Disneyland: Still Magical

When I was a kid we did the same thing every summer. We got in the car and drove from Tucson across the border to Sonora, Mexico and kept driving through the stifling 100 degree heat until we got to San Carlos. It was hot and dry just like Tucson, but with a beautiful beach and lots of friends and family.

A couple of times, though, we did something different. Something so different that it still seems magical. Instead of driving south, we hopped on the interstate and headed west. I don’t remember how old I was the first time I went to Disneyland, but I can remember the photo that has since been lost, from that trip. My mom is hugging me and you can see the whale’s mouth from Pinnochio in the background.

I’ve been back many times since, but to me it’s just as magical. Sharing Disneyland with my kids has been a much different experience. We don’t drive across the desert to get there. We hop on the freeway and a mere 40 minutes later we’re at our destination.

For them, it’s not a very special thing we do every 5 years. When they were little we had an annual pass. We would go to Disneyland and hang out for an afternoon. Now that they are in school we don’t go as often, which makes it that much more special when we do go.

I think this last visit was just as magical for them as it was for me. We hadn’t gone for a while and the trip was a complete surprise. Thanks to run Disney, I was able to participate in the Disneyland Half Marathon. And thanks to Disneyland, I was able to get passes to take my husband and two boys to the park on Saturday.

Now, spending the day walking around Disneyland wasn’t the smartest thing for me to do the day before a half marathon, but it was great for my family. It was the first time my youngest could go on all the rides and had enough energy to last most of the day.

It was also our first time on the new Star Tours. We love Star Wars so for us it was fantastic. It’s in 3D, which I don’t usually like, but it’s very well done here, and there are 54 variations so the two times we went we had different beginning, middle, and endings. Just watching the boys laugh and hoot and holler made it that much more exciting.  If that wasn’t enough, their dreams came true when they were pulled out of the crowd to do the Jedi Training Academy. Even my younger, shyer son battled Darth Vader and both boys were awesome.

I don’t know if Disneyland will hold the same magical place in their childhood as it did for me, but I know they’ll have some great memories.

Here are some pictures from the day.

My older son battling Darth Vader
My baby taking on Darth Vader


Gluten-Free burger and sweet potato fries at the Hungry Bear Restaurant (Here’s more on gluten-free at Disneyland)


Disneyland Half Marathon

This past weekend I completed my first Disneyland Half Marathon. I was invited by runDisney to participate and signed up at the  last minute. I was a little worried that I hadn’t trained enough and because of that I would have a terrible race time.
All of those worries seemed silly as I ran past the starting line and saw Mickey and Minnie cheering on the crowd. Taking pictures soon took precedence over anything else. And there were so many pictures to take.

This was my race BFF.

We met coming out of our hotel rooms and soon realized that we were both running alone. This is what I love about races; you make friends in a minute. We ran together until mile 6 and then unfortunately I lost her. Hopefully she remembered my email address.

The first few miles were fantastic. There was so much to see it hardly felt like I was running.

Stopping for a picture


Running into California Adventure
Disneyland’s Main Street
Running into Tomorrowland
Frontierland where Winnie the Pooh and Friends posed for pictures
It was great running through the park. There were so many employees out cheering us on. And a lot of the Disney characters including Mary Poppins, Winnie the Pooh, and a few Princesses.
A folklorico group entertained the runners
Once we got out of the park the sun started beating down on us, but luckily it was not very hot. And there was a lot to see along the way. Folklorico dancers, cheerleading squads, and high school bands were all along the route plus the runners costumes were so much fun.

Near the end of the race I got very competitive. I sprinted the last three miles while I searched for my husband and kids. I didn’t see them until after the race, but was very happy to see this!

I took the above picture later. My actual time was 2 hours and 36 minutes. Not bad. Next stop, the Tinkerbell Half Marathon!


Gluten-Free in Disney's California Adventure

Sometimes, it’s the little things that can make you happy. Last weekend my husband and I took the kids to Disneyland for my 7-year-old’s birthday. The first night we had dinner at the Grand Californian Hotel’s Storytellers Café. My husband had done some research and found that the restaurant had a gluten-free menu that included a hamburger and fries.

This might not sound that exciting, but my husband has  Celiac Disease and can’t have wheat, barley, or rye. So no hamburger bun and, sometimes, no fries. But the Storyteller Café, and a few other spots in Disneyland and California Adventure, have an actual gluten-free burger with a gluten-free bun. Many restaurants will make a burger with no bun to make it gluten-free, but it’s not the same. And fries are tricky. Some are beer battered (barley and wheat) or have wheat as a filler (annoying).

gluten free burger at disneyland
gluten free burger at disneyland

The rest of the trip did not go so well for me, but I was happy to know that my husband was able to get something that he really wanted to eat. Yep, the little things. It was his first burger with a bun in a restaurant in 10 years. And the bun was actually good. The fries were sautéed in olive oil and they were much better than your average restaurant fries.