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Kandace Nichols -- May 2006 -- Disneyland (GCH)

Cast of Characters

Kandace, 27-Veteran in progress and obsessed Disney and Donald Duck fan

Sean, 31, my husband, also a Veteran in progress

Graden, 9, 3rd trip to Disneyland in less than 12 months!

Pre-trip planning:

I absolutely love to plan! As long as I have a trip to plan and days to count down I am happy. I started to plan almost as soon as we got home from our December trip. I knew I needed to plan another trip to make up for the one in December as my husband came down with Bronchitis the day before we left and I got it the day after we arrived in Disneyland, this is all thanks to our son who had it two weeks before we left. We still had fun but we definitely had to slow down A LOT! We wanted to try and go in the off-season since we had just been in June and December and they are two very busy months at the park. I feel bad pulling my son out of school but he hardly ever misses school and this is Disneyland we are talking about!

I booked Disney’s Grand California (GCH) hotel for four nights with concierge and theme park view through AAA. Nothing beats sunrise over California Adventure with Grizzly River Run (GRR) and Tower of Terror (TOT) in the background. Yes, I turn into a bit of a commando as I walk onto the Disneyland Resort, otherwise I hardly ever see a sunrise. We also got our park hoppers with AAA and were able to get the enhanced fast pass feature by doing so. The enhanced FP allows you to collect one FP for every ride at the same time. You don’t have to wait the two hours or for the window to pass to get another FP. We can literally have one FP in our hands for every ride at one time. This is very nice when the parks are packed. I booked our airfare separately through Alaska Airlines from Seattle to Anaheim. We prefer John Wayne airport to LAX, it is so much smaller and easier to get around. I also booked Shuttle Express to and from the airport and I requested a Town Car. I prefer the Town Car since they don’t pick you up quite so early and it is just your family in the car. Our flight is at 6:40 am so they are scheduled to pick us up at 4:30 (EEEEK), if I had gone with the van it would have been sometime closer to 3:30 (double EEEEK). We also have vouchers for the Disney shuttle to get us to and from our hotel. I was told that they drop off guests at GCH first from the airport and pick them up last for the trip back to the airport.

About two to three weeks prior to our departure the anticipation over whelmed me and I had to do more planning. I started by booking the VIP tour at Disneyland for Friday. We have done almost every other tour and I thought it would be fun to have our own private guide. I also called Disney’s vacation planning services and have arranged welcoming baskets for all three of us. These should be great and I will report later what all they consisted of. I also have room service delivering chocolate covered strawberries and sparkling apple cider to our room upon arrival. I even called Alaska Airlines and upgraded our seats to first class using some of my frequent flyer miles. Well I don’t think there is anything else that I can possibly plan so it is time to wait!

Tuesday May 9th, the day before we leave.

I was able to get off work early today since I had an early morning meeting 2 ½ hours away and got home at 2:30 pm in the afternoon. This was great, I was able to get the last of our packing done and spend some quality time with our Beagle (Daisy) before I had to take her to the kennel. We tried to go to bed early but of course that is nearly impossible. We had both of our alarms set for 3:30am as well as my son’s watch alarm. We were not going to over sleep!

Day 1, Wednesday May 10th

We were up on time at 3:30 am. We had the last few things packed and were waiting for our town car that was only a few minutes late picking us up. The flight was uneventful and actually on time. We arrived in Anaheim at 9:30 am.

The shuttle was really late leaving the airport. The driver was having some serious problems getting the wheel chair lift to close. Finally we were on way, however we were not the first ones dropped off, we were the third. The Disneyland Hotel was first and than Paradise Pier Hotel. Needless to say we were a little disappointed and we will definitely use a different service next time.

Check in was a little slow since we hit the time when people are trying to check out and check in all at the same time. Judy was the cast member (CM) to check us in. I had requested bunk beds to give us a little more room and my son loves them. She had us set for a room with two queens beds, I asked about the bunk beds she said she would see what she could do and disappeared into the back room for several minutes. When she returned she said she was able to get us into a bunk bed room, yeah Judy!!! Christopher from the concierge lounge came down to greet us and help get our luggage checked into bell services. He then led us up to the lounge and on the way he pointed out the Hidden Mickey in the grandfather clock face by the elevators. In the lounge we helped our self to some drinks and snacks. They had little pressed PB & J sandwiches that we loved plus an abundance of fresh fruit and other goodies.

It was now 11 am and time to head to the parks! We stopped in the esplanade to find our family brick that I had purchased last September. It wasn’t installed yet for our trip in December. We found it pretty easily considering I had a map. I took a couple of pictures and we went through the queue and into Disneyland! Home at last! We tried to go to the AAA kiosk to get our pins and lanyards but they are no longer there and no one was really sure where they had moved, they thought somewhere in Downtown Disney. So our search will begin. We went to Tomorrowland first since Graden’s favorite ride is Space Mountain (SM) and he wanted to ride that first. We walked past Star Tours and saw that there was no wait so we decided to postpone SM and go in. I have never been on this ride before and I was a little nervous about it since I know it could make you motion sick. I was being very brave since it was our first day there and so darn excited. I had taken a motion sickness pill in the lounge and was hoping for the best. The ride started off fine but I quickly realized that the pill was not working so I closed my eyes and waited for the ride to be over. Once off the ride we went to SM, also no wait, and again I have never been on this ride for fear of motion sickness but my Disney excitement over took my better judgment and I went on. What was I thinking? I couldn’t get off the ride fast enough to run in the bathroom and get sick. After that I took a break and rested in the shade. I was feeling a little better so we went on Buzz Lightyear (Buzz) that had no wait. After the ride it was back to the bathroom to get sick again! While I was getting sick the boys went on Buzz again and also got FP’s for later. I sat and drank some nice cold water and was trying to feel better, but it took one more trip to the bathroom to get sick to finally start feeling better. Sean was ready for lunch, so they went over to Club Buzz. Sean had a cheeseburger and fries, Graden just got a cookie and we all got drinks. I don’t know what the cost was for that since I was in the bathroom getting sick at the time. Sean then spotted a churro stand and had to get two at $2.75 each. I watched while he ate them, there was no way I was going to get sick again.

We walked over and got FP’s for Indiana Jones (Indy) and then went on Haunted Mansion (HM), which had no wait. The attic scene has changed. It now has 5 portraits of the bride and all of her past husbands, the pictures magically change to show them with out heads and then you see the bride holding a hatchet at the end. I like the change but it goes against the old story of the groom being a merchant sailor, killing his bride and then hanging himself. While in New Orleans Square I decided to do some shopping. The more shopping I did the better and better my stomach felt. The only purchase I made was a book in the Disney Gallery and had it sent to our room to pick up in the morning at bell services. We made our way over to Critter Country and rode Winnie the Pooh (Pooh) and got FP’s for Splash Mountain (Splash). I decided that more shopping was in order so the boys rode Big Thunder Mountain Rail Road (BTMRR). When they were done we headed over to Indy it only had a 10-minute wait so we saved our FP’s for that night. We exited the park and made our way over to Disney’s California Adventure (DCA). We rode Soarin’ over California (Saorin’) with a 10 minute wait. Boy do I love that ride it just needs to be longer!

It was 4pm and time to check in. We were in room 6210. The room was very clean and average in size; you are paying for the location and convenience. The view was great; we had a perfect view of the pools, GRR and TOT. We had a partial view of the Paradise Pier (PP) and could see part of California Screamin’ (Screamin’) and the Sun Wheel. When we arrived in our room there was sparkling apple cider and chocolate covered strawberries waiting for us. They were wonderful and disappeared quite quickly. I called bell services for our luggage and it arrived within 10 minutes-excellent service as usual. I also called house keeping and requested a refrigerator and it also arrived within 10 minutes. Then the baskets arrived! Graden was delighted with his. His included a plush Mickey and Minnie, throw away camera and photo album, black Mickey ears, lanyard, autograph book and pin, cookies, large lollipop and other candies. Sean’s basket was coffee themed and included: assorted coffees, Mickey mug, Mickey shaped sugar cubes, biscotti, and chocolate covered espresso beans. My basket was spa themed and included: bath salts, aromatherapy bath beads, body lotion, shower gel and loofa scrub that all smelled of lavender-very nice.

Next we went to the concierge lounge for some appetizers of cheese and crackers before our 6:10 priority seating (PS) at Storytellers Café. At dinner Sean and Graden both had pizza and I had a cheeseburger and fries. With drinks and tip it came to about $40.

At 7:15 we headed back into Disneyland to use our FP’s. We were able to go on Splash 3 times in a row with virtually no wait; we have never been able to do that before. You can’t beat mid-week in the off-season. Next was our Indy FP’s and the wait was 10-15 minutes. We headed over to Buzz to squeeze in the last ride of the night; by that time our FP’s were pointless, there was no line.

On the way out of the park I tried to do some shopping at the Emporium but it was just to darn busy. So we exited the park and went to Downtown Disney (DD). World of Disney was busy but not as bad as the Emporium because it’s so much bigger. I picked up some postcards to send to our moms for Mother’s day, a few pins, another Disney book and a t-shirt and hat for Graden. With my Disney visa discount the total came to $87.

We made our way back to our room. As Sean dozed off on the bed, Graden watched Fantasia that he had checked out form the lounge and I enjoyed a bath with my lavender bath salts. I updated my trip notes and set the alarm for 6:45am for early entry (EE) in the morning. Finally in bed at 11pm.

Day 2, Thursday May 11th

Rise and shine at 6:45am- sleeping in compared to the day before. We had a quick breakfast in the lounge and then headed for Disneyland EE.

We started with Peter Pan first since this is usually the busiest ride in Fantasyland. Mr. Toad’s Wild ride is right next to Peter Pan so we jumped on that for a wild ride! Next was the Matterhorn Bobsled ride. We all rode it once and then the boys went for a second trip. I decided to pass on the second ride; my stomach still wasn’t quite right from yesterday and very sensitive. We then knocked out Alice in Wonderland (Alice), Snow White’s Scary Adventure (Snow White) and Pinocchio’s Daring Adventure (Pinocchio). Next to Tomorrowland. Graden wanted to ride the Astro Orbitor and while he was riding that Sean and I went on Buzz and both of us got level 5.

Time to head over to DCA for the EE onto Soarin’ (They open DCA a half hour ealrly and and let you ride Soarin’). We rode it twice and then ran back to the hotel to get the post cards in the mail and pick up my book from bell services. We re-entered DCA to find Monsters Inc. closed so we went over to play in the animation building. We all took the test to find out what character we were most like. I got Belle, Sean got Timone and Graden got Jiminy Cricket. The second time Sean and I took the tests we both answered the one question to make us a villain. This time Sean was Gaston and I was the Queen of Hearts. Sean did the acting piece with Ursula and he definitely does not have an acting career in his future. It was now time for Turtle Talk with Crush. This is always fun and I am always so impressed with how the interaction works, it truly is Disney magic DUDE! Monsters Inc. was now open and there was about a 10-minute wait. I love the bright colors in this ride and it follows the movie very closely.

Time for Paradise Pier. Graden talked his dad into going on the Mali-boomer with him (a ride that shoots you about 1000 feet into the air and then drops you). I was more than happy to keep my feet on the ground and take some wonderful pictures of my husband’s terrified face. Next we went on the Sun Wheel. Sean and I heeded the warning signs of motion sickness for the moving gondolas and opted for a non-moving gondola. Our son however, did not listen to the warnings of the signs or of his parents. He assured us that he wouldn’t get sick and that he would be fine. Well, yet again mom and dad were actually right. They had to stop the ride to let the poor kid off. We were waiting for him on the off ramp walk-way, he got to us and just sat down pale as a ghost (motion sickness must run in the family). We gave him some cold water and a few minutes rest and asked if playing the boardwalk games would make him feel better. $20 in games later he was back to normal. The games must have had the same affect on him as shopping did for me.

Time for lunch. We tried Ariel’s Grotto but they were not taking any walk-ups and told us to try back in a half hour. I wasn’t aware that the princesses were there at lunch; I thought it was just for dinner otherwise I would have gotten PS. So Sean and I ended up eating at Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill. Sean got pork tacos and I got fish tacos and we split a soda for a total to $17. Graden won’t eat Mexican food (weird kid, I know) so he got a clam chowder bread bowl and soda for $12 at the Pacific Wharf Café. The lunch lines were very long and we did a lot of waiting for just OK food.

The adults decided it was now time for a nap, Graden stayed awake and watched Brother Bear, another borrowed movie from the lounge.

At 4pm, fully rested, we decided to join the grand quest in our hotel. It was fun; we went around to all different places in the hotel following the clues. For completion we all received Mickey cookies.

We took another break from the parks for Graden to go swimming, Sean to sun bathe and me to catch up on my trip notes.

At 5:50pm we had PS at Granvilles Steak House at the Disneyland Hotel. Wow, is the best description. To start with Sean and I both got a spring greens salad with raspberry vinaigrette and candied pecans. We both had the filet mignon. Sean got his with seasoned new potatoes and I got garlic-mashed potatoes. Graden just got chicken strips and fries. Our total was $102 plus tip and worth every penny. We both agreed that those were the best steaks we have ever had. They were so tender and juicy, my mouth is watering just writing about them.

We took the monorail back to Disneyland in hopes of closing it down again. We missed the first monorail and had to wait for the next that arrived about 7 minutes later. We would have been better off walking back to the park.

Sean and Graden went on SM while I played it safe and went on Buzz. To Sean and Graden’s delight the CM’s had some trouble stopping the ride at the appropriate spot so everyone had the choice to ride again. One girl wanted off so they had to take the ride backstage to use a special platform to get everyone off and then reload. Meanwhile, I had been waiting for them in the exit area, I even saw there photos come up but I couldn’t figure out where I missed them. So I went shopping, they would know where to find me. Sean sent Graden to find me while he purchased their picture for $13.95.

At that time the parade was just ending and the park was very busy. We went to try and ride BTMRR but the wait was just to long so we decided to call it a night.

I did a little more shopping in Downtown Disney. I had read in another trip report about wearing Mickey shoes purchased in Disneyland and their feet never hurt. Definitely some Disney magic. The shoes I had brought with me were absolutely killing my feet so I was on a mission to find those shoes in my size, but every store I went in only had a six or an eight or bigger, I need a seven. So my search continues.

We grabbed a quick snack in the lounge, showered and were all in bed by 10pm.

Day 3 Friday May 12th

We were up early again at 6:30am. Sean and I were compelled to do the early morning fitness walk in DCA and let Graden sleep in (like we don’t get enough walking during the day in the parks). We met up with our group at 7:15am and Dave the CM led the way. I realize that this is a “fitness walk” but I thought it would be a little more leisure to see the park when it is empty. I was wrong!!! I will admit that I am a bit out of shape so I kept lagging behind and had to jog part of time to keep up. I could have asked them to slow down but I didn’t want to be the wuss of the group. We kept getting close to the turn off back to our hotel and he would turn the opposite direction. Towards the end of the “walk” I was sure he was lost! I did finish the walk but opted to not do it again this trip.

We returned back to the room, woke Graden up and went down for breakfast in the lounge and headed for the parks.

The first ride we went on was the jungle cruise. This is Sean’s least favorite ride and we pretty much had to drag him on. I appreciate this ride just for the fact that it is an original ride and Walt put so much effort into it. The highlight of the ride was seeing a beautiful male wood duck (live). Also, I think the piranhas are new, they are pretty funny and make quite the splash. Next Graden and I went in Tarzan’s Tree house while Sean got FP’s for Indy and checked to see if the Bengal BBQ was open yet. Sean is bound and determined to eat there this time; we have read that it may be closing soon so he wanted to eat there at least once. Next we went for another ride in the HM, Splash and Pooh. Graden refused to ride Pooh, claiming he had already rode it once and that was plenty for him so he just waited at the exit for us. Next Graden and I rode the raft over to Tom Sawyer’s Island while Sean went back to check on the Bengal BBQ again, it was still closed so he joined us on the island. We left the island and went on BTMRR. Sean and Graden got french fries from the Conestoga wagon and I ventured over to Big Thunder Ranch. We all met up again and went to Tomorrowland. We got FP’s for Buzz and SM and also rode Buzz at the same time. We than ran over to DCA to collect FP’s for GRR and Soarin’ to use later in the day when the rides get more busy.

Time for lunch. We ate at Storytellers Café again. I was dying for their fish tacos and had to come back again on this trip since I couldn’t get then at dinner last night. Sean had a chicken sandwich that had onions and cheese on it and Graden had the make your own pepperoni pizza. The total was around $40 again.

We went to our room for a short rest before meeting at city hall for our VIP tour at 1pm. We got to city a hall a few minutes early and waited for our host. Our host turned out to be Albert! We were so delighted, we had him on another tour and he even remembered us. The only reason he did remember us was a few people in our tour group who were quite “memorable” (wink-wink, chuckle-chuckle). He started the tour by asking us what we would like to do; I explained to him that I love Disney trivia and hidden Mickey’s and hidden objects. He explained that most people expect a behind the scenes tour, or a “cut to the front of the line” tour. He was very relieved to hear what we wanted to see instead of having to tell us that we aren’t allowed behind the scenes or able to cut in lines. He also had some extra FP’s for us to use while on the tour and told us that he could make PS arrangements for us along with seating for the fireworks or parade. So we started down Main Street, he stopped us half way down and asked if we would like to ride the Lilly Belle. Would I!!! What type of silly question is that? It would be an honor to ride in the Lilly Belle (for those of you that don’t know what the Lilly Belle is, it is a restored train car for VIP’s that was named after Lillian Disney). We did an about face and headed back for the train station, we had a few minute wait while the train arrived that had the Lilly Belle on it. We did a grand circle tour of the park and I felt so under dressed being in there plus I didn’t want to touch anything. The car was very Victorian and very red. There was a picture of Walt and Lillian and even a coat of Lillian’s hanging up that she had left. Being able to go in the Lilly Belle made my whole trip. We exited the Lilly Belle and went to Indy in hope to find the hidden Mickey ears on one of the skeletons. No such luck, I will keep trying to find them the next time we ride. Albert did let us in on a secret to how part of the ride works, (warning- skip to the next paragraph if you don’t want to spoil any of the Disney magic). At the beginning there are three choices of what room to enter, I always thought that there were three tracks and then you met up somewhere later. I was wrong! There is only one, the wall itself moves. If you look at the ground here you will only see one set of tracks not three. Also towards the end of the ride, when Indy is hanging from a rope and trying to jump in your jeep the jeep is not moving but the walls are. Pretty cool huh!

Albert also let us in on a secret that the Parade of Dreams will be going on for the next ten years!!! It’s a great parade but ten years seems a little long.

Next he took us into the Gallery and pointed out to us where Walt and Roy’s initials are in the railing. Next he took us in the wheelhouse of the Mark Twain. Graden got to “steer” the boat. He was very concerned about not hitting the rocks and when to turn the wheel. He also got to ring the bell and blow the whistle when instructed to. He was ecstatic and so proud of how well he did. The Captain even gave him a S.S. Mark Twain Pilots Certificate for successful completion of the Rivers of America. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the boat is on a track. Off to BTMRR, Albert pointed out a hidden Mickey in some very large gears on the ground; I don’t know how I could have missed it before. The three of us went on Autopia while Albert waited. Next Albert took Graden on SM, while Sean played video games and I rested my tired and sore feet (I still haven’t found my Mickey shoes). Than Albert took us on Buzz and let us in on the secret of the hidden target on Zurg. We all got level 5. It was about time to part with Albert. He made arrangements for us to view the fireworks Saturday night from the train station reserved seats. He asked us what our dinner plans were that night and I explained to him that we wanted to eat at the ESPN Zone but they don’t take reservations, he pulled out his trusty cell phone and was able to get us on the “ESPN list” for that evening. We enjoyed the tour with Albert so much it will probably become a tradition as long as we can get Albert every time. The cost was $300 for four hours but worth every penny!!! He made our vacation “magical” and I hope he knows how much we appreciate CM’s that truly have Disney in their heart like him.

We went back to a room for a short rest and snack, all the while thinking about our next tour with Albert and how we have to make it to DCA next time.

We got to ESPN at 6:30 and were told by the doorman to go to the front of the line and let them know that we were on the “list”. I felt a little guilty going in front of everyone but it was also very cool! I let them know and they had us seated in about two minutes. I realize that this is not a 5 star restaurant but it sure was fun being treated like VIP’s. Sean got VERY hot buffalo wings that were making him sweat and he wasn’t even able to finish them. Graden got chicken strips and fries (surprise, surprise) and I got shrimp fettuccini alfredo that had so much shrimp there was no chance at all to finish it. Our total again was around $40 plus tip.

We went to DCA for a ride on Soarin’ and then to GRR which we got absolutely soaked. So that ended our day and we went back to our room for showers and of course more snacks (if your paying that much for concierge you might as well use it).

Day 4, Saturday May 13th

We were up darn early at 5:50am for EE into Disneyland. I am a big believer in getting to the park at opening, it is always so peaceful and you can ride so many rides and than go back to your room for rest in the afternoon when the park is full and it is burning hot outside. So we had another quick breakfast in the lounge and made our way to the park. I got some great photos of DCA and the big CALIFORNIA sign with no people in it (nearly an impossible picture). Today they had us queue at the turnstiles, the previous days that we were there at opening they let us into the park but stopped the crowd with a rope at the end of Main Street. It’s so much nicer to be able to walk into the park than have to wait in another boring line. I wonder what the difference is?

Like usual the boys rode SM once while I got to ride Buzz twice. I still wasn’t brave enough to ride SM again; I didn’t want to have a repeat of Wednesday. They then joined me for two more rides on Buzz. At that time of day Graden was able to get the high score of over 400K, we emailed it to ourselves the pictures to keep as a souvenir. Next we all went on the Matterhorn, Graden wanted to ride by himself so Sean and I shared a bobsled. The only problem with us sharing a seat is that we got put in the back that has way less room than the front seats. We are not the smallest people in the world and the seatbelt would barley go around both of us. With a little help from the CM we were able to get our belt fastened. I was smashed into Sean’s chest and my knees were smashed up in the wall and then we went on a roller coaster! Quite the entertaining ride, we were laughing so hard through the whole thing and Sean was singing “fat folks in a little car” (remake of the Tommy Boy movie song- “fat guy in a little coat”). We peeled ourselves out of the bobsled and vowed to never ride the bobsled together again.

Next we went and took some photos in front of the castle. We had one done by a professional and then Sean and I took some.

Next we rode Alice and found the hidden Mickey that Albert had told us about. It is in the spilled paint on the ground where the cards are painting the roses red. Next we went on It’s a Small World so we could have the song stuck in our head all day. Then I wanted to go to Mickey’s Toontown Morning Madness but I forgot the vouchers in our room and I really didn’t want to go back for them, so we left the park and went over to DCA for the early ride on Soarin’.

We rode Soarin’ and then waited for the Hollywood Backlot to open at 10:00am. While we were waiting I decided to go shopping (surprise, surprise) at Greetings from California and I actually found the Mickey shoes in my size. I had checked in there before but they must have had some new merchandise come in.

The Backlot opened and everyone rushed to Monster’s Inc. so we went for the first viewing of Muppet Vision 3D. While we were waiting and watching the pre-show I sat down and laced up my new shoes and put them on (Oh what happy feet). After the show there was no wait at Monster’s Inc. so we went right on. Graden really wanted to go on TOT but we were both too chicken to go with him. I ended up having to bribe him with $20 to go on it by himself, little did he know that this was part of the money that I had pre-allotted for him anyway.

Since we were leaving the next day I wanted to get all of our shopping done so we could hopefully get packed up that night. We went into Off the Page and the boys bought me a Swarovrski crystal Donald Duck for Mother’s Day. If I haven’t mentioned already I am a huge Donald Duck fan and most of my Disney wardrobe will prove that. I have loved this crystal Donald Duck since the first time I saw it but never could justify spending that much money on it.

I tried once again to get into Ariel’s Grotto but with no luck, so we went for lunch back in our hotel at White Water Snacks (WWS). Sean had a French dip, Graden got chicken strips and fries and I got a personal pepperoni pizza. The pizza was not good at all and I barely ate 1 piece of it. Our total was about $35. We had seen several wild cats around DCA and one happened to be hanging out by the outside seating area of WWS, so when we sat down it came right over to see what it could scrounge from us. It did politely stay on the other side of the fence. I couldn’t resist it any longer and I had to give it a Cheeto, the cat about took my fingers off! I didn’t know cats liked Cheeto’s, it must be very used to eating anything it can. We kept giving it little bites of our lunch carefully so we didn’t lose our fingers or get caught by any CM’s. We then retreated to our room for a short rest before our 2:15 appointment with the Disney Vacation Club. Albert (CM, tour guide) belongs to it and told us a little bit about it and it really sparked our interest. There are kiosks EVERYWHERE so I went to one in our hotel and inquired. She said it would only take one hour of our time and we would get a $50 gift card just for going, so what the heck, I set the appointment.

They picked us up at our hotel and whisked us over to DVC in a stretch golf cart. Our consultant was Fleur, she was very pleasant and did not pressure us at all. They have lots for kids to do while you go through the presentation and are happy to provide you with a soft drink or water. We were absolutely sold on this idea. It is great investment, you are basically pre-paying for all of your vacations for almost the next 50 years and the interest on the loan is tax deductible as well as part of the annual dues since you are paying property taxes. This is perfect for anyone who does a lot of Disney vacations and stays on property plus there are literally over 500 other non-Disney vacation options throughout the world. Fleur wanted us to sleep on it for the night but our minds were made up and we signed up right then and there. For signing up then we got our $50 gift card, an additional $2400 from Disney to go along with our 10% down payment, and two premium annual passes to either Disneyland or Disney World. We chose the Disneyland passes since we visit here 1-2 times a year, she also gave us some FP’s that were good at any ride in the parks and told us to come back tomorrow for more. We signed ALL of the paperwork; you are buying property so there is a lot to sign. We got a nifty tote to carry all of the introduction packets in (there is a lot) and we also got DVC hats. Our 1-hour appointment turned into 3 ½ hours, we didn’t care because we were so excited about this and now we can’t wait to plan our next vacation using DVC.

By this time we were all very hungry so we decided to eat at Tortilla Joes in Downtown Disney. There was about a 20-minute wait so we left Sean behind and Graden and I went over to Build a Bear to buy his bear at home some Mickey clothes. Boy was that place packed, I was very happy to get out of there. By the time we made it back they were just getting ready to seat us. Sean had steak carne asada, of course Graden got chicken strips but this time no fries they only offer rice and beans and I got the soft chicken tacos. The food was just OK but the chips and salsa were excellent. Again our total bill was $40 plus tip.

Next we went to Basin and picked up some bath bombs and Mickey soap. We ran up to our room to drop all of our packages and then headed back to DCA.

We decided to finally go watch Golden Dreams, there was still a little more time until the show started so Graden and I went to do some pin shopping at a kiosk and Sean got some coffee. He ended up throwing it away because it was luke warm and not very good. The film was very nice and inspirational, Whoopie’s face on the statues was a little creepy but all in all I recommend that everyone see this at least once.

We rode Mulholland Maddness (MM) with one of our DVC FP’s, the CM sure looked at it close. It looks a lot different from other FP’s, its all white with black lettering. Through the whole ride I screamed like a little girl, it really does feel like you are going to go flying off. There was no line on the Golden Zephyr so the boys went on, this ride spins so I didn’t want to take any chances I just sat down and took some pictures of PP and the boys on the ride. It was time to make our way over to Disneyland and get our reserved seats for the fireworks. On the way out we were asked to do a survey. We always say yes because they are normally only a few questions long and your done in a minute or so, this was not one of those surveys, we were stuck there answering questions for over 10 minutes! Maybe it was so long because we were leaving the park and not entering it. But WOW we won’t do that again.

Disneyland was absolutely packed!!! We made a feeble attempt at doing some shopping to get the last few things we needed. We got some things but the stores were so packed. I tried to pick up our pictures from that morning but the lines was zigzagged outside so I decided to wait until tomorrow morning.

We went back to the train station for our reserved seats. The conductor had our names so we were able sit right down. We had a great view. You aren’t close to the castle but you have a perfect view because you are up higher than the rest of the crowd. These have got to be the best fireworks anywhere. I have the 50th CD that has the music for the fireworks on it so I was able to sing along with the whole thing. What’s also great about this location is you can jump right on the train and get out of the super busy area after the fireworks are over. We took the train to New Orleans Square. We did the last of our shopping at Pieces of Eight. Make sure you tell them that you want the package sent to your room before the transaction otherwise they have to handwrite the entire slip out. We learned this from personal experience and don’t recommend holding up the line in an already very busy and cramped store.

New Orleans Square was packed because Fantasmic was going to start very soon. So we left and went for another ride on Indy, still no luck finding the Mickey ears. We finished our day with one last ride on Buzz. Graden’s high score was no longer on the board; the high score was now over 1.2 million. We then went back to our room. We would be up early the next morning to pack up and check out but we were just too tired to pack that night.

Day 5 Sunday May 15th Mother’s Day

We were up at 6:30am. We had packing and even more packing to do, luckily we packed an extra bag so we could get everything home. We had our last breakfast in the lounge. We checked our bags into bell services and than checked out of the hotel.

We were in the park late at 8:30am. I hate not getting there right at opening. We took the Omnibus down Main Street but had to wait for the marching band to make its way down. Than I spotted Donald Duck with Alice, The Mad Hatter, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum at the end of the band but at that point you were not allowed off the bus so we had to take it all the way to the castle. Of course I made us walk all the way back. I was not going to miss Donald Duck!!! All the characters were singing and dancing and in between numbers they would sign autographs and take pictures. The Mad Hatter was going around grabbing all of the men, Sean saw this happening and tried to high tail it out of there. Too late! The Mad Hatter spotted him and started running after him and yelling “Sir, Sir” and I of course was yelling “get him, get him”. So Sean got so show off some of his dance moves. I have never laughed so hard and I got some great photos of his bright red face. I waited patiently and was finally able to get my picture taken with Donald. I could go home happy now and what a great Mother’s day treat. We went over to City Hall and put in a good compliment for Albert. I went to pick up our photos and the boys got FP’s for Buzz and SM.

We were on our way to Toontown when Graden spotted the Mad Tea Party (teacups). He has never ridden this before and really wanted to. I warned him about motion sickness and he said that he wouldn’t spin it so I let him go. Sean went to Toontown and got FP’s for Roger Rabbits Car Toon Spin (RR) (and rode it with out us) while I waited for Graden and took some pictures while he was riding. He exited the ride unsick-yeah! We met Sean in Toontown and there was no need for FP’s at that time so we went right on. I had never been on this ride before because it has the word “spin” in the title and did not want to get sick. Sean said that we could control how much that it does spin so I trusted him and went on. It was fun and I was glad I finally went on it. I got off the ride feeling just fine.

Next we went on BTMRR and got FP’s just in case for later. Graden was hungry so we got french fries and a drink ($6) from the wagon while Sean went to get FP’s for Indy and Splash and then met back up at the HM for another ride.

We went to Adventureland to check on Bengal BBQ, it was just about to open so Sean hovered at the entrance to the line. While he was waiting I went to the ATM to get more cash, as I was making my way back I passed by the Dole stand so I had to stop and get Graden and I two Dole floats for $9. Sean had finally gotten his Bengal BBQ and he was not disappointed he even let me have a little bite of each skewer. We were right at Indy so we went for one more ride (still no Mickey ears). The Enchanted Tiki Room show was just about to start so we went in for that. I had forgotten how fun and colorful that show is and of course I sang along with the whole thing. Next we went on Buzz, I got my highest score ever 472K, level 5 still but I am getting closer to that level 6.

We left the park to head to the Disneyland Hotel for the Mother’s Day brunch in the grand ballroom. I was debating on whether or not to cancel the reservation because I didn’t want to spend that much money and waste that much time on our last day in the park. The CM’s assured me that it would not be disappointing so I kept the reservation. We finally got seated 45 minutes after our reservation time. The ballroom was enormous it seated almost 2000 people. There were different food stations set up everywhere, the normal brunch food plus an appetizer table, dessert table and a kid’s only table. I am glad we did it and I don’t know if we will be back in Disneyland again for Mother’s Day but I don’t think it was worth the $160 for three people.

We left there and got more FP’s from the DVC. We walked all through Downtown Disney but could not find AAA anywhere. We went to DCA for one last ride on Soarin’.

We went back to Disneyland. I decided it was time to get Graden’s park hopper ticket changed into an Annual Passport since Sean and I have vouchers coming from DVC. The line was enormous so instead of the boys just sitting and waiting I sent them down for one last ride on SM. The boys weren’t back before I was at the top of the line so the CM let me wait to the side until they showed up. Finally Graden arrived so he could have his picture taken for the passport. We then went on our last rides on BTMRR, Splash and Buzz. Sadly it was time to leave. We gave our extra FP’s to a family of three and went back to our hotel.

We retrieved our bags from bell services but we missed the 6pm shuttle to the airport; the next one would not be until 6:45pm plus they would be stopping at PP and the Disneyland Hotel. Our flight was at 8:15pm and that would be cutting it just too close so we opted to take a taxi. It cost $35 plus tip, but he got us there 1 hour before our flight which was perfect. We had dinner at McDonalds (yuck) but it was only $16.

Our flight was more than 45 minutes late leaving the terminal. There was a very intoxicated man that they had to escort off the plane before we left. This ensured we didn’t have to make an emergency landing in Eugene, OR to have him removed. We got home close to midnight and we had to be to work in the morning.


We had another wonderful trip to Disneyland and I have started to plan our trip in September using the DVC. We love the GCH and concierge is always worth the extra money. I highly recommend the VIP tour and make sure you request Albert. Look into the Disney Vacation Club it could be the best investment you ever made.

Thank you for reading my first trip report, I hope you enjoyed it and please email me if you should have any questions or feedback.

Kandace Nichols


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