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Lucille1963 02-20-2012 06:32 PM

It finally happened! VGC With a 4 Year Old 1/25-2/2
January 25 - Feb 2

I dreamed, wished and planned for this trip for so long, it felt like a fantasy when it finally happened.

Dh, Sean, and I had loved vacationing at Disney long before we had our son William in 2007. Unfortunately, since having our son, we don't get to travel to Disney nearly as often! We took William to Disneyland when he was 7 months old in 2008, and cruised in 2010. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about taking the family to Disneyland!

Coming from the midwest, most people prefer WDW, and though it has many advantages, DISNEYLAND is our favorite for many reasons (many of which will come up in this trip report). Also, this is our first time staying at the Villas at the Grand Californian. We've been huge fans of the Disneyland Hotel, and I was even secretly hoping that we wouldn't get a day at the VGC at the beginning or the end of the trip at the Villas so we could stay at the DLH. We haven't been there since they renovated the rooms and the pool and I'm dying to experience it.

Cast of Characters:

Me - Niki, grew up outside of Chicago going to Disney World with my mother, aunt, sister and cousins. I made a one day trip to Disneyland while in high school and fell in love. For me, it is where the magic lives.

DH - Sean, grew up in northern California going to DL occasionally. Our first trip to DL was a few months after we met. His first trip to WDW was on our honeymoon in 2002

Just for fun, here is a picture of us in WDW in 2005 for MNSSHP dressed as characters from the Haunted Mansion!

DS - William, four years old and a big bundle of energy. He loves cars, trains, submarines, rockets and airplanes so it seems like DL was designed with him in mind.
Here is a picture of us on William's first trip to DL in 2008. He was our good luck charm, he scored us a ride on the Lilly Belle!

This is my first TR, but I love reading them so I hope I do an OK job. I'm not sure how fast I'm going to complete it, but I promise to try :)
The kid is sleeping now, but I'm afraid he'll wake up so I'll post this before I loose it :)

Lucille1963 02-20-2012 07:03 PM

Jump to a post:

Day 1 Part 1 - Departure, arrival and the Big Cheese

Day 1 - Part 2 - The room reveal

The end of Day 1 - Part 3 - DCA rides

Getting ready for our magical day and vintage clothing dorkiness Day 2 - Part 1

Most memorable vacation quote - Day 2 - Part 2

Happy 2 B Me 02-20-2012 07:30 PM

If you Put on a Snow White dress you would like like a twin to the real Snow herself. Your baby boy looks so peaceful on your Lilli Belle ride. I am excited to read about the trip to DL.


Lucille1963 02-20-2012 08:19 PM

The weeks leading up to our trip were a blur. In the past I would have spent my time obsessively reading the DIS, planning each minute detail and organizing. This time it was all I could due to catch my breath. By the time I got around to making our countdown chain it only had a dozen links.

I work selling vintage clothing online and at pop up shows in Chicago and for whatever reason, I decided to sign on for one the Saturday before we left which kept me super duper busy with no time to think about vacation planning. In the three days between I rushed around trying to find a suitable wardrobe for William and I. On Sunday, I remember being down on Michigan Avenue trying to hustle up a couple new tops (thank you clearance racks at Banana Republic) and stopping by the Disney Store just to dream and ended up leaving with a few discount toys for the plane ride and a shirt for each of us. I spent more than I intended too, but I really wanted the Mickey Mouse Club shirt for William.

Day One - Wednesday, January 25

We were up before dawn and hit the ground running our flight was at 8:30 am and I like to have more than enough time to get there. We rushed around the house gathering our last minute items and getting dressed. We were flying out of Midway Airport and it only took about 15 minutes for the cab to arrive after we called and thankfully we didn't hit traffic on the way. We checked in and got through security without too much trouble, though I was surprised at how long the lines were to go through the scanners. Of course, as parents with a child, stroller, a few carry ons, carseat, computer, etc in tow, I was in no position to complain. We meandered around Midway taking in the Battle of Midway exhibit, looking for a decent magazine to read, and getting Potbelly Sandwiches until it was time for our flight to board. Though we were in group B for boarding on Southwest, I was pleasantly surprised that they let families with young children board between group A and B. No need to worry about sitting together though since the flight had a ton of open seats.

The flight went fast, and we even managed to catch a bit of a nap. Before we knew it we were landing and John Wayne airport. We were waiting for our luggage to appear on the conveyer when William asked for his Mickey ears which were stashed in a carry on. Awwww.....

In the past we had used Super Shuttle or the Disneyland Express bus, but after some research we decided that a cab was the way to go. We walked out of the terminal, took a moment to bask in the sunshine and smell the green and then hopped right into a taxi to take us to the Grand Californian. The ride was quick and it cost $40 before tip, which I was happy with.

For all the time I spent daydreaming about arriving at the Grand Californian Hotel, by the time I actually got there I was overwhelmed and frazzled. We walked right up to the desk and my phone rang. It was my mother so I ignored it for a few minutes while we checked in and arranged for our DL tickets (I still hadn't decided what to do about the park hopper situation - It was a huge jump in price between 6 day passes and an AP and I was hoping to find someone who could add days on like I had read about on the boards here).

Our room wasn't ready (and I hadn't expected it to be as it was only noon), but the CM did say that our request for a high floor and a theme park view had ben honored. Yeah! I was on the edge of my seat dying to see what it would be like. Since buying DVC in 2007, we've spent exactly one night in a DVC room so I felt like this was going to be our very first DVC vacation. (We've used our points for DLH in 2008, and 1 night at BLT and a cruise in 2010)

We now had an hour or so to kill until our delivery window opened for our groceries from Von's. Since we ordered some booze, we had to be present for the delivery. I didn't want to deal with getting out our swimsuits and figuring out where to change, and it wasn't enough time to head to the park and have our real first park experience so we decided we were hungry enough to eat and headed over to the DLH to check out the new counter service restaurant, the Tangaroa Terrace. We went out the main entrance to the GC, and across past the PPH and onto the DLH grounds. The last time we visited the resort the waterfalls were still there and we were still enjoying cocktails at The Lost Bar. Though I will miss both of those things terribly.. *sniff*... the changes they have made are pretty awesome. We strolled up the ramp to the Tangaroa Terrace and stepped inside to a nearly empty restaurant. So nice! I ordered a salad, DH had a flatbread and the kid had a hamburger. We liked it and planned on coming back. While waiting for our food, I received a work related email regarding a show that I hadn't planned on exhibiting at, asking me to participate. Though it was scheduled to start 5 days after I returned and I had zero prep work done, the potential money was too good to turn down. Though I had wanted to totally ignore work while I was on this trip, I was already failing at that miserably.

So we sat in the sun, enjoyed our meal and our view of the pool and generally soaked up the atmosphere. WONDERFUL! The pictures from this meal are the first I took on the trip, and though they are far from fabulous. They bring back wonderful memories.

Not so long later, we decided it would be best if I headed back to the hotel to wait for the groceries, and DH would kill time with William in DTD. I hustled through the hotel, stopped by the bell desk to let them know I'd be in the lobby and to just call me when they arrived, and sank down in a big cozy lobby chair to wait. I spent my time taking pictures on my phone of the leather handbags displayed in one of the curio cases and sharing them with my vintage clothing friends on line. One girl, a collector, remarked on the rarity of the colors. Way to go Disney!

Within 15 minutes I got the call and ran outside to meet the delivery driver. We walked inside and I signed for my mountain of grocery bags which were then wisked away by the bellman. Easy peasy.

I rushed off to track down my boys who had only made to to Ridemakerz (note to self and others: don't let your boys get anywhere near this shop unless you're prepared to buy). After much prodding, we convinced William that there was something better than this shop to see and we headed over to DISNEYLAND!!

I'll freely admit that I'm a big softie and I was expecting to shed a few tears upon entering, but we had barely made it through the tunnel when we ran into MICKEY!!! There he was! The Big Cheese himself, standing on Main Street with only a handful of people in line!! It took the couple minutes of waiting to get ourselves together and before I knew it this happened:

Mickey loved his shirt:

And I loved snapping this picture:

Dale was just one doorway over with NO LINE, so we stopped to say "Hi" to him too!

I couldn't get over our luck!

Then William spotted something so amazing, we simply couldn't tear him away... this canon.
We simply couldn't tear him away. I took the moment to hug my husband and call my mother to tell her that we'd been in the park 10 minutes and already met Mickey. It took some prodding to convince him that there were things in the park that were EVEN BETTER THAN THE CANON. Seriously kid, if you move over 5 feet, you'll see a CASTLE!

To be continued....

Lucille1963 02-20-2012 08:25 PM


Originally Posted by Happy 2 B Me (Post 44087534)
If you Put on a Snow White dress you would like like a twin to the real Snow herself. Your baby boy looks so peaceful on your Lilli Belle ride. I am excited to read about the trip to DL.


Thanks for reading Patty!
William was so wonderful on that ride. I was totally geeking out and he slept through the whole thing!

Lucille1963 02-20-2012 09:30 PM

So after much prodding and promising, I finally convinced the kid to head up Main Street towards the pink castle.

The crowds were nice and mellow and it was fun to just hang back a bit and admire the site of my little boy walking up Main Street USA for the first time.

Though I'd gone through the pros and cons of different rides for his first DL ride of the trip, when he saw the Astro Orbitor, he just HAD to ride it. He's way into rockets, and he was EXCITED!

From there we went to Buzz Lightyear and he was beside himself. He was absolutely slack jawed when he encountered Buzz in the queue. To him it was absolutely real. Buzz Lightyear needed HIM! We rode that a couple of times and then went over to Autopia. Like most little boys, all he wanted was to drive a car and this was his chance. We've been talking about him driving at Disneyland and the moment had arrived. He loved it.

Things are already getting fuzzy in my memory, but I think we hit Buzz one more time before we went over to The Jungle Cruise. It has always been one of my favorites, though, as you all know, it can be pretty hit or miss depending upon which skipper you get. Let me tell you, it was an absolute HIT! We were seated at the right hand of the driver, and like the few rides before and the many rides to come, it was REAL. William was into it and so excited. He kept pointing things out to the skipper and yelling "HEY! Look at that!" The skipper was hilarious and as kind as can be. It was a truly memorable ride.

Shortly after this we received the text message that our room was ready!! 5514! We were a bit tired and needed a break and I couldn't wait to see our home for the next 8 nights...

More words and a gazillion photos of our room coming soon.

Pluplo and The Duck 04-22-2012 06:02 AM

Great trip report. Look forward to seeing the rest.

Lucille1963 06-14-2012 10:20 AM

Wow! I sure dropped the ball on this trip report! I WILL finish it!

MerryJ 06-14-2012 02:16 PM


Originally Posted by Lucille1963 (Post 45179493)
Wow! I sure dropped the ball on this trip report! I WILL finish it!

I would love to read the rest of it. I love it so far!

I don't know if I have cynical kids, or if that extra year just makes a big difference, but my boys didn't seem to believe in the magic as much. Or maybe my 7 year old ruined for my 5 year old because HE didn't believe? It is so cool that your son felt it was all so real.

Lucille1963 06-14-2012 02:22 PM

Welcome MerryJ! Now I'm torn between starting to type my next chapter and reading your trip report.

Lucille1963 06-14-2012 02:34 PM

Picking up where we left off. I couldn't wait to see our room, I know it is luck of the draw for DVC room location but I was really hoping for a high floor and a theme park view. Since the room number began with a 5, I new at least one of our requests had been granted. As we walked down the hall past the beautiful craftsman wall paper, I said a little prayer that we'd get lucky and have both wishes granted..

AND BOY DID WE! I love DVC Villa 5514!!

Our living room

View from the living room picture window

Looking to the left off of our balcony

View from the balcony

Looking to the right off of our balcony

I was overcome with excitement. I couldn't believe this would be our home for the next week. I felt like the queen of the world.

Lucille1963 06-14-2012 02:55 PM

I really couldn't stop taking pictures of this room. Here's one more in case there are any other room photo geeks like me:

We called down to guest services and had them bring up our cart of groceries. We knew we'd be having friends over to eat, drink and be marry so we kinda ordered a lot. Not to mention that you can get a bottle of champagne for the price of a couple of beers and my boys are breakfast and milk fiends.

The only thing we didn't get that we had ordered was a bunch of sausages (what can I say, we're from Chicago!). So we ended up with a bunch of buns and nothing to go in them. I was sort of bummed because we had planned on grilling them with friends later in the week, but I figured we'd worry about that later.

We puttered around the room for a while, I think we even snacked on some goodies and somehow (we must have been running on pure adrenaline) we decided to head over to DCA. We had read that Soarin' wouldn't be open for our entire trip so we wanted to get in as many rides as possible, especially since the kid is so into airplanes.

Bad picture - great memory

We hit Paradise Pier first and rode the Golden Zephyr, Jumpin' Jellyfish (a snoozefest even for a 4 year old), the swings (LOVED them)

Then we went over to Soarin' where the line seemed to creep slower than slow. He liked it, but by the time we were done, we were beyond done for the day. Thankfully we only had a quick walk back to our room. Boy am I spoiled already!

I had only been asleep for a little bit when I heard fireworks, and peeked out on my balcony to see them exploding over Disneyland. It must have been a test or a private party as there weren't any scheduled for that night.

WDWJonasGirl 06-14-2012 06:01 PM

I love it so far!!!

Lucille1963 06-14-2012 10:03 PM

Thanks WDWJonasGirl! More to come soon!

Lucille1963 06-15-2012 01:41 PM

Thanks to the time change advantage, we were up as soon as the sun started to rise. Here's a quick shot of it coming up over Cars Land.

The park didn't open for hours so we had a leisurely morning of couch lying while DH made breakfast. He and William are both big breakfast guys so they had a feast of eggs, toast, and all the fixings.

Sean even had time to sip some coffee and read the news

I'm not a voluntary early riser at home, so I love that the time difference really works in our favor.

Now comes to one of the dorkiest parts of the trip. Here's the backstory:
In the early 1990s, I became aware of the Lady and the Tramp skirts from the 1950s. Disney made the fabric for home sewers to cut and sew themselves. I've always wanted one, but on the rare occasions I'd come across one, they'd be waaaayyy out of my price range. Lo and behold! A few years ago I was at a local buy-sell and swap store and there was one hanging on the rack.... and it was cheap! I nearly cried! I scooped it up and bought it immediately. The only problem was, it was waaay too small to fit me. I hung it in my closet, happy just to own it. After some serious dieting (thank you Weight Watchers!) I was thrilled to be able to fit into it (mostly) and today was the day that I was going to wear it at DISNEYLAND!

With plenty of time to spare, we were off to park opening!

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