Thursday, 10 November 2011

Disneyland Trip – November 2009

Tuesday, November 10th

1:00 PM - We're off!! We are flying from Seattle early tomorrow morning and have booked a room at some discount motel for the night. It's listed as 1.5 stars; now, I cannot remember the last time I spent the night in a 1.5 star motel, but this one actually had fantastic reviews on Expedia (where we booked it) and the price was insane ($68 CAD for one night stay AND up to 7 days parking!!!) so we thought we'd give it a shot. Generally you get what you pay for but hopefully it's pleasant enough.

We are off to do a little shopping at Seattle Premium Outlets. We hit the usual suspects, the Coach store, Burberry, and the like, without doing much damage. We do find one nice item for a Xmas present so that's good. I pay a visit to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Shop and pick up someting called a "Tiger Tail marshmallow"....basically a marshmallow covered in caramel, peanut butter and chocolate. Good Lord. Tracey had to pull me away by the ears or I could have consumed about 17 of those bad boys.

Off to Applebee's for a nice dinner. We both have fajitas which are fantastic; not quite as good as Cactus Club but pretty darn close. It's a good meal, the service is terrific and we are both very satisfied as we finish our trek to the motel. It's raining. Yes, I know, alert the media, rain in Seattle.....but this is some SERIOUS rain. I'm driving (yes, I know, alert the media, DEAN is driving?!?!?) and the visibility is near zero. We make it alive (obviously or you wouldn't be reading this blog, would you???) and get there in time to watch a hockey game or two on the computer. We notice that the motel is perfectly nice; no frills, of course, but very clean and comfortable and an absolute steal for the price we paid. It would have cost us more to park our car at the airport, never mind the hotel charge as well. I'm sure this will be the last "deal" we get on this vacation, as nobody in their right mind goes to Disneyland for a discount vacation!

7:40 PM - As I'm unpacking, I have a look at the itinerary I printed out when I first made the reservations and notice that our flight from Orange County to Seattle on Saturday is scheduled for 8:30 PM; which is exactly what I remembered booking. However, when I look at the itinerary that Expedia Emailed me a couple days ago, it now says that our flight leaves at FOUR PM!!!!! Holy crap, we just lost four hours of our vacation!! I call Expedia and, to be fair, they are very helpful, and they call the airline to find out what happened. Turns out our flight was canceled so Alaska Airlines automatically booked us on the only other flight they had going out that day. They offer a full refund....not sure what good that does me since I'll be stranded in Anaheim. Of course, there are worse places to be stranded. Anyway, they are able to book us on a flight leaving early Sunday morning (and I do mean early...8 AM) so we are actually going to gain a little vacation time rather than lose it. Of course, that means another night at our hotel and another $300 or so but what the Hell, it's worth it.

9:30 PM - Tired, so it's time for bed and now I have discovered the only downfall to this hotel; the beds are just a little hard. And I'm a "little" overweight. I'm tempted to sleep standing up against the wall, as I expect that would be a little softer than the bed. Luckily I'm so tired it doesn't matter that much and I'm able to get to sleep fairly quickly despite the hard-as-a-rock conditions. That's what she said.

Wednesday, November 11th

6:00 AM – Our wake-up call comes in and we’re up and ready to start the vacation. The shuttle arrives as expected and we are whisked off to Sea-Tac for our 8:30 flight into Orange County (SNA) Airport. This airport is closer to Anaheim than LAX and has to be less chaotic. I hate LAX.

8:25 AM - Our flight leaves on time (perhaps even a smidgen early) and we have a very uneventful flight. Of course, the last thing you want is an eventful flight.

11:00 AM – We land at SNA and are off the plane quickly and down to get our luggage. This airport is much smaller than LAX (well DUH) and is easy to navigate. Good choice coming here, I think. We get our luggage and go right to our shuttle and we're off to the hotel. So far this vacation is starting awesomely.

12:00 PM – We arrive at the Grand Californian, a little ahead of schedule. We knew we'd be the last ones to get dropped off by the shuttle as we are the closest to the park so that's fine. The driver is very helpful getting our luggage off the van and we're off to check in. We LOVE this hotel, it's gorgeous. We get a very friendly guy to check us in, and we enquire about spending an extra night since our flight got pushed back a day. That's no problem. our room isn't quite ready though, check in time isn't until 4 PM, but he takes our phone number and will have us sent a text message when our room is ready. The bell desk takes our luggage and we're off to have lunch.

12:30 PM – We head to the Storyteller Cafe in the hotel for lunch. This place has the best corn muffins on the planet (and they are free with your meal), and also the best corn chowder I have ever eaten (seriously, I don't even LIKE corn chowder and I could easily make a meal of just the soup). Another great meal and now we're getting a bit impatient as I'd like to get up to the room and unpack, have a shower and unwind for a few minutes before hitting the parks. We go to check on our room and it's still not ready but they are expecting it to be ready shortly, so we grab a seat in the lounge and wait. And wait. Finally we check again and our room had been ready for a half hour or so but we never got the text; they did send it but it never arrived (this had happened to Tracey previously while down in the States so it's probably our carrier).

4:10 PM - Finally up to the room. I have a shower while we wait for our luggage to arrive, which is only a few minutes, and then we're finally ready to get the "Disney-ing" underway. By the time we are finished cleaning ourselves up and ready to go, it's getting close to time for our dinner reservations, so we decide to hit Downtown Disney and do a little shopping and then head off to dinner.

7:10 PM - We have dinner reservations at Hook's Point, a fairly casual steak/seafood house right outside of the Disneyland Hotel (right by their pool in fact). The place is pretty empty; and the service is great; so great, in fact, that we have eaten our appetizers, entrees, paid for the meal and left the restaurant by 7:35!!! Now THAT's service!!

7:35 PM - Finally into Disneyland! As is our tradition, we head straight to Pirates of the Caribbean, which is always our first ride. We continue on to hit a bunch more rides tonight (as it's a holiday the park is open until 11 PM) and then head back the room to get some rest before a big day tomorrow. We stop at the Haagan Daaz shop for a little ice cream treat before going back to the room. Ice cream rules. Seriously, it rules.

Thursday, November 12th

8:30 AM - I'm up as we are headed into the park for breakfast with Minnie and Friends, a great breakfast buffet featuring a bunch of Disney's most beloved characters. I'm wearing a Pirates T-shirt that says "the beatings will continue until morale improves". Captain Hook is so impressed with this shirt that he hugs me - twice.

Hook is less impressed with Tracey.

After breakfast, off to the parks; we hit Disneyland and get through almost all the major attractions, and hit a few of them for the second time.

6:50 PM - Dinner at the Blue Bayou. Probably our favorite restaurant here, and you can't beat the ambiance of being IN the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Dinner is fantastic as always, the service up to the usual Disney standards, and we leave full and satisfied. The park closes at 8 PM tonight so we are on the way back to the hotel to relax, tomorrow is scheduled to be a VERY full day.

Friday, November 13th

10:30 AM - We sleep in a little bit and get up to start the day. We head into California Adventure and go straight for the Toy Story Midway Mania. Tracey beat me at this last time, and she manages to defend her title this time. She is a really lousy winner :-)

1:00 PM - Lunch at Ariel's Grotto. Another one we never miss; sure you get pictures with 5 Disney Princesses (and, really, what guy has a problem with having his picture taken with Princesses???) but the food is the main attraction here. Well, OK, it's probably a tie between the food and the Princesses. Anyway, after devouring a tower of appetizers and a great entree (both of us have the chicken), you get this plate of dessert:

The dessert is actually a good enough reason to come here every time. Good Lord.

Our waiter is very attentive, but he's a genuine low-talker. I can barely understand anything he says. At some point I'm pretty sure I ordered a puffy shirt.

2:00 PM - After lunch we decide that we are both tired enough for a nap. This is the beauty of staying at the Grand Californian; your room is never more than 15 minutes away. On the way back to the room I decide to take on the Grizzly River Rapids ride, which I know I'll get soaked on, but who cares....I'm heading right to my room. I am right, I get soaked, but it's a lot of fun. I am sitting next to a couple who have never been here before and they decided to try the "water ride" first, as they had just walked into the park. They choose poorly. I'm sure they'll enjoy the rest of their day as they try to dry out. The weather is great here, for mid-November, but it's not so hot that they are going to dry that quickly.

6:00 PM - That was a heck of a nap. Anyway, we get dressed and get ready for dinner, we are headed to Steakhouse 55.

7:00 PM - Our table is ready and we are seated. They start us off with some seriously good sourdough bread and every so often a guy comes by and combs the crumbs off the table. Tracey's steak is great, my prime rib is good, but not as good as it was the last time we were here. Still, a very satisfying meal and great service as always. Off to the park!!

8:00 PM - We walk into Disneyland and pick up our tickets for Fantasmic. We had reserved a couple of seats in the "Premium viewing area". Our show is at 10:30 but they asked us to check in around 8 PM. After we pick up our tickets we head up Main Street and get a good spot for the fireworks which are scheduled to start at.....

9:25 PM - The Holiday Magic Fireworks show begins. It's a wonderful show, exactly as you would expect, and it snows at the end. OK, here's a secret....the snow isn't real. Still, it looks real, and it's a nice effect. I'm sure the California locals don't know the difference :-)

After the show we hit another couple of rides and head over to our spot for Fantasmic. With the price we paid for the special viewing area we get a fantastic tray of desserts and coffee and hot chocolate. Not that it's cold, mind you, but I guess it's a bit nippy for California. It's only about 17 degrees :-). Anyway the show is great and we enjoyed the extra special seats and the VIP treatment. Disney gives everyone a VIP treatment, but when you pay extra to stay in their hotels or for their premium experiences, they really go the extra mile.

After the show we head out of the park, do a little more shopping, and head to bed.

Saturday, November 14th

9:30 AM - Today we are having breakfast with Chip N Dale, at the Storyteller Cafe. As character meals go, it's not a big deal, as Chip N Dale are the main attractions and we can see them almost anywhere. It also features some minor characters that I don't recognize (except for the raccoon from Pocahontas) including some bears and a gorilla. This restaurant always has a critter problem. The reason to come here is for the food, it's a top-notch breakfast buffet.

After breakfast we take the monorail into Disneyland to knock off the last few rides that we haven't seen yet. We grab a Fastpass for Space Mountain and head off to It's A Small World, and then get our pictures taken with some of the Fairies in Pixie Hollow. I'm wearing a Disneyland shirt, and Tinkerbell mentions that she's on my shirt...her fellow Pixie, a guy named Terrence (so we are told), wonders why he's not on the shirt. I'm tempted to tell him that since he's a minor, irrelevant character that nobody's ever heard of, he'll get his shirt right about the same time as they make a special DVD of the Uncle Scrooge's greatest Disney moments....but that would be cruel, so I resist.

Now it's time for Space Mountain, so we hit that (AWESOME as always), take another turn at Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters (and I clobber Tracey as always), then we decide it's time for lunch.

2:00 PM - We head to the Thunder Mountain Ranch BBQ for lunch. This is fairly new and it's our first time. Basically they plant you down at a trough and bring you BBQ items (ribs, chicken, cornbread, beans, coleslaw) over and over until one of three things happens:

1. You projectile-vomit over a Cast Member

2. You go into a meat coma and fall off your bench

3. You beg them to stop bringing you food

Thankfully we choose #3, although the other two weren't far behind.

After lunch we head back to the hotel to relax for a little while, do most of our packing, and finish this darn blog. On the way back, we finally find a rude Disney employee

As we are waiting in line, she actually comes over to us and announces that we are the LAST IN LINE, and if anyone else tries to join the line, we should tell them to get lost. We actually have to do this and send a couple people away. As it's time for the picture, the Wicked Queen says to me "look evil...oh, you already know how to be evil don't you?". My reputation has proceeded me apparently. Oh, that reminds me, while sitting at the BBQ, Santa Claus walked by our table, pointed at me, and said "Naughty boy". Somebody's been talking.....

6:08 PM - Finished this darn blog, to this point. I've noticed something odd on this trip, my clothes seem to have shrunk. I've come to the conclusion that there is some kind of chemical in the air in the Haagen Daaz shop that causes my clothes to shrink. Of course, I'll have to do my due diligence and check it out one more time to test my theory.

6:30 PM - Back to DCA to hit Screamin', the roller coaster we haven't hit yet, and then to do a couple other rides for the second time. It's our last night here :-(

We do Screamin' a couple of times, and are lucky enough to hit the Toy Story ride again, and I break Tracey's heart by stealing the title of "reigning champion" from her by kicking her sorry ass. Justice prevails!! WOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

We say goodbye to DCA and head across the plaza to Disneyland to finish up our trip. We hit a couple of last rides, do some last minute shopping, and head out of the gates. The final walk down Main Street is always the worst part of the trip, and this one is especially tough since we don't expect to be back until September, 2010. Ten months is a long time!!

9:58 PM - Back in our room and time to finish packing and get ready for tomorrow's long trip home. Wake up call coming at 4:15 AM. Ick. Ordered some room service, a couple bowls of that unreal corn chowder, as we didn't even stop for dinner tonight.

Unless something interesting happens tomorrow, this will be my last blog entry this trip, hope all my loyal readers enjoyed it (assuming anyone actually reads these damn things that is).

Engemoen OUT.

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