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


Main Players:

  • Pam, 43: DL veteran and overall Disney fanatic
  • James, 44: Pam's hubby, also DL veteran

Guest Appearances

  • Molly, 4 ½: Great-niece, 3rd visit to DL
  • Sarah, 25: Molly's mom, DL veteran-in-training
  • Carol, 46: James' sister, Annual Passholder
  • Bruce, 57: Carol's hubby, also AP
  • Jessica, 17: Carol & Bruce's daughter, AP and DL veteran

Prologue

This is my first attempt at writing a trip report. I really enjoy reading the ones that are posted on MousePlanet, and wanted to share my experiences with everyone else. I love the Disneyland Resort, and hope you will enjoy reading about my trip as much as I will enjoy writing about it!

We had just returned from a 2-week vacation to Orlando in December 2003, when I began planning our next visit to the Disneyland Resort (DLR). It is a good place for us to meet with my hubby's family who live near San Diego, while allowing us to enjoy the Disney magic at the parks. We had last visited the DLR in mid-May 2003, which had been very warm and crowded with families of young children. Therefore I decided on May 1-5, 2004, in hopes that the weather wouldn't be too hot (boy, was I wrong!) and the Easter rush over. I later found out that the new Tower of Terror (ToT) ride would officially open on May 5, so we were looking forward to riding it while we were there as well!

I emailed Sarah and Carol about joining us the first part of May. These dates were good for them too, so the pre-planning was on! I made reservations at the Anaheim Del Sol Inn (ADSI) on Harbor Blvd. (a 5-minute walk from the parks, total for 4 nights = $235), and Sarah made reservations for herself and Molly next door at the Anaheim Desert Inn. I've stayed at both places, but prefer the ADSI due to the rooms being slightly larger. Either way, the location is ideal for both motels, especially for mid-day breaks, and both have refrigerators, microwaves, and Continental breakfasts too.

As for transportation, I booked our airfare on Southwest Airlines from Sacramento to Orange County ($275), plus made reservations with SuperShuttle for travel to/from the ADSI. Sarah and Molly had elected to drive from Merced and meet up with us in Anaheim, and Carol, Bruce, and Jessica would drive back & forth from San Diego.

Finally, I went to Lemoore Naval Air Station to buy our passes (James is former USAF)…5-day flex passes for us ($198) and for Sarah and Molly ($182.50), which we planned to upgrade to annual passes during our visit. We were all set and ready for fun!

Saturday, May 1, 2004 (95°)

I got up at 6:20am, and James followed at 7am. After ensuring that we had enough food, water, and clean litter boxes available for our two kitties, we were out the door by 8:45am. We parked in the economy lot at the Sacramento airport, and had no delays for the parking lot shuttle, check-in, and security checkpoint. While waiting for our flight, we had breakfast at the airport (steak burrito, hash browns, and Mr. Pibb = $11).

Our flight to Orange County Airport was smooth and arrived 10 minutes early! We collected our bag and jumped on the SuperShuttle to our motel ($25 with tip). We checked in at 1pm, changed into shorts, and were out the door by 1:15pm. We had a specific goal in mind…the 2pm showing of Who Wants to be a Millionaire at Disney's California Adventure (DCA)! We love to play this game…James and I had each been in the hot seat once before and I had lucked out to get to play at Walt Disney World too. Since DLR management had recently cut back the shows to weekends only, we wanted to hit as many as possible.

We breezed through security, collected a Fastpass (FP) for Millionaire, and walked over to check out the new Tower of Terror (ToT). It was closed for a private party, but there was an old car and Cast Members dressed as ghoulish bellhops with whom guests were posing for pictures, which was pretty fun to see. We decided to walk over to the Animation Building to enjoy the air-conditioning while we were waiting for our FP window to open.

I want to mention that Southern California was having a terrible heat wave during our trip, with record-breaking highs over 100o. I've included the high temperature for Anaheim on each daily header so you can sympathize with us!

Back to the trip…we walked over for the 2pm Millionaire show and were #6 and #9 on the board (I forget which one of us was which though!). Afterwards, we collected another FP for the 4pm show and called Sarah's cell to find out where everyone was (they had arrived earlier in the day and spent the morning at the Disneyland Park [DLP]). Sarah was on her way over to her motel to check-in, and she said that everyone else was waiting for the next showing of Playhouse Disney (PD). We were walking past PD at the time, and lo and behold…there was Carol, Bruce, Jessica, and Molly just hanging out!

Once we had finished greeting one another, everyone went over to the air-conditioned Animation Building to listen to the Disney music and watch the movie snippets, while I went to Greetings from California to buy some Disney Dollars for Jessica's birthday (she had turned 17 a few days earlier). We walked through the Sorcerer's Workshop (Molly was most like Mulan in the Beast's Library), and then went back over to see PD. We all got a kick out of seeing Molly dancing during the show!

By this time, Sarah had rejoined the group and everybody except Bruce and Jessica went to the 4pm Millionaire show. I got up to #2 on the board this time, and then James and I grabbed FPs for the 5pm show (I told you we love playing the game!) We got a Coke ($2.50) and went to the 5pm show while everyone else went on Grizzly River Rapids (GRR). This time James was #5 and I was #6…oh well, better luck next time!

When we left the Millionaire building, we decided to walk over to ToT and found it open to the public! We had a 25-minute wait and saw that there were 2 levels, 3 elevators, and 2 libraries (the right side was for FP holders and the left side was for Stand-by, at that time). We called Sarah to come over while we were in line, and found Jessica waiting outside when we came out (she was too afraid to ride it with Sarah). Bruce and Carol had taken Molly over to King Triton's Carousel in the meantime. James and I grabbed two more FPs for another drop on ToT, before walking back over to our motel to get Jessica's birthday card and our lighted necklaces for the evening.

When we got back to DCA, we called Sarah and met up with everyone at the Pacific Wharf Café. James had a roast beef sandwich ($7), and I had a hot dog combo from Award Wieners ($8.50). Molly was fast asleep, so Sarah took her back to their motel for some rest, and Carol, Bruce, and Jessica left to go home.

After our stomachs were satisfied with dinner, we returned to ToT to use our FPs. We survived another fall (or two or three or four!), and then we walked over to ride Soarin' over California (single-rider). When we came out, it was time to watch Disney's Electrical Parade (I just looove that music!), before walking over to DLP.

We walked over to ride the Jungle Cruise (we think it's more entertaining at night), and bought some water ($2.75). We went next-door to the Indiana Jones Adventure to ride single-rider, but they didn't have any passes and the stand-by line was too long. We called Sarah, who was on her way over with Molly, and we all met up in front of Sleeping Beauty's Castle. We all enjoyed Fantasmic! together, except the villains scared Molly!

We joined the throngs of guests leaving the park, and walked back to our respective motels. We stopped at a convenience store and bought some more water (another $2.75, although this bottle was 1.5L, compared to the 20 ML bottle we bought for the same price in the park!), and were in bed by 1am.

Sunday, May 2, 2004 (104°)

We were up at 7am, had toast and juice via our motel's Continental breakfast offerings, and were out the door by 8:15am. Everyone else was running slow this morning, so James and I headed on over to DLP and were through the turnstiles by 8:45am.

As one of our favorite rides, Peter Pan, was down for refurbishment this trip, we headed to Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. We next rode the Storybook Land Canal Boats (on Merryweather), Alice in Wonderland, Indiana Jones Adventure, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, and Pirates of the Caribbean.

By now we were feeling a little hungry, so we called Sarah and met up at Rancho del Zocalo for an early lunch (2 BBQ beef sandwiches + 1 soda for James & I = $22; Sarah and Molly had 2 soft tacos + the child's burrito). Feeling refreshed, we walked over to ride The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and to find the animal heads from the old Country Bear Jamboree attraction.

Afterwards I waited with Molly to see the Pooh characters while Sarah and James rode Splash Mountain (single-rider). When they came back, I rode SM while they took Molly on Pooh again. We then walked over to the New Orleans (NO) station to ride the Walt Disney Railroad ~ Sarah and Molly got off at the ToonTown station, while James & I disembarked at the Main Street station and left the park.

We walked over to DCA and grabbed FPs for the 2pm Millionaire show, and then went to the stand-by line for the 1pm show. There must have been lots of APs in the audience today, because we couldn't get on the board at all and there were several guests that declined the Hot Seat! We walked over to ToT to get FPs, and also bought some water ($2.75) before going in to the 2pm Millionaire show. This time I got to #5 (whoo-hoo!), but we decided not to get FPs for the next show due to all of the locals in the audience.

We rode ToT, and then walked back over to DLP. We called Sarah and found out that Carol, Bruce, and Jessica had arrived and they were all in ToonTown, so we got on the train and rode over to meet up with everyone (Jessica and Molly were in line for their second trip on Gadget's Go-Coaster). It was so freakin' hot today (104!) and I was starting to get heat exhaustion, so James and I trudged back over to the motel to cool off and rest. Carol had brought us a 2.5-gallon jug of water, so we got some ice and drank several cupfuls!

After everyone came over to our motel, we drove over to the Disney's Character Warehouse Outlet to buy some bargains (shirts, gifts, and other items = $117). We ate dinner at Carl's Jr. (burger combo + taco salad for James & I = $11), before Carol, Bruce, and Jessica left for their home around 7:15pm and we drove back to the motel.

Sarah, Molly, James, and I walked back to DLP and caught the last 5 minutes of the Parade of the Stars. Since Pirates was going to be closed during the rest of our visit, Sarah and James rode the train over to the NO station to ride it one more time. While Molly and I waited on Main Street, I bought name badges for Sarah and Molly to commemorate our trip together (I won't list the price in case Sarah reads this!). Then Molly and I hurried over to DCA to see Disney's Electrical Parade, as it was the last time it was showing this trip ~ there was a long wait to get in the gate, but we made it just in time!

James and Sarah joined us during the closing minutes, and we did a little souvenir shopping before leaving the park. Sarah and Molly went back to DLP and James and I walked back to our motel to sit in the spa for a little while. I was having a lot of trouble with my left leg going numb on this trip (from a pinched nerve perhaps?), where I would need to sit and rest for a few minutes every so often (the heat wasn't helping either!), and I thought the spa might help me feel better. We were in bed by midnight.

Monday, May 3, 2004 (104°)

The alarm went off at 8:15am, and we were out the door at 9:45am after a breakfast of toast, juice, and raspberry lemonade. We met up with Sarah and Molly, and endured a long line at the turnstiles before entering DLP. We rode Alice after a hot wait in the queue, which Molly really enjoyed. Molly also wanted to ride the Mad Tea Party, and was very unhappy that none of us could ride with her (due to our susceptibility to motion sickness!). We walked over to ride the Storybook Land Canal Boats (on Wendy this time) instead, and saw Sarah's uncle and family while waiting in line (it is a small world, after all!). We also saw Alice and the Mad Hatter on the teacups when we walked by.

After disembarking, we rode Casey Jr. Circus Train (Sarah & I were in the Monkey cage, and James & Molly were in the Wild Animals cage). While on the train, we saw Pinocchio riding on the SBL boats below us…we had just missed him! Now we were getting hungry, so we went into the Village Haus to get some lunch (cheeseburger combo, pepperoni pizza, + 2 sodas for James & I = $17)…I used my Visa Disney Rewards Card to pay for our meal.

After lunch, we walked over to ride Snow White's Scary Adventures. Molly freaked out at the last minute, so James and I rode alone. Next up was Once Upon a Time Storytelling with Snow White, so James and I rode Mr. Toad's and Pinocchio's Daring Journey while Molly and Sarah enjoyed the story. After Snow White was finished sharing her fairy tale, we all rode King Arthur's Carrousel, and just missed riding with Mary Poppins and her penguin friend!

We next walked over to the Mark Twain Riverboat, where we just missed riding with the Disneyland Marching Band! It just wasn't our day, I guess. After our excursion, Sarah, Molly, and I visited the Enchanted Tiki Room while James rode Indiana Jones Adventure. Afterwards, we walked over to the Passport Center to upgrade our military passes to Southern California Annual Passports (additional $69). Even though we don't live in So. Cal., a very nice Supervisor let us renew at the same level, since we had one the previous year (when the policy was more lax). We then exited the park and went to DCA.

First we went to see Muppet Vision 3D…we just love the pre-show, it's hilarious! I bought some water ($2.75) and Sarah & I went to see It's Tough to be a Bug, while James waited with Sarah at the water playground area outside ITTBAB. Molly had a blast there…she got absolutely soaked! We next went over to GRR and rode it once together. Sarah and Molly rode it one more time, and then we all went over to do the Mission Tortilla Factory and Boudin Bakery tours (free samples of both – yum!). Afterwards we went over to the Hyperion Theater to see Disney's Aladdin – A Musical Spectacular (what a terrific show!), before heading out of the park.

Sarah wanted to take Molly back to the motel to change into some dry clothes and get some more film, so James walked with them in order to get our nightlight necklaces and digital camera. I was still having a lot of problems with my leg, so I went on into DLP to wait for them. I bought some water ($2.75) and decided to visit First Aid to see if they could help me. They gave me an ice pack and instructed me to apply it to my lower back (where the pinched nerve was acting up) every 20 minutes or so. Unfortunately, the ice pack made a huge wet spot on the back of my shirt, which made it kinda embarrassing to walk around DLP with!

I decided to go back to the park near the train station to wait for everyone. I used my cell phone to call my mom and check on how she was feeling…I found out that it was just as hot in central California too! Fortunately, the weather at Disneyland was starting to cool off this evening and became more pleasant as the week wore on.

James, Sarah, and Molly arrived and we went up to the platform of the train station to watch the parade. Sarah bought Molly a Minnie head balloon ($7), and we posed for pictures using our new camera in front of the partners' statue and castle, before heading out of the park. Feeling hungry, we walked over to Saga Pizza at the Ramada Inn for dinner (large ½ pepperoni and ½ Hawaiian pizza for James & I = $16; Sarah & Molly shared a small pizza). We took our pizza back to our rooms, and said good-bye as Sarah & Molly were driving back to Merced the next morning. We were in bed by 11pm.

Tuesday, May 4, 2004 (88°)

The alarm went off at 8:15am, and we were out the door at 10:15am after the same breakfast as the previous day. Today was the media event for the grand opening of ToT, so it wasn't open to the public. We went straight over to Soarin' to ride single-rider, and ended up on the same flight. I had a nervous 2-year-old (Nicholas) next to me, and I did my best to put him at ease (he enjoyed it a lot as it turned out!).

We walked over to ride GRR single-rider and also ended up on the same raft. We got totally soaked by the big geyser at the end and were dripping wet! After stopping in the restroom to wipe our sunglasses and comb our hair, we walked through the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail while we were drying out.

We were getting hungry, so we walked over to the Pacific Wharf Café (roast beef sandwich, vegetarian chili in a bread bowl, + 2 Cokes = $18, after our AP discount). I still had about $13 left on the Visa Disney Rewards Card, which I attempted to use here. It took the CM a long time to figure out how to apply the remaining balance, and then they had to remake my sandwich because it was done wrong! Oh well…

After we finished eating, we walked around the Paradise Pier area to ride the Sun Wheel. It broke down while we were at the top (which is the place to be if it's going to break down ~ you can see all over!). We received Guest Re-Admission Passes for our choice of attraction to compensate for our inconvenience when we were finally able to disembark.

We next rode the Jumpin' Jellyfish and saw It's Tough to be a Bug again. We checked out ToT, but it was still closed to the public; in fact, the entire Hollywood Backlot Pictures area closed at 4pm this day in preparation for the ToT premiere that evening. We decided to exit DCA and go over to DLP.

We hopped on the train for a short ride to the NO station. We rode a Doom Buggy around the Haunted Mansion and checked out Splash Mountain, but it was closed. We walked back to the NO station and rode the train over to Tomorrowland, and next decided to take a round-trip on Monorail Blue. Afterwards, we watched Honey, I Shrunk the Audience together, and then I rode Star Tours and the Matterhorn Bobsleds while James waited for me.

We walked over to ToonTown to check out the line for Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin ~ it was a 30-minute wait, so we decided to look through the Gag Factory instead. Afterwards we walked over to the train station for transportation to Main Street, and exited the park for DCA.

At DCA, we enjoyed a couple of chocolate milkshakes at Taste Pilot's Grill ($8 after AP discount), before riding Soarin' (using our re-admission passes from the Sun Wheel). We next checked out when the next showing of Golden Dreams was (I just looove the montage and song at the end of this film), so we rode Jumpin' Jellyfish again while we were waiting. DCA was closing after Golden Dreams was over, so we exited and went back to DLP.

We went over to ride Splash Mountain single-rider…the CM (Michelle) was not loading the boats properly (leaving empty seats), so we had quite a wait before we were allowed to ride. Pooh was a walk-on, so we enjoyed that again. We then trekked over to ride Indiana Jones Adventure single-rider (SR); unfortunately, after its rehab they had changed the SR and wheelchair access (no longer entering through the exit) so everyone has to merge at the film room. The CM told us that SR was being phased out now because some SR riders were pocketing their passes and riding together instead, thereby bypassing the line outside and overall abusing the system. We were very disappointed to hear that, as we really enjoy the SR concept at this attraction. Rant on…shame on those who messed it up for everyone! ? Ok, rant off.

After Indy rescued us, we rode the Jungle Cruise again, and decided to exit the park. We stopped at the convenience store across the street for some water (1.5L = $2.65), and walked over to Saga Pizza for dinner ($16). We went back to our room to eat and watch 24, and were delighted to find out that our Sacramento Kings had won their game! We were in bed by 11pm.

Wednesday, May 5, 2004 (80°)

The alarm went off at 8:15am, and we enjoyed our leftover pizza for breakfast (refrigerators and microwaves certainly come in handy!) before packing up all of our stuff. We checked-out of the motel, stored our luggage, and were on our way for one more day at the parks by 10:15am.

Today was a big day for the Disneyland Resort…not only was it the grand opening of Tower of Terror, but Mr. Eisner and company were making their big announcement this morning in front of the castle regarding Disneyland's 50th anniversary plans. We skirted around all of the hoopla and rode Alice. We then had to wait a few minutes to get into the rest of Fantasyland, as it was closed until 11am this morning. When the rope dropped, we rode Mr. Toad's and it's a small world, before walking over to ToonTown to ride Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin (in separate cars, as James doesn't trust my spinning!)

We had a snack (pretzel with honey-mustard sauce + 2 Cokes = $8) while waiting for the first showing of Snow White – An Enchanting New Musical. After the show, we rode the train to the NO station and got FPs for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (BTMRR). While waiting for our FP window to open, we rode Pooh and Splash Mountain (single-rider). We also looked around the Disney Gallery, which was still displaying concept items from the Haunted Mansion movie, before riding BTMRR.

I had developed some sort of heat rash on the back of my ankles, so I visited First Aid for some assistance. I was still having problems with my back and leg numbness, but was coping the best I could by wearing my back brace and resting every so often. It's tough getting old! We then exited DLP for DCA.

Before this trip, I had played the ToT online game and won a FP coupon that was valid beginning today. We visited the Guest Relations booth to exchange the coupon for an actual FP, and were told that there were no more available! However, when we told the CM that it was the last day of our vacation, she printed out two for us that were expiring in 15 minutes! We thanked her profusely, and rushed over to ride ToT for a 4th time (this time we were upstairs).

Feeling hungry after our plunge on ToT, we ate at the Taste Pilot's Grill (2 cheddar burgers, 2 Cokes, + 1 cookie = $22 after AP discount). We received a ToT patch by meeting the $20 minimum (hence, the cookie!), and next rode Soarin' one last time. After our flight, we walked around the back pass of GRR and laughed at all the guests who were getting soaked!

We went to see ITTBAB again, and I bought a FP lanyard for me to carry my work ID in once I returned to reality the next day. We also caught the 5pm showing of D.U.H. – Department of Untapped Hilarity (improvisational comedy troupe). They were pretty funny, and then we exited the park around 5:30pm.

We walked back over to our motel to collect our luggage and meet our SuperShuttle driver for the trip to Orange County Airport ($25 with tip). We breezed through check-in and security, and enjoyed a snack at TCBY (2 waffle cones + 1 water = $10), before enduring a smooth flight back to Sacramento. We paid for parking ($35), and arrived home around 10pm.

Epilogue

Overall, we enjoyed our trip (hey, it was Disneyland!), especially since we hadn't been there in a year. We have two more trips planned in 2004 ~ one with my in-laws around Halloween, and another one for my birthday in early December with two friends from college.

Our highlights include:

Seeing the parks through a child's eyes
Visiting with my in-laws
Playing Millionaire again
Riding the new Tower of Terror 4 times
Finding bargains at the Disney Character Warehouse Outlet
Watching Molly get soaked at the water playground area in DCA
Just being at Disneyland!

Our lowlights include:

The awful heat!
My health problems
Removal of the single-rider system at Indiana Jones Adventure

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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