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Bunless 01-30-2009 02:15 AM

1/12-1/17--Kids take the 'Rents
We are myself (32) DH (33) my parents (60s) and his parents (50s).

DH and I are Disney fans, we go once or twice a year to DL or WDW. We decided to take our parents on that once in a lifetime trip as a thank you for all they have done for us. It was done as a surprise. They knew we were going somewhere, but not where.

For Christmas, we gave each set of parents a Bagallini messenger bag with clues inside. The clues were ponchos (water rides and sometimes rain), handwarmers (gets cold at night), travel mug with tiki room graphics on it (but nothing that said 'tiki'), a turtle orniment (Crush!), moleskin (lots of walking), some other things that I can't remember--and a packing list. They never guessed, although as soon as they found out where we were going it was all very obvious to them. We managed to keep it a secret until we were at LAX and the Disney bus pulled up and I announced 'there's our bus'! At which point there was much screaming to be had.

We stayed at the Grand Californian, in a three bedroom suite (I do have some not-great photos of the suite if anyone wants to see them). Here's the view from the (four!) balconies.

We also stayed concierge as we didn't want our parents to feel the need to buy breakfast or snacks or bottles of water. It worked well and they all loved the star treatment (as they called it). I liked it because I got alot of fresh fruit and veggies every day despite the massive amount of crap that I ate. Oh yeah, and free wine.

More to come!

Bunless 01-30-2009 02:09 PM

Monday, January 12th--Day 1

After an easy flight from Seattle, and an exciting ride on the Disneyland Express (I think everyone within earshot knew where we were going once that bus pulled up), we were able to check in at the Grand Californian and get right up to our room.

Roomwise, I'm not sure what I expected, but whatever I expected it was exceeded by the suite. It was bigger than I thought it would be...of course it was three typical rooms joined by a family area so I'm sure it's exactly what I should have expected. Maybe it was having four balconies instead of three that surprised me? don't know for sure. Maybe I was just overwhelmed by it all.

We immedietly headed up to the Craftsmans Club for some snacks. Loved the tea sandwiches and fruit, and I managed to stay away from the sweets...for the most part. Definetly grabbed some fruit, Uncrustables, and water for a later time--as this would become habit for the rest of the trip, espcially since the CC was all but deserted while we were there.

That night, we had dinner at Napa Rose. This is the one DL resteraunt that I've always wanted to go to and just hadn't yet. Everyone enjoyed themselves, but I think I lived the experience more than the rest of the party. Between the six of us, there were many different dishes to be had--but I had the Vinter's Menu with wine flight (holy cow there were alot of truffles in that menu! I think I've had my lifetime alotment!). I would always recommend getting the Vinter's Menu, it's very special, to me, being able to eat a meal beginning to end that the chef feels is the best of all that is seasonal. Of course, that meant that I had five courses as compared to everyone else's three--sorry guys.

I have now discovered something new that is a favorite now--blue cheese ice cream. Yummmmmmmmmm.

Coming up on Day Two--Walk in Walt's Footsteps Tour and the Pixar Parade.

Echie 01-30-2009 03:36 PM

Love your trip report so far! Can't wait to read the rest!

Great sunset photo from your room too!

Bunless 01-31-2009 02:33 AM


Originally Posted by Echie (Post 29994360)
Love your trip report so far! Can't wait to read the rest!

Great sunset photo from your room too!

Thank you, though I have to admit that that sunset one of Paradise Pier was photoshopped. The rides were so close to the color of the sky that I felt I needed to.

Tuesday, January 13

Day Two

After a lovely breakfast at the CC (and coffee brought from home), we made our way to the Walk in Walts Footsteps tour. Now, this could have been hit and miss. My parents I knew would love it (my father is a history buff, my mom is all about making memories) DH's parents, not so sure (they're all about riding the rides!)...DH and I...we're good with anything that enables us to forget everyday life.

We decided to do the tour in order to keep everyone coralled and focused for the first half day--it worked well and everyone enjoyed their time and seemed ready to focus on whatever they wanted to do indivually for the rest of the day once it was done. I will say, the lunchboxes were quite satisfactory for all involved. The tour guide also, quite lovely and willing (poor thing, lol) to talk to my dad for about half an hour after the tour was over.

After the tour, DHs parents went ride crazy, mine went to tour DCA, and DH and I got our first ever annual passport (woohoo!) before heading back for a nap (double woohoo!).

That evening, we met by the Corndog Castle (heaven on a stick, IMO) to take in the Pixar Parade. I seriously dream of that corndog...

I enjoyed the parade, as it was the first time we had seen it...but DH and I aren't parade people. I put it on the agenda for our parents, not for the two of us. But, indeed, quite cute and charming and enjoyed by all.

From there, we headed over to DL for some late night rides.
I FINALLY was able to ride with someone else on the teacups! (DH refuses) his father spun those teacups like there was no tomorrow--though getting four adults out of that teacup was a challenge--

We managed a few other rides (Pinnochio, Snow White, Mr. Toad, Casey Jr. Love Canal/Storybook Land, et. all.) before retreating back to the CC for a late snack and cordial and then to the room.

It was a great first day in the park, with no in-fighting to be found!

Also, the rooms in the suite...very, very quite between each other.
Downside, if you leave the sliding glass doors open, the Santa Anna winds can make every door in the suite shudder loudly.

Next up, Day three and Cafe Orleans and the Jazz Kitchen (with the sassiest waiter ever!)

QueenDoOver 02-01-2009 01:19 AM

What a wonderful thing to do for your parents. I hope my kids do that for me some day:)

DLR29 02-08-2009 12:43 AM

I really like your teacup pictures. Sounds like a fun trip so far!

DisDancerina 02-08-2009 03:23 PM

Sounds good! :)

How heavenly for all that <3

Fun stuff :) More?

BrerMama 02-08-2009 07:12 PM

Wonderful report! I really enjoyed reading it!

Bunless 02-09-2009 03:42 AM

Thank you for all your comments! It was truly a great trip and DH and I are so happy that we were able to provide this for our parents.

I realized that I had gotten the evening activites confused a bit...
Our Tuesday schedule was actually...
9:30 Walk in Walt's footsteps tour
afternoon on your own
3pm DH had a massage and facial at the spa (christmas gift from moi)
7:30 meet for Fantasmic

A note on Fantasmic...I don't get it, I really don't. We've seen it in DL, we've seen it in WDW...I suppose I undersand why other people would be into it, but it's just not for DH and myself. That said, the parents all LOVED it. I'm glad they saw it and enjoyed it for all that it was--I think there were even a few tears flowing. I for myself am happy to never see it again.

ALSO, normally I'm able to reconstruct the trip because my photos are in order and count in the hundreds...I didn't take many photos this trip as there were way too many camers for the entire group...and somehow my photos got out of order when I downloaded them. I shall do my best, though!

Day Three, Wednesday

After a morning on our own (apparently, the 'rents all went for a workout--good for them, I'm sleeping in and reading on the balcony with my coffee) we all met at Cafe Orleans for lunch.

Once again came the discussion with DH on wether or not a true Monte Cristo is deep fried or not. He has some crazy notion that they're made like french toast and no jam. I say he's crazy and anywhere serving that should never call it a Monte Cristo. Anyhoo...most people in the party got said Monte Cristo on split plates. I think I got a crepe...and frites (ohhhh yummmmmm) and beignets. Beignets. Oh! glorious beignets! STAY AWAY FROM MY BEIGNETS! GET YOUR OWN (as I said to the rest of the table).

--side note, one of the things that I truly feel that DL is able to hold over WDW is dining outside. There is nothing quite so heavenly as dining outside on a perfect californian day...however, in Florida, you've got the bugs and humidity. Living in Georgia growing up, I couldn't imagine why anyone would ever dine outside--now I know, as I live on the west coast. And it is sublime.

Later that day, after splitting up, we met back up for aforementioned Pixar Parade and Corn Dog Castle.

Not sure what happened next (though I think it involved DL rides)...but then we went to a late seating at the Jazz Kitchen. surprise there...our waiter rocked! I know, I know....crazy. Usually that place is where you go for bad service and good food...but this time we got both goodservice and good food! Perhaps he sensed my desperation as a woman on a trip with all the 'rents as I ordered a Sazarec immedietly--they were out of the ingredients--so he quickly suggested a mint julip and had it right out! Good man! Honestly, I don't remember what we had--but it was tasty. I think mine was some sort of beef as I got it quite bloody, just as I like it. I believe, actually, that everyone was happy all the way around--especially me. Apparently, as the waiter put it, I was feeling "saucy" as I dove into my third mint julip. But you know what? I credit that third mint julip with saving the trip! Otherwise I might have broken that night and a fight errupted over something (it would have been my fault, I admit that)...but that mint julip got me just what I needed and the rest of the trip was a success.

From there we walked around Downtown Disney--or fell back to the room...I can't remember...Mint julips.

And now, some random photos, since mine are all jumbled anyway.

Up next.. Day four with the Art of the Craft Tour and the Blue, I get my mom to go on Pirates.

Bunless 02-26-2009 03:01 PM

Day four Wednesday

I keep loosing things, this time I lost my calendar so I can't remember quite what we did each day. I'm going crazy! but I think I remember some highlights!

Art of the Craft Tour

I am so glad that we finally did this (well, my parents and myself). I had tried a couple of times before, but could never get a slot. I knew, on some level, that the GCH was a work of art itself, and within it there were many individual works of art...never could I have imagined how much, though. If you have never been on it and you have any interest at all in art and architecture, go as soon as you can. Meanwhile, next time you walk through downtown disney, check out the gate to the GCH, it's the Blue Moon gate and has a beautiful blue glass moon in the ironwork.

My dad and myself would have loved if the tour was more in depth, and it seemed to be tailored (rightfully so) to the majority of the population who doesn't know much about Arts and Crafts and wants to know more about the Disney side of things. The other people in our group, for instance, who were hidden mickey obsessed even when talking about the authentic William Morris samples, probably thought it was just the right pitch.

Blue Bayou...and I got my mom on Pirates of the Caribbean

DH and I have always had good luck at the Blue Bayou, I'll say it right now. We tend to get good service and good food and decent seats.

Somehow, this time, not quite the case. I mean, the food was fine. However, I never realized that those round tables could actually cram six people around them....and I seriously underestimated how annoying it would be to sit right by the kitchen entrance. I know, someone has to, I just had never experienced it before. Perhaps, if the server had been more skilled and friendly, it would have made up for the other...but this was one of the few times that I can say that service, without a doubt, sucked.

I could go into further detail, but I need to let it go.

DH and I always like to go onto Pirates right after Blue Bayou, to continue the story as you will. The biggest victory of the trip, I think, was getting my mom on the ride. She doesn't like water/drops/dark/scary/etc...but she liked it!

Next up, Arial's Grotto and Wine Country!

DizNee Luver 02-26-2009 03:13 PM

Coming in late on your TR, but loving so far!!! Keep those pics coming!!! :cool1:

MickeyNikiNaka 02-27-2009 12:14 AM

I too am joining in late but am loving your TR

On a side note...
I LOVE the photo's! Is photography a hobby of yours? Or do you just love Photoshop?

Bunless 02-28-2009 03:24 AM

While photography isn't a hobby, per say, when on vacation I tend to look at things through the lens in a different way. If I had time in my life, I might pick it up as a hobby, but for now it's just on vacation.
I love playing with photoshop. When I take photos it's with the thought of what I could do with them, not how they'll look straight out of the shot.

We're off to DL in a few hours, so another post will have to wait.
ta ta!

caligirl stuck in va 03-04-2009 09:56 PM

Awesome! Can't wait to read more - I would so love to be the host of this trip one day!!

Bunless 03-05-2009 01:48 PM

Day Five, Friday 1/16

The nice thing about a large family trip in Disneyland, is that there are plenty of opportunities for everyone to be fully entertained and NOT together! because on day five, you need time apart. 'nough said.

That said, with the time we did have together, it was great...possibly because it wasn't all day together.

For lunch, we met at the Trattoria around 11am. Who doesn't like lunch al fresco with greens, lasagna, and a good red wine? one else but me had the red wine...their love.

From there, once again, we broke apart.
DH and I hung around California Adventure for the rest of the afternoon--doing this and that.

We also met at Arial's for an early dinner.

Ok, my review.

The first time we went there a few years ago, it was great. and no princesses--a couple of characters, but that was it. The food was wonderful, the service fabulous.

The second time we went there about a year and a half ago, it was ok. Lots of princessess (which honestly, DH and I don't care about, we tend to tell the handler that they can ignore us), the food was not as good...but ok. Sort of felt rushed, the service ok.

This time, oh lord. First of all, really? we HAVE TO have our picture taken with Arial? we can't get out of it? are you sure? I mean really, if we don't want to you should just let us go onto our table instead of making us wait in line on the staircase. Sorry, my rant. I'm sure there's a reason for it, but I was annoyed. Second off, the food wasn't bad per say, but no where near what it used to be. Not only that, but the service was more rushed that it had been before. More princesses=more rushed? perhaps? It's just been this steady decline in food and service in my experience that equates directly with the princessess experience (I've experienced the same thing over the years at Cinderella's Royal Table in WDW). Now Arial's will be transformed into something along the lines of 'princess dining' or whatever...that's great for little girls, but DH and I won't go back again. We'll just experience other places more.

That said, it was the best part of the entire trip for my mom. She got everyones photo and autograph. When one of them didn't stay at our table long enough for her to do the autograph, I went over to the handler and asked if she (I think it was cinderella) would be able to come back for just a bit. My mom was thrilled--I was embaressed, but it's for them so I put a smile on my face and went along.

I was just glad for the wine.
Next up, the last day and Storytellers![/COLOR]

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