WDW Vets, 1st DL trip, Carsland and Club 33 OH MY! 6/17-6/20!
DH - already in CA on business when we arrived
DS - 6 year old Disney fanatic
Me - 34 year old Disney fanatic (He had to get it somewhere :rotfl:)
We arrived in Santa Ana on Saturday 6/16. At baggage claim, we chatted with another family wearing Disney shirts - they're also WDW vets and we were all excited about Carsland opening! That night DH drove us to Huntington Beach for a walk along the ocean and dinner overlooking the water. We spent the night at the hotel near the corporation DH had been working at the week prior. We woke up bright and early on Sunday 6/17 excited to go into the park...only to discover that DS had a fever!!!
We medicated him, let him sleep a while and hoped for the best. He finally "felt better" around 10 and we headed for Anaheim. Checked in to Disneyland Hotel and then headed into the park. We walked in and rode Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters (LOVED - why it's better than Space Ranger Spin at MK: you can pick up the guns! OMG! I am SO much better when I can actually MOVE) Then we headed for Fantasyland :)
While experiencing the strangest deja vu ever (it was familiar, but totally foreign...it was Disney, but not "our" Disney), we headed for Small World. While in line, DS starts to complain that maybe he's not "all better." Now his tummy hurts, but he is NOT leaving the park, no way no how. We get through the ride fine (And none of us are sure how we feel about the differences between MK and DL versions...on the one hand, it's cool to see the movie characters in it, on the other it just feels wrong to have those changes in a "classic" that to us has always been perfect. Even days later, we still are unsure how we feel, but I'm inclined to say we like it better in MK)
After coming out of the ride, DS informs us that he needs a nap and asks to return to the room. We spend the next 2 hours in the room while he sleeps, then we get dressed and changed for our dinner at Club 33!
When we walked up to the Club 33 door, about an hour early to take a picture of it, the family beside us is there for the same reason. The wife of that family jokingly asked "Anyone going to ring the bell." We say "Not for about an hour," She turns to look at us and it's the same family from the airport! (PS if you're that family reading this HI AGAIN!!!)
We walked around New Orleans Square for a little bit and OF COURSE DS starts to not feel great AGAIN. He decides that he can handle dinner because it's that special and not likely something that he'll do again any time soon. We let him ring the bell and give our name. After we were escorted in, he chose to go upstairs on the french lift. DS was AMAZED with it (confidential: so was I!)
Upstairs, we were escorted to our table. I can't even begin to describe the awe - the decor was so beautiful. The waiter was FABULOUS. The chef sent out a lightly tempura battered chilled shrimp with a pineapple shooter with kiwi froth - O.M.G. DH started his meal with a scallop and shrimp appetizer and I had a white and green asparagus flight (SO so good - no way to decide which was better). DS ordered ravioli in cheese sauce (and said it was "the best thing I ever put in my mouth"), while I had salmon (and agree with DS' statement - among the best food ever put in my mouth). For dessert, DS had a chocolate Mickey "mousse" and DH and I each ordered "deconstructed s'mores."
At some point, a man who looked familiar but that I couldn't place at the time walked out, hugging the waiters, waving in to the kitchen and the staff at the bar and shaking hands all around. Not long after he left, I heard one of the waiters telling another table that it was Jeff Bridges! He also told a couple of stories of other celebrities - Jeff bringing in his brother Beau (who I believe he said required a vegan menu) and Sir Paul McCartney (who also required a vegan menu, but then ordered cheesecake for dessert and pulled on his leather coat as he was leaving :laughing: )
After we finished eating, we walked through the club, taking pictures and exploring the trophy room. We bought a Club 33 pin for our collection and the waiter gave us Club 33 ink pens to commemorate our first visit. We then went out onto the balcony to watch Fantasmic from above the crowd - a couple of things of note there: The view is obstructed a bit by trees so it's not the best view of the show, however it's so peaceful up there, no jostling of crowds and it's just such a gorgeous little balcony.
All told, we spent nearly 3 hours there and were on :cloud9: When we left the restaurant, we headed straight for the hotel and bed, hoping for a better day 2 with a healthier DS.
Day 2: California Adventure!!!
We woke up early and DS was still not 100% :( But oh, he was determined!
We got to DCA just before 7am for magic morning and headed straight to Radiator Springs! As we turned in to Carsland, we were AWED at the detail. I cannot begin to express how PERFECTLY the street matches the movie! I got that same magic feel turning that corner that I always get after walking onto Main Street USA at MK (a feeling that wasn't quite there for me at DL). We went straight to Radiator Springs Racers and managed to get on the ride with only about a 30 minute wait (which would have been shorter, but the ride went down once while we were in line). Our car went to Luigi's for a pitstop and new tires from Guido. It was fantastic! It is on my list of top Disney rides ever.
When we came off the ride, it was down again and they weren't allowing people into the line. Luigi's flying tires was also down at that point. We walked over to Flo's for breakfast (YUMMY Chicken tamales with eggs!) and then checked again for Luigi's flying tires (still down, as was RSR). DS and I then rode Mater's Junkyard Jamboree. We loved it (though we did slide in our trailer quite a bit and I got quite a bruise on my shoulder from sliding into the side)!
At that point, DS admitted that he needed another nap and couldn't go on for a while - his fever was now developing into an energy zapping cold...he was so tired, lethargic and just not eating at all (maybe a few bites here and there).
That afternoon, we came back but went ahead and rented a stroller for the rest of the day. The little guy was just not feeling well, but we managed to get a picture with Jake (of Neverland Pirates fame), rode Monster's Inc, saw Muppetvision 3D, the Aladdin stage show, rode Flik's Flyers and the Little Mermaid (DS is *in* *love* with Ariel). We had World of Color priority dining reservations at Wine Country Trattoria - after we ate, we just walked around while DS napped in the stroller. He woke up shortly before World of Color - SUCH an incredible show!
As soon as the show was over, we headed back to the room with hopes that our 3rd day would be the day that DS would finally feel better.
We woke up with good feelings about the day. DS was bouncy! We were FINALLY going to have a real "Disney day" without a sick kid...
We had breakfast at Goofy's Kitchen and all was well, or so we thought. After we decided to go upstairs and change clothes (it had gotten so much warmer since we'd gone down to breakfast). We got up to the room and DS asked if he could take a nap because he didn't feel well. So we stayed in the room for a few hours while he rested and took meds. At lunch time, he was finally feeling better enough to head into the park. We grabbed some skewers at the Bengal Barbecue. Then headed to the Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer island. We went on Haunted Mansion (I think we prefer this at MK - while the queue is better at DL after the stretching room, I like the ride itself at MK better). From there, we got in line for POTC.
Now, POTC is HANDS DOWN better at DL than MK (and I *love* it at MK!). MK has a much better queue, but the longer ride at DL and the 2 drops - wow!
When we came out, our stroller was parked right near the exit, but we had reservations at Blue Bayou so we didn't pick it up right then. We got a table right by the water and it was truly wonderful. Of course right then, DS really started getting sick. He and I spent about an hour in the bathroom :( When he was finally feeling better and we could leave, the stroller was GONE.
DS asked me to pick him up, and of course fell asleep in my arms. DH asked the POTC stroller wrangler about the stroller and she just shrugged. He looked up and down the street, everywhere close by that it could have been to no avail. Now, we'd left DS' jacket and a blanket he'd bought the day before in the bottom of the stroller. So there I am, holding a sick, sleeping 40 lb kiddo while DH searches. Finally he asks if they can call security in. We were HIGHLY disappointed in the results of that. The security guard just shrugged and said "Yeah...that happens all the time here." Now, we go to WDW *at least* 1-2x/year and have since DS was 2 and have never had this happen there (not saying it couldn't, but it hasn't) nor have we ever had a less than positive experience that Disney cast members didn't start out with "I'm sorry" - something nobody said to us at that point. The security guy did offer to get us a stroller so we could get to the gate, but it was nearly 30 minutes before we saw him again (all while I was still holding the sleeping 40 lbs of boy). Finally the bench in the handicapped entrance line for POTC was free so we sat there while we waited. A new cast member took over that area of POTC and talked to me a bit (seeing how upset I was, worried about my kid, unhappy with the response we got from cast members). She felt bad, apologized for the way things had been handled and gave us several whole family fast-passes for the following day.
FINALLY security returned and had brought a stroller so we could get him to the front of the park.
We immediately went to City Hall to let them know what had happened, to cancel our fireworks dessert party (which they did refund fully), and to ask to be allowed to take the rental stroller through Downtown Disney so that we could get the kiddo back to the hotel. The cast members there were fantastic. We didn't expect anything out of it, but they offered us several meal vouchers for the next day. Then to ensure that we could take the stroller without problems, the lady who had been helping us walked us back to the hotel. She was absolutely fantastic and so sweet (though it was her last day at Disneyland as she was going to study abroad).
We opened up our curtains, turned on the TV and watched the fireworks from our room with desserts that DH went out and brought back for our own private dessert party.
We went to bed hoping that day 4, our final day, would FINALLY be the day that things went well and that we got to do more.
IT FINALLY HAPPENED!! DS woke up with NO fever, actual energy, and his appetite was back! He did have a cough, but he was finally himself and ready for fun!
We went to DCA at 7 for magic morning - We walked right on to Luigi's Flying Tires and we LOVED it. There is simply not one single thing that isn't perfection at Carsland, in my opinion.
As soon as we finished, we headed for Toy Story Midway Mania - we were excited to have the chance to ride that without the hours long wait that it usually has at HS. Of course, they were having a technical difficulty right then so it was closed. Instead, we headed to Soarin' and walked right on. If you're a Worlder, you know that is also a HUGE line and something that you almost always have to fast pass at Epcot!
We then walked back across the park to Toy Story and had about 10-15 minute wait. Incredible :)
At that point, DH walked back to the hotel to check out while DS and I rode Goofy's Sky School and the Jumpin' Jellyfish. Then we went back to the hotel to finish packing our stuff up and check it at the bell desk.
Back to the park, this time to DL. We rode a couple of rides, walked through Innoventions and then back to DCA for a lunch reservation at Carthay Circle.
The atmosphere and food at Carthay Circle are phenomenal, however it was here that we had possibly our worst EVER Disney experience.
We were seated at a table next to a very large party (about 12 college age girls and 2 older men, one of the girls in her Disney uniform - the same as those worn in City Hall). They all spoke LOUDLY and in great detail about how they ALL worked at the park, exactly when and how the magic was lost for them, character costumes, locations of zippers, problems where people's hair had shown through, which costumes were "ghetto" and cursing loudly... ALL where my 6 year old could hear. :eek: And they were oblivious to the looks my husband and I were shooting them.
I tried to be discrete as possible, walked out of the area to find a server and explained the situation and asked him to help me take care of it. He went and got a manager who met me near the elevator. She apologized and assured me that she would talk to them and that this was about the worst offense any Disney employee could commit, whether they were on or off duty. The overall manager later came to see them and chatted nicely with that table (and because he was inches from me, I know he had NO clue there was a problem). Then the executive chef came out and talked to that group as they were picking up to leave. STILL nothing had been said and at that point I was LIVID.
DH got up and went looking for the overall manager and laid it all on the line. He was horrified and assured us that the manager I had spoken with had NOT in any way informed him of what had gone on and he was horrified and apologized. They comped the meal (which really didn't do much since we had the meal comps from the day before from City Hall). We then went to guest relations and made a report (including the name of the one employee who was in her uniform, the names of the 2 men with them, who we had gathered through their conversation were their bosses, and a cell phone photo of the group so that they could be certain who it was). We didn't want anything to "make up" for the experience, just for them to crack down - just because the "magic" was ruined for those employees does NOT mean the magic should be ruined for my 6 year old! I can't imagine that Walt would have been impressed!
From there we went back to DL. We managed to ride everything that DS wanted to ride and were going nonstop all afternoon. We had dinner at Big Thunder Ranch and then headed back to DCA to see the neons at Carsland. While we were there, DJ came out for a dance party in front of Flo's which was so. much. fun.
At that point, we were exhausted and headed back to the hotel to pick up our stuff and head to the hotel near the airport for our morning flight back home.
Overall, I have to say, Disneyland and California Adventure are great parks...and we will be back in the future, but our next trip will be back to the World. If there is one area that I think the two are totally opposite, it's the level of guest relations - the two big negative experiences of our trip would have been handled completely differently at WDW (based on my experience with lesser negative experiences at WDW having been taken care of beyond what these major ones were at DLR).
Thanks for the TR. It's the second best thing to actually being at Disney. I'm so glad your son finally felt better to enjoy Disney.
So sorry about the CMs' responses. We love DL and DCA, but we have also encountered a couple of CMs who were less than enthusiastic about their jobs. There are also a couple of CMs we look forward to seeing on each of our trips.
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