So... a few months ago I reached out to my Disney travel agent and booked a trip to Universal and Disneyland, told my sister, and then promptly forgot all about it. Until about four days before we were slated to leave. And that's how you get to condense all your typical neurotic energy and planning anxiety from weeks and months to three short (oh my god why are days so short) days of selective laundry and throwing shit together.
I highly recommend it.
We hit this trip HARD. We drove down on a Friday (6 hours) and checked into a hotel that my Beverly Hillbilly clan just could not get over. I finally had to whisper-yell "act like you've been indoors before!" after the third exclamation over the lobby staircase. In their defense, it was a nice hotel. The best part though was the outdoor patio they had with a giant checkers set that inspired literal hours of playing various games and challenges
On Saturday we met up with my sister to go to the La Brea Tar Pits and the LA Abandoned Zoo. I did not have high hopes for either of those adventures but they turned out to both be a blast! At the tar pits you can literally find asphalt (not tar, the place is misnamed) bubbling up out of the grass. We poked a lot of sticks into it. And the zoo was such a cool, unique experience. It's the LA Zoo from the 20s and when it got decommissioned, they just... moved the animals? So now there's all these enclosures you can climb around in. It was gritty and weird and urban and pretty cool for all involved. Also, Eli had paint pens in his bag (I don't ask questions anymore) so everyone got to contribute to the community art.
Sunday was Universal Studios, with an early entry into Super Mario Land (or Nintendo World?) PSA: If you get to the parking lot at 8:00, you won't get to the actual park until 8:30. There were a lot of feelings about that. BUT. Nintendo Land did NOT disappoint. It's every fantasy every 80's kid ever had about being sucked into the original Mario Brothers. There are bricks to punch and everything is bright and cartoony and they have little mushroom benches that were the perfect place to people watch. Unfortunately my sister and her girls ended up stuck on the ride for over an hour in what was not the last ride they had to walk off of, so that was kind of a bummer. But we soldiered on! Sydney discovered a love for thrill rides, I took Averson and my 8 year old niece on the Harry Potter ride that we all loved, and Eli and C spent half the day collecting gold coins and geeking out together. There were a lot of good moments, but my favorite will always be the pure joy on Eli's face after he bought the Toadstool hat.