Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

April 5, 2012

Disneyland In Photos

I surprised the kids with a trip to Disneyland for Spring Break.

I’ll share more of the details on all that another day, today I just want to share some of my favorite images.

So much magic.

We went with my sister & Jeffrey and their daughter Gabrielle and our friend/nanny Katie.

Loved getting the chance to go back to the park at night with Simon and Katie while my sister stayed with the girls at the hotel.

The Bob stroller works for little and big kids.

I’m not going to pretend that the trip was all awesomeness. Three-year-olds, ten-year-olds and adults all get tired and cranky – even (and maybe especially) at the happiest place on earth.

But man oh man was there a lot of joy and magic.

Like Simon getting to do Jedi Training and having a light saber battle with Darth Maul.

Or Anna getting to have a princess makeover.

And then have lunch with the princesses.

Or a three-year-old getting to drive a car and both of us laughing hysterically the whole time.

Really just being together was a big part of the magic.


  • 1.
    Ilona said…

    How much fun! I’m sure Jedi Simon won that battle and haha, I can hear you and Anna laughing in that car :-) – great to see you and the kids having fun. Thank you Ali for sharing a little of that magic on your blog!

  • 2.
    audra said…

    Looks like a wonderful time! We were just there in October (first time) I’m SO glad Simon was able to do the JEDI training! My son did that as well, it was just awesome! Anna makes an adorable princess, love the photo of her getting her nails done!

  • 3.
    Tami said…

    i love that white zip up jacket-where did you get it?

    • ….
      Ali said…

      It’s from Lululemon.

    • ….
      patty said…

      in that picture with the white jacket… ali, you look stunning! so SO beautiful… a moving UP smile for sure!

  • 4.
    Amanda said…

    I’m jumping up and down that Simon got to do Jedi training. And isn’t the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique pure magic?

    • ….
      Ali said…

      We cried. We were really nervous that he wouldn’t get picked even though I had let him know that if he didn’t we’d come back again and again until he did. He was the second to the last to get picked – we were so, so glad and he was so, so excited.

  • 5.
    HeatherC said…

    How fun — Disney is a magical place — we went this spring break too, but to Disney World in Florida — it was so fun and I have so many little stories — I have kids 5 and — we used strollers too — and they had a ball — in fact, my 5 year old’s favorite ride was the Speedway — she loved driving the cars too. We had our share of meltdowns from all, but a trip to Disney is a little like childbirth — there is so much fun anticipation, while you are there there are moments of pain and great exhilaration, but after it is over the pain will fade and it is the magic you will remember — and want to do it again! Glad you had a great trip — I know I am so happy that we financially able to give this experience to our kids.

    • ….
      Ann Marie said…

      What a perfect comparison to childbirth! I love it! :)

  • 6.
    Michelle B said…

    what an amazing trip! looks like so much fun! Everyone does look so happy! I love Simon drinking out of the star wars cup and Anna as a princess and driving a car! Awesome!

  • 7.
    libby gordon said…

    It looks like you all had a great time! Yes, one can even get cranky at the happiest place on earth:) My daughter (she was five at the time) and I met my sister and her youngest daughter at DW once for a princess weekend….it was really fun but we had a total meltdown in “It’s A Small World”….which became even smaller after throwing herself (the 5 y o) down in line, screaming “no flash photography.” Was a pretty classic moment:)

    Glad you had fun and the pictures are great. Can’t wait to hear more.

  • 8.
    dawn said…

    WOW, great photos and memories to be had by all of you. It really is the happiest place even with the few meltdowns. I love the one of you and Anna in the car, she is soooo happy. How awesome for Simon, that was perfect for him. My nieces did the princess makeovers also, love that idea.

    We have been there twice and are trying to get there again very soon. If I could we would go every year. The last time we went Sam was Anna’s age and when we saw the princess they actually made him blush and get all shy. They treated him like a prince and told his sisters how lucky they were to have a prince of a brother. We didn’t do too many rides, they were mostly interested in the shows and meeting characters and getting autographs. Now that they are older we will really enjoy the rides and other attractions even more. It really is magical when you take a litte one with you and they really believe the charcters are real, their faces are priceless when they meet them.

    So glad you got this time away and with your sister also. Thanks for sharing these with us.

  • 9.
    Neelu said…

    We went to Disneyland Paris with our kids for Spring break too! How weird is that! haha

    You are right – it did get a bit cranky in between.. but my husband and kids enjoyed :)

  • 10.
    Neelu said…

    Oh forgot to add – love love love your photos Ali. Love the one in which she is wearing the princess costume and laughing hard! MashaAllah :)

  • 11.
    P.J. said…

    What a joy for Simon (& the rest of you)! My 32 yr old son was (and is) a Star Wars fan. It would have filled all of us with joy to see him dual with Darth Maul when he was Simon’s age. So I understand your feelings. Thanks for sharing.

  • 12.
    Kim said…

    Love the pictures; they bring back memories. And yes, the happiest place on earth is where my son had some of his biggest meltdowns (me too)!

  • 13.
    Ellie A. said…

    OH how I LOVE these bits of shares How fun. You can feel the happy so awesome!

  • 14.

    Oh how fun!! We were there 2+ years ago and one of my favorite parts was the Jedi Training Academy !!! Oh boy did I wish I was a kid again and could do that…the girls were too scared to try and do it but it was so much magic to watch!!

    Love the r2d2 mug…my girls dutifully carried their buzz light year cups around the whole day… and still drink out of them!

  • 15.
    Katie said…

    Oh my! So Jealous!! Disney is my absolute favorite place in the world to visit! I can’t wait until my son is old enough to enjoy it with us!! :) :) Looks like you had a blast! :)

  • 16.
    Cindy Welch said…

    Oh I love the happiest place on earth. Even though I live so close, I rarely go. I loved to take my children when they were little and I am just dying to take my grandkids when I have them. LOVE

  • 17.
    April said…

    Hi Ali,

    We are planning to take our 3 and 6 year old to Disneyland this summer, do you have any website recommendations for planning the trip? Did you prepurchase the passes and do you have a nice hotel to recommend?

    Thanks for sharing these photos, it gets me so excited to take our kids to Disneyland.

    Have a lovely day.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Hi April – I’m planning to talk about more of the details in another post. We stayed at The Disneyland Hotel and it was great – location, atmosphere, pool, etc. We purchased a package that included park passes (park-hopper where you can go back and forth between Disneyland and California Adventure). I don’t have any specific website recommendations – I’ll ask my sister.

    • ….
      Brenda said…

      The Grand Californian Hotel was lots of fun when we stayed there and it has a direct entrance into California Adventure so you don’t have to go through the main entrance. Make sure you use fastpasses so you can get on more rides (at the bottom of the fast pass is where you’ll find the time listed when you can get your next fast pass). At least here in Southern California you can get good priced tickets at Costco.

    • ….
      Renee said…

      We booked our trip last October through Alaska Air. They had the best prices for everything. We were able to get a 6 night vacation including airfare, transfers, hotel, park hopper tickets, and cancellation insurance, and taxes (all for 5 people) for $3000. We stayed in the Best Western right across the street from the main entrance… There’s also a HoJo that is a little cheaper, down the road and it has a great pool area – for those much needed afternoon breaks!
      If you’ve got an iPhone or android, I highly recommend getting the Mousewait app – great resource for planning before and during your trip!
      Another thing that’s a must is the Photo Pass. Disney has there own photographers throughout the parks to take your pictures in from of attractions and with certain characters. Get a photo pass card when you have your first photo taken, then use that card every time you get a photo taken… Your photos will all be saved to the card and at the end of your trip you can buy either just a cd with all your photos, or for the same price you can buy a cd containing over 350 high res stock photos of the parks that also comes with a code to order your photos on e you get home. You can then add col borders and stamps to your photos before you order them :)
      Have fun!!!

    • ….
      Ruth G said…

      April, personally I really like the Unofficial Guides to Disney. They gave me a good sense of what would be good to do and what to skip depending on the type of group you have. It’s not for everyone because there are very organized routes to take, etc, but for our family, it worked really well. Enjoy!

    • ….
      Kristan said…

      First Ali, wonderful photos! I love Disneyland! LOVE it! And I wish I was young enough to be picked for the Jedi Training Academy. My husband I went in October (his first time) and will be returning in July. As for planning, has lots of great info!

  • 18.
    Ann Marie said…

    Ali I am so happy for you all -We went to WDW for first time last Feb with our oldest (7) and had to leave (4) yr old home (PPD-NOS)
    I have been contemplating another trip but to Disneyland and want to bring 4yr old with.
    SOOO glad Simon participated in the Jedi training. I think that was the highlight for me seeing my guy battle Darth Vader. LOVE the pic of Simon on the ride with the sunshine on his face and a Star Wars hoodie on. They should use that in their ads. :)
    I would love a post on more details of where you stayed and any advice for Autism families :)
    PS- the R2-D2 mug is fabulous :)

  • 19.
    Eileen said…

    It’s my favorite place on Earth. And Jedi training sounds pretty awesome too.

  • 20.
    Jo said…

    the pictures that stand out for me r the one with simon and the r2 d2 cup how awesome is that and the black and white princess anna, so cute. glad ur having a fun time,
    jo xxx

  • 21.
    Peg said…

    Wow, Simon looks so grownup in these pictures. That always happens in this 9-11 year old bracket. Suddenly it seems to me anyway. Looks like a great time all around and I’m glad you got away to make some new memories!

  • 22.
    Debbi G. said…

    LOVE Disney! We just did Disney World & my 9 year old did Jedi training too! So much fun! Isn’t it cool to watch them?…could just sit and watch & listen :)

  • 23.
    laura g. said…

    what a fun time! looking forward to reading how you pulled this surprise off!!

  • 24.
    Carolyn said…

    We were at Disneyland last week too! My son considered himself too old for Jedi training, but we still loved watching all the younger kids have a great time while we were eating lunch one afternoon. Its easier with older kids. My two are teenagers now and this was our best Disney trip ever.

  • 25.

    I plan to take my son there I know if there is one place good for Autistic little boys is Disney they really care.
    I don’t know why I got so surprised to see this pictures of Simon, he is so grown up in this pictures, time really flies and I see in the reflection of your blog Ali for so long I read it.
    This pictures makes me want to go to Disney even though with my son I always think would be hard. But I will wait for more details.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  • 26.
    cecilia said…

    Can I just say you amaze me?! Disney land, amidst everything. I love your keep-moving-forward spirit.

  • 27.
    Leanne in CA said…

    So fun! Disneyland is one of my favorite places and my kids love it too. Great photos. Glad you were able to enjoy it with family. What a great surprise!!

  • 28.
    Karin Podolski said…

    My mom used to take photos of children crying and people arguing at “the happiest place on Earth”!!

  • 29.
    Rinda said…

    What great photos – love the fireworks and Simon drinking from the star wars cup especially. I have so many terrific memories of disneyland. And the grumpy parts fade from memory in the long run.

  • 30.
    Kary in Colorado said…

    We were there just two weeks before you for spring break too–such fun! My kids are teens so it is a whole different trip (no meltdowns & many, many rides on California Screaming), but one of our favorite hilarious (now, not at the time!) family stories concerns my now-15yo daughter having a meltdown at age 2 outside of Indiana Jones. So glad you got to do this–great memories for all of you!

  • 31.
    Nicky from Canada said…

    Thank you for sharing. We all know how magical these holidays are but always how difficult they can be at times. All so worth the adventure!!

  • 32.
    Jenny W said…

    So many happy memories! My favorite is the driving with Anna picture…reminds me of the same ride with my kids at the same ages. We have memories of laughing so hard together that we hurt (or maybe that was the bruises from bumping back and forth from kid drivers…) Either way, truly wonderful. Glad you had a good time–and that you’re wise enough to see the good over arching the grumpy moments.

  • 33.
    Trina said…

    Looks like a wonderfully, magical trip. So happy you and your family got to experience it all. Thanks for sharing your amazing photos (you can truly see the magic in them) and I look forward to hearing all the little details as well.

  • 34.
    Mel said…

    I have two kids (now adults) with Autism who are Disney obsessed! We were able to take them to Disney World quite a few times. When we went, we took them to guest services and got a “disability” pass. This allowed us to bypass the lines. There was no way my kids would be able to wait in the lines. This usually meant that we would go in the exit and get on the ride right away. I am not sure if they do this anymore. But we couldn’t have gone to Disney without it. And we made use of the strollers even though our kids were “bigger.” Love Disney!

    • ….
      Ali said…

      They absolutely still do it and it’s the only way to go :) . I’m planning to talk a little more about that in a future post.

  • 35.
    Gayle said…

    Love love LOVE Disney :) got married at Disneyworld in September because we think it’s pretty magical too :)

  • 36.
    Kim said…

    What a wonderful adventure for you! Can’t wait to go for my first time next summe(2013) after my oldest son’s HS graduation.

  • 37.
    Jeanette said…

    We were there last week too! My boys are older 15 & 11, but we love to go to DL.Some days we are there from 8 am until midnight. Love the memories that we make there. Glad you had such a fun time.

  • 38.
    elise said…

    that photo of Anna with her hands out for her nails to be painted… made me tear up.

  • 39.
    Jena Baker said…

    I know it was magically awesome. My hubby and I suprised our kids with a trip a year ago and seeing your pictures brought all of those great memories back. We still talk about it frequently. Disneyland is truly the happiest place on earth.

  • 40.
    Anna-Marie said…

    What absolutely adorable photos. So glad you guys had a good time. I also loved the very honest comment about the trip not being all roses, I am so glad to hear that because I sometimes wonder if my kids were the only ones who would be at Disney and have a not so good time. Makes me feel so much better that it really is just kids and not just my kids and that it is perfectly normal behavior. I have girls so the princess photo’s of Anna just set my heart a beat, would love to see more of that photo of you next to her with your crown on. I am trying very conciously to be a part of the action and not just the face behind the camera. At my daughters last party I made sure to run around with her for a little while and play, we went on the Shark slide together and even got a photo of us coming down at the bottom to prove it. Looking forward to hearing more about the trip and hopefully seeing a few more photo’s.

  • 41.
    Teri H. said…

    That’s so awesome! What a great surprise. You sure captured that joy and magic on your kids’ faces.

  • 42.
    tania willis said…

    :) (we’re going to disney this summer for the first time ever!) these pictures stir up even more excitement! i love how you are in so many of them. also, i’d love to know what kind of camera you toted around and am curious if it was your big one. i’m nervous about taking mine (even though i consider it my every day camera). it’s the only one i have. wondering if i should invest in a little pocket Point & Shoot before we leave. thoughts?

    • ….
      Ali said…

      I brought my big one and was super happy to have it along. I also used my iphone, which I was also glad about :) .

    • ….
      tania willis said…

      wow. thanks for the quick answer ali! and iPhone is on my wish list next time i upgrade (december 2012, i think). anywho. did you just wear the big one on your being at all times? or have it tucked into a safe camera bag/sling? gosh, i feel so clueless. i know i’ll be disappointed if i don’t take it, but i have been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis that is attacking my hands something fierce. so i know holding it all day for 5 days straight (we’re going to Disney World & all associated parks), that i’m at risk for dropping it because of the pain/weakness in my hands.

    • .
      Ali said…

      I wore it most of the time. Sometimes I put it in the basket under the stroller. I’m pretty sure I even had it on for a couple of rides…but I’m also not someone who is extremely careful with my equipment. No camera bag. I use a long camera strap that I can wear across my chest and it hangs to the side/along my hip. It’s a seat belt one from Photojojo:

    • ….
      Jennifer said…

      We’ve been to Disney World four times (we live near Ali’s sister on the east coast). First time I went I took only a point and shoot. It worked well at the time because it was only my husband and I and pictures didn’t consume me. Second time we had one child (7 at the time) and I carried my SLR (film not digital). Pain to carry – yes but worth it. I have great shots from that trip. What I did to carry it/protect it from water was buy a larger camera bag and that did double duty. It held my SLR, film, handy wipes, bandaids, tissues, etc so I didn’t have to carry 2 bags. Third and fourth time we had 2 kids and we carried both a camera bag for our DSLR (just big enough for the camera and lens) and a backpack for other “gear.” I carried one bag and my husband carried the other. Not fun but I’d do it again. Our SLR pictures are wonderful. My advice take the best camera you have that you are willing to carry – hand YOUR camera over to the staff and they will take pictures of you with characters with YOUR camera and that can save you some money. If you’re willing to spend the money to go to Disney and pictures are important to you, you won’t regret the extra “baggage.”

  • 43.
    jodie nelson said…

    WOW! We were at Disney last week and I saw a lady who really reminded me of Ali Edwards and I thought to myself “How stalkerish to think you see people from blogs in real life!!” Now, I am thinking maybe I wasn’t crazy and actually did see you! Ha! :)

  • 44.
    Catherine said…

    I’m feelin’ the magic! The fireworks silhouette-awesome. Anna getting her nails done-priceless. Her happiness is leaping off the screen!

    We just inherited a big box of princess dresses from my sister’s family. Let the games begin!

  • 45.
    Elizabeth*S* said…

    There is something so extra special about Memories created at Disney with cousins! The kids will never forget it! Thankfully our entire family loves Disney. Living in Florida enables us to spend LOTS of birthdays at Disney World! <3

  • 46.
    telisj said…

    Glad you had a great time. You deserve it. I am going to DW in a week & was wondering about cameras too. I have an iPhone and a dSLR but the thought of lugging the big camera concerns me but my kids are older (6, 9 & 12). Thoughts?

    • ….
      Renee said…

      I brought my dslr and a point and shoot along. We used the Passport Sling by Lowepro ton port everything around. It was bug enough for both cameras, and additional lens, two wallets, sunglasses, a small pack of wet wipes, my daughter’s autograph book and pen, and a small water bottle. Even without fully loaded it wasn’t too heavy to tote around all day, and my husband didn’t mind carrying it either :) . You can find it on
      I even took a tripod for capturing nighttime photos of the fireworks and rides with all the lights on…

    • ….
      Renee said…

      Oops! Typos ;) . *to port, *even with it fully loaded…
      Sorry bout that!!

  • 47.
    furrypig said…

    what an amazing trip to have with fab photos to keep all those memories

  • 48.
    alexa said…

    What a wonderful surprise that must have been for them: there’s a lovely Mum. I loved the photo of Simon’s Jedi moment, and Anna having her nails done! So effective to have a colour and black/white mix. Glad you enjoyed your family time too.

  • 49.
    Jen Hart said…

    Great share Ali. Love the photo of you with the great big grin. Go on going forward, it’s inspirational :) I look forward to seeing the details. Love the one of Anna and the makeover and Simon after his star wars experience, smashing. Jen xx

  • 50.
    Paula said…

    Love your photos! Living in Florida, we have taken the kids to Disney many times and made many magical memories as well as some “not so magical ones!” My daughter has Aspergers and before she was diagnosed, we could never figure out why she refused to go on any “inside” rides – but wanted to obsessively spin on the Tea Cups over and over again….now we realize it was one of the many quirks that led to diagnosis. So we enjoy mostly outside stuff…one thing we do sometimes is “transportation day” – we just ride the monorail, and everything that goes up and down Main Street – the double decker bus, the horsedrawn carriage, the train that goes through the park,the go carts, Dumbo and of course the Tea Cups – then we watch the parad, fireworks, and call it a day! We didn’t worry that “lunch with the princesses” actually involved no eating for her, it was the fun that filled us up. (And I got to eat her chocolate glass slipper desert!) Thanks for the chance to relive those memories in my heart today as I enjoyed your photos and post! If you’ve never been at Christmas time, Disney is amazing 1st two weeks of December, and lots less crowded! The decor and the characters dressed for the holidays is awesome.

    • ….
      Ali said…

      Hi Paula – Chris and I took Simon to Disneyworld the second week of December back in 2006 and it was awesome. Really great time of year for sure.

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