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Pam Baca -- December 2005 -- Disneyland (Offsite)


Cast of Characters

  • Pam, 35, Veteran 15th Trip to DL
  • Jaden, 11, Pam's nephew, Disneyland veteran and fellow lover of all things Disney, 6th trip to Disneyland.

Here we are, yet again, for Pam and Jaden’s yearly Christmas Disneyland trip. It has truly become a holiday tradition, though one that is infinitely more meaningful and fun for Jaden and me than for anyone else. There were a few things that were different about this trip than other trips. For starters, our trip started a full week later than any other trip. Jaden’s mom was adamant that he not miss school, so we had to leave after his Christmas break had begun. That meant entirely new challenges both inside and outside the park, especially with the 50th Anniversary also going on. Secondly, we didn’t book this trip through Tim Larison, our usual travel agency extraordinaire. Tim and his wife, Anne, also travel agent extraordinaire, are certified Disney travel planners. Their designation, which comes officially from Disney, means their trips have to be booked with designated Disney affiliates and, for some reason, the trip was more expensive going through those affiliates. As a result, I got a better deal, about $400 better, on Expedia. However, I did not have the customer service that comes with booking a trip through Disney experts, like Tim and Anne. While our accommodations went off without a hitch, I will probably not book a trip without Tim and Anne again.

Other than a few minor inconveniences we were not accustomed to having, Jaden and I had a terrific time and the combination of the 50th Anniversary and Christmas is a combination not to be missed. Trust us, folks, it’s something to see.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

We started off our trip in Albuquerque, NM, which was part of the reason the flights were more reasonable. (Albuquerque is about 3 hours south of Trinidad.) Having never flown out of the Albuquerque Sunport, (you just gotta love that name!), and it being the weekend before Christmas, I was a little anxious about getting us to the airport on time. To help in this endeavor, I booked a room at the Wyndham Albuquerque Airport under their Park and Fly deal. If you book Park and Fly, you stay at the Wyndham under a special rate and can park your car at the hotel for up to two weeks for just $10. While the Wydham’s Park and Fly rate is a discounted rate, it is a little more expensive than other hotels nearby. However, it is less than 300 yards from the terminal and they have 24 hour shuttle service. And no, we didn’t hear much air traffic. The room there was very nice and the shuttle was prompt, both leaving and arriving. It was money well spent and I saved a few dollars on parking even with the higher room rate.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

We flew out of Albuquerque at 6:10 am. My thinking for this ungodly time was that we would arrive in Anaheim very early in the day and have almost the entire day in the park. We arrived about an hour before boarding, around 4:30 am, and that was a good thing. Once 5 am hit, the front terminal was packed. Luckily, our airline, America West, has self help kiosks that are open 24 hours a day. We simply went up, swiped my credit card and our boarding passes came popping out. We made it through security with minimal fuss. It became immediately apparent to both Jaden and I, not being regular holiday travelers, that the sheer volume of people was huge compared to our other trips. The trip was uneventful and we arrived in Orange County shortly before 9 am, California time. We collected our luggage and found our shuttle. We had a small difficult moment when I handed our driver our signed SuperShuttle vouchers and he insisted I sign a separate authorization to deduct the price of our shuttle from another form of payment. Worse yet, the voucher was blank! As the vouchers had already been paid in full through Expedia, I declined to sign the authorization. When I refused to sign, the driver became rather rude and told me the signature was not necessary. Well, if that was the case, why ask me to sign a blank authorization in the first place?

We made it to our hotel, the Anaheim Plaza Hotel shortly after 9 am. We were too early for check in and the hotel could not accommodate us with a room. They offered to put our luggage in the concierge’s holding room and gave us time to collect our Disneyland necessities and change. They also noted our account that we would be checking in after Disneyland closed. I had been reading on Mouseplanet that Disneyland had been hitting capacity and denying folks entry fairly early in the day during the holiday weekends. As we had Fantasmic dessert seating, I did not want to lose out on that, so I was not about to leave the park until closing. With all of those details ironed out, we were set to go.

For those of you who have never booked on Expedia, you download and print vouchers that are emailed to you or available to your Expedia account once your payment clears. You present them when you need shuttle service, tickets, etc. As a result, we had to present our vouchers at Guest Services in order to get our ParkHoppers, which is just inconvenient. When I booked with Tim, we already had our ParkHoppers and we went directly into the park. We probably spent about 20 minutes in line at Guest Services getting our vouchers and Fantasmic tickets while we watched what seemed like the entire state of California plus a few small countries enter the park. You all know that feeling when you first arrive at DLR—you just can’t wait to get into park. That wait seemed like the longest 20 minutes of my life.

Once we made it through the gates, we secured a locker for our winter jackets. We then proceeded to Indiana Jones, which Jaden declared he wanted to ride first. The park, by the way, just looks amazing. I will never tire of walking through that tunnel and ending up on Main Street. The park was crowded, but not bad for a Sunday morning. The castle, by the way, looks amazing with the bright colors and crowns. We must have spent a good 10 minutes gawking at the tree, at the castle, at the decorations. Sigh—we were home again. We pulled fast passes for Indy and then waited in a 35 minute line, which is pretty good for Indy. After that, we went on the Jungle Cruise, which had a posted time of 10 minutes, and we got to ride in the gold boat. The Jungle Cruise rehab really shows. The new effects and the piranhas are just really cool. OK—I know it’s an older ride and pales in comparison to other E tickets, but it is definitely a classic and the rehab restored some of that old glory. After that, it was time for our fast passes at Indy. After another trip through the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, we headed in search of “adventure and salty old pirates” at Pirates of the Caribbean. The entire queue was rapidly filling up and it became apparent the park was going to be very crowded. Pirates was around a 15 minute wait and it was as exciting as ever.

We decided we needed food after Pirates, but needed a trip to the Mansion first. As most of you know, Jaden and I are Haunted Mansion Holiday fans and we can’t wait to ride it every year. This year was no different. The posted time was 45 minutes, so we pulled a FastPass for about an hour and a half later and then headed to eat. Winnie the Pooh had only a 5 minute wait, so we took a trip to the Hundred Acre Woods before we ate. Once finished with Pooh, we headed to the Hungry Bear for lunch. It was outside of the normal lunch time, but it was a madhouse. Each cash register was having problems getting logged on. It took a good 25 minutes just to order and probably another 25 minutes to get our food. Everyone was jammed in that tiny area behind the cash registers. People couldn’t get in or out and the log jam was making it impossible for other people to place an order. If one needed proof that Disneyland has food service issues, this was it. We finally got our food, found a table and had a good lunch, but the entire process was just stressful. The food was expensive, still doesn’t include a drink, but the portions were huge and the food was good, for burgers and fries. Jaden also had a special order on his hamburger and they got that right.

After our lunch, we headed back to the Mansion to use our Fastpasses. We were still a little early for our Fastpasses, so we stood in line for our first ride and then used our Fastpasses for our second. The Mansion is still it’s wonderful self, but not much changed. The highlight is definitely the new gingerbread house. It is the Mansion with the man-eating wreath on it and the wreath moves. It is truly something to see. After this, Jaden decided he wanted to ride Buzz Lightyear. We decided to take the train over to Tomorrowland. About midway there, Jaden decided we needed to rest, (we had been awake since about 3:30 am) so we decided to ride a full circuit and then get off at Tomorrowland. This sets the stage for my magical moment.

As we pulled into the Main Street station, the conductor mentioned that the Parade of Dreams was just beginning. We decided to get off and watch the parade from the train station, as it was a perfect vantage point. You start off hearing, “Welcome to our family. . .” and then Walt’s voice breaks in “To all who come to this happy place, welcome. Disneyland is your land”. Well, I just lost it then and there. Jaden kept asking why I was crying and finally he says, with a chuckle, “I know--you are just so happy. Merry Christmas, Nan”. That parade encapsulates every reason I love Disney and for Disney lovers like me, yes, we are part of the family and Disneyland is home. It was just amazing and I loved every minute.

Once I dried my eyes and Jaden stopped laughing at me, he got me back on the train, we rode another full circuit to Tomorrowland and headed for Buzz Lightyear. The wait was only 20 minutes. Oh, I love that ride. I had ridden it on my honeymoon in WDW and it was just so much fun. Jaden beat me this first time out, though I vowed revenge. After this we headed to StarTours. We then headed over to the Matterhorn and got on in about 25 minutes. We rode the side of the Matterhorn we had not ridden before and it was tremendous fun. You might be wondering why we had not checked out Space Mountain. When we exited the Disneyland Railroad, we saw a throng of folks exiting Space. It was apparently down with no return time in sight. From the Matterhorn, we headed up the Small World esplanade. The wait was very short there, as the Very Merry Christmas Parade was about to start. We spent about 10 minutes in line watching the parade. I admit the parade is nothing new, but I love it, nonetheless. We had a good ride on It’s a Small World and then decided it was time for supper.

We headed to Redd Rockets for pizza. We had to wait in line to get in, but we entered in about 5 minutes and quickly collected our pizza. We had to sit in the entrance to Space Mountain, across from Honey, I Shrunk the Audience because of the large number of people, but we quickly found a table and called home. We had actually been in pretty close contact with the gang back home via the cell phone and our traditional “Ha Ha, we’re at Disneyland and you’re not” call had been made from the Indy queue. After Redd’s, we headed back to Main Street, collected our jackets, window shopped a little and then decided to sit and wait for the fireworks. Though it was cool, the forecast was for no wind and we decided to wait it out. Take two tired folks, up from about 3:30 am, give them a little hot chocolate and CocaCola and that ground felt pretty darn good. Jaden fell asleep, (Can you imagine that--asleep in Disneyland?) and I just watched the Castle and chatted with folks waiting, as well. The Very Merry Christmas Parade came by again and then the area we were in, the roped off area directly in front of the Castle, just filled up unbelievably quickly. We waited about 2 hours for the fireworks, but I can tell you they were completely worth it. They almost defy explanation. It is just the best fireworks display I have ever seen Disney do. It even beats Illuminations at WDW. Just fantastic. After this we jumped into the throngs of people heading over to the 10:30 showing of Fantasmic via Frontierland, where we had dessert seating. The lines were already formed for Fantasmic, so it took some time, but we did get where we needed to go. Dessert seating is expensive, $56 per adult, $46 per child, but it is so worth it. You do not have to fight for a seat on the ground. We arrived 15 minutes prior to the show, checked in and were seated in great seats. You are served drinks and all the desserts you can eat. Jaden and I probably consumed an entire patch of chocolate covered strawberries. The cast member assisting us also provided us with a “to go” box so I could show the folks back home. For the record, the buffet included chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate dipped macaroons, Mickey crispie treats and short bread cookies filled with raspberries and frosted in purple and yellow stars. You had a choice of bottled water, soda, hot chocolate or coffee. We had great seats and watched the show from a near head on view. The cast members show you different seats and their vantage points and our second row view was actually better than a front row view and we had no one in front of us. Loved every minute of this, totally first class, plan on doing it again.

After the show, we headed for another ride on the Mansion since the line was so short and after that, Jaden wanted to see if Space was back up. We headed over there via Big Thunder Trail and Santa’s Reindeer Round-Up, where I wanted a picture with Claus himself. My nephew, who is oh so almost 12, informed me we were NOT waiting in line to see Claus when we could wait in line for Space Mountain and I was too old anyway, wasn’t I? Regardless of whether you choose to go to Santa’s Reindeer Round-Up, Big Thunder Trail is absolutely magical to walk along. The trail itself is fairly quiet and uncrowded. The trees are covered with multicolored lights and Christmas decorations and you hear Christmas carols as you walk. We ended up using Big Thunder Trail a lot just to walk along that beautiful path. We headed through Fantasyland, made it to Space and found the wait posted was about 45 minutes. Renewed by lots of Coke and strawberries, we decided that wait was acceptable. It was Jaden’s first ride on Space and he was a little nervous. Once, Jaden got on the ride, he just loved it. I kept holding his hand to be sure he was ok and he yelled at me, going down a hill, that I did not need to hold his hand, he loved it! Well, Jaden, so do I! To be sure, not much is totally new, but it was as fresh as my first time and the new soundtrack added so much to the ride. I had forgotten just how much fun Space is. We then headed back over to Adventureland to see if we could get a few more rides in before midnight. We managed to get another ride on the Mansion, a ride on Big Thunder and then headed for home.

This is when the first issue with our hotel came into play. It was just plain far away. Their description on Expedia lists the hotel as being across from the pedestrian walkway to Disneyland. Most Harbor Blvd veterans would think that is the crosswalk to Disneyland. It’s not. There is a walkway to the Timon parking lot from the transportation center that the Anaheim Plaza Hotel is across from. The distance, to be honest, is not far, but when it’s after midnight and you are carrying packages from the park, with a sleepy child in tow, that walk is pretty darn long. It is a bit misleading because the walk is not the just across the street jaunt you’d expect, nor the leisurely, pretty walk through Downtown Disney we were used to. Had I known this, we would have stayed elsewhere. We did, however, find our room waiting, just as promised, but with problem number 2. The room must have been in San Diego it was so far away, the numbering of the buildings was confusing and there is NO ELEVATOR. On top of it, the paths are very dark and overgrown with foliage. It feels somewhat unsafe, to be honest. We had to walk to San Diego, got lost twice, while waiting to be mugged and then trudge up a flight of stairs with our luggage at 1 am. Not fun, not fun, not fun! (I exaggerate, of course. I’m sure no one was waiting to mug us, but we are from Colorado. LA still scares most of us a bit.) The room was clean and very large. It was a bit run down, but not badly. Our room was actually more run down than other rooms, but I didn’t know that until later in our trip. The accommodations were adequate, but Jaden and I were used to better than adequate. The Disneyland Hotel this was not. I mean we got what we paid for, but I think the hotel should have been more forthcoming about itself. The bottom line is that Jaden and I spent 49 of the 52 hours the park was open in the park. The room was the least of our concerns. We literally dropped into bed thinking our PS at Goofy’s Kitchen was going to come way too soon after what had just been a 22 hour day.

Monday, December 19, 2005

And the PS did come way too soon. It came so soon that we ended up canceling our PS and making one for Wednesday morning, foregoing our PS at Storytellers. Since we were up, however, we headed over to the park and got there around 8:30 am. We got a locker for our coats and backpack and went in search of breakfast. Unfortunately, every breakfast place was jammed, so breakfast became churros and Cokes by the Mansion. Not a bad way to start the day. The Mansion wait was very short, so we headed there for our first ride of the day and then headed for Splash Mountain. As you all may remember, I do not like being wet. As this was our DCA day and Grizzly River Run was in our future, we both brought an extra set of clothes and wore water resistant pants. We got two rides on Splash in and were fairly dry by the end of both. We then collected our stuff and headed over to DCA. We took time for some pictures and then pulled Fastpasses for Soarin. We then headed to Grizzly River Run, where we first purchased ponchos. We rode three times in succession and ended up—pretty darn dry, go figure.

We decided to change clothes anyway and then headed over to Tower of Terror. Jaden is a rookie to Tower and I honestly thought he would chicken out, but he didn’t. Yay for Jaden! We even have the picture to prove it. The ride is just a blast and, from both Jaden and I, you must ride it! It is so worth it. We bought our picture and matching t-shirts and then headed back for our ride on Soarin, after first stowing our pictures. I can never get tired of riding Soarin. I still dream about that ride every time I visit DLR. By that time, the churros and Coke had worn off and we decided we needed lunch. The Rainforest Café sounded pretty good since we had missed our reservation on Sunday. We were seated immediately and the food and atmosphere were still very good. Jaden, though, in true Jaden fashion, had to buy a huge monkey that ended up following us around the park the rest of the day. We took a short cut through the Grand Californian and stopped to take a couple of pictures in front of the now infamous tree. It was beautiful?

Upon our return to DCA, we rented a second locker for the monkey and headed over to Paradise Pier. On the way, we pulled another Fastpass for Soarin’. Jaden then took me on this evil little ride called Mulholland Madness that makes you feel like you are going to fall off the end of the earth. And we had to ride twice! We also rode the Golden Zephyr. After that, we headed over to It’s Tough to be a Bug and Jaden did much better this time. We snacked on fresh fruit while we waited for the show to start. It was then time for our Fastpasses at Soarin’ and we headed there. It was quite a wait, as one of the two theatres was down. It didn’t matter. I never get tired of that ride. I just love it. We headed back to see Aladdin, but found out Aladdin is dark during the week, so we headed to the Animation Academy and we had a great time there. We recorded our voices, drew Mickey and spent much time in the Beast’s library. It is a great attraction. We especially liked Turtle Talk with Crush. It is absolutely hilarious and should not be missed. We then decided to sit and wait for the Electrical Parade. Jaden and I got the bright idea, while sitting on the wall, that we had to see the fireworks again. We heard the wind was supposed to be bad the next night, but calm tonight. So, we decided to go back and see the fireworks at Disneyland and see the Electrical Parade the next night. We found the crowds for the fireworks were already huge. We found a tiny spot just left of castle and sat to wait. You can’t believe how many ways there are to squeeze one’s self around a trash can and on top of a tree fence. We waited for about an hour and then they cancelled the show. Oops, that was a miscalculation!

After the announcement that the fireworks were cancelled, we headed over to Space, but the wait was 90 minutes. We then hopped on Buzz Lightyear, as the line was not terribly long for that. I won this time. We then headed over to Adventureland. Every line was just huge and the Fantasmic crowds were starting to grow for the 10:30 show. We got another ride on the Mansion in and then headed over to Big Thunder, but it was down. We headed over to Pirates and got another ride in there. Then we headed down Big Thunder Trail, where I still couldn’t get a picture with Claus, and managed a ride on Pinocchio once we got to Fantasyland. The park was completely jammed. We headed out of Fantasyland via a walkway that takes you through Rancho Del Zocalo and ends up in Frontierland. We looked at several options, but most waits were close to an hour. We decided to head back to the room since we had early entry the next morning. On the way, we stopped by the Tiki Room and it looked great coming back from its rehab, as well. The CM working there took time to give us some interesting Tiki Room facts, which were really good. We collected our stuff and headed back to the room. On the way, we found we had forgotten the Tower picture in our locker. We headed to City Hall who directed us to DCA Guest Services. A terrific CM walked over to our locker and retrieved our picture for us. How great was that?

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The next morning was our early entry and we did all we could before the crowds multiplied. We would have been in the park very early but Pam, the self proclaimed lover of all things Disney, forgot her ParkHopper in the room and we had to venture back. After securing a locker on Main Street and grabbing a banana and Coke for breakfast, we headed to Space and pulled a Fastpass for later in the evening. Then we headed to Fantasyland and rode our favorite rides. We started at Peter Pan, moved to Mr. Toad, then Pinocchio and finally Snow White. We also headed to Alice and the Storybookland Canal Boats, which I think are an even greater marvel during the Christmas holiday with their tiny decorations. And we had to ride the Teacups. Fantasyland is just a great time.

After Fantasyland, we headed to ToonTown to get our picture with Mickey done before our PS at the Blue Bayou. We rode Gadget’s Go Coaster and took our picture with Mickey. We also rode Roger Rabbit, which had a good 35-40 minute wait. After that we headed over to New Orleans Square, via the Disneyland Railroad, for our PS at the Blue Bayou. We were checked in immediately, even though we were about 15 minutes early and were informed, because we had one of first reservations, we would be getting a water table. We went in and waited only about 10 minutes before we were seated. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch, as usual. Jaden insisted on dessert and hey, who am I to argue? We selected a chocolate raspberry cake with Jack Skellington on it. It was delicious.

After we left the Blue Bayou, we made our way to Pirates. It’s our tradition to ride Pirates immediately after eating at the Blue Bayou. We were on and off that ride in about 20 minutes or so. We also took some time to look at the Christmas shop where we picked up our Christmas hats. I had to have the Christmas tree hat that lights up with Mickey ornaments hanging on it and Jaden got a Stitch Santa hat. I was not wearing my hat because of the heat when Jaden reminded me “where else could I wear that hat and not be laughed at?” He was right. I put my hat on. We also made our way over to the Mansion and got in line for another ride. It moved fairly quickly and we were able to ride in about 30-40 minutes. We also decided to pull another FastPass for Splash. We then headed over to Main Street. After my initial magical experience with the Parade of Dreams, I insisted we sit, on a curb, on Main Street, to see the parade again. We made it to Main Street and, despite the warm weather; the curbs were already starting to fill. Jaden staked out a spot and I went to pay for our pictures that we had taken that morning. After I got the pictures, I sat to wait with Jaden and then we moved directly into our prime seating spot right on Main Street 15 minutes before the parade. The trick? We waited right next to the popcorn stand at the Main Street Plaza, right where the Partners statue is and waited for Main Street to be roped off. Main Street itself, the Frontierland/Adventureland side, is roped off at the Plaza to channel the parade toward the Matterhorn. You can sit directly under the rope, right on Main Street during the parade. The minute you see the CM carrying poles and rope, you move directly onto Main Street and just stand until the rope is up. They do this about 15 minutes prior to the parade starting and poof—front row seats, with no 2 hour wait. OK—I’ll admit it happened totally by accident, but it was one of our best accidents of the trip. By the way, the parade was wonderful, again.

After this, Jaden wanted another ride on Buzz Lightyear. We pulled a FastPass for Buzz and then headed in line. Jaden won this time. After this we decided to ride Star Tours. Jaden, as luck always seems to have it, found a card for a free Autopia car. Jaden, as is the case with 12 year olds, decided that he was too old for the AstroOrbiter, (I was not about to argue with that as this is NOT my favorite ride), and Autopia. I have to admit I missed Autopia. After StarTours, we planned our next move. Seeing the Electrical Parade was a priority, so we decided to head over to DCA. Jaden was debating about TOT and decided against it. Had we gone that way into the Hollywood Pictures Backlot, we would have seen that Monsters, Inc was open. We missed it and we both list that as our biggest downer of the trip. We did a little shopping and then stopped to see the Very Merry Christmas parade from the train station, where a group of benches is roped off. After that, we headed over to DCA.

Once in DCA, we decided to get something to eat at the Taste Pilot’s Grill. I had a barbecue chicken and Jaden had a regular chicken sandwich, which he made to order even with the kiosks. A very nice CM showed him just how to do it. After eating, I decided, as this was our last night, that I needed to do some serious shopping for the folks back home. I set off to power shop, while Jaden saved the seats. I picked up almost everything we needed to bring home and lugged two huge bags back to the wall for the Electrical Parade. Soon enough DCA went dark and Electrical Parade music pierced the night. Oh, I love that moment! I could be in DCA every night watching that parade. There is nothing like the Electrical Parade to lift your tired spirits and that’s exactly what it did. After that, we headed back over to Disneyland for the fireworks. We stopped at the Newsstand to drop off our DCA packages and have them held until the park closed. (If you are going to do this, you MUST have your receipt. I had mine in my pocket, which was a stroke of luck.) After that, we headed up a very crowded Main Street. To beat the crowds, we ducked inside the Magic Shop and headed up Main Street from inside the stores. This cut a huge amount of time off our journey and was fairly quick and painless, (read—not a lot of people). We emerged right outside of the Plaza Inn and squeezed in along a rail to enjoy most of the show. We were moved by a CM and ended up right in front of the castle for the finale. After this, we stopped near Frontierland to devise our final plan of attack.

We found ourselves holding three FastPasses—Buzz, Splash and Space. We headed over the Mansion and we waited in a very short line, thanks to the Fantasmic crowds. After that, we headed over to Splash Mountain to use that FastPass. We rode Splash one more time and, as we were heading back, we found a very very short line for the Mansion, so we rode again. It is not unusual for us to try to squeeze in as many rides as possible on the Mansion. After this, Jaden wanted to shop and we headed to Le Bat En Rouge where he picked out a Jack Skellington jacket and small Lock, Shock and Barrels. Two FastPasses in hand, we headed across the park. On the way, we detoured past Big Thunder, just to see how long the line was and it was 15 minutes, so we squeezed one more ride in there. We then headed over to the Matterhorn and found it was down. We ventured through Tomorrowland and decided to use our FastPass on Buzz first. Jaden won the first battle, I won the second, he won the third. I had to go for the tie and I won the last Buzz ride. After that, we headed to Space, extremely grateful for our FastPass. We rode Space and regretted not being able to ride again, but the line was totally out of control. It was a fitting last ride. By this time, it was just about time to go, so we decided to finish our shopping. We picked up our last items and a watch for Pam. We cried on Main Street, as we usually do, and regretted that this would be our last night. It had been wonderful. We made our way back, glad we were going to finish with a trip to Goofy’s Kitchen the next morning.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

We called a cab to take us to Goofy’s the next morning and it was so worth the eight dollars we paid. We were reminded how great it is to be on property and vowed never to stay off property again. We took pictures with Pluto and sipped apple cider while we waited. The food at Goofy’s was great, but we didn’t have a lot of characters come by our table, which was very disappointing. One woman in there was pretty upset about that. We did end up seeing a number of characters after she complained, however. We stopped by the gift shop to pick up some last minute gifts and trade a pin of Jaden’s that had broken. We got a cab immediately, headed back, picked up our luggage and walked out to find our SuperShuttle waiting for us. I got us checked out and we were on our way. Our flights were uneventful, even though we had a tight connection in Salt Lake City, and we slept all the way home. Once we got our bags, we called the Wyndham and they picked us up in 5 minutes. They delivered us directly to our vehicle and we headed home.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Boy, it was crowded! Granted, it was not unmanageable, even Sunday was not out of control crowded, but yes, there were a LOT of people. Prepare yourself, be patient and learn to do what you can with PS and FastPasses. My best tip here is that FastPasses do not have to be used during the exact time they are issued for as long as the earliest time has passed. If you have a FastPass for the window of 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm, as long as it is after 2:00 and the same day the FastPass was issued, you can use it at any time.

The 50th Anniversary is something to see. There is no better time to plan a trip to DLR than right now and you have until December, 2006 to experience the 50th. It is history and simply should not be missed. It is a party every day, all day and it is just so much fun.

We love Christmas at Disneyland. It is such a special time and the combination of Christmas and the 50th just made for an unbelievable time. It was beautiful and the park is simply magical.

Darn! I’m mad that we missed Monsters, Inc! If not for heading in the other direction, we would have seen the ride had soft opened. Even if we had been on that side of the wall waiting for the parade, we would have seen something. Sadness for us.

As good a price as I got with Expedia, I would not do it again. I missed the personal touch Tim and Anne provide. The plans went off without a hitch through Expedia, but I felt that, even with all the information I had, we still did not have all the information we needed to make a good choice about accommodations. The entire experience was just substandard and inconvenient.

Shopping, always a big thing with me. I did remember a large extra bag to pack souvenirs in. This particular bag zips two different ways so that it ends up about ½ inch thick, so that it can be easily packed in a suitcase. I missed being able to send my packages back to the hotel, as you can when staying on property, but I should have sent them to the Newsstand for pick up at the end of the night. The one time we did use that option, it was quick and convenient all the way around, but you must have your original receipt and your claim ticket.

Overall, it was a great trip! We had so much fun and the crowds and inconveniences simply did not diminish our enjoyment in the least. As always, it was time well spent and much needed for both Jaden and I. The bond between the two of us will always be special for both of us. The family, after hearing our report, has decided to go back in September. That should be an entirely new adventure. I think Jaden gave me the biggest compliment when he asked his mom if we could go back next year. She thought he meant the entire family and he informed her, “No, just me and my Nan”. Yes, Jaden, we can, but don’t tell yet, ok?

Pam Baca

Pam.Baca@ssa.gov


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MousePlanet® is not associated in any official way with the Walt Disney Company, its subsidiaries, or its affiliates. The official Disney site is available at www.disney.com. This MousePlanet Web site provides independent news articles, commentary, editorials, reviews, and guides primarily about the theme park resorts of the Walt Disney Co. All information on this site is subject to change. Please call destinations in advance to confirm the most up-to-date information.