We wouldn’t have chosen to go to Disneyland by ourselves, but our good friend and neighbor Kathleen, who is raising her granddaughter right now, has been wanting to take 7-year-old Madison there for years. They are part of our extended family, and our leaving for a year is not easy for them. The promise of going to Disneyland together helped ease the pain of that first goodbye.
Our god daughter, Aly, wanted to come meet us in April, and when she heard about Disneyland, she was thrilled. We’d taken her there when she was five, and it was a highlight of her young life. At 19, she has even more enthusiasm about Mickey Town than she did at five. And she looked forward to reliving some of her happy memories with Madison.
Orangeland RV Park
We found just two RV parks near Disneyland, and Orangeland looked like the better of them. Like many RV parks, it was a glorified parking lot, but this one boasted an orange tree on every site. It was spendy ($75/night for a site with a grassy strip and patio table), but it was well-kept, quiet, and had a good-sized pool, which Madison took great advantage of.
Originally we’d thought Kathleen and Madison could squeeze into Bessie with us. When Aly decided to join us, we rethought that. Even without Aly, it would have been a tight squeeze, especially with an over-excited, talkative 7-year-old. So Kathleen booked a room in the Extended Stay motel across the road, and that gave both families a little down time between very full days.
We arrived at the RV park Monday afternoon, after a horrendous drive through LA traffic. (Poor Kate was a bundle of knots when she stepped away from the wheel.) Kathleen and Maddie walked over from their hotel for a swim in the pool.
Kate had read about RV crockpot cooking on Pinterest – you load up the pot in the morning and set it in the sink while you drive. She loved this idea, so we’d bought a new oval crockpot that just fits in the sink. When I closed the kitchen slide, the counter squished in the crockpot sides a bit, but it still works fine. So that day, while driving through LA, we enjoyed the aroma of cooking pot roast, and we all had a nice meal ready for us that first night.
We’d bought three-day Disneyland passes through AAA before we left Eugene. More time than any adult should need in a crowded theme park, but not enough time for a ride-crazed teenager and child. It ended up being the perfect compromise, and it allowed us enough down time to keep us sane.
Most people I talk with either love Disneyland or hate it. We’d gone three times when the kids were small and even though I normally hate crowds and lines, it was worth enduring to see the joy that lit up the kids’ faces while we were there. I had the same experience this time. Both Aly and Madison were so excited to be going to Disneyland, they could hardly contain themselves. And they were so sweet together – holding hands and skipping down the street together, spontaneously dancing or singing, eagerly racing off together for the next thrill ride.
Of course, no one can sustain that kind of joy for three days, and each of us had our allotted grumpy bumps. By for the most part, we all did great and had a fantastic time together. This was a big splurge for us, and it was totally worth it.
Tips: Go during the week: We went Tuesday through Thursday, and it didn’t really get crowded until Thursday night. Pack lunches and water: A well-timed peanut butter sandwich can avert meltdowns for kids and adults alike, especially when low blood sugar hits when you’re in line for a ride. Take a break: The third day, I went back to the RV park with Kathleen and Madison for some quiet time and a swim and it gave us the energy we needed to shut down the park that night. Bring Advil: the combination of sun, noise, and intense visual stimuli is a petri dish for headaches.