If you are fortunate enough to begin or end a cruise in Long Beach, San Pedro or San Diego, you are just a hop, skip and a jump away from Disneyland. So, continue to treat yourself by visiting the number one attraction in Southern California. While cruising is still the best form of long-term family fun, Disneyland wins the prize for the best place for a day’s fun.

Christmas is the perfect time for family enjoyment. This past holiday we decided to indulge in the ultimate joy of the season with a short,  northbound trip from San Diego to Anaheim, California and Disneyland – the home of Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

There were seven of us in all comprising three generations: Grandma – aged 88, who was making her last visit of a lifetime to Disneyland; her two grown children – one a son, with his wife and their son and his wife, and the other offspring – a daughter with her own daughter. All of us, except Grandma, are annual pass holders – a treat we all happily budget into our financial planning, feeling this perk is a necessary requirement towards maintaining sane mental health throughout the year.

All one has to do is walk through the entry tunnels under the train tracks to feel you have escaped the stress and irritation of everyday life. While crowds are bigger and the waits longer at Christmas, annual passes allow us to visit Disneyland without feeling the pressure to ride as many attractions as possible in order to maximize a one-day, one- or two-park admission fee. Our enjoyment of the scenery alone makes the day all worthwhile.

Christmas time means both parks at the Disneyland Resort – the namesake original and Disney California Adventure are festively decorated – allowing one to smile at each turn with whimsy and joy experienced while eying each newly viewed decoration. The huge Christmas tree in the main square cannot help but cause one’s jaw to drop at its mere size. Each decoration is in itself equally large to match the enormity of this beautiful tree.

The lamp posts each have their own wreaths, and the store fronts are festively adorned, ready to welcome their holiday shoppers. The It’s a Small World ride has to be the best adorned location in the park with its tens of thousands of Christmas lights on the outside to its dolls dressed in traditional Christmas costumes on the inside. This remains my Christmas favorite every year, and a must ride for me no matter how long the lines may be.

Disney California Adventure, or DCA as this park is commonly known, also has an abundance of decorations throughout equaling the beauty of Disneyland. In addition, there are many booths set up up with foods from several different countries selling their holiday fare. These treats are so delicious it is hard to decide which ones to indulge in. This is known as the Festival of Holidays.

While in DCA, Grandma had to go try out the newly themed Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! attraction. She loved this ride when it was decorated as the The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and had to see what all of the excitement was about. Needless to say, she loved it.

She was able to ride it twice and left fully in agreement that this new version is even better than the original. Other guests were in awe of someone Grandma’s age giving this ride a go, but she was not about to let age discourage her from “rising” to the occasion.

Once back in Disneyland, we all thoroughly enjoyed a meal at the newly remodeled River Belle Terrace restaurant across from the Rivers of America. The menu choices, while limited, were delicious. I think between the seven of us, we tried just about everything on the menu from the pulled pork sandwich and BBQ chicken to the warm apple cobbler.

Of course, their yummy tots are done up in ways such as BBQ, pork belly or buffalo style. The service here was amazing. We were pleasantly surprised that the seating was such an added bonus. The tables were spread out so well that you never felt cramped or as if you were part of your neighbor’s family because you were sitting so closely together. We will be back and soon to enjoy this delicious eatery.

We were able to show Grandma around the park in comfort on the train. She was in a wheelchair, but she was allowed to stay seated in it as she was rolled up a ramp right onto the train. This ride was such a treat for her, allowing her the chance to see more of Disneyland this way rather than trying to navigate her through the large crowds in her wheelchair at ground level.

Happiness was in abundance all day, and as the day wore on, Grandma began to wear out just a bit. The rest of us also began a slow drop in our energy levels. This day, however, would be one we will remember and talk about for many years to come.

Grandma was thrilled she was able to have one last visit to Disneyland with her entire family beside her. Disneyland truly has been and continues to be the “happiest place on earth” for the three generations in our family. Thanks for the memories and for all the joy to be had there now and in the years to come!

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