Now that we no longer live in a major U.S. city, we have a connection virtually anytime we fly. I figured this would affect us sooner or later. Apparently it was sooner rather than later. Our first flight ended up being delayed four hours, which caused us to misconnect in Houston and miss our flight continuing on to Orange County, CA. We ended up spending the night in Houston, which worked out alright because thankfully my husband had a free night certificate with Marriott that we were able to use. We were up bright and early in the morning with a very quick breakfast in the concierge lounge, luggage repacked, and off to the airport.
I love flying during the day because you see so much veried terrain, especially when traversing the U.S. I love coming into the western United States and seeing the mountains starting to rise up out of the flat earth, first as hills, then foothills, and finally over high mountain peaks. As we were coming over California, the peaks were covered in evergreens that looked like you could reach out and pluck them right out of the scene below.
We landed shortly thereafter in southern California. We chose the Orange County airport (code:SNA) due to the fact that it was closer to Disneyland and it's smaller. After years of dealing with Chicago's O'Hare airport we relish the smaller, quieter, easier to navigate airports and seek them out whenever we can.
We were staying at the Anaheim Marriott and took the Super Shuttle from the airport, which was very efficient. It cost $10/person, so a total of $50 for our family of 5. Not too bad considering we were also traveling with four suitcases and five carry-on bags. We would have had a harder time fitting all of us and our belongings into a regular ol' taxi!
We had a little bit of a wait once we checked in at the hotel, as we were upgraded to a junior suite. We ended up with a full size bed, a full-size pull out sofa bed, and a rollaway, with plenty of room to move about. We also had a mini fridge and bar area so I could organize the food I had packed along out of the way. My husband took the kids to the pool so I could get us all organized in the room. The pool area was great for the family: the deepest part was about 4' , located in the center of the pool, with the huge front portion about 2-3' deep. There were plenty of loungers, both in the sun and the shade and a hot tub in the very back. I joined my family for my first bit of Southern California sunshine once I got everything put away in the room.
After a few hours at the pool, we head out to spend our evening in Downtown Disney. Downtown Disney is situated right in between Disneyland and California Adventure, which makes it easy to figure out the lay of the land quickly. We ended up walking to and from Disneyland Resort as it just about a mile from our hotel.
While I was craving some Mexican food and a margarita as soon as I passed Tortilla Jo's, my kids weren't game for that once they spotted the Rainforest Cafe. We wanted to sit outside as the weather was pleasant, which we found out saved us an hour of waiting! We have eaten at the Rainforest Cafe a few times when the kids were younger so we didn't feel the need to sit amongst the jungle animals awaiting the impending thunderstorms anymore.
At this point I should probably point out that all three of our children have food allergies. Our 12-year-old daughter, S, is allergic to eggs and peanuts; our 6-year-old daughter, A, is allergic to dairy; and our 9-year-old son, B, is allergic to dairy, eggs, peanuts, and various raw fruits and vegetables. I have become an expert traveler on traveling with kids with food allergies, but will save that for a separate post. My point in mentioning this is that we were pleasantly surprised at how Rainforest Cafe handled it. When we put our names down, I asked the greeter if there would be a binder we could look through (as many restaurants do)to check ingredients of items on the menu. The lady cheerfully told us that once we were seated the chef would come out and discuss options with us. The chef made my kids super happy by offering a cheeseless/pepperoni-laden individual pizza! For my two dairy-allergic kiddos this was the first time that they ate pizza in a restaurant! I was thrilled for them! Our oldest can have dairy so she enjoyed a regular pizza. We all enjoyed the chips and salsa appetizer as well.
Once our tummies were full, we ventured on to the shops in Downtown Disney. Miss A saw someone with the Build-a-Bear My Little Pony and knew that is what she wanted to spend her long saved money on. About 20 minutes later a very happy little girl emerged with her newly stuffed Rainbow Dash!
We walked back to the hotel around 9 pm as we knew we needed to get our rest for our big day tomorrow: Disneyland!