Whitakers Head West 2016: Part Four

You can read all about our journey from Texas to California, and back, in parts onetwo, threefour, five and six

When we set the alarm for 6am, we kept telling ourselves it was really 8am Texas time. Not sure the kids bought it.

But, when they finally woke up and realized where we were headed, all smiles. LA traffic was kind to us and we ended up being the first batch of crazy people to arrive at the world’s happiest place…


John Paul was clearly impressed.

Staying with friends and family allowed us to make this day possible. They don’t call it the mouse that eats money for no reason. Alas, we got our shirts gifted to us by one of my favorite companies {waving Celebration Shirts}, we packed our own water and snacks and only ate one meal in the park. Because we were traveling so far from home, we opted to pass on bringing in a cooler. We planned it just right. You know me and Disney.

At the last minute, we added Park Hopper to our tickets; it allowed us to visit both California Adventure and Disneyland. Honestly? The best decision we made the whole trip. CA blew Luke away. That alone was worth it. If you’ve been to Disney World, I’d say that park lines up pretty closely with Hollywood Studios which we LOVED. Plus, it was pretty cool to be at Disney for the 60th anniversary.

We started our day at California Adventures, riding Toy Story, California Screamin’, the Carousel and Monsters Inc.




Also, Clare is an adrenaline junkie. This trip confirmed it. She rode that coaster (which turns you upside down) LIKE A BOSS. TWICE. Who does that? I screamed like a little girl, but I rode it!

Then, we jetted right over to Radiator Springs and Luke almost stroked out. I won’t lie. A few of us {ahem, no names} teared up. That alone was worth all the money we spent. Days, daaaaays of Luke’s life have been spent watching those movies. It literally saved us during brain surgery and post-op for all the other times he was hospitalized. Lightning McQueen and Mater will always hold a sentimental place in my heart.


Before the ride, the big boys were all: “This ride is lame.” End of the ride, they were all, “Do we have time to do it again?”






This was a family favorite. The cars “dance” around to different Italian songs. We were thrilled to get our favorite. There may have been fist pumps when the music started.




We even squeezed in some pin trading. My kids adore that part, but it certainly was not as big of a deal in California as it was in Florida.


By far – and of course there’s not pictorial proof – our favorite ride of the entire day was Radiator Racers. Y’all. It takes you on a tour of Radiator Springs in one of the race cars. You see all the gang. Then, your car either goes to get painted by Ramone or new tires with Luigi. Then, you race the other car through the mountains. Just. Like. The. Movie. We rode it four times if that tells you anything.



The thing I thought was really great was the proximity of the two parks. You simply walk across the mezzanine to get to each one. It’s fantastic. We scooted out of CA and over to Disneyland. We kept looking for the castle and when we found it, I won’t lie, we were super disappointed. Texans like their architecture big. Ha! It was beautifully decorated, though, and the park was pretty easy to navigate after having been to Disneyworld. Except, don’t try to navigate during the afternoon parade. That was nuts.




At the advice of a friend, we made reservations at Cafe Orleans and inhaled our monte cristos and pomme frites. We were smart enough to split those sandwiches and fries and just drink water. Gianna fell asleep in the stroller just as we rolled up and I panicked when I saw the “no stroller in restaurant” sign. When I mentioned to our hostess we had a sleeping toddler, she waved us through and allowed the stroller in. I almost kissed her. Sweet G clocked a 90-minute nap, which she desperately needed, and we were all in air-conditioning.

This is where my picture taking falls off.

The heat really ramped up, as did the crowds. We tried to hit some of our favorites but just as we would pull a fast pass, the ride would go down. We did manage to squeeze in Hyperspace Mountain (whoa, was that awesome), Pirates of the Caribbean, Buzz Lightyear, the Tiki Room (oh yes, we got our Dole Whips) and the Carousel. Gianna loved the Tiki Room, actually we all did. Surprise of the day. She almost lost her mind on Pirates of the Caribbean. Mom forgot about those drops!


But, after sweating it out with way too many Disney goers at the happiest place on Earth, we retreated back to California Adventures. Although, at this point, we realized Gianna was missing a shoe. And they were her cute ones, too! Disney tried so hard to find it, even mailing us one they thought was a match, but no dice. At least we didn’t lose a kid.


We had pulled a fast past earlier for Radiator Racers, so we rode it, again. But this time at night. So stinkin’ fun. We took one last long stroll around the park and then stumbled back to the van at 9pm. We had high hopes of staying for fireworks, but the kids’ consensus was to go home. As we pulled into an In-N-Out at 9:30 for burgers, we all looked around and agreed. Best. Day. Ever. There were no sibling arguments (true story), no whining, no fighting, no complaining. The day was absolutely perfect. You don’t get many of those as parents, but to get one on vacation made us feel like we’d won the lottery.

And at 10pm, we pulled in to the Tierney’s house, loaded everyone in bed and collapsed. What an awesome day.

Tomorrow, we roll the dice and make all the dam(n) jokes we want.


  1. Amy Whitaker on September 22, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    What a wonderful experience! I have a sentimental attachment to my son’s favorite movie from when he was teeny. Stuart Little saved us for a couple of years! So sweet that Luke got to be up close and personal.

  2. […] can read all about our journey from Texas to California, and back, in parts one, two, three, four, five and […]

  3. […] are from a company I adore. They outfitted us on our family vacation to Disney in 2015 and to Disneyland last summer. I can’t sing their praises enough. These were a custom birthday shirt design […]

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