Cast of characters: Me (the mom, 46); AP (Au Pair 20); DD11; DD9; MIL/Grandma (78?)
Stayed 3 nights at Holiday Inn Anaheim Resort because MIL said she was not going to come this time, so I thought I'd save $300 by using Hotwire instead of staying at the Park Vue Inn. Which I did, Mistake 1. But that meant taking the ART bus to the parks which worked well for the rest of us but was terrible for MIL.
Hotel was clean, comfortable. Room was small but we were squishing in 5 people. Microwave and Fridge worked great, housekeeping was fine. Rollaway was $15/night and fine. Restaurant on site doesn't serve lunch, we were never there to try it when it was open. Didn't try fitness center or pool. Gift shop was somewhat overpriced as most gift shops are in hotels.
ART bus route 12 stops at hotel and at Disneyland, with an occasional stop in between. They seemed to skip the other stop a good amount of the time, even switching their route to the hotel or Disneyland to avoid the other stop entirely. Don't take the bus to the gardenwalk and expect it to pick you up again! The best way to use the bus is to use Text2go where you text the bus stop to a phone number and they text you back an arrival time. Normally this works well, the schedule posted is meaningless. MIL had serious issues with the bus when she was traveling on it alone. I don't know if the issues were caused by MIL or the bus company, but I wouldn't ever stay at a hotel that is on a bus line with MIL again (in fairness, I didn't intend to this time, either, MIL just changed her mind and decided she could come after the hotel was booked).
Tuesday drove down from Bay Area and met MIL who had taken the train up from SD and already checked in. Drove to the Von's a mile away (Von's there doesn't have a starbucks) and bought groceries. It was easy.
Wednesday, went through gates at DL as a group, then split up. I went to DCA to get Frozen and Soarin fastpasses. Rest of group went to Indiana Jones and Jungle Cruise at rope drop (sigh, I missed them). We were able to get Frozen passes for the first show in the Orchestra level. I didn't like the show because I thought it made Elsa a villain. We got Soarin fastpasses for something like 10 and we loved it. We did Autopia all together then went to DCA for Frozen and Soarin. We grabbed Soarin fastpasses after we rode the first time. The second time we did not wait for B1. It was a mistake! The ride is so much better in the front middle row. In the sides the picture was distorted. We rode screamin and headed back to the hotel for a break.
MIL asked me if she could bring her folding stool for the parade. I said I didn't know and it really didn't register with me at the time - Mistake 2. My mind was elsewhere. When we went back to the parks she was refused entry for the folding stool. She said she'd take it back to the hotel and come back and join us. I was thinking, well, then we can ride BTMR/Matterhorn/Splash/Indy/Space which she doesn't want to ride, so I let her go - Mistake 3. She took something over 2 hours to return the stool and come back. On the positive side, we rode everything above except Space. When she arrived she camped out for the parade - around 645 for the 850 show. Thanks to Mousepadder advice, she snagged a spot on the hub curb right across from Plaza Inn/Tomorrowland entrance. Kids and I took the monorail to Earl of Sandwich while AP sat with MIL holding spot. We walked back because while the monorail was fast, the wait for it was quite long. We made it back around 745 and ate delicious sandwiches while waiting for the parade to start. We enjoyed the parade, and the kids enjoyed the fact that I was the one wearing the light up ears and they got to use the wand. After the parade we moved to the front rope where the emergency crosswalk is to watch fireworks. Great show. Good location though people walked in front. After the show, the tiki room and bed.
Next day, RD at DCA. TSMM x2, then I went for rsr fp while kids rode screamin, then I rode screamin while everyone else went on the fun wheel. That day we rode ToT, Heimlich, Soarin, Screamin, RSR, Grizzly, Ariel, and visited sorcerers workshop at DCA and Space, Buzz, Star Tours, Tiki room in DL. Ursulas grotto in the SW was closed. The castle walk through was closed. No other ride/show disappointments. MIL got sick on the fun wheel and went to the room to rest. When we got there for lunch break, we were ready to pass out and she was raring to go. We went back for the evening and closed out the parks.