Monday, December 29, 2014

California Thanksgiving, Days 7 and 8

The day after Thanksgiving we headed out for the most anticipated part of the trip... Legoland! GG generously gifted us a weekend at the park and resort and everyone was very much looking forward to it.  A quick 45 minutes in the car and we were there.  The resort is pretty spectacular--just about everything is made out of legos (or looks like it is made out of legos). There are piles of legos to play with around every corner.

We were there well before check in time so we ditched the luggage and headed straight for the park.

I wised up and got a double stroller/cart this time.

While there are a handful of grown up/older kid activities, Legoland is most definitely a mecca for the under ten crowd.  The majority of attractions were geared for little kids and so Lou was in his element.  Norah loved it as well.  The park is separated into five or six "lands" and the rides are themed appropriately.

There was a jungle/dinosaur/animal zone.

One of Lou's faves was a station where you could shoot lego frogs with a water gun.

The transportation area (I think it was called Tiny Town or something like that), was what I was most looking forward to.  I had read online and heard from others that the major attraction was the area where kids get to drive their own mini vehicle (no tracks).  Thankfully we timed it just right and didn't have to wait very long.  Norah went in the five and up area and enjoyed the experience but reported it was "not that exciting, it goes too slow."

Louis had to settle for the three to five year old area and he LOVED it.  I was impressed by how well he could drive the car.  Must be all the practice he gets with our neighbor's Barbie jeep.

There were airplane rides Aunt Vanessa was willing to go on.

And a cute boat ride.

More planes.

We were bummed to discover the popular firetruck attraction was gone because the seasonal "snow" village was moved in.  It was crazy crowded but very fun.  The kids went snow tubing and then hung out in this little area with real snow and ice.  They made snowballs, built a snowman, and rode down this little toboggan.

I was really impressed with the gluten free offerings in the park.  Norah ate a hot dog with a GF bun! And the fries were okay too.

I think the most impressive parts of the park are where landmarks and lands are recreated with legos. There is an extensive Star Wars world (probably at least 15+ scenes) that have incredible detail.

They have also recreated just about every major US city as well as a lot of international ones.  The Vegas strip was very, very cool.

Lou only had one meltdown, but it was a big one.  I can't remember what started it but it ended with him basically full on punching me in the face.  He took a time out while Norah and I sat on a bench and he sat on a curb and wailed.  We sat far enough away that more than one person stopped to see if he was lost.  Norah sweetly told them he belonged to us but was being a total jerk.

It all got better when we got access to our rooms and discovered that as soon as the elevator doors shut, a disco ball lights up and dance music starts playing.  We must have ridden that elevator 20 times over the course of the two days we were there and it never once got old.

The hotel is a vacation in of itself.  The first floor is the castle floor, second is pirates, and third is adventure.  We were on the adventure floor and GG/Aunt V were on castle.  Each room has a double bed in the main room and bunk beds in an alcove.  The kids were OBSESSED with the bunk beds.  It didn't hurt that the bedding was really plush and soft and Lou especially just burrowed down into it and didn't want to get out.

Everyone took a quick nap and I went to pick up lunch at the hotel restaurant.  And by pick up lunch I mean I ordered at the bar and enjoyed a glass of wine after telling them to take their time...

The kids were itching to get back into the park, so we knocked out a bunch of fun rides.

Including this giant slide that brought be back to my wayward youth at Western Playland.

Norah was not a fan.

A friend had advised me to make sure we checked out this giant play structure at the back of the park. He described it as a little "Lord of the Flies" but worth checking out.  It was a highlight for sure, both in how awesome it was and the fact that I shaved years off my life by losing Norah for a good ten minutes.

We reunited with the rest of our crew and took the leisure boat cruise around the park.  It was one of the best rides, hands down.

There was a ride we all really wanted to go on but by that time in the evening the line was well over an hour long.  Thankfully we all agreed that none of us wanted to wait in line for an hour, so instead we did this thing where you are responsible for both hoisting yourself up and letting yourself down.

Back at the hotel we had dinner, nightcaps, and let the kids play in giant vats of legos.

Breakfast is excellent (and included with your room), so the line is very long to get into the restaurant in the morning.  Thankfully there were plenty of spaces to keep impatient ones occupied.

I was very impressed by how accommodating the staff was to food issues.  I asked what our GF options were for breakfast and I immediately got a tour of the buffet by the head chef himself and then a personal delivery of a giant GF muffin.

We got early entrance to the park by staying at the hotel and so were able to walk right on rides that we skipped the night before because of long lines.

A good dad is one who rides a tiny train with you.

And/or takes you on the crazy jet ski ride.

There was an aquarium there as well that we got to check out (there is also a water park, but it was closed for the season).

But the biggest highlight by far was the ice skating rink.  Norah waited very patiently for her chance to go and reported it was "one of the most favorite things in my life this far."

Aunt Vanessa earned my undying respect and devotion for volunteering to be the adult that went with her.  We all thought for sure that Norah would take a couple of turns around the ice, maybe fall a few times, get wet and tired and then be done with it.  So such luck.  Girlfriend skated for over an hour. Fell a ton, got soaking wet, and loved every second of it.

Lou was not thrilled by having to wait for his sister to finish but was occupied by the lego jail cell for a while.

The floor near the elevator had a whoopee cushion in it.  Greater joy has never been had.

We spent the rest of the day riding more rides, watching a show, playing with legos, and then gorging ourselves at the buffet.  Best day ever.

We left very early Sunday morning and GG and Aunt Vanessa dropped us off at the San Diego airport.

It was a tearful goodbye, not just because we had to leave them but because we had to spend the next five hours traveling with these two.

One was grumpy but tolerable and the other was insufferable and peed his pants out of spite.

It was a great vacation, better than we ever could have hoped for, and hands down one of our favorite Thanksgiving breaks.

Someone most definitely had the post-vacation blues.

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