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Disneyland Take Three

December 22, 2011 by Victoria Strong
Disneyland Take Three

If you follow us on Facebook then you already know we spent four days at Disneyland last week -- and it was fabulous. I absolutely LOVE Disneyland. In fact, I'm not sure who was more excited about it, Gwendolyn or me -- although my excitement comes from watching Gwendolyn's excitement and she was so beyond thrilled once again. A few years ago I would have never imagined it, but Disneyland is now definitely up there as a can't-wait-to-go-back-to-place. Hawaii has nothing on Disney (okay if we could really take Gwendolyn to Hawaii, sign us up!) But, back to Disneyland... what has become even more special is we always go with Gwendolyn's super best friend, Hayden, and her super awesome parents, Jennifer and Chris. And so on top of all the Disney WOW!, on this trip they also got to have nap-time sleepovers, a dress-up princess day, a makeup party with so much glitter we may be on an episode of Toddler and Tiaras, matching outfits and matching pajamas, hand holding, singing together, and so much fun being side-by-side. Everything is better with a best friend!

As soon as we arrived, Gwendolyn started squawking and tapping those fingers -- "I know where we are and let's go have fun!" For four days straight she grinned the biggest smile. While Bill was checking us in, I rolled Gwendolyn around to look at all the beautiful decorations and the giant Christmas tree. We have never been to Disney at Christmas and lo-and-behold Santa was on the other side of the giant tree. Gwendolyn's jaw dropped. She has been so serious about Santa this year and was very serious about meeting him. What a way to start off the trip! And when Gwendolyn and Hayden saw each other for the first time, they couldn't be separated for even a second. Soooo adorable.

This is the third time we have visited Disneyland and every time we have a new experience. The first time, it was simply taking it all in and meeting the Princesses! The second time it was conquering rides -- even Pirates of the Caribbean! And this time it was all of that, including riding the *new* Little Mermaid ride, and fireworks! The fireworks show is always around 8:45 pm and since our little peanut likes to wake up at 4:30 am (yes, I'm serious), she's pretty snoozy by the evening. As luck would have it, the show was early this time and the super nice secret service looking man led us to a special roped off seating area right in front of the famed castle. Fireworks are nice, I've always liked them, but suddenly it all became overwhelming and I was biting my lip to keep from crying through it. Gwendolyn was in awe. She was mesmerized by everything -- I don't think she blinked until it was over and then she immediately wanted to talk to Hayden about it. On this trip we also had the extra special opportunity to meet sweet Cambria who just turned two. I've been friends with her mom, Danielle, since Cambria's SMA diagnosis over a year ago, but this was the first time we got to meet in person. Cambria is adorable, waved to everyone, danced to the music, and was so excited to be with her friends. And I think we were all proud of Danielle for braving such a big place for the first time, jumping on a ride right away, and just going for it all for Cambira.

Disney definitely knows how to appeal to all that is childhood wonder and Gwendolyn is at the age where she truly believes everything there is real. It makes it pretty easy to be happy simply seeing your child filled with such wonderment. But the other aspect of Disney for us is that for the most part they really go out of their way to make life a bit easier for situations like ours. We have to fight for an awful lot an awful lot of the time and it is really nice to have employees immediately want to do whatever is needed to make us comfortable and make an experience possible for our unique circumstances. In fact, on this trip, not only were the employees kind and helpful as usual, many of them remembered us and so it made it even easier to get on the rides or make our way to more private areas. And when several of the characters remembered the girls, giving Gwendolyn and Hayden lots of extra love, I nearly burst into tears -- especially when Princess Belle said, "I remember you. You came last year for your birthday. I've missed you Gwendolyn." Gwendolyn, of course, rolled her eye up, "Yes, yes, yes!"

Such a special trip and so many little moments stored in my heart.

Picture overload -- just scroll with the arrow and click on image to enlarge.

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