The Absolutely Amazing, Magical Christmas Adventure!
It was a an amazing eight days full of new experiences and shared joy. We connected with old friends and met new ones along the way. This was one of the best trips we've ever had to the magic kingdom, but not because of the rides or souvenirs. What made it magical was our appreciation of the time together in a place full of Christmas cheer.
Travel dates: December 6th - 13th, 2012
Travel method: Alaska Airlines, shuttles, and various cabs
Accommodations: Doubletree in Culver City (1 night), and Paradise Pier Hotel (6 nights)
Ages Represented in Group: 18-over 60
Disney Resort Experience Represented in Group: Novice to DLR Veteran
Cast of characters: Me (41), DD (18), DMOM(She asked me not to say), Various friends
As promised, I will be sharing our experience with you. The DIS has been a wonderful source of information as we planned for this trip. I figured I should contribute by providing our experiences.
I will be posting as much information as I can remember. This will likely be a photo-heavy report. I didn't take as many pictures as I usually would, but there are plenty to help tell the tale of an Ultimate Christmas Adventure! :-)
Here's how it'll be broken down:
We've been on many DL trips, and each time I vow to complete a trip report since many of your reports help me in the planning stages. Every year (until now) I dropped the ball. That won't happen this year! I will finish this trip report! I'll be including the many many good details as well as the few bad ones. I hope you enjoy!
The Day Before
We wanted to get to get to bed by 8PM so we could get up at 4AM well rested and ready to go.
Even though we started the packing process a week early, the last minute details always seem to pile up and hit on the last day. We woke early to get it all done, hoping to be finished by noon. DD did a few loads of laundry so we could pack those last minute clothing items. I went to the bank to get cash, purchased almost forgotten supplies. Though we didn't make that noon deadline, we were making great progress, so I decided to go to the ceramic studio to glaze a couple of pieces I made the week before.
When I got home at 7, we ate, finished laundry, and straightened DD's hair. It was 10:30 when we finally headed to bed. I was so excited, it took me almost two hours to fall asleep.
Day One: Art in Los Angeles
Wake up at 4AM to make our 6:30 flight. After landing at LAX, we were going to take the hotel shuttle, check in, and catch a cab to LACMA. From there we wanted to have lunch at Farmer's market, and dinner somewhere in LA.
I woke at 3 feeling sick, but felt a little better by 3:30 when I woke DD. Motivated by excitement and anticipation, we were on the road by 4:15 armed with wide smiles and adrenaline. We made a quick detour to a truck stop for a fruit snack. We made it to the airport with time to spare.
Security was very easy! The new scanners make it possible for DD to help me get into the machine without my cane. After the 3 second scan, she was able to step back into the machine to help me back to the wheelchair. Fifteen minutes after we got through security, we were able to board the plane. I must say it was the smallest plane I've ever boarded! With only 75 seats, it was less than half the size of the ones we'd ridden in the past. Even though the seats could not recline, DD and I managed to sleep through most of the trip. We woke to watch the sunrise over a bed of clouds. It was so beautiful! I wish we had a picture!
I hadn't been through LAX in about 10 years. I must say it is much better than I remembered! We got off the plane and someone was waiting to push my wheelchair while DD handled the luggage. While I was being wheeled, I was looking at all of the directional signs they are much more 'user friendly' than they were 10 years before. By 8:45 we were curbside, waiting for the shuttle. Our wait was only 15 minutes.
There was no line for hotel check-in since it was only 9:30 AM. We were surprised to find out the room was ready! The room was fine, though not as nice as other Doubletree locations I've visited in the past. The lobby was beautiful, but in the room there was peeling wallpaper and a leaky shower. Not terrible, but not great. Sorry, no pictures yet.
Before bringing our suitcases in, we did a bedbug check all was good. The beds were comfortable, and that's all that really mattered. The lack of sleep was catching up to us, so we tried to lay down for a nap. Unfortunately excitement prevailed and we gave up the effort a half hour later. We got up and headed across the street for some food.
We settled on a Mexican restaurant Viva Fresh. It was okay. We ate then called a taxi to take us to LACMA. More on Los Angeles Taxi drivers later.
LACMA was wonderful! We only made it to the contemporary, Baroque/Roman and Japanese sections. We honestly could have explored this wonderful museum for three days without any boredom. DD really enjoyed seeing works by Degas, Picasso, and Monet. We stumbled upon a special presentation, discussing a Baroque still-life painting. Being an artist herself, she thoroughly enjoyed the discussion.
Here are pictures of a couple of DD's favorite sculptures:
We toured for three hours before exhaustion started catching up to us. We didn't want to spend the money on another taxi to go back for a rest, so we settled on going outside for some air. DD pushed my chair up the road where we saw an enormous line of food trucks. For some reason we were humored by the sheer number and variety of outdoor food vendors in one area. (Sleep deprivation makes everything funnier!)
We wandered down the street and stumbled upon the La Brea Tar Pits. How did I not know it was that close? It was a nice surprise. We walked through the outdoor exhibits, but opted not to go on the paid tour. Instead we read and saw what we could before heading back to the museum.
We stayed another couple of hours before getting hungry again. We decided to catch a ride to Farmer's Market and The Grove. I could have spent a bundle in a little market in the original Farmer's Market! They had a wonderful selection of vinegars, oils, and cheeses I would have loved to bring home, but with heightened airport security, I couldn't think of a way to get them home safely.
We had fun wandering around, taking in the sights.
We had a hard time deciding what we wanted to eat. After wandering for an hour or so, we settled on something generic Cheesecake Factory. It was alright nothing special. After dinner, we shopped for a bit and ended up in Barnes and Noble. We are both avid readers, so bookstores and libraries are always a nice place to be. We wandered around for a while. Each of us bought a journal and set of pens. Dennis Leary was having a book signing upstairs, but we decided we didn't want to be out that late. We tried calling a cab, but the dispatcher didn't know where the Grove or Barnes and Noble were. While I asked an employee for an address, she hung up on me. The store was getting crowded, and we needed water bottles, so we headed across the street to the CVS. Funny enough, the dispatcher was able to find us there. We headed back to the room and were in bed watching TV by 7:30. Right before falling asleep, we received a text from our friends we were supposed to meet the next day. One of them had a job interview, so they would meet us for breakfast and skip the museum. Though I'd hoped for more time with them, I was happy we'd meet over breakfast and that she'd have the chance at a new job.
A quick side note: I was quite surprised by the taxi drivers in LA. The drivers didn't seem to know where anything was! I found myself looking up and explaining directions all of the time. It was certainly different than the drivers in NYC and SF! It all worked out though! We were both very happy with the first day of our trip!
Day Two: Thoughtful Tolerance
On this day, we wanted to get up by 9:30 and have breakfast in the hotel before meeting friends at MoT. We were going to eat lunch around the museum. After we finished our tour, we were going to take a cab to the hotel to pick up the luggage and take their shuttle back to the airport. There we would jump on the Disneyland Express and go to PPH. After our arrival on property, we would have dinner in DTD, upgrade our tickets to APs, and pick up our PhotoPass Plus card and lanyard. We planned to get to bed early so we'd be ready for our first full day at DLR!
We had a wonderfully restful sleep the night before, and woke up by seven. Our friends weren't due to arrive until 9, so we were able to take our time getting ready. On our way to the restaurant, we dropped our bags with the front desk. Breakfast was wonderful! We hadn't seen these friends for 10 years, but chatted as if no time had passed. It was hard saying goodbye, but we were very grateful when the offered to let us stay with them in their Anaheim home the next time we were in So Cal.
We took another crazy taxi ride to MoT. We were very moved by the exhibits. My only complaint would be how quickly we had to jump from section to section. It would be nice if they allowed a little more time so we could slow down and really take in the details. Just like the day before, we weren't able to see all that the museum had to offer, but were really grateful to see what we could. We ended the session by listening to a speaker – a reformed skinhead – who shared how he went down the wrong path, and how he was able to distance himself from that life to now work with MoT to promote tolerance. The visit to MoT prompted a very productive conversation between DD and I.
For the last five years, I've been in and out of a wheelchair. I've noticed how differently people treat me when I can't walk. While some people treat me the same regardless of how I get around, many people either treat me with pity or like a piece of furniture. I'm not feeling sorry for myself here, just an observation. With group tours, I often can't see a thing, so I've learned to soak things in by listening. At MoT, we were pleasantly surprised by the class of teens that were in our group. Instead of crowding us out, they made a real effort to help clear a space so I could be where I could actually see. They did this without any prompting. I was touched by their kindness ~ it's nice to see such a nice group of teens! There was no pity, no dismissiveness, just kindness. We made sure to speak to their teacher after the tour to let her know how wonderful they were. She beamed with pride. DD overheard her talking to them while we were leaving – she was showering them with praise.
When we left the museum, we braved another harrowing ride in a taxi to get back to the hotel to pick up our luggage. Our timing was perfect! Just as we pulled up, they were loading a shuttle that was heading to the airport. The driver kindly got our luggage from the desk. When we arrived under the green sign, the DLE was already there. DD and I loaded onto the bus. We left five minutes later. Though we stopped at 6 other terminals, DD and I ended up being the only passengers. What wonderful timing!
Our DLE driver was very funny! His jokes were definitely more 'mature', so my guess is he has a different set of jokes when little kids are within ear shot. Near the end of the ride, he started challenging us with Disney trivia. He obviously didn't know how Disney-savvy his passengers were! He stumped us on a few, but we managed to stump him with even more. I offered to send him more trivia via email so he could expand his challenges on future rides, and he gladly accepted.
We had another stroke of luck when we arrived at PPH – no waiting to check in! We were in room 616, which had a partial low view of DCA. The staff was wonderful! There was a slight mix-up with the groceries. The bell staff forgot to refrigerate the cold items, which left us with bad lunch meat and yogurt. Without me even asking, they credited my room account for the amount of the spoiled food.
We did another bed-bug check, and the room was perfectly clean. It took us around 30 minutes to unpack and get organized. I'm so glad we brought a door shoe hanger - It made for much less clutter with three women sharing the room. We absolutely loved PPH! The rooms were bigger than GCH, seemed to be quieter. The only downside (though not a big deal for us), was the elevator shuffle. As reported by other trip-reporters, it took a while to find a spot in an elevator first thing in the morning and later in the evening. It was only really a problem for us that Saturday. Other days were were coming and going at off hours, so access was pretty easy. I would advise anyone who tours the parks commando style (open-close), that they give themselves extra time to get downstairs.
Once we were unpacked and settled, we checked with Bell Services to see if my scooter might have arrived early. They weren't able to find it, so we headed to DTD with DD pushing my wheelchair. My pain level was manageable, so I thought about trying to just walk with the cane, but DD reminded me that we were there for quite a few days and pushing it now could potentially ruin the rest of the trip. Common sense prevailed, and I let her guide me instead.
We had grumbling tummies. We couldn't figure out why we were SO HUNGRY, until we remembered we'd skipped lunch. We settled on Jazz Kitchen. My stomach was still a little sensitive, so instead of getting big meals, we ordered a few appetizers That really did the trick! Not only did we save quite a bit of money, we had more than enough to satisfy our hunger.
After eating, we headed to the ticket booth to upgrade to Annual Passes. Once again, we had no wait! I was pleasantly surprised by the lack of waiting on this trip so far! The upgrade process was much easier than it was when we had passes in '07. I like that they can renew the same pass now instead of having to get new ones every year.
We headed into DCA. I have to admit, it was odd not to take our first steps into DL. Given the time of day, I decided it'd be better to head to the other park instead of spending the first hour winding around Candlelight crowds. BVS is just awesome! The flow from land to land seems much more fluid. The original entry wasn't nearly as immersive or steeped in Disney history. That first night, DD kept saying “IT'S ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!” It became a running theme. I had to giggle when she repeated that phrase over and over throughout the whole trip! I teared up, so happy to be there. I felt so silly, tears rolling down my cheeks looking at every new special detail added to the once-disappointing park.
For the first time in decades, I found myself completely disoriented in a Disney park! I couldn't figure out where anything was. That first night was all about getting a lay of the land and getting our PP+. A nice cast member directed us to the camera shop where once again we found very little wait time. Next we were off to see Carsland for the first time. WOW! I'm glad Disney is back to it's awe-inspiring theming! We went up and down the street, just soaking it all in. Oddly enough, I didn't feel the need to take a ton of pictures – I was too busy just being enveloped in the Disney magic.
We decided we needed to hop onto a ride. I knew after watching the racers that I wouldn't be able to ride that, and Mater's was also not a good one with all of that whipping around. We settled on LFT. Now I've read a LOT of negative reviews of this ride, but I actually loved it! DD and I giggled the entire time! It quickly became her favorite. The HA loading was impressive, as was the queue theming. We were happy it was our first ride of the trip.
After a bit more wandering, we left the park at 10:45. On the way back to the hotel, we grabbed Jamba Juice. When we entered the lobby, a bell service cast member stopped us to tell us there was a slight mistake. The scooter had in fact been dropped off earlier that day. No problem! We took the scooter up to the room so we could charge it overnight.
We were sound asleep by 12:30.
Here are some pictures of our room:
Here is the room service menu for those who are interested:
Here's an interesting note left on the bed. I guess people steal the pillows too much:
The tree in the lobby:
I'm still uploading photos. More trip report in a day or two!
Day Three: We Made it to DLR!
The Plan: Wake up at 6AM (what were we thinking??). Go to the Storyteller's character breakfast, then head to Disneyland. Mom was due to arrive at the hotel around 11. We would get her settled and head to our WOC lunch at WCT. We planned to meet up with a new friend in the afternoon. We wanted to squeeze in a Bill Hill show before having dinner at Cafe Orleans. We'd end the night by seeing the 9:00 WOC show, and then get to bed early!!
What Happened: After a long, happy, and productive Friday, Saturday turned out to be just as eventful. The alarm went off at 6AM and we had to drag ourselves out of bed. My pain level was high, and my body was very swollen, but it still felt somewhat manageable. We headed out just in time to play “will we ever find an elevator” with the dozens of other families trying to get downstairs. It was no problem though – we made it to the restaurant only five minutes late. We were so happy to be at DISNEYLAND that it didn't sour our mood.
Storytellers was a good choice. We chose to order from the menu. I had the California omelet, and DD had huevos rancheros. Both were delicious. The characters were a lot of fun, but more subdued than they are at other character meals. We had fun watching the British family sitting at the table next to us. The kids were so excited, yet patient and polite!
We hadn't been to DL yet, so we decided to spend an hour or so in the magic kingdom before meeting mom. We rode Peter Pan (I had forgotten how bumpy the start and end of the ride was!), Alice, and Buzz. We also visited Pixie Hollow. We'd never been to that part of the park before, and were pleasantly surprised at how well it is themed! The cast member controlling the line was wonderful with the little ones! She truly added to the magic in that attraction. We used our PP+ to get some fantastic pictures of DD with Tink and her friend.
As we were leaving the Hollow, we got a call from mom. She was on the bus and would soon be at the hotel. As we headed toward the exit, we saw the Dapper Dans! Now I'm a complete Disney nut, but somehow had never seen them before. They are so talented! I love barbershop quartet groups, and the Dan's did not disappoint. From now on, they are a must-see group for us.
We got to the hotel a couple of minutes after mom arrived. DD and I were so excited for her to arrive. Sure, we live near her and see her all of the time, but this was different; we were about to share our favorite place in the world with her. I couldn't wait to show her everything that was special about DLR. DD and mom went up to the room so she could unpack, and I stayed down in the lobby to listen to carolers.
When they came back downstairs, we headed to DCA through the GCH entrance. I know, it isn't the best first exposure to the parks, but we were running a bit late and needed to get to WCT for our WOC lunch. We managed to arrive a couple of minutes early and were seated right away. We all started with the Italian Wedding Soup (yum!). I had the chicken sandwich, DD had the chicken salad, and mom had the shrimp salad. We each enjoyed our meals. It was a little pricey, but I wanted to be sure we had a decent view of the show.
We had planned to meet a new friend after lunch, but I accidentally left her number at home. With really poor cell reception, I couldn't even look it up! Hopefully we'll be able to connect next fall when we attempt to go back to the resort.
Now, I must admit on previous trips, we've been in a big hurry to get to the rides every day. This trip was different. None of us seemed rushed at all! We were just enjoying everything we did without worrying too much about how much we crammed into the day. I like this way of touring the parks! I was far less stressed and had a lot more patience in general. By taking it slow, we noticed so many little details we have always missed in the past. That being said, we decided to hit some rides after lunch.
We headed to TSMM where there was a 45 minute wait. We decided to stick it out since it'd been 3 years since we'd been on this ride. On previous visits it'd been closed. Mom rode in her own car, and DD and I rode in a car together. DD soundly kicked my butt! Despite my embarrassing score, it was a fun ride! Much to my surprise, DD talked mom into taking a trip on Screamin'! I promised her I wouldn't share the ride photo on the boards, but I can honestly say it was the funniest picture I'd ever seen! Her hair was standing straight up, her face was sheet white, and her mouth was formed into a blood-curdling scream! I was laughing so hard people started staring. I couldn't help it though – it was just priceless!
To get back at me (all in good fun), she and DD talked me into riding Mickey's Fun Wheel. We were in a stationary gondola, but I was still terrified! I've always been afraid of what I call “wheels of death”, but agreed to go anyway. If she did something that terrified her, I had to have my turn to be scared. DD and mom had a great time laughing at me clutching the sides of the cage while they rocked it back and forth. I made it through, but really thought I'd be sick! I am so weird! I was a huge roller coaster junkie in my youth, but am afraid of a slow spinning wheel. Go figure.
Look how high that thing is!
This is my family laughing at me:
From there we headed over to GRR. It's one I can't ride, so I went shopping in the little store and waited for them to finish. They came back completely soaked! I had to hand it to mom – she sure was being a good sport! We went back to the room so they could change into dry clothes. It was just too cold outside to walk around wet. We toyed with the idea of taking a nap, but only had an hour before our Cafe Orleans reservations.
As always we enjoyed our meals. Mom had the chicken gumbo crepes. She gave me a taste and I loved it! It's a must-order on future trips. DD and I split the pork loin. It was good, but we've had better. We all shared an order of Pommes Frites. I'm not a french fry fan, but I just love these things! We wandered around the shops around the restaurant for a bit before heading to WOC.
Now we've never seen WOC because the cramped standing-room only viewing scared me a bit. We almost went a few years ago, but that is when they had all of the handicapped viewing in the back. I have to say they seemed to have their act together this year! We had AMAZING spots to watch the show! Other than a light pole, there was nothing blocking our view. I'm glad we brought ponchos – I put one over the scooter to protect the motor. We got a little wet, but not too bad. The show was awesome! I don't know what I expected, and it was better than I thought. We were all very happy we had a chance to see the show from such a wonderful vantage point.
After the show, we thought about doing more rides but both mom and I were exhausted. DD didn't want to hang out alone, so we all went back to the hotel. We got to the room at 10:30 and were sound asleep by 11. I was startled awake by a text at 11:30, letting us know that my high school friend and his partner would have to cancel our meet-up the next day because of a work conflict. I was disappointed, but knew if we didn't see him this time, we would the next time we were in town.
Day Four: The Speed Bump
On Sunday, we were planning to meet a high school friend of mine and his partner for a Minnie and Friends breakfast, followed by hanging out in Disneyland. In the early afternoon, our friends would need to head home and we would go to the hotel for lunch and a nap. After a rest, we'd meet two other friends for dinner in DTD. We'd finish the evening with dessert seating for Fantasmic and watch the fireworks from our seats.
When the alarm went off at 7, mom and I were still exhausted. We thought about canceling the breakfast, but eventually dismissed that idea since the meals were already paid for. My pain level was increasing by the minute, but I was determined to go and have a good time. DD and I are very close, so she could see through my bad acting. She made a point of helping me dodge bumps from other people as we made our way to the restaurant. We arrived right at 8 and were seated right away. I wasn't sure how mom would like the character meals.
As usual, M&F was a big hit! The characters are always so playful there! Chip was quite mischievous, as was Captain Hook. The Captain spent a lot of time startling cast members, which was good for a laugh. The made to order omelets were a hit, and we all liked the fruit offerings. We're not big breakfast eaters, but did eat quite a bit that morning.
After breakfast, we headed to Tomorrowland. Mom and DD rode Star Tours and Space Mountain. The picture was hysterical! I wish I could show it to you, but again I promised not to post it anywhere. She enjoyed both rides, but didn't feel the need to ride them again. Next, we all road BLAB, and my daughter beat me soundly. We headed into Fantasyland where mom and DD rode Nemo. Mom and I watched DD ride the Tea Cups before we all road Peter Pan.
About this time, my back spasms got much worse. Even driving the scooter was excruciatingly painful. I lied and told them I wanted to do a bit of shopping while they rode the rest of the Fantasyland rides. They did them all which gave me a bit of time to take some pain meds and relax for a little while. Mom came with me to pick up the Fantasmic and tour tickets while DD rode the Fantasyland rides again. The pain got much worse, so we sent a text to DD to let her know we'd be heading back to the room. DD wasn't far behind. Within an hour, we were all sound asleep.
The alarm woke us at two. Though I felt rested, the pain only got worse. Trying to keep up with them, even on the scooter, seemed impossible. Since the scooter had jerky starts and stops no matter what the speed setting, I wrestled with how I was going to make it through the rest of the day. I also had a new symptom – my legs and hands were VERY swollen. So swollen, in fact, the skin felt stretched to the limit.
I decided to continue with the scooter. We left the room to meet our friends. When the elevator hit the first floor, the door opened and they were standing right there! We made our way to the lounge in PPH. Mom and DD had FastPasses for Indy, so they left while I visited with my friends. Once again it was as if time stood still! I hadn't seen them in two years, but it was as if no time had passed. Before we knew it, it was time to head to Naples for our reservations. The whole time I tried to hide how much pain I was in. By the time we got to the restaurant, I knew I couldn't hide it anymore. Getting to the table was so painful, I had DD drive the scooter back to the room and pick up my manual wheelchair. That way I didn't have to transfer in and out of chairs all evening.
I'm eternally grateful we were among good friends. I found myself tearing up every time I shifted in my chair. They were willing to just sit and chat instead of wander through DTD. I tell you, having a chronic illness really shows you who your friends are! Many people don't know how to be around pain and illness, but these two didn't treat me any differently or head to the hills. They were more than happy to modify plans without making me feel guilty. I truly love them for that!
By seven, we needed to part ways so mom, DD and I could line up to choose our Fantasmic seats. Thankfully DD and mom took turns pushing the chair. It helped to be able to sit perfectly still and elevate my legs (adjustable wheelchair legs). By staying so still, the pain became more manageable. When we got to the podium at 7:30, there were already 10-15 people in front of us. Many of them ended up being for the second show. We had a nice time chatting with the Australian family behind us in line, so time passed quickly.
When it was time to take our seats, I found I couldn't transfer into a regular chair. The seating area was a bit cramped, so I struggled to make the chair fit. A wonderful cast member watched my struggle and came up with a plan to make us more comfortable. He guided us to a roped off area behind the VIP section. We had the whole section to ourselves! It was dead-center! There were no people around to bump me, and the view was incredible. KUDOS to a quick thinking cast member! We were sure to tip him as well as the CM who served us throughout the show.
We all enjoyed the show. There was something odd about Murphy though – she showed up later than usual. It was a little odd, but still made a great impression on mom. We each only ate a couple of items in the dessert box. We ended up taking it back to the room, but never finished all of the treats. We stayed in our spots to watch the fireworks.
After the show and fireworks, everyone decided it was time for bed. We noticed pirates was walk-on, so mom and DD took a trip around the bayou. We decided not to exit down Main Street to avoid the post fireworks and post Candlelight crowds. We circled in front of the castle and down through Tomorrowland to catch the monorail. We got back to the hotel at 10. Since no early meals were planned, we set the alarm for 10AM. By 11, we were all snoring.
Would the pain continue on Monday? Would I have to cancel Club 33? Stay tuned....
Day Five: Lunch at the Club
The day was going to start with a quick breakfast in DTD, followed by early entry to DCA. At noon, DD and I would head to Club 33, while mom had counter service lunch (she didn't want to join us at the club). We would spend late afternoon/early evening in Disneyland or DCA and have dessert at Blue Bayou.
The extra sleep really did a lot of good. I still hurt quite a bit, but not nearly as bad as the night before. I still needed to use the wheelchair to avoid the jerky starts and stops, but once I settled into the chair, I felt better. The swelling was still there, but wasn't getting worse.
DD went to get us all Jamba, and we ate in the room. Mom and DD hit the parks for a while and I stayed in the room with my legs elevated until I needed to get ready for Club 33. We left early, not wanting to be late. By ten minutes until noon, we were in front of the magical door. Honoring our host's instructions, we didn't ring the bell until exactly noon.
We entered the lobby, still not believing we had arrived. I was given the option of staying in my chair and entering through the service elevator, or finding a way to walk up a couple of stairs to the french lift. I wasn't about to view the kitchen before the restaurant, so we sent the chair up first and DD kindly helped me make my way to the lift. I'm so glad I made that choice! It's such a beautiful hallway at the top of the lift. We were instantly transported into a ornate, art-filled nirvana. All memories of the crowds and pain faded as we were greeted by two hostesses. We were guided to our table near a window in the main dining room. I opted to transfer into a regular chair.
We got settled and looked through the menu. Brenda, our wonderful server, took our orders. DD the discretely took pictures of the buffet so I would know what was available. Such a sweet girl, she brought me a plate full of delicious appetizers before getting a plate of her own. I had smoked salmon, tomato and mozzarella salad, pasta salad, and an amazing tomato soup. She had a similar array of goodies, but also added crap legs or lobster (couldn't tell which).
Our entrees arrived a few minutes after we finished our appetizers. I had chicken. Since I wasn't able to eat the standard vegetables (allergies), they gladly substituted a serving of perfectly grilled asparagus. DD had the salmon, which was better than any salmon I've ever had at a restaurant! The pesto and eggplant spreads were great compliments. We also ordered a side of the famed truffle mac and cheese – OMG was that delicious!
I really wanted to see the view from the balcony, but the chair wouldn't fit. DD graciously offered to help me and we shuffled outside between the entree and dessert courses. While out there, we chatted with a group of lovely ladies who were sitting at the table next to us. We took turns taking pictures of our groups before heading back into the dining room. We were positioned over Cafe Orleans. When we looked down, we noticed only one set of eyes looking up. It was a little boy, no more than 4 years old. He waved enthusiastically, and we waived right back. He kept nudging his parents, trying to get them to look up as well. They never did look up, but he continued to waive and smile.
Right before we ventured to the dessert buffet, Brenda arrived with my birthday cake. It was beautiful! I teared up as I realized how special it was to celebrate my birthday in such a magical place. We really wanted to try some of the desserts on the buffet, so Brenda kindly boxed up the cake so we could take it back to the room. Tracie prepared us each a dessert plate. Between the two of us, we had cheese cake pops, mini cupcakes, custard, and club 33 cookies. Brenda was kind enough to box up a few of the cookies so I could take them to Laurie and her family.
We asked for and received a tour of the club. Noah, our tour guide, told us stories about the history of the club. He also pointed out concept art and told us about some of the future plans for the club. We ended our afternoon by buying Club 33 exclusive merchandise. I was happy and exhausted! Instead of going back down the lift, we opted to take the service elevator. I'm so happy we didn't go that route when we entered! This elevator was in the kitchen. It took us down to the kitchen of Cafe Orleans and out behind the chalk artists. Not the most attractive journey, but it was interesting to see the setup in each kitchen! Saying goodbye to our once-in-a-lifetime lunch was bittersweet. We are so grateful to our host for making this possible! We'll have this memory forever! We headed back to the hotel and fell asleep, dreaming about all that we'd experienced and seen.
After our naps, we headed into DCA. Mom and DD rode Mater. They said it was a lot of fun. We all went on LFT after that. It was a funny ride considering they put us all into the same tire! I'm not a small woman, so it was a tight fit. We had fun regardless. That ride pulled laughter out of all three of us!
RSR had a 75 minute wait, so we left Carsland and headed to Soarin'. Mom fell in love! She was just going with the flow the whole trip – having a great time doing whatever her granddaughter wanted. Soarin' was the first ride she asked to experience again.
Because of all of the sweets piling up in our room, we canceled our Blue Bayou reservations. Hungry and tired, we went through DTD looking for food. We ended up at EOS since (surprisingly) there were no lines! We all ordered the chipolte chicken sandwiches and headed back to the room to eat. We each a piece of birthday cake after dinner. DD was quickly running out of clothes, so she volunteered to do some laundry. She was happy to do it since it was an opportunity to have some quiet time to herself to read and relax. When she got back, we all fell asleep in no time at all.
Here are a few pictures from Club 33:
You got some beautiful pics of Club 33....I'm so glad you're sharing them with us! The cookies were delicious!!! THANK YOU again for the box of treats and picking out a pin and an ornament for me......I L:love:VE them!! I actually have my ornament on my Disney tree. :goodvibes
YOU are a BRAVE, BRAVE woman to get on Mickey's Wheel of Death!!! :scared1: If I got on it I would probably do this~~~~~ :faint:
Hoping you'll have more pics to post!!
I wasn't thrilled about Mickey's wheel AT ALL, but I couldn't keep encouraging DD to face her fears if I wasn't willing to do it myself. :confused3 They kept rocking the cage which just about made me lose my cookies!
Day 6: Security! Tour! New Friends!
We had breakfast reservations at PCH Grill at 7AM. After breakfast, we'd go to Disneyland until noon, have lunch in the room, and then go on the holiday tour that started at 1:30. Dinner would be at Tortilla Joe's, and then we'd stay at Disneyland until closing. After closing, I'd meet Laurie at Trader Sam's at 9PM.
I honestly though mom would strangle me when the alarm went off at 6AM! Thankfully she found a way to make peace with the early hour. We arrived at PCH on time, and were seated right after a picture with Mickey. The food was good, and seemed to wake us all up. Stitch was uncharacteristically dull, but Pluto was hilarious! He was acting a lot like Stitch has in the past. We all had a great time watching the little ones dancing with Mickey and the gang. The food was okay. I'm sure it was actually better than okay, but I wasn't really feeling like eating too much that morning.
Pluto Doin' a little dance...
Picking on DD...
After breakfast we headed back up to the room to gather our things. Once we got there, I decided it would be a good idea to go back to bed. I knew if I kept going at that point, I'd be in pretty bad shape by the end of the day. Mom and DD went to the parks and I went to bed. The blackout curtains were great! I managed to sleep until after 10AM. I must have needed the rest because I felt a lot better after the slumber.
DD and mom were at the parks. They told me before I fell asleep that they were planning to go to Carsland and attempt to ride RSR. With the huge lines, I was sure they were still making that attempt. I tried to call them for about 30 minutes, but got no answer. I was in a bit of a pickle I couldn't figure out how to get the door open and drive the scooter out the door without assistance. I tried quite a few times but nothing seemed to work. I came up with a plan that ended up being a bit of a funny misunderstanding...
I called down to Bell Services and asked if anyone was free to simply hold the door open. The conversation went something like this.
Hi, I'm in room 616. Do you have anyone available that can give me a hand for a second?
Sure! What do you need?
Well, my family went to the park while I was sleeping, and I can't get a hold of them. I'd like to head out to do some shopping, but I can't seem to get my scooter out of the room without someone holding the door open. Do you mind...
She interrupted, Hang in there, we're coming right away!
She said it with such force, I started to wonder why she was acting like it was a big deal! Not even a minute later, there's a loud bang on my door.
Ma'am, hold on! We're coming in!
I stood up to find 2 security officers coming into the room! Somehow the person who answered the phone misunderstood my situation. She told them that my family locked me in the room with no way to get out! I was embarrassed, but couldn't stop laughing. The security guards, understanding the miss-communication, started laughing too. Good thing they had a key or they might have broken down the door! I still can't figure out how she jumped from someone holding the door to rescuing me from a hostage situation LOL!
Anyway, after I was rescued from my perilous situation, I spent a small fortune on gifts in World of Disney and had them send it to my hotel (I love that service!). I headed to DL to wait for the family. Rolling around for a bit I decided to make myself useful. I started taking pictures for people in front of the tree. It was fun I recommend this random act of kindness to anyone! I met some pretty nice families and passed the time with a smile on my face.
I started getting hungry, so I decided to see if Carnation Cafe had any openings. They did and my family showed up just in time for us to be seated. We were right next to an interesting family. The woman reminded me of the women in Sopranos! She was quite a character! The food was good. I'm glad we found something we'd like because I was concerned with all of the changes to the menu. We got to meet Oscar (a first for us)!
After lunch we made a quick trip into the hat shop on Main Street to buy baseball caps to shade our eyes from the sun. We then headed over to the Guided Tour kiosk to meet our guide for the holiday tour. We had a fantastic, energetic tour guide! We loved all of the Christmas facts! The rides were grate, as was the parade.
We all received a holiday mug, a cookie, and a pin. We stayed to watch them light Small World.
DD spent some time talking to the tour guide about the internship programs available through Disney. She got some wonderful advise!
We hadn't been to ToonTown yet, so that was our next stop. Mom and DD went on Roger Rabbit while I shopped a bit more for my grandson's Christmas presents. After they were finished, I showed mom around the town for a little while before we decided it was time to head out of the park. Once again we skirted around the castle to get to the monorail. We ate EOS in the room and rested for a little while.
At around 9, DD and I headed out to meet Laurie, her son, and their friend at Trader Sam's. The band was a little loud for DD, who is noise sensitive, so she headed into DTD to see if the skating rink was still open. I chatted with Laurie for a while and brought her goodies from Club 33. I was so glad to meet such a nice Disney fan! I told her I hope to start going on the Diva trips in the future. When she needed to get back to the room, I headed to DTD to catch up with DD. Apparently the rink was closed, so she decided to get a henna tattoo. I found her chatting with a nice young lady who worked at the kiosk. She was asking lots of questions about Oregon!
We finally made it back to the hotel by 11:30, and were asleep by midnight.
Stay tuned for our last full day in the parks, where we finally do some rides!
I just had to pop in for a quick minute because you said a few things I had to comment on! (I almost didn't pay any attention to this thread because I thought you would be adding your actual TR to your Pre-TR thread, like Laurie did, and that thread was the one I subscribed to!)
1. You mentioned the food at Surf's UP being okay, though you were sure it was probably better than okay. I had the same experience. I thought the characters were a blast, but I did not like the scrambled eggs at all and the other two things I ate were...okay. Still, I feel like I want to try it once more in the future because I'm thinking the food must be better than that (I know that the character meals' food quality can literally change dramatically from day to day);
2. You mentioned Stitch kind of being a dud with you (not like he used to be) at Surf's Up - I had the same experience! Stitch arrived at our table and for some reason we were not prepared. Maybe I didn't have my camera ready or something. I can't recall what the scenario was. Oh, and also I think that maybe Laurie had come over to our table to chat and Stitch saw the chatting and assumed that no one wanted a picture, so he just turned away. I don't have a single photo of myself with Stitch or of Liza/funatdisney with Stitch. The other characters waited a second if I had to get my camera ready. Stitch seemed like he wanted to go elsewhere (but he was playful with the kids in the restaurant);
3. You were in room 616 of the PPH? I was in room 604! We were on the same floor! We may have passed each other in the lobby or something (I think - though I could be imagining it - that your DD looks vaguely familiar);
4. It's funny you mentioned going to the CVS across the street from The Grove and Farmers Market - I am very familiar with that CVS. As I mentioned in your Pre-TR thread, I live very close to Farmers Market/The Grove and LACMA/the Tar Pits (walking distance), so I am at all of those places quite a lot. But that CVS used to be just a plain ol' Sav-On Drugs that sold ice cream cones when I was a kid. I'm glad you enjoyed The Grove and Farmers Market! It actually snows at The Grove at night during the holidays!;
5. The taxi drivers around the whole area that CVS (and Whole Foods) is located in - which is called the Town and Country - are very used to that shopping center. There are a lot of elderly folks who shop and need rides! They also pick up a lot of elderly folks from the Farmers Market on weekends. They should be well-versed in where The Grove is - it's a big highlight of the city. Barnes and Noble would throw them off - because there are a lot of those - but simply saying "The Grove on Third Street" or "The Farmers Market at Third & Fairfax" should have been enough info for them!;
6. I had been telling Laurie before her trip started that she should make time to go to The Grove and Farmers Market, especially during the holidays. She didn't make time for it. However, given what ended up happening with her Hollywood plans (which I'm sure she told you, but will also share when she gets to it in her TR), I think she should have followed my unsolicited advice!:rotfl2: Farmers Market and The Grove are just 10-15 minutes (by car) away from Hollywood!
Other than those things I wanted to comment on, I love the Club 33 pictures! I don't think it would have been a bad thing if you had posted all of your photos from it - believe me, people like a lot of photos (and details) on this forum! Don't hold back! When I started adding a lot more photos to my TR thread about 3 years ago, and then kept taking more and more photos on each trip (which I posted in that same thread), the number of views of my thread picked up substantially.
So, please feel free to share more photos from everywhere - Club 33, the PPH, The Grove, the parks, LACMA/the Tar Pits, etc. There are a lot of people lurking out there who have never been to these places and they will want to see as many pictures as possible!:cool1:
I didn't actually finish writing tonight's post, but I do have a treat for anyone reading. Remember when I said I couldn't post the roller coaster pictures of my mom? Well, she's a great sport and gave me permission to share!
Mom and DD are in row three. She was terrified, but such a good sport! If DD asked her to ride anything, she did (with the exception of ToT).
I don't know about you, but I can almost read her thoughts there! :confused3
That is pretty funny about the security guards coming to save the day!!! :lmao: I guess "business" was slow that day, so it gave them a little adrenalin rush they crave......lol :rotfl:
I love seeing Oscar!!! We chat every visit and of course get a picture together!! He's a very sweet man. He just got back from a 30 day break. His wife has cancer, so he was spending time with her. Sad......but unfortunately just a part of many people's lives.
Did you enjoy the Holiday Tour?? I found it to be fun and a great way to get on the 2 holiday rides plus get an amazing seat for the parade. Can you take a picture of this year's pin you got?
It was fun meeting up with you.....just wish we could have done it at an earlier time.......I think we both were a little tired. Hopefully this summer we can take a trip down your way so we can spend a little more time together!!
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