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Victoria Kahler -- April 2003 – Disneyland (DH)


Fortieth Anniversary Celebration
Disneyland Resort – April 14-17, 2003

The Cast

  • Victoria: Report writer, 26
  • Mae: Sister, Disney Store Cast Member, 38
  • Mom and Dad: Celebrating forty years of marriage, 69 and 65

Introduction
The four of us last vacationed at the Disneyland Resort (DLR) in December of 2002. After that trip, Mom kept saying that we needed to do something special for their upcoming fortieth anniversary. Disneyland seemed the obvious choice. We all love Disney and always have a good time together vacationing there—it was a place we could all agree on.

Mae is a Cast Member (CM), so I called Walt Disney Travel and asked about CM room rates at the Disney hotels. Mae and I have been pining for the Grand Californian Hotel, but the price was a bit too high. The Travel Agent quoted us $69 per night for the Disneyland Hotel. It was a no-brainer. We booked three nights and added 3 two-day Park Hoppers for the parents and myself (Mae already had a two-day passport that she had earned at work).

To make our stay more special, Mae and I called to make Priority Seatings (PS) for Hook’s Pointe, Ariel’s Grotto, and Goofy’s Kitchen (Yes, I read Kevin Yee’s article about it. Let’s just say we took a chance). We also requested that the hotel deliver bride and groom Mickey and Minnie ears on our arrival day. Mae actually choked up a bit when she told them that the ears were for our parents’ fortieth anniversary; she is very proud of them. Both of us were excited to see their expressions, especially Mom’s, when the ears arrived.

Monday, April 14, 2003

As planned, we left the Bay Area of Northern California at 4:30 a.m. Our intention was to arrive in Anaheim by lunchtime. The drive was uneventful. We listened to our collection of Disney soundtracks for the entire drive and stopped to eat donuts for breakfast.

Disneyland Hotel

At 11:30 a.m., we drove into the parking lot of the Disneyland Hotel. At the Security Booth, a CM walked up to our car. He had a blank look on his face. Of course, Mae was excited to arrive and said a cheerful “Hi!” He just stared at her. “Do you need to see our reservation papers?” she asked. “I need to see a photo ID,” he intoned. She showed her CM ID, and he waved us through. Later we would noticed a sign reading, “Be prepared to show picture ID” at the Security Station. I guess that that CM was used to the sign doing the talking for him.

In the lobby area of the Disneyland Hotel, I was positively giddy. I kept pointing out the little touches all around: the music playing at the front desk and in the bathrooms, the hidden Mickeys in the carpet, lampposts, and wallpaper. Baloo, Genie, and Captain Hook strolled by, followed by a line of kids. Everything looked new and different since the last time we had been fortunate enough to stay there, which was about eleven years ago. Usually we stay at one of the Good Neighbor Hotels in the immediate area. They are nice but don’t have that “magic.” Stepping into the Disneyland Hotel, I felt like I was already in Disneyland itself.

We checked in. Our room was not yet ready; they told us to return at 3 p.m., the official check-in time. We visited the lobby gift shops and made the first of many pin trades with the CMs there. Then we got back in the car and headed over to Company D.

Company D

Company D is a store where CMs can shop for Disney merchandise that is 50% to 90% off. It is a mile or two away from DLR. CMs show their IDs at the front door and at the registers. They are allowed to bring friends and family members with them. There may be a limit to the number of people CMs can take with them, but I don’t know. Anyway, the three of us had no problem accompanying Mae into the store.

That day’s selection was okay. We spent of total of $250 between the four of us. Mae, Mom, and Dad bought jackets and sweatshirts. They told us that the store gets new stuff all the time, so we made a plan to return later in the week. We made a quick stop at El Pollo Loco for lunch before driving back to the hotel.

Disneyland Hotel

Our room at the Disneyland Hotel was the first hotel room that I have ever wished were my own bedroom. It had two four-poster beds, a day bed, an entertainment center that held the television and a refrigerator, and a desk/vanity.

There were traces of Disney everywhere, some things that at first I didn’t notice but were great subtle touches of “magic.” Etched into the headboards of the beds was Sleeping Beauty Castle. On the façade of the entertainment center was an early sketch of Disneyland, which named sections like Holidayland and Mickey Mouse Club that never made it into the park. The bedspreads at first seemed just a floral pattern, but looking closer there were the Teacups, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and other rides in the design. Along the top of the room was a wallpaper border with Tinker Bell followed by a trail of pixie dust. In the bathroom, Mickey’s hand held a wall lamp, and the topiary-design on the wallpaper had the Fab Five. The sink pedestal had a tissue dispenser; by it, there was a sketch of Sneezy.

Once we had settled into the room—I am fanatical about unpacking my suitcase and putting everything into drawers or the closet, even if I’m only staying a night or two—the ladies decided to shop while Dad took a nap. As we were heading out the door, the phone rang; Mae answered and then told us that we had to wait. “They’re going to deliver something. That’s all they said,” she lied. Mom kept wondering aloud what it could be. More towels? Linens for the day bed? A surprise from Mae’s husband?

It was the Mickey ears we had ordered. I brought them over to Mom and Dad. “Is someone celebrating their fortieth anniversary?” I asked. Mom started crying immediately. The ears came with two envelopes: a small one that had a card in it and read “Happy Anniversary! Love, Maie [oops!] and Victoria” and an 8” by 10” envelope that had a black and white photo of Mickey and Minnie with their autographs on it. The second envelope and photo were surprises to even Mae and myself.

Mae, Mom, and I went to the Acorn gift shop at the Grand Californian Hotel and to the World of Disney. Our favorite purchase was charm bracelet links. At our local malls, these links run from $27 to $36. At DLR, they were much cheaper. Of course, they are probably not from Italy and are not real silver, but we were able to afford to buy each kind—the Fab Five, the Pooh characters, and a couple of Mickey head silhouettes.

The original plan had been to swim before dinner, but the weather was very gloomy, so we forewent the pools. The balcony of our room had a lovely view of the two pools, so that was enjoyment enough. We also had views of the waterfalls below, the nightly Dancing Waters show, and the Matterhorn (in the distance).

Our PS at Hook’s Pointe was for 6:30 p.m. The restaurant was very busy. It is a small restaurant, without a real lobby area, so it was also crowded. We were seated immediately, however. When our waiter arrived, Mom gestured to the bride-Minnie ears she was wearing, and said, “We just got married . . . forty years ago.” The four of us laughed, but the waiter just said, “Oh, I thought you were wearing those as a joke or something.” “No, it’s our anniversary,” Dad told him. Still, the waiter did not congratulate them or anything. He was all business, taking our orders.

The food was delicious—as always—but the service was slow. When we finished eating, our plates sat in front of us for a long while. Mae took out her CM ID, and I took out my credit card. Still, the waiter did not return. The manager came by and asked how our meal was. We told him the food was great but that we were not very happy with the service. He went in search of our waiter, who finally came to take away our plates. He did not say a word to us—no “Sorry” or “Did you need anything else?” or “Have a good evening.” The manager, though, did return. He apologized and explained that the combination of Spring Break busyness and the bad weather had brought in more diners than expected. He also offered us a free dessert. We declined; we were tired and ready to leave. When he insisted, we agreed to a to-go cheesecake.

We ate our cheesecake in the room and watched the nine o’clock Dancing Waters show from the balcony. Then it was time to sleep.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Disneyland

I woke up at 6:30 in the morning. Looking out the window, I saw that the sky was cloud free. It was a beautiful day. As I stood there, I heard a man’s voice yell, “Good morning, Disneyland!” Soon after, a little girl’s voice yelled the same thing. What a great way to start the day.

We hopped on the Monorail. Dad was in his wheelchair that he uses on days that require too much walking. The CM helped us load that chair into the car.

Breakfast at the River Belle Terrace was nice. I love their scrambled eggs and country potatoes. Mom and Dad had the pancakes. We took a picture of that since they were in the shape of Mickey’s head and ears. Mae barely touched her fruit plate; I think she was eager to start the day.

Disney’s California Adventure (DCA)

We entered DCA at 9:30, though most of the park was not yet open. Mae got another wheelchair, this one for Mom who also cannot manage a long day of walking.

I went to over to Hollywood Pictures Backlot to get tickets for Aladdin. There was already quite a crowd gathered at the rope there. A CM was telling everyone that only one person per party needed to be there to get tickets. “When the rope drops, just one person needs to get in line, tell us how many tickets you need, and smile,” he said. I’m sure many people get demanding!

At ten o’clock, DCA’s official opening time that day, the CM let the rope down and led the crowd to the Hyperion Theater to get in line for the tickets. He was very strict about everyone walking on the right side of the street to get to the ticket stand. I’m not sure why; this section of the park was empty so it’s not as though people were passing on the left side. I guess it’s a matter of crowd control. I asked for four tickets for the 4:45 showing. Mae came up just then to snap a picture of the growing line. Then we stood looking at the construction going on nearby and talked about next year’s opening of Tower of Terror. We can’t wait!

The first attraction of the day was Soarin’ Over California, a ride we all absolutely love. As we stood in line, a family ahead of us was debating whether to ride. They asked the CM how similar the ride was to Star Tours. The CM said that it was the same type of thing. The dad of the family then decided not to ride. Of course, Mae and Mom jumped in and said that it is a beautiful ride. The dad asked if it had lots of drops or sharp turns. I interjected that it was a smooth, gliding ride. So, the whole family went on. I heard the son ask his dad “Are you okay?” a couple of times, and the dad said he was fine. In the end, they told us they all really liked the ride. I, however, thought it could have been better. The screen was dirty and the lines in it were very visible, especially in the scenes with light-blue sky backgrounds.

Next, it was time for a Grizzly River Run. In the Special Assistance loading area, we took our ponchos out of my backpack and got ready. The CM/River Guide said that our family looked ready for a hurricane. Nope, we were just prepared to not get wet. The others in our raft were soaked by the time we disembarked. It is a fun ride that I wouldn’t want to miss, so the plastic ponchos are a necessity as far as I am concerned. I hate to walk around in wet clothes, especially jeans, for hours afterward.

Golden Dreams is an okay show. It’s good to see once. Mae and I had seen it before, but our parents hadn’t. It was nice to sit and rest out of the sun. Strangely, the Special Assistance seating was in the front row, so we all had to sit way back in our chairs to watch. The best part of the show is the song “Just One Dream.” The montage is a tearjerker (for Mae); it makes me kind of proud to be a Californian.

We got a couple of vanilla shakes from San Andreas Shakes. This shake shop has been closed on other occasions because attendance was light, so this was our first time trying them. The shakes are made with extra rich milk and are very thick. Yummy! Mae was hungry for much more, so she ate a burrito from Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill.

In Flik’s Fun Fair, my goal was to go on at least one of the kiddy rides there. I always feel a little weird about visiting an attraction that is specifically designed for kids, especially when I am not accompanied by a child. Fantasyland rides seem like they are for kids and kids-at-heart, but Toontown rides, like Jolly Trolley, and Bug’s Land rides do not seem like rides built for adults too. So, we only went on one, Heimlich's Chew Chew Train. Actually, Dad sat this one out. It was cute but VERY short.

By 4:00, it was time to line up for Aladdin. We ate hotdogs from Award Wieners before getting in the queue. When we entered the theater, a CM told us where to park the two wheelchairs and sit. Soon after, another CM came by and said we had to move because we were blocking a path. So, Mae and I sat in one area, and Mom and Dad sat in another.

Mae and I liked the seats we had been given; we had a good view of the stage. Five minutes before show time, a woman came up and asked us to move down so that she and her son could sit there. We said no. I stood in line for nearly thirty minutes that morning for tickets and another thirty before the show began; we felt we deserved the seats we got. In a huff, the woman sat in the seats she had wanted us to sit in. Then the announcer came on and said “No flash photography.” At this time, Mae had begun getting her camera ready, which does not require a flash. The huffy woman snapped at us, “They said no cameras.” I retorted, “They said ‘No *flash* photography.’”

After all that drama :) we finally watched Aladdin, a Musical Spectacular. It was great. Mae and the parents said it was very well done and cute. I remarked that the two Aladdins and Jasmines that were used were very obvious, as were the ropes for the flying sequences, but I’m a nitpicker so don’t listen to me about that.

The Sun Wheel only made two trips around, and most of that time was spent loading people onto the ride. Rarely, do we ever get the full Ferris-wheel effect. Dad and Mom rode with another couple in a stationary gondola, while Mae and I rode with a family of four in a swinging gondola. The family was nice. The daughter had a birthday sticker on and seemed really happy. The mom and Mae talked about working at the Disney Store—which Mae enjoys—and the Grand Californian Hotel. The family was staying there, and the kids liked the bunk beds in the room. The mom said that the service there is top-notch too. Sigh.

We shopped at some of the Paradise Pier stores and then went to Ariel’s Grotto for our 6:45 PS. Ariel and Goofy met us in the lobby area. Dad was pretty happy since he’s a big Goofy fan. This was a fun place to eat. Adults choose soup or salad, one entrée (from a limited selection), and a dessert. Everyone pays the same price. The characters come around to your table and sign autographs or pose for pictures. We met Chip, Dale, and Pluto. With the bill, the waitress delivered a plate of cotton candy, “Ariel’s sea foam.” Mom and Dad were tired, so we took them back to the hotel to sleep.

Disneyland

Mae and I took advantage of Disneyland’s midnight closing time that day. We got on the Monorail. The Believe fireworks were just starting. As we walked through Fantasyland, we noticed a great place in front of the carousel to watch the fireworks. The carousel, Dumbo, and the Teacups were all paused as the show went on. We made a note to sit there the next night and watch Believe with our parents.

First, we went on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. For some reason, this ride seemed much faster than usual. I read somewhere that the heat and use of the day causes some rides to move faster as the day goes on. That certainly seemed true this evening. I was truly scared at a few moments and, jokingly, yelled, “Runaway train!”

Next, we rode the Winnie the Pooh ride for the first time. A CM was standing at the entrance and shouting, “Come ride this brand new ride!” like a carnival caller.

I had read the most awful things about the Pooh ride. Some people have compared it to DCA’s old ride Superstar Limo. Whoa, that was bad. I rode that when it first came out and have never been more disappointed by a Disney ride. The only ride worse than that that I have been on was a terrible Space Mountain wannabe ten years ago at the MGM hotel’s theme park in Las Vegas. Anyway, Superstar Limo was bad, and I had been told by a friend of mine that Pooh was, well, *poo* too. I told my friend, “Okay, I’ll expect nothing and I won’t be disappointed.” He said, “No, expect worse than nothing.” I had told Mae about my misgivings about Pooh, so we were both ready for the worst.

Now, I must say this: The Winnie the Pooh ride is a good ride. It’s a regular dark ride, like the Fantasyland rides. I would not put it on par with the best of the dark rides, like Peter Pan’s Flight or Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, but it’s good. It’s as good as Alice in Wonderland at least. It’s not as good as the Pooh ride at Walt Disney World, but not every duplicated ride can be a carbon copy. I enjoyed the music and the quality of the sound system of Pooh. The paints were bright and fresh. The motion of the vehicles was a neat effect, something that would improve other dark rides. Also, the ride was a good length, much longer than, say, Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train. I think all the criticisms were a bit unfair.

To end the night, Mae and I went to just about every shop in Disneyland. We did so very quickly because we did not look at the merchandise; we just looked for lanyard-wearing CMs. We made many trades that night. Sometimes, a CM would not be wearing their pin lanyard, but we would see it hanging by the cash register. Everyone was nice about putting on the lanyard and trading with us when we asked. Near midnight, we had sore feet and were dead tired. We returned to the hotel to sleep.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Disneyland Hotel

I woke and was ready for the day before everyone else, so I went down to the hotel’s lobby gift shop. Several of the CMs there were wearing lanyards, so I traded some pins with them. It’s funny to now look at the photos of our vacation and notice the ever-changing selection of pins on my lanyard.

While I was in the shop, I asked for change for a few dollars, explaining that I would be pressing pennies in the park’s machines. The CM very kindly provided me with a list of penny press machines. He also asked if I needed some pennies as part of my change and offered to look for new shiny pennies. I told him I have pre-1982 pennies that I shine and use. Older pennies are copper all the way through and don’t show silver streaks when pressed. I then had to prove what a nerd I am by telling him that I actually took the time to use a metal polish on my coins; cola also works to clean dirty coins. He said, “Wow, I’ll have to pass that information on to other guests.”

I went back to the room and found that Mom and Dad were not yet ready to start the day. Mae and I headed over to the Monorail with plans to meet up with our parents later that morning.

Our first stop was Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin. There was no line at all, which is actually unfortunate. We quickly strolled past the detailed queue. It is one of the best in the park. Indiana Jones and Space Mountain are also great.

I am extremely interested to see the refurbishment of Space Mountain and how the queue may change as a result. I hope that it will be just as all encompassing as before. Speaking of Space Mountain, only three days before we left for our vacation I found out that, this, my favorite ride of all time would be closed forever. Okay, for two years, but that seems like forever. It was strange not running to Space Mountain as soon as the park opened. The sights and sounds of that ride have always set the tone for my Disneyland days and impress upon me that, yes, I am at the Happiest Place on Earth. Oh well . . . .

Mae and I strolled around Toontown and began looking for a place to eat. It was still breakfast time, so many of the eateries were closed or only serving breakfast foods. However, we did not feel like eating eggs, pancakes, and the like. Starving, we walked around Fantasyland and Tomorrowland in search of food. After 10 a.m., the restaurants began serving lunch foods, and we settled for burgers at Club Buzz, an old standby of ours.

After the burger-breakfast, we went to the Wheelchair Rental and got an electric wheelchair for our dad to use; Mom would be pushed in his regular chair for the day. It had been a little strenuous pushing both of them through the park the day before. DLR is fairly flat but inclines are in certain places, especially queues. Each of us pushing a chair and keeping 18-hour days proved too taxing. So, for this day, Mae and I shared pushing duties and let Dad fend for himself among the Spring Break crowds. With the electric wheelchair ready, we met our parents at the Monorail.

They, of course, were hungry, so again we went in search of food. This time, we looked for breakfast foods just as it was nearing lunchtime. Mom and Dad decided on pastries and coffee at the Blue Ribbon Bakery on Main Street.

While they ate, Mae and I crossed the street to the Silhouette Studio. I had never had my silhouette done before but had read good reports on the Studio’s work. Two ladies run the shop. One cuts the profiles and the other glues and frames them and rings up the purchases. Both work astonishingly fast. I was amazed at how quickly and accurately the cutting lady could produce someone’s silhouette. Mae and I both had ours done, and they held them for us to pick up at the end of the day.

Both of our parents liked the Winnie the Pooh ride. The line for it was much longer than the night before. Also, the Special Assistance line was also the Fastpass line and was a bit difficult to traverse with our two chairs. Most other rides use the exit area for Special Assistance guests, and that is usually much easier to manage. Other than that, we all enjoyed the experience. The second time on the ride solidified my positive judgment of it.

Splash Mountain’s Special Assistance line was the exit path, which was good. However, it was on an incline and was very long. The ride was as great as always. Just before the final drop, I said, “Look at the Matterhorn until they take the picture!” Dad and I did just that. Mom and Mae just had to look down, so Dad and I look like we are staring, strangely, off into space. We bought the ride photo anyway. On our way out, Mom walked up the short incline to exit. A person in the Special Assistance line made a comment like, “Oh look. She *can* walk.” Some people just don’t understand.

I am very fond of the Haunted Mansion; we all are. I especially love to go on it during the day. It’s fun to be in the nighttime setting of the ride so long that when you exit the sunshine is disorienting. It was more crowded than I have ever seen it. Once we left the stretching room, there was a throng of people moving very slowly to the Doom Buggy loading area. One little boy, in his father’s arms, kept yelling that he was scared. “Let’s go back to the hotel!” he cried. We felt so bad for him. In the Doom Buggies, I rode with Dad. I pointed out the hidden Mickey in the dining room scene and spotted, for the first time, a drunken ghost lying under the table. I love how I can ride that ride dozens of time and still notice something I never noticed before.

At Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, their Special Assistance loading plan again confused me. We walked through the exit path and then waited. Waiting is fine; that’s not the problem. What was strange was that they did not load us from the exit area. Instead we had to take two elevators in order to cross the track and get to the regular loading area. After the ride, we had to take the two elevators again in order to exit. It seemed like a waste of time and energy, the CMs and ours. I wonder if it has something to do with insurance or safety. I can’t figure out what though.

Last time I went on Indy with Dad he was silent throughout the ride. I later told him that I had been worried about him because he was so quiet. This time he let out a “Whoa!” here and a “Woo!” there. I was relieved.

Mae and I talk about the Bengal Barbecue frequently: “Don’t you wish we could have lunch today at the Bengal Barbecue?” or “Remember how they made the asparagus skewers at the Bengal Barbecue?” One day, I even talked my brother-in-law into barbecuing asparagus spears wrapped in bacon. He complained about the difficulty of the wrapping, and I made a remark about the lack of lime wedges and Tarzan Treehouse music. They should have a sign that says: “Don’t try this at home. It’s not the same.”

Obviously, we had to have lunch at the Bengal Barbecue. In addition to our regular beef, chicken, and asparagus, we ordered the skewer of the month, blackened salmon. The salmon was even better than the beef or chicken. Who would have thought that was even possible?! It was tender and flavorful, and on each end of the salmon skewer was our beloved bacon-wrapped asparagus!

After lunch, Mae and I went back to the hotel to change. We both like to change our shoes and socks mid-day; it’s kind of revitalizing oddly enough. While in line to board the Monorail, the announcer said that it would be closing due to the purple train having problems. Everyone left the station and had to walk through Downtown Disney to get to the park. We reentered the park and when we passed the Matterhorn, we saw the purple Monorail train, full of people, being towed. That was a strange sight.

At seven o’clock we met up, as planned, with Mom and Dad in front of it’s a small world. This is our prime parade-viewing area. Mae and I have seen the Parade of the Stars a few times, but our parents had never before, so we wanted them so have a good view. It’s a fun Parade, though not a classic like the Electrical Parade. We have always envied the guests who get to be in the Parade.

Well, little did we know that at 7 p.m. a double-decker bus would come by looking for Guest Performers. When Mae and I saw that bus, we started yelling, “Omigosh! It’s empty! Let’s try to be in the Parade!” We ran to the CMs and excitedly asked if we could be in the Parade. The one holding the clipboard asked for our names and then said, “Do you want to be in the parade?” Duh. Still, we practically shouted, “Yes!” “Have you been in the Parade before?” We answered no and later found out that it was an irrelevant question; one of the other Guest Performers had been in it before, and the CM was fine with that. We ran back to our parents and gave them our lanyards, backpacks, and strict instructions to take pictures of us when we came by.

On the bus, I felt like I was at last among “my own kind.” It was very cool to be with people who love Disney and were just as excited as we were. Sometimes, in daily life, I feel like a Disney freak—I’m sure that others, like me, have been called that. (Thank goodness for websites like Mouse Planet and Laughing Place so that I know I’m not alone. :)) The family on our left was also from Northern California. They, too, had made a weeklong trip to DLR just a few months prior but needed a quick Disney fix. On our right was a family from Utah. The mom said she and her daughters had always wanted to be in the Parade but thought special reservations were necessary or “that you had to be part of the Make a Wish Foundation or something” she said.

The bus took a long time to get from small world to the other end of the park. As we traveled, a CM gave us a form to fill out. The form stated that we were in good health and that the Disney Company was not responsible for our health or any injuries. Also, it said that our image, likeness, and voice could be used in any way Disney chose, including advertising. I’m sure everyone there would love to be in a commercial for DLR. I filled out the address portion and signed on the bottom line. The CM also kept asking things like “Are you happy to be at Disneyland?” “Yeah!” we cheered. Then we began practicing our waving. One girl explained the so-called princess wave: Elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist, touch your pearls, blow a kiss.

At last, the bus arrived at the end/beginning of Main Street, right near the Mad Hatter shop. There, we were given name tags and split into groups. As each group was told what their place in the Parade was, a cheer would go up. I think our group was the best; at least, that’s what our CM Leader told us. Each member of our group would be assigned to one character for the whole Parade, whereas others had to share a character with two or three other people. We were firmly told that the character would choose us and not vice versa.

We learned our steps very quickly. The Leader was concerned about the disproportionate number of very young kids and the short amount of time he had to give us our directions. At 8 p.m., it was a matter of ready or not. We donned our satin, star-design capes and awaited our entrance.

The characters came out on cue. Mae was paired with Clarabelle the Cow and I with Robin Hood. They aren’t allowed to speak, of course, so there was a lot of gesturing and bowing. I told Robin Hood that he’s the star of one of my favorite movies. He gestured that he was embarrassed by my compliment. Then it was time to move along in the procession.

It was so much fun being in the Parade. I concentrated very hard on the steps we had learned. I barely noticed the music playing or the trolley tracks in the street, which we had been warned about. Thank goodness none of us tripped! However, I became very aware of the crowds staring at me as I passed. I am not an extrovert at all, but it was very exciting being in front of the crowds. I had a smile plastered on my face the whole time. When I saw a video or regular camera, I smiled even bigger, looked right at it, and waved—sometimes with both hands! The coolest thing was when I’d hear a kid exclaim, “Look! It’s Robin Hood!” I kept thinking that I was part of so many families’ vacation photos and *maybe* memories. Stars were definitely in my eyes that night.

Mae told me that she had a great experience as well and that Clarabelle was a great partner. During the parade, Mae also interacted with Flik and his partner; each time she and Flik were near each other, she would yell out his name “FLIK!” and give him a high five. Flik seemed to get a real kick out of that.

At the very end of the Parade, we passed by our parents at last. Dad snapped the requisite pictures. Abruptly, though, Robin Hood stopped and began to mess up my hair as a way to say good-bye. I couldn’t believe it was over. I told him that he had been a wonderful partner. He replied with a pat on my shoulder and then went on his way backstage. Clarabelle gave Mae a huge hug as well. Of course Mae got teary eyed because it had come to an end. This definitely was a dream come true for us.

Mae and I joined the others at the water keg they had ready. Suddenly, I realized I was incredibly hot and sweaty. It felt like my face was beating. Water, I needed water. I don’t know how Robin Hood or Clarabelle do it. If I were covered in fur, I would have overheated halfway down the Parade route. I have newfound respect for the Parade performers. Our Leader was positively dripping with sweat as he collected our capes.

Then he thanked us for our participation and handed out pins. He explained, “These pins are not for sale anywhere in the world. You can’t buy them anywhere. Only guests who perform in the Parade get this pin. It is for each of you to remember this experience, so I don’t want to see these pins being traded . . . or sold on Ebay.” (Guess what I saw up for auction on that very website the other day?) Mae and I nodded solemnly; we will never sell our pins. As if! It is a beautiful pin of Pinocchio’s Blue Fairy, and the back is stamped GUEST PERFORMER.

We met up with our parents and were quickly ushered out of the area in preparation for Believe . . . There’s Magic in the Stars. Now it was back to our regularly scheduled program.

We headed over to the Matterhorn Bobsleds, which we haven’t ridden since the refurbishment. It seemed much smoother, and I wasn’t as nervous about raising my hands in the air. Before, I have feared that my hands would hit something in the dark.

There was enough room for two people to sit on a bench near King Arthur’s Carousel. Mom and Dad parked their wheelchairs in front of us. At 9:30, the Believe fireworks began. However, tonight it took several minutes for the carousel and Dumbo to pause for the show, as they had the night before. Also, the music never came on in our area; we could hear it vaguely in the distance. Our planned *perfect* viewing location turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. Mom and Dad still oohed and aahed over the fireworks, but I kept repeating that it was so much better with the music in full effect. Okay, maybe I just need the soundtrack to drown my voice out as I sang along. ;)

Our final ride was Pirates of the Caribbean. I sat between my parents, just as I did so many times as a kid. Ah, memories. I was almost lulled to sleep. The adrenaline rush of the Parade was fleeting.

Mom and Dad were tired too, and we took them to the Monorail to go to the hotel. Mae and I went to return the electric wheelchair.

On the way, a survey taker waylaid us. I perked up at that. I enjoy taking surveys; it’s nice to feel that my opinion matters to someone out there (Maybe that’s why I write trip reports? Hmm. . . ). The surveyor wanted to know what type of ticket we were using, what time we had arrived at the park, how many attractions we had managed to visit, and other similar questions. We gave positive answers to the questions concerning quality. He also wanted to know if anything would make our next visit even more magical. Both of us said we wanted Space Mountain to open sooner rather than later. Also, we asked for a new parade. Now that we’ve been in it . . .been there done that. ;)

We walked through the Main Street shops once more to trade pins. People kept calling me by my name. “Hi, Victoria” or “Excuse me, Victoria.” I really was a star after being a Guest Performer in the Parade of the Stars. No, I was still wearing my nametag. We had a few chilidogs at the Corner Café and listened to the ragtime piano player. Calling it a day, we dragged our tired selves onto the Monorail and to our room. Sleep.

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Disneyland Hotel

We woke, packed, and loaded the car. It was a tight fit with all of our new purchases. Mae and I made a quick trip over to the World of Disney and the Acorn gift shop (We would later go to Company D again too) and then met the parents at Goofy’s Kitchen for a late breakfast.

At Goofy’s Kitchen, we met Goofy, Pluto, Snow White, and Pocahontas. The food and service were really good. I enjoyed the lox and bagels and tri-tip in particular. Mae raved about the peanut butter and jelly pizza. She asked for the recipe.

The waitress was very excited about our parents’ anniversary. She talked to them quite a bit, then brought out a cupcake with three candles, and said, “Happy fortieth anniversary. The three candles represent the past, the present, and the future. Make a wish!” They blew out the candles together, and then my mom asked my dad what he had wished for. “Another forty years,” he said. “Me too,” Mom exclaimed. What a happy ending!

Victoria Kahler

vakahler@hotmail.com


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