Day 1, Saturday, December 17, 2016
Left SLC and flew to Santa Ana (John Wayne) Airport. Plane only delayed about 20 minutes, which was amazing considering we left in a snow storm. No problems with flight. There were 8 of us, 7 adults and one 2 (almost 3) year old. When we landed, we split up to ride Uber to the Disneyland Hotel (DH). Glitch One: One group of four adults got an Uber driver within 5 minutes. No problems noted. Glitch One: The next group, 3 adults and the 2-year-old, could not find an Uber driver with a car seat. We were very surprised, since youd think that near Disneyland there would be plenty of drivers with car seats. Note for next time: bring your own car seat. The second group ended up taking a taxi and the 3-year-old was buckled in the back between her parents in a regular seatbelt. The taxi driver said that was legal. Anyway, seemed strange that no drivers, including taxis, had car seats.
We all arrived at Disneyland Hotel within 5 minutes of each other. We went to check our luggage with the bellhop, since it was relatively early (around 10:30 a.m.). He said to check with the front desk because they were not completely booked and our room had a chance of being ready. We had adjoining rooms, with one room ready. We stayed in the Adventure Tower. Glitch Two: We paid for premium views which I was told would be views of Downtown Disney. However, upon check-in, our rooms were views of the pool area. Still nice rooms, but I was told they would be views of Downtown Disney (DD), which is nice when you want to watch the fireworks at night. Oh well, we were so excited so off we went to the park.
New security: the security check-in is now directly as you start into DD from the DH. We waited in a short line and were soon through security. One member of our group had a scooter, no problems noted. That was the only security up to and including Disneyland. It was nice and gave a bit more comfort in knowing that people going into DD also have to pass through security. I often wondered about that. How you passed through multitudes of security between Disneyland and the hotels, but that participants in DD didnt have to pass through security. Not anymore. Kudos to Disney.
We passed through the front gates and immediately set out towards Pirates of the Caribbean. First we stopped at the Jolly Bakery at the top of Main Street for some sandwiches and soup. Very tasty. The park was crowded, which would be the biggest complaint of our 3-day park hopper days. Headed over to POC. Still as wonderful as ever. A good place to start. The 3-year old was a bit apprehensive, but soon caught on that it was just pretend and seemed to enjoy herself. She was a trooper through the whole trip.
After POC we headed to Haunted Mansion. What a wonderful attraction and the transformation is wonderful! It was crowded but we had Fast Passes, so got right in. No problems noted. Then over to ride Winnie the Pool. No wait. Always fun.
It should be noted here that it is hard to see exactly what is going on in Star Wars Land, but you can tell it is going to be huge. Brief glimpses are all you get. Large cranes and equipment abound. It is going to be something!
Back to visit the Tiki Room and ride Jungle (Jingle) Cruise. We shared a dole whip. The line was long. Faster to get in line inside the queue. Fun for Christmas. Did a bit of browsing in the shops while waiting for the Jungle Cruise. The 3-year old considered Tiki Room to be one of her favorites.
At this point, we split up and some went back to the room. We had reservations that evening at Steakhouse 55, a fine-dining steakhouse in the DH. It was fantastic. Be prepared to pay a pretty penny, but this was our splurge meal of the trip. 5 of the adults had Ribeyes, with no complaints from any. One adult had a Filet, which she said was stupendous. I had the prime rib, which was good, but the steaks all looked better. Kids meal available. The 3-year-old had macaroni and cheese. The service and food are wonderful and I highly recommend. Reservations are a must. It is over by Goofys Kitchen. We waited for a table no more than 10 minutes.
Day 2, Sunday, December 18, 2016
The advantage of staying at a hotel on the Disney property is that you get to go in early. 7 a.m. was the starting time. We left the hotel at 6:45 and went straight to the main gate of California Adventure (CA). Got there with about 5 minutes to spare before the gates opened.
Side note about the security: again no problems. They have it under control. This morning, not only were there plenty of people working, but security was in full force, including dogs. It is a bit of a pain, but worth it for peace of mind? You betcha.
We headed in the main gate and of course headed to Cars Land with everyone else. We walked right on. The mother of the 3-year old could not ride due to being pregnant, so the rest of us went right on. This is such a fun attraction. No problems noted. Immediately after, we headed straight over to Toy Story Mania and also walked right on. No wait whatsoever. In fact, when we got done, we got right on and rode it again.
Some of us didnt want to ride California Screamin (me, for one). Ive done it twice and never again. Im a wimp. But except for the preggo and 3-year-old, the rest rode it while we rode the Merry-Go-Round. So fun. Then two wanted to ride it again while my son and nephew went to get Fast Passes for Soarin Over the World.
We met after that at The Little Mermaid attraction. Rode that, walking right on. Then went to breakfast at Flos V-8 Caf. This is a good place to eat a substantial breakfast and we were famished by the time we ate. Good breakfast with a variety of food.
Next up, Soarin of the World. Ive got to say that I absolutely LOVED Soarin over California. So I was a bit apprehensive about the change. Silly me. This new World vs. California is absolutely fantastic. I highly recommend. There are amazing sights and smells (yes, they still do the smells) from around the world. It is wonderful. We were on the second row. After it was done, we had a Bounce Back and four of us went in again. This time, we got on the front row. What an added bonus. Everyone wants the front row, so sometimes it is hard to get, but if you get the chance, the front is the best.
All went over to A Bugs Life. We waited about 10 minutes. No problems noted. Still as fun as ever. Next the group headed towards Tower of Terror. Fast passes obtained while the 3-year old and Dad went on the kids attractions in Bugs Land. It was fun.
Next went over to Monsters, Inc. This was probably the longest wait we had of any attraction. About 45 minutes, which surprised me. But still always fun. I love Roz at the end. My favorite part.
My niece is the biggest Judy Hopps fan you have ever seen. Near the Monsters, Inc., attraction was a line to see characters, including Judy Hopps. However, a cast member was standing there and said Judy needed a break but would be back at 1. So we settled in for a wait. Ate some hotdogs in Hollywood and rested. I returned to the room at DH via Grand Californian. Love that piano music and the lobby. I have stayed at all three Disney properties. I love Grand Californian for the location, but I prefer the rooms at DH. They seem bigger (I think they are). The Paradise Pier is also nice, but a bit further to walk. I will usually stick with DH, where I have stayed multiple times. GC second choice, unless those of us in the group have orthopedic problems, then the GC is worth the extra cash.
Anyway, I digress. I went back to the DH and was soon joined by everyone else for a much-needed nap. What is funny about this, is I should point out that all 7 adults were ready for a nap. The 3-year old wanted to watch Disney movies on the movie channel and was a bit uncooperative about resting. She finally gave up, but it took some coaxing, lol.
Next up: our evening reservations at Aerials Grotto, which included tickets to World of Color. We checked in for our 6:30 p.m. reservation. Waited no more than 10 minutes. It was a complete dinner, with appetizer, entre, and dessert. I was surprised at the quality and service. I was probably expecting less. But it was good and worth the price. At the end of the meal, they hand you your tickets to World of Color.
Next Glitch: We eventually ended up at World of Color. We were told that there was a reserved space for dining patrons from Aerials Grotto. There was, but therein lied the problem. One cast member told us to go here, another there. And what made it more difficult was my husband was in a scooter, with limited walking abilities. The ability to actually go where we ended up going was almost impossible. Twice we were turned around because a cast member had told us to go to the wrong spot. Add to the fact that he was in a scooter. It was very confusing. I know they were trying to be accommodating, but frustrating nevertheless.
Final glitch of the night: We finally all got into a spot to semi-see W of C. At 8:45, the speakers announced that the show may be cancelled because of the wind. Collective moans from the audience. Sure enough, at about 9:05, the show was cancelled due to winds. Ugh. We were all boxed in there like sardines and now had to get out, scooter and all. It was hard, but we did it. Walked through GC to DD. I should mention here that anytime you go through GC to DD, you go through security, of which again I have no problem, although it does cause a bit longer to reach your destination if it is DD or DH.
Day 3, Monday, December 19th
Up bright and early. At security between DH and DD by 6:45. Early entry into Disneyland. Headed straight to Fantasyland. We immediately rode Peter Pan, no wait. Then we rode Mr. Toad, no wait. Alice in Wonderland, no wait. Headed up to Its a Small World, no wait. This is my first time seeing IASM during Christmas. Absolutely wonderful! The music and decorations left no stone unturned.
Next up: Fast Passes to Space Mountain. We had about an hour to wait. We all went on Buzz Lightyear. That is a fun attraction. Split up and some went on Star Tours. My preggo niece, her 3-year old, and myself went on Nemo. No wait. We then waited for rest to go on Space Mountain.
By now, it was 10 a.m. and time eat something! Headed to Carnation Caf, hoping to get in for breakfast. We did not have reservations. When I tried to check us in, they said they were no longer taking anyone for breakfast. Darn the luck!
So we headed to a new place for breakfast. Always a family tradition had been to eat breakfast at Riverbelle Terrace. RT is now a full-serve lunch and dinner restaurant, so we couldnt do breakfast there. Instead, we went to Rancho Del Zocalo, located between the shooting gallery and Big Thunder Mountain, in Frontierland. Same menu at RT, with additional breakfast items with a Spanish flair. No wait. You ordered at the counter and then paid and took your meal to their big patio area to eat. It was very good. I ordered biscuits and gravy. I think I won first prize as the best dish. Everyone was tasting and all portions are plenty.
Group split again. I meandered down through Main Street and enjoyed people watching. After discussion by the group, we decided to make reservations that evening for Tortilla Jos in DD. Reservations for 8 p.m.
We all eventually ended up back at the room for naptime. I highly recommend that when you go on a vacation to a Disneyland resort for anything over 1-2 days, a nap/rest time is a must! Of course during the summer, you can add a dip in the pool to your itinerary. It was too cold this time, although there were brave souls at the DH pool. Mostly in the hot tub/sauna.
Back into the park for the Christmas Parade. I rode the Monorail in with some of our group. We met at the corndog wagon at the top of Main Street and ate corndogs. They are the best. Plenty of seating around the wagon. Then the Christmas Parade began. It was something to see. We stood and watched from far back, which is actually okay. Im not sure why people have to be on the front row. The 3-year-old loved it.
The group again split up. Some went to ride Indiana Jones (fast passes). I opted to find a bench for the Paint the Night parade. I found a bench a short distance from where we ate the corndogs. Thus began about a 1-1/2 hour wait. I did not care. I saved a couple of spots, including one on the curb along the parade route. Marked the curbside spot with my coat. Saved a few spots for the bench. Eventually the group assembled together. Thank goodness for cell phones and texting!
Paint the Night parade. Absolutely fantastic. I often marvel at what Disney does. They pull out all the stops. It was wonderful. I did see this parade during Disneylands 60th, and I remember it being a bit different. But still wonderful. The 3-year old sat curbside with her mom and dad. She was in heaven, especially seeing Elsa and Anna.
The castle was also lit with thousands of twinkle lights. Pure magic.
We then all headed down Main Street towards Tortilla Joes for dinner. Waited about 15 minutes. I would highly recommend that if youre going to Disneyland, try to think ahead and get reservations. It makes such a difference for all of the meals, character breakfasts, etc. Anyway, we were lucky and got reservations that day.
Tortilla Joes. As you can plainly see, our group loved to dine while on our 3-day adventure. And we have eaten at Tortilla Joes before. The group loves the guacamole, which they bring avocados and the works to your table and mash into guacamole. So heres my take: I dont like guacamole, I dont like cilantro. Tortilla Joes loves to cilantro-size everything. I split a quesadilla with my sister-in-law, but I was not a fan. My daughter-in-law had the fajitas, and her plate looked the best. I could see no cilantro. I know this is strictly subjective, and I get it. Everyone enjoyed the meal. My son loved the mole. Anyway, all were pleased.
Most of us headed back to the room to begin thinking about returning to the real world. My son and husband headed back into Disneyland to go over to Splash Mountain. They walked right on. Then headed back to the room.
We did a bit of shopping in the gift shop at the DH. Had to come away with a few souvenirs, of course!
Day 4, Tuesday, December 20th
Some went over to Earl of Sandwich, which is located to the right as you leave the DH into DD. They had breakfast sandwiches, etc. Some of us stayed back to pack, etc. They brought me back a bagel, which I quickly devoured.
I should also point out that there is a Starbucks into DD, which kept the group happy.
Headed to the airport in two split groups via Uber. No problems noted. Left SNA on time and landed in SLC on time, at which we were all resigned to the fact that it was back to the real world. Until next time!