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CJ Hensley -- November 2005 -- Disneyland (DH)


Cast of Characters:

Me (CJ) age 27-gi-normous Disneyland fan
Josh (DH) age 28-ok going once a year but doesn’t understand more than that
Delaney (DD) age 6-4th trip to the Parks
Zoey (DD’s cousin) age 6-very 1st trip to the Parks
Gilbert (CJ’s Dad) age 52-likes Disneyland a lot but doesn’t understand my obsession
Dyan (CJ’s Mom) age 50-there more to see the kids at DL than anything else.
(Small note: My parents honeymooned at DL in 1975)

Pre-Trip Planning:
This is what I love the most about Disneyland; the planning! I got started in June and had a room booked at both Anaheim Desert Inn and Suites and at the HoJo. Then in October DL released their AP rates and WOOOHOOO! Sign me up! So I booked our room and then called my dad super excited and asked if he would be interested in going. After a few days he said to sign them up as well. Now that we are staying at the DLH, I wanted to do something fun and neat! So, I got a hold of Vacation Planning and talked with them about getting a basket for each of the girls. We decided on the Ears to You basket (50th edition) which came with:

Youth Golden Mickey Ears
Golden 50th Anniversary autograph book
Gold Mickey head pen
2 oz. package of Chip & Dale pretzels
Chocolate treat

which came to $33 each plus tax. A week or so later, I contacted John Walsh (he is amazing!) at Vacation Planning to see about adding two 50th name tags for the girls and having them engrave them for me with the girls’ middle names-Darling (Zoey) and Sunshine (Delaney) and he said no problem as I was already paying the $20 fee for them to go into the park and embroider their ears. They charged me right away for the tags, $12.63 for both, and I called a few days before the trip to see EXACTLY what my total would be for the baskets since it was coming out of my checking account and for both baskets AND for them to go into the park it came to $91.12. I wanted to do something special for my parents as well but none of the baskets VP carries looked exactly right for them so I went about making them my own basket. I got a green linen lined basket from Michaels and stuffed it full of stuff-a Tigger beanie for my dad (his fave. Character) and a Marie cat beanie for my mom, a box of Mickey Mouse candy canes, a Disneyland Vacation Guide book, I made a shirt for my dad with Mickey on a Harley in front of the Harley logo that says MOTORCYCLE PAPA underneath, bought him a Tigger t-shirt and her a Mickey cosmetic bag with Mickey on a motorcycle (hee hee, what mid-life crisis?). VP said that if I gave the basket to the front desk they would deliver it Monday between 4 and 5pm. WOOHOO!

Day One: Sunday, 11/27/2005
We left Modesto at 7:30am, after getting breakfast at McDonalds and coffee at Starbucks. We stopped in Bakersfield for a bathroom break, more coffee for Josh and got some lunch at McDonalds (again! Gag!) We arrived at the Disneyland Hotel about 2:30pm and were pleasantly surprised-the line to check in was only 2 people deep! Josh parked the car after bell services took our luggage and said they would hold it, to call them when we got up in our room and I checked in while the girls watched Disney cartoons on the TV in the lobby. (Note: that is SUCH a good idea!! There were NO little kids running around all crazy, they were all watching cartoons!) I checked in with super helpful Jennifer and we were in room 2338 in the Sierra Tower with a pool view. Got the hubby and the kids and we were on our way up the elevator! I got in the room and immediately went nuts taking pictures for my fellow MousePadders and then called my parents who were staying one night at the Travelodge before checking in on Monday at the DL Hotel. My dad said he would come over to see the hotel and then he and Josh would leave for their Mighty Ducks hockey game. My dad arrived and I showed him the wallpaper in the lobby (hidden Mickey’s!) and then the Tinkerbell wall border in the bedroom, Mickey hands in the bathroom and we REALLY liked the hidden DL rides on the bedspreads!! Our view was GORGEOUS! The boys left and I went to the bathroom. While I was in the bathroom, the girls’ baskets arrived and they started opening them without me. When I got out, I said WAAAAIT! Took some pictures and then let them open them. They were super cute; I was a little disappointed though because I thought the signature books would be the big gold ones and instead they were the little red ones. But oh well! We went down to the pool for about an hour and then came up to the room so we could go to Disneyland. We caught the Monorail in Downtown Disney at 5:45pm and landed in Tomorrowland. The girls were hungry so we stopped at Club Buzz first thing and got 3 of the kids’ nugget meals. These were such a deal!! First off, you get 4 Mickey Mouse shaped nuggets that are super soft and tasty, either fries or carrots with ranch and a small drink PLUS you get the little plastic lunchbox they all come in-all for $5.99. Price for 3-$19.35. After eating, we got in line for the Matterhorn, had about an 8 minute wait. Zoey loved it, Delaney HATED it, cried through the entire thing. We got Fast Passes for Buzz Lightyear with a return time of 40 minutes and went on Star Tours. Had about a 15-20 minute wait for ST, never made it to Endor though. Darn, one of these days I am going to meet Wicket for sure!! Spent some time in the Star Tours store but didn’t buy anything. Used our Fast Pass for BLAB even though there was only a 10 minute wait for the ride and oh my goodness!! All three of us LOVED this ride!!!! DL hit a homerun here!! The girls were kind of whiny and grumpy right about now so we decided to leave. Went down Main Street, Delaney and I got our Annual Passes and I went to the Tour Guide station to see about a tour for Monday or Tuesday for my dad and me, but Walk in Walt’s Footsteps was all booked. Bummer! We went out through the front gate and I got a picture of the girls on each of the California letters. While we were taking pictures, Josh called, was in DTD and wanted to meet so we told him where we were and he met up with us. They REALLY enjoyed the game, Ducks won but sadly no flying V. We walked through DTD, asked Josh if he would take the girls back to the room while I stopped in at Wetzel’s Pretzels and got us a snack. I got us two cheese dogs, one with pizza sauce (me) and one with cheese sauce (Josh) for $10.52. I thought mine was fabulous, Josh said his was nasty. Go figure!

Highs: Disneyland Hotel!!! Monorail!!! Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters!!!
Lows: Long drive

Day Two: Monday, 11/28/2005
Monday morning my parents came over to the DL Hotel and checked in. They were given two of the charge slips so they could use the Monorail and get in for Early Entry but no room keys yet, as it was 9am. We used the Monorail again and got in the park about 9:30am. We rode Dumbo, It’s a Small World Holiday, and the Tea Cups, all with a less than 20 minute wait. We got Fast Passes for Buzz Lightyear at 11am with a 30 minute return time. My dad is diabetic and was feeling a little wonky from no breakfast and everyone else was hungry so we went to Club Buzz again. I got a kids mini corndog meal with carrots instead of fries, Josh and Delaney each got a cheeseburger combo and Zoey got another nugget meal, all for $30.43. After lunch, we used our FPs for BLAB and EVERYONE loved it!! Then Josh and Gilbert took the girls onto Star Tours and my mom and I rested our feet and people watched. I saw PUSH!! After they got off the ride, we all got in line for Space Mountain (except my mom), which had a 30 minute wait. Josh and I absolutely LOVED this ride, whatever they did to it during the refurbishment made it even more amazing than before!! My dad wasn’t into it and the girls both hated it but oh well, Josh and I had a good time, haha! After Space Mountain we all went to Innoventions. I was not impressed but the kids and my parents had a good time. Then we headed over to Adventureland and went to the Tiki Room. We weren’t able to get the Dole whips and floats we were dying to try because as soon as we got there it was time to go in and afterwards, Delaney’s cough had become really bad and we decided she didn’t need dairy to make it even worse. We loved the Tiki, was a first time for all of us!! (I had sat through it with my parents when I was really young but definitely don’t remember it and neither did they). Afterwards we went on Delaney’s favorite ride, the Jungle Cruise and then Indiana Jones, each had a wait of less than 20 minutes. The girls loved JC, the piranha were absolutely fabulous but they HATED Indiana Jones. After all the fun, it was getting late so we took the monorail back to the hotel where my parents got to check in to their room and got the basket I had made them (even though bell services delivered it to MY room instead!) and then we walked over to the ESPN Zone so the boys could watch football and we could eat dinner. There was a 3 hour wait for an inside table so we wisely opted for the outside table with a 10 minute wait. Our food was all fabulous! We had the Blue Potato Chips as our appetizer and it was tasty! I had the Chicken Tender wrap and the Chicken Tortilla soup (couldn’t finish the wrap and the soup was kind of bland-but if you tell me something has avocado, I am going to order it and both did!), Josh got the Triple Double (triple cheese, double meat-I am surprised his heart held out!), Gilbert got the Barbecued Mahi Sandwich, Dyan got the Clam Chowder and declared it too spicy, but ate my baked potato, and the girls each got Chicken Strips meals. I REALLY wanted to try the Peppermint Patty Brownie which is a brownie layered with peppermint cheesecake but I was too full. Total came to $66 before tip, our server was EXCELLENT so we left $80 and called it a night.

Highs: Disneyland Hotel!!!! Space Mountain!!! BLAB!!!! ESPN Zone!!! Having souvenirs sent to room!!!!
Lows: Kids not liking grownup rides-oops!

Day Three: Tuesday, 11/29/2005
We got into Disneyland around 10:30am today and headed straight for Disneyland: The First 50 Years. I loved this video!!! And I cried!!! Everyone else enjoyed it as well, just not as sappily as me. My dad is a HUGE Steve Martin fan so he was excited that he hosted it. Then we booked it over to the DL Railroad to get to New Orleans Square for our 11:30 Blue Bayou reservation. When we got there, the line was HUGE with people wanting to make a reservation for that day but they were booked. We were seated within 10 minutes of checking and got a table in the “second” row from the water. I have to say, the adults absolutely enjoyed this restaurant! The atmosphere was amazing, the food was delicious and the service was excellent. The kids weren’t impressed; in fact, Delaney was terrified of the dark, the noises, thought a Pirate was going to come along at any minute, etc. I got the Jerk Pork Chops with Root Beer Apples (fabulously moist!!), Gilbert got the Jambalaya (said it was delicious), Josh got the Monte Cristo (hasn’t stopped raving! I had a bite and it was so excellent!!) and Dyan got the clam chowder and ate bread. The girls each got another nugget meal. Total for the meal: I think it was $76. We left $96 (yep, the service was THAT good!) and headed out of there. We took the Railroad back to Main Street and caught up with some old friends: Pluto, Goofy, Tigger and Eeyore and then headed to California Adventure. Everyone but Dyan went on Soarin’ Over California (8 minute wait) and then the same group walked onto GRR. Gilbert and Delaney decided not to ride again but me, Josh and Zoey were brave enough for another go. Nicely wet, we headed over to Turtle Talk with Crush and had about 20 minutes to kill before the next show. We saw Abby Mallard, got an autograph and picture then headed back to wait. This show was amazing!! Very nicely done, where the kids AND adults have a really good time! After the show, we headed back to Disneyland where we took the Railroad to Toon Town. We went to Mickey’s, Minnie’s, and Goofy’s houses, and Donald’s Boat. Time for dinner! We ate at Daisy’s Diner and whatever the pizza place next to it is called. The girls each got nuggets (again!!!), I got pepperoni pizza and a salad, Dyan got cheese pizza and a salad, and the boys got Bratwursts. I didn’t keep the receipts but it was under $40 for all. We stopped in the little store in Toon Town then walked at lightning speed over to the hub to get seats for the fireworks. It was about 6:45 at this time and there were still seats left as most of the people were watching the parade. We sat down in front of the benches, right smack in the middle of the hub. Excellent seats! We had over an hour to kill so Josh went and rode the Matterhorn and Space Mountain again and then got us a Pluto bucket of popcorn and hot cocoa. The line was SOOOO long though, when he got back the cocoa was cool, the popcorn was cool and there were only 3 minutes left before the show! All I have to say about the fireworks is AMAZING. My parents said if they had come to Disneyland and ONLY seen the fireworks it still would have been worth the trip! I liked the Star Tours part best and everyone else loved everything. <Delaney says her favorite part of the fireworks was the Haunted Mansion part. >

Highs: Blue Bayou!!! Fireworks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Lows: Someone under 10 got sticky fingers in Toon Town

Day Four: Wednesday, 11/30/2005
Check-out day. Is there ever a sadder thought? <sigh> We checked out at 10:30am and then headed to Goofy’s Kitchen for our 10:40 reservation. They had a beautiful tree in the lobby and I snapped some pictures and got some pressed pennies and then we were seated. I have to say the food was really quite nasty. Cold, hard, some of it tasteless, blah! But the character interaction was nice. We have done Pooh’s breakfast at the Plaza Inn twice and the Princess breakfast at the Plaza Inn last year and we REALLY enjoyed those. This was just ok. The Mad Hatter was superb!! The characters who came to us were Goofy, Mad Hatter, Dale, and Baloo. Not exactly a good deal at $84.20 for 2 adults and 2 kids. After our disappointing breakfast (at least to the adults-the kids didn’t realize there were better things than what they had-LOL!) we went to Disneyland where Josh and Delaney rode Star Tours while Zoey and I went back to the Toon Town store to deal with the sticky finger issue (actually, they didn’t RIDE Star Tours, they stood in line and then Delaney chickened out even after riding it 3 times already-LOL!) We all rode Buzz Lightyear one more time, only this time they made the kids ride with an adult which was lame after the girls had ridden it 3 times before in their own little car. We then hopped on the train for a farewell trip to Main Street and checked out the Magic Store, posed for the obligatory photos in front of the castle and then left. So sad!

Highs: The pictures in front of the castle turned out nicely. Other than that, not much. So sad to leave the Hotel, breakfast was a flop….
Lows: Goofy’s Kitchen!!!!!!!!!!!!! Leaving DL Hotel!!! Extremely long ride home (or is just felt that way because I missed my 2 year old so much!)

Spending:
Hotel-$240.88 for Sunday night, $227.70 for Monday and Tuesday night (AP rate-$89 a night)
Gas-Budgeted $240, actually spent $130
Food-Budgeted $500, actually spent about $400
Tickets:1 4 day Park Hopper for a 6 year old-$129
2 Deluxe APs for Josh and Delaney-$458
1 Deluxe AP plus Parking for CJ-$278
All Ears Baskets for the girls-$91.12
Hockey Game for Josh-$25 + $30 spending money
Total-$2009.70 (NOT including spending money!)
Delaney and Zoey each worked like little Cinderella’s from August to November and they each brought $75. Josh and I each brought $144 each and came home with money.

Tips:

Book in advance and call the DL Hotel often to see if they have any specials. Because of my fellow Padders, I was able to secure an AP rate!! UTILIZE everything great about the DLH: bell services was amazing, not having to schlep our souvenirs through the park (especially my oh-so-creaseable scrapbook supplies) was fabulous, the Monorail through DTD was equally great.

Read restaurant reviews-I seriously didn’t think Goofy’s Kitchen wouldn’t be that bad. Blech!!! Just figured people were picky, but nope, it’s nasty.

Call ahead as soon as you can for Blue Bayou!!

HAVE FUN!!! Realize yes, you have spent every free minute for 5 months planning your trip and go in knowing it’s OK if it doesn’t go as planned. I purchased RideMax and printed out schedules and never even looked at it during the trip. Go at your kids’ speed (especially when they are sick like poor ol’ Delaney!)

CJ Hensley

Potterphreak@comcast.net


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