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View Full Version : Brian Bennett - March 1998



Trip Reports
10-16-2005, 06:17 PM
* Time of Year: Winter
* Travel Method: Plane, Rental Car
* Resort: Holiday Inn, Fullerton
* Accommodations
* Ages Represented in Group: Adult
* Disneyland Experience Represented in Group: Veteran
* Comments: This is my own report on my March 1998 trip to Disneyland. As usual, this is a verbose, play-by-play style report with a lot of details. I hope you find it entertaining and helpful as you plan your own West coast visit.


Pre-Trip Plans

I'm heading for Santa Barbara to attend a training class in support of my new job at work. Allan's Grandma and Grandpa (just retired) have agreed to take the Little Guy (our 17-month old son) for the week. Dad will help me judge the Michigan Association of Christian Schools Science Fair the day before we leave and Mom and Dad will take Allan home with them afterwards. After the trip we'll have to bring Allan home, too, but we haven't worked out those details yet.

Our typical schedule for our West coast trips is to fly in on Sunday late morning (with the time change) and back out late morning the following Sunday. This year those flights were already booked, so we're flying Saturday to Saturday. That will cut the number of days we spend in the park to just a couple, but that should be fine.

The class is running from Monday through Wednesday at noon or so, then Barb and I (I had enough frequent flyer miles to bring her along) will drive to the Anaheim area. The Holiday Inn at the Park, our favorite Anaheim hotel, is booked solid for the dates we'll be in town, so we're staying at the Fullerton Holiday Inn instead (it's three miles further north on Harbor, and still runs a shuttle service to the park, so it should be ok.)

We'll have Thursday and Friday to spend in the park, then we'll head to John Wayne (Orange County) Airport for the flight home on Saturday morning.

Also, I'll be returning for another quick class in April by myself, so I'll be able to spend another couple of days at Disneyland then. I'm hoping, in fact, to maybe meet some of the West coast RADPers and ADDers during that April visit. We'll see how it works out.

Pre-Trip Thoughts

It's been a year and a half since I've been to Disneyland. Normally I get out to the West coast at least once a year, but my work schedule didn't permit that in 1997. I'm particularly looking forward to:

* Seeing the new Tomorrowland under construction
* Having lunch at the remodeled Carnation Restaurant on Main Street (I fear the worst, but hope for the best)
* Dinner at the Blue Bayou
* The rides and sights that you can't enjoy in Florida (Indiana Jones, the original Pirates of the Caribbean, the Matterhorn, the Submarine Voyage, Toontown, and the many wonderful Fantasyland dark rides that never made it to WDW)

A few days at Disneyland is always magical. I can't wait to get there!

Pre-Trip Final Details

As planned, Allan's grandparents came into town on Friday. Dad and Barb helped me with the judging of the Michigan Association of Christian Schools Science Fair, while Grandma kept the Little Guy at our house.

The science fair judging went quickly since there were only five projects. I'm going to have to start pushing the science fair at the various MACS schools across the state. I'm finding that too many of them are not working with their kids in this area…because it is technical, difficult (for the students and the teachers), and a pain in general (again, for the students and the teachers). The benefits of learning the scientific method, research skills, writing a well-documented paper, and accomplishing a large project are so great, though, that I'm going to have to push this thing.

We left Delta College, where the event was held, and met Mom and Allan back at home. We quickly ventured back out to have a late lunch at the local Chilli's Restaurant then, after our meal, Mom and Dad took Allan and his clothes, diapers, toys, and other paraphernalia and drove back to their suburban Detroit home.

Barb had a meeting on Friday night (she's into scrapbooking in a big way, and there was a cropping and training session that she was interested in attending the Friday session. While Barb did that, I worked on setting up my new screaming laptop that I've been assigned at work. This is an incredible machine that I was hoping to use during the trip…but unfortunately, it didn't arrive until the day before we were to leave. Well, one of the technicians brought the machine to my house and I was able to spend a little time copying some data files over from my old laptop.

Saturday, March 7th -- (Travel to California)

On Saturday morning, Barb took our Shetland sheepdog over to our friend's home where he was to be boarded. Then, after our last last-minute packing we drove over to our local library for some reading material for the trip. I hadn't stepped into a library in years! I mean, not for pleasure reading anyway. I'd gotten into the rut of buying books when I wanted to read…a very expensive proposition. With new-found fiscal responsibility, though, Barb and I agreed to start using our library more regularly. We also want to start forming the habit in Allan that we go to the library for fun and that reading is fun. No small task in today's multi-media society.

With that done, we drove over to have lunch at our Ryan's steakhouse. Never fine dining, but far superior to any airline food we expected to encounter on our West-bound journey.

We finally drove over to the airport and waited for our commuter flight to Detroit. Actually, flying out of Saginaw isn't bad. The commuter planes are still MD-80s or 727s or the like. We don't have the small turboprops (which I despise)…at least on Northwest. You still see them on United or Continental sometimes. Our little airport (and indeed the entire tri-city area) is really growing up.

Our flight to Detroit and the longer transcontinental one to LAX were both uneventful. Upon our arrival at Los Angeles, we got our bags at the baggage claim, then walked outside to catch the next National Rental shuttle bus. It arrived in just a couple of minutes and we were whisked away to National's complex. Just a few weeks prior to the trip, though, all GM travelers were given the opportunity to join National's Emerald Club…and the "skip the line" Emerald Aisle service with free upgrades. This was really sweet. Barb and I got off the shuttle, picked a car (a full sized Le Sabre, where we were set up for a mid-sized car) and drove out of the lot. On the way out, the attendant swiped my card and gave me a rental agreement without having to go inside the building and deal with things. Very nice.

Barb and I drove up to Santa Barbara from the airport. We stopped at Oxnard hoping to have dinner at a TGI Friday's that is located near the outlet mall there, but the line was longer than I was willing to deal with. We ended up just driving all the way to our hotel, and having a later dinner at the Carrow's family-style restaurant across the road. Inexpensive food, even if not particularly exceptional, incredible menu options, and fairly good service make Carrow's a good place to repeat.

After Dinner we crashed.

Sunday, March 8th -- (Solvang for Lunch, and time in Santa Barbara)

Sunday was an odd one for us. We had never had a full day to kill in the Santa Barbara area before, since we had always flown in on Sunday afternoon. Because of flight schedules, we had no choice but to arrive a day early.

We slept in a bit this morning, frankly, we were whipped from the late travel and jet lag from the day before. We finally got moving around mid-morning, and drove to a town called Solvang, in the wine country just north of Santa Barbara. It was a short drive, perhaps an hour or so, and a nice one with the lovely views of the ocean along the highway.

We parked in town, and just strolled around until we were hungry. Solvang is a town very similar to Frankenmuth, in Michigan. It was settled by Danish immigrants and still carries a lot of the old-country feel about it. It's quaint side streets are lined with gift shops, candy shops, fudge shops, bakeries (incredible Danish pastries tempted me all morning…but I was strong) and restaurants.

When I simply couldn't take it anymore, we settled on a restaurant, I can't remember the name, that had a Sunday brunch buffet. The selections -- from salads and fruit to breakfast mainstays (eggs scrambled and benedict, sausages, bacon, and made-to-order omelets) to wonderful Danish stew, chicken, and carved beef to a huge table of tortes, pastries, and cheesecakes -- were excellent! An incredible deal for $11.95 each.

After brunch, we drove back to the hotel for a rest, then spent the late afternoon in Santa Barbara. We had a simple dinner at the California Pizza Oven downtown, then went back to a relaxing evening at the hotel.

Monday-Tuesday, March 8th/9th -- (Santa Barbara / Training Class)

Monday and Tuesday were spent by me at the training class, and by Barb hanging out at the hotel pool and working on this laptop on some school work she needed to get a jump start on. We had dinner at a local Mexican restaurant on Monday night and at the Holiday Inn's own restaurant on Tuesday.

We also spent a lot of time in the general area just seeing the shops, walking about, and enjoying each other's company. It was amazing how much fun it was just to talk with my wife. I hadn't realized how little we'd done that since the Little One joined our family. We both enjoyed the communication.

Wednesday, March 11th -- (Drive to Fullerton, A short Trip to Park, Dinner at Knot's)

Class was just about done by noon on Wednesday. The only topics to be covered were ones that I was already familiar with, so I skipped the last couple of hours and joined Barb for lunch.

After a quick bite at Arby's, we drove to our hotel in Fullerton. It was an uneventful drive, but still was stimulating with the brisk Californian road warriors making things much more exciting than this Mid-Western yokel is used to. (Having said that, I did grow up in Detroit, so I can hold my own…but my skills are a bit rusty since there's little competition in Saginaw County.)

We got into the hotel about 3pm, so I suggested we spend a little time in the park before dinner. Since we had a five-day flex pass (five days for the price of two), the extra evening wouldn't cost us anything.

One point is worth mentioning, though. When I made my reluctant reservation at Fullerton, I was assured that they had a shuttle service to the park. When we arrived, we found that the shuttle ran only every TWO hours except for the first and last hours of park operation. This would mean that we'd have to plan our park forays around the shuttle which is completely contrary to how we like to operate. Instead of relying on the shuttle, we ended up driving to the park each day, and paying for the privilege…not what we had in mind, but the best solution given the circumstances.

Well, we left the hotel and started to make our way over to the park. Unfortunately, it seemed as though all of Orange County was under construction. With the new Disney park being built, and the city participating with Disney on huge improvements about the area, construction on most of the roads around Disneyland is in progress. Harbor Boulevard is torn up all the way up to Fullerton. Katella is ripped up several miles to either side of Disneyland. Ball Road, North of I-5, and West Street, between Disneyland and the Disneyland Hotel, are in an upheaval, too. I-5 itself isn't bad, at least it wasn't during March, but be aware that the entrance and exit ramps in the area are in various stages of construction, too. Allow yourself some time for delays…and be calm. The construction will cause some road warriors to become abusive, but there's no sense in losing your cool to the likes of them…especially with Disneyland within sight!

When we finally parked the car in the Disneyland parking lot, we were able to get a parking space fairly close to the front. However, "the front" is quite different than I remembered it from our last visit. A large portion of the parking lot has been fenced off for construction of the new "California Adventure" park. Trams are required to transport you from the parking areas to the park entrance. Far to the right of the turnstiles, right by Harbor Boulevard, is a tram and shuttle bus station area. It's ugly, but fairly efficient (but much farther from the park than necessary.)

After we left our tram and walked to the park entrance, we made our way under the railroad station and were magically transported back to the Happiest Place on Earth. What a wonderful place town square is!

We didn't spend much time in the park this afternoon, but we were able to ride Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye and the Haunted Mansion without even a five minute wait. We got lost (the similarities and differences between the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland layouts always discombobulate me for a few hours when I switch parks).

While we were lost, we walked around Splash Mountain and Columbia, then made our way back up to New Orleans Square where we enjoyed listening to a talented Dixieland Band which happened to have a toddler in the audience that was hamming it up with the music…it reminded us of our little guy.

We continued through the French quarter, and stopped for a rest and some soft drinks at the little beverage bar located under the Disney Gallery. We just sat and sipped and watched the hurried people move from place to place. It was a nice adjustment from the last few days to the next couple we would spend at the park.

When we finished, we walked upstairs and enjoyed the Gallery for a few minutes. The current display is of art and models of Tomorrowland as it has grown from the Monsanto House of the Future and Flying Saucer years to the new remodeling that is underway (the last of which should be completed in April or May).

Then we drove to Buena Park and our traditional first-night dinner at Knott's Berry Farm. The creamy chicken soup is the magnet that draws Barb back to the old Chicken Restaurant trip after trip. I go back because it's a tradition. We enjoyed the meal much more than last year, when we weren't really that hungry when we sat down. All in all, Knott's is a nice place for dinner.

Thursday, March 12th -- (Morning in the Park, Lunch at Carnation Gardens, Break, More Park Time, Dinner at Stromboli's)

We made our way over the park well before opening this morning. The official opening time was 10am, and we were at the turnstiles with the masses by 9:30 or so. The gates opened soon thereafter, but we were only allowed access to Main Street. We still had to wait until 10am for rope drop.

While we waited, we strolled through some of the main street shops just to get out of the crowds.

As soon as the rope dropped, we made our way East with the crowds to Space Mountain. As we made our way toward Tomorrowland, we were attacked by a cheerleader sponsor that just HAD to get there before anyone else. His girls (I assume they were cheerleaders because they were the right age…and a cheerleading competition of some kind was going on in the area this week) tried to keep up, but he just gleefully pushed his way through the crowds leaving the young ladies to fend for themselves.

We made the turn into the Tomorrowland Arcade and walked up the stationary down ramps to enter the ride (the normal entryway was surrounded by new construction for Tomorrowland's makeover. Unfortunately, walking up steep ramps is about the worst treatment for Barb's foot. She still suffers from poorly healed multiple breaks in the ball of the foot that she suffered while playing volleyball in high school. Fortunately, the pain wasn't too severe. It's not a good Oman, though, that Barb is having foot trouble on day one in the park.

We were loaded onto Space Mountain with a short, Ten minute wait. The ride is far superior to the one in Florida, I think, due in no small part to the wild soundtrack and the much darker atmosphere of the attraction. As far as the track itself, though, I think the Magic Kingdom's version is a more enjoyable "ride."

When we left the Mountain, we noticed that there was a lot of Rocket Sled testing going on. Clearly, the sleds have noise makers installed because an electric vehicle would not HAVE to make that much noise when it accelerated….unless Imagineering wanted it that way.

We walked through the Tomorrowland construction zone and made our way to the Matterhorn. On the way to see the snowman, we noticed that the Fantasyland Autopia was operational. In the last three or four trips out to California, I hadn't seen this attraction up and running. In fact, I'm still amazed that there are TWO autopias at Disneyland. I think it's a severe waste of space. But that's just my opinion.

Anyway, the line for the Matterhorn was still manageable, so we decided to wait for it. Matterhorn is a fun ride, but I wish these Disney coasters gave us more airtime.

After our bobsled run, we walked through Fantasyland and behind Big Thunder Mountain. When we got to the Rivers of America I showed Barb the old Mine Ride hardware. We continued our circuit to Big Thunder, but decided not to ride because of the line. We're spoiled and a twenty minute line wasn't in the schedule for today.

We were just starting to get hungry, it was 11am and as usual we'd skipped breakfast, so we checked out the menu at Casa Mexicana. We'll certainly come back because our first experience at this restaurant was so good, but for today we decided to go to Carnation Café on Main Street.

When we arrived at Carnation, just about 11:15 or so, we found out that we were early for lunch. Lunch had already started at Casa Mexicana (at 11am) but it didn't start at Carnation until 11:30am (they have to changeover from breakfast, so they start lunch a little bit later.) Since it was so close, we just waited to be seated. When we were, I asked for a table where we could both see Main Street, so we were seated at a four-person table right on the sidewalk by the entrance gazebo! An excellent table for people watching.

Barb ordered a Pepper Turkey sandwich and I had the Shepherd's Pie. Barb was really disappointed with her sandwich, mostly I think because it was served on dark pita bread. My Shepherd's Pie was tasty, but very heavily flavored. The gravy was just too savory. I know that sounds odd, but it was like three chefs worked together on the recipe and each one had to add their own favorite herbs and spices. It wasn't dreadful, just a bit overdone. However, the greatest disappointment at Carnation is that they no longer serve floats, malts, or shakes. The wonderful coffee shake that I've always loved at Carnation is no more…It was very disappointing…such wonderful old favorites gone…sad, very sad. To salve my hurt, I ordered a Snicker's Cheesecake and Barb had a Cookie Dough Cheesecake. Both were ok…not spectacular, but ok. The total cost came out to $31.89 before tip…I forgot the MKC card. I always do that for the first meal or two….duhhhhhh. I humbly provide the following summary: I will probably return to Carnation, but it isn't the magical - can't miss bistro of the past.

After lunch, we walked back to New Orleans Square to check on the Blue Bayou menu. I'd thought about going there for lunch, the venerable Monte Cristo sandwich is something I have yet to try, but the blackened steak and prime rib that is only available at dinner time sealed our evening meal plans for the morrow.

We made our way through the back side of the Square and caught the train around from Frontierland to Main Street. Our engine today was #4, the Earnest Marsh. As I recall, old #4 was not built by Disney's Imagineers, but was completely RE-built by them. I don't recall where the engine was purchased, I think it's a Baldwin Locomotive Works (Philadelphia) machine that was purchased cheap, and completely rebuilt by Roger Broggie and his machine shop crew. It's a beautiful machine!

When we got back to Main Street, we made our way back to the hotel for our traditional afternoon break. I considered jumping in the pool, but it was still a bit cool. I once swam in Lake Superior on Memorial Day weekend when the water was about 34 degrees…but I'm older and smarter now. A nice nap sounded like a better option.

We got moving again at about 5:30pm and made our way to the Disneyland Hotel. We came to the hotel down West Street from the North, having made a turn onto Ball Road from Harbor as we came down from Fullerton. We had to enter the Disneyland Hotel complex from the main entrance by the registration desk, but we were still able to park down by the monorail tracks and the tram pick up area.

We rode the hotel tram to the park, and enjoyed a nice slow stroll down Main Street. We stopped to listen to the Dapper Dans for awhile…they were excellent and entertaining as always!

Then we walked back to Toontown and just had some fun in the area. We rode Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin. (Don't even bother with this ride unless you've seen the movie. It's fun, if you know what's going on, but would be odd and weird if you don't.) Then we slowly made our way back to Gadget's Go Coaster. As we did so, we enjoyed some of the interactive things in town…the talking water fountains, the mailboxes in the post office, and so on.

The we rode the Go Coaster…a very short ride, but fun. Barb got squirted right in the eye as we flew past one of the jumping water fountains, but we survived the circuit.

We walked back to Fantasyland. Peter Pan was closed, but we did enjoy Snow White and Pinocchio. The 1984-remodeled Disneyland Fantasyland is great! (Although that Snow White still has a rather abrupt ending.)

We made our way back to tram central and had a lengthy pause waiting for a tram back to the hotel. One was obviously broken down and in need of service, so it left us…and we waited for another. Soon, though, we were back at the Hotel and walking back to Stromboli's. The wait was advertised as 25-35 minutes and it really was about 35.

Barb ordered Calzone with extra pepperoni and sauce. I ordered the fettuccine with chicken. Barb said the Calzone was excellent…the fettuccine was just ok. I've had much better at Alfredo's and Mama Melrose's in Florida. Even so, the service was very good. Typical of Stromboli's. We skipped desert, since we were both rather full. The cost was $27.06 before tip…I remembered the MKC card this time.

When our parking ticket was validated at Stromboli's, we were credited for only three hours worth…We had to pay $3 more to leave the place! It didn't dawn on me until later in the evening that I'd already paid $7 to park in the Disneyland parking lot, too. I should have argued double jeopardy.

Friday, March 13th -- ()

We got up a bit earlier this morning and used half of our magic morning. We could have been admitted to the park at 7:30, but didn't make it until 8:30 or so…

As we got to the middle of Main Street, I talked Barb into buying a pickle ($1.75) then made our way toward Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. Barb loves the huge dills they sell at the park, but it seems like we're always passing the vendor just about at meal time. Barb says the pickle was good, but a bit tart for so early in the morning.

We rode Indiana Jones with only about a five minute wait. For those of you that are Tower of Terror fans, this ride has whipped Rod Serling -- at least as far as atmosphere is concerned. Never has Disney paid such attention to a queue as this attraction. You really feel like you're in the middle of an archaeological dig. Take some time to just enjoy the scenery sometime, even if you have to let some folks pass you in line.

One other thing, when we got loaded onto our transport and drove forward into the room where you "make your choice," we noticed that the room was different. ALWAYS before we'd driven to the far right. This time, we drove to the far left. The odd thing, is that I've looked to the left before, and it didn't seem that there's any tracks over there for the transport to follow. I'm guessing that some kind of optical illusion made us THINK we were driving left, but weren't really. Any comments out there? Can anyone explain this mystery?

After Indy, we Over to New Orleans Square to wait ten minutes or so for rope drop. We walked immediately toward the Blue Bayou to make reservations for dinner at 8pm. We figured that we'd have dinner and be in a good position to catch the second Fantasmic! show in the evening.

Then we did the Western mountains. Splash Mountain had a fifteen minute wait. It's a lot darker and faster moving a ride that Splash in Florida. Barb said that she things the attraction in Florida is much more appealing, and I think I agree. Big Thunder was a short ten minute wait. Over the years, I've complained about the slow moving rocks that fell as you moved up the track inside Big Thunder itself -- when the earthquake effects were going on. I've noticed in both the Magic Kingdom and Disneyland that those old slowly falling rocks have been replaced. In Florida, with a new rock falling effect that is much more realistic, in California with a fiberoptic effect that is nice. I don't know if it's supposed to be gold, water, or something else….but it is pretty.

After the mountains, we walked back through Fantasyland to catch the submarine voyage through liquid space…you never know when Disney is going to shut down a submarine ride. On the way, we stopped in to catch Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and Alice in Wonderland. There were a couple of line jumpers at Alice that ticked me off. There is no reason for kids (college-aged) or anyone else, for that matter, to line jump. It's just plain rude.

When my blood pressure recovered, we continued on to the Submarine queue. There weren't many folks in line, but they were shuffling subs for some reason…and it took twenty minutes or so before they were able to load us up. While we were waiting, Barb noticed that the opal (baby Allan's birthstone) in the ring that I'd given her for Christmas the year Allan was born was missing from the setting. She was quite upset, but there wasn't much we could do. The stone could have been anywhere. For the rest of the morning, Barb walked with her head down…looking without hope for the missing white stone.

After our encounter with the mermaids and the sea serpent, we walked back towards Frontierland. Again, there was lots of Rocket Sled testing going on…

Just as we arrived back in Frontierland, Barb checked her pockets for change and found…the opal! I haven't seen her so relieved since her bladder x-rays were over a couple of years ago and she was allowed to go to the bathroom for the first time in eighteen hours (or some unnaturally long time like that -- the sadists).

We walked over to the jewelry store next to the Golden Horseshoe, and asked for a bag to put the ring and stone in. The cast member, I wish I could remember her name, was very nice and happy that Barb had found the opal. She gave us a new ring box with cotton and tape to seal it shut and a bag to wrap the works in.

With Allan's ring secure, we walked back to have lunch at Casa Mexicana…I ordered the combo meal with enchilada, burrito, taco, rice, and beans for $9.20. Barb had the combo meal with two tacos, rice, and beans for $7.75. There was LOTS of food for $22.79 with an iced tea and a side of salsa for Barb. I must stress this a bit, when you order at Casa Mexicana, you will get large portions! Be aware!

After lunch, we sauntered back down Main Street. We had intended to have desert at the Bakery, but nothing sounded that great. Besides, I'm still ticked off about the changes to Carnation Café, so I kinda looked at buying from the Bakery as aiding and abetting the enemy.

After our break, we returned to park at about 5:30pm. Our first stop was at the Main Street Bank…to get some cash from the ATM for the return trip.

Then we walked next door The Walt Disney Story…and Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. Clearly this was redone from the late 1980's version I remember from some of my earlier trips to Disneyland…It includes music and a civil war sequence from the American Adventure at Epcot. I wish the Walt Disney Story would be expanded. There isn't a lot of detail in the short film that is shown in the waiting room. It's more of an introduction to audio-animatronics and Mr. Lincoln that a review of Walt's accomplishments.

After listening to the stirring strains of "Golden Dream," we saw the Dapper Dans again, but they only sang one song (Edelweiss) before they stopped due to rain…

The rest of the evening was spent in the rain…or mist. Sometimes it was raining quite hard, mostly just a cold drizzle. This went on until we got back to the hotel room and dried off at the end of the night.

We made a beeline to It's a Small World. The attraction is much more magical in California than in Florida. Maybe in a future remodeling of Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, the façade can be reproduced to capture the classic 1964 atmosphere.

Next, we made our way back to Space Mountain. To avoid the foot problem, we got a baby swap pass. We hadn't intended to skip the line, just to avoid the ramp…but when we got to the loading area, we realized we were fast trackers. The ride was fun, but a bit muted because the music wasn't working in our car. As we exited, I told the CM. I hope they fix it.

On the way out, we walked through Star Traders, but didn't see anything worth buying.

Then we walked to Frontierland for a nighttime ride on Big Thunder. The line was virtually non-existent -- ok, maybe a five minute wait -- but very quick.

Then we walked back around the river to New Orleans Square for our 8pm dinner reservations. Actually, we were a bit early, but we wanted to get a water-side table for dinner. Under normal conditions, I would highly recommend a water-side table for a romantic dinner at this wonderful restaurant. Today, though, the water didn't exist. Pirates of the Caribbean, the boats of which float past the Blue Bayou's clientele on the way to buccaneer adventures, was down for rehab…so there the waterways had been drained.

Instead of the gentle water and banjo music wafting across the mother of waters, our "waterview" was covered with a net of sorts. It kinda looked like what any riverside restaurant would do if the Mississippi was dried up temporarily. The view wasn't as nice as usual, but the overall atmosphere of the restaurant was still wonderful.

As I'd anticipated, I had the Blackened New York Strip and Barb ordered the Prime Rib. Both were excellent! The potatoes and grilled vegetables were a bit much (the portions were huge), so I had to skip some to leave room for my chocolate Mousse desert. Barb had a berry (strawberries and raspberries) plate put together for her desert. That topped off a wonderful meal at Disney's most spectacularly-themed restaurant in North America (I haven't been to Tokyo or Paris, but I doubt that those resorts can top this place either). $64 and change for the whole meal (not including tip) was the final result. The MKC card wasn't accepted, so I had to pay full price.

After Dinner, we found out that Fantasmic! was cancelled due to the inclement weather, so we enjoyed the Jungle Cruise (a nighttime ride on the Amazon is one of Barb's favorite attractions) and Indy again before heading out of the park.

We made one last stop at City Hall to get some Disney Dollars for Mom & Dad for watching Allan (they're coming out west in May). I'm going to strongly urge that they use the money toward dinner at the Blue Bayou…but knowing my cheap parents, they'll probably use it towards their tickets instead. I hope not.

As we were waiting to get our Disney Dollars, we saw some folks were getting rain checks because Fantasmic! was cancelled. We decided to do the same. I just might give these passes to Mom and Dad, they're good for any day in 1998 after 4pm. After we got the rain checks, we were escorted out of the park. It was only fair that we leave since we'd just been given passes because of the rain…

We drove back up to our Holiday Inn, packed the suitcases, and went to bed.

Saturday, March 14th -- (Travel back to the Great White North)

Not much to say about today. We got up early to finish packing. We had to drive to Orange County Airport (John Wayne)…a new one for us, so we left plenty of time.

No big problems, except that the rental car return was a hassle. There wasn't anyone working for National down on the parking deck, so we had to go up to the desk in the terminal to make sure we were checked back in.

The flight to Detroit was uneventful and the food wasn't worth the time it took the crew to pass it out. Typical for airline food.

We had an exciting occurrence when we got back to Detroit, though. Our flight to Saginaw was severely overbooked, and the opening bid for taking an "unvoluntary" bump was a $700 airfare voucher. Barb and I both shot our hands up…and we won the jackpot!

After the paperwork was handled, we left the terminal and caught the next shuttle to National. We rented a car (only $59 as a GM employee) and drove back home.

After our joyful reunion with our little guy, we ordered pizza (Barb's sister, Sandra, had Allan at home -- My mom had brought him up to Saginaw so we didn't have to go down to their house to get him.)

After dinner, I drove out to MBS International Airport and returned the car, picked up our luggage, and retrieved our van.

The only good thing about this trip was that I get to go back in April. Even with the fare vouchers, Barb will stay home with Allan because it will be a short trip. I'm hoping to get a day or two in at the park, though…

Well, I hope you enjoyed this latest DVClubber trip report…remember, comments and suggestions are always welcome!

Brian Bennett