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Kelly McBride -- June 2006 -- Disneyland (Offsite)

Disneyland Trip Report for June 18-24

Cast: Myself 39, My mom, Rosemarie, 61, daughter Katy 6 and daughter Shelby 5.

Transportation: plane/car

Hotel: Embassy Suites in Anaheim, Embassy Suites in Oxnard and the Lighthouse Inn in Monterey

Pre-trip planning: Well I have been planning our November trip for sometime but this trip just fell in my lap so I will elaborate.

Last January we were invited by friends to attend the Rose Parade. It was a last minute thing but since he lives in Ventura we reserved a room up there. We ended up staying at the Mandalay Beach resort which is by Embassy Suites. It is a beautiful hotel right on the beach. Unfortunately the weather was crummy and we arrived at night and left in the early morning (while it was still dark) so we NEVER saw the ocean that I paid extra for.

Mom and I really liked the room though and commented that we needed to go back there during the summer when it was nice.

I have taken my girls on a summer trip every summer for the past 3 or 4 years and so we decided this would be fun.

At first we had talked about going at the end of the summer and NOT going to Disney since we are going in November but rather just playing on the beach and such. Then I thought we might go down for the Pirates premiere but at this point I have not even heard if there will be one. Then the more I thought about it the more I decided I wanted to go to Disneyland no matter what. I usually do NOT like to go in the summer but I will tolerate the heat and the crowds for a few days just to get my Disney “fix” since I can’t wait till November LOL.

Anyway it is now February 14th and I have just booked our rooms at the Embassy Suites in Anaheim and the Mandalay Bay in Ventura. I have reserved a car and purchased annual passes for the girls and I. This way our tickets will be free in November and with the vacation club we use the tickets for my husband and stepdaughter will be free as well.

And the best part is with an annual pass that means I will probably sneak one more trip in next February!!

So for now I have about half the trip planned and I will get back later when I have more things firmed up.

February 18, 2006

Well I learned a very interesting thing today. I already got my annual pass vouchers and surprisingly enough they had an expiration date on them 1 month BEFORE we even leave. AAAHHHH. I called Guest Services and basically they said you “should” use them by that date however if you don’t and the prices go up they will just make me pay the difference. I REALLY think the website should have mentioned something about that. However I got the internet department to e-mail me the same info that I found out on the phone so we will go with the vouchers we have and hope we have no problems.

Apparently as soon as we get there on Sunday we will have to exchange the vouchers for our passes. We have till we leave but you MUST do it that first day as the vouchers are only good the first day. So hopefully it doesn’t eat up our entire day since we only have 1 day at each park as it is and being summer and the 2nd week after kids get out of school it seems it could be rough.

Anyway the airfare is STILL not on sale as of late and the hours for June are also not posted yet either. I just thought of something too, I hope that is not a grad night week. I would hate to have to leave the parks early. Oh well I guess I will find all this out as the time gets closer. I am also going to book a princess lunch at Ariel’s grotto next month as well.

So for now I am set and just have a few more details to go and then it is just hurry up and wait.

February 24, 2006

Well Southwest FINALLY released the dates for when we are going and go figure all the fun fares were sold out for the day we want to fly. So we had to get a little bit more expensive fare but we are leaving at 11:20 arriving in Orange County at 12:45. So now all that is left to be done is mom needs to reserve our rooms in Monterey, I need to get our Hearst Castle tickets (which as of now they are only selling through April) and mom needs to buy HER annual pass.

Other than that we are good to go and have a little less than 4 months to go!!

March 20, 2006

Well the info finally came out on the website and NO fantasmic the days we are there.  so it appears we won’t be getting to do that. Also it seems more likely that the pirates premier WILL be that weekend but it doesn’t look like we could have gone anyway but it might make things pretty crazy when we ARE there so oh well I guess we will just have to make the best of it. Tomorrow I book the princess lunch and then we are ready to go!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Well at this point I have booked our princess lunch and decided on dinner on the patio at Trattoria so that we can watch the block party bash (we missed this last year) and then we will also watch the Electric Light Parade sometime that evening. I still have yet to purchase my Hearst Castle tickets as I have to wait a few more weeks till they are on sale. Since we are driving up the coast highway I am a bit nervous about how long it will take and you have to buy exact times but alas I will do my best and we will hope for the best. Everything else is done other than mom buying her annual pass which we will do today. So we are basically all set and a little less than 2 months to go. CAN’T WAIT!!!

April 28, 2006

One last entry before our trip!! Mom bought her annual pass a few days ago and I JUST got the Hearst Castle tickets. We are FINALLY all set to go!! Now we just have 7 more agonizing weeks to go!!

May 22, 2006

Psyche! Ok THIS is the last entry. LOL. We are now down to less than 30 days and I CAN’T wait. Luckily with school out in 3 weeks and memorial day coming up there is a LOT to do to keep me busy and I am sure the weeks will fly and it will be time to go!! Everything is set and we are all ready to go. The only new news is that we changed some of our other vacation plans for next year and now I will get to use my annual pass 4 times!! That makes it SO worth it!! My stepdaughter’s mom lives in Arizona and since we changed our Mexico plans from May of 07 to February of 08 that means we can take her to her mom’s next summer. We are going to leave immediately after school gets out and fly to Orange County and do 2 or 3 days at Disneyland 1 ½ days in Vegas and 1 ½ days at the Grand Canyon of which NONE of us have ever been. We will also go to Flagstaff and hope to see the meteor crater while there and end up in Phoenix, drop off my stepdaughter and fly back home. So yet ANOTHER trip!! WOO HOO!! Now if this one can just hurry up and get here! 

Sunday, June 18

Plan: Fly down to Orange County. Rent car and stay at Embassy Suites. Go to Disneyland this evening. Redeem Annual Passes TONIGHT!!!

What actually happened: Well the day FINALLY came. We got up and got organized and headed out the door. Picked up my mom and my husband drove us to the airport. We had a little snack and were soon on our way. We had an uneventful nice flight to Orange County. We picked up our luggage and stopped at the rental car agency which was conveniently close. We usually take a shuttle so this was new to us. We were very pleased that it all went smooth and quickly and before we knew it we were on our way in our rental. My mapquest said it would take around 20 or 30 minutes to get to Anaheim but it only took about 12. We found our hotel and were pleased with it. We normally stay at the Holiday Inn Staybridge however since it was just 4 of us we thought we would try the Embassy Suites. This was a VERY nice hotel. I like their designs as they usually have a nice atrium that is open air with lots of plants and waterfalls. We dropped off our luggage and headed to a local McDonald’s for a late lunch. We then made our way to the Mickey and Friends lot and had to park just about as far away as we possibly could. We finally made it to the park though and at almost 4 o’clock we had no wait to get in the park and no wait to redeem our annual passes so that was good! We then decided to try the train first since it was right there. We rode it the entire circuit and then hit a few more rides as we worked our way around to the Rancho Zocal for dinner. We had a nice dinner and although Big Thunder Mountain was closed when we arrived it was now re-opened and we took a ride. By this time it was getting close to time to wait for the fireworks so we found a spot and waited it out. We thoroughly enjoyed it once again and I am SO glad we were able to see it one more time before it leaves in September. I must comment that they had the bleachers and chairs etc, set up for the Pirates premiere and the entire Adventureland/New Orleans Square area was a mess. Very hard to get around and a lot was closed. The Café Orleans had walls around it and there were ropes up all the way to Critter country. It was tough to get anywhere. Oh we did stop at the Pooh Shop and got some great chocolate before the fireworks. That place is AWESOME!

After the fireworks we just merged with the crowd and headed back to the trams and to our hotel. I do have to say the way they force you to go on the bridge to I-5 kind of stunk because we wanted to go the OPPOSITE way to Harbor. Ball was closed off so almost every night we had to go way down and make a U-turn to come back the way we wanted to go. We did finally make it back to our rooms and after a LONG first day we were happy to hit the sack!

Monday, June 19

Plan: DCA all day. Princess lunch 11:30 p.m. Dinner at Trattoria at 4:30. Watch Block Party Bash. ELP at 8:45.

What actually happened: This morning we got up and had a wonderful breakfast at the hotel. They offer a FULL breakfast and it was very good. I was very impressed with the hotel all the way around. We took off and got a little better spot on a lower level and closer to the trams at the Mickey lot. We had hoped to park in the Timon lot however it was closed for some reason and it also seemed that while we were there they changed the name to the Lion King Lot. Weird! Anyway we had some time before DCA opened but again we think it is really dumb that the World of Disney does not open till 9:30. If you are NOT going to Disneyland or it is off season and neither park is open it seems that Disney could profit quite a bit by opening their store earlier. Perhaps 8 but at least at 9. This makes no sense to me whatsoever but they didn’t ask me I guess. Anyway we did finally get in and were able to purchase a few items we had been wanting. It was then time to go into DCA. We purchased a locker for our parcels, which by the way we did at Disneyland as well both days and this is a GREAT deal. It is a little expensive but you are able to access them all day for the one price and it REALLY saves on carrying stuff especially since we no longer have strollers.

Anyway we immediately headed to Soaring which we were able to do standby and of course this is always a favorite. We then went and got fast passes for Tower of Terror and by then it was time to go to the Princess Lunch. We headed to Aerial’s Grotto and waited for our priority seating. We enjoyed this and although the food is not so hot the princesses were great and the girls LOVED it. On our way out after lunch we ran into my aunt and uncle which was really strange. We visited with them for quite a bit and then finally headed to California Screamin. Katy is just 1 inch too short so I did the single rider. This is a GREAT thing. I did it twice that day and virtually walked right on the ride while standby was almost an hour wait. I LOVE this ride and just HAD to go, even if alone, since it will be down in November when we return.

After Screamin we did the Sunwheel. Now I can handle Tower of Terror, any roller coaster you name it but for some reason I can’t do Ferris Wheels. They REALLY freak me out. Maybe cuz they are so slow and you are up so high just dangling. Not sure but I was GLAD to get off! After that we headed to Mullholland Maddness and this was the first time Shelby was able to ride. She is still a bit too short for most rides so she was VERY excited to be able to go on something and this is fun but the wait is terrible. We got a fast pass for later though. After that it was time for our dinner reservations and so we headed to Trattoria. We got there a bit early and the food was just ok. After ALL of that it seemed that the Block Party Bash left a bit to be desired. It was VERY short and just ok. After that we headed back to Mullholland Maddness and rode again and then back around to Screamin which I did again and then back towards Tower of Terror which we also rode twice. At this point we also rode Monsters Inc., for the first time ever and enjoyed it. We saw a few characters at the Animation building and then basically just found a spot for the ELP. We had quite a wait but it was worth it and right after the parade we headed out.

Tuesday, June 20

Plan: Disneyland all day. Eat on the fly.

What actually happened: Well I WISH I could say this was a great day but it was one of the worst. First of all we got up rather early hoping to get a good start but unfortunately by the time we parked and rode the tram the park was already open and we lost our edge. We made the BIG mistake of going to Tomorrowland first thinking we could get a fastpass for Indy and Splash later but that did NOT happen. We did race to Space Mountain however and it was great and we also got a Fast Pass. We did Buzz and Star Tours as well. We then headed to Matterhorn and tried to do Small World but there was a long line so we skipped it. We did Mr. Toad, Snow White, Alice, Tea Cups and Pinnochio but Peter Pan was packed so we passed on that as well. We then headed to BTMRR and did that and headed to Splash but by then there was a line JUST for fast passes. We skipped everything in that area and we noticed Café Orleans was open however NOT for the public. So we ate at French Market and it was just ok. We went on the Paddle Wheel boat which we very rarely do but that was fun and the park was SO crowded we decided to do some things we normally would NOT do such as ride the monorail and see the 50th film again. The monorail was even a joke because it no longer goes around tomorrowland. We rode it to Downtown Disney and immediately got right back on and found out that it just went straight back. That was a complete waste of time. As I said we saw the 50th movie once more and the ONLY reason we returned to the park was to retrieve our items from the lockers.

With everything closed in Adventureland/NOS it was a madhouse and the crowds were immense. We opted to just leave and did so around 6 p.m. We headed to Target to get some necessary supplies for our upcoming road trip and then went to the Grand Californian and had dinner at Storytellers. This was good as always. We had the buffet and although pricey it is excellent. After dinner we just headed back to the room and turned in.

Wednesday, June 21

Plan: Check out of hotel and drive to Santa Monica Pier and fool around. Then proceed to Oxnard and check in to Mandalay bay. Play on beach and have dinner at hotel or out. Perhaps swim. Stop at grocery store to stock up on supplies for drive up coast tomorrow.

What actually happened: Well this day changed a bit from our plans. We did get up quite early and packed up and ate but we had already shopped the day before and we had decided the day before to skip the pier to go to Disneyland one more half day since we got so LITTLE accomplished on Tuesday. So we got up VERY early only to find that the parking garage does not open till 7:30. I thought this was MORE poor planning on Disney’s part. The parks opened at 8 and there was NO way you could get parked and ride the tram and get there in time to be there when it opened.

They also only had ONE tram operating which was really dumb in my opinion. By the time we waited for the garage to open and waited for the ONE tram to come back we finally got to security and they had ONE tent open and the line by this time was back to Calif Adventure. So it was well past 8 by the time we got in the door and we immediately ran to Indy. Shelby had to go to the bathroom and during this time I found that they were NOT giving any fastpasses to Indy. This made NO sense to me in the HIGH season but we decided to just run to Splash, do it real quick and get a fastpass and then run back to Indy. We rode splash, got the FP’s and then ran back to Indy which had about a 30 minute wait by this time but Katy and I went while mom waited with Shelby. It took a while so she said she would just go later. We then headed to Space Mountain but there was a 30 minute wait and since we had done it twice on Tuesday we passed. We did Matterhorn again, Small World, The Storybook boats and Peter Pan. We then worked our way around and did BTMRR and then decided to go back to use our fastpasses for Splash. Well lo and behold NOW it was broke down. Go figure. So out of 3 days at Disneyland we only got to ride once. Oh well, there is always November!

So I let mom and Katy do Indy with the Child Swap pass from earlier while Shelby and I did a little shopping. When they were done we did Jungle Cruise and the Tikki Room. By the way we also did Haunted Mansion, I believe the first day. We got to do MOST of the rides at least once and a few more than once. The worst was the crowds on Tuesday and the unorganized area around Adventureland. Had I known we couldn’t go to the Pirate Premiere I would NOT have chosen this week. I just hope it is not as bad in November. And you KNOW it is bad when things like Star Tours have a 45 minute wait!

Anyway after finishing the last few rides we left the park around noon and took the monorail to DTD and ate lunch at the Rainforest. We then headed to Oxnard. We had an ok drive with mild traffic and arrived around 4ish. We checked in and changed into our suits and headed to the beach. Our room was not NEARLY as nice as January but it is high season so what could you expect. We didn’t play on the beach long however as we were all tired and since my girls don’t swim well I just had them go in the spa. It is rather large, almost the size of a normal pool but only 3 feet deep and VERY warm. We enjoyed our dip and then had some snacks at the cocktail service.

We then went back to the room, got cleaned up and headed out to the channel Islands to look for dinner. We found a place called the Whale’s Tale and had an OK but expensive meal. At least we had a nice view of the water. Headed back to the room and hit the sack.

Thursday, June 22

Plan: Check out of Mandalay and drive to Hearst Castle and do tour at 2:00 p.m.. Proceed to Monterey and check in at Light House. Eat out.

What actually happened: This day we got up early once again, packed up and ate at the hotel. Once again they had a nice spread and this is a GREAT hotel. A little off the beaten path but VERY nice rooms, and grounds. The only bad part is someone charged their dinner the night before to our room. We did get it straightened out though and were finally off. We headed up highway one and I knew we would be close to Solvang and desperately wanted to see it so we were making good time and took a short detour. This is a LOVELY town and I want to go back when I can spend more time. We finished our drive to San Simeon and took our tour. They recommend purchasing tickets in advance but we did not need to. We ended up going earlier and VERY much enjoyed it and also want to return to do more of the tour and perhaps stay closer so we can do a night tour.

We had lunch there and headed out around 4. We proceeded up highway One through Big Sur and it was a BEAUTIFUL drive. The ocean had quite a bit of fog but it was still lovely.

We arrived in Monterey and checked in at our hotel. We freshened up and then ate at a local restaurant that is a favorite of mom’s. After this we were more than ready to hit the sack.

Friday, June 23

Plan: Go to Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cannery row. Have dinner with friend this evening.

What actually happened: On this day we got up and went to another local favorite of mom’s for breakfast called the Victorian. It was very good and we then headed to Cannery Row. We parked and went to the Aquarium and VERY much enjoyed it. I had not been in over 20 years and it has changed quite a bit. I want to go back when I have more time to enjoy it. I have a friend who lives in town so we were kind of on a schedule to meet with her. We did and had lunch at Bubba Gump’s which was surprisingly excellent. We walked around a bit and then we said goodbye to my friend. We then drove to Carmel and shopped a bit but it is boring for kids so finally we went back to the room to relax till we were ready for dinner. We finally got hungry around 8 and decided on the Chart House. This place has EXCELLENT food and view. After dinner we returned to our room for some much needed rest.

Saturday, June 24

Plan: Drive home

What actually happened: We finally were able to sleep in a bit this day and when we awoke we had to pack up the car. We then checked out and went to Carrows for breakfast. Had a great breakfast of fresh strawberries and pancakes and then decided to head up Highway One along the coast rather than take boring I-5.

We had a nice drive through Santa Cruz and all along the coast until we hit Half Moon Bay and we were very close to San Francisco where we planned to go in but there was a rock slide so we had to take a slight detour. We still came into the city however just from a different direction and we went to the Pier and had a nice lunch. The weather was perfect and we took one more stop at Ghiradelli square to have some wonderful ice cream Sundays before heading home.

We finally left the city around 4 and had an uneventful drive home.

All in all it was a WONDERFUL trip. I knew that Disney would be crowded and I guess my thinking is I don’t mind as long as I can get fast passes but on days like Tuesday when even THAT was impossible and rides that you can normally WALK on even in high season such as Star Tours has a 45 minute wait then it gets kind of miserable.

However we did have a generally good time and I thoroughly enjoyed the road trip and seeing things I had either never seen or not seen in 20 plus years.

It is nice to deviate from strictly a week at just the parks and to see other sights and to drive rather than simply flying both ways.

I am very ready for my next trip which is Yosemite with the family in July and even MORE ready for my next Disney trip in November. See you then!

Kelly McBride


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