Monday, January 14, 2013

Disneyland Day 5

I woke this morning before 6am, unable to sleep any longer.  I got up and dressed using the bathroom light.  I edited a few things on the trip report I wrote last night.  I ate my breakfast.  I crinkled my wrapper a little.  Then a little more.  I opened the shades a bit.  Then I walked around a started packing more things.  It was 6:30 now and I was still the only one awake.  I knew everyone was tired but it was our last day at Disney! I opened the shades more.  Then I checked facebook on my phone.  Then I stood at the end of the boys bed and shook it lightly with my legs.  Then I shook it again.  As soon as I saw an eyeball peek open I whispered "good morning".  Eventually the boys crawled out of bed, which woke up everyone else and we started our day.

We finally got out of the room about 7:20am.  Magic morning had started at 7 and lasted until 8 so we still had a little bit of time to enjoy early entry into the park. 

By the time we got through security and to the gates it was 7:35 so we booked it to Space Mountain.  On  the way I looked towards the Adventureland rope drop area and saw quite a group of people waiting there.  Indiana Jones Adventure was reopening officially today (it was open on and off yesterday) so I assumed the people waiting wanted to be among the first to ride it today.

Anyways, we headed off to get in a Magic Morning ride on Space Mountain.  We really like the Disneyland Space Mountain but that huge flash at the end, right before the ride photo, is just way too bright!  We end up with closed eyes in almost every Space Mountain photo.  This photo however came out just a little bit better, as the kids knew where the camera was and I told them to ham it up for the picture.

Today we were working off a list of rides and attractions we wrote last night, all the things that we wanted to see one last time before we left Disneyland.  Up next was the Matterhorn.  We got in line for the left side and got in fairly quickly, but the ride was clunky and slower this morning then it had been earlier in the trip.  What a waste of time!

By now Magic Morning had expired and the park was open.  I got a text from Melinda saying that Indy was open and the wait time was 35 minutes.  We headed out through the castle...

... and over to Indy to get a fastpass, then headed straight to Pirates.  I'm not sure why we think this is fun.  Seriously, it's sort of boring.  Then again, it gets us off our feet for 15 minutes, which is a nice break. 

Next up was Haunted Mansion Holiday.  We loved this so much!  All of us in the family really, really enjoyed it.  It made us love Jack Skellington even more.  We would be thrilled to have the Haunted Mansion stay this way year round.  So impressive!  I rode with Brian this time and he pointed out some of the hidden Mickey's he had found while riding it.

Even though we were right next door we decided to pass on Splash, as we didn't want to spend the day wet and all of our clothes were already packed away.  Instead we headed for our last mountain of the day, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  The wait there was short and we were able to wave at the Hunters as we rode by on our train car.  It would be the last time we saw them this trip, as we both had to head home today.

Carissa has been wanting to ride the Storybookland Canal Boats and we knew it was now or never, so we waded through the craziness of Fantasyland and got in line.  It took a while, as it's such a slow loading ride.  Brian and I were completely unimpressed with it.  The kids weren't exactly enthralled with it either.  Oh well, at least we can say that we did it.
We only had three more things on our list - Indy (which we still had FP for), Pirates Lair (which Chase really wanted to do) and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln (which Brian and I wanted to see).  We also wanted to get more of those yummy, tasty garlic fries for Brian and a Dole Whip for Chase.  So here's where we split up.  The kids walked towards Pirates Lair while Brian and I headed for Cafe Orleans.  I told the kids to "book it" (meaning fast walk) it to Pirates Lair, but they "booked it" for about 6 steps and then settled back into their mosey.  I think we actually beat them to New Orleans Square because they were so slow.

It was only 9:50 when we arrived at Cafe Orleans so we inquired about their opening time.  We were disappointed to learn that they didn't open until 11:30 and that no one else in the park sold garlic fries.  :(  That was what we looked like when we realized we wouldn't get those delicious garlic fries again this trip.  Brian and I decided to head to Main Street and look for a few last minute souvenirs, though we didn't have any luck finding what we wanted (well... Brian picked something up but wouldn't share it with me.  I found it under the tree Christmas morning.).  Instead we went to see Mr. Lincoln.  I don't remember every seeing this, though I'm sure we did when I was younger (since it looks like it's been there that long!).  It wasn't as impressive as the Hall of Presidents at WDW, but it was good nonetheless. 

By the time it was over we were receiving texts from the kids.  We were supposed to meet outside Indy at 10:30 but we were running late.  It was 10:45 by the time we got there and we quickly jumped in the fastpass line.  Even with fastpass the wait was still 20 minutes, but that's nothing compared to the horde of people in the standby line.  We're thankful we had the fastpasses.  The ride was okay.  Chase thought it was "awesome", though he likes Indy so it's not a surprise that he liked it.  I thought it was fine, though the ball didn't roll like I remember from previous trips. 
Indy ended up being our last ride in Disneyland.  We headed out of the park to complete our list for today, though we did grab a Dole Whip on the way out for Chase and I to share (Tristan and Carissa both tried it but thought it wasn't good).

Once outside we split up.  Brian and Chase went into California Adventure to grab us some Soarin' fastpasses, as the Disney parks app (which was very helpful!) was saying that fastpasses were being issued for 2:30-3:30pm.  By the time they got in and through the fastpass line they were being issued for 2:50-3:50.  Carissa, Tristan and I ran to downtown Disney to look for those last souvenirs on our list.  We were looking for a specific Imagineering movie that Chase had seen, a CD of parks music, jewelry for both Carissa and I, a World of Color t-shirt for Carissa and an antenna ball for the Harrel's.  In the end we walked away from the World of Disney store with only some jewelry for Carissa.  I couldn't find the movie or a good parks CD (turns out we have 90% of the songs already, since we have the WDW CD, I couldn't find the necklaces I wanted, they didn't have the World of Color t-shirt and I completely forgot about the antenna ball.  Eventually we were able to find the WOC shirt and Chase's Imagineering CD, but we left without the other items.

Chase met us at the California Adventure gates and gave us our park passes so we could all get in.  Our only other thing we had to do at CA was to ride Screamin'.  The standby time was 15 minutes so we stood in it.  Even after all those rides, it still surprises and delights me.  It's such a great roller coaster!

We were all pretty hungry so we grabbed some Mickey head ice creams to share.
finished up our shopping at Elias & Co. and Off the Page (which had a horrendous line, as there was an artist signing pins that day).

We wanted to get Brian a Ridemaker car for Christmas, which was an idea Carissa had a few days ago.  We walked downtown Disney and ended up eating at the Jazz Kitchen express first, since we were still hungry.  Some of us had burgers, some had chicken.  The chicken was better than the burgers and the fries were tasty and crispy.  It wasn't great food, but it was probably a little better than what we would get in the parks.

Next stop was Ridemaker.  The car we had seen was a police car body.  It was $30 for the body, plus any extras we added to it.  We had planned to add radio control to it for the $25 advertised on the sign, only once we took the car up to make it we were told that it didn't include batteries and that if we wanted a battery pack for it then it would be an additional $25.  If we did it Brian was going to want a few extras for his car too.  So what started out as a pretty neat $55 gift had turned into a $100 car that wasn't worth it.  We were both a little ticked that the battery pack was so much extra and that we had got Brian's hopes up (because he really did want it) just to change our mind once the price tag got so high.  I'm still a little disappointed that we didn't do it for him. :(

Time was starting to get short on us so we took the Grand Californian entrance into DCA.  I was working under the impression that our fastpasses were for 2:30, so we started walking that way.  When Brian mentioned that they were actually for 2:50 we stopped at a bench and did our last video log of the trip, telling of our favorite things and just making nonsense for the camera.  It was a fun tradition we had every night this trip and I think we'll look back on these videos and love the moments we captured of our kids personalities. 

It was only 2:30 by now and we still had 20 minutes to wait so the kids headed to Grizzly.  Brian and I were still not inclined to go on a water ride and have to be wet, so we let the kids go alone.  We did offer up the ponchos we had with us.  Carissa took one right away but neither boy wanted to wear one.  They'd never admit it but they probably regret that decision.  Tristan's front was pretty wet but Chase was fully soaked.  I actually squeezed water out of his shirt.  Hours later at the airport it was still wet.  Yup, should have used that poncho! LOL

By now it was time for our Soarin' fastpass.  We got to ride in the front row again, even though it was over to one side.  Brian and I took in the final whiffs of orange scent (and the pine that I like too) and bid our rides at California Adventure goodbye.  We dawdled on our way out... stopped for a last round of churros,
took some random photos (this one is courtsey of Brian's camera, which had exactly 8 useable pics on it. LOL)
We walked through a store then hit the bathrooms.  As we were getting ready to leave the News Boys show came down the street with Mickey in their trolley.  He stood at the far window waving and then moved to the window by me and waved right at the family.  I teared up right then and there.  It really was time to say goodbye.  *sigh* 

We walked out of DCA, then out of the parks plaza, then off the property and to our hotel, depression setting in with each step.  We were looking forward to going home and sleeping in our own beds but we would miss all the fun and fabulous times at Disneyland.

We got back to our hotel about 10 minutes before 4.  Our driver was due at 4 so we sat and waited for him.  And waited.  I later realized that I turned my phone on vibrate, since we were going on Soarin', and I had forgot to turn the ringer back on (I never feel vibrate).  Our driver had called twice saying he was stuck behind an accident on the 105.  When he finally reached me it was 4:15 and he said he was still 12 minutes out.  I was starting to stress it!  Our flight left at 6:16pm, so we needed to get to the airport soon.  I was giving him until 4:30 to get to our hotel and was fully prepared to run across the street to the taxi vans I could see from where we waited.  At 4:30 right on the dot he arrived to the hotel.  He apologized again and explained the accident.  I understand that things like that happen but I was still stressing time.  I wasn't exactly mad but I wasn't happy either.  I just let it go and moved on.  We got loaded up as quickly as we could so we could get on our way but then the driver misplaced his bluetooth and spent a few minutes looking for it.  Ugh!  I was still stressing the time and here we were sitting in the hotel parking lot looking for his bluetooth!  He did eventually get underway without the bluetooth and we did arrive to the airport about 5:10pm. It was plenty of time for that little airport and I was once again thankful that we'd chosen to fly into Long Beach.  We checked in our bags, got through the empty security and into the waiting area in a just a matter of a few minutes.  We ended up waiting about 30 minutes in the terminal before boarding.  I usually like to be earlier than this but it was nice not having to wait for an hour or two in the airport.

I'm typing this now from 38,483 feet in a plane over southern Oregon, 3/4 of the way home.  When we land it's going to be 35-40 degrees, cold and possibly rainy.  What a bummer, as we're still decked out in our shorts and capris!  We do have lots to look forward to these next few weeks - getting a Christmas tree, Christmas concerts, Taekwondo belt testing, etc.  Maybe those will distract us from Disney and how much more fun life is there.

Final thoughts:  This trip brought into sharp focus our thoughts on the Disney parks.  Disneyland is the original and it's got some great features (Carsland, Screamin' and HMH), but it doesn't hold a candle to Disneyworld.  DW has more parks, more great rides, more ambience, better food, better hotels, better everything.  I don't know that we'll go to Disneyland again.  It was actually a bit of a disappointment for us, especially where Christmas was concerned.  After Christmas at Disneyworld and the overwhelming sense of holiday cheer spread there, Disneyland was sorely lacking.  In fact, I'm seeing the need for a re-do trip... since Disneyland wasn't up to our expectations we deserve another shot at Disneyworld.  I don't know if we'll be able to save the money for it in the 2 1/2 years we have left with Chase at home, but we're certainly going to put our effort into making sure we have a shot at it.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Disneyland Day 4 (Part 4)

Once we arrived back in Disneyland we headed towards main street to see how the seating for the 3:30 parade was looking.  I couldn't believe that at 2pm it was already pretty busy.  We snagged a spot on a bench but it was facing the full sun and was not going to be good for sitting in for 90 minutes.  We left the kids there just in case it's all we could find but eventually we found a place on the curb in the shade near the end of Main Street.  We saved a huge spot then messaged Melinda to see if her family wanted to join us.  They did so we spread our stuff (and kids) out to save our spot and settled back for the long wait.  I ran and got a snack for Brian (double scoop cookies and cream in a fresh waffle cone) and a chocolate croissant (I love these in WDW... maybe not quite as good in DL though) for my breakfast tomorrow.  When I got back to the curb we let the kids go explore Tarzan's tree house.  They were gone for a little while and Brian and I just enjoyed relaxing together and eating our treats. 
Eventually the Hunters let me know they changed their mind about coming to the parade so we shrunk down our spot and all just sat together on the curb.  I even bothered a cast member to take our photo... twice, as he didn't include Chase in the photo the first time.
The parade began and it was so neat to be able to see in person what I usually watch each Christmas day in the Disney Christmas parade.

Unfortunately we thought the Christmas parade may actually be better on TV then in real life.  We were all disappointed in the parade, especially because it had just one song the entire time.  We've only seen one other holiday parade back in 2001, during the kids first trip when we went to the Mickey's Trick or Treat party.  That was a FABULOUS parade so I think I expected more than what we got.  Not that great at all.
Once the parade was over we headed to Adventureland, both to escape the crowds and to finally see the Tiki Room.  Chase has been wanting to see it, though Brian wasn't that enthused.  Chase and I assured him that it wasn't as terrible as the one in WDW.  Not sure it was as terrible, but it was pretty close if not. I know it's a classic and I love the song but it just isn't that great of an attraction.
While waiting for the Tiki Room we ran into the Hunters, who were all enjoying their Dole whips.  We caught up a little and then went our separate ways again. 
After Tiki room we walked by Indy, as Chase had seen that it was open with a 35 minute wait.  It was closed down once again by the time we got there.  It wasn't due to open back up from refurbishment until tomorrow so I'm sure it was all soft opening stuff so they could fine tune it a little bit more.
Next up was Pirates, but it was closed down (again!).  Instead we opted to use our HMH fastpasses... until we noticed that the FP line stretched through the whole queue and had about 100 people standing in line out on the sidewalk outside the ride.  We passed on that one too, as we were on a mission to eventually dump all this merchandise at our hotel and order pizza in.  We headed out but stopped at the hub for another try at a castle photo.  Not sure it's any better than the last one though.

Before we could do that we needed to get to one last night time show - the Mad T Party.  It was 5:30 and I thought it started at 6 so we headed right over. 
The lines to DCA were pretty long but we got in and then got photopass photos in front of the tree.  Here's another case where the fastpass photographers let us down.  They positioned us where they wanted us and took our photo, not even noticing that they had put one boy behind the other.  Almost all the photos have only half of Tristan's head.  No bueno.  *grump* 
This is the only useable one in the bunch.

Eventually we went to Gone Hollywood again to look at some purses that I'd been eyeing this trip.  They are Harvey purses made of seatbelts.  They are super sturdy and cute, but also come with a super price.  I hemmed and hawed over them and finally decided on one.  It was the right shape and size for me, though I had hoped for one that wasn't white.  Hopefully this will clean easily! (ETA: One month of use thus far and it's still looking pretty decent.)

While I was shopping the kids caught the Pixar Play Parade.  Then they checked out the animation academy.  Jack Skellington was being drawn next and the kids all really like him so we went for that session at 6pm.

Then the kids were set loose on the Sorcerers Workshop while Brian and I held down a couch in the main building area.  They came back a little later all atwitter with what they did.  They took a "which character are you" quiz.  Chase was Jack Skellington, Tristan was Wall E and Carissa was Belle.  They also took a try voicing a character and singing a song to match the animation.  Chase said "I sing worse than Pumba!", though he did get credit for doing "a good Iago". 

About 5:45 we got in the waiting crowd for the Mad T Party, not really knowing what to expect there.  Brian grabbed the kids a hot cocoa, as it had cooled down some outside.  We met Dee and Dum, who chatted and joked with us before letting us in to the Mad T Party. 
You had to walk through this arch with so much mist you could hardly see. 
I will say that I thought the whole Mad T Party was really neat! I loved the band, I loved the music, I loved the outrageous costumes and fun, eclectic decor. I'm not sure the kids were as impressed as I was. Chase didn't mind singing the songs with me (and we certainly enjoyed belting out Journey's "Any Way You Want It" with the band) but the other three thought it was loud or boring. We walked around a bit, looking at all it had to offer and then decided to just head back to the hotel, after spending only 15 minutes there. Chase stayed behind to enjoy the fun a little longer, though he left 10 minutes after us because the band had taken a break.

We got back to the room and ordered in Marri's pizza.  We enjoyed it together in the room and talked about what we wanted to do and buy tomorrow, as it's our last day (and a partial day at that).  We packed up as well as we could and then they all went to bed before 10pm (except me, as I stayed up another 2 hours downloading photos and writing this trip report).