Friday, October 21, 2011

HalloweenTime at Disneyland: Teenagers Unleashed Edition

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure to check out the park in all it's Halloween Time glory. I've said this before, but Disneyland is one of those places that my teenage daughters, 13 and 15, still get as excited about as when they were 3 and 5. What is it about this place that makes them squeal like a couple of toddlers in an all-you-can-eat ice cream store? And here's the true test: A trip to Disneyland still works as an effective bribe, even on a couple of jaded teens. Just one mention of, "Clean up the living room or we're not going to Disneyland" and I practically had to hold them back from shining the hardwood floors with their tongues.

But on our visit this time, my husband and I decided to try something new. With him completely wiped out from grueling couple of weeks at work and me nursing a sprained foot, we decided to let the teens loose on their own, and we would meet up with them periodically to eat and ride a few rides together.

(I realize "let the teens loose" sounds like we were releasing a couple of animals into the wild, but don't worry – we put bells on them so they wouldn't startle the old people.)

And trust me - they certainly didn't mind being on their own as evidenced by how quickly they took off once we said our goodbyes. I was barely finished with my "Don't talk to weirdos" speech before i was looking at their backs running off down Main Street. Plus they were able to get on twice as many rides as they would've if we were with them, holding them back with our slow walk and our refusal to stand in any line that isn't completely in the shade.
They couldn't get away fast enough
And then there's the food. Did you know that teenagers can last an entire day on a churro and a Coke? And who knew they actually don't like sitting down and eating a meal and listening to their parents discuss the wine list while the screams and laughter of the Matterhorn called to them in the background.

But my husband and I had to eat, and we had a relaxing, leisurely lunch at the Uva Bar in Downtown Disney while the girls hit Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Indiana Jones and Buzz Lightyear, all before I had even taken the first bite of my chicken wing. We rode my favorite ride of all time, Soarin' Over California, and then sat on the patio of La Brea Bakery sipping espresso before meeting up with the girls.
We deserve it, after waiting in line for Dumbo all those years
Although we were there to see Disneyland in all its Halloween glory – the scary Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, the awesome Haunted Mansion Holiday (beautifully inspired by Tim Burton and still one of my girls' favorites), the Tower Of Terror (populated with phantom patrons in honor of Halloween) – my girls would still be just as mad-crazy over the place without all the extra ghoulish and spooky touches. In fact, they could be given a math quiz before every ride and that wouldn't dampen their enthusiasm. (Note to Disney: Don't try it, though.)

The rest of the day we spent together - the girls insisted I ride Ariel's Undersea Adventure with them for our first time (my husband opted out of that one)(Newsflash: Men aren't as nostalgic about The Little Mermaid as women are). We were disappointed that California Screamin' was closed for the day, though - that is traditionally a ride that my husband and daughters ride together, while I get to park myself on a bench on the Boardwalk and fantasize about getting a tattoo.

I admit it - I teared up a little hearing my teenagers singing along.
All in all, the unleashing of the teenagers was a huge success, an idea that we've enthusiastically shared with many of friends who have older kids. While we are absolutely not suggesting you let your younger kids run free in the park (can you imagine HOW many churros a 5-year-old would eat if left to their own devices) I think it's possible to have a uniquely adult experience while giving your older kids some (safe) independent time.

At the end of the night my husband and I made a last minute decision to check out the revamped Star Tours ride right before it closed, and we got a text message while we were in line, one that made us laugh  – it was from our girls, telling us to hurry because they were tired and waiting for us by the front gate.

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HalloweenTime is at Disneyland and California Adventure until October 31. (But since when did you need an excuse to go to Disneyland?)

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April said...

I think I get more quality alone time at the Resort than I do at home!

sweatpantsmom said...

April - Right? And the food is better, too.

NorCal Sistah said...

Lol ... love that text message at the end of the day. Sounds like you found a D-Land that Rigel could live with!

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