This time last year, I was seven months pregnant, and hardly eager to lug a big watermelon belly around a theme park crowded with clans of too-tired kids and harried parents when I could be warm and cozy and comfy and well-fed at my Mom’s house. I thought I’d be wiped out after an hour or two, I wouldn’t be able to ride any of the roller coasters, that the crowds would drive me crazy, that there’d be no good eats in site.
And while I was right about having to skip the coasters, in the end, we all had an awesome time. Thanksgiving is actually a smart time to plan a Disney adventure. Here are five reasons why.
1. Beignets. If you’ve watched this video — or read about our fabulous (and childfree!) New Orleans adventure, you’ve begun to understand my passion for the fluffy, fried sugar goodness that is the beignet. A Southern-fried doughnut originating in the Big Easy, the beignet is real treat: airy dough, a rich chew, and clouds of powdered sugar. Man, I miss them. Like all the time. So who could blame the pregnant chick for saddling on up as soon as we spied the Jazz Kitchen, a hopping little joint on Disneyland Drive, in the open-air mall right outside the theme park. The place had the real deal: Cafe Du Monde beignets and old school chicory coffee. So of course we got a batch immediately, and then a couple more during our three-day Disney adventure. We also introduced the rest of the clan to the heavenly treats — and although no one was quite as enthralled as little ole pregnant me, they all enjoyed them nonetheless. NOTE: Also, Navdeep, please note that we must at some point return FOR THIS. Make it happen.
2. Crowd Control Before we got to Disneyland, I fretted about the crowds. I kind of hate them in any case. But I especially wasn’t loving the idea at seven-months pregnant. Surprisingly, Disneyland on Thanksgiving is not super crowded — because most people prefer to spend Thanksgiving shoveling food and watching football on a big screen. This, combined with the early extra hour perk we nabbed courtesy of our Disneyland resort hotel, meant that we hit the most treasured kids’ rides — like It’s A Small World, the Jungle Cruise and Alice’s Teacups — a couple of times before the park even opened, and then still managed to get in every ride the little ones wanted to try. We also got relatively easy and frequent access to the princesses — and that, it seems, was key for Kavya on this Disney adventure. She was thrilled to be able to see these living, breathing princesses sashaying around the park, stopping to pose for pictures and chat with the little ones. She met Cinderella, Aurora, Snow White, Belle and countless others. She was thrilled.
3. Christmas in November Have you ever seen it snow in November? I have. Leave it to Disneyland to make it happen. Because at Disneyland, Christmas starts the day after Thanksgiving. Literally. (Haha, yes, Navdeep, literally!) In fact, we stayed at the lovely and uber-convenient Disneyland Paradise Pier Hotel, where Santa Claus himself made an appearance on the Friday after Thanksgiving. Christmas trees were all lit up, and the holiday spirit abounded — along with the snow that fluttered down in the early evening. Turns out it was tiny little flecks of sudsy soap. But it was super-fun and very exciting, especially for the Cali residents amongst us.
4. No Black Friday On Friday morning, after having our pictures taken with Santa Claus, we got to have brunch with Mickey, Minnie and the gang — and chow down on Mickey-shaped waffles, made-to-order omelets, sausages, roasted meats, tacos, ribs and all manner of desserts (albeit, no beignets). Plus, lots of fresh, hot vitally needed coffee — decaf for me, of course. This was an awesome experience — despite the LONG wait — because the kids got one last, solid dose of Disney before we hoped in our cars and headed back to Central Cali. We were stuffed and happy. And because we were thoroughly enjoying ourselves that morning, nary a thought of Black Friday madness crossed our minds. By the time we got home, in the early evening, we were all tuckered out and ready for a good weekend’s rest.
5. Gleeful Kids As I mentioned in my denying Disney post, in the end, this trip wasn’t about me or Navdeep or his parents or his sister. It was about the kids. And to them, Disney could not disappoint. They were at just the right age for the experience, and thrilled to be able to share it together. We got to the park at 7:30 in the morning, and Kavya wanted to absorb every little bit of it. She took a short nap on one of the benches during lunchtime, but insisted we stay till the very end, sticking around till 10 for the fun-filled Main Street parade (at which point she conked out on Navdeep’s shoulders). And by the end of that day, at seven months pregnant, I was ready to collapse. But it was worth every second.
6. Family Dinner After our long day at Disneyland, we pondered our Thanksgiving feast, fretting a bit about reservations — or lack thereof. But in the end, we found it. Tired and happy, all ten of us managed to settle in at the lovely Jazz Kitchen (yes, the aforementioned home of the beignet), where we managed to find a big ole table to spread out at, complete with tablecloths and silverware and a customizable Thanksgiving feast. I, of course, had to indulge in the fried chicken, with mac-n-cheese, greens and gravy. Navdeep, meanwhile, indulged in the Turducken — a boneless chicken breast stuffed inside a boneless duck, stuffed inside a boneless turkey, all served with a side of garlic mashed potatoes, turnip greens, and giblet gravy. He assures me it was delicious. It was a meal of rich, decadent food, lots of chatter and plenty of laughs (plus: cheesy garlic bread!). The best part of the whole thing? No clean up! Now that’s worth traveling for!
Any other reasons we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments!