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Pam Roberts -- December 2004 -- Disneyland (Offsite)


The Cast:

  • Pam, 43/44: DL veteran and overall Disney fanatic
  • James, 44: Pam’s hubby, also DL veteran
  • Heather, 42: College friend, last visit to DL was in 2001 with Pam
  • Jonathan, 45: Heather’s hubby and college friend, not a huge DL fan!

The Plan

We met our friends, Jonathan & Heather (J&H), when we were in college together many years ago, and we have a lot in common ~ they have been married 9 ½ months longer than us and have 2 cats but no children (just like us, although we are down to 1 cat right now). Heather and I visited Disneyland together in January 2001, but she unfortunately got the flu on our last day and hasn’t wanted to return before now. Jonathan was even less enthusiastic, but we finally got them to change their minds and join us for a trip. We chose December 4-8 because it was my birthday and the resort would be decorated for Christmas.

I made reservations for 2 rooms at the Anaheim Del Sol Inn on Harbor Blvd. (a 5-minute walk from the parks, total for 4 nights in each room = $280). Yes, it’s a cheap motel but the location is ideal and includes a refrigerator, microwave, and Continental breakfast.

As for transportation, I booked our airfare on Southwest Airlines from Sacramento to Orange County ($283), and emailed our itinerary to J&H so they could book their airfare too. I then made a reservation with Alamo for a full-size rental car, and used a coupon from our Entertainment Book to get a free weekend day (final cost = $98).

James & I have annual passes and I usually buy military passes whenever anyone in our party needs them, but they weren’t valid on the necessary dates. I ended up ordering two 5-day passes for J&H ($258) through the Disneyland.com website the week before we left, which included 2 $10 ESPN Zone cards. We were ready to go!

Saturday, December 4, 2004

I got up at 7am and James followed at 8:15am. We rushed around completing our last-minute packing and making sure that our kitty, Cyrus, had enough food, water, and clean litter to cover the entire time we would be gone. J&H arrived around 9:15am, and we loaded up our car with the bags prior to leaving around 9:30am for the airport. We made good time and parked in the economy lot around 10am. Everything went smoothly throughout the check-in process, and we had about an hour to kill before our flight. We had a snack in the food court (Chinese, Burger King, and TCBY), and then walked over to our gate to wait for the boarding call.

I called House of Blues (HoB) to make a reservation for 3pm that afternoon, and then we boarded our plane. It was a pretty full and smooth flight to the Orange County Airport, although the landing was a little bumpy. James went to the Alamo counter to rent the car while we collected our bags, and we ended up with a Chevrolet Malibu with low mileage ~ plenty of room for our luggage and us. We had a speedy commute to our motel (15 minutes!), and checked in around 2pm. We got settled and walked over to HoB for lunch.

We arrived 15 minutes early to have the hostess tell us that they couldn’t honor our reservation because they had private parties arriving around 4:30pm and that the earlier rain was keeping them from seating people outdoors. She said that they had tried to call everyone to cancel, which I knew wasn’t possible as they had not asked for my phone number when I called them 3 hours previously! I asked for the manager and pled my case to him. Since they had several empty tables indoors, he agreed to honor our reservation – yeah! We had a very delicious lunch (2 turkey burgers, regular burger, and blackened chicken sandwich) and were out the door by 3:45pm! We also were able to use our 20% AP discount here (our portion was $23 after the discount).

It was still cloudy, so we walked around the Disneyland Hotel, Downtown Disney (DtD), and the Grand Californian Hotel (GCH) to check out their Christmas decorations. Jonathan bought some kettle corn from a vendor and we sat down in the GCH lobby to enjoy the ambiance for a while before walking over to the ticket booths to pick up J&H’s passes (Will Call). We had a short wait before we were helped, and then we walked back to the motel to retrieve the rental car.

We drove up to the Disney Character Warehouse Outlet store in Fullerton and purchased several Christmas gifts, ornaments, postcards, and shirts (total = $77 after the 10% discount Chamber of Commerce coupon). Then we drove across the street to the Foods 4 Less to purchase some snacks, water, and drinks for our rooms. We arrived back at the motel around 7pm and went to our separate rooms. I updated our trip notes and we were in bed by 10:15pm.

Sunday, December 5, 2004 (Walt’s and my birthday!)

Disneyland Park (DLP) was opening at 8am today, so our alarm went off at 6:30am. Breakfast consisted of Pop-Tarts, cereal, and toast, and we were at J&H’s room by 7:45am. Since today was my birthday, they gave me a cute card and gift (Mickey’s Twice Upon a Christmas DVD). James took it back to our room, and then we walked over towards the park. We rented a locker outside the main entrance to store our extra jackets ($6), and went through the turnstiles. I headed into City Hall to get my birthday sticker and phone call from Goofy, while the others headed down Main Street. A few minutes later I was practically skipping toward the hub because I was so excited to be back at the park again!

We met up at our favorite Fantasyland attraction: Peter Pan! Afterwards we rode Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Dumbo (Heather & I only), and Alice. While we were onboard the StorybookLand Canal Boats (Tinkerbell), it started to sprinkle on us. Jon decided to buy a DLR poncho, since he was the only one of us without rain gear (this turned out to be a very wise investment, as it rained on us almost every day!).

We then rode it’s a small world holiday (I just love the music and decorations!) and Roger Rabbit’s CarToon Spin. We visited Minnie in her home and took a picture with her, and then headed over to Mickey’s house. Not only was Mickey at home, but Santa Goofy, Pluto, and Chip & Dale were visiting too! We took pictures with everyone, and loved seeing all of the characters decked out in their holiday clothes. Heather & I wanted to ride Gadget’s Go-Coaster, but it was down so we left ToonTown.

It was still misting and Jonathan was craving some coffee, so we headed back towards Fantasyland. Since Village Haus wasn’t yet open, we rode Pinocchio, Snow White, and the Carrousel. Then we walked over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (BTMRR), which Heather & I rode while the boys stood over by the heaters in the dining area of Rancho del Zocalo.

We were starting to get hungry, but we still had another hour before the restaurants started serving lunch. We finally found the cappuccino ODV cart by the hub and had a snack (cappuccino, hot cocoa, and a star-shaped rice krispie treat). I checked our cell phone and saw that my mom had called to wish me a happy birthday so I returned her call. The misting had turned into a steady rain by now so we sought temporary shelter at the Carnation Gardens bandstand while we ate, which was about the only covered place in the vicinity! We also were hoping that my sister-in-law and her family would join us sometime during the day (they live near San Diego), so we left a message on their cell phone.

We walked over to Indiana Jones (Indy) and got a fastpass (FP) for 11:15-12:15, and then tried to get a Haunted Mansion Holiday (HMH) FP as I had read on MousePad that the two systems were not linked. Unfortunately, I received a ticket stating that I already held a valid FP elsewhere and it wouldn’t give them to me! Oh well ~

Since it was nearly 11am, we hopped on the Walt Disney Railroad at the New Orleans station and got off at the Tomorrowland station. We grabbed some lunch at Redd Rocket’s Pizza Port (spaghetti, pepperoni pizza, and H2O for us = $16 after AP discount), and then Jonathan, Heather, and I went to Star Tours while James finished his spaghetti (he doesn’t care for ST).

After meeting up with James again, we walked over to ride Indy with our FPs, and then rode Pirates of the Caribbean. We got FPs for HMH (1:25 – 2:25), and visited Critter Country while waiting for the FP window to open. It’s amazing the difference some rain makes ~ Splash Mountain was a walk-on! This is Heather’s favorite ride at DL ~ I wanted to buy the picture, but they talked me out of it (“There’ll be better ones of us later” ~ yeah, right!). We also rode Winnie the Pooh and I showed J&H where the animal heads from the late-and-great Country Bear Jamboree are located. We walked back over to HMH and rode with our FPs ~ I loved the music so much, that I ended up buying the CD later in the trip.

I had made reservations for the Birthday Party, so we headed on over to the Plaza Inn. I found out that the rain had caused a delay in the party, which would now be held at 3pm in the Golden Horseshoe Saloon (GHS). I paid for us ($39 after the AP discount), and we decided to check out the Monorail in the meantime. They were only accepting one-way trips to the DLH (apparently they were only operating one vehicle today), so we decided to skip it for now. We watched Honey, I Shrunk the Audience and rode the Mark Twain Riverboat. I asked if I could go up in the pilothouse of the MT, but the upper decks were closed due to the rain (rats!). Therefore, Heather & I kept warm (and entertained our fellow passengers) by square dancing to the fun river music they play during your ‘cruise’. Once we had docked, it was time to head over to the GHS for the party.

The Birthday Party is a hoot, no matter what your age! We were each given paper party hats with Mickey ears, fruit punch in a keepsake plastic cup, and our own personal birthday cake to frost and decorate as we pleased! I was pleasantly surprised that both James and Jonathan wore their party hats, and the photographer took a group photo of us. Patrick Edward Cake (a.k.a. Pat E. Cake) was our host, and he walked around greeting everyone before asking all of the birthday ‘kids’ to join him at the front of the room. I wasn’t the only ‘big’ kid present ~ I got to meet Gina (a.k.a. Walt’sbirthdaygirl from MousePad) too! Everyone sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to us, and then Mickey & Minnie came out! We joined them in a conga line, and individually posed for photos with them. We had a great time, and Heather was pleased that Mr. Cake liked her decorated effort the best!

After the party was over, we went to the Camera shop and I bought copies of our earlier pictures with Mickey ($28), and then we went to the Plaza Inn to see the birthday photos. I bought copies of me with Mickey and Minnie, as well as our group photo (another $33). I enjoyed how the date was also included on each birthday photo ~ yes, DL pix are expensive, but it was a special occasion after all!

We walked back over to the Monorail but it was still only providing one-way rides, so we headed for Main Street. I went into City Hall to use the courtesy phone to call the Disney Dine Line about getting same-day dinner reservations at Tortilla Jo’s, but it was too late in the day. Therefore, we left the park and stopped at the outside lockers to leave the pictures and party stuff before heading over to Disney’s California Adventure (DCA).

James went to get FPs for Soarin’ over California, while the rest of us headed over to see the pre-show of Muppet Vision 3-D. We think that this pre-show is very funny, and always enjoy watching it whenever we’re visiting DCA. After Muppets, we got a call from Carol (SIL) that they were over at our motel. James went to meet Bruce (BIL) outside of DCA to return Carol’s cell phone (long story, but her mother had borrowed it from her a week before and left it with us). Traffic was really bad, so they unfortunately couldn’t stay to visit. ?

I walked over to the Mission Tortilla Factory to get a free sample and dozen flour ‘birthday’ tortillas, then met up with everyone at Soarin’. J&H absolutely loved this ride, and agreed that it was one of the best attractions that Disney offers! It was nearly 6pm by now, so we used the GCH exit and walked through their lobby on the way to Downtown Disney (DtD) to find dinner.

We checked out the wait at Tortilla Jo’s, but it was 45 minutes standing outside in a queue (no pager)! Jonathan’s knee was beginning to bother him, and we knew we would need to go somewhere where he could sit and rest it. We ended up at ESPN Zone, also with a 45-minute wait, but we found a table and chairs upstairs by the bar to pass the time. J&H bought a round of drinks (Long Island Iced Tea, Vodka Collins, Bloody Mary, and Screwdriver) and we yakked it up while waiting for the pager to go off. Dinner was yummy (chicken tenders and shrimp Caesar salad for us, and chicken avocado wraps for J&H), and we were able to watch the Sacramento Kings beat Boston on the monitors (yay!).

DtD was a zoo, due to the fact that the outdoor entertainment (i.e. parades and Candlelight Processional) had been cancelled. We headed back to the motel, stopping at the locker along the way to collect our stuff. We were happy that we had rented the locker outside the parks, so we didn’t have to go through the hassle of re-entering and ‘swimming’ up Main Street to the ones there!

We arrived back at the motel around 8pm, and collected the gift that Carol had left in the lobby for me along the way. I called the Disney Dine Line to make a reservation at Tortilla Jo’s for the following night, updated my trip notes, and we were in bed by 10:15pm.

Monday, December 6, 2004

We awoke by 8am, and received a call from J&H around 9am. They were going to walk over to DtD to find some ‘good’ coffee for Jonathan, so we made plans to meet at the outside lockers around 10am. There were huge crowds going through the security bag checks and lining up for DLP, so we met up with J&H and headed over to DCA instead.

DCA was pretty empty (everyone else seemed to be going over to DLP!), so we just started wandering around so J&H could check everything out. It had rained earlier and was just overcast now, although the skies still looked awfully threatening! J&H had fun on the Golden Zephyr, and then we all rode the Jumpin’ Jellyfish. Heather and I also braved the curves on Mulholland Madness while the guys waited for us, and then we walked over to experience It’s Tough to be a Bug (ITTBAB). When we were done being honorary bugs, it was time to go to DLP for our priority seating reservation at the Blue Bayou (BB).

When we walked into DLP, we hopped aboard the Omnibus for a fun ride down Main Street. Upon disembarking, we walked over to BB to check-in at the podium. While waiting for our table, Heather stayed outside to enjoy the jazz band that was playing next door (she loves jazz!).

Back to the BB: when I made the reservation in November, I had asked for the first one of the day in hopes to increase our chances for a waterside table. I was the second person to check-in (15 minutes early) and I also mentioned that we were there for my birthday (which the hostess noted on our slip). We were very pleased to be seated accordingly, although it was next to the bus persons’ station. It was the first time we had ever eaten here ~ our server kept picking on me, but the ambiance was wonderful. We ordered the Blackened Chicken Caesar Salad, Monte Cristo Sandwich, Chicken Florentine, and Roast Pork Loin. Everything was very good, although I felt the MC was too greasy for me (I was only able to finish half of it). Afterwards, I was very touched to receive a complimentary chocolate Mickey mousse for dessert while the servers sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me. (By the way, the cost for James & I was $35, of which we applied $23 from our Disney’s Visa Rewards Card ~ a great deal!)

After lunch, Heather and I rode BTMRR together while the boys chatted, and then we all rode Splash before exiting the fairly busy park for DCA.

James went to pick up FPs at Soarin’ (2:20 – 3:20), while the rest of us headed over to the first showing of Aladdin ~ A Musical Spectacular. Due to our queuing up 30 minutes ahead of time, we got great seats in the front & center part of the Orchestra section. J&H agreed that it was a wonderful production, and we all loved the Genie!

After the show was over, we headed back toward Soarin’. I had to check for the stray kitties that hang out next to the Taste Pilot’s Grill eating area since I’m such a cat lover. There was a mommy Calico with two black and white kittens all wrapped up together trying to stay warm ~ they were so cute and I cooed to them for several minutes. James finally dragged me away and we rode Soarin’ with our FPs, and then walked around the back trail of Grizzly River Rapids watching a few brave (or foolish) souls get wet!

Everyone then went off to ride the Zephyr while I waited in line for a churro ($2.75). By the time we regrouped, J&H were feeling pretty ambitious and tackled both the Orange Stinger and Maliboomer while James and I waited for them. However, the Maliboomer took its toll on them so we headed back to DLP, with a quick stop at the Tortilla tour (another free dozen tortillas!).

We watched the 4:30pm Christmas Parade from the top platform of the train station, and then hopped aboard the next train for the New Orleans Station. From there, we walked over to the Jungle Cruise for a nighttime ride and then headed back toward the hub to see the 5:45pm fireworks. However, J&H decided to forego the fireworks and meet us at Tortilla Jo’s instead, so they headed on down Main Street towards the exit. James & I watched the fireworks and the snowfall over Main Street (what a gorgeous sight!), but were caught in gridlock when trying to walk down Main Street! We finally made it out of the park, stopped for a bathroom break in DtD, and met J&H at Tortilla Jo’s just in time for our 6:30pm reservation.

There was quite a line outside of the restaurant, and we found out that Disney Dining had neglected to fax over that evening’s reservation list! Fortunately, they trusted our claim and we were seated right away. We all loved the food here, and J&H thought the salsa was excellent. We ordered steak fajitas, a carne asada burrito, and beef tamales (our portion came to $30 after the AP discount).

After satisfying our hunger, we perused the World of Disney store where I bought 2 CDs (Holiday Magic and Nightmare Before Christmas) plus 2 pairs of stretchy gloves (total = $56). DL had closed at 6pm tonight for a cast member party, so we had to wade through the bag check area again. I cleaned out our locker, and we headed back to the motel. I updated my trip notes and we were in bed by 11pm.

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

We were again up at 8am and met J&H for breakfast at Denny’s at 8:45am. We had a quick meal, and were able to show our motel key card for a 10% discount ~ yeah! We zipped through security and were on Main Street by 9:55am. Jonathan wanted some coffee, so James and I headed over to Fantasyland to enjoy Peter Pan, Mr. Toad’s, and Casey Jr. Circus Train with very little wait for any of them. We re-joined J&H and James walked over to get FPs for Autopia (11:20-12:20) while the rest of us went over to wait for the first showing of Snow White ~ An Enchanting Musical. We were in the 2nd row and had an excellent view of the actors. However, J&H observed that they would have enjoyed it more had they seen Snow White before Aladdin, since Aladdin was far more superior.

After the show, we walked into ToonTown to ride CarToon Spin, and then caught the train over to the Tomorrowland Station so we could use our FPs for Autopia. Afterwards, we caught Monorail Blue over to DtD and disembarked. We walked over to the GCH and cut through the grounds to the DCA entrance and entered the park.

We walked over to the Sun Wheel and rode in one of the stationary cars (hey, we’re not crazy!), and then watched a couple of launches of the California Screamin’ ~ no one wanted to ride so we kept on walking. We enjoyed a couple of sourdough bread samples while watching the Boudin Bakery factory tour, and then stopped for lunch at the Pacific Wharf Café (veggie chili, turkey sandwich, and H2O = $17 after our AP discount). J&H ate the clam chowder and chicken salad, both in bread bowls, and also enjoyed a couple of brewskies from the nearby beer stand. After I finished eating, I went through the Tortilla Factory tour again for another free dozen tortillas (I was still wearing my birthday sticker on my rain jacket), while everyone else waited.

James went to pick up FPs for Soarin’ (3:05-4:05), and then met us at Golden Dreams. After the movie, we stopped at Route 66 so I could buy an ID holder and CM Danny sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to me! Wow ~ this birthday thing is great!

While waiting for our FP window to open, we walked around the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail (RCCT). Heather had a lot of fun on the ‘hoot’ and ‘holler’ slides, but the rope bridge made me dizzy!

It was time for Soarin’, so we enjoyed that before heading over to Tower of Terror (with a stop to see the kitties along the way), which was a lot of fun as usual! We then checked out the Animation area and took the quiz in the Beast’s Library (I was Jane and Heather was Belle). We also watched One Man’s Dream ~ this is a great film and I was so moved watching the great Walt Disney up on the screen and hearing his voice again.

We decided to go back to GCH and hang out in the lobby for a while, so we exited DCA through the separate GCH entrance. We sat by the piano player and watched the kids have their pictures taken with Santa Claus in front of the huge tree ~ it was quite lovely. However, I wanted to see the DLP fireworks & snowfall again, so James & I headed back to DLP via DCA (quicker checkpoints that way), while J&H waited for us. This time we watched the fireworks from the train station platform, and were able to exit the park much easier than we had the previous evening!

We met up with J&H and checked in at Storyteller’s Café for our 6:20pm priority seating. The acoustics are pretty loud since this restaurant is very popular and the ceilings so high, but we had an enjoyable meal anyway. James and I had pizza and spaghetti ($32) whereas J&H enjoyed salmon, chicken, and soup. Quite stuffed, we waddled back to our motel.

Since this was our last evening, James & I needed to top off the gas tank of the rental car ($4) so we used that as an excuse to head back to the Disney Character Warehouse Outlet store again (another $34 for Christmas gifts and other clothing items). We arrived back at the motel in time to watch The Amazing Race at 9pm. I started packing and updated our trip notes, before going to bed around 11:15pm.

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

The alarm went off at 8am, and we finished our packing and were checked-out of the motel by 9:40am ($280 for each room). I made reservations for another possible trip in June, while James loaded up the car with our luggage. We then headed back to the parks for our final day.

We were in DLP by 10am, and James & I rode Indy while J&H shopped in New Orleans Square. Heather & I rode BTMRR one more time, and then we all rode HMH together before heading over to Critter Country. Now, we had started making these ‘Goofy’ faces (although we look more like beavers when we do them) during the trip, and we decided to make our Goofy expressions on Splash for the picture! We cracked ourselves up, but I decided not to buy the picture after all. We took final rides on Pooh and Pirates, and then we rode the train to the ToonTown Station.

I wanted to ride small world holiday one more time, so James rode with me (we even had a ‘private’ cruise!) while J&H waited for us and people-watched. We joined up and walked over to the Monorail station to have a round-trip ride on Monorail Blue (James & I rode in the nose, but J&H elected to ride in one of the cars instead). Upon our return, we checked out Innoventions where everyone except me tried out a Segway scooter (I took pictures instead). We had pretty much done everything we wanted to do at DLP by this time (or so we thought!), so we walked out of the park towards DCA.

I wanted to eat at Taste Pilot’s Grill, so we had a cheddar burger, BBQ chicken sandwich and H2O ($18 after AP discount), and J&H had similar fare. I visited with the cute stray kitties by Burr-Bank Ice Cream again while James picked up FPs for Soarin’ (3:20-4:20), and then we walked over to RCCT so Heather could slide and run on the rope bridges one last time!

We had a final ride on Soarin’ (our 4th this trip), and then checked out the ToT queue ~ it was 35 minutes, so we picked up FPs (4:35-5:35). We walked back to Muppets to watch the pre-show (‘Up, Chuck’), and then remembered that we hadn’t seen Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln yet so we headed back to DLP to catch the next showing. By the time we were done it was 4:40pm, and I didn’t feel like rushing over to ToT since we needed to leave the parks around 5pm anyway. Therefore, we took a final trip on the train full circle, and then exited the park (boo-hoo!). ?

We walked back to the motel to retrieve the rental car and had an uneventful commute to the airport (ya gotta love those car-pool lanes!). We returned the car ($98), went through security, and then had a snack while waiting for our flight (TCBY waffle cone = $4). Our return trip was smooth, and we retrieved our luggage before heading out on the shuttle to the parking lot for our car (parking = $35). We drove to our house, and then J&H headed to their home while we heaped lots of love upon our lonely kitty!

Summary

Another fun trip! Our next trip is scheduled for the end of April (before our APs expire), which is also our niece’s 18th birthday.

Our highlights include:

  • Seeing the parks with good friends
  • Enjoying all of the birthday perks
  • Trying a lot of restaurants that we had never been to before (and using our AP discount)
  • As always ~ just being at Disneyland, especially during the holidays!

Our lowlights include:

  • The gloomy weather
  • Not being able to visit with my in-laws

If you would like to email me your questions, please enter ‘DL Trip Report' in your subject line (so I won't mistake your email for spam!) and I will be happy to reply.

Pam Roberts

pammer@go.com


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