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Kate Westbrook -- December 2003 – Disneyland (PPH)

This is Kate's second trip report for MousePlanet. The first two:

May 2003 -- Walt Disney World



  • Myself: Kate – family vacation planner – 2nd trip to DL
  • Husband: Michael –navigator and all around good guy – 1st trip to DL
  • Daughter: Libby, 4 – 1st trip to DL

Part-time (all CA residents and frequent DL visitors)

  • DB – Mike
  • DSiL - Myrna
  • DN1- Ryan, 12
  • DN2- Tim, 3


This trip took several twists and turns before evolving into a West Coast adventure. It began when one DB and I decided it would be fun to cash in our frequent flyer miles and take our families last spring to visit another DB who lives/works in Brussels. However, the war began and we decided international travel wasn’t the smartest move particularly with young children. We then thought that we’d wait until Thanksgiving and meet our DB in London. That plan also got scraped since DSiL decided flying about 10,000 miles with an active 3 yo boy was akin to root canal with no anesthetic ; )! After all this DH and I started talking about how much we enjoyed Southern California and how we would love to go again. That’s all it took for me to start planning a vacation. We had tons of miles on USAir and since they wouldn’t let us book bulkhead seats using miles we decided to cash them all in and go 1st class. We don’t mind regular coach seats for a short trip with a child (i.e. WDW) but for a cross-country trip we really wanted the extra room the bulkhead seats provide. At the last minute DB and family decided to join us for a night at DL – I was able to get them a discount room at DLR using my Disney Visa.


12/10 – Fly Philadelphia to San Diego (using miles for free tickets)
Check into Sheraton Harbor Island Resort (got great internet rate $99 then upgraded at check in to club
level for $50 extra – club level rooms get free parking & fitness center use, which cost $25 for regular
room guests)
12/11 &
12/12 - Visit sights in San Diego (not included in report)
12/13 - Drive to Anaheim – check into Paradise Pier Resort (got stays 4 nights pay for 3 rate)
go to holiday party at DB’s house
12/14 - Check out resorts & DTD
DH, DB and older DNh going to Anaheim Duck game
DSIL, younger DNh, DD and me having dinner, playing at Lego store and watching
watershow at DLR
12/15 - All of us spending day at parks
12/16 - DH, DD and I spending day at parks
12/17 - Drive back to San Diego and fly home

12/10 - Before leaving the house I checked in online and printed our boarding passes and security check. We left house just a few minutes late but made great time getting to the airport park & ride. We have used Avistar several times and continue to be happy with their service. Within minutes they had us at the airport. We did curbside check-in and were on our way quickly. Security was uneventful and we found ourselves at the gate very early. Luckily I had packed several surprises in DD’s backpack along with numerous snacks. For such a little girl, boy does she eat! DH and I took turns going to the newsstand and walking around with DD. Since we had a young child and were flying 1st class we got to board quite early. This was good since it took awhile to get DD’s carseat setup and everyone settled. We were quickly brought a beverage, snack and the dinner menu. Wow, I could get used to this : ). The flight was uneventful and DD did great during the whole trip. Since each row only had 2 seats DH and I took turns sitting with DD. We got to our hotel w/o incident and really enjoyed our time in San Diego.

12/13 - Since we figured our room wouldn’t be ready at PPH until 3pm we decided not to leave San Diego until 1pm. The drive was uneventful but we had some difficulty actually finding DL. Unlike Florida there weren’t any huge billboards or signs. We finally found our hotel and had the bellhop assist with our luggage. I had booked a standard room hoping that we could get an upgrade but the hotel was booked. We got our 2-day hopper passes while checking in and DD and I went up to the room while DH parked the car. The room was great. It had a king size bed and a queen size sleep sofa along with a desk and 2 chairs. There was also an armoire that held the TV and a refrigerator. The bathroom was large. It had just one sink but the counter was quite big. There was also a large basket under the sink that came in handy for all our toiletries. We had a view of the pool, which looked like your basic hotel pool, however we could go over to the DLR pool if we wanted. We got settled and then went to DB’s house for a party. Coming back from DB’s house around 9:30 we were able to see some fireworks which was neat.

12/14 - I woke around 6am and decided to get a workout (free) in at the hotel fitness center. It was a decent hotel center located on the 2nd floor. Around 8am DH, DD and I went down to the coffee bar in the lobby. Coffee, tea, large fruit bowl and a large muffin cost about $10. We ended up just sharing. The coffee bar is quite nice (mini Starbucks) with comfortable seating and a large screen TV. We hung out for a while and DD got a candy cane from Santa who was passing through. We also saw Minnie and Goofy as they went into the character breakfast. DD didn’t have any interest in doing that. When I was planning this vacation I decided that we’d just to the parks on Monday & Tuesday in order to avoid weekend crowds. So we decided to check out DTD and the other resorts. Since the mornings were chilly (low 50’s) we put on a few layers to keep us warm until later in the day when it would get into the 70’s. Before heading to DTD we walked out of the resort area and found a mini-mart where we got drinks and snacks. We then went to DTD and DD immediately saw the Lego store. We spent a good deal of time in there playing and looking around. I bought DD some Lego sunglasses ($7) since I’d forgotten hers at home. We then went to the World of Disney. Just before we left home one of DH’s uncles had sent DD $20 for Christmas. We decided to let DD bring this money along to buy souvenirs with. Even at the tender age of 4 she’s becoming quite shrewd about spending her own money. She had spent about $8 at the San Diego zoo but had decided against buying several additional things when she realized she’d have little left for DL. Anyway, DD (a huge Cinderella fan) selected a bag that you fill with crown jewels ($7). DH decided he was hungry so we checked out the various restaurants in DTD. I had spent some time looking over menus before our trip and had a list of moderately priced places. DH selected Naples Ristorante Pizzeria where he got 2 slices of pizza and a coke. I got a small salad sampler (select up to 3 varieties) and drank the water we’d bought earlier. Everything was quite good. Total cost: $16. DD shared some of both our lunches. After lunch we decided to split up since I wanted DD to have a nap before her cousins arrived around 3pm. The best way of doing this is to allow her to stretch out in her stroller while I pushed her around. DH decided to head back to the room to relax for awhile. DD and I stayed in DTD for awhile and she fell asleep quickly. Around 2:30 I decided to go over to the DLR and wait in the lobby for my DB and his family. One thing that’s very different between the DL and WDW resorts is the size of the lobbies. In WDW the lobbies are really big and you can walk around quite a bit and find somewhere to sit. The lobbies at DL are much smaller. Anyway, after doing a 30-second tour I was able to find somewhere to sit with DD. Around 3pm DB, DSIL, DN1-12 & DN2-3 arrived. Since I had made their reservation using my card I had to go check them in. DD and I then went up to their room for while. The size was about the same as our room at PPH and they had a great view of the pool. We hung out for a bit and then went over to our room so the “boys” could go off to the hockey game. DSIL and I then took the little ones to DTD and ate at Rainforest Café. We had about a 45-minute wait so we went over to the Lego store for awhile. Not being a bird fan I had never actually eaten at a Rainforest Café but I surprised myself by liking it. DSIL had a pasta dish and I had a grilled chicken ceasar salad. DD and DN had one of the kid’s meals. I don’t know the total bill since DSIL paid : ). After dinner we decided to go see the watershow at the DLR. It was a really fun show and both kids loved it. DD still talks about the dancing water. After the show DD and I headed back to our hotel. I got her an ice cream from the vending room in the lobby and she watched some cartoons in the kids’ lounge.

12/15 - We headed down to the coffee bar for breakfast around 8am and then met DB and family at La Brea Bakery. We all entered the MK around 9am. We looked around a bit at the beautiful decoration and saw some characters but none of us knew them. DSIL needed to go to the first aid station so we split up around 9:30. DH, DD and I headed to Fantasyland. We got to the castle and found out from a CM that Cinderella would be out at 10am. Since DD loves her we decided to wait and meet her. While waiting DH took DD over to a pressed penny (actually quarter) machine where she got a Cinderella pressed coin for her collection. We were the 2nd family in line when Cinderella came out. DD was beaming and even agreed to have her picture taken (a rarity). She also got Cinderella’s autograph as well as hug. We could have ended our vacation right then and had one very happy child. However, we pressed on. Next we got fastpasses for It’s a Small World but the standby line was so short that we saved them for another ride and went standby. DD wasn’t sure about this since she’s not a ride person but she LOVED it. We met up with DB and family and all road again. During our 2 days in the park we’d end up riding 6 times. Next we went to Toontown where DD met Minnie Mouse and went through her house. She remembered it from our WDW trip in May and headed straight for the kitchen. Toontown is much larger in DL then WDW but there isn’t as much hands on stuff in the different houses. We also went through Mickey’s house but DD didn’t want to meet him. DD and DN2 went in Goofy’s bounce house and in Chip and Dale’s tree house. DD passed on riding Gadget’s Go Coast. We then decided to split up again since DN1 wanted to go on some of the bigger rides. We agreed to meet in front of the train station on Main St at 6pm for the parade. DH wanted lunch so he headed to Daisy’s Diner and got the pizza combo (pepperoni slice and salad) and a coke $8.50. DD wasn’t hungry until DH came back with his lunch. So I went off to Pluto’s Doghouse for a child’s hotdog combo (2 mini hotdogs, chips and drink) for $4. I ate one of DD’s hot dogs and part of DH’s salad. At this point I suggested to DH that we split up since I knew he’d enjoy Who Wants to be a Millionaire at DCA and DD wanted to go decorate a cookie at the firehouse on Main St. DD and I went over there and we both enjoyed this activity. For $4 you got a very large shortbread cookie in a variety of shapes (snowman, tree, gingerbread man etc) along with a choice of 2 frosting colors and 2 toppings (various sprinkles, colored sugar and mini M&Ms). DD selected a snowman with blue and green frosting, red colored sugar and mini M&M’s. I also got a coffee (very good) for $2.50. There were tables set up inside and outside on which to decorate and they also provided boxes and bags to carry away the treat along with wipes to clean up with. I think DD spent a good ½ hour decorating her cookie and eating some of the toppings. I spent the time talking with a family from Northern California who were planning an East Coast trip during the summer. We decided the cookie would be saved to have during the parade. After this we went over to a fruit stand to get DD some grapes $2.50 and then looked in some of the stores. It was a little after 3pm at this point so I asked DD if she wanted to go see Playhouse Disney. She couldn’t say YES fast enough so off we went to DCA. Everyone comments about how small DL is compared to WDW but we actually liked DL better because it was smaller and much easier to travel back and forth between the parks and our hotel. Anyway, within 5 minutes we were in DCA. The next show wasn’t for 45 minutes so we looked around a bit. There was a fun California Christmas beach party setting near the entrance to the park and a lot of characters were around. After looking around a bit we parked DD’s stroller and headed to Playhouse Disney. There were TV monitors on outside which kept all the kids entertained until the doors opened. DD had a lot of fun at this show. She loved seeing the characters and enjoyed the bubbles and confetti that came down. We actually had to bring some home with us. After the show we went over to where Millionaire is to see if we could find DH. I realized at this point that a set of 2-way radios would be a good investment. We couldn’t find him so we walked around DCA a little more and at some point DD fell asleep. We went into a few shops in DTD and then headed back into MK around 5:30. While in DTD I bought DD a Cinderella Christmas ornament ($8) to add to a collection I started for her the year she was born. Some people were getting spots for the parade but there was still plenty of room around the train station. I decided to head to the bakery for a coffee. Many people had the same idea because it was packed. The line was moving quickly and since DD was still sleeping I decided to get in line. I ended up getting a coffee in a holiday travel mug along with cookies for everyone to enjoy during the parade. I think the total was around $20. DD and I got back to the train station a little before 6pm. I got a spot on the curb and saved extra room with jackets from the stroller. DD was still asleep and it was getting chilly so I bundled her as best I could. While waiting I chatted with a woman who was also saving space for her family. The rest of the group showed up around 6pm and were very happy with the spot I’d gotten as well as the cookies. DN1 & 2 wanted more snacks so DB went off for popcorn and cotton candy. DD was still sleeping when the parade started. She woke up just before Cinderella came by and also perked up at the sight of cotton candy which DN2 kindly shared. We all loved the parade. DB and family wanted to stay for the fireworks but DD really can’t tolerate the noise so we said our good-byes and headed off to the DLR to see the watershow again. We then called it a night.

12/16 - It was just the 3 of us today. I woke up early and went for a workout. We ate again at the coffee bar and then headed to MK around 9:30. The crowds were really light again so it was easy to navigate. We rode It’s a Small World a few more times. DH went into the gift shop at one point and bought DD some postcards and a small snowglobe that played It’s a Small World ($12). We went into Toontown again for awhile and DD went through Minnie’s house. We then headed to DCA for the 11:15 Playhouse Disney show. At some point DD fell asleep so we walked all over DCA and into PP. DH decided to get lunch at Strip’s, Dip’s & Chips. DD woke up at the smell of food and helped DH eat chicken strips, fries and coke ($8.50). After eating we headed back to Playhouse Disney for the next show. It was more crowded than yesterday but we still had fun. Next we headed back into MK where DD wanted to decorate another cookie. She and I did that while DH went off on his own. After the cookie decorating we went on the jungle cruise and walked around adventureland and frontierland. DD wanted some cotton candy so I broke down and got it for her ($3). Next we went in search of pressed penny machines. DD started a collection during our WDW trip in May and has added to it since then. We found several she liked and then decided to go for one last It’s a Small World ride. We ended up running into DH so we all got fastpasses and then rode the train around MK while waiting. At dusk It’s a Small World was all lit up and quite beautiful. We rode one last time and then went to get dinner before the parade. We chose Village Haus. DH got the pizza combo meal, I got the chef salad and DD got the hot dog kids meal (total about $25). One thing I’d been doing when buying DD a kids meal is to get the drink for myself and then give her a juice box (we had a few with us each day). This saved a few dollars at each meal and kept everyone happy. Around 6pm we headed over to watch the parade in the same spot as the night before but it was much more crowded. Luckily it was just the 3 of us so we were able to find a spot on the curb. DD loved seeing the entire parade. After the parade we left MK and decided to check out the GCH on the way over to the DLR for the watershow. We had stayed at WL in WDW and wanted to see how it compared to the GCH. We thought it was nice but liked WL better. We went into one of the shops and found a DL Christmas ornament we liked ($8) so DH bought it. I then bent down to tell DD we were going to the watershow and she was asleep! DH and I decided to head over to the show thinking she might wake up at some point. She slept though the whole thing but a did get a few pictures as proof she was there. We headed back to the room and got DD into bed without her waking up. I got all our stuff packed up and then headed to bed after requesting a 6am wake up call.

12/17 - We all got at 6am. I gave DD a quick bath and then DH and I showered. I finished packing the rest of our stuff while DH started taking bags out to the car. We then had a quick breakfast at the coffee bar and were headed back to San Diego around 8:30am. Very uneventful trip home.


  • Seeing Christmas Decorations at DL and DCA
  • Being able to walk between parks and from hotel to parks
  • Seeing DD enjoy rides and shows
  • Spending time with family


  • We live too far away from California
  • Too cold to enjoy pool at DLR
Kate Westbrook


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