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Victoria Hart -- July 2004 -- Disneyland (Offsite)


The Players:

  • Vicky [a.k.a. "I"] (age 43): Vacation planner & lover of all things "Disney (DL veteran & 6 trips to WDW)
  • Joe (age 45): Patient husband, tolerates my Disney addiction (DL & WDW veteran)

Pre-trip Planning:

Not too much! Joe and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary on Sunday, June 13th. We had been talking about where to go for our summer get-away weekend (4th of July) without the kids (they spend 4 weeks with family in New England every summer and they're leaving on July 2nd). Now, he knows how stressful work has been for me lately, and, he knows how much I love the Disneyland Resort (DLR=DL + DCA)...yes, I love California Adventure (DCA) too. Without my dropping any hints, he came up with the idea - - would you like to go to DL? (I actually had been trying to come up with a way to suggest it!) Oh yes, thank you!! The interesting thing...this will be our first time at any Disney park together without our kids! (We've been a "couple" for 20½ years; our kids are 11 and 15.)

Monday, June 14th, I checked rates at our favorite place, the Candy Cane Inn (CCI). I wasn't too optimistic because it's only 18 days away from a holiday weekend, but I got an excellent AAA rate ($87 per night + tax)! This place is so nice...clean rooms and public areas, friendly staff, pool and hot tub, very good continental breakfast (by the pool), free parking, free shuttle to DLR, and within walking distance. Two nights, arriving on Saturday, July 3rd , leaving on Monday, July 5th, = $200...great!

Tickets are always easy...we're military. Since we plan to spend Saturday and Sunday in the parks, a two-day hopper works for us! $80 each = $160 for tickets. (I just have to make sure to remind Joe to buy them!)

Reservations made at the kennel for 4 nights. We'll drop-off on Friday and pick-up on Tuesday. We have three dogs...what can I say? Total fees = $140 (no tax).

We live in Las Vegas, so getting there is easy...we drive (in the opposite direction from everybody else who will be coming to Vegas for the holiday weekend)! It's about 4-4½ hours depending on traffic. We'll go to bed early on Friday and get up early. I hope to be on the road by 3 a.m. Saturday. No traffic at that hour on the interstate...

Speaking of holiday weekends...July 4th is probably one of the busiest days at Disneyland (according to everybody in cyberspace). It will be our first time. Elizabeth and I went to DLR last July, but it was mid-month. But hey, there's only a few "must" ride attractions when we go...the rest will be driven by crowds and fastpass return times ?

There are things I'd like to do differently this trip, since we'll be two adults. DLR is so much smaller than WDW that priority seatings are less important except for the "must do" places. I reserved 1:10 p.m. at the Blue Bayou on Saturday. Also, 10:30 p.m. Fantasmic Dessert Buffet on the Disney Gallery balcony for Saturday. This is a pre-pay, no refund, event. $99.50 for two...ouch! But we've always wanted to try it, and, it's something special in celebration of our anniversary. Now, all the message boards warn "call exactly 30 days out" or you won't get the balcony...and I didn't want the riverfront! Well, I called on June 27th and got 2 seats on the balcony for July 3rd ...just reaffirms my belief in asking! Sunday, we'll just let the chips fall where they may as far as eating goes. (Wow...I just re-read that...can you guess where I'm from?!) We like ESPN Zone and Naples Ristorante (in DTD), Tony Roma's or Mimi's Café (on Harbor Blvd.), but we'd like to check out the Wine Cellar at the Disneyland Hotel, then maybe eat at Hook's Pointe. Also, Wine Country Trattoria in DCA offers a 10% AAA discount, and since we'll be checking out the new Tower of Terror on Sunday, we'll be in DCA. Joe doesn't like buffets (as I've said before, we live in the land of buffets) so there will be none of that! The only must do on Sunday are the 4th of July special edition of the fireworks. Monday we'll have lunch at the Rainforest Café, which is a tradition for our family when we visit any Disney park (11:30 a.m. lunch reservations). This is, of course, followed by some shopping in Downtown Disney, particularly at the World of Disney. I am going to miss not having my old Disney Club discount ?...I refuse to get the "special VISA card"!

Actual Trip:

Friday, July 2nd
Planned: Joe has the entire day off. I'll drop the girls (dogs) at the kennel on the way to work. Joe will bring the kids to the airport; their flight leaves at 3:20 p.m. I have to work until 5 p.m., which is part of the reason we're not leaving until Saturday morning. Friday evening will be quiet...finish packing, Chinese take-out and some TV. Hope to be asleep by 9 p.m.

Actual: Almost everything went according to plan. Today's surprise was having a wonderful lunch with my family before the kids left. Their plane left a little late, but arrived safe and sound. We packed and went to bed by 9:30 p.m.

Saturday, July 3rd
Planned: We'll get up early and try to be on the road by 3 a.m. I know it sounds crazy, but it's the way we always travel (with or without the kids). Traffic should be minimal, especially through the construction on I-15. We'll take a break in Barstow. I hope to be in Anaheim by 7:30 a.m. We'll check-in at the CCI, so we can park for free. The goal is to be on Main Street no later than 8:30 a.m. Play all morning. Have lunch at the Blue Bayou at 1:10 p.m. (we'll see how long the wait is for a waterside table). Take a break after lunch...hop to DCA for evening fastpass? See if our room is ready, take a swim, relax in the hot tub. Head back to DLR around 5 p.m. Not sure whether we'll hit DCA or just go back to DL. I'd like to see the Electrical Parade again. No plans until 10:30 Fantasmic Dessert Buffet. Stay until closing.

Actual: Up and on the road by 3:20 a.m. Joe says we're "getting too old for this"...I don't know if he's right or not, but I was wide awake and ready to go! Stopped for breakfast at MacDonald's in Barstow. Arrived at the CCI about 7:45 a.m. We made really good time. Checked-in, got our parking pass, and our shuttle pass. It was overcast, so the temperature was pretty cool. We walked to DL, and were walking down Main Street by 8:30 a.m. Now remember, it's a holiday weekend...I don't think we waited more than 10 minutes for anything all weekend, except to look at photos of us (we didn't buy any). We rode the Matterhorn twice, with no wait. Utilizing fast pass to avoid waiting, we moved on to Big Thunder, Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, Pirates, and Indiana Jones...all by 10:30 a.m. Joe turned to me and said "now what?" Let's hop to DCA. Saw Muppets 3D, then rode Soarin' over California. Back to DL, and a slow ride down Main Street in a horse drawn trolley. Went to see the new musical "Snow White". It was so "good" that we left before it was over. Blue Bayou at 1:10 p.m. Only about an extra 5 mins. and we got our water side table. We shared the calamari appetizer. Joe had the crab cakes and I had the ribs & shrimp special. Too full for dessert...we cleaned our plates. Very quiet and romantic, right in the middle of the day...sigh. Decided it was time for a break, so headed back to the room. We swam and sat in the hot tub. And, took a nap...I guess we are getting too old! Headed back in the early evening. Rode a couple of rides. We watched the fireworks, "Imagine", from New Orleans Square. They were okay...not as exciting as "Believe". Then it was time for our special treat. At ten, we were seated for the Fantasmic Show. We had front row seats on the balcony! The desserts were delicious and abundant. My favorite was the fritter with apple custard sauce. I was so full!!! The coffee was good too. But the show...wow! Would I do it again? Oh yes...it was worth every penny IMHO. We wandered a bit afterwards, but we were so full that we didn't feel like riding anything. Did a little birthday present shopping for our daughter (the princess addict). We walked back to the CCI and I swear I was asleep before my head hit the pillow!

Sunday, July 4th
Planned: Up early to get to DL by 8 a.m. opening. We'll play until 9:45 a.m., then cross over to DCA for the 10 a.m. opening. Plan to spend the rest of the morning playing here. We'll eat when we get hungry. I'd like an afternoon break. Back to DL by 5 p.m. and do what we can with crowds. We'll ride during Fantasmic and parades. We really want to see the special 4th of July fireworks. Stay until closing.

Actual: Decided not to hurry. Slept in a little, then enjoyed the Sunday paper with breakfast by the pool. We arrived at DCA right around 10 a.m. We got Soarin' fast passes. By the time we walked over to the Hollywood Tower Hotel (HTH) we only had about 10 minutes before our window opened. Joe wrote postcards to the kids and I people-watched. Then, fast passes for HTH, and back for our flight on Soarin'. We did a little pin shopping then rode the Tower. The drops didn't seem quite as scary as the Florida version. Joe likes the Florida version a little better. For me, one ride was enough. We grabbed another set of fastpasses for Soarin', then, we went to the Vineyard for a little wine tasting (on an empty stomach). This was a quiet respite in a busy couple of days. Wine Country Trattoria had a five minute wait, so we did. Joe had the Tuscan salad with bleu cheese, which he enjoyed. I had the lasagna, which was to die for! Excellent. The service was attentive and quick. And 10% AAA discount! Who Wants to be a Millionaire was fun...I got to sit in one of the floor seats, but never made it to the leader board. Next time...One more ride on Soarin' then we hopped to DL for fastpasses for Indy, Pirates, and Haunted Mansion. Back to the CCI, where we decided to just take a nap then watch the national news. Around 6:30 we took the shuttle back to DLR. We took the train to Toon Town, and rode It's a Small World while everyone else was watching the parade. After that, we rode the 3 fast pass rides, then caught the Big Thunder Railroad (which had NO wait). There was NO line, so we just stayed on for another trip around...is it really the 4th of July?! Bought dinner at the Riverbelle Terrace. After eating, we headed to the hub for the special 4th fireworks. What a let down...we both agreed that the Imagine display was better. With all the hype we both expected more...then we found a bench, shared a caramel apple, and watched the mass of humanity pass by. I wanted to hit Pooh Corner, so we rode the Winnie the Pooh ride...still not as good as Florida's bouncing honey pots. Nothing special for my Eeyore collection, so we headed to the train. We disembarked at Main Street and headed out with the crowds from the 11:15 p.m. Fantasmic show...ouch!

Monday, July 5th
Planned: Sleep in because we can. Check-out at 11 a.m. and pack the car. Park it in the DTD parking lot (3 hours free, restaurants and AMC theaters will validate an additional 2 hours). Lunch reservations at Rainforest Café at 11:30 a.m. Must hit the Disney Store for a couple of small trinkets for the kids. We'll check out what's playing at the early movies...if there's something good, maybe we'll stay. If not, we'll get on the road and head home.

Actual: Checked-out by 11 a.m. Decided to leave the car at the CCI and shuttle over. Walked to the Rainforest Café for lunch. We sat right next to the gorillas upstairs. As Safari Club members, we get a free appetizer, so we tried the calamari. It was yummy. We both had the shrimp & ribs special, a glass of wine for me and a beer for Joe. No dessert today...too full. Next came shopping. Actually didn't find too much that I wanted in the World of Disney, just a couple of charms. I had thought I'd avoid Build-A-Bear (since Elizabeth wasn't with us) but no...Joe decided we had to get her another birthday present, so in we go...the place is always a madhouse! Well, with the drive home still ahead of us, we called it a day. It was a pretty easy drive home (all the traffic was leaving Vegas).

Reflections:

I love Disneyland.

Dessert on the balcony while watching Fantasmic is worth the money.

I love Fast Pass.

The Blue Bayou has the best atmosphere.

Nothing beats Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye...nothing.

Looking forward to our annual trip, 28 October-1 November...thanks for reading!

Victoria Hart

vegasvickcooks4u@earthlink.net


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