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Kelly McBride -- November 2004 -- Disneyland (Offsite)


My Group:

  • Myself: Kelly 37
  • My mom: Rosemarie 59
  • My dad: Gary 62
  • Stepdaughter: Lynn 12
  • Daughter: Katy 4 ¾ (will be 5 on Dec 31st)
  • Daughter: Shelby 3 ½

Experience: My mom and I have been many, many times. This is the first time grandpa will be going on a trip with the grandkids but he had been to Disney many times with me as a child. My stepdaughter has probably been at least 7 or 8 and my little ones are becoming veterans considering their ages. Katyís first trip was when she was just 9 months old and I was pg with Shelby if you want to count that. We then waited till Shelby was older and went to Disneyworld when Katy was 2 ½ and Shelby was just over 1. We have since been back to Disneyland twice, last December for a week and last April for 1 day.

Pre-Trip Planning

September 27, 2004

Well if you have read any of my other three reports on MousePlanet you have probably figured out by now that my mom, myself and my girls are HUGE Disney fanatics!!

After my last report (December 03) we hadnít planned on going back for awhile. In fact we had done Disney 3 times in a year and we decided to do something different so this past April we decided to try San Diego. My mom and I hadnít been there in years (like over 15) and wanted to go back and see the Zoo and SeaWorld. We had NO intention of doing Disneyland since we were just there in December. Well as fate would have it my mom just couldnít stand it and right before we left she said lets go at least one day. So we changed our plans a bit and on the last day of our San Diego trip we drove up to Anaheim and did one day at Disney. It was a lot of fun and we are glad we did it. It also gave me a chance to take my stepdaughter to the Fantasmic priority seating. We went just the two of us and she really enjoyed it.

So once again we thought that was it for a WHILE. Well my husband found out shortly after that he would be home for his mid tour R&R from Iraq in August. Normally I would NEVER go to Disney during the summer but I figured since it was just the two of us it might not be too bad. So we went down to Universal for 2 days which was nice as I hadnít been there since our trip in 2000 and at the time I was unable to ride anything because I was pregnant, and there were many new things to do and see.

We then did Disney for 2 days and the highlight of our trip was doing the balcony Fantasmic seating (we had only gotten the lower level the other two times we did it) and going on Tower of Terror about 10 times in a row. This was my husbandís favorite ride. I was so glad that the two of us were able to go and enjoy one of our most favorite places and I was glad that he was able to go since he had not been to any Disney park since May of 2002. We had a wonderful time.

Of course for me this was my 3rd trip in a calendar year and I certainly never expected to go back any time soon. I knew we were planning on Disneyworld in October of í05 and saw no real need to go back to Disneyland although I did want to try and go sometime for the 50th. Well mom and I had discussed it and since the 50th doesnít even start till May of í05 we had a bit of a dilemma. Shane is due home from Iraq sometime next April or May and since we do not like to go in the summer and since he will just be getting back to his civilian job after being gone a year and a half we decided we would put off going for the 50th until early í06. So this left us with a decision of whether or not we wanted to fit in one more trip before our Disneyworld trip. If we did NOT go now or soon it would be over a year before we went to ANY Disney park. And of course as all you die hard fans probably know one cannot go a whole year without a Disney fix right? So we are at the point we are at now. We discussed going this fall, winter and the first part of the year. We decided that trying to go in December again was just too hectic with the holiday and after the first of the year my mom had a trip to Mexico planned in January and Shane might luck out and come home early and therefore I did NOT want to plan a trip after the first of the year just in case.

So that left us no other alternative than this fall. It didnít take us long to decide on the dates.

Normally we would NEVER go anywhere near a holiday but now that my stepdaughter is in Jr. High we decided it would be hard on her to miss so much school and you really have to take them out an entire week or else face consequences with the attendance office.

Thus we are taking a chance and going over Veteranís Day weekend. Lynn has the 11th & 12th off. We will leave right after she gets out of school on the 9th and she will only miss the 10th. At this point we will be staying in the Staybridge suites again. Shane and I stayed at the Disneyland Hotel in August and while it was very nice it is a little expensive for 6 of us and they have no real breakfast options.

The Staybridge is a bit farther away but for the comfort and size of the room and the wonderful food they provide it is well worth it.

The exciting things we have planned thus far are we will try to get tickets for the Mystery, Myths and Legends tour and hope to see the Electrical Parade. At this point we do not know if we will be able to do either but are anxiously awaiting finding out.

Only about a month till we go!!

October 11, 2004

Well when I first started this trip report my dad was not planning on going but in the meantime both one of my momís clients and his family as well as my dad has decided to go. This should be an interesting trip to say the least. Momís clientís little boy just turned three and this will be his first ever trip. My kids are veterans but it shall be interesting to see how Nicolas reacts to the characters and the rides. Also my dad is not known for his patience and can be a bit of a scrooge so I hope that all goes well. He is not used to being around the girls when they are asking for everything in site or having a meltdown after a long day of touring. This should be a VERY interesting report to say the least.

I also found out a very important thing today. When Disney says you have to call within 30 days of an event they do NOT mean 30 days by the calendar. If the event is for November 10, you need to call on October 10Th. I found this out today when I called to get our Mystery tickets. They were sold out. Luckily I was able to get tickets for the 11th. The tour is later and I think in the long run this will work out much better. We are also using a babysitter recommended by the resort so I will report on that as well.

My mom, dad, Lynn and myself will be taking the tour and I CANíT wait. I will certainly be reporting on that.

Less then a month to go now till we are there!!!!

DAY ONE - November 9, 2004 (Tuesday)

Plan:
Pick up Lynn from school at 2 p.m. and head to airport. Leave on 4:50 flight arriving at 6:00. Too late to go to parks will most likely have dinner and do some shopping at Downtown Disney

What actually happened:
Well I started out the day as usual getting some last minute things done and luckily I am a big Friends fan and Season 8 came out on DVD today so that kept me well occupied while I was waiting to leave. The time finally arrived and I left to pick up Lynn, then go to mom and dadís and picked them up and headed to the airport. By the way, about a week ago my dad chickened out and decided he didnít want to go after all so we are back to mom, me and the kids.

Anyhoo, we arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare. Going on a Tuesday was great as there was NO ONE at the airport. We got all checked in and headed up stairs for a light snack and waited for our plane. We had an uneventful flight down and arrived on time. Once again I used Montemar Shuttle Company and I HIGHLY recommend them. The driver, Jose, is VERY pleasant and is always waiting in the luggage area. He will get a cart if need be and is very helpful. We had a nice visit with him as we rode to our hotel. Once again we stayed at the Staybridge Suites and this I also highly recommend. It is quite reasonable and we used the company Getaway Today and you get GREAT deals on rooms and park tickets. We got 2 free adult 5 day park hoppers and the kids were 5 day for the price of 3. Our room was a suite that had 2 bedrooms and a kitchen/living room. It is the perfect room for 5 or 6 people.

We checked in and stowed our baggage and then bought the ART (Anaheim Resort Transit) pass. This is $12 per person for 5 days and children under 9 are free; again another great deal.

We rode the ART to Disneyland and since it was so late we just hit Downtown Disney. We had dinner at the La Brea Bakery and it was good but pricey. Mom commented a few days later that our meal at the Blue Bayou was cheaper and MUCH better.

After dinner at La Brea we headed to the World of Disney and picked up a few essentials that we had been wanting and then meandered back to our hotel.

DAY TWO - November 10, 2004 (Wednesday)

Plan:
Disneyland all day. Pick up Mystery tickets at Guest Services.

What actually happened:
Got up bright and early this a.m. and headed downstairs. The other nice thing about Staybridge is there is breakfast included and it is not your typical continental fair. This is practically a full breakfast. It is buffet style but each day they have different things and this first day it was sausage and eggs. They also have fruit, yogurt, dry and hot cereal and all types of breads and bagels as well as donuts and sweet rolls. They have several juices, coffees, teas and milk. It is a wonderful meal and is different every day. It is worth staying there for the meal alone as you save a good $50.00 per day on breakfast alone.

After breakfast we headed to the park. This day was our Disneyland day. We first went to Guest Services and picked up our park hoppers and our mystery tour tickets.

The gates finally opened and once again we walked in to a holiday sight. It was absolutely beautiful and mom commented that she never wants to come back to the park when it is NOT the holidays. It is just so much more beautiful and special.

We immediately headed to Splash Mountain as this is Katyís favorite ride. We went on this a few times and then hit Pooh for Shelby. She was barely an 8th of an inch too short to go on Splash Mountain. After Pooh we headed over to Pirates, Haunted Mansion and Indiana Jones. After completing these rides and since we were in the area we had lunch at the French Market and were able to get one of the Haunted Mansion themed meals. We got pasta in a ďdog dishĒ that said Zero on it. It was rather fun and you get to keep the bowl. We also tried a few of the themed deserts including a chocolate raspberry cake shaped like a bone.

After lunch we headed to Fantasyland but unfortunately one of our favorites (Peter Pan) was closed. We were, however, able to ride Snow White, Pinocchio and Mr. Toad. We then did the Carrousel and then meandered over to Alice. We also rode the Tea Cups and then took a stop at Small World Holiday. Once again it was decorated for Christmas and all I can say is WOW. It is absolutely beautiful. And, in my opinion, the inside is even better. They decorate each ďcountryĒ with the Christmas theme of that country and there are several different Christmas songs that are sung. It is just beautiful. After Small World we headed to Tomorrowland so that Katy could ride Star Tours. Mom, Lynn and I are rather bored with this ride and feel it needs an updated film but since Katy is so young this was only her second time so we went ahead and rode it for her sake.

At this point we were getting hungry and headed to the Plaza Inn. We didnít want junk food and wanted a sit down meal. My one gripe with Main Street is that is the ONLY sit down meal in the area and the food was marginal yet VERY expensive AND the service was appalling. It was utter chaos and no one was organized and what was worse is we noticed that NO restaurants in either park have bathrooms IN the restaurant. They may be nearby but not IN the restaurant. This is a major pet peeve considering I have a daughter still potty training and when they have to go they usually have waited till it is almost too late. I commented to my mother, being that my husband is in Iraq, what I would have had to do had I brought the girls alone; I would have had to get up and leave my VERY expensive meal to walk a mile to find a restroom and would have probably lost my table AND my food. All our tempers were getting ruffled by this point and we were more than ready to leave. Unfortunately we knew this would be the ONLY night we could see the fireworks so we just went out to Main Street and waited.

One thing I noticed on this trip were many, many rude people. Between the enormous crowds and the rude pushing and shoving people it really kind of ruined it for me.

We WERE able to see the fireworks and watch the snow and that was one of the few highlights of the day.

Once that was over we made our way to our bus stop and were more than happy to depart the area.

DAY THREE - November 11, 2004 (Thursday)

Plan:
DCA all day. Leave park around 6 or 7, have dinner and drop off girls at hotel at 8. Mystery tour at DCA at 8:45.

What actually happened:
Once again we awoke rather early, got ready and headed down for our breakfast. Yet another good one, this time French Toast.

We headed off to the park and it didnít open till 10am so we were at a loss for what to do for the moment. We decided to meander down to Downtown Disney but were shocked to find that most of the stores there do not open till 9:30. This to me makes no sense because I am sure there are many like me who are early risers and when the park is closed you need SOMEWHERE to go and considering I keep hearing how broke the parks are I would think they would open the stores to capitalize on the people being unable to get into the parks.

Needless to say we walked back to DCA and soon they opened the gates. It was a half hour before rope drop so we were able to see a few characters and take a few photos.

This was my 4th time at this park and I can say that both this day and the next were THE most crowded I have ever seen this place. I realize it was a holiday but it was a mad house.

As soon as they dropped the rope we ran to Tower of Terror and me, Lynn and Katy all rode the first trip. Now Katy is only 4 but she was a trooper and loved it. I even convinced mom to go and she loved it as well. We then headed over towards Soariní and met up with our friends. Half of us were able to do Soariní but by the time we got out the others were unable to go as we had a lunch reservation. We had lunch at Arielís Grotto where we go every time we come to DCA and it was good as always and reasonable. It is a lot of fun for the kids but this was the first time it was packed. We had always just walked in but this day we were glad the gal with us had made reservations.

The kids enjoyed meeting all the characters and then after lunch we decided to hit Paradise Pier. Unfortunately there were long waits and the few rides that Shelby could go on we did but that was about it.

We had to leave the park a bit early to meet our babysitter so we left around 6. Another good recommendation is our babysitter. She was recommended by our hotel and she was WONDERFUL. She was an older grandma type woman who brought a whole bag of toys and my girls just loved her. We will DEFINITELY be using her again in the future.

After we got the kids settled we left and went back to the park to await our tour.

I had been SO excited when I first read about this tour on MousePlanet and then AFTER I bought the tickets I read the review and was disheartened but since the tickets were paid for and non-refundable we figured what the heck. We were waiting by the fountain at ToT and we had a young chipper young man come up and greet us. As we were listening to him another man came up and stood behind mom. He was wearing a black overcoat with a black rose on the lapel and carrying a black umbrella. His name tag said Gracy.

He was very somber and was good at his dead pan. He took us on ToT not once but twice and then led us out of DCA. We went to Disney but unfortunately because of the holiday the park was still open. Normally it is supposed to be closed when you take the tour so it kind of ruined it a bit. When we got to Disney we rode the train and then ended up in New Orleans square. We rode Indiana Jones and walked over towards BTMR, around by the petting zoo, up to the old sky buckets and over to the docks. We then ended up at the Haunted Mansion which we rode last. Gracy left us at that point and Robert took us back to Adventureland where he bid us goodbye.

I agree in part with the MousePlanet review that I though they should have had more stories about the park itself and we wanted to see behind the scenes things but we did enjoy Gracy and we thought getting to go on ToT twice in a row was worth it as well as being able to walk around the parks after closing. I would still recommend it and mom and I are anxious to try some other tours in the future.

As soon as the tour ended we headed back to the room for the night.

DAY FOUR - November 12, 2004 (Friday)

Plan:
Disneyland in the morning and DCA in the afternoon (Electrical Parade)

What actually happened:
Up bright and early once again and off to the parks. This day Disney opened at 8 and although we woke early we still did not get there right as the park opened. However when we did arrive we went straight to Splash Mountain only to find it was closed. So we did HM instead. After disembarking from this ride Splash Mountain was once again open and we ran over and hopped on. This time they said Shelby WAS ok to ride and so as soon as Lynn, Katy and I exited mom said Shelby could go and we immediately went again. She was a bit hesitant even though she had been talking about it for months.

She did go and she DID enjoy it but did not want to go again. It was irrelevant anyway as by the time our second ride was done the ride had filled up.

We then did Pooh once again for Shelbyís sake and then headed out towards BTMR. We rode this twice and then met up with our friends. We had a PS for Blue Bayou and therefore headed that direction. We had a wonderful lunch and along the way we were stopped and had our photo taken for one of the collages.

We are anxious to find out where it is so we can see it next time we go.

After lunch we went to the front and let the girls decorate Christmas cookies. I had read about this and they enjoyed it. You pay $5 and get a large cookie and several toppings. The girls had a lot of fun decorating and of course eating the cookie.

After they were done we walked back across the street. Again we headed to ToT and this time got a FastPass. We looked for our friends but they had gone back to their hotel. We headed to PP but California Screamin' was broke down. We never did get a ride on it this trip. We took Katy on Mullholland Madness for the first time and thought it was pretty fun.

We then wandered back to ToT and did our FastPasses. By then it was getting time for our dinner reservation so we headed to the GCH. We were a bit early so we went and sat by the fireplace and the girls were able to listen to the storyteller. They really enjoyed this and it was a lot of fun.

After the story we went to Storytellerís for dinner. We had a great meal and then headed back to the park. We tried to hit a few more rides before the parade but unfortunately it was too crowded. I am 37 years old and when I watched the Electrical Parade this night it was my FIRST time. I loved it as did the girls. As soon as it was over we headed to the bus. Lynn and I were going to come back but never made it.

DAY FIVE - November 13, 2004 (Saturday)

Plan:
Back to airport and home.

What actually happened:
Once again we awoke, packed our bags and met Jose for our journey home.

The weather turned out better than expected and there were some great moments, including the tour and watching the girls do some new rides for the first time but because of the crowds we were unable to do a lot of what we wanted and I encountered many many rude people.

Although it was fun I was a bit disappointed and would recommend NEVER going at that time of year or during ANY holiday for that matter in the future.

Kelly McBride

kelmac284@comcast.net


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