family at disney

Halloween Adventures Part 3: California Adventure

dad with tree

Well… we made it home. I was able to salvage a trip to Arizona by rushing home in time to set up the christmas tree and prep mine and Jen’s costumes for a night of trick or treating in California. The kids had tested their costumes in Utah but Alex had a spare costume ready to go for the big night.

Role Playing

Jen and I decided to go as the punk rock power couple from our childhood, Sid and Nancy. If you don’t know who they are, I highly recommend watching the movie by that same name. I am of course referring to Sid Vicious, the bass player from the Sex Pistols, and his girlfriend Nancy. It seemed appropriate given my history of growing up in the Action Sports Industry and Jen being as far removed from the punk scene as anyone could ever be.

Josh loved his inflatable T-rex costume and it was damn near impossible to get him to try anything else. Lily was adamant she wanted to be a killer clown. Alex on the other hand was refusing to be her Squirrel again so we had to opt for the chucky costume. Luckily it fit and she actually enjoyed wearing it.

The Post-Halloween Hangover

After a long night of trick or treating through our neighborhood we ended up back at home with our neighbors. The kids were passed out in some sort of pre-diabetic coma while Jen and I were pickling our livers with the booze next door. Don’t worry though, we didn’t abandon our kids for the night. We had Uncle Scott at the house watching them so we could enjoy what was left of my vacation.

Apparently during the course of the evening I had agreed to take the kids to Disney California Adventure. Our last trip to Disney was a nightmare but I considered it a colossal win as a parent. The place was so crowded and miserable even the kids were complaining that they never wanted to go back. For all the dads our there thats a MASSIVE win. One day of horrible pain equals never having to do it again… or so I thought.

I awoke the next morning with a headache. The piercing shrill of our 2 year old screaming at 6am for our usual wake up call was all I needed to remind me why alcohol is hazardous to your health. I managed to fight through the psychological warfare of parenting and roll out of bed. Jen was already up and getting ready with a sense of excitement. I knew I was in trouble but I had no recollection as to why.


Every year I take the day after Halloween off. We typically have a late night with the block party and letting the kids binge on candy so I know what I am in for the next day. I sometimes get fired up about terrible ideas when I am…

I had no recollection of why Jen was so excited for the day. She was bouncing around like she won the recent billion dollar powerball and anytime she is in that great of a mood I KNOW I did something I shouldn’t have. Apparently, I agreed to go to disney with the neighbors and the kids. For me, going to Disney is like agreeing to have a vasectomy with a claw hammer.

Jen was already hassling me about getting out of bed when she realized I had no memory of the plan for the day. Despite not remembering, I am pretty good about keeping my word. A text from the neighbors confirmed what Jen had told me and a few minutes later I was soldiering on with the day. I couldn’t shake the feeling I was marching head first into Normandy on D-Day; which of course I assume stood for Disney in the 40’s much like it does for me today.

The Walking Dead

We loaded the van and headed towards the park. It took roughly 20 minutes but felt like an eternity. Driving an extended wheelbase Sprinter we had to be cautious of where to park. If you are heading to Disney I highly recommend the Toy Story Lot of Harbor blvd. It is flat, open and large enough to accommodate oversized vehicles such as RV’s and large vans without issue.

Once parked we joined the masses and walked like a drone ant colony to the shuttles waiting to take us to the salt mines. Passing through the security checkpoint seemed a bit excessive since they didn’t even stop me when the metal detector picked up my belt. They also let Jen through with two sports bottles with water in them. In retrospec I could have eased my hangover if Jen had filled them with a less reputable fluid for me to consume but I digress…

The zombie like flow of the crowd boarded the bus and I took my seat. The bus drove the short distance to the entrance of the park where we joined even more drones. There were no further security checkpoints or metal detectors but we did have to shuffle through the turnstile and submit to a mug shot. Apparently this is to prevent people from passing off their ticket to others for extra access into the park. I somehow wonder if having more people in the park would really detract from the experience when it is already making the firemarshall uneasy on a slow day.

The Emotional Whirlwind

Josh and Lily are used to certain rides given our experience with Knotts Berry farm and Seaworld. Alex on the other hand was too young to do much of anything the last few times we went. This time however she was able to ride some with us.

mom and alex at disney

Seeing her excitement somehow made the headache and “t-virus” subside and make the day more fun. We started out small by going on the Little Mermaid ride. All three Kids loved it despite it broke down twice while we were on it.

The best part of the day was taking Alex and Jen on the giant ferris wheel. They have two lines. One line is for a traditional experience while the other is for one that moves around and swings wildly. Jen has an irrational fear of heights much like my irrational fear of spiders. Naturally, I selected the line that swings and then convinced Jen the ride was going to break down while we were standing in line.

High Expectation’s

We waited for approximately 45 minutes for the wheel. Jen was apprehensive but was doing a great job holding it in. The kids were excited and Alex was about to lose her tiny little mind. We all boarded and the 6.5 of us could fit on one car. The gate closed behind us with a loud clang. Jen visibly jumped when it slammed shut. The whole car is a giant cage which I explained to Jen it was that way for when they fell it would keep you inside and they could find your body easier.

The ride inched higher. I could see Jens anxiety build exponentially as every new car was filled with people behind us. We made it to the half way point when the car began sliding to the end of the rail and began to swing. Alex began to laugh uncontrollably as Jen did her best to fake the excitement. You may be asking “how do you know she was faking it”? Like my TV family hero, Al Bundy, used to say “I’m married… with children” I know when she is faking it.

Survival of the Fattest

We were able to enjoy several rides with the kids and neighbors. At some point the adrenaline begins to wear off and hunger sets in. We opted to head to the Radiator Springs area of the park where there were more food options, and…. people.

If you thought the lines couldn’t get much longer, try checking out the wait times at Radiator Springs. I now feel like I have a firm grasp on where Disney’s valuation comes from on the stock ticker. It blows my mind that there are so many people everywhere we go in the park. I thought as a compromise it would be a good idea to get food since everyone was hungry. Over an hour later we were able to order food.

You may be asking yourself why it took so long to just order food. The reality of locating a place that has enough food options for everyone and then finding a place to sit down can be difficult. Every restaurant in the vicinity was jam packed and no open tables. The tables that were open didn’t have any chairs.

We finally decided on eating at Flo’s. We could order on the app which made it a little more convenient. It meant I didn’t have to physically stand in line to wait but it indirectly forced people to sit at tables and wait. This created a bottleneck and lack of seating. People who were eating were sitting down; people who were tired were sitting down; people who were trying to order were sitting down. EVERYONE was looking for seating so when the food actually came out you had to battle for a chair.

Moving On

All things considered, the kids and Jen had a good time. Me on the other hand, I got to enjoy the fact that they had fun. The second half of the day was just painful. My ankle had already started swelling which made it difficult to walk and stand for any length of time. The crowds had grown exponentially after lunch which made it difficult to find a bench to sit on. Multiple rides had gone down for one reason or another and the kids were tired of waiting in line.

I finally pulled the plug and made the executive decision to head back home. I was able to listen to their stories about who got the most points on toy story, and how they loved the giant Ferris wheel. It was a much needed reality check since I was getting anxious being around the large crowds. The kids shared their excitement with me and it was calming to know they smiled all the way home.

Looking Back

We left for Utah on a friday afternoon. Spent Saturday in Utah getting a tree, riding horses, trunk or treating and going to a halloween carnival. Sunday we drove back to California. Monday we went trick or treating in our neighborhood and passed out candy. Tuesday we spent at Disney’s California Adventure.

I would highly recommend Utah for the holidays. It’s small town charm and sense of community is a welcome change of pace. There were enough activities to keep everyone busy and the majority of them were free.

We were originally supposed to go to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and then to my brothers house in Arizona. My brothers kids were unfortunately sick with whatever plague had set in at his house. Rather than risk infection, we headed back to California. I was ready to make a trip out of it and asked Jen (yet again) if we could take a detour and see Area 51, the extraterrestrial highway and then cut down through Big Pine in California. She vetoed the plan because she thought it would add too much time to our drive. In retrospec driving through vegas on a sunday evening added more time in traffic than it would have taken to see Area 51. I didn’t argue. I just pointed out that next time we were taking a different route home. Stay tuned for that story because it WILL be happening.

California Adventures

Back in california we were able to give the kids their traditional halloween experience. The neighbors were excited to see the costumes and we were able to jump in to a trick or treating group with the kids. They spent the majority of the evening collecting candy and as always they were eager to share it with me.

In a drunken stupor Jen was somehow able to convince me it would be a great idea to go to Disney. I still do not believe I agreed to this. It just doesn’t sound like something I would agree to. Nevertheless I followed through on the plan with a little prompting from the kids. We had a great time teaching the kids how to patiently wait in line. They were able to experience most of the rides they wanted to go on and were also able to eat some decent food while watching lightning mcqueen drive around the park.

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for Disney, it has a place. It is no where near what I remember as a child and the crowds have grown exponentially over the years. Yet there is still a sense of nostalgia and wonder that it still provides. I would recommend visiting on an off day and maybe hope for rain. Otherwise, it really doesn’t make much of a difference when you go. It is ALWAYS crowded now.

Final Thoughts

When I was in college I was walking by a party on my way downtown. There was a drunken frat boy consoling his buddy. The wisdom in his words have never been more applicable than when I tell someone about Disney. With every bit of conviction in his voice he said “if you lower your standards, you will never be disappointed”. They were of course speaking about a recent breakup and how a girl cheated on him. However, I feel much the same when I reminisce about Disney when I was a child. The truth of the world today is the sooner you come to terms with that advice, the more fun you will have.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Advertising Disclaimer: The material appearing on ParetingAdventures.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. does not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site unless explicitly stated within the body of a review or article. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies. may earn compensation through advertisements on the site.