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View Full Version : Eighty8Keys - February 21-27, 2010 - Howard Johnson's



Eighty8Keys
04-28-2010, 03:56 PM
Travel dates: February 21-27, 2010
Travel method: Flying from Portland; Oregon; Rental Car

Hotel: Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel

Accommodations: Deluxe Rooms – Building 2
Ages Represented in Group: 30 & 51

Cast: Patty (me, 51), Jason (son, 30)

Experience Represented in Group: Both of us took regular day trips to Disneyland while living in Southern California until we moved to Portland, Oregon in 1989. After a short trip in 1993, we had a 10 year stretch without a visit until March 2003. But it wasn’t until our October 2004 trip when we actually “got it,” when it became more about soaking up the atmosphere and savoring every aspect of the park rather than racing from one headline attraction to another. Since then, I’ve had six wonderful trips and Jason’s had seven.

Background:Last year during the What Will You Celebrate promotion, Jason and I headed down for a six day trip for my birthday. It was the first time I’ve been at Disneyland on my birthday and it was so fun, with numerous birthday wishes from both Cast Members and other guests. This was something I really hoped to do again.

Planning:
Admission
Jason and I participated in Disney’s Give a Day, Get a Disney Day promotion by volunteering at our local library on MLK Day. There were about 15 other people that worked that day and all but one woman was part of the Disney promotion. She was just there to support her library. Since we’re planning at least two trips this year, it makes sense to take the free ticket and use it to upgrade to a Deluxe AP.

Accommodations
Our first choice of hotels is always HoJo’s. Ever since they started posting the available dates of their super low Entertainment Book rates I’ve been checking it every couple of days. As soon as I saw that dates were available for the last week of February, I immediately called In-House Reservations and booked two rooms in Building 2. I requested one king room ($59 per night) and one double queen room ($69) because I was told the first time we stayed here that there were more connecting rooms with this type of room combination than any other.

Transportation
We had planned to cash in some Alaska Air Miles for free flights, but in early December Alaska had a fare sale going on that was so cheap that we decided to save our miles for a different trip. I booked two seats from Portland to Orange County for $141.20 per round-trip ticket.

I kept watching rental car rates. They seemed ridiculously high at close to $300 for a week. When it dropped to $238, I booked the rental. Over the next couple of months, I rebooked five times until we ended up with $205 for a compact. Not great, but it is what it is.

Dining
We aren’t planning a lot of sit down meals, preferring instead to snack our way through the day. We will do Carnation Café for breakfast a couple of mornings, Café Orleans for lunch as a more cost effective way than the Blue Bayou to get our Monte Cristo fix. We may do Carnation Café for lunch and we’re definitely planning to do the Celebration Round-up and BBQ at Big Thunder Ranch for dinner.

Activities
I had hoped to do the premium seating for Fantasmic like we did last year, but with the draining of the Rivers America, that was out. So we don’t have any other tours or special activities planned.

Day 1 – Sunday, February 21, 2010

Plan: Travel to Anaheim; Upgrade Give a Day, Get a Disney Day voucher to an AP

Actual: I had finished my packing the day before, so all I had to do today were a few last minutes things around the house. My Dad offered to drive us to the airport and he arrived at 8:20am to pick us up. We were on our way by 8:28am and it was smooth sailing all the way to the airport which is about 25 miles away. It was very busy inside the airport. There was a huge line at the Alaska counter and a shorter line marked, “Web Bag Drop.” Since we had checked in online and printed our boarding passes, we were able to join the shorter line. Unfortunately, it still moved very slowly since there was only on dedicated person working that counter compared to several people working the regular line. So it ended up taking longer to get through the short line than it would have the longer regular line.

Security was slow moving. Finally they opened up another line and things sped up a bit. As I passed through the metal detector, a female TSA agent said she needed to pat down my back. This is the first time this has happened to me. It only took a few seconds and then we were on our way.

The flight was smooth and went by quickly. Our only concern was that there seemed to be a lot of people coughing. It will be a miracle if we don’t end up sick. I spent time on the flight going over the trip report for our November Walt Disney World trip one last time and hoped to get it posted soon.

Our plane landed at John Wayne airport about 15 minutes ahead of schedule. We love this airport. It is much smaller than LAX and everything is easy to get to. We decided to divide and conquer. Jason went to pick up our bags, while I took care of the rental car. I used the Quicksilver kiosk, which took less than a minute. I headed back to the baggage claim area where Jason was still waiting for the bags to arrive. They arrived a few minutes later and we headed out to pick up the car. We checked in at the podium and were given the keys to our compact, a Chevy Cobalt.

We quickly loaded up and were on our way. Traffic was light and in no time at all we were pulling into the parking lot of HoJo’s. We checked in, but our rooms wouldn’t be ready until 4:00pm. We decided to head over to Disneyland to get our park admission taken care of and to get something to eat. We pulled around to the back of the hotel and parked so that we could slather on the sun screen and get things organized. It was a mostly sunny day with a few clouds. There was a cool breeze blowing, but it was warm when it stopped.

Since we were only going to be there a couple of hours, we decided to park at Downtown Disney. The lot was very full and we ended up parking off in one of the side lots. It was a long, long walk to the ticket booths and I wished that we just parked in the Mickey & Friends structure and taken the tram.

Upgrading our Give a Day, Get a Disney Day voucher was a two-step process. At the first window, we were given our free one-day ticket and an Honorary VoluntEar button. Next, we moved to another window, where the Cast Member upgraded our free ticket to Deluxe Annual Passes. We were given temporary park tickets to get us into the park to have our pictures taken for our permanent passes. She suggested we go to the DCA AP processing center because there are usually no lines.

There were no lines at the DCA turnstiles. High School Musical 3 was going on in the Plaza so we avoided the crowds by ducking through the Greetings from California gift shop. The street through the Hollywood Backlot area was boarded up down the middle while the trolley car that is part of the DCA overhaul is installed.

There was no wait at all at the AP processing center. I stepped up, she pulled up the information, took my picture and printed my pass. It took less than two minutes.

The plan was to get FastPasses for Soarin’ or ride if the wait time was short enough, and then eat dinner at Taste Pilot’s Grill. Standby was 45 minutes which was too long for us, while the FastPass return time was for 6:20pm which was later than we expected to be at DCA. Instead, we headed next door to Taste Pilot’s Grill for dinner. We decided to split a meal even though we were both very hungry. We had plans for a cookie or Dole Whip later on. Jason ordered us the Chase Pilot’s Cheddar burger and two cups of free ice water while I found us a table outside. The total with our AP discount came to $8.31.

The burger was fine, but didn’t seem to up to the same quality as in the past. We also were disappointed that it came with regular fries rather than the criss-cut fries that we used to get. After we finished eating, we decided to head back to the hotel and get settled in. We made the long walk back through Downtown Disney and over to the parking lot.

On our way to the hotel we detoured up Katella to the Food 4 Less and stocked up on bottled water, cereal, snacks and the two kinds of soda that we can’t get at home, Cactus Cooler for me and Manzanita Sol for Jason.

Back at HoJo’s, we picked up our keys. I drove the car around to Building 2 while Jason grabbed a luggage cart from outside the front desk and walked over. We were very happy to get the connecting rooms that we requested. We piled our bags and groceries on the cart and headed up to our rooms. We were on the second floor in rooms 2212 and 2213, just off from the center of the building. I took the King room and Jason took the Double Queen Room. Before settling in, I took pictures of the room even though I have pictures from just about every time we’ve stayed here.

Some of the great things I love about the deluxe rooms at HoJo’s are the super comfortable Dreamscape beds, the Keurig Coffee Maker, the fridge and microwave, free high-speed internet, double sinks in the bathroom with plenty of counter space, and the interior corridors. Also, the staff is extremely friendly and helpful.

There were a couple of things that I wish were different, but definitely aren’t major issues. One is that the box for the high-speed internet is located on the night stand rather than the desk and the supplied cable isn’t long enough to reach the bed. The first time I brought a laptop with me I had to pull the desk chair up to the nightstand and use it as a desk, which wasn’t particularly comfortable. This trip I brought a longer Ethernet cable and was able to use the laptop at the table. Another issue is that the King rooms don’t have in-room safes. I assumed that all the rooms in Building 2 have safes. Jason’s room had a safe and since it’s fairly large, I was able to put my things in there too. My last complaint is with the location of the shower valve. It’s located high up on the wall, making it difficult to reach while in the tub.

I unpacked and then relaxed in the room for awhile. At 7:30pm we headed back over to Disneyland. Even though the park was open until 11:00pm, it seemed like a lot of people were leaving. We planned to stop at the Market House for a cup of coffee and a cookie, but the line was huge so we decided to skip it for now.

Heading into Tomorrowland, Buzz Lightyear had a 20 minute wait so we picked up FastPasses instead. We passed by the Magic Eye Theatre in hopes of maybe a soft opening for Captain EO. No such luck, there didn’t even seem to be any signage indicating that it was opening on Tuesday. We were both hungry and went to check out the offerings at Pizza Port, but we hadn’t acclimated ourselves to Disney pricing yet and weren’t willing to shell out $6.49 for a slice of pizza.

We sat down to regroup and decided that a hotdog at the Coke Refreshment Corner sounded good. As we passed by Buzz Lightyear the wait time was down to 10 minutes. We decided to go for it, only to discover that the ride was down.

I sat down at a table while Jason went to get the food. The hotdog came with a choice of chips or apple slices. I remember us discussing this and snickering that we would never order apple slices on vacation. We would eat our words later on in the week. The total for the two hotdogs with chips and two cups of ice water came to $11.53. While we were eating we realized that we didn’t have too long until the fireworks were supposed to start. While our view of the castle was partially blocked by a tree, it still seemed like a pretty good spot to view the fireworks, while being able to sit in comfort. We decided to just stay put. There were plenty of empty tables so we didn’t feel like we were depriving anyone else of a table. I headed over to Market House to pick up a couple cups of decaf coffee and two cookies, chocolate chip for Jason and oatmeal raisin for me. The total came to $11.23 which included a 10% AP merchandise discount. We were lucky that Disney was offering a limited time 10% merchandise discount on purchases over $10 to all passholders that normally are not eligible for such a discount.

The line at the Market House was still pretty long and while I waited I could hear periodic announcements being made that due to windy conditions, the fireworks planned for this evening may be cancelled. I was hoping that this wouldn’t happen because the fireworks are only being offered on Friday through Sunday and this was one of only two chances we had to see them during our trip.

Fortunately, the decision was made to go ahead with the fireworks. Even though we did have the tree blocking part of the view, we both really enjoyed the show. We had an excellent view of Tinkerbell flying around and the fireworks and music were wonderful.

After the show, we stayed put until the worst of the crowds dispersed and then headed into Tomorrowland to use our FastPasses for Buzz. There was a 10 minute posted wait time, but the line looked longer than that so we were glad to have our FastPasses. I was lucky enough to be directly in front of Zurg when the ride came to a stop and was able to hit the secret spot a couple of times that gave me an extra100,000 points. My final score was 198,900, which is excellent for me.

At this point it was 10:00pm and we decided to call it a night. We’ll be back in the morning and hopefully crowds will be lower. One our way out we stopped at the Market House for a free refill on the coffee. This is one of the best tips that I know of. Keep your receipt and you can have free refills for the rest of the day.

The tram loading area was packed with people. On a whim, we walked over to the second tram loading area on the chance that they were picking up people there as well. We were in luck as a partially loaded tram was just getting ready to pull away. We held back a little as we weren’t sure if they had already announced no more boarding. As we did, one of the Cast Members told us that he’d hold the tram for us to board. We gratefully jumped on. As we passed by the other loading area, we could still see hoards of people waiting for a tram. This is just one of many instances of herd mentality that we encountered during our trip. Being aware of this phenomenon really cut down the amount of time we waited in line this trip.

Just as we reached the car we felt the first raindrops begin to fall. By the time we reached our hotel, it was coming down pretty good. I was hoping that it would get it out of its system before morning. Because it was after 10:00pm, we needed our room key to get into the parking lot and also into our building. We were used to using our key to get into the lot, but the locked building was new to us. I appreciate HoJo’s attempt to keep us safe.

We were both exhausted so we just said goodnight and went to our rooms. I turned on the Olympics while I got ready for bed. It was lights out by 11:35pm.

Day 2 – Monday, February 22, 2010

Plan: Disneyland Day; Breakfast at Carnation Cafe

Actual: I woke at 7:00am after a great night’s sleep on the most comfortable bed I’ve ever slept on. I quickly showered and dressed, then made a cup of delicious coffee. I never thought I would say that about hotel coffee, but these Keurig coffemakers are awesome. Since our breakfast reservation at Carnation Café wasn’t until late morning, I had a small bowl of cereal and a small plain donut. I was sitting at the table with my NetBook when Jason came over. The internet wasn’t working in his room and he wanted to check to see if it was his cable or the box. He plugged in his laptop and suddenly the whole area seemed to be one big mass of cables. Turns out it was the box in his room. He’s going to call right before we leave to see if someone will come and take a look at it while we’re gone. While he was using the internet I started working on the trip report.

At 9:00am we gathered everything together and left the room. The drive over was quick and there wasn’t a lot of traffic pulling into the Mickey & Friends Parking Structure. We parked in the Chip ‘n Dale section because I have my disabled placard and then managed to get the last two seats on the tram that was ready to pull away.

Once we were through bag check and the turnstiles we stopped to take pictures of the Mickey floral. Jason used my cell phone to snap a picture of me waving so I could send it to Susan, a co-worker of mine. She and her husband Scott, who’s my boss, are taking their college-age daughter and her boyfriend to Disneyland during spring break next month. I had clued them in on the excellent Entertainment Rate that was available at HoJo’s and found them some discounted 5-day park hoppers offered through Providence Health Plan.

It was 10 minutes until opening when we reached the crowd waiting for rope drop. The plan was to head to Fantasyland and do as much as we can before our 11:10am breakfast reservation. With the strains of the song, “Celebrate You” being played, we walked directly to Peter Pan, where we waited 6 minutes. Alice in Wonderland and the Tea Cups were walk-ons. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was 8 minutes, followed by Pinocchio, which was a walk on. We decided to pass on Dumbo and the Storybook Land Canal boats and hoped to finish off Fantasyland with a ride on Snow White, but for some reason the line was huge. It probably wasn’t as long as the line for Peter Pan, but longer than we expected to find for Snow White at this time of morning.

We still had some time to kill so we walked to the front of the castle and took pictures around the area. After that, Jason headed off to Space Mountain to get FastPasses, while I walked over to the Market House for coffee. The line was very long and Jason returned before I reached the counter. Once we got our coffee we only had a minute until we were due to check in at Carnation Café. When I reached the check in podium, I learned that they stopped serving breakfast at 11:00am, which I thought was strange because we had an 11:10am seating. She recommended that we go to Riverbelle Terrace if we wanted breakfast. We were so disappointed. We always like to start our trip with a Mickey Mouse Waffle. We decided to go next door to Blue Ribbon Bakery for breakfast instead and ordered a Cinnamon Roll and a Very Sticky Sticky Bun. We split them both in half so we could have some of each. We usually split one between the two of us, but we were both hungry. After eating half of the cinnamon roll and a couple of bites of the sticky bun I was stuffed so Jason finished off the rest.

After breakfast, we headed over to City Hall, where I picked up a birthday button. The CM gave Jason an “I’m Celebrating” button. I also mentioned the mix-up with our reservation at Carnation Café. He was very sympathetic and took down the information. Next we took the trolley to the hub and walked through Frontierland to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. FastPasses weren’t being offered today and the stand-by line was 15 minutes. We decided to pass on it for now.

We walked around to Adventureland and checked out the offerings at Bengal BBQ. The skewers come highly recommended in the Unofficial Guide, but we’ve never tried them before. This is something we definitely plan to do later today.

At noon we picked up FastPasses for Indiana Jones with a return time for 12:55pm. There was a 35 minute standby line, which wasn’t bad for Indy, but we’ll just ride later with our FastPass. There was no visible line for Pirates so went in and walked right to the loading area and onto a boat. There was a group of teens in the two rows behind us that talked and laughed so loudly that I was wishing I had asked for the next boat. Fortunately, as soon as we got through the bayou area and actually into the ride, they all quieted down.

Jungle Cruise was next. There was only a 10 minute posted wait, which turned out to be accurate. Our skipper was Jarred and he was funny. In addition to the usual spiel, he added a few subtle jokes of his own. I took the obligatory blurry photos of the different animals and once again wished I’d remembered to ask for the other side of the boat. It seemed like all the best scenes were on the opposite side from us. Or, maybe it’s just a case of the grass being greener?

We decided that our next stop would be for a Dole Whip Float, even though we weren’t particularly hungry. Although what does that have to do with anything? The line on the outside of the Enchanted Tiki Room was fairly long but if you’re planning to stay for the show you can order from counter on the inside of the attraction waiting area where the line is usually much shorter. In our case, there was no one in line on the inside counter and we had our Dole Whip Floats in a matter of minutes. Jason used my cell phone to take a picture of me holding up my drink so I could email it to my friend Susan at work. A Dole Whip is a must-do when they’re here next month.

We both enjoyed the Enchanted Tiki room. We especially like being able to take our Dole Whip’s in to enjoy during the show. Our favorite seats are in the very last row. The backs are padded and no one else usually sits there. It gives you a great view of everything without having to crane your neck up.

Next we headed back to Big Thunder Mountain to see what the line was like now. It was down to 10 minutes, which was pretty accurate. We were assigned to row 5 and took our places behind a couple of teens who were waiting to board the next train. While we waited, I joked to Jason about following them onto the train and asking them to scoot over while I attempted to squeeze in the seat with them. Of course I was just joking, but when it came time for them to board, I wasn’t really paying attention and I did start to follow them into the seat. Jason grabbed my arm to pull me back and it was kind of embarrassing as the couple did notice that I jumped the gun a bit. I made a mental note not to joke about that again.

As we usually do, after exiting Big Thunder we walked around to take the usual shots of the train whipping around the bend and entering the mountain. Of course we had to wait through several trains until we were able to get the right shot. I think I must have 20 pictures already of this same shot.

We continued along the Big Thunder trail towards Fantasyland. As we passed the Big Thunder Ranch where the Celebrate Round-up and Barbeque is held I noticed that it was closed today. I wasn’t sure if that’s because it is supposed to rain today. I hope it’s open for our Thursday reservation.

As we passed through Fantasyland we could see it was the usual mad house. We continued on to It’s a Small World. I’ve always enjoyed this attraction, but enjoy it even more now that they’ve added the 29 Disney/Pixar characters. I think they did a great job of integrating them into the ride without ruining the integrity of the original attraction. We rode it three consecutive times during our trip last February until we were able to spot all 29 characters.

A couple with their young daughter, who was about 4 years old, entered the queue at the same time we did. They entered the left side of the queue, while we took the right side. We always enter the right side because it is a consistently shorter wait than the left side. This is due to the fact that the wheelchair line loads from the left line and this increases the time it takes to load the boat. The two lines go along side by side until they reach the point where the left line angles down to the loading area and the right line crosses a bridge over the flume and then angles down to the loading area closest to the attraction. The family was a bit ahead of us on their side of the queue. When they reached the point where the two lines split, the mom jumps over the rope to our side of the queue right in front of us. The dad and daughter stayed on their side of the queue. She kept insisting, and rightly so, that her side would be the fastest. The dad and daughter eventually move over to join her. In my book, I consider that cutting in line, but the line was short and moving fast, so I didn’t say anything. The mom took note of the person that was in front of them on the other side of the line so she could prove to her family that her line was fastest. Jason and I also took note of this person. We didn’t see any wheelchairs in line and wondered if our line would still be the fastest. In the couple of minutes it took for us to reach the loading area, we chatted with this family and learned that even though they now live in the area, they were originally from Vancouver, Washington, just a stone’s throw from us in Portland. When we boarded, we all took note that the woman in the other line where this family would have been standing still had about 15 people ahead of her in line. We both enjoyed our trip around the world. We found 28 of the characters this time around and puzzled about the missing one until Jason realized which one we had missed.

Next we headed into Tomorrowland to use our FastPasses for Space Mountain that Jason had picked up for us that morning. Before entering the queue we picked up another set of FastPasses for 3:00pm, which was 38 minutes from now. This goes to show how light the crowds were when you can pick up FastPasses this late in the day and still have such an early return time. Space Mountain was as thrilling as it always is. This was our first time riding since our trip last February when the entire ride stopped just as we were nearing the end. It was cool to be able to see everything with the lights on.

The wait for Buzz Lightyear was only five minutes, so we had to ride. Jason’s score was just over 300,000 while mine was a lousy 58,000.

At this point, Jason mentioned that he had a headache. Neither of us had any pain reliever with us. I remembered reading that the First Aid station would supply pain relievers so since we were nearby, we headed over for a visit. This is the first time either of us has visited the First Aid station. It was staffed by two very nice Cast Members. While Jason signed their log sheet and took his medicine, I got a cup of water from the drinking fountain and sat on the comfortable couch.

With Jason fully medicated, we left and sat down on the bench just outside for a few minutes to give the pills a chance to start working. While we sat there, I updated the trip notebook and pretty soon Alice and the White Rabbit came by on their way backstage. A few minutes later Wendy and Captain Hook came by. We realized this might be a good place to get some pictures of characters without a lot of people around. We waited a few minutes more, but didn’t see anyone else come by. While we waited we also noticed a sign saying that the hand dipped corn dogs were available at the Stage Door Café. Neither of us had ever had a hand dipped corn dog at Disneyland, but I’ve heard people rave about them.

Next we headed down Main Street for a coffee refill at the Market House. Then we headed to the train station for a round trip around the park. This was mostly a chance to just sit down and relax for a while.

After returning to the Main Street Station, we headed into the Opera House to see the newly returned Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. Before this attraction was removed to make way for the 50th Anniversary Movie with Steve Martin, we remembered being handed headsets to wear during the show and the sound of a barber cutting our hair that made it seem as if he was really behind us. The headsets are no more, and the show has been restored to its original state. As fun as those headsets were, we still enjoyed the performance and were glad to see Mr. Lincoln back again.

When we emerged from the Opera House, the flag retreat was just getting underway so we stopped to watch for most of it. I had a hard time standing for so long and all the benches were filled so we moved along to Adventureland where we used our FastPasses for Indiana Jones. In spite of having FastPasses, the point where the FastPass line meets the regular line is so far back that there still is a long wait to ride. As much as we like this ride, we’ll probably only do it once this trip.

We were both hungry, so we decided to try Bengal BBQ. Jason had the Safari Skewer which was bacon wrapped asparagus and I had Bengal Beef Skewer which was beef in a sweet zulu sauce. We both thought the skewers were very good and something we’ll plan on getting each trip. They are great snacks, but not filling as a meal. The price for the two skewers with our AP discount came to $7.61.We were both still hungry so we went around to Frontierland where we decided to get a hand dipped corn dog. They came with your choice of chips or sliced apples. It was still early enough in our trip that we turned our noses up at the healthy choice and got the chips. The cost with AP discount came to $11.33. The corn dog was EXCELLENT. It was the best corn dog I’ve ever eaten. There was a thick layer of breading and it was hot, crispy and delicious. It was huge and while I finished it all, I was really stuffed. The chips went into my backpack for later.

It was getting chilly out at this point and our jackets were back in the room where they weren’t doing us any good. Since there weren’t any fireworks until Friday and we didn’t have any real interest in seeing the parade, we decided to beat the crowds and head back to the hotel.

The tram ride back to the parking lot was very chilly and we were glad to get back to the car. It was a quick drive back to the hotel. I took some time to get things organized. As much as I love the technology that we have today, there was something nice about just returning to your room and relaxing without spending the time charging the various electronic devices. It was at this time that I looked at the itinerary for today and realized that our Carnation Café reservation was actually for 11:00am, not 11:10am. I was so embarrassed at my error and hope that it didn’t cause anyone any trouble. I also noticed that the Cast Member only charged us for one Dole Whip Float. Tomorrow I’ll stop by and pay for the other float.

After a relaxing bath, I opened the door between our rooms and soon Jason came over with his laptop. He worked on his trip report for this trip and I worked on the trip report for our November 2009 WDW trip. I had spent every lunch hour for the couple of weeks before our trip finishing up the last report. It was done, but I wanted to read through it once before posting it in an attempt to catch as many of the typos and errors as possible.

We watched some of our favorite Monday night sitcoms on TV, even though they were reruns. I made a cup of coffee and snacked on my chips leftover from the corn dog I had for dinner. When we couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer, we said goodnight. It was lights out at 9:30pm for me.

Highlights: Being able to ride just about any attraction without a wait; enjoying a Dole Whip Float; trying Bengal BBQ and hand-dipped corn dogs for the first time.

Pedometer Stats:
Miles: 4.56
Steps: 14,458

Day 3 – Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Plan: Disney’s California Adventure

Actual: I regretted the caffeinated coffee that I drank last night as I was able to get to sleep okay, but woke at 3:00am unable to go back to sleep. I watched some of the Olympics for awhile and then got up and fired up the laptop. I hadn’t had a chance to read the MousePlanet Disneyland Update from yesterday so I did that and then checked for information on the Captain EO Tribute which was due to open at 10:00am this morning. I discovered that people had started to line-up well before midnight. Disney was setting up a separate line for them. I wasn’t sure what impact Captain EO would have on crowd levels. As happy as I am that Captain EO is coming back, I was really enjoying the low crowds. Since it was also a Magic Morning day and we didn’t have access to this, it was yet another reason to avoid Disneyland completely.

Finally I feel back asleep a little after 4:00am, but woke on and off until 6:00am when I gave up and just got up. I showered and dressed, and then Jason came over and we hung out in the room for a while. We planned to go to Mimi’s Café for breakfast. Mimi’s is just across the street from HoJo’s and we we’ve only eaten there a couple of times, although the food is excellent. About a week before our trip, both Jason and I signed up for Mimi’s eclub and received via email a coupon for a free breakfast (up to a $10 value). The coupons expire exactly two weeks after you sign up. I wasn’t sure if we would both be able to use our coupons at the same time, but I planned to ask. Mimi’s also sent me a $10 off a $20 purchase for my birthday and we’ll probably use that later on. Not knowing how crowded Mimi’s gets in the morning, we decided to head over around 7:00am and eat, then come back to the room until it’s time to leave for DCA.

Mimi’s had just opened at 7:00am and there were only a few people there. I’m guessing it might get more crowded this early when the parks open earlier. We were seated almost immediately. Looking over the menu, everything seemed to be under $10.00, except the steak and eggs. I asked our server if we’d both be able to use our coupons and he said yes.

I ordered the Monterey omelet, which included bacon, avocado, jack cheese and salsa. It was served with a freshly baked muffin (I had the buttermilk spice), red potatoes and orange juice. Jason had the Pain Perdue, eggs, bacon and orange juice. We also ordered coffee since we felt it was only fair to pay for something. The food was delicious and we easily could have shared one breakfast and been completely satisfied. The total for the two cups of coffee, tax and tip came to $8.55.

We finished breakfast around 8:00am and headed back to the room where we both worked on our trip reports. At 9:00am we drove over to the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure and took the tram to the entrance. It was a sunny day, with a hint of coolness in the air. We both were amazed at the number of people who were bundled up in heavy coats and boots. This was very comfortable weather for us.

There was a family in the row in front of us on the tram. It was the daughter’s first trip to Disneyland and she was very excited about it. However, I found the mom to be annoying. She spoke constantly to her daughter during the entire tram ride, but she spoke in such a loud voice that it seemed that she was making sure everyone around her heard what she was saying, sort of like she was really talking to the rest of us. This bugs me when parents do this. She also had an infant in her arms who must have been teething because there was a large amount of drool dripping from her mouth. I have a very weak stomach and it was all I could do to keep from gagging. It’s a wonder I made it through my own child’s early years.

There was a huge line at the bag check area this morning, I’m guessing due to the opening of Captain EO. I stayed alert and when they opened up the line next to us, I was quick to react and we ended up second in line.

It was just a little after 9:30am when we went through the gates of DCA. We immediately headed over to Soarin’ and picked up FastPasses for 10:50am, before jumping in line. We only waited a few minutes before they let us on the ride. After taking note of Patrick Warburton’s comment that “Little Aviators” who don’t measure up to the height indicator on the seat should pull the seat belt through the strap, Jason and I noted that I was just over the seat indicator myself. Jason decided to start calling me “Little Aviator.”

Soarin’ was as awesome as always. After we emerged from the ride, we headed around to Grizzly River Run where everyone was being held for rope drop. Two minutes later, we were being led around to the back of the park to Toy Story Mania. We hopped into line behind two women who thought it was okay to get in line without the rest of their parties. One woman gave up almost immediately and waited for her family to catch up. The other women kept looking behind her as the line moved quickly forward. I think she was looking for her kids. She did this throughout the entire queue and finally just before reaching the boarding area she let everyone else go ahead and waited for her family to catch up. This is a pet peeve of mine. If you reach an attraction before the rest of your party, just wait at the entrance for them and then all go in together. I think it’s rude for one person to enter and then have their family fight their way through the queue to catch up.

As usual, Jason outperformed me in points, but I made up for it in accuracy. My score was 131,500 (with 34% accuracy) to his 187,100 (29% accuracy). Someday I’m going to ride this and forget about getting a good score and just go strictly for accuracy.

Since the line was still reasonable, we decided to go through again. This time my score was 142,700 (with 28% accuracy) to Jason’s 187,000 (25% accuracy). Both times I only scored high enough to qualify for the beaver prize, while Jason consistently reached cat level.

We could have gone through again, but two times is usually our limit. Our arms just can’t take any more. Next we planned to pick up FastPasses for California Screamin’ but since the posted wait time was only 10 minutes, we decided to just ride. I had made a commitment to a co-worker that I was going to ride Screamin’ this time. I’ve never ridden it before as I don’t do heights well. I wanted to get it over with before I chickened out. Let me tell you that the height is the least of my concerns. That thing is fast and during the loop I could feel my back protesting. I think part of the problem was that I didn’t feel that my backpack was secure. I had placed it in the little net bag and secured the cover with the piece of Velcro, but sometime during the ride it came loose and I was afraid my stuff would fly out, even though it was probably an unlikely occurrence. So I spent most of the time leaning forward, gripping the bag. I think if I was able to relax into my seat, it would have been a better experience.

My legs were shaky when I got off the ride and I could barely make it down the steps. My knees usually protest when going down stairs, but adrenaline is a great pain killer as I didn’t feel a bit of pain. We sat down for a minute to gather our bearings and then moved over to look at our ride photo. I decided to buy it because at the time I felt it was my one and only time I’d ever get on this ride. Once I paid my $14.95 (less a 10% AP discount), I took a picture of the photo with my cell phone and emailed it to Susan at work. I knew she would forward it on to the rest of the staff and I’d have proof that I actually rode. As I write this a week and a half later, I’m almost ready to ride again when we return in June. I think I’ll hand my stuff off first to one of the members of our party that definitely won’t be riding.

This was going to be a day of firsts for me as we headed next to Mickey’s Fun Wheel. In the past, I’ve always waited while Jason rode by himself, but I had decided earlier that I was gong to do it this time. As we walked over to it, I was thinking that nothing could be as bad as Screamin’. When we reached it, I looked up and realized just how high it was. My resolve began to weaken. Jason did a good job of gently convincing me to continue. I told myself that I wasn’t going to fall out and if I really couldn’t handle it, I could just close my eyes.

There were only a few people in line in front of us and in just a short while we were being loaded into the gondola. One of the nice things is that is goes up in stages as they load up the gondolas so I had a bit of a chance to get used to each level before moving up higher. I sat in the direct center of my seat and since there was nothing to grip onto, I had a death grip on the edge of my seat. When we reached the top it was a little more than I could handle and I had to close my eyes for a while. But gradually I adjusted to the height and by the end of the ride I was fine, even able to take a few pictures. I was glad that another fear was conquered.

After leaving the Fun Wheel, Jason said that he had another headache. He typically doesn’t get headaches very often so this was a puzzle to us why he would have one two days in a row. Thinking that maybe some cold water might help, we continued around to Pizza Oom Mow Mow to get him a cup of ice water. While we waited our turn, we thought about getting a slice of pizza to share, but we weren’t really sure if that’s what we wanted. I thought about what was available at DCA and suggested a smoothie at Schmoozies, something we’d never tried before. That sounded good to both of us so we headed over that direction.

As we neared the spot where the new Little Mermaid attraction was going in, we sat down for a few minutes. On the construction wall in front of us was a map of the “new” DCA. We spent some time looking at it and taking pictures. Then Jason, always on the lookout, spotted a Hidden Mickey in the bubbles that were painted on the wall. So, he had to take a picture of it and email it to his grandpa, who is also an avid Hidden Mickey fan.

We decided to detour over at the Mission Tortilla Factory for a freshly made tortilla. Since I was wearing my birthday button, I was also handed a plastic bag with three tortillas. A couple of years ago, when we visited during my Dad’s birthday, they handed out a dozen tortillas to those wearing birthday buttons. Dad was passing out tortillas to our group right and left. Three tortillas were plenty for the two of us. We took them to a nearby table and sat for a few minutes.

Since we were passing by the Blue Sky Cellar, we went in for a look. We’d checked it out last year when we visited, but wanted to see it again. After taking a quick look around, I sat down to watch the movie about all the upcoming changes. Jason took a more comprehensive look around.

After leaving the Blue Sky Cellar, Jason’s headache was still bothering him, so we pulled out our guide map and looked for the First Aid Station. We were surprised to find that it was right next to the Tortilla Factory. Neither of us had noticed it. We headed back and again found two very nice ladies running the station. Jason was given his ibuprofen and they watched while he took it.

One of the nurses asked where we were from. When we told her Portland, Oregon, she mentioned that she visits Portland once a year when she comes up to visit her best friend. She thought Portland was a nice city. We think so too.

Instead of getting a smoothie, we decided to visit Burrr-Bank Ice Cream instead. We’ll have to get smoothies another time. We made our way to the front of the park. There was a couple in front of us in line so we had time to check the menu. Our all time favorite thing to order used to be the Steamin’ Chocolate, but it hasn’t been on the menu for a while now. It was a waffle cup with a brownie in the bottom (although the description said it was chocolate cake), topped with two scoops of your choice of ice cream, fudge sauce, whipped cream, nuts and a cherry. It was delicious and we really miss it. So, instead we ordered the hot fudge sundae, which had two chocolate chip cookies stuck in it. It was also good, but we especially loved the Steamin’ Chocolate. We also asked for two cups of ice water. The total came to $12.59 (no AP discount here).

We sat down at a table outside to eat. At a nearby table was a family that had brought in their lunch. They had sandwich fixin’s, chips, juice boxes, the works. We thought about it and realized that unless you ride the tram, you wouldn’t know that Disney asks that any food you bring be eaten in the picnic area outside the park. I know they don’t enforce the rule and I don’t have an issue with people bringing in their food since buying food for a large family could get very expensive. If you’re a kid and your family always brings in food, I wonder how old you’d be before you realized that there are more exciting options available than the peanut butter and jelly sandwich your mom hands you.

The ibuprofen and the brief rest did the trick and Jason’s headache was soon gone. After finishing our ice cream, we dropped off the Screamin’ ride photo at Engine-Ears Toys so we wouldn’t have to carry it around with us. Then we decided to use our FP for Soarin’ that we picked up that morning. We contemplated picking up another set first, but the return time was for 3:45pm and we weren’t sure that we’d be at this park at that time.

After Soarin’ we decided to head over to the Animation Academy where an animator shows you how to draw a character. It was getting close to 1:30pm and I guessed that they might do a show every half hour, so we hurried over. I was right and a minute after we arrived they let us in. The character we were drawing was Tigger. I’m not artistic in the slightest so I have very low expectations of what my character will look like. Still, I’m surprised that even with my limited ability the drawing was definitely recognizable as Tigger. I didn’t want to carry the drawing around with me so I took a quick picture of it before placing the drawing in the recycling bin.

This was so fun that we decided to stick around for the next show, which was at 2:00pm. This time we drew Pluto and while I could tell it was Pluto, it wasn’t anything I was proud of. This time it went directly into the recycling bin without a picture. Still we both enjoyed the time immensely.

We’d done everything we planned to do at DCA so we decided to head over to Disneyland to see the Captain EO Tribute. We had decided that we’d like to be able to experience it on the day it opened no matter how big of a crowd there was. We picked up the picture at Engine-Ear Toys and headed across the plaza, prepared to wait in whatever line we found. We were pleasantly surprised to see a posted 20 minute wait and almost no one in line, which meant we would be able to see the next show.

We sat comfortably on one of the few benches in the waiting area and were feeling pretty good about our decision. As time went on the area filled up with more and more people. I could hear the Cast Member urging people to move forward but I had no idea how many people were around the corner. When it came time to enter the theatre we realized that this wasn’t the best place to be waiting. I hadn’t realized that there were doors around the corner too. When Honey I Shrunk the Audience was here there never was a particularly big crowd whenever we would see it, so finding a good seat was never an issue. People were pouring in from every entrance and the theatre was filling up quickly. The CM was urging everyone to move all the way to the end of the row and telling us that there were plenty of good seats available in the first four rows. Every row we approached filled up as we reached it and we were forced closer and closer to the front. We ended up in the third row a few seats from the end. Let me tell you, contrary to what the Cast Member said, those may have been seats, but by no stretch of the imagination would I consider them good seats. With 3D glasses on, the picture seemed out of focus and difficult to see. My eyes kept watering during the entire show.

At first I thought the show was a little corny, but as soon as Michael Jackson starting doing some of his classic dance moves, all was good. The music was great and everyone in the audience seemed to love it. We both agreed that it was great to have this classic attraction back. We’d like to see it again only this time further back from the screen and in the center of the theatre.

We checked out the Captain EO merchandise at Star Traders. We’ll probably each get a button to commemorate the experience. We decided to see if the merchandise is available at the Emporium and do all our shopping at once to get the 10% AP discount.

Next stop was the Enchanted Tiki Room for another Dole Whip. Last night while I was looking over the receipts for the day, I noticed that we were only charged for one Dole Whip Float and I didn’t feel right about that. When we ordered two more Dole Whip Floats, I showed the receipt to the CM, who happened to be the same one as yesterday, and asked him to charge us for three floats today. He was very nice and said not to worry about it, but consider it a birthday present. My conscience clear, we took our floats and enjoyed another Tiki Room show. The cost for the two floats came to $10.20.

We headed back down Main Street stopping at the Candy Palace for my once per trip piece of fudge. Jason usually isn’t interested in the fudge, but when I suggested we get two different pieces and share them, he agreed. We decided on the chocolate with walnuts and the vanilla fudge. The cost for two pieces of fudge came to $8.16. Since this is considered a merchandise purchase and our total didn’t reach $10, we weren’t eligible for the 10% AP discount. Next we stopped in at the Emporium to do some shopping. In addition to the Captain EO buttons, we picked up a couple of license plate frames (one for me and one for my sister), a mouse pad, a couple of postcards, and a key chain for Jason to give to a friend.

Having done everything we planned for today, we decided to head out and pick up some dinner. On our way out, I was stopped by a male Cast Member who asked if I’d made any food or beverage purchases today. After answering yes, he asked if I would participate in a short survey. I agreed. He said that the room where the surveys are conducted is very small and there wouldn’t be room for both me and Jason. Jason said he’d take some pictures around Town Square and meet me after the survey. I followed the CM around to the side of a building and went up a few steps. As we were walking I was struck by the fact that only at Disney would I willingly follow a man I didn’t know to an unknown location after being told to leave the rest of my group behind.

The survey only took a few minutes. In addition to asking about the food and beverage I purchased, I was asked questions about the availability of healthy food options and how important those options were to me. I basically said they weren’t important to me at all, an opinion I would later change and regret. When I finished the survey, I caught up with Jason and we left the park. After a quick stop at the World of Disney store to pick up a box of chocolates to share with my co-workers, we were on our way to El Pollo Loco for dinner. We absolutely love this place and try to eat here at least once per trip. Until recently, visiting Anaheim was our only chance to get this delicious chicken. A few months ago an El Pollo Loco opened up not too far from our house after being under construction for more than a year. We visited a couple of times, but for some reason it just isn’t them same in Beaverton as it is in Anaheim. I had brought a coupon from my Entertainment Book and we were able to get one free 2 or 3 piece meal with the purchase of a second one. Of course, we always have to have the flan for dessert. I know it’s just instant flan but it’s a favorite in our house. The total for the two meals with dessert came to $9.32.

We took dinner back to the room and watched the news in hopes of some coverage on the opening of Captain EO. Didn’t see anything about it on TV and didn’t find much online. I was hoping to hear people’s opinions of the show, but mostly saw information about the length of the wait.

After dinner, I spent time hooking up all my electronic equipment to various power cords and then took a long hot bath. Jason came over later and we both worked on our trip reports. I wrote out a couple of postcards to get in the mail tomorrow. If I wait too long, I’ll be back before they arrive in the mail.

This morning I had left a note for the housekeeping asking if she would leave decaf coffee instead of regular. She obliged and left four K-cups of decaf. I am really loving the Keurig coffee makers they have in the rooms now. It’s great to be able to make one cup of coffee at a time and it’s better tasting coffee than I usually find in a hotel. We divided up the fudge. Both were good, but the chocolate with walnuts is still my favorite. I’m not much of a nut person so I used to always get the plain fudge, but I discovered a while back that I really like the walnuts in the fudge. It adds a nice contrast to the sweetness of the chocolate.

After watching some of the Olympics, we said goodnight at 9:15pm. I quickly got ready for bed and was asleep by 9:30pm.

Highlights: Conquering my fears and riding Screamin’ and Mickey’s Fun Wheel back to back; seeing Captain EO.

Pedometer Stats:
Miles: 4.17
Steps: 13,229

Day 4 – Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Plan: Disneyland with breakfast at the Blue Ribbon Bakery and lunch at Carnation Cafe

Actual: I was up at 6:45am. With the shorter park hours, it’s nice to get a good night’s sleep. And, with the low crowds we’re able to do as much as we’d normally do during busier times with longer hours. I showered, dressed and made a cup of decaf. I was munching on a donut and a cup of cereal when Jason came over with his laptop. Instead of bowls, we had purchased a pack of Solo cups to use for both cereal and beverages.

Jason worked on his trip report. I finally finished proofing my November 2009 WDW trip report and was able to get it posted on MousePlanet. Now I can start on the report for this trip.

We were out the door by 9:07am. We parked in the Pinocchio lot, very close to the crosswalk. It was a great spot. Rain was forecasted and we debated a bit on whether to bring our ponchos with us. We both like to travel light and since it wasn’t raining at that exact moment, we decided to leave them in the car. If it ends up raining it will be worth it to us to just buy new ponchos. Hopefully, we won’t need them.

There were no lines at all at the turnstiles; people were already being let in. Jason took some pictures of the Mickey floral while I mailed my postcards at the nearest mailbox. Since we’d missed our Carnation Café seating on Monday, we decided to see if we could duck in for a quick Mickey waffle before starting our day. There were only three parties seated and no one waiting in line so we were quickly ushered to a table.

Our table was located directly next to a family of four. We were so close I could have easily reached over and helped the small child seated near me cut up his Mickey waffle. I know some of the tables are placed very close together, but you don’t usually notice it as much when the place is crowded. Now we felt like we were almost a part of this family and ready to make plans to spend Thanksgiving with them.

Our server was Troy, and we’ve had him several times before. We love the fact that most of the servers have worked at the Carnation Café for many years. It’s an odd feeling, since we recognize all of them, yet they don’t have a clue who we are.

We ordered our Mickey waffles and soon were enjoying them. Sitting outside in the cool, crisp morning, with a feeling of excitement in the air as people eagerly await the opening of the park; it doesn’t get any better than this. We were very happy to see that Oscar was still working there as he made his way around the dining area, greeting guests. He’s worked there since 1956 and it just amazes me that he was there when Walt Disney himself was around. Every time we visit, Oscar says he’s going to retire. Each time we’re glad to still see him there, although he’s certainly earned the right to retire.

We finished breakfast shortly after park opening. The bill came to $23.55 with tax, tip and 10% AP discount. It was at this meal that we realized that the easiest way to figure the tip was to just double the amount of the AP discount. During breakfast we decided to cancel our lunch reservation at Carnation Café. There were other things that we were more looking for to eating and since we’d never eaten at Carnation Café for lunch, we didn’t know what we’d be missing. Before leaving I meant to stop by the podium and cancel our reservation, but it slipped my mind. When I remembered later, it was after our 1:30pm reservation time.

We walked over to Buzz where we rode twice without any wait at all. My score the first time through was 250,000, which is very good for me. The second time through, my score was down to its usual lousy level. Jason managed to snag a spot in the top 3 with his score of 850,000.

Captain EO was next on the list. We waited about five minutes for the next show to start. This time we were prepared and when the doors opened, we quickly made our way around to the side and entered through the back of the theatre. Since we weren’t the first ones in we were able to score good seats near the back of the theatre, in the middle of the row.

As soon as the show started, Jason and I looked at each other and agreed that the experience was about a million times better than yesterday when we sat in the third row. This time we could actually see the whole show. I noticed that Michael Jason’s jacket, that he rips open from time to time while dancing, magically closes up in the next scene in preparation for the next time he rips it open. I mentioned this to Jason afterwards and he was eager to check it out the next time we see the show. He and I are always on the lookout for these types of discrepancies when we watched a movie or TV show.

Next up was to pick up FastPasses for Space Mountain. It was 11:00am by now and the return time was for 11:40am. The posted stand by time was only 10 minutes, but since, like us, everyone who had just exited Captain EO headed over to ride Space Mountain, we felt the wait time probably wasn’t entirely accurate.

We hadn’t yet done the Haunted Mansion and anything in Critter Country, so we hopped the train at the Tomorrowland station and rode around to New Orleans Square. As we walked from the station to the Haunted Mansion we felt the first raindrops beginning to fall.

The Haunted Mansion was a walk on. The ride stopped a couple of times, but only briefly. When we emerged from the ride we could see that it had rained while we were inside. It wasn’t raining currently, but everything was soaking wet as if a downpour had just ended. We were hoping that would be the end of the rain as we really didn’t want to deal with ponchos.

We moved along to Critter Country. Splash Mountain had no wait at all. We stood in front of the ride while I debated whether or not I wanted to ride. Jason likes the ride itself, but not getting wet, so I’d be riding by myself. I don’t mind doing this since parties are often mixed together on a log. I usually do single rider so I don’t have to waste a FastPass. The day was overcast and cool although we were both comfortable without long sleeves or jackets. As hard as it was, I eventually decided not to ride. I know that if I did get wet, I could end up being uncomfortably chilly in the cool air.

Next up was Winnie the Pooh. There were only a few people in line ahead of us. When the Cast Member assigned us to our rows, Jason and I ended up in the front row. In the row behind us were a dad and his daughter, who looked about three. Just as we were getting ready to board, I asked the dad if he wanted to switch rows so he and his daughter could be in the front row, giving her a better view. He thanked us and we quickly switched places. This ride is the only dark ride that I can think of that puts multiple parties in the same ride vehicle. None of the Fantasyland dark rides do and this ride is typically less crowded than any of those. Unless there’s a really long line, why not put each party in its own vehicle?

When we emerged from the ride, it was raining steadily. Since we were in the area, we decided it was a great time for funnel cake. We headed over to the Hungry Bear Restaurant where we engaged in a friendly discussion on what kind to get. We knew we wanted to split one since a whole one is too much for either of us. Jason really wanted the chocolate brownie version, which comes with crumbled brownies, chocolate sauce, whipped cream and cherries. We got this one last year and I distinctly remember that we regretted it because it was so sweet. I was thinking we should get the one topped with strawberries and whipped cream. We ordered that at Walt Disney World last November and really enjoyed it. In the end Jason won out. We carried our funnel cake and two ice waters to a table. While it wasn’t as sweet as I remembered, I prefer to get it plain, as the brownies and chocolate syrup overpower the taste of the funnel cake. While we ate the rain stopped and wasn’t a factor until Saturday, the day we were due to fly home. The total for the funnel cake with AP discount came to $5.37.

While we ate we planned out what to do next. The crowds had been so low and the lines so short that we’d been able to accomplish a lot in the few days we’d been here. Jason remembered that he had downloaded an App on his iPhone called Wishing Stars. This App has multiple quests of different difficulty levels. You follow clues to certain locations around the park. Using the GPS functionality on your phone, if you are at the correct location you’ll earn a piece of a wishing star. Find all the pieces of the star and you win the quest. Some of the quests seemed to involve a lot of walking around the park and I just didn’t have that in me. We chose a quest of medium difficulty located in New Orleans Square. We completed the quest in about five minutes and it ended up being very easy for us. Maybe it’s geared to families with smaller children. Jason plans to try out one of the more challenging quests later.

We left New Orleans Square and headed to Frontierland. Passing the Golden Horseshoe, we decided to stop and see the show. Jason went to use the restroom first while I went in to find a seat. While I waited for him, I checked out the menu, since we had noticed a sign out front that said they served Root Beer Floats. Yes, they do and in addition, I saw that exact same ice cream offerings that they serve at Burr-bank Ice Cream over in DCA. It’s nice that we have another option for ice cream without battling the usual long lines at the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street.

I checked my entertainment schedule to see when the next show started and discovered that Billy Hill and the Hillbillies doesn’t perform on Wednesday. So, when Jason joined me, we decided to move on.

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad had only a five minute wait so we took two consecutive rides. Next we walked along the trail to Fantasyland. We checked on Snow White but the line was long and didn’t seem to be moving. We both found it odd that this attraction was the one that had the longest lines. Space and Big Thunder are practically walk-ons at times, but Snow White is the ride with long wait.

We moved over to It’s a Small World where we didn’t stop walking until we boarded our boat. Next we headed to Tomorrowland where we hoped to ride the Monorail. It was down. We’ve had such a difficult time getting on this thing. We always see the Monorail making its way through the park, but when we decided to ride, no luck at all.

Since we were in the area, we decided to check out Captain EO. We must have just missed the show because there were only a few people waiting. We sat down on a bench and by the time the next show started, there was quite a crowd. Once the doors opened we let others go in first so we would end up in the middle of the row. This time Jason watched for Michael’s mysteriously closing jacket and counted five times when it closed itself up so as to be ready for him to rip it open.

I was in the mood for Star Tours so we headed over that way. We typically don’t ride this too often as it can make us both a little nauseous. I was willing to ride it by myself, but Jason felt up to it too. Now this attraction has had a 5 minutes wait time posted just about every time we’ve passed it this week, but of course, now the wait was 15 minutes, which really isn’t that long and would be considered excellent during the busy season. But neither of us wanted to wait that long and I think we might have been a little glad of an excuse to pass it up.

Even though we really weren’t hungry, Jason was craving a corn dog. We headed over to the Stage Door Café and each ordered one. They are really the most delicious things on the face of the earth. We sat at a table next to the railing overlooking the Rivers of America, which would have been a spectacular view if it wasn’t drained for refurbishment. Still we enjoyed people watching and noted how many little girls were dressed in princess outfits. I don’t seem to remember quite as many in previous visits.

We browsed briefly at the pin store next to the shooting gallery then moved over to Main Street. We hadn’t yet had our fix of Market House coffee, so we decided to stop in for a cup. We also rationalized the purchase of a cookie since we would get our 10% AP discount if the purchase went over $10.00. While in line we chatted with the woman in front of us who was from Vancouver, B.C. She had her baby in an umbrella stroller and we chatted for a bit about how cumbersome it is to bring a stroller to Disneyland. We were all amazed at some of the larger strollers that people bring in and the amount of gear some people bring with them. She was very nice and later Jason and I commented on how many nice conversations we’ve had with perfect strangers this trip. It seems like people are extra nice this time.

We took our cookies and coffee to Town Square and sat down on a bench. While we ate, we watched as character after character came from backstage and made their way to their various meet and greet locations. Several characters passed right by us on their way to their spots. After awhile, several characters, including Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto and Donald, boarded the double-decker bus and rode up Main Street and back. It was interesting to watch them make their way upstairs to the top level of the bus.

After we finished our snack, we walked over to the Disney Gallery to check things out. This was our first visit to the Gallery in its new location. We both enjoyed looking at everything and wished we not only had bigger bank accounts, but a little more open wall space at home.

At this point we decided to call it a night. We detoured back to the Market House for a coffee refill, decaf this time, and then hopped a waiting tram back to the parking lot.

Back at the hotel we both went to our rooms to get things organized for the next day. Later Jason came over with his laptop. We spent the evening working on our trip reports and watching some of the Olympics. At 9:30pm I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer so we said goodnight.

Highlights: Finally having a Mickey Mouse waffle; Seeing Captain EO again; enjoying one of the most delicious corn dogs on the planet; relaxing on a bench in Town Square watching characters.

Pedometer Stats:
Miles: 3.8
Steps: 12,066


Day 5 – Thursday, February 25, 2010

Plan: California Adventure in the morning; Disneyland in the afternoon; dinner at Big Thunder Celebration Round-up and Barbeque

Actual: Today is my actual birthday and I can’t think of any better way to spend it than at a Disney park. I was up at 7:00am and quickly showered and dressed. I was working on the trip report when Jason came over with his laptop. I think the past 4 days of unhealthy eating were catching up to us as neither of us felt very good. Jason was the only one that had anything close to a green vegetable, with the asparagus that came with his skewer on Monday. We decided to just take it easy in the room for awhile. We’d been able to do so much the last few days that it wasn’t critical that we rush out today.

Around 9:30am we both felt better and decided to head over. It was only 30 minutes later than we had originally planned to leave. The CM in the parking structure waved us to the Chip and Dale section, but we asked if we could park in Pinocchio and she very graciously allowed us to. We parked very close to the crosswalk which will be very welcome at the end of the day.

My bag check experience was interesting. All week long the CM’s have done only a cursory glance at my tiny backpack and camera bag, but the CM this morning took her job very seriously. I always wear my bag across my shoulder and would have all compartments unzipped and ready for inspection. This CM wanted it off my shoulder so she could poke into every crevice. She spent more time on my bag than everyone else so far that week did combined. Jason was in a different line and breezed though without incident. He was wondering what happened to me when he found that I wasn’t behind him.

Finally, we were inside DCA. Our first stop was for FastPasses for Soarin’ with a return time of 10:50am. Then we made our way slowly back to Toy Story with several stops to take pictures. We had a 15 minute wait to ride Toy Story and I finally got a high enough score to earn a cat for a prize. This was a first for me since the ride opened.

We immediately got in line for a second ride. Our wait this time was 20 minutes. Once again I scored high enough to earn another cat prize. I was on fire. I would have like to do it again, but our arms were useless by the end of the second ride.

Jason wanted to take more pictures from Mickey’s Fun Wheel so we waited five minutes to board our non-swinging gondola. This time was much easier for me and I barely noticed how high we were.

Continuing around the lagoon, we rode Mulholland Madness with a five minute wait. The vehicles for this ride are so tight. There is very little leg room, even for me at 5 feet.

Next was a stop at the Mission Tortilla Factory. Since neither of us had eaten this morning, we were getting hungry. We were each given a tortilla and since I was wearing my birthday button, I was given a pack of three tortillas. We sat on a nearby bench and munched on freshly made tortillas. This time, I think they were corn tortillas instead of flour. Still, they were yummy.

A Bug’s Land was next. Jason mentioned that there was a spot where you can get a picture of the Tower of Terror with the blades of grass from a Bug’s Land in the foreground that makes it seem as though you are a miniature person looking up from the grass. It was a fun effect and we had a good time taking pictures in an area that we don’t typically visit.

It was at this point that we discovered that there is now a walk way between A Bug’s Land and the Tower of Terror area. I think that makes it so much more convenient to get to that area. As we walked by the Tower of Terror we both slowed down a bit. I’m guessing that neither of us really wanted to do Tower of Terror, but if the other person suggested it, then we’d go along with it. Neither of us spoke up so we moved on.

As we approached the queue area for the Aladdin show, I noticed people were lining up. This surprised me since I didn’t notice it on the online schedule. I pulled out my entertainment guide and saw that the next show was due to start in 10 minutes. When we were directed to the mezzanine section, I mentioned to the CM that I had trouble going up and down stairs. He told me to ask another CM for an elevator pass. When I did, that CM either didn’t know what that was or where to get one, so he just told us to get in the orchestra line.

Being at the very back or the orchestra line meant that the section was pretty full by the time we entered the theatre. We did manage to find a couple of seats near the end of the third row. You get a different view of things when you’re that close to the stage. It was an interesting experience and as always, a great show. I’ll really miss this when it’s gone. Sitting next to me was a man from Australia. We chatted for a few minutes about the difference in the weather between Australia and Oregon. He was a very nice man.

Next up was Monster’s Inc., where there was about an 8 minute wait. In front of us in line were two dads, each with a couple of young children. One boy, who looked about five, was named Jackson and he absolutely did not want to go on the ride. He was crying and wriggling around, trying to escape his dad’s grasp. We thought he would literally die from fright. The other kids tried telling him that it wasn’t scary, but he would have none of it. Normally, I don’t approve of parents that force their kids to go on roller coasters or other thrill rides when they don’t want to. But you could tell this dad loved his son and was trying to help him overcome a fear of something that he didn’t need to be afraid of. The dad was calmly talking to his son, trying to convince him that there was nothing to be afraid of.

Jason and I got pulled ahead of about a dozen people when the CM was looking for a party of two to fill a ride vehicle. When we got off the ride, we waited at the exit for Jackson and his group to emerge because we needed to see how the drama played out. A few minutes later they emerged and Jackson was smiling and laughing about how much fun the ride was. Jason and I were then able to continue our day assured that little Jackson wasn’t scarred for life.

We were both starving at this point and wanted something a little healthier than what we’d been eating so far this week. We decided to split a chicken sandwich at Taste Pilot’s Grill and load up on veges at the toppings bar. The line was ridiculously long so we decided to use our Soarin’ FastPasses first and then see if the line was any better.

After Soarin’ we checked Taste Pilot’s Grill, but the line was still very long. We decided to move over to Disneyland. It seemed more crowded than the previous two days. We sat down at the hub to consider our food options. We could get a hotdog at Coke Corner with apple slices. This caused a chuckle as three days before we were turning our noses up at these very same apple slices and two days before I was telling Disney that I didn’t care if there were any healthy options at the park.

Neither of us felt like eating hotdogs. We considered the Plaza Inn, but didn’t want a large meal since we were having an all you care to eat dinner in a few hours. I remember seeing salads at Pizza Port so we decided to check it out.

We settled on splitting a grilled chicken Caesar salad and we each got a carton of milk. It was a good choice. The chicken was great and it was wonderful to each some greens. We lingered over the meal since both of us were tired. The total for the meal with our AP discount came to $11.42.

Since we were in the area, of course we had to see Captain EO. We had excellent seats in the middle of the row towards the back. At the last minute, the two people in the row in front of us scooted over a couple of seats, leaving us with no one in front of us. It was great. When we left the theatre, we hurried around and were able to duck in to the next show to see it again. I think we ended up in the exact same seats as before.

Back to back Captain EO shows were enough for us so we headed over to It’s a Small World. We’re going for attractions with short lines and long ride times. It was during this trip around the world that Jason pointed out that some of the newly added Disney/Pixar characters had music from their film playing subtly in the background. Maybe all of them did, but we were only able to catch a few like Alice in Wonderland, Aladdin, Cinderella and Pinocchio. It was a nice touch.

The salad we’d shared earlier was long gone so we decided to head over to Big Thunder Ranch and see if we’d be able to check in 40 minutes early for our dinner reservation. The Cast Member that greeted us looked over at the seating area and saw that several groups had just left so he said it would be no problem to take us early. They just needed a chance to clear the tables. We checked in and were given a pager. We waited for less than two minutes when it went off. We were led to a table off to the side and about two rows back from the front. There was some nice entertainment on the stage and everyone seemed to be having a good time.

Our server Phillip arrived with two red plates and a metal bucket of utensils and wet naps. He said the bucket was for bones or other trash. He took our drink orders. Instead of our usual water, we decided to splurge and ordered iced tea. This was served in a glass mason jar.

Phillip explained that the meal was all-you-care-to-eat and we were welcome to take home any leftovers. In a short time he brought out a bucket of chicken, ribs and sausage, and buckets/bowls of beans, wheels of corn, cole slaw and corn bread. The food was great and we really enjoyed everything. In spite of being full, we asked for another serving of polish sausage because it was just so good.

While we ate, one of the performers came around to different tables and engaged the occupants in conversation. It was a little nerve-wracking as neither of us enjoys being the center of attention. Fortunately, his time with us was brief before moving on to the next table.

We were both full but determined to have dessert. Phillip brought us the new dessert menu. The desserts looked good, but the one we wanted wasn’t on the menu. We’d heard about and seen pictures of the cowboy cone cakes and that’s want we wanted to try. We asked Phillip and he said we could still get them even though they didn’t appear on the menu. We both chose the chocolate cake.

The cone cakes were very good. It was chocolate cake with chocolate frosting baked in a waffle cone. At the bottom was a layer of cherry filling and in the point of the cone was some sort of chocolate cream. It was a perfect ending to the meal, even if they were a little spendy at $5.99 each. The entire meal came to $80.50 with tax, tip and 10% AP discount. I think we’d both like to eat here again, but would try to cut down the cost by not ordering beverages or dessert.

We decided to call it a day and waddled out towards the exit. I was stopped near Town Square by a Cast Member who asked if I’d be willing to participate in a short survey. This time I was able to answer the questions right there instead of going into the “secret” room. It was mostly about how much of a value I thought different aspects of my visit were and some questions about my interactions with Cast Members. Sometime during the survey a guest apparently fell on the tracks about 20 feet from us. When Jason pointed out to the CM that someone fell, she seemed unsure about whether she should go over there or continue her survey. Then we noticed that another CM was already on the scene so she turned back to us to continue the survey. After another couple of questions, the other CM was motioning to her to come over to help, so she politely ended the survey and went to help. I was puzzled by her reluctance to immediately go over to help. Maybe she thought that by ditching us in the middle of the survey she would negatively impact our visit.

The tram loading area was crowded and we had to wait for the second tram. Back at the hotel I made a cup of coffee and we both worked on our trip reports while we watched the Olympics. It was bedtime for me at 10:30pm.

Highlights: Getting my highest scores on Toy Story Mania; learning the lesson that it’s best to try to squeeze in a few healthy options even while on vacation; seeing back to back Captain EO shows; trying a new dining experience at the Big Thunder Celebration Round-up and Barbeque.

Pedometer Stats:
Miles: 4.12
Steps: 13,066

Day 6 – Friday, February 26, 2010

Plan: Breakfast at Carnation Café; Lunch at Café Orleans; Fireworks

Actual: Today I didn’t have the luxury of sleeping in since the park opens at 8:00am. My alarm woke me at 5:30am. I was dressed and ready when Jason came over. We hung out in my room until 7:00am then drove over to the parking structure. The CM directed us to the Chip and Dale section and when we politely asked if we could park in Pinocchio, she curtly replied, “We’re not parking Pinocchio today.” So, we headed into Chip and Dale and parked as close to the pedestrian walkway as possible. As we walked to the tram loading area, we noticed that other cars were parking in Pinocchio so I’m not sure what she meant by her statement. Oh well, we weren’t going to let her attitude ruin our day.

We waited a long time for a tram to arrive. It seemed like only one tram was running this early in the day. The line through the bag check moved quickly and we ended up third in line at turnstile 12. Around 7:40am the turnstiles opened to great fanfare and we all headed in. We had an 8:10am breakfast seating at Carnation Café. The plan was for me to stop by Market House and get us coffee. That way we could drink it with breakfast and be able to get free refills for the rest of the day. Jason wanted to take pictures of the castle and hub without a lot of people so he hurried ahead to the rope. Turns out even though there weren’t any people in the picture, there were plenty of maintenance staff. Still he managed to get some good pictures.

I headed over to Market House only to find that it wasn’t open yet. This surprised me as you’d think a lot of people would stop in for their morning coffee fix before the park opened. I waited there for Jason to rejoin me thinking maybe it would open soon. When he returned it was 10 minutes until park opening and Market House still wasn’t open.

We decided to see if we could check in early for our 8:10 reservation. There was no one waiting to be seated so we were able to go right in. This time Carrick was our server. We’ve had him several times before. Once again we each ordered a Mickey Mouse Waffle. We were glad to see Oscar again and hope he’s still here when we visit in June with my sister. I’d love for her to be able to meet him. He is such a nice man. The total for breakfast came to $23.55

After breakfast we headed over to Fantasyland. As we walked over the draw bridge we were greeted by the sight of a Disneyland Security Guard escorting a mother duck and her ducklings across the bridge. It was super cute. The guard says that the mother is extremely protective of her babies so we should take care not to get too close. We took pictures of the ducks, but I later realized I should have taken a picture of the security guard escorting the ducks as that was really the interesting part of the whole thing.

The line for Peter Pan was already too long for us so we skipped it. We hadn’t yet done Snow White, so we hopped on with very little wait. Next it was over to Alice in Wonderland for a ride. There was absolutely no one in line. When we boarded our ride vehicle, Jason noticed that the Cast Member was from Long Beach. We lived in Long Beach before we moved to Portland. We spent a minute chatting with him about how much we all liked living in Long Beach. He lives in the Bixby Knolls area, which was a very nice area right next to where we lived in the Wrigley District. Eventually we began our ride through Wonderland and once again were not prepared with our cameras when we emerged from the ride and missed a great photo op of the Matterhorn and Monorail.

We noticed that there wasn’t any line at the Storybook Land Canal Boats. We raced over and were able to get on the next boat. This is a really cute ride and even though I have many pictures of this attraction, I still whipped my camera out multiple times during the ride.

As we passed Pinocchio, we decided to ride one more time since there wasn’t any line. Jiminy Cricket is Jason’s favorite character and he wanted to try to get one good picture of him during the ride. He was even planning to use his flash since there wasn’t anyone else around us that would be disturbed by the flash. He knew exactly which Jiminy he wanted to take the picture of. It was at the end of the ride when he’s holding his “Official Conscience” badge. Well he managed to get the picture but was disappointed in the way it turned out. I guess there a lot to be said for the lighting on these dark rides, the dim light hides a lot of flaws.

We were done with Fantasyland so we moved along the Big Thunder trail to Frontierland. The FastPass machine for Big Thunder Railroad was in operation for the weekend so we picked FastPasses for 9:35am, 35 minutes from now. There was a five minute posted standby time so we hopped on for a ride. This time we were assigned to row 15, the last row, which is the ultimate spot to do the Goat Trick.

Next we moved over to New Orleans Square where we walked on to Pirates. Once again we were seeking out rides with long periods of sitting down. We were both tired, due in part to a diet of mostly fried fatty foods. Not that they weren’t delicious.

After Pirates, we moved over to Adventureland, hoping to ride Jungle Cruise, but it wasn’t open. We were at a loss on what to do next when we both realized that what we really wanted to do was find a place to sit and just soak in the atmosphere. We had ridden just about everything multiple times over the week and both felt totally satisfied that we’d made good use of our time here.

We headed over to Market House and each got a cup of vanilla coffee. As we were putting cream in our coffee, we discussed how neither of us can tell the difference between the vanilla and the hazelnut coffee. Not just a Disney, but anywhere. They both taste exactly the same to us.

I suggested that we take our coffee to the hub, but Jason had a better idea. He reminded me that the characters are all at Town Square so it would give us something to look at while we sat. This was a great idea. We found a bench in the center of Town Square and watched as the characters came to us. Most of them passed right by us and stopped to pose for a picture when they saw our cameras. We saw Minnie, Mickey, Chip & Dale, Mary Poppins and Bert, Goofy, and Pluto. We noticed that when the characters wee ready to leave and made their way backstage, they would always pause at the door, turn and wave.

Promptly at noon all the characters went inside. One of the handlers explained to a disappointed child that Mickey had to go to his house in Toon Town and the child could go over there to see him. With all the excitement gone, we went back to the Market House for a coffee refill and then over to New Orleans Square.

Our lunch reservation at Café Orleans wasn’t until 1:30pm and the restaurant looked too crowded to be able to squeeze us in, so we went to sit in the shaded park area in front of the train station to wait. The area was taken over by a group of teens involved in some sort of team building exercise where they stood in a circle around the fountain with their hands joined. They had two colored hoops that they were trying to work around the circle from one person to another. We watched them for awhile until we heard a commotion around the corner. We left to investigate and found Princess Tiana’s Mardi Gras Celebration going on in full swing. We sat down by the French Market to watch.

At 1:25 we made our way over to Café Orleans to check in for our lunch reservation. The Cast Member asked if we wanted inside, outside or first available. We said first available since we were so hungry. Within three minutes we were seated at an outside table along the railing. This was fortunate because as we passed through the interior of the restaurant we were glad we weren’t seated there. It seemed so dark and depressing.

We ordered one Monte Carlo to share. I asked if there was a split plate charge and was told that no there wasn’t. This was good news as I had read online that there was a $4.00 charge to share an entrée. We each ordered a cup of gumbo and just asked for water. When the water came I took a sip and thought the water tasted funny. Jason tasted it and said it tasted like soap, almost like the glasses didn’t get rinsed well enough after washing.

At the time, neither of us wanted to speak up about it, which I’ll call stupid decision #1. We thought about dumping the water out in the planter next to our table and refilling the glass from the drinking fountain that was on the other side of the railing, but we didn’t have the courage to do that either. So I spotted what looked like strawberry lemonade at another table and decided to just order a beverage. When our server came back to the table, we asked if it was lemonade and he said it was sugar-free pomegranate lemonade. We both said we’d like one of those. This is stupid decision # 2. Neither of us likes the taste of artificial sweetener and we don’t particularly care for the taste of pomegranate.

The drink was okay, definitely better tasting than the water, but we were left wondering why we didn’t speak up in the first place, or at least order a beverage we like. Not to mention it cost us an extra $6.00 for the two beverages.

The food was excellent. The Monte Cristo came with a side of grapes and a couple of strawberries and half of it was plenty. The gumbo was excellent as well. I’ve been trying to make do with the Progresso Chicken & Sausage Gumbo, but it doesn’t compare with Disneyland’s gumbo. For dessert we split an order of Mickey-shaped Beignets. There were five of them and they came with vanilla and berry dipping sauces. They were very good too. We were pleased with our decision to forego our usual Blue Bayou visit and eat at Café Orleans instead. The total bill came to $43.00 even, with tax, tip and AP discount.

After lunch we hopped the train at the New Orleans station and rode around to Tomorrowland. We’re getting lazier and lazier. Then we hopped on the Monorail for a round trip loop. This was our first time on the new Monorail trains and we really like the way the seats in the middle face out towards the windows.

Back in Tomorrowland, we picked up FastPasses for Buzz good for 30 minutes from now. Then we headed over to It’s a Small World. We’d noticed more groups of cheerleaders today than earlier in the week. One group was right behind us in line. I was debating how I could ask to be in a different boat, but didn’t know how to do that without drawing attention to the fact that we really did not want to sit near them. Fortunately, the Cast Member must have been used to this, because he seated us in the second row behind two women and child and left an empty row between us and the cheerleaders in the back two rows.

By now it was around 4:30pm and we could use our FastPasses for Buzz. We walked back to Tomorrowland and hopped on. Then we moved over to Main Street for a coffee refill. Jason had a cookie, but I wanted some popcorn, the only treat that I hadn’t yet had this trip. We walked over to Town Square where Jason found a bench while I went to get my popcorn. Then we sat again watching characters. At one point I got up to wait near the spot where characters go backstage. I knew Mickey was due for a break soon so I stood on the curb near the Mad Hatter shop and waited. Eventually, my patience was rewarded with a good picture of Mickey waving at me.

When I rejoined Jason, he told me about a very cute yellow lab puppy that was a service dog in training. He was with his owners in line to meet Pluto and was very excited to see him. Pluto knelt down beside him and the puppy posed very nicely for a picture. It was super cute and I was sorry to have missed it.

We lingered in Town Square until 6:00pm and then decided to head back to the hotel. We’d spent 10 hours at the park today, which was the most we’d spent in one day all week long. We were tired and didn’t think we’d be able to hold out until the fireworks later on.

We said goodbye to Disneyland, as always sad to leave, but consoled at bit by knowing we’d be back again in four months. Back in our rooms, I checked us in for our flight and then we headed over to the lobby to print our boarding passes. HoJo’s has two computers in the lobby that are first come, first serve. Both computers were occupied and there were a couple of people waiting their turn. We decided to walk across the street to Mimi’s Café for dinner and then check back afterwards. They had emailed me a coupon for my birthday good for $10 off a $20 purchase.

At Mimi’s we were told it would be a 25 minute wait. While we waited we looked over a menu. We both knew that we wanted salads. We were seated in a nice booth next to the window. Jason ordered the Cobb Salad, while I had the Blackened Chicken Caesar Salad. Both meals came with a freshly baked muffin. Jason chose Carrot Raisin, while I had the Buttermilk Spice. Our server also brought out a plate with slices of loaf cake. We both knew that we were going to save the muffins for tomorrow morning.

The salads were very good and filling, but we knew we wanted dessert. Once we get home, it’s back to healthy eating so this was our last chance to splurge. Jason had the Classic Trio Ensemble which has three of Mim’s petite desserts. I choose the triple chocolate brownie. The server warned me that it was very big, but I insisted on it. While we waited for our desserts to arrive, we speculated on how big it could actually be. Based on the price, it didn’t seem like it could be too big. Boy, were we wrong. It was huge. There were two very large, thick brownies, with scoops of ice cream and fudge sauce. I was able to finish the ice cream and just a small portion of one brownie before giving up and boxing the rest of it up to take back with me. I’m hoping we remember how huge everything is next time we’re here so we can share a meal or at least a dessert.

Our arms loaded with leftovers, we headed back to HoJo’s, detouring to the lobby first. There were two teens at the computer on Facebook, which meant that they could be there awhile. Jason and I sat down on the bench right next to the computers to wait. After a minute, the boy looked over and asked if we were waiting for the computer. I explained that I just needed five minutes to print our boarding passes and then he could be right back on. He was very nice and quickly logged off. As I sat down, his parents come in and called him away.

Boarding passes in hand, we headed back to the room. Jason brought over his laptop and worked on his trip report. I spent time entering in receipts from the past couple of days. As usual we had the Olympics on, but neither of us was really paying attention. At 9:25pm I listened for the fireworks, but didn’t hear them, or see anything when I looked out the window. I was glad that we didn’t wait around for them, only to find that they had been cancelled.

Eventually, we said good night and I settled in for one more night’s sleep on the most comfortable bed ever. Tomorrow we head for home.

Highlights: Not really having a plan, but just wandering wherever we wanted. Hanging out in Town Square just watching characters interact with guests.

Pedometer Stats:
Miles: 4.59
Steps: 14,564

Day 7 – Saturday, February 27, 2010

Plan: Pack up; Fly home

Actual: I was up at 6:45am and looked out the window to see it very rainy and windy out. I was glad that we didn’t plan to head over to the park today. It didn’t take long to pack up. I’m starting to get into a routine of how to pack so it’s not taking me as long as it used to. I was finished by 8:30am and Jason and I hung out in my room until it was time to leave at 11:00am.

We each wheeled our suitcase down to the car and were loaded up in no time. We checked out of the hotel, and after a quick stop at the gas station on the corner, we were on our way to the airport. On the way it began to really rain heavily, making it difficult to see at times.

We returned our rental car and headed inside. The Alaska counter was way at the far end so we had quite a hike over. There was no one in line, so we walked up and had our bags checked within minutes. I liked it that they took our bags right there and we didn’t have to haul them over to a separate screening area.

Security was absolutely empty. Other than the TSA agents, we were the only ones in the area. It was great as we were able to do what we needed to do without the pressure of a huge line of people behind us. The whole process went so quickly that we reached the gate an hour and 45 minutes before we were scheduled to board. There wasn’t anyone else waiting so we chose a couple of seats facing the window. I got out my book and Jason pulled out his Kindle and we settled in to wait. Gradually the area around us filled up. Down the row from us was a couple with a toddler and an infant. The kids were fussing and crying and I just knew they’d end up being seated near us on the plane. Behind us was a large group made up of a middle age man, his middle-aged girlfriend and their kids. There must have been at least six kids ranging from early to late teens. They were spread out behind us and speaking loudly to each other. I knew they’d also be near us on the plane. I wasn’t looking forward to the flight.

About 30 minutes before we were scheduled to board, one of the customer service reps made an announcement that there were first class seats available for $50. I didn’t even hesitate, but jumped right up and raced over to the counter. Turns out they had 9 seats available. We paid the fee and were assigned to row 3.

All of a sudden I wasn’t dreading the flight home at all. Jason was glad because he was originally seated in the middle seat which meant he would have been squished between me and a stranger. We were able to board just after those that needed special assistance. We settled into our comfortable seats and were handed a small bottle of water. After take-off our flight attendant took our beverage orders. Jason and I both had ginger ale. Then, we were served a crudités plate with hummus. This was my first time having hummus and it wasn’t bad. We were both so hungry that we would have eaten anything though.

The trip went smoothly. I read and worked on the trip report. We made excellent time and landed 30 minutes ahead of schedule. My dad was there waiting for us and after picked up our luggage, we headed home, another fun trip behind us.

Summary:
It was great to be able to enjoy the parks without the issue of crowds. The weather was perfect for us and we were glad that the rain that had been forecasted didn’t really become an issue until the day we were leaving. We both really enjoyed seeing Captain EO again and were glad we ended up seeing it on opening day. It was a very relaxed, enjoyable trip. I took tons of picture and it you’re interested, please feel free to visit my Flickr page at http://www.flickr.com/photos/pattyonflickr/sets/72157623692357190/

Next up:
The last full week of June Jason and I will return to Disneyland, this time with my dad, mom, sister, niece and nephew. We’ll be facing a new set of challenges touring with a larger group (seven in all), hot weather, longer park hours, and summer crowd levels.

Thanks for reading!

chris001
04-29-2010, 10:08 AM
Wow, awesome report, love the details. Sounds like you had a wonderful time.

Samil1
04-29-2010, 07:18 PM
Great trip report!! I have read many of your reports and always enjoy them. We are also from Oregon and are going to Disneyland in June. We usually go in November and are concerned about the June heat and crowds.

BVKMM
04-29-2010, 07:24 PM
Very detailed pics too.... are you in any of them?:p

mynameisearl
04-29-2010, 10:54 PM
Thanks for posting such a great and detailed trip report. I felt like I was right there with you. Wishful thinking! I loved the pictures. And I think it is so cool that you travel with your grown son! I hope my son will want to go to Disneyland with me when he is all grown up! :) I hope you do another trip report in June. Have a great time. We are neighbors by the way!

Amy :)

Eighty8Keys
04-30-2010, 05:36 PM
Wow, awesome report, love the details. Sounds like you had a wonderful time.

We had a great tim.e. Thanks for the nice comments.

Eighty8Keys
04-30-2010, 05:44 PM
Great trip report!! I have read many of your reports and always enjoy them. We are also from Oregon and are going to Disneyland in June. We usually go in November and are concerned about the June heat and crowds.

Hello to a fellow Oregonian. I sometimes worry that I'm going into too much detail, but I know I love reading other people's detailed reports.

I really wish we were able to go during the off season, but since my sister started teaching, summer is the only time. I'm hoping with a good touring plan we'll be able to avoid the worst of the crowds.

Eighty8Keys
04-30-2010, 05:49 PM
Very detailed pics too.... are you in any of them?:p

You know, I'm probably not in any of these. My son took over 1500 pictures with his camera so I'm probably in at least of few of those.

Eighty8Keys
04-30-2010, 05:55 PM
Thanks for posting such a great and detailed trip report. I felt like I was right there with you. Wishful thinking! I loved the pictures. And I think it is so cool that you travel with your grown son! I hope my son will want to go to Disneyland with me when he is all grown up! :) I hope you do another trip report in June. Have a great time. We are neighbors by the way!

Amy :)

Thanks, it was fun reliving the trip while I wrote the report. I'm really lucky that my son still wants to hang out with me. We're really the only two hardcore Disney parks fans in our family.

I hope to write a report for our June trip. It's a little bit harder to do when traveling with a large group.

I live in the Beaverton/Hillsboro area and absolutely love it here.

txdisneymom
05-02-2010, 02:43 PM
Great trip report!!! Thanks for all the details. Only 54 more days until we are at the Howard Johnson's for our next visit.:)

Eighty8Keys
05-02-2010, 06:12 PM
Thanks! Have a great time on your trip!

LiveTheDream
05-11-2010, 09:55 PM
So Patty. I feel I know you so much. I have just spent 3 hours anight for the last week reading your trip reports. How wonderful each one is. I sit here and crave more. You really should think of trying to write for the unoffical guides. I just really wanted to thankyou for all the hard work and time you must spend writing these. Every trip report you bring back some of the magic in my heart. Thankyou again.

Eighty8Keys
05-12-2010, 11:49 AM
So Patty. I feel I know you so much. I have just spent 3 hours anight for the last week reading your trip reports. How wonderful each one is. I sit here and crave more. You really should think of trying to write for the unoffical guides. I just really wanted to thankyou for all the hard work and time you must spend writing these. Every trip report you bring back some of the magic in my heart. Thankyou again.

Thank you so much for the kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed the reports. Writing a trip report really helps me adjust to being back from vacation and into the real world again. I enjoy reading other people's reports and have gotten many ideas for things to do on future trips.

Thanks again,

Patty

chuck5722
05-12-2010, 09:34 PM
Great trip report!! I have read many of your reports and always enjoy them. We are also from Oregon and are going to Disneyland in June. We usually go in November and are concerned about the June heat and crowds.

We will be there in June as well starting the 18th heat and crowds are not that bad at this time to close to school getting out ! But 2 weeks later it gets busy ! We are also making a trip to club 33 I will have a report when we return .

ChuckZ

Tracy161
05-13-2010, 04:00 AM
Hi Patty! Another great trip report, I really feel like I'm there with you! I love your attention to details and am sad when the report ends! :) I'm heading to Disneyland for the first time (long time WDW traveler) for my honeymoon in July... looks like we'll be there only a couple weeks after you! I've learned so much about Disneyland through your reports. Thanks for sharing and have a great trip in June!!!

Eighty8Keys
05-13-2010, 05:38 PM
We will be there in June as well starting the 18th heat and crowds are not that bad at this time to close to school getting out ! But 2 weeks later it gets busy ! We are also making a trip to club 33 I will have a report when we return .

ChuckZ

That's encouraging. I know it's probably not going to be as hot or crowded as later in the summer but we've been spoiled going in February. I'm looking forward to reading about your visit to Club 33. That's something I'd really love to do.

Eighty8Keys
05-13-2010, 05:44 PM
Hi Patty! Another great trip report, I really feel like I'm there with you! I love your attention to details and am sad when the report ends! :) I'm heading to Disneyland for the first time (long time WDW traveler) for my honeymoon in July... looks like we'll be there only a couple weeks after you! I've learned so much about Disneyland through your reports. Thanks for sharing and have a great trip in June!!!

Thanks for the great feedback. I hope you have a great honeymoon and enjoy your first visit to Disneyland. After so many trips to Disneyland, it was a strange experience to walk into the Magic Kingdom at WDW for the first time. It was familiar and unfamiliar all at the same time. Hope you write a trip report. I love reading about people's first impressions of Disneyland.

Patty

Tracy161
05-14-2010, 04:09 AM
Thanks for the great feedback. I hope you have a great honeymoon and enjoy your first visit to Disneyland. After so many trips to Disneyland, it was a strange experience to walk into the Magic Kingdom at WDW for the first time. It was familiar and unfamiliar all at the same time. Hope you write a trip report. I love reading about people's first impressions of Disneyland.

Patty

Thanks Patty! I definitely plan on writing a trip report, that way I not only share my fun, but I will always have it to look back on and relive again and again! I can't wait to hear about your June trip!