On Tuesday, we woke, wished Thomas a happy 6th birthday, and headed for breakfast together. There were no tables for 6 people available and we had to sit in a row of tables for 2. This was tricky, and we were relieved when a better table in an alcove became available soon after. That way, someone was able to supervise Duncan while the other raided the buffet. The children all loved the breakfast selection of cereals (including chocolate covered varieties) croissants (again with chocolate options) and plentiful mini-packets of Nutella. Duncan drank hot chocolate with frothy milk and ate croissants. It was all a bit messy and disorganised at our table, but eventually we'd filled our bellies and were ready for the next stage.
At last, we were heading to the park. We bundled into our raincoats, since in accordance with the forecast, it was very wet and cold. Although we would have been allowed to enter certain portions of the park 2 hours early as Disney hotel guests, our particular group make-up prevented the rushing and early rising that would have involved. So we joined the throng and headed in. The first thing I did was to get an Access Card for guests with disabilities, after showing a letter from our GP (which I had written and he had merely signed and stamped!). Then we had to go see Space Mountain. This is one of Duncan's current favourites. He loves watching footage of the ride and films about its construction on YouTube, as well as films created by Roller Coaster Tycoon users, some of which are fabulous. He was in awe of it, and so pleased to be there beside the real thing.
Before we'd left, Duncan had insisted that he'd only go on the Casey Junior ride. I wanted to see if he'd be willing to try any of the others and suggested the Buzz Lightyear one. I stressed that it was not a roller coaster (which are great to watch but much too scary for small boys!) and he agreed to try it. We used our Access card for the first time, and were allowed to join the much shorter FastPass line for the ride. Before long all 6 of us were blasting away with our laser guns at Zurg and his minions. Duncan loved it! Having got a taste of the action, we kept the momentum going by heading back to Fantasy Land and the Peter Pan ride. Again we had only a short wait before boarding our flying ship and heading off over London to Neverland.
Duncan is so familiar with many, if not most of the Disney films. Many times I was reassured that he understood and recognised what he was seeing. The characters and stories are so well known and beloved by him, and it really helped him enjoy the narrative of the rides as well as the various shows we watched.
Duncan was keen to see the ride he was most looking forward to, Casey Junior. We headed over there, both Gordon and I relieved to know our way around fairly well from our previous trip. On the way we headed into the Small World ride, knowing that E. would enjoy it particularly, and she did! Then finally, Casey Junior. Only 3 others were allowed to accompany the Access card holder on this ride, and we had a longer wait to board too. This really tested Duncan's abilities to wait and stay calm, when the train came past him over and over and he wasn't allowed on. It was much easier to be waiting away from the main queue though, since Duncan would have been trying to push past other people.
At last we were on, Duncan next to me, and Lady beside Thomas. Gordon and his mum had joined the standard queue, and waved us off. This was it! This was why we'd gone to all that effort and expense to bring them to Disneyland. Duncan was perfectly happy and I just couldn't help getting a little misty eyed to witness such joy. The photo shows Thomas and Duncan on a later trip on Casey Junior.
We were all hungry and cold so went to the Videopolis to eat some burgers and chips etc. These were OK, much helped by the trays of salad available to green up the burgers.
We wanted to see the Tarzan show, but arrived 45 minutes before the start. Thinking that was far too long to expect Duncan to wait, we walked over to Phantom Manor, and using the disabled users entrance, were able to bypass the most freaky part of that ride (crowding into a room which goes dark before descending to where you board the carriages of the ride). Thomas thought it was boring, and Duncan wasn't too enamoured of it either. Moreover, by the time we got back to the Tarzan theatre, we were too late to be admitted which was a shame. But never mind, there was more to see and do.
Next up was the character tea party I'd booked for Thomas' birthday. Well, I thought I'd booked a birthday party but it appeared I hadn't. This didn't go well, partly I must admit, due to my own grumpiness. We entered the restaurant via the wrong set of doors, well who knew! We had some trouble convincing the staff that we wanted to attend the tea party which we had booked and paid for. We were shown to our table, far away from the buffet, and with 6 chairs squashed around a table for 4. Then we were ignored. Eventually, I figured out that we could just go and help ourselves to the food, but I was a bit riled up by then having tried unsuccessfully to get some help and information from a member of the staff. Next they brought out the birthday cakes, singing happy birthday and didn't bring one to Thomas. WTF! Gordon eventually found someone to find out what was going wrong, and it transpired that I had not booked the birthday meal, merely a character meal. Hmm, not what I thought when I made the booking but if so, the error was mine.
After all that it was hard to settle in and enjoy proceedings, but we managed with the help of Goofy, Pluto and Captain Hook among others who made a great fuss of the children, even Thomas who was a bit miffed at not having the promised birthday cake, but who being such a trooper, kept smiling anyway.
We went on a few more rides, Pinocchio and the very freaky, even dystopian Snow White ride (more cuteness, less oppressive forests please!) before deciding we'd had enough.
For much of the day, Duncan had been riding on my back. I'd considered hiring a pushchair, but decided to try to do without. It was clear however, that he'd benefit form having the refuge of a pushchair just as he often does at home. So Lady and E. went ahead of us while Gordon and I arranged the presumably simple task of hiring a pushchair. Not so. It took ages, and even when it was all arranged, when we were trying to leave, an employee at the exits wouldn't let us out with the pushchair without seeing our hire contract, which unfortunately Gordon hadn't been given. He had to go back and sort that out, which took yet more time. By then I was exhausted, cold, wet and wanted nothing more than a hot shower and a sit down. Eventually Gordon returned with the form, but Miss Prissy on the gate still didn't think it was right.
So I unleashed just a small portion of pissed-off mammyness, and let her know that she had proof that we'd hired the chair, that my child is disabled and stressed out by the waiting around, that we wanted to leave and were within our rights to do so, so could you just let us the hell out!
She complied, but was just a bit too stupid to move back far enough to let me push Duncan out, and I inadvertently rolled a wheel over her booted foot. I apologised profusely, while she rolled her eyes. And silly me, I was just so stressed out that I burst into tears. How embarrassing. Ah well, I got over myself soon enough and we got back to the hotel and met up with Lady and E. again. E. just wanted to stay in her room for the rest of the day, understandably, and she wasn't hungry having eaten at the tea party.
Duncan and Thomas decided to have a bath, and a while later when we were all recharged a bit, we headed to McDonald's where they ate. When they were all in bed and asleep, E. looked after them all again, and Gordon and I went out for an hour to ourselves, a few drinks and surprisingly decent fajitas at the Planet Hollywood restaurant. So ended the second day.