still, completely oblivious.

We sat him down, asked him where he thought he was and braced ourselves for an onslaught of gratitude.  Instead, we got a, “Oh.  That’s cool.”

By the time we were on our way to the actual park the next morning; enthusiasm seemed to pick up.  Finn’s never been to Disneyland (but has been to Disney World), so he knew what was in store, but also knew that there were things in California that he’d never seen in Florida… The Matterhorn.  Cars Land.  Monsters, Inc.  And he knew he was now tall enough to go on Tower of Terror.

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Once we were tucked away into the confines of the Happiest Place on Earth, it was an all-out scramble for Finn to get on as many rides as he could.  We took in the Matterhorn, Dumbo, the Storybook Land Canal Boats and the carousel while all anyone else seemed to care about was scrambling for a place in the two hour line to see Anna and Elsa.  Spoiler:  I have better ideas on how to spend 120 minutes.  We skipped it.

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Alice got her own Mickey ears while Finny and I went on the Matterhorn.  I felt like she was officially inducted into the family.  Sure, she’s two-and-a-half.  And our own flesh and blood.  But now she BELONGS.

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Finn is crazy for the Haunted Mansion…  The video game version, that is.  When we got to the real thing, he was ready to be done.  “Why do they have to make this place so scary???” he pleaded.  All the while, I was hoping that the whole ordeal would scare him enough that he wouldn’t want to try The Tower of Terror.  So far, no success after visiting the 999 happy haunts.  No matter his fear, he was still hell bent on flinging himself (and me) down a thirteen story elevator shaft.

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We stopped for lunch just after riding Winnie the Pooh (best lemon and honey cupcake EVER!!) and headed back to to hotel for a nap soon after.  Both kids crashed hard…  And Nathan and I had one of those moments where we almost cried we were so happy.

Well… I did.

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“Do you want to go back to Disneyland?” I asked as soon as the kids woke up.

“YES!”

For once, they agree on something.

“But what about breakfast?” Finny asked, a slight panic in his voice.

“Finn.  It is still the same day.”  This child is NOT accustomed to taking naps in the middle of the day.

Later that evening, we headed over to California Adventure to check out Cars Land.   It really was a sight to behold; Finn and Alice thought it was “really, really, cool” with all the rock formations from the movie.  Nathan and I rolled our eyes since they had zero interest in the real rock formations we had spent hours driving through the day before.  The rides were surprisingly a kick in the pants; I figured bumper cars, spinning tractors and a street that looked exactly like Radiator Springs would be pretty standard faire, but it was awesome.

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While waiting in line for Luigi’s Flying Tires, Alice decided she must braid my hair (just as the two teenage girls were doing in front of us).  She’s got a ways to go before we send her to beauty school.

Alice’s favorite ride of the day was the bumper cars in A Bug’s Land…  Those were exactly as much fun as I remember bumper cars being.  Only slower.  But the kids got to drive, and neither one of them noticed the lame-ness.

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We finished off the night with World of Color (a light and water show) and another trip down the main drag in Radiator Springs.  Every Disney vacation we take, without fail, Nathan always manages to get oddly overexcited about some beverage container…  We have a collection of light up mugs, blinking ice cubes and glowing Buzz Lightyear drink clips awkwardly shoved into the cabinets.  This time, it was the construction cone mug. (By the way, Nathan is not happy with me putting this “stupid picture” of him on Facebook or here.)

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By the time we stumbled back to the hotel that night, we were all cashed.  And still had two more days to go…  On our second day, I managed to showcase my complete lack of coolness – three times – on an epic scale.  One of them involved completely rocking out to “Jump” by Cyprus Hill (a staple of my junior high days) at the Mad T Party… So much so that Finn asked what the hell I was doing.  And that is the tame one.

You’ll just have to wait to see the other two.

See ya real soon!

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