Pamela Baca -- June 2002 -- Disneyland
June 15 - 24, 2002
Cast of Characters:
We made all of our travel arrangements through AAA. We were very pleased with our packages and the little extras that went along with them, such as the pin and lanyard, preferred seating at DCA, upgraded Goofy's Kitchen breakfast, Universal passes, Aladdin's Storytime preferred seating. The only thing we had to arrange was shuttle service to Universal on our third day.
Day One-Travel Day
We started our travel day at about 8 am from Trinidad. We arrived in Kingman and checked into the Days Inn-East. I made the reservations on Expedia.com. The hotel was clean, refrigerator and microwave in each room. There was a pool and hot tub.
Day Two-Travel Day/Disneyland
The second day we left Kingman around 9 am. We arrived in Anaheim around 2 pm after horrendous traffic on the 91 freeway. Check in and parking at the hotel was easy. Half of our party had two corner rooms, which were clean and very spacious. The bathroom was very roomy for a motel. Our room, due its corner location, was cool and a bit dark. Non-corner rooms were smaller. Each room had a refrigerator and microwave. Pool and spa were both available, as was laundry service. The hotel does have a shuttle, but it must be requested in advance. As we found out in later days, the housekeeping left something to be desired. Considering we had not seen the rooms or stayed there prior to our visit, I was very pleasantly surprised. Overall, the Tropicana is a great way to economize your accommodation costs.
We got settled in our rooms and my priority was packing the stroller. I included insulated sippies, rain ponchos, lysol spray, hand sanitizer, and Baby Tylenol, along with the usual diaper bag stuff. We also found Dennis and Sandy, who had flown into LA. They changed their travel package, but couldn't change their airline tickets. We ate at the I-HOP and the burger ($9) I had would have been cheaper inside the park.
As we had several DL first timers, we walked Main Street at a leisurely pace. We checked out the Emporium, sat on the fire engine. We decided Pirates would be a good first ride for everyone. We got the stroller parked and waited 10 minutes. When we went to retrieve our stroller from where we had parked it, we found it had been moved, causing me some anxious moments. When stroller parking is near a walkway and it becomes overcrowded, cast members will rope off longer stroller lanes and move strollers out of walkways.
We then went to the Haunted Mansion. Our biggest concern was getting the Grammys in their Doom Buggies without any mishaps. There was no wait for the ride and we got right in. We mentioned the Grammys to the host at the door and he radioed ahead for us. As it turned out, the Grammys had little, if any, problem at all.
Next we headed for Indiana Jones. The Grammys decided to sit this one out and I parked Hallie with them. The line was fairly short and we got on in less than 25 minutes. We picked up the Grammys outside the ride and proceeded to the Jungle Cruise.
We then decided to stake out a place for Believe! We found seats right along Main Street, on the West side of the hub. After the show, we split up for some shopping and met back on Main Street. 4 balloons later, we agreed we were all pretty tired and headed back to the motel. After this return trip, we realized we had to come up with transportation for the Grammys. They took the shuttle back to the hotel and we ordered Pizza Hut when we returned.
This marked our first full day at DL. The day was very special as it was Grandma Angie's 78th birthday. I had called about 30 days in advance and ordered a cake at the Plaza Inn. We helped ourselves to the continental breakfast at the motel and headed over. The Grammys found out they could not take the Anaheim Rapid Transit, (the red trolleys), to Disneyland, even though they had ridden it back the night before. The hotel provided their shuttle, but it took a while for them to get to DL while we waited at the Transportation Center.
Once inside, we went to City Hall where Grandma got her birthday sticker and a personal phone call from Goofy. We also picked up our pins from AAA. We decided to make the Disneyland Railroad our first stop. I had designed matching t-shirts for all of us from The Disney Catalog. Needless to say, 15 of us all dressed in matching Disney t-shirts commemorating our vacation attracted quite a bit of attention.
By the time we returned to Main Street, Hallie was in desperate need of juice and a new diaper. While the others shopped, we headed to the Baby Center. If there is a haven for weary parents and children, the Baby Center is it. Quiet, cool, Victorian surroundings, large padded changing tables with shelves in a separate room, a sink, helpful cast member hovering about-it's close to heaven! They also have just about every diaper bag essential. They can warm bottles or set you up with a high chair or comfy rocker. It is out of the way if you aren't on Main Street, but it is definitely worth it to make your way over there!
We were all pretty hungry for lunch. We headed for the tables in the Plaza Pavilion and found several available. We headed in different directions-half of us feasted on huge corn dogs from the Red Wagon. The corn dogs are delicious, but expensive. Highly recommended! The other half had chilidogs from Coke Corner.
After lunch, the thrill seekers among us headed for Splash Mountain. We headed for Splash Mountain via Frontierland, where we all detoured at the pin stand. The line for Splash Mountain was well over an hour-85 minutes. We decided to use our pre-issued FastPass, another AAA goodie. We left the Grammys, Hallie and Rob, who has posttraumatic syndrome from our honeymoon at WDW. (I got him on Splash by telling him, "No, this isn't the ride with that big drop. We're on a different ride right next to it.") I made a quick stop at the juice stand for bananas and apple juice for Hallie. The juice stands were great for Hallie-apple juice, bananas, pears, apples. Expensive, but convenient. I loved the pineapple spears and strawberries with chocolate. We waited about 20 minutes, which was great, even before Splash re-vamped. The logs were no problem to get into and I had the "honor" of the front seat. After riding and drying off, we left Critter Country. The place was packed! The wait for Splash Mountain was now over 2 hours and the walkways were jammed. We tried to get on Indy again, but the Fastpass was sold out and the wait was over an hour. We headed for Tomorrowland to fill up time before Grandma Angie's surprise birthday party at 4 pm.
We went right into Honey, I Shrunk the Audience and we waited for Star Tours for about 30 minutes. When we arrived at the Plaza Inn, we let a cast member know we were there and we were escorted to our reserved section. The tables were scattered with suckers, confetti, ribbons and stickers. The cast members took our drink orders and brought out the most delicious cake. The cake was white vanilla with vanilla custard. (When you contact DL Dine by phone, be prepared for several choices in cake flavors and fillings!) The whole restaurant sang to Grandma Angie and there was a huge bunch of balloons for her. Every cast member we encountered throughout the day told her Happy Birthday. She felt like a queen. While we were at the Plaza Inn, we decided eat dinner. I have been to Disneyland several times and had never eaten there. Rob had the 3 piece chicken dinner, with mashed potatoes, cole slaw and veggies. I had the chicken alfredo pasta. The portions were huge and the food delicious. We had plenty to share with Hallie. The atmosphere was relaxing and really gave us a chance to recharge. After another trip to the Baby Center, we headed to Fantasyland.
Fantasyland is much more palatable when the temperature drops. As the day was cooler, we waited for Peter Pan, Pinocchio and Snow White. We did some shopping and found seats for the Parade of the Stars near the Matterhorn. After the parade, we moved to Frontierland to begin the wait for Fantasmic. Some of our group headed off to do Big Thunder Railroad. We waited in front of the shooting gallery and did a little more shopping. We then began to find our seats for Fantasmic's second show.
We started our quest for Fantastmic seats at the start of the first show. We begin from Frontierland and headed toward the Haunted Mansion. We basically formed a human chain with the stroller leading the way. We didn't encounter many obstacles as the Fantasmic cast members kept everyone moving. We kept going until we reached the place where we wanted to sit. We found a place for the Grammys and Hallie's stroller. At this point the first show was about 1/2 way over. We made our way down to where we wanted to go and waited through the rest of the show. We moved through the exiting crowd and then spread out with blankets, purses, hats, etc. From our seats we had a great view of the Believe fireworks. We couldn't hear the music, but the view was fantastic. My best magic moment came when Hallie looked up saw the fireworks, stretched her tiny arms in the air and, with a smile of sheer delight, yelled, "Yay!!" The Grammys, however, could not sit on the ground. We spoke with a cast member who showed us seats for them on a wall next to the preferred seating area. The same cast member approached us to park our stroller, which was in the way of people on the steps. Once we had Hallie out of it, he moved the stroller for us.
I do have to say a word about Fantasmic cast members. The CM who helped us with the Grammys and the stroller was very nice. He must be the only one. Every other CM we encountered was rude and dismissive. I know they probably encounter rude people every 5 minutes or so. But the Disney Way is to be above that. Every other CM at every other attraction was polite and helpful. The Fantasmic CM's are the polar opposite. In this case, it seems WDW has the jump on DL. When I saw the show in Florida, a guest asked a CM how they remain so calm. The CM explained they knew Fantasmic was very popular and people were tired of crowds, hot weather and wait time. She said it was her job to make the experience as pleasant as she could. She said it in a nutshell-"we just have to try harder to make people happy".
We started off this day with a trip to Goofy's Kitchen and a very interesting travel experience. Jerry had been speaking with a limousine driver who had his car parked in front of the hotel. The driver had a routine of waiting at hotels near DL to see if any guests needed rides to the airport or dinner, etc. He agreed to drive all of us to Goofy's Kitchen. The cost was $20.00 total. I went in a put our names on the waiting list. The wait was 45 minutes. We shopped and walked around the hotel grounds. We also took advantage of taking some character pictures with Pluto. The food and the experience was excellent. Both lunch and breakfast were being served, so we had a wide variety to choose from. The selection ranged from breakfast fare-eggs, sausage, bacon, potatoes and homemade omelets to pizza, enchiladas and specialty desserts. The experience was not short on time and it was a good thing we weren't in a rush to get to the parks. We also spent some time finding some private bus transportation to Universal the next day. The DLH helped with that even though we weren't hotel guests. We found a driver for a private bus, which would take us to Universal Studios for about $20 per person.
We took a short walk through Downtown Disney to the Monorail Station and headed into DL. Once in DL, we headed over to California Adventure. The day was already scorching. We made a stop to get Jaden a color band for the rides. DCA has a system where they color code how tall a kid is. Each ride has a color assigned to it telling folks how tall a child has to be to ride the attraction. We also did some pin shopping at Everything Under the Sun.
Our first stop was Muppet Vision 3-D. The show was just starting. Rob and I had seen Muppet Vision in Florida and everyone really enjoyed the show. Hallie enjoyed the show even though she wasn't given 3-D glasses. I took my own glasses off and found the show could be seen clearly without the glasses. She just missed a few special effects, which probably would have been too intense for her anyway.
After Muppet Vision, Hallie needed a diaper change and we were a little early for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire-Play It! Rob and I headed to change Hallie. The rest of the group went to get the Grammys, who were sitting right outside the Hollywood Pictures Backlot. We saw Millionaire and then went back to the "hub". We decided to head to Grizzly River Run. We left Hallie, Rob and the Grammys there at the hub, which we discovered would be a great place to watch the Electrical Parade from. We headed past the winery and It's Tough to Be a Bug. In front of It's Tough to Be a Bug were two cast members trying to get people into the show like carnival barkers. It was very uncomfortable because most people were moving through the area to other attractions or were standing in line to have a picture taken with Flik. My immediate thought was "Are things that bad?"
We realized as we walked to Grizzly River Run that there wasn't much to do. We walked past the winery and through San Francisco, we saw Paradise Pier in the distance, but decided not to go. We stopped for those huge lemon ices, which, along with a good breeze that had kicked up, cooled us all off. The wait time at Grizzly River was almost an hour and the FastPasses were gone, so we got in line. The queue was pleasant to wait in, but the ride was not as wet as we expected it to be. The ride was fun, but there was really nothing to see along the way. We headed back to the Grammys, Rob and Hallie and decided to get some dinner. We ate at the Taste Pilots Grill. Rob had the ribs and I had a cheeseburger and waffle fries. Hallie had the kid's chicken basket, but ate most of Rob's ribs. Several members of our party had the chicken salad and said that was pretty good. The portions were large and the food tasty.
After dinner, we headed back to the Hollywood Pictures Backlot for The Power of Blast. Yes, I know-we missed Soarin' over California. After the long wait at Grizzly River Run, the thought of another long line was just not appealing to any of us, even for the best ride in the park. Yes, we regret this now. Our priorities for that day were Goofy's Kitchen and the Electrical Parade-and that's what we did. The Power of Blast was a great performance. Rob and I had to sneak out near the end for a diaper emergency and caught up with everyone as they exited the theatre. We then headed for the hub to wait for the Electrical Parade.
Waiting at DCA for the Electrical Parade and waiting at DL for the Electrical Parade are not the same thing. DCA simply does not have the same volume of people. At DL, waiting was serious business and people were three or four deep. You staked out seats hours in advance. We were there about 90 minutes early and had plenty of time and space. My sister and I took off shopping to pass some time and pick up our group picture. Hallie had a much-needed nap. Unfortunately, her nap lasted until about 7:00 the next morning and she slept right through the parade. Oh, well, next trip! The parade, however, is everything I remembered it was and it was one of my magic moments. I'd sit on that wall every night for that parade if I could.
After the parade, we split up. Rob took the Grammys and Hallie back to the hotel. Dan, Dennis, Sandy, Jerry, Vicky, Janelle, Marie, Dannette, Jaden and I headed over to DL for some quick rides. Dan, Dennis and Sandy shopped on Main Street, while Jerry, Vicky and Janelle headed to Tomorrowland. Dannette, Marie, Jadena and I headed to Adventureland. We got in line for Indiana Jones and we figured it would take about an hour to get through. We got through the line in a little less time and had time for the Haunted Mansion and Pirates. We stopped on the way out for Cokes and headed home on the shuttle.
Day Five-Universal Studios
This day was our Universal Day. We met our bus at 8:00 am and arranged a return trip at 6:30 pm. We then headed straight for Jurassic Park. There was no line whatsoever and we got right on the ride. Remembering my first ride on Jurassic Park, I stopped to buy rain ponchos. Jerry, Janelle, Jaden and I all decided to get back on and take advantage of the short line. After that, we headed over to Backdraft. Mom and I missed the show due to another diaper emergency and I can't help but think this was actually well timed. The attraction proved too intense for even Jaden, so I was glad Hallie missed it. We then headed to the Special Effects soundstage. This attraction was interesting at times, but was too long. I wouldn't recommend it. We then headed back to the Jurassic Park Café to eat. The food here was very good. It was definitely the best variety of food. We had a teriyaki chicken bowl with rice and beef and broccoli with rice. Rob had clam chowder in a bread bowl. There were jello cups and huge rice krispie treats. The meal was a welcome change from burgers and fries.
During lunch we met up with Dennis and Sandy, who had taken different transportation included in their travel package. After lunch they wanted to go on Jurassic Park and Jaden, my partner in crime, got this gleam in his eye and looked at me. We grabbed our ponchos and headed for ride number three! After this, we decided to split up-Jerry, Vicky, Janelle, Grandma Mary, Dennis and Sandy in one group and Rob, Hallie, Dan, Marie, Dannette, Jaden, Angie, Rose and me in the other. We headed for the upper lot for the tram tour. The wait was relatively short-about 10 minutes. We got to "valet park" the stroller. After the tram tour, we contacted Jerry and his gang and met up at the Spiderman Rocks Show. The show was entertaining and Hallie loved the pink guy, but it was too loud and there was no plot or continuity to it. After the show, we went through the Mummy Returns attraction. It was difficult to see in this attraction and the course was not clearly marked. At one point, I found myself in the backstage area. After that, Marie, Dannette, Jaden and I hustled to Back to the Future before the bus came. The rest of gang decided to finish shopping. The wait was only about 15 minutes and then we headed back to the entrance of the park. Our bus picked us up and we headed back to the motel. We did some swimming and ordered pizza. We got a great deal from Papa Johns, which included 6 large pizzas, breadsticks, salad, soda pop and ice cream.
This was our last day at Disneyland and we had specific plans to meet. Our group split up again. Jerry, Vicky, Janelle, Sandy and Dennis headed off to get in some attractions Dennis and Sandy had missed. Dan, Marie, Dannette, Jaden, Rob, Hallie, the Grammys and I headed to Toon Town for pictures with Mickey and Minnie. The day was overcast and the park was not as crowded, which made for a pleasant day. We took pictures with both Mickey and Minnie. We did some serious shopping at the Gag Factory and did Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin. It was just about lunchtime and we headed for Main Street to eat. We made a quick detour at the Baby Center, I love that place!, and set off to find our lunches again. We did the same hot dog, corn dog lunches at the Plaza Pavilion and we also went to the Blue Ribbon Bakery and ordered sandwiches. These sandwiches were easily the best meal we had. We ordered the ham and cheese sandwich and the veggie sandwich. The veggie sandwich has cucumbers, mild onions, carrots, squash, sprouts and lettuce on fresh bread. This sandwich is so refreshing and was wonderful! Highly recommended.
We also met up with Jerry and his crew. We had a perfect viewing spot for the Parade of the Stars, so we watched the parade again. Jaden wanted one more ride on Indy, so Jaden, Dannette, Marie and I headed for Indy, while everyone else stayed at the Plaza Pavilion. Indy had a 45-minute wait, so we got in line. The ride broke down just as our transport returned. We met the Grammys and Rob at the Tiki Room. (Hallie and Daniel were both napping.) There was only a 5-minute wait for the show. After the show, we returned, pineapple spears in hand, to the Pavilion.
Early that morning Hallie had developed the sniffles and the Grammys were already getting tired. Rob took Hallie, Grandma Angie and Grandma Mary back to the hotel. Dannette and Jaden headed off to drive Autopia, with Jerry, Vicky and Janelle. Jerry, Vicky and Janelle then headed to DownTown Disney. Dan, Marie, Rose and I headed to New Orleans Square to shop. We headed to Main Street after New Orleans Square and then I met Dannette at the Astro Orbiter, where I had the duty of riding with Jaden. Dannette, Jaden and I then headed for the Matterhorn. We did some quick shopping in Fantasyland and then met Dan, Marie and Rose in the front of the castle. Jaden decided to stay with them while Dannette and I headed to Space Mountain to use some leftover AAA FastPasses. We were able to ride twice and then headed back to the castle. There was a line to get our Toontown pictures, so that took a while. We sent Dan and Jaden to the motel and Dannette, Rose, Marie and I headed to the World of Disney. I have never seen a place like World of Disney. It was amazing. I could have probably shopped in there for hours.
There were a few down points about this last day, however. First, the park closed at 9 pm for Grad Nite. I was really disappointed we had to leave early, especially on our last day. That made any final purchases we had to get difficult because Main Street was so crowded. About 20 minutes after we got into the World of Disney, the place was mobbed with people leaving the park. It was elbow to elbow, with people getting very upset and cranky. We finished our shopping and headed back to prepare for Las Vegas in the morning.
Overall, the trip was great! We didn't move through the park as quickly as we were used to. Things are very different with an infant and 3 Grammys along. You find you consider what others can do, as opposed to what you want to do. We did miss a few rides. I missed Soarin', Big Thunder and Alice in Wonderland. We also missed Paradise Pier. We will definitely stay at a Disney resort next time around. We all enjoyed each other and made memories that will last a long time. We thought on the way home we had enough of vacation. That lasted until the latest Disney Club Disneyland travel package special came in the mail with a promo video-1 day later. Disneyland Christmas, anyone?