Wendy La Gasse-Anderson -- April 2004 – Disneyland (Offsite)
Cast of Vacationeers
Accommodations: The Sheraton, Anaheim; standard room
We began planning this vacation early last fall; Barb mentioned that she'd like to take her daughter there, and I suggested that maybe we could all take a trip together. (I'll seize upon any excuse to go to Disneyland). The original line-up included Kirsten's dad, but they own a farm and he was concerned about its operation during his absence. That, and he hates crowds, doesn't care for Disney and dislikes theme parks as well. So, Kirsten's doting grandma indicated that she would be more than happy to take his place; she was probably more excited about the trip than the rest of us combined!
Monday, April 5th
Our flight was scheduled to leave at 11:30 am, and we were on the road by 9:00. First stop was the bank to make a deposit and pick up some travelers checks. Half way to the airport I discovered the teller had shorted me by $100, so we had to turn around and go back. Now it's 9:30 and it takes at least 30 minutes to get to the airport; I hadn't flown since before 9/11 and I was a bit nervous about how long it would take us to check our bags, etc. Luckily, there were minimal lines and we only had to partially strip to get through the gates. We met up with Barb, Kirsten and Evelyn at our gate, and got ourselves some lattes. Now I was really getting nervous about the flights... The last time we flew, it was on our first trip to DL, way back in August 2001. We went through Denver, and all four flights were so turbulent that even the flight attendants had to remain seated. I swore I would never fly again, and the next time we went to DL we drove. Then I swore I would never drive again, so we had planned on taking a train this trip. After checking out prices on Amtrak, I decided that the Kids Fly Free at Alaska Air sounded pretty good. We booked our flights, accommodations, purchased 5 day Park Hoppers and made reservations at Goofy's Kitchen and Medieval Times.
Our flights were out of Spokane International to Seattle's SEA-TAC, then on to John Wayne airport. I prefer flying through JW because it's so much closer to DL, and it's a much easier airport to navigate than is LAX. Our flight to Seattle was great; no turbulence and it was on a Boeing 737, not one of those small puddle jumpers. We were just picking up people at SEA-TAC, so after a short time we were on our way to Anaheim! Again, great flight, augmented by several Bloody Mary's and some in-flight chips and dip. We arrived at JW around 4:00 pm, picked up our checked luggage and headed to the SuperShuttle area. We've taken these shuttles before, but I don't remember it being such a madhouse. It was barely controlled chaos; one man was taking names and herding people left and right. We finally got in our van about 5:00 and headed to our hotel, the Sheraton Anaheim.
We had originally booked reservations at the Candy Cane Inn, but decided to switch to the Sheraton for several reasons: it has room service, a lounge, deli, shop and restaurant on-site, and I liked the look of the hotel. (Tudor style castle, with beautiful grounds and even a stream with koi fish running through the lobby). I had read quite a few reviews of this hotel, and knew to request one of the renovated rooms at check-in. The first person helping us basically said no way, and also informed me that the refrigerator I had requested when I reserved the room was not available. Of course, we were given rooms in the old section, facing the freeway. I spoke to another front desk person named Jennifer, and she very kindly searched the computer and found us rooms overlooking the Rose Garden. The rooms were still in the older section, but our view had improved considerably. We lugged our bags to the elevator and headed toward our rooms on the third floor.
Upon entering our room, I was immediately struck by the musty smell I'd read about in so many other reviews. We cracked open the windows (and I mean cracked, as they wouldn't open any more than a few inches) and I sprayed Chanel #5 in a few strategic areas around the room. Now the room smelled like a musty perfumery, but I could live with it. The room was fairly large, although the bathroom was very small, and there was a breakfast bar with a couple of captain's chairs that would come in handy during our stay. The rest of the room was furnished with two queen beds, a club chair, a desk and a long dresser that also served as the television stand. The carpeting was stained in a few spots and could have been vacuumed better, but over all the room was fine. Ours proved to be a very quiet room throughout our stay, excepting the nightly 9:30 pm artillery assault that turned out to be the fireworks at DL. We could definitely hear them loud and clear, and from our room we could see brilliant flashes of light reflected against the buildings that surround the Rose Garden. I didn't mind it at all, but if anyone was trying to sleep they couldn't have been too successful.
We settled in, and then went down to the Garden Atrium restaurant for dinner. Our meal was good, as was the service, but the restaurant has a kind of strange thing about putting your entrée atop a mound of mashed potatoes. Kirsten had the steak sampler, which was served on top of the potatoes, as was Eric's blackened catfish. Tori had her usual, chicken strips and fries, and we ladies all had the spinach salad, which was very good. (Luckily, it was served sans potatoes). We had dinner for six, plus drinks, for around $120 dollars, which I thought was very reasonable. After dinner, the kids went for a swim and then we all headed back to our rooms for the night.
Tuesday, April 6th
The next day we were all up and ready by 10:30. I am not an early morning person, and luckily neither was Barb and Co. We had reservations for brunch at Goofy's Kitchen, so we took the hotel shuttle to DL, and then waited in the security line for 15 minutes. After that, it was another 20 or so minute wait to get into Disneyland. Once in, we worked our way through the crowds and hightailed it to Goofy's. We did pause for pics in front of the 'Partners' statue, and Kirsten had the first of the many, many churros she would consume on this trip. We made it to Goofy's with a few minutes to spare, and our party was called almost immediately. We were seated at a large table in front of the window, and a server came over to take our drink order. Right away, the big Goofster himself came by our table, and he must have known he was my favorite because I got two kisses from him, which Tori thought was hilarious. (Probably because he had snuck up on me, so when I turned my head I was kind of startled). We were also visited by Mulan and Max, but the only other two characters that were there (Baloo and Jasmine) never made it to our table. Considering we were there about an hour and a half, I don't know why we were not able to have more character interaction, but we had fun anyway.
One thing- whoever was playing Baloo was a flat out jerk. He walked by our table upteen times, and despite our repeated attempts to get him to stop he just brushed past us. The only reason we even wanted him to stop was because Tori really loved the character in the original movie, but she finally gave up and said he wasn't a nice Baloo anyway. After brunch, we decided to hit Downtown Disney, and work our way back to the park. We picked up clothes, toys and souvenirs at the World of Disney store, and then just window shopped the rest of the way.
We eventually made it back into DL, and we decided that Indy would be a good inaugural ride for our newbies. First, we grabbed Fastpasses from Pirates of the Caribbean (POTC); the return time was for 7:00 pm. We headed for Indy, where the line wait was listed as 90 minutes, but it really took about 50. Eric had wanted to try and record the ride, but I said no way; I didn't want him dumping the camera. Every time I looked at him, he had his hand held up as though holding a camera, and when we got off the ride he said he was pretty confident he could do it. Whatever. The ride was great; I was concerned it might have jostled Evelyn too much, but she was grinning from ear to ear when we got out of the jeep. We jumped on Jungle Cruise next, as it was right next door and was a walk on. I'm not a Jungle Cruise fan, but it was nice to sit and relax for a few.
The kids were looking a bit tired, so we decided to head back to the hotel for dinner and a swim session. Then, it was back to the park, where we got on the train to take us to the French Quarter. We got in the Fastpass line for POTC and were on the ride in about five minutes. I love this ride; it was my first ride ever at DL, and even though it's not a 'thrill' ride, it's so full of sights and sounds- very immersive. The cm/ride announcer was really funny; he kept cracking Pirate jokes and puns and he had the pirate "arghh" down pat. We floated past the Blue Bayou, and I remembered that I had forgotten to make reservations there. I've never eaten at the BB, and with the crowds I wasn't sure if we would have any success making ressies now. (We did the next day, for lunch on Friday). After POTC, we wandered around the Quarter for a bit, then grabbed a spot for Fantasmic!. Tori couldn't see, so Eric, Barb and I took turns holding her. I am always so impressed by this show; it's just spectacular. When Fantasmic! was over, we stuck around for the 'Believe' fireworks, then it was back to the hotel to rest up for the next day.
Wednesday, April 7th
Today, we planned on checking out DCA, and going to Medieval Times for dinner. We were up and fully caffeinated by 10:30, and by 11:15 we were standing in front of an expresso stand in DCA, confusing the poor CM. with our complex drink orders. By the time we had drinks in hand, Tori had remembered that there was a restaurant that served Happy Meals nearby, so we strolled on down toward Paradise Pier. Along the way, a small Mulan themed parade began, so we got Mushu's autograph. After scoring the Happy Meal (which cost nearly $6.00; almost triple what it is at home), we decided to try Grizzly River Run, which has never been running any of the times we've been there. The line was very long, but we decided to wait, as we didn't know when we would be coming back. It took about 90 minutes, but we finally got our turn. It's a good thing it was a bit hot out, because we got completely soaked by the big geyser near the end of the ride.
After GRR, we went over to A Bugs Land to see "It's Tough to be a Bug", which everyone loved. We checked our watches and realized we had only an hour before our taxi to Medieval Times, so we hurried on back to the hotel. Once there, we discovered the maid was just getting to our room; it was 4:00, and we had to be ready by 4:30. We thanked her and hustled her out so we could change and try to fix our GRR-soaked hair. We were a few minutes late to the lobby, but our taxi/shuttle was waiting.
Now, the bellhop had recommended John's Taxi, and the driver seemed pleasant enough. He assured us he would be back by 8:00 pm, and said we could pay him then. (Total cost was $40.00, and we were going to tip him $10.00). More on this later. When we went up to the hostess and gave her our reservation number, she said that the numbers had been changed and didn't they call and assign us a new one? I said no, in fact they had not even taken our phone number when I placed the reservation. After a lot of searching and conferring with her co-workers, she allowed us to go in. After our rocky start, we wound up having a really great time. The food was so-so, but the show was a lot of fun. Tori loved not having any utensils to eat with, and Eric loved being able to call our server 'wench' and not getting slapped. Being total tourists, we bought the pictures and flags and necklaces and souvenir glasses...
Several hundred dollars (and straight shots of Cuervo Gold) later, we exited the building. (Oh, and our knight guy won the tournament!) However, our taxi guy was a no-show. We waited around for quite a while, until another driver took pity on us and offered to drive us back to our hotel. He was only going to charge us $16.00 for all six of us, but we paid him the $50.00 we would have paid John. So, if you need a taxi, call Derek at California Yellow Cab. He was really nice, and we appreciated it. We decided to take the girls swimming, and on the way to the pool we stopped by the lounge for a few more Corona and Cuervos.
We woke up feeling a lot better than we deserved to, and were ready to hit the shuttle by 11:00. On our way out of the lobby, I stopped off to clear up a persistent problem that we were having with the front desk; they kept losing our credit imprint, and you can't make calls without leaving one for deposit. After clearing that up, we got on the shuttle. Our driver was Thaddeus, a very nice, energetic silver haired man who quickly became our favorite driver. He was determined to never leave anyone behind, and so we learned to squeeze in and have the kids sit on our laps when necessary, which we did not mind a bit. His enthusiasm and good humor was infectious, and I hope the Sheraton knows what a great employee they have in him!
Once we were inside DL, we headed for the Blue Ribbon Bakery for some cinnamon twists and expresso. (Tori and Kirsten had popcorn and churros). We were wandering through Critter Country and noticed that the Mark Twain was about to load, so we hopped on. We've never been on either the Twain or the Columbia, so this trip we wanted to do both. It was a nice ride through the Rivers of America, and the ship is beautiful. Next, we ran over to Splash Mountain for Fastpasses, and then picked up some for the Haunted Mansion as well. Our return time for Splash wasn't until 9:40 that night, but the Mansion was for 1:30, so we decided to see what the line for Pooh was like. It was a 35 minute wait, so we got in line. It is a sweet ride, but not worth the wait, and I don't think that much funding was invested in it. It's okay for really little kids, but it could have been a better ride. By now it was time for Haunted Mansion, but when we got there, it had just been shut down due to technical difficulties. We went over to a parasol stand, where they hand paint parasols, and ordered a large one for Kirsten and a small one for Tori's doll. (She already has a large one from our last trip). We checked back at HM, and it was running, so we went on in. The kids especially liked the end of the ride, when you pick up your ghostly hitchhiker.
Everyone was hungry by now, so we wandered over to the Hungry Bear Restaurant. We sat near the water, and watched the canoes float by as we ate our lunch. Afterwards, we decided to take the monorail to Downtown Disney, even though the lines were long and the wait over an hour. We took the girls to Build A Bear, where Tori built a little ballerina bunny and Kirsten created a hip hop bear. Everyone was dragging by now, so we went back to the hotel to take a break and order up room service for dinner. Evelyn decided she needed a night to relax, so the five of us were back in DL by 8:30, and we took the train to the New Orleans square. We had some time to kill before our Splash ride, so we decided to wait in line for Indiana Jones, even though the wait time was listed as 120 minutes. It wound up taking a little over an hour, with all of us in line threatening to revolt due to the steady influx of fastpassers, who were pretty much the only ones getting on the ride. They let a couple people from the line through, then nothing but fastpassers for the next 15 minutes, and then another couple of standbys….It was a little frustrating. Eric recorded the ride, even though he couldn't use the light. You can only make out a few things, but the audio is great! At one point there was a little glitch and we were stuck in the dark, engine revving, until finally we lurched forward and the giant stone ball came rolling at us.
After Indy, it was on to Splash and it was our turn to walk the fastpass line! All along the way we heard a lot of grumbling and remarks from the standby line; finally I told one guy (who was whispering something about tripping us to his friend) that we had just come off the Indy standby line, so we'd paid our dues….Tori was a little nervous about the drop in Splash, but then she always is. By rides end she was a bit soaked and wanted to turn around and do it again. We picked up our ride photos and then called it a night. Back at the hotel, we picked up some single serve Haagen-Dazs ice cream for Tori and a couple of Heinekens for us. We stayed up watching 'The Return of the King' and resting our tired feet.
Friday, April 9th
We were up and out a bit later than usual, around 11:30 a.m. We wanted to ride Soaring, so we fastpassed it and got a return time of 5:40. We scored a Happy Meal for Tori and headed over to DL, where the lines stretched almost all the way to the DCA entrances. We waited nearly 30 minutes to get in, and raced over to the Blue Bayou, where we had lunch reservations for 1:00. They were swamped, but we only had to wait about 10 minutes before we were seated. I know everyone says to request a table near the water, but we were in no mood to wait any more than we had to. We were seated about mid-restaurant, which allowed us to see the POTC riders as they drifted by. The Blue Bayou is not a large place, and they really have the tables crammed in there tight. It is also very dark, which feels a little weird after being out in the bright sunlight, but it's also kind of nice. Our server was very good, as was our meal. I ordered the Monte Cristo, which was great, but very rich- I could only eat half of it. Eric had their clam chowder and some sort of seafood platter, and Tori just had ice cream, as she had just eaten a Happy Meal. (I don't remember what Barb, Evelyn and Kirsten had to eat).
After lunch, we fastpassed POTC, and decided it was time to pay Mickey a visit. We walked over to Toontown, and got in the line at Mickey's house. The wait wasn't too bad, and once inside there are a lot of things to look at and play with. After the girls had their pictures taken with Mickey, we stopped in at the Gag Factory, where the girls got a lesson in pin trading from a very nice CM named Brian. The shop was very busy and loud; Tori is hard of hearing, and when I informed Brian of this, he immediately leaned down so Tori could see what he was saying and made sure to speak clearly. Best of all, he didn't try to yell, which only distorts noise and makes it more difficult to understand speech. Tori had a blast trading her pins, and we picked up a couple new ones. When we left, Tori commented on how nice Brian was, and how easy he was to understand. The girls had purchased some 'invisible dogs'; a lead and harness with wire running through them that makes it look like they were walking invisible dogs, only Tori decided hers was a cat. They were a big hit; people kept stopping and asking if they could pet the 'dogs', and Tori was a bit irritated that no one knew hers was a cat. (She named him Pippin).
We worked our way over to DCA, as it was nearing time to ride Soaring Over California. We had never ridden this before, so we were looking forward to it, and we were not disappointed. I hadn't realized that the narrator (in the film before the ride starts) was Patrick Warburton; I start laughing just looking at him. (He was Puddy on Seinfeld, Kronk in The Emperor's New Groove and the Tick on the television show of the same name). I think he's hilarious, and it was fun seeing him narrate this ride. SOC is a great ride, but it's a bit confusing. The film shown before the ride begins indicated that it's a simulated airplane ride, but it's really more like you're in a hang glider. The only complaint would be that it's hard to ignore the feet hanging from the riders above you; I guess the top row would be the one to request. Otherwise, a fun ride. Next, we rode California Screaming, which is my favorite ride in DCA. Tori was nervous about this one, even though she had ridden it twice before, and I assured her that any time she wanted to bail we could leave the line and wait for the others. She ended up going on the ride, and after the first big drop she yelled "This is fun!" Between her and Eric, it's hard to say who was laughing the most.
After Screaming, we went back to POTC and Eric videotaped that as well. Because it's a milder ride and a bit more lit up than Indy, it actually turned out pretty good on tape. We were supposed to meet up with some online friends from the discussion group MousePad (here on MousePlanet) but we lost Evelyn in the French Quarter and it took at least twenty minutes to locate her. The crowds were unreal; it was wall to wall people all the way back to Main Street, where the Parade of Stars was in progress. We were supposed to meet up at 7:30, but we didn't hit our meeting place (Coke Corner) until about 8:15. We waited around a while, then gave up and decided to call it a day. Back at the hotel, the kids went for a swim and then we picked up some snacks from the deli and settled in our rooms for the night. Overall, a good day, but I was very disappointed to not meet up with my fellow MP'ers.
Saturday, April 10th
Once again, we were up and on our way around 11:00 a.m. The day was overcast and cool; I don't think it got over 65 degrees all day. I put in a call to KB, one of the MP'ers we were supposed to meet up with, and got his voice mail, so I left a message and hoped we would be able to catch up with them later that night. Our first stop was in Toontown, as the girls wanted to go back to the Gag Factory and harass some more pins out of Brian. Next it was Fantasyland, where we got in the Matterhorn line, which had a wait of about 35 minutes. Tori wanted to ride this, but she wasn't impressed as it was very bumpy and the sleds are uncomfortable. We were at the end, waiting to get out of our sleds, when ours suddenly lurched forward and Tori banged her head hard on the handrail in front of her. She started crying, and we got a wet towel for her to hold on the bump that was forming.
It was lunchtime so we went over to the Café Orleans in New Orleans Square and had some clam chowder served in bread bowls. Afterwards, we got on the Columbia and sailed around the Rivers of America. Tori wasn't up to any more thrill rides, so we wandered around Innoventions and mentally rebuilt Tomorrowland. It's really sad to see how desolate that area is; there is very little to look at, no rides (except Star Tours) and Space Mountain is closed until 2005. Given today's technologies, I do not understand how they could let this area go to this extent. Tori had fun playing on the computers for about five minutes, and then we decided to head back to the hotel for a swim.
I took Kirsten and Tori down to the pool area, and it was only about 15 minutes before the trouble started. Kirsten and Tori had a couple of water balls; pool toys that soak up water and splash you when you are hit with them. I had repeatedly admonished them to be careful and not hit anyone around them, so they stayed at the deeper end of the pool away from the smaller kids. Well, a man holding a baby got into the deep end behind Kirsten, and at the same time Tori threw the ball to her. The ball hit the baby on the side of the head, and the mom started hollering at Tori. When swimming, Tori wears ear molds that prevent water from getting into her ears; they are bright pink and fill up her ear canal, so they are very visible. Tori didn't understand why the lady was yelling at her, and I signed to her that she had hit the baby, and it was time to get out. She started apologizing, but the lady turned away angrily. I explained to the man holding the baby that Tori couldn't hear and he was very nice; he said the baby was alright and not to worry. Tori was devastated; she loves babies and would never hurt one, so she felt really badly about it. Later, though, she made a very good point- why on earth was the baby in the deep end of the pool? She was right about that, but she was still in trouble for not being careful, so that put yet another damper on the day.
Once back in the room, I checked to see if KB had called us back, and there were no messages. So, we ordered up some room service for dinner, and then decided to catch the Electric Parade at DCA. We stood just a few yards from the start of the parade and watched as all the brightly lit characters and floats went by. This is by far my favorite parade, but I think it belongs back in Disneyland. All the characters are from classic Disney films; the parade began back in the early seventies, so the most modern characters are from Pete's Dragon. It seems out of place in DCA, with all the emphasis on Pixar, Muppets and the like. It's my understanding that they placed it in DCA to bring up the attendance numbers, and there certainly were a lot of people watching. After the parade, there were a lot of people leaving and a huge line to get into DL, so we hung around Hollywood Backlot for a while.
We took in the Muppets 3D, which is fun, but not nearly as much as "It's Tough to be a Bug". Afterwards, we just sort looked around the backlot, as most stores and restaurants were already closed and it was fairly deserted. We also took some pictures of the Tower of Terror, which was not yet open to the public. (There was a private party of some sort going on inside the ToT, and from the look of some of the attendees as they exited the ride, I'm pretty sure they weren't just serving pop). The park was starting to close down, so we ran over to grab yet another Happy Meal for Tori, and sat around people watching while she ate.
Paradise Pier is really quite beautiful at night- it's a shame they don't keep it open later. (It usually closes several hours before DL). I think they ought to leave at least the Pier portion of it open later, and maybe even introduce a sort of WDW-style Pleasure Island venue for adults. They already shut down many restaurants and attractions well before closing, so I don't think it would be too difficult to redirect people to the Pier area. I really prefer DCA at night; it is seriously lacking in shade and so can be pretty uncomfortable when the temps get high, but at night it is a very pleasant place to hang out.
Tori was finished with her meal, so we exited DCA and started across the esplanade for the DL entrances. The lines to get in were huge; they stretched almost all the way across to DCA, so we gave up and decided to call it a night. Barb and Kirsten wanted to do some last minute shopping at DTD, but Tori was tired so we went back to the hotel. Barb called our room after they got back and said that the World of Disney store was an absolute madhouse; hordes of people and very few registers open, and lines so long that they took one look and walked out. They had an early flight out of Anaheim the next morning, so we said our goodbyes and wished each other a safe trip home. We stayed up late watching 'Return of the King' (again); I updated my trip notes and tried to organize our belongings so we could pack up quickly in the morning.
It's a good thing we had arranged a late check out, as we were moving in slow motion the next morning. We ordered room service for breakfast, and then I began the arduous task of trying to pack all of our stuff back into the suitcases. We hadn't gone as overboard with the souvenirs as in past trips, but it was still a challenge to pack it all in, especially Tori's sword from Medieval Times. We stopped by the front desk to check out, and then left our bags with the bellhop while we wandered the grounds of the hotel for the last time. Of course, since we were leaving, it turned out to be a beautiful day and we got some great pictures of the flower gardens and koi pond. Finally, our shuttle arrived, and we were off to John Wayne airport and on our way home.
Trip Highlights and Lowlights:
Disneyland is really starting to look good again. Our last trip was in July, 2002 and it was sad to see the state of disrepair in virtually every area of DL. Toontown still needs some TLC, there was quite a bit of garbage in the Rivers of America and the bathrooms in New Orleans Square were downright filthy, but there have been so many improvements made in the short time since CM Matt (Ouimett) took over it that I didn't mind- I know they're working on it, and it shows. CM's seem much friendlier than in the past, and it couldn't have been easy dealing with the huge crowds. (I know I got cranky a few times!) Both the 'Believe' and 'Fantasmic!' shows were going during the week we were there, and hours had been temporarily expanded at both DL and DCA. I really can't complain about the crowds, seeing how we were part of the problem, and Fastpass helped to cut down on the line wait times. It was also a lot of fun to show our friends around, and because we were there for six days we didn't feel compelled to try to cram everything into a short period of time. We got to go on many of the rides we had missed in the past, and nearly every attraction was up and running.
DCA seems a bit busier than in the past, but not nearly as much as it should be. The new ride (Tower of Terror) should help, but the park needs more than thrill rides to define it. Hollywood Backlot seems seriously underutilized; so much of it is wasted space and closed up restaurants, etc. I'm sure the fine tuning will continue and someday it will be a great park, but right now I would not pay full admission to get in, let alone travel from a distance just to visit DCA exclusively.
Medieval Times was really a fun time, and we will definitely go again! We probably spent more on souvenirs from there than in DL, but then we are real fans of the chivalric age. The horses were beautiful, and the show was amazing. The Cuervo shots were pretty good, too...
The Sheraton Anaheim is a nice property, and once it finishes with the remodeling it will be even better. The hotel amenities were great, and everything was very reasonably priced. The employees were very friendly, especially Jennifer and Thaddeus, and excepting the difficulties with the front desk (and our musty room) we were satisfied with our accommodations. The shuttle system worked really well; we seldom had to wait for more than a few minutes, and we never had to miss one due to overcrowding. I noticed very few people tipping our drivers, and I made it a point to do otherwise. They were great, and they deserved it. It does get to seem like you are tipping someone every time you turn around, but it is a tourist driven economy and tips are part of their pay. (That, and it must be horrendously expensive to live in Southern California). I was even less happy with the front desk at the Sheraton when I got home and discovered that they had told several people trying to contact us that we were not registered guests. If I were to stay there again I would definitely bring our cell phone.
All in all, it was really a nice trip. I was a bit nervous about how well we would all get along for the week, but it worked out great. The kids behaved themselves (mostly) and Evelyn was a little powerhouse; we found ourselves racing to catch up to her most of the time. I was very pleased to see Disneyland looking so good, and I enjoyed sharing it with Barb and her family. Eric was a very good sport about hanging out with all these women, and Barb and Evelyn were impressed with his laid back attitude and level of patience. I was far more organized with this trip than our past ones; I even managed to budget this one out fairly well. I didn't touch a credit card until we at the airport for our return trip home. (We had several hours to kill, and the shops were having a sale). And when we did arrive home, late Easter evening, Tori was very pleased to discover the Easter Bunny had not forgotten her.Wendy E. La Gasse-Anderson