Kelly McBride -- November 2006 -- Disneyland (Offsite)
Cast: Myself 39, My husband Shane 33, daughter Lynn 14, daughter Katy 6 (will be 7 in Dec), daughter Shelby 5.
Hotel: Castle Inn
Experience: All vets
Pre trip planning:
Well it is currently July 31, 2006 and once again I am planning a trip. If you read my last trip report for this past June you will notice that I had spoken about our upcoming trip this November. We had originally planned to take an entire week in November prior to veteran’s day. Unfortunately both with some financial reasons and the fact that my daughter is now in High School and unable to miss that much school we had to change our plans a bit.
We are now going strictly for the weekend and we are driving down. This is something we have not done in years and I must admit I am a bit nervous as to how it will turn out.
We have been taking off season trips for the past several years and it has been SO nice to enjoy the smaller crowds and to actually be able to enjoy the park. The last time we went around veteran’s day was in 2004 and we went the week prior, leaving before the long weekend. It was crowded and got more crowded towards the long weekend. Now like fools we are actually GOING on the weekend. I hope we don’t live to regret this LOL.
I have just purchased my vouchers for our hotel and for 3 day hoppers for Shane and my stepdaughter. The rest of us have annual passes. At this point everything is bought and paid for with no other planning needed. We hope to get up and leave very early on Friday the 10th, drive down and hopefully go to one of the parks for the remainder of the day. We then plan to do each of the parks on Saturday and Sunday and spend all Monday driving home. This will probably be the first and LAST time we take a trip like this but I really want my husband to see the holiday decs as he has never seen them so here’s to hoping we don’t regret this whole thing.
October 23, 2006
Just a side note to add that a week or so ago my husband and I were talking and since Thursday is a short day for my kids (they get off early every Thursday) we decided that it would be better to drive Thursday evening so we are THERE first thing Friday. SOOO at first we thought we would not make a reservation cuz we didn’t know if we would get tired after working all day and then driving but being the long weekend I was afraid we wouldn’t get a room if we waited and after asking advice on the Disney boards I decided to add an extra night to our current reservation. SOOO we are now driving down Thursday evening the 9th and we will BE there for Friday morning. It is going to be an exhausting few days as we are probably going to be out late and get up at the crack of dawn to actually get to ride anything. My plan was to hopefully be able to take mid day breaks but if the park gets too full we may not get back in sooo we will have to play it by ear. But our plan is to get up VERY early and be at the gates at opening. We will not even eat first but rather grab something lite in the parks such as a Danish or piece of fruit. THEN after a few hours when things start getting crazy we will stop and have an early lunch and if we can’t leave the parks we will just start doing things that aren’t as crowded like some of the less popular rides, perhaps go to Tom Sawyer island etc. I just hope that it isn’t SO wall to wall that we are miserable. I am also hoping that if we DO take it easy mid day that we can stay up later and go on stuff late in the evening. We won’t be worrying about the parades or fantasmic but DO want to catch the fireworks at least one night. So wish us luck and I am excited as we have only 2 weeks from this Thursday!!
Thursday, November 9, 2006
What actually happened: Well of course when you are excited and anxious it seems to take FOREVER for the day to finally arrive and although I was glad we had decided to leave on Thursday instead of Friday it was hard to get up and go through most of the day before we could leave. Luckily I had to work part of the day and take the kids to school so I had a lot to do to keep me occupied. My husband finally got home and we hoped in the car. Unfortunately there was some BAD traffic and it took us over an hour to get across our own town but once we FINALLY got on the open highway we made good time and although we didn’t leave our home till 6ish we made it all the way down in about 7 hours arriving around 11. We checked in to the hotel and were pleasantly surprised to see we were upgraded to a suite. I had never stayed at this hotel and was pleased with the size of the room. It was on Harbor across from the park and not TOO bad to walk too but next time I will most likely get something RIGHT across the street. We immediately hit the sack as we knew we had a LONG day ahead of us the next day.
Friday November 10, 2006
Plan: We hope to go to DL but I have heard that it could very well be at capacity so if so we will go to DCA instead.
What actually happened: We got up early and headed to the park. One thing I did not know for sure was if they let you in to main street before rope drop. I seemed to remember them doing that in the past but I guess they no longer do that. Anyway so we hurried to get to the park and were there over an hour early ONLY to find we could not get in till 8 and we couldn’t even get anything to eat. This is one thing I STILL do not understand. I don’t know why Disney does not open up food places or the World of Disney before the parks so that people can have something to do. Anyway off my soap box LOL.
We were however first in line for I think the first time EVER in my life. We waited till the countdown and it was finally time. We split up and Shane ran to get fast passes for Splash. The girls and I stopped at the Blue Ribbon bakery for muffins and coffee. We grabbed it and met him at Pirates. Glad we did this as the ride continually had a VERY long wait. The lines were out past the ride towards Haunted mansion. I have not seen lines this long for this ride since Jack Sparrow was added in June. It was crazy. I miss the days of being able to walk on the ride and take a relaxing break late in the day when everything else is packed. Throughout the entire trip this was the norm and the lines were VERY long. I was glad we went early when we could walk on.
After pirates we headed to Indiana Jones and with a pair of high heeled boots my youngest was FINALLY able to ride and we all were able to go without having to do baby swap. This is a HUGE accomplishment as we have had to do baby swap for years and Shelby has been SO jealous of those of us able to go as she knows the music by heart from our CD etc. Of course once she actually got on she was a bit scared and ended up closing her eyes the entire ride. After the end of the trip and going on it probably 5 or 6 times she FINALLY mustered the courage to keep her eyes open and it never stopped her from continuing to want to ride. In fact late on our last night she was still asking to go on it.
Anyway after Indy we decided to do Haunted Mansion and Pooh since we were in the area. Shane had never been during any of the holidays and he was very impressed with Haunted Mansion. Since we were in New Orleans Square I thought we would try Café Orleans but did not realize since it was now a table service that you need a priority seating. I asked about seating but it was unavailable so I made reservations for Sunday.
We then walked over to Rancho Zocal which is also one of our favorites and had a nice meal. After lunch we went on Thunder mountain and then headed to Big Thunder Ranch. This was a LOT of fun and while we were there Shane ran to get fast passes for Space Mountain. The girls saw the reindeer and it was very relaxing sitting while they decorated cookies. You can get a cookie and frosting for 5 dollars each. They have a gingerbread man and 2 types of sugar. Snowman or Christmas tree. The girls did this a few years ago and very much enjoyed it. We also saw Pluto, Chip and Dale and Clara Bell I think her name was. It is very cutely themed and lots of fun and not too crowded. They also have a little cabin with Santa and Mrs. Clause which we did not visit that day but did go back on Sunday. After we left the ranch we checked out It’s a Small World but that was the other ride that had a horrendous line. Longer than I have ever seen. It stretched all the way back to the matterhorn. We decided to avoid that and tried the Princess Fantasy Faire but after waiting in a terribly long line for this as well we blew it off. My girls have seen the princesses many times and it seems very poorly done. There is a TERRIBLY long wait just to meet with the princesses and the line seemed to NEVER move at all. I am sure it is cute once you get in there but we never even came close and that was the longest wait of the entire trip so we just got out of line and moved on.
Another thing we wanted to try was the Jedi training academy but always seemed to come upon it when it was a ways off and did not want to stop and take the time. I believe it was around this time when we decided to take our afternoon break.
We left the park and although I had heard rumors that if the park got to capacity we would not be let back in we did not have that problem. The park DID sell out that day however if you had already been in and had a hand stamp or were a passholder they would let you in.
We went back to our room for a much needed rest and after this trip we have a new view of how to tour the parks. We never used to like to leave but this was so much nicer. Especially if you are up at the crack of dawn. The one benefit of coming when it is crowded is the long hours so you can get a lot accomplished in the early morning. Leave mid day when it is the most crowded and come back in the early to later evening. We had a good solid nap and stopped at Dennys for dinner, thus avoiding a large bill and even longer waits and lines in the park. After our meal we headed back and were able to get in no problem with our stamps although no new people were allowed in that hadn’t already been there.
When we got back in we just started working our way around the park using the fast passes we had accumulated earlier in the day. This is a great system and worked well for us and I can honestly say we never waited more than 30 minutes max and usually much less for any ride. Eventhough the park was at capacity it did not FEEL that way because of our fastpasses and laid back attitude.
We had decided to try and ride small world while everyone was watching the fireworks but we got stuck behind everyone in fantasyland. We did get to see some of the fireworks but not all and the good part was they stop IASW during the fireworks so that as soon as it was over we were one of the first in line.
This is always a favorite and again Shane enjoyed it. By this time we had pretty much done everything we had wanted to do and decided to head back to the room.
Saturday November 11, 2006
Plan: Our plan this day is to get up bright and early once again and go to DL and then move over to DCA once DL starts getting crowded. By noon if not earlier. Spend rest of day at DCA.
What actually happened: Well as you can see by my plan we had wanted to go back to DL however this was planned before we knew we would get an entire day on Friday and also before I knew they were filming in the parks.
Why on earth they would choose THIS particular weekend to do all this filming is beyond me but it started with Friday morning and them installing a star for Walt Disney on the side walk on Harbor and then once we were in the parks there were camera booms and stages everywhere.
They were doing quite a bit of filming but we have no idea if we were actually IN any of it. We did however find out they were filming with several stars on Saturday and we had no intention of being anywhere near the place. Therefore we got up and leisurly got ready and had breakfast at IHOP. After breakfast we walked to DTD and went to the World of Disney to do our necessary rounds. We picked up a few items and then proceeded to DCA. We weren’t quite first this time but close enough. Unfortunately for some odd reason Shelby had a bathroom emergency and Shane had to take her back to the room right before the gates opened. He did find out that DCA opened a half hour early this day as well as Soarin so we waited while he dealt with Shelby and we went in and got fast passes and took a ride. By the time he got back we headed to Tower and got more passes and took a ride. We then headed to Monsters Inc which Shane had also never seen. Everyone thought it was cute but not worth waiting in any kind of line for.
We then made our way towards screamin and again got passes and took our first ride. This was my daughter Katy’s first time to be able to ride and she took MANY a ride this trip as well and is now a pro! Poor Shelby once again was not tall enough so we had to do the inevitable baby swap but we were able to take a few rides on the carousel while we waited. We worked our way around and did Mulholland Maddness and then decided to try Pizza OO Mow Mow. This is another place I have never tried and it was pretty good. After lunch we headed to the Grand Californian to do some shopping and make a priority for Storytellers. We then did Tower once more and had some time and Shane wanted to do Aladdin again. I have seen this MANY times and while I enjoy the show was not worried about it this time. Shane did however want to go and it just happened to be seating at the time so we went. We usually get there way early and sit in orchestra but this time we just joined the crowd that was going in already and sat up top. The good part was we were able to see Aladdin and Jasmine on the carpet.
After the show we did a few more rides as well as watched Its tough to be a bug and finally it was time for our PS at Storytellers. We arrived a bit early and went to the lobby of GC and sat by the fire and relaxed. We left for Storytellers a few minutes early but were told we would have to wait till exactly 5 or else we would have to eat lunch. We did wait and considering we were the first ones there expected to be served quickly. Shane and I ordered the buffet which is wonderful and Katy got the make your own pizza. Lynn ordered pizza as well and Shelby got the mac and cheese. Well Shane and I had gotten our food and eaten and Katy got hers and was done and Lynn and Shelby STILL had not gotten there food. We were there over an hour and 3 of us were completely done and they still had nothing. So finally I got a bit upset and told the waiter to just cancel their orders and we would get them something else. He could see we were upset and they ended up comping our meals and told the girls they could eat from the buffet. I am glad that we didn’t have to pay but still very disappointed with the service as I normally like this place a lot and the food is very good.
We were going to have the girls go back to the room so that Shane and I could spend some alone time but this dinner had gotten so messes up that we just said to heck with it.
We went back to Screamin and did our fast passes and then to Tower and did our passes for there and finally it was time to go. We stopped at the bakery in the train near the exit and got cookies and hot cider for the road. It was very good.
We got back to the room and were happy to hit the sack!
Sunday November 12, 2006
Plan: Our plan this day is to do DL all day.
What actually happened: Once again we awoke early but this time we knew what we were doing. We got ready and while Shane and the girls went and got in line Lynn and I walked to McDonald’s and got egg mcmuffins and juice. We brought it back and just barely had enough time to eat before the gates opened. Unfortunately they shorted us one sandwhich but it was ok. We got in and did the same routine. Shane ran to get the passes while we headed to Pirates. Again we did Indy and then they headed to Space while I took the girls to Peter Pan. Shane and Lynn did SM while the girls and I rode Peter Pan. When they arrived we did Mr. Toad and then tea cups. This day was not as bad as Friday and we just worked our way around the park getting fast passes every hour or so and saving them up for the evening.
By lunch time we stopped at Café Orleans and very much enjoyed our meals. It is about time that Disney improved some of their food options! We will definitely dine there again! While at lunch we also saw the pirate band including a special visit by Cap Jack Sparrow himself!
After lunch we again worked our way around doing Splash, Haunted Mansion and the Tiki room before heading out for our midday break. This time we headed to DTD for dinner and ran in to MORE filming as they were filming an opening for Vault 28. We were able to get through to Tortilla Joes though and had a decent meal.
After that we got back into the park and worked our way around with our passes starting at Adventureland and working our way around to tomorrowland. I had forgot to mention that the prior evening upon leaving DCA we stopped and sat in the esplanade and watched the fireworks so we no longer needed to take the time this night and thus concentrated on rides. We got to space and it was down so we did Star Tours. I am VERY tired of this ride but the little ones like it as it is still new to them.
Luckily by the time we were done space was back up and we had 2 sets of passes which we did one right after the other. By now we had done it all but I had not done the train so we got on at the tomorrowland station and did the full circuit.
We got off on Main street and got more goodies at the blue ribbon and we were finally done. It was another GREAT day and although VERY crowded we did everything many many times!!
Monday November 13, 2006
Plan: Drive home
What actually happened: And thus this brings me to today. We did attempt to sleep in a bit but I am an early riser and thus knowing I had packing to do could no longer sleep and got up. I got the bags packed and the girls up and we checked out. I don’t know if I will ever stay at the Castle Inn again but I would def recommend it. The room was clean and nice and I would def stay there again if it were closer to the park.
After checking out we drove to DTD and went to Rainforest for breakfast. This was good and then we walked over to the Disneyland hotel for a little last minute shopping and then got on the road.
Sometimes it is still hard for me to believe that just this morning I was there and only a few short hours later I am right back at home.
All in all it was a great trip and I don’t regret one thing. We are figuring out a strategy for these busy times and we def made the best of the situation and feel like we can tackle any time now.
We are now anxuiously awaiting our next trip next month for Katy’s 7th birthday!!