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Trip Reports
11-22-2005, 09:49 AM
Keri Murcray – December 2002

* Time of Year: Holiday Season
* Travel Method: Personal Car
* Resort: DLH
* Accommodations: Suite
* Ages Represented in Group: Adult
* Disneyland Experience Represented in Group: Veteran
* Comments: Though a short trip, it was a significant visit for Keri and John. Their honeymoon gave them the perfect excuse to experience Concierge Level service at the Disneyland Hotel and the company of friends made it even better.

When: December 22-23

Who:

* Primarily, myself, 23 and my husband Joshua, 27
* Sunday afternoon, Friends Beky, 23 and Daniel, 26
* Monday afternoon, Sister Kelly, 21 and brother-in-law, David, 23.

Pre-Trip Planning
Josh and I are both huge Disney fans and all throughout our engagement knew we had to include a visit to Disneyland in our honeymoon plans. Our wedding plans took much of our time, but Josh arranged in October to book the honeymoon suite for the one night we could afford. We planned to do the character breakfast at the Plaza Inn on the Sunday morning, and go on the Walk in Walt's Footsteps tour on Monday. However, due to some unfortunate incidents (Josh's car being totaled in an accident) we ended up being unable to keep those plans – but the honeymoon suite still awaited. In the beginning of December, we went to Disneyland (we live in southern CA and are frequent visitors to Disneyland) and purchased Premium Annual Passports as our wedding gifts to each other. This way whether we have a lot of money or not, we can always go to our favorite place – Disneyland – all throughout our first year of marriage.

Day 1 - December 22 (Sunday)

Plan: Drive to Disneyland and check in to hotel, afternoon at both parks with friends Beky and Daniel, retire to room and enjoy the fireworks from our 11th floor room with wall of windows looking over Downtown Disney and both parks.

The drive to the parks was uneventful. We arrived at the Disneyland Hotel at about 11am. We had the car valet parked (we splurged – it's our honeymoon!) and went into the lobby to check in. The hotel was beautiful – all decorated for Christmas with snowflakes and decorations everywhere. We were able to check in at the concierge check-in, however our room would not be available until later that afternoon. They gave us a key to the Concierge Lounge as well all the info regarding our stay. Our bags were checked at Bell Services and we were informed that we could finish our check in and get our keys at the concierge desk in the concierge lounge on the 11th floor. We hurried upstairs to check out what luxuries awaited us in concierge. We were the only ones in the lounge other than the staff, and it was so beautiful. Floor to ceiling windows lined one wall looking out over Downtown Disney, California Adventure and Disneyland. There were many tables and comfy chairs scattered throughout the room, as well as some couches and armchairs. The glass elevator that goes only to the 11th floor was not working when we arrived but did get fixed that evening. As we were not used to the finer life – we asked the concierge what we were supposed to do. He was quite helpful and showed us around as well as informed us of the time schedules for each snack throughout the day. Breakfast 7-10, snacks and drinks throughout the day and appetizers and wine from 5-7pm. You can also view the fireworks from the concierge lounge at night and the music is piped in for the full effect (more on that later). We grabbed some snacks – pretzels, mixed nuts, big cookies and sodas – and enjoyed the view. Then we headed off to Disneyland! Lines to get in were minimal and with nothing to carry in we were able to get by security quickly. First stop of the day was a ride on Jungle Cruise, my personal favorite! The line was less than 15 minutes and we were quickly on our way deep into the jungle.

Our friends Beky and Daniel were due to arrive at about 2pm, and we had made plans to meet at the Golden Horseshoe for lunch and Billy Hill and the Hillbillies. The best show in Disneyland and a must-see for Josh and I every time we go – it's also where Josh proposed to me. Because we like to be first into the show, Josh and I grabbed a bench right by the front door of the Golden Horseshoe and enjoyed some frozen lemonade while we waited for our friends. They quickly arrived and at 2:30 we were let into the Golden Horseshoe. We got to sit in one of the enclosed booths right on stage and we girls sat there as the guys got our late lunches. Total cost for Josh and I was about $18-$20 (cheeseburger and fries for him, chili in a bread bowl for me and sodas for both). The show started at 3pm. If you've never seen it, the basic premise is four brothers all named Billy who each play a different instrument. Lead Billy does a variety of songs – Elvis, country, rock, etc. They interact with the audience through the music and the finale involves all four playing fiddles (if you're lucky to get the four original Billy's). It's a great show, very funny and a nice place to eat and relax.

Then we headed off to California Adventure to explore. First on the agenda was a trip on Soarin' over California. Beky and Daniel had never ridden this one before and we were lucky enough to only have a 20-minute wait. The ride was fantastic as always and we all loved it! Then it was off to Paradise Pier for California Screamin' – the roller coaster. This had a wait of about 35 minutes, but it wasn't too bad since we had people to talk to around us. The ride has us all screamin' of course, and though the picture of us looked pretty good, we decided to pass on it. At this point, it was time for Josh and I to leave our friends and head off to our honeymoon suite at the Disneyland Hotel.

On our way through Downtown Disney to the hotel, we passed the Build-a-Bear shop and though we wanted to get the bride and groom bears, the intimidating line made us decide to wait til tomorrow. We went up to the concierge lounge and got our room keys along with some of the evening snacks available – tortilla chips with salsa or guacamole, assorted sliced meats, several cheeses, crackers or French bread, grapes or pineapple, pretzels, goldfish crackers, and a variety of wines or soft drinks. Then we were off to our room next door, and what a room/suite it was!!! Immediately as you enter the suite there is a closet to your left, a built in vanity table and chair and the bathroom door in front of you, and a short hallway to the bedroom on your right with another closet. The bathroom was huge with a wall of counters with two sinks, assorted Disney toiletries (including a toothbrush), a coffeepot with glass dishes of coffee and filters, a hair dryer a phone and even a scale. To the right was a large glass shower, around the corner from that was a separate room with toilet and even a bidet! Along the back wall of the bathroom was a huge Jacuzzi tub surrounded by tile ledges and a large plant. It was beautiful – special touches like wallpaper that had the Fab Five as hedge topiaries made it even better. As you walked into the bedroom the first thing you see is a towering Christmas tree decorated with blue and gold ornaments and ribbon beside a huge Entertainment center. The doors of the entertainment center had a copy of the original concept drawing of Disneyland done by Herb Ryman. Inside was a TV, VCR, mini-fridge and the ice bucket with four glasses. Next to this is a wall of windows going around the corner so that you see a beautiful view of Downtown Disney in the center, Disneyland to the left and California Adventure to the right. In front of the wall of windows is a comfy chaise lounge. Facing the windows is the huge California King size bed with headboard (the headboard had a drawing of the Sleeping Beauty Castle) and a comforter that at first glance looked like a regular hotel-issue floral one, but upon taking a closer look you could see light brown drawings of the many attractions of Disneyland in the background. In the front left corner surrounded by windows there was table with two chairs, and in the back left corner a desk with chair and phone. Another phone was next to the bed along with a CD player/clock radio. All in all a most amazing room!

Bell services quickly brought up our luggage and we enjoyed our appetizers from the lounge while watching the view. As it was our honeymoon, I'll keep the details of the evening to myself, except for a quick mention about the helpfulness of the concierge. While in the bath, we had an embarrassing moment when Housekeeping came into our room. Though the lights were off and we're sure nothing was seen, they were quick to leave with many apologies. Our room had not come equipped with a Do Not Disturb sign and though the door was locked and they knocked (which we did not hear due to the loudness of the jets in the tub) they still came in. Anyway, Josh later let the concierge know what had happened when he went to get some water that evening. She quickly apologized as well and said she would take care of the problem. Soon after that, the manager of Housekeeping arrived at our room to apologize and to bring us a Do Not Disturb sign. By then we just thought it was funny and a great story to tell people, so we were gracious to him. Later we were interrupted again by a phone call from the concierge letting us know an amenity – fresh strawberries, whipped cream and brown sugar and a bottle of sparkling cider with two glasses – was on it's way up as another apology. All in all, it ended up as our favorite story to tell of our honeymoon and we were able to enjoy the cider and strawberries as we watched the fireworks from our room (we could hear the music from the concierge lounge next door).

Day 2 - December 23 (Monday)

Plan: Check out of the hotel. Go to Build-a-Bear to make bride and groom bears. Meet with my sister and brother-in-law around noon to visit both parks and drive home that evening.

We got up around 8am and threw on some clothes so that we could go over to the concierge lounge to grab some breakfast. There was an assortment of pastries and muffins, bread and bagels, several kinds of fresh fruit, cereal and plenty of milk or juice. We loaded up and headed back to our room to eat. After showering and packing up our things and sending them off with Bell Services to be held for the day, we said good-bye to our wonderful Honeymoon suite and went to check out. The glass elevator for concierge level use was working so we enjoyed the beautiful views it offered as we made our way down to head to the parks. First we dropped what we thought were our two room keys into the drop box and headed to Downtown Disney. The line in the Build-a-Bear store was pretty crowded at 10:30am when we arrived, but we learned that if you want to bypass the stuffing part of the process you can choose one of the pre-stuffed bears and move ahead to the dressing area. Since we'd made a stuffed tiger there before, we choose two 10-inch bears ($10 each) and went to find the clothes. For my bear there was a bridal set that included a white gown, shoes, a veil, flowers and even a garter (about $16 total). For Josh's bear we found a tuxedo with tails, black dress shoes, and two bow ties (one black, one red) ($6 for the shoes, and $10 for the tux and bow ties). We dressed them right away and then did an anniversary story for each bear. By 11:15am, we were paid for and out. Josh took the bears back to the hotel to be stored with our luggage while I people watched in Downtown Disney. When he returned we headed over to Disneyland with a quick stop at the restrooms right outside the park. That's when we discovered that Josh did not have his annual pass with him – he had accidentally dropped it in the room key drop box at the hotel thinking it was one of the keys, as they are the same size and shape. We went to Guest Services and were helped by a very courteous cast member (Andrea, I think). After many calls to lost and found, the concierge desk and the front desk, the key was recovered and available to be picked up back at the hotel. So, Josh made another trip to the hotel while I waited by the tram stop for my sister Kelly and her husband David. It was an eventful morning, but by 12:15pm, we were all together and ready to venture into the parks.

First on our agenda was lunch, and as always we chose Rancho del Zocalo (which we affectionately call the Zorro restaurant for some reason). The portions here are quite large and very filling, so my sister and I usually split the steak taco salad ($8). They serve both Mexican and barbecue-style food, with a large patio dining area, as well as some inside seating. Then we headed across the way for the Billy Hill and the Hillbillies show at the Golden Horseshoe. As always this show was enjoyable and we again were able to grab seats right off stage. After the show we decided to head over to California Adventure, but unfortunately we chose to try and head down Main Street in the middle of a parade. We cut through the shops on the right side of Main Street, thus bypassing much of the crowds watching the parade. On our way, we ran into the lead Billy Hill and were able to get a picture with him.

Once at California Adventure we headed first to Who Wants to be a Millionaire. We were able to sit fairly close to the stage and were glad we got in line when we did, as the studio was just about completely full. As always we enjoyed the excitement of the show, and were thrilled to see my name up on the scoreboard at the number three position. The guest in the hot seat however, was extremely monotone and provided some entertainment simply because he did nothing except answer the questions without any emotion, in fact he seemed quite bored by it all. Then we headed over to Soarin' Over California where the line was over an hour long. So we decided to go through the single rider line. We knew we had no guarantee of riding together, but we just wanted to ride without waiting in a long line. Within 15 minutes my sister and I got to go, not next to each other, but in the same show. We waited for the boys, who came through on the next show.

Next we headed to a Bug's Land since Kelly and David had never seen it. We all enjoyed the theming of the area, but did not ride any of the rides since they all had somewhat long lines and are definitely more for kids. Then we went to the show It's Tough to be a Bug. It only had a wait time posted of 9 minutes. We really enjoyed the theming in the pre-show area, especially all the posters for bug films like Antie, Beauty and the Bee, and many others. I, however, did not enjoy the show. For those who don't know, it is a 3D interactive show about bugs. If you don't want to know what happens, skip this paragraph. I felt that the show was fairly scary to me with the things that bump you in the back and spray you and crawl under you. The show felt like it was saying "Like bugs, then Hopper comes and says bugs hate you, let's scare you with bugs, then Hopper dies and and Flik's like 'Bugs are good, like us'". I'm sure many people enjoy this show and think I'm dumb to not like it…but that was my feeling about it and I personally don't plan to go again.

We next headed over to Paradise Pier to ride the Maliboomer. This is a very thrilling ride that shoots you up into the air about 180 feet, I think. I really enjoyed this, but Josh decided that it was on his never again list. We were all getting tired so we decided it was time to head home. We first stopped at the letters spelling California to take some pictures, then headed back to the hotel to get our luggage and car. We left Kelly and David at the tram and walked down through Downtown Disney, stopping to get a Wetzel's Pretzel for me ($2.50). We picked up our luggage from Bell services and got our car from valet and then headed to Denny's in Riverside for dinner with Kelly and David before getting home at about 9pm.

Highs:

* Honeymoon suite and all the perks of the concierge level
* Billy Hill and the Hillbillies – always a must see!
* Build-a-Bear bride and groom bears
* Spending time with friends in the Happiest Place on Earth

Lows:

* It's Tough to be a Bug show
* Not enough Mickey-shaped pretzel vendors

Thoughts: Though we have been to Disneyland many times before, this trip was special as it was our honeymoon. We really enjoyed staying in the honeymoon suite and though it was expensive, we are thinking about heading back there on our first anniversary. Disneyland is always better with friends, and though it was our honeymoon we thought that it would make our time in the parks more fun to have friends with us, which it did. Next time, I hope we'll be able to take the Walk in Walt's Footsteps tour as we are both quite interested in learning more about the man behind the mouse. All in all, it was a wonderful trip full of funny moments and many memorable moments. We love Disneyland and will return again and again.

Keri Murcray