Dana Greenberg -- August 2002 -- Disneyland
My trip was July 30-August 17 but our Disney days were August 2, 5, 8, and 16. We flew to LAX from Seattle.
We stayed at my parents house!
Each day was a different cast and I noted who went with us on which days. My daughters are 6 and 2, my parents are 57 and 64, and my brother is 21. We are all veterans (ok- even Abby has been twice in her two years!).
August 2 (Friday) , 5 (Monday), 8 (Thursday), 16 (Friday) 2002
(my husband thought he would make some of the trip but alas--it was not to be!)
Note: This report deviates from the standard story because my parents live 10 minutes from Disneyland so (1) we avoid hotel costs, and (2) we can divide up the days we spend at Disneyland as to avoid child burnout! By default, we ended up being "commandos" on this trip but somehow it all worked out (and we did not stay from open to close--although for DCA that would not have been too hard to do since the hours are so short these days!).
Pretrip planning: I called from Seattle to make reservations for Mary Poppins tea and had had grammie check out a Mousesavers tip on hoppers (when you purchase a 3 or 4 day adult hopper pass you get a child's pass for free). You can only purchase these special hoppers at CA Disney stores. We flew into LA on July 30th.
Mary Poppins Practically Perfect Tea
Revelation of the Day
Some Disney experiences can still surpass even my expectations!
Players--DG, HH, AH, GP (a ladies event)
I called the Disneyland Resort to make reservations for the tea in June and had no problems getting the date (Friday at 12:30). I needed to provide a credit card number and was told there was a 48 hours cancellation policy. I was apprehensive about bringing AH to the tea (no high tea experience and not her best time of day) but the woman I spoke to at the resort thought that she would be able to sit through the lively 1 1/2 tea party. We also watched Mary Poppins at home before the trip as tea prep!
We arrived at the hotel about 1/2 hour early and parked in the hotel lot (free with validation from the tea) and looked around. The kids enjoyed the Mickey Mouse art work in the hallways and wanted to spend more time in the gift shop!
Mary Poppins has her own tea room on the 2nd floor of the hotel. A waiter ushered us in to a room full of wicker tables and couches. The room filled up quickly--I would guess about 35 people in all. Just in case anyone was wondering...there were no little boys in attendance :(.
We sat down to a table for 4 (AH was delighted that her high chair had a Mickey Mouse cutout on the back!). On the table were plates with scones and eclairs--my children announced the Mary Poppins had backwards meals like we often have at my house (dessert first!). Our waiter came to take our tea order and brought out 4 beautiful china pots (AH had apple juice). Yum. GP has some food issues (this will be an issue later on as well) and our waiter did his utmost to find out the ingredients in every item served throughout the tea and made substitutions when appropriate. Very thoughtful!
But where was Mary Poppins?? Always one to make an entrance, Mary came in once everyone was served tea and had their mouths full!! She sang a song and ducked into the kitchen to be sure that the chefs were hard at work.
Mary came out when the little tea sandwiches were served (GP received beautiful steamed veggies and rice). She sang and visited with each table. When she arrived at our table she noted that GP's meal was the best she had ever seen from her kitchen! AH chatted with Mary for a while but HH was speechless (I think she was processing whether this was the "real" Mary--something we would deal with throughout the trip!). Mary asked if the girls saw her when we flew to Los Angeles, since she often used that mode of travel herself! We had a picture taken with her and she told us that at dessert time there would be another special picture opportunity. More dessert--HH was in heaven!
The special photo op was terrific--Mary invited each table to come to her special couch and her assistant provided us with hats and boas to match our outfits. Mary sat with us and the assistant snapped pictures. One note--and quite a surprise--no official Disney photographers were available for picture taking so if you left your camera at home you were out of luck! Good thing we had our grammie along!
Mary sang a few more songs--ending with Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! The bill for tea was right under $84 (adults were $22.50 and children $13.95 plus 15% gratuity).
I have heard that Mary may leave her tea room at the end of August--what a shame. This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip!
An aside--my girls could not believe that we were so close to Disneyland and not going on any rides (frankly I couldn't believe it either but we didn't have time!).
High Points of the day--What can we say--Mary Poppins!!!
Low Point--Not going into Disneyland - of course!
Day 2--Disneyland, DCA, Disneyland
Revelation of the Day
I like DCA. My 6 year old and 2 year old like DCA too!
Players: DG, HH, AH, GP, GM
We arrived at the Disneyland Resort ticket booths at 10am and my parents decided to purchase a 1 day hopper (a new ticket option $64 for both parks). My parents LOVE the Electric Light Parade and had not yet been to DCA so this was a good deal. Of course we decided to go to Disneyland first!
One of my favorite times during a visit is when we choose which tunnel to walk through to get to Main Street. My six year old is reading everything and actually stopped to read every poster along the way! Finally--the view down Main Street!!! Why does it always feel like you never left it? My father says the same thing and he has been a visitor since the park opened.
We went through the Sleeping Beauty's Castle (is seems smaller every visit--could it be possible?) to Fantasyland--what a zoo. The carousel rehab has really reeked havoc on the traffic patterns around the dark rides. We decided to ride on Dumbo while my parents went to purchase a hat for my dad (yes--it was already hot!). When we reached the front of the line AH declined the offer to sit and ride :(--luckily GP was there. We then decided to get out of Fantasyland and walked to It's A Small World. We waited 1/2 hour--only one side of the queue was opened. Geeze. It was totally worth the wait though because the new paint/glitter really made the ride sparkle. The girls were enchanted-so were the adults.
Time for lunch already--always a challenge with this group. I thought our best bet would be to take the steam train to Main Street and go to DCA--fewer people. Once at DCA, GP had to interview every chef to find a restaurant where they could eat--oy! I took the opportunity to get FPs for Grizzly River Run. We ended up eating at the ABC Soap Opera Bistro--perfect. My parents could eat, the children liked the menu choices (which included dessert) and I was happy to be in a cool place where I was waited on!! Lunch for 5 was $70 (including tip) and was well worth it. My parents did not really like the acting interlude (cast members pretending to be soap opera stars practicing lines) but HH thought it was hysterical
Our FP was for later in the day so off we went to Muppet Vision 3-D. No wait and the preshow was just about over when we walked in. Everyone enjoyed the show-although AH would not try the glasses and HH took them off during the fireworks sequence. Interesting to note that my children do not know these muppets--they rarely make a visit to Sesame Street! We tried Disney Animation but too many choices and none of interest to children. Time for our FP for the River Run!!! HH went with GP, then I went with HH using the baby switch pass (GP decided he did not need any new experiences at this stage of his life - oy). I love this ride--great theming and HH and I agreed the pipes on the way up the hill sprayed much more water than last year.
After the "grown-up" ride we all knew what would be next. AH's favorite-- King Triton's Carousel--a must for AH (especially since the Disneyland carousel was down). There was no wait so we were able to ride 5 times --AH was thrilled. Luckily there was a water vendor nearby (3 bottles- $3.50) because it was hot.
It was at this point that I realized that I really like DCA. It is certainly not Disneyland but it has rides my children enjoy, restaurants that we can all enjoy, characters that we cannot see at Disneyland (Lilo and Stitch!!), and--let's face it--far fewer crowds! Sure, there is little shade and few "E" rides but it had just enough for us. My parents did not share my opinion and said it reminded them of Universal Studios' Citywalk (do others share their opinion?).
After watching the children on the carousel I could tell that GP could use a dose of old time Disneyland so back we went! We went on my dad's favorites--first the Jungle Cruise (15 minute wait at 5pm on an August day--unbelievable). HH noted that our tour guide for the Jungle Cruise was a woman (and very good too!). The girls really love this ride because they still think all of the animals are real--my parents enjoy the "humor." My parents also noted the political correctness changes (no shooting in the hippo pool, the "sleeping" zebra) with a sigh. Oh well. We then got FPs for the Pirates and continued on to the Haunted Mansion. A walkon!! A really noisy crowd in the elevator and AH did not bat an eye. The girls did not like the hitchhiking ghost. Then back to Pirates. What can we say--we all love this ride sooo much! AH was a bit nervous about the fire but handled it like a trooper.
Three rides in a row--must be a signal for dinner! We went to the Plaza Inn (near the partners' statue) where we had luck before with this group but my parents were not enthralled with their choices. The girls ate children's meals (noodles with butter/cheese and chicken) with apples and a drink for me $16. AH fell asleep. My parents found salad in Tomorrowland and brought it back over to sit with us.
At this point I realized that if they were going to see the Electric Parade we needed to get to DCA. I decided to send them on their own--AH was asleep and HH was content to eat dessert and watch the Parade of Stars (for the 10th time--and she loves it every time!) from the table (you can still see the parades through the trees placed around the restaurant) . We shopped along Main Street after the parade and bought her first souvenir of the trip (Sleeping Beauty Barbie-type doll - $20). AH received a princess hat- $16.
We met GP and GM at Downtown Disney after the Electric Parade (still magical for them after all these years!) and took the tram to the parking structure. My dad was very impressed with the Mickey parking structure ("look how efficient...").
High Point of the Day--Walking down Main Street with my dad--we've done it together many a time and every time is special.
Low Point--Did I mention the stroller dilemma. We decided to rent one for AH but did not remember that only humans can park hop-strollers stay behind. So we had to keep exchanging strollers (interrupting naps and waiting in line)-what a hassle.
Day 3--DCA, Disneyland
Revelation of the Day
I really like to ride the rides!
Players: DG, HH, DG2
Let me just say that HH could not keep quiet about a Disney trip without AH and AH was not at all pleased when the car left without her! This was our chance to ride the rides--and let us just say that the carousel was not on our list!
DG2 had been an annual pass holder during his teen-early college years but had let it lapse since he graduated college this past may. We had to bribe him to buy the one day hopper ("too expensive")--ok I split the cost with him.
We got into the park at 2pm and immediately got FP for the Grizzly River Run. Since we had some time, we strolled over to Paradise Pier. The wait time for California Screamin' - zippo- a walk on. In August. One of three "E" rides. Ouch! HH declined so DG2 went first, then we traded. HH ended up on the carousel :). It was my first time (I love roller coasters but the lines were too long last summer). Wow--the take off was awesome (and the best part of the ride). I must be getting old though because I got off the coaster with a headache :(. We then decided that HH needed a coaster fix so we went to Mulholland Madness and waited in a 40 minute line for the ride. HH loves this one--I like the old-fashioned switchbacks. It seems too enclosed though since the new sound wall was added but I can understand not wanting to hear screaming children while in my $300/night hotel room. HH even talked her uncle into the Jumpin Jellyfish ride (even she thought it was lame). I took the opportunity to buy water and coke ($8).
Ok-at this point I need some aspirin! Off we went to the first aid station (hidden behind the tortilla exhibit). My brother was impressed that Disney handed out free drugs. Me too. And to follow up with a free tortilla--life was good! We then ambled off to the Bountiful Valley Farm to play in the water. For those who have not seen this area it is essentially a series of sprinklers for children to play in - I love to play and get wet as much as the next kid. Since we were soaked it was time to use our FPs for the River Run. Terrific as usual (HH could not stop talking to the honeymooning couple about what they should expect next--sorry!).
Aspirin working (hurrah). Time for dinner (with no need to interview chefs!). We ate at Taste Pilot's Grill (lots of food--$30) and ate outside - a beautiful California evening (no bugs, no bees, HH was in heaven!).
Time to hit the trail across the plaza to Disneyland! HH needed a frozen banana right away ($3). We went to get FP for Thunder RR and then went to the Mark Twain (I wanted a ride in the pilot house). We went on board but were told that no one was riding in the pilot house due to "wheel problems" and we should ask a dock cast member for help next time. Oh well--HH loved it and it was DG2s first cruise as well. Time for Haunted Mansion (no hitchhiking ghost issues this time) and back for Thunder RR--except it is not working. Oh no--HH's favorite! The cast members said it would be about an hour--come back later.
So-we decided to try the Matterhorn. HH was very nervous - a new ride for her. I showed her that even kids 35" could ride (she is a tall 51") and that helped. Suffice to say that she has a new favorite coaster ride--loved the Matterhorn. Then on to another first for HH- Autopia. There were no more FPs so we waited - 30 minutes. She loved it - although I had to convince her that we would not ride off the rails no matter how poorly she steered! Another Matterhorn ride--ok! Then we then headed back to Thunder RR -working! By now it was dark and even more fun to ride. We then decided to try the wait on Splash Mountain and watch the fireworks (ok-not the best location for some but the best for HH who is not a fireworks fan!). Alas--we lost patience in line and decided to head to Fantasyland. By now you would have thought it would have cleared out--no way! We rode on the teacups, Snow White and Pinocchio (a ride that I believe is the most frightening at Disneyland--one scary scene after another!). Then the clock struck 11-hard to believe Disney closes at 11 in August!
We thought that's it--time to go. But then DG2 and I looked at each other and decided to entice HH into Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln (still seating!). Neither of us had seen the show since the renovation. HH enjoyed the sensory experience ("did he cut your hair too?") but I missed being preached at by President Lincoln. Anyway... done for the day!
High Point of the Day--HH's smile walking off the Matterhorn. Precious!
Low Point--Splash Mountain's queue. It almost always posted 120+ minutes standby throughout our visit and the FPs were gone early! Oh well!
Day 4-- Disneyland, DCA, Disneyland
Revelation of the Day
A Disney experience is totally enjoyable no matter the age of the company (or the lack of an extra set of adult hands).
Players: DG, HH, AH
Our last day of Disney and our last day of what was a 3 week vacation!!! Today we got to the Disney Resort by 9am - woohoo! The girls wanted Disneyland first so off we went. I should note that we brought our own stroller today--no stroller-hopping issues for us!
We headed straight for Fantasyland--we had an agenda. Peter Pan! A line begging for FP! We waited 10 minutes and flew off to Neverland. We had been watching "Hook" at the grandparents house so it was even more fun! Then Mr. Toad (AH not quite sure about the ride but she got through it!). Dumbo loomed ahead. AH looked at us and said "I want a blue hat Dumbo." That was enough for us and off we went. HH flew by herself for the first time--AH loved every moment! Then Casey Junior's Circus Train (the girls had been watching Dumbo every day for a week so this was heaven), then Storybook Land (loved the little villages--although the whale's mouth was a bit frightening for HH--go figure!). Alice in Wonderland was next--and it was only 10:15! AM! It was like an early entry day. I realized that I would need to be the picture snapper today and had to buy a disposable camera ($12-ouch--I missed the grandparents!).
We decided to go for broke and try Autopia - a 5 minute wait. I have never ridden in a car with three but off we went. AH told HH that she was a crazy driver--about 100 times! We needed some popcorn and drinks ($8) and decided to head to Fantasyland to listen to a princess story at the Tinker Bell Toy Shoppe but on the way HH stopped dead in her tracks. "Mom--there she is. Princess Aurora and Prince Phillip." Who? Oh, Sleeping Beauty. We waited in line and got the picture (AH held out her famous "stop" hand to tell Sleeping Beauty to back off!). HH asked again if it was really Princess Aurora and I told her that I believed in my heart that everything at Disneyland was real. That was enough for her. Good thing because in my mind I saw Santa, the Easter Bunny and the newly visiting Tooth Fairy hold their breath for my answer!
After a diaper change at the Gerber Baby Station, I decided that it was time to try the pilot house on the Mark Twain again--I was determined to get up there after hearing about the opportunity from Mouseplanet fans! Again, I was told that there were "wheel problems." We passed and decided to shop a bit in New Orleans Square. A glass mug with name for HH's friend Seth ($21 - ouch), 3 painted parasols for HH, AH, and another friend ($33 - what a deal). Both shops said they would have our purchases ready in a bit but said we could pick up as late as 11:30pm--hurrah! Then we hoped on the steam train to Main Street and hopped on over to DCA.
Guess who was asleep before we left Disneyland...AH. So HH and I went over to the ABC Soap Opera Bistro and had a delightful ladies lunch (again-good menu and table service). We ordered for AH but she slept through the meal ($40). Ok with me!! She woke up as we left so we gave her some cold pizza and headed over to - you guessed it - King Triton's carousal. The cast member (Andrew - I think) even had to smile at AH as she said "two more times..two more times!" We went on six times (I think) and then decided to go back to Muppet Vision 3-D. Both girls enjoyed the show even more the second time (HH even wore her glasses). AH ate cold pizza throughout the journey between rides and seemed ok with that!
You may ask--are there other rides at DCA? Yes, but we tried "It's Tough To Be A Bug" last year and HH still hasn't recovered from the first 5 minutes (that's all we saw). AH is too short for almost every other ride--and we didn't want to wait 30 minutes for the ferris wheel that could have delighted or terrified AH. Even the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is basically too challenging for AH (HH loved it last summer). And yet we still really enjoy DCA--maybe the lack of choice makes the park easier to handle!
After a diaper change it was..
Back to Disneyland for our last hurrah
I really wanted a silhouette of the girls for their Dad - and there was no line at the silhouette shop so in we went. I bought the picture ($21) but I have to say that it wasn't very good (sorry Sylvia). The girls then went into the China Closet and chose their bone china figure to add to their collection (one a year). AH chose Dumbo and HH chose Dopey ($15)! While the silhouette shop held our purchase the China Shop could not. Never hurts to ask though.
Off we went to get pineapple juice (my favorite- $6) and then headed to It's A Small World. Another wait even though both queues were opened. I called my husband to let him know how we were doing (he thought I was crazy to take the girls on my own) and he said to call him once we were in the ride so he could hear the music. OK- now I really felt totally guilty enjoying my Disney day compliments of my husband in the salt mines! (Later he told me that the whole office came in to listen as I called out the continents :)). Next to Roger Rabbit and Toontown. I had not been on Roger Rabbit Car Toon Spin since it opened but HH had seen the movie so I thought "why not. We got a FP and decided that it was time to fulfill one of AH's requests and ride the monorail. No pilots up front--a cast member said no one has been able to pilot since 9/11. Is that the real story for the Mark Twain??? Anyway, the monorail had one of the longest lines of the day and then our train was deemed "out of service" at the Downtown Disney stop. We waited 10 minutes for the next train--and decided that was enough monorail!
Back to Toontown with our Roger Rabbit FP. Roger Rabbit is not a ride for children--even though it could be. The ride vehicle is really jerky and it is hard to notice the story. I remembered about the child who fell out only when the cast members kept saying over and over to keep AH seated in the middle--yikes. We will not be going on that ride again!
Dinner--I should have made reservations at Blue Bayou (but since my husband has yet to eat there I thought that the children's stories of how great it was could have pushed him over the edge!). So, the girls ate burritos and I drank a coke at Rancho del Zachlo ($13). I was starving but it is too hard to push a stroller and carry a tray and hold a 6-year old's hand! The girls loved the burritos and off we went.
OK- our last two rides. Jungle Cruise and...Pirates or Haunted Mansion? AH said the Haunted Mannion was "too spooky" and Pirates had "too much fire." HH was beginning to cry. Uh oh. I got FPs for the Pirates and we headed toward the Jungle Cruise. Boy, do they love this ride! Then we talked AH into the Pirates ("the fire is pretend honey...") and she ended up loving it! We picked up our purchases and headed to Main Street. We caught the end of the Parade of Stars and ducked into the Blue Ribbon Bakery for cookies and coffee (for me )- ($10) and then picked up our silhouette. AH wanted milk - so we walked out of Disneyland (HH said to the cast members at the gate--"we are Disney Done!!") (bye bye) and stopped at La Brea Bakery for milk. Of course by the time it was purchased ($3) she was sound asleep.
For you tram users, you can put an opened stroller on the platform in the front car of the tram but you need to take your sleeping child out of the stroller. Ok - but could anyone help me put the stroller on? Or take it off? Luckily, two nice gents were helpful but not the best way to leave the park.
High Point of the Day--Realizing that I could "do Disneyland" with the girls on my own. HH and AH after the Pirate ride exchanging stories about their favorite parts of the ride. My special lunch with HH (by the way--HH decided that she would pay for lunch--how grown up!).
Low Point--While we have had dozens of good experiences at the Gerber Baby Center this day was different. I needed to change AH and HH needed to go potty and this particular cast member would not let HH use the toddler potties - and there were no other options. I let HH use the toddler potties (even I wanted to use the toddler potties)--geeze. So--beware if you have children with an age gap--the Baby Center may not be your best bet!
I have high hopes that our terrific stories will convince my husband to plan a family trip to CA in December (and perhaps a stay at the Grand Californian??).
Boy--that was a long report for someone who didn't report on hotels and swimming....if you got this far I would like to thank you for indulging a fellow lover of all things Disney!!!