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Old 09-12-2012, 07:13 PM   #1
Rx774
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Christian's Make A Wish Trip - Disneyland / Universal Studios

Christian is our 6 YO son, born with MSUD, and he received a Liver Transplant in January of 2009. We discovered just a few months ago that him and his sister Annika (also received a Liver Transplant in 2009) were even eligible for Make A Wish. Below is our trip report, i am sorry for the different camera views, and sizes, but we have my cell, the wife's cell, our digital camera, plus a tablet to take photos from. My digital camera is crappy, this is the first time i really used it extensively, i think it must have gotten damaged or something, cause my pics are a bit blurred at times.
Here we are by the way. Me, wife Shana, Annika-11, Christian-6, and Dylan-2.


Day 1
7 am pickup form the house with a nice stretched Lincoln Continental. The kids, well 2 of the kids loved the limo ride.


The 3rd, our 2 year old was indifferent about the whole thing. We passed through security ok. Got on the plane and IT happened. The Captain was kind enough to announce that the rear bathrooms weren’t working . So they ushered in a few maintaenance guys on - 45 minutes later. We were on our way. We had Christian sit next to the window, with Dylan between us. Shand and our daughter sat across from us. We departed and 3 hours in… the rear bathrooms were broke again, and this time, excluding the near miracle that maintence guys would catch up to us with jet packs, the bathrooms were brook for good this time. Luckily for me, I had got my 2 YO and 6 YO our of the bathroom. Just as I had got myself up to go (3 people in a bathroom was not going to work with me), that’s when it was announced it broke. So we all had to turn around and head to the front of the plane to use the first class bathroom. I stood in line about 30 minutes as I made my way to the front. Just as I finally got toeh front… the stewardess went around asking the 1st class passangers if they had to use the bathroom first. I was taken back by this. Here I was waiting forever to , and she was “pegging” for volunteers.
We finally arrived at the airport, LAX is quite beautiful by the way.


Jump on a shuttle to our car rental, stood in a ridiculous long line, but eventually got our minivan and was on our way to Paradise Pier.

Took forever to get there due to traffic, but we made it. We parked in the parking garage, and dragged our tired bodies and bags into the lobby. We handed the woman behind the desk our reservations, she typed us on the computer… and had an odd look on her face. That’s when we knew we were in trouble. She politely excused herself, and went into the back. Came out again, talked to a coworker, and together they went into the back. 10 minutes later they both returned, the gentlemen explained to us apologetically that there was some type of mix-up. Despite us having reservation in hand, Paradise Pier had no record of us staying at their place. We were mortified. By now the kids were already ancy, but we stood there stunned. How could this happen? This was like a Sienfeld episode, with the reservation for the car, but there wasn’t a car there. The gentlemen informed us that this local chapter of MAW had error’d and we were at the Homewood Suites. We were soooo embarrassed. Not that anyone else around knew of our situation. But, that feeling of “not belonging” was overwhelming. And we were so looking forward to Paradise Pier. I had done extensive research on it, and just couldn’t understand how this all happened. This is as close as we got to "staying" at Paradise Pier.. Goofy in the Lobby.


We got to HomeWood Suites in a about 6 minutes,

and was shocked to discover our room was actually pretty nice.



After getting settled, they were serving dinner in the lobby, so we sat and ate. Afterward we ran across the street to Target and got some food for our room. By the time we were done it was around 8pm, all we wanted to do was crash.

Last edited by Rx774; 09-14-2012 at 08:01 AM.
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Old 09-12-2012, 07:31 PM   #2
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Day 2

Day 2
Time for Disney. We had a packet which included our tickets to Disneyland /California Adventure Park Hoppers. We parked in the Disney Lott and was shuttled from the lot the the main walkway to Disney

We decided to do DL first. Once inside, it ofcourse remeind me a lot about DW, which we had just went to the previous year. Near the entrance, we were able to grab a quick shot with Goofy.

Then a shot with Christian and Annika

Having a two year old with us, meant somebody always had to do be outside for about 2/3 of the rides. But one of the first rides we came across, the Buzz Lightyear Light Pistol ride, my 2 YO was able to do. He didn’t care to much about the scenary, just the idea he could make the car rotate manually by his hand, was enough for him. This of course, affected my over all score.


This was an unbelievable fun ride, it really was. We actually did this about 3 times during our 2 day span here. Partly because all 5 of us could get on, 2 cars of course, and the line, moved pretty quickly with the conveyour belt car system.

From there, Shana, Annika and Christian got on Star Tours… which they loved. Christian wasn’t feeling too good, so we actually took the walking a slow place for his benefit. We did manage to take some great shots though...



Nemo Sub Ride, which was quite awesome.



We went on to explore another dozen or so rides before we began to tire, so we decided we’d take a break to return to the hotel and return. We rested in our room, once again took advantage of the free dinner and returned to DL that evening. In DW, I had noticed that the lines got better into the evening. Not the case in DL, if anything, things were worst. By the time they were ready for the shows, It was near impossible to get a good viewing close to the action. For the night time show, I put Christian on my shoulder, while Annika, Dylan and the my wife tried to stand somewhere else. I did the fatherly thing and painfully kept him up there for the entire 30 minure event.


Yes you could feel the heat. After that… I was done, legs, shoulder and back. So we called it quits and returned to the hotel.

Last edited by Rx774; 09-13-2012 at 12:37 PM.
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Old 09-12-2012, 07:45 PM   #3
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Day 3

Day 3.
Time to check out California Adventure, to fulfill Christian Wish to do Cars Land. I had read on here how Cars Land had the biggest wait, so we decided to do that first to get it out of the way.

Once again, Shana wanted no part of any type of roller coaster like ride, so its up to me, Annika, and Christian. We get there, and are stunned to see it a 90 minute wait, but we want to get it out of the way, so we begin. The line moves pretty quickly, and we managed to sneak in some good photos.


40 minutes in, and we are within 15 people from the front of the line. I found that to be true on most rides, the posted wait time was usually exaggerated. I was glad this was indeed one of those times. Moved up more, and then the announcement came… “The Car’s Ride is temporarily down, we are sorry for any….” Couldn’t believe our luck. They said people could leave, but who that close was going to leave their spots and wait in that long line again. It took another 40 minutes to get it up and running again. I don’t know how long I would of waited, but I knew I twould of destroyed Christian if we didn’t get on that ride. It was worth the wait. We had a blast. Annika was getting hungry, so we broke and ate at the V8 Cafe


Btw, by now you've noticed my daughter never has a smile on her face. Believe it or not, she's happy, but when its time to take a photo, she has to put on her smug face. What can i say, 11 going on 16.
We did the other major rides at CA, including Tower of Terror


Must see video of us "inside" the Tower of Terror


We walked around some more, taking in random shots.

And we did the Muppets 3D show and it was quite spectacular. I had NEVER done anything 3d before, so it was cool seeing this. We decided to go back to the hotel for some rest. Once again, we ate dinner at the hotel, prior to our return to the park. I wanted to the get my chance to experience Star Tours, and finally, finally we figured out how to use the advance pass. How stupid were we??? We could of save a bunch of time if we figured this out earlier. I loved the Star Tours, once again, it was in 3D.




We even did the Small World ride,

which was quite longer than we expected. Once we walked around some more, we called it a day for both parks. Kind a regret not seeing California Adventure’s night time show. And because of weather conditions, they cancelled the fireworks that night. So much for that.

Last edited by Rx774; 09-13-2012 at 12:47 PM.
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Old 09-12-2012, 07:59 PM   #4
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Day 4

Day 4 – Universal Studios.
Today was our day to visit Universal Studios. Despite us researching it extensively , we didn’t realize how fantastic it was going to be.




The ride from our hotel along I-5 was bit tricky at times, that traffic can be no joke at times, and having 5 lanes of traffic gives so people the right to act like an idiot. So anyway, upon our entrance we barely saw any people, and foolishly thought the park had little attendance on this Thursday. We got our tickets at the call window, FRONT OF THE LINE PASSES… this was indeed exciting. We wish we could of gotten something similar at DL, but despite that we still got to see everything we wanted, despite the lines. We sped our way directly to the Transformers, because we assumed that would be the longest wait, and we’d used our (what we thought were 1 time) front of the line passess. It took forever to get there, 4 sets of huge escalators, here's what they look like after we rode them to the bottom.


We managed a quick photo op with Spongebob, who the boys love.


Even took some shots of the Simpson's Area.


At the bottom we noticed the line for Jurasic Park was only 10 minutes, so we ducked into there.

Its upon asking an attendant, did we discover that our passes were good for EVERY ride, atleast 1 time. Did changed everything. Jurassic Park was awesome by the way, but not really too thrilling. So we continued our way to Transformers.

We got there, me and the kids, flashed our passes, and we were on our way. Let me tell you… even if the line was 60 minutes of wait for us, we still would of turned back around, and jumped back in line again. It was that good. Bumblebee was approaching, and he stoped to look at me, so I took a quick pic.


Let me tell you, him and Optimus Prime, were HUGE!!! I'd love to look up on how people make these things walk. Its obvious a person inside, but no matter what your vantage point, you can't see them.

Those type of rides are not Shana’s cup of tea, but I insisted that she give it a chance, stating it was similar to Star Tours. Unfortunately she had to go solo, as we sat with Dylan. 10 minutes later, Shana was outside, and agreed with me that it was a fantastic ride. We made our way back up after a few more rides and rude people. Finally, we mde it to to the backlots tour. Our passes got us on in 4 minutes. This is no ordinalry tour of 10 minutes. This entire tour took over 30 minutes. We traveled back lots of tv shows


We saw areas that were in films



Along the way we got to enjoy King Kong 3D which pretty much surrounds your bus with a 3d screen. It was awesome, kids loved it, and so did me and Shana. Weird enough the comedic highlight of the tour, was when we drove pas the Bates Motel


I hate to ruin it for you,(spoilers ahead) but It was great, as our tour narrator began talking to Norman Bates, who at this point, just dragged a body outside and dumped it into a trunk. Norman, then turns towards the bus, pulls out his knife and runs at the bus with a stabbing motion which sent everyone into a panic. We stopped for a late lunch at this diner, which had some of the nicest food out of any of the parks we visited Mel's Diner.


We made our way to the Terminator 3d experience. I hadn’t done much research on this, so we really didn’t know what we were in for.

We got in line, just to find out there was too many people to let in, so even us folks with the pass were getting turned away. At the last minute, we heard yells from the front, to stay where we were, and not leave, glad we listened. They squezzed us in to a standing room only demonstration of a live action cast member, portraying a role as an employee of Skynet. Next thing we knew, we entered the auditorium for a sitdown of a splendid mix of 3D movie and real life action. The 3D rivialed, if not surpassed Tranformers. It was an awesome way to wrap up universal. We caught Christian posing with Iron Man after leaving the T2 experience.

Sunset.

Last edited by Rx774; 09-13-2012 at 01:50 PM.
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Old 09-12-2012, 08:02 PM   #5
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Day 5

We were now officially “done” the parks. So it was time to do some things on our own free time. So we decided to do some shopping. We went to Downtown Disney,




and walked around. It was quite larger than I thought. Starting from the movie theater on, it takes you about 15 minutes to walk the entire stretch, which takes you to the door step of Disneyland / California Adventure entrance. So we grabbed a quick lunch at a pretzel store. At this point, the shoes Shana were wearing was starting to hurt her feet. So we decided to wrap that visit up. We went to our room, and got some rest again. We realized that our hotel didn’t do dinner on Fri/Sat nights, so we went out to a local restaurant, and brought food back to the hotel.

Last edited by Rx774; 09-13-2012 at 11:52 AM.
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Old 09-12-2012, 08:05 PM   #6
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Day 6.

We decided to visit the outlets.


It was not a far drive at all, about 15 minutes. We got a late start, so by the time we got up there, it was already past noon. After grabbing some items form a few stores, we were fortunate enough to encounter our expense card stop working! Wow! Talk about embarrassing. I placed some calls, but there was nothing that could be done remotely, since it was the weekend. They told me that we’d have to use our own cash, and just get reimbursed later by MAW. That was not a problem, and only a small inconvenience. But I knew right away, that I wasn’t going to spend the same amount out of pocket, that I would of spent using the remainder of our balance. I know its technically the same, but who knows when they are going to get around to reimbursing you. So with that being said, I slowed down our spending. We made our way back to Anaheim to the local UPS. Shipped some gifts back home, so weren’t dragging any new items of luggage home with us. We went back to our room, rested, and grabbed some Chinese for dinner, and called it a night. We decided then, was a good time to start packing, because we had a plane to catch by 11am.

Last edited by Rx774; 09-13-2012 at 11:44 AM.
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Old 09-12-2012, 08:15 PM   #7
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Day 7


Believe it or not, the kids were just fine over us leaving, they actually were missing home. I on the other hand, was not prepared to leave. This was a unique experience for us, one that will probably never happen again to this degree. I personally didn't feel like leaving, because this was a mental break for us, just as much as a physical break, from the day to day challenges of raising a family. We gathered our belongings, and hit the road around 7am for the airport.
We stole a few more pictures of the Anaheim scenery, and continued on our way.


Made excellent time to Avis, to drop the car off. They have an excellent check in systems, that basically has you park the car, they look over it for 30 seconds, scan it, and you are on your way, no lines to stand in like the checking out the car. The shuttle took us 10-12 minutes to arrive at the doors of the airport. Next thing we knew, we were hanging out, waiting for the 2 hours to pass so for our flight to board. That time came, more rapidly than you can expect, with the business of the children to help past the time. In time we were on our plane, with properly working bathrooms. We made it back to Philly in 4 hours, our Limo driver got us home in 20 minutes safely, this time, in a stretch Lincoln Navigator.


In conclusion, the kids had a ball, even our 2 year old, despite probably not understanding everything that was going along. Christian has memories that will last a lifetime, well whatever you can remember, from your life experiences of a 7 YO. Annika being 11, pretty much loved everything, it was really enjoyable to see our of our kids have such a blast. As parents, we live vicariously through our kids happiness, but this wasn’t necessary here. Because the fun we had here, made us feel like kids. We loved EVERY minute of it. There was no such thing as a lull, till we choose it so. I’d like to personally thank Make A Wish for providing 1 week of experiences, that will last us a lifetime of enjoyment.

Last edited by Rx774; 09-13-2012 at 12:29 PM.
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Old 09-12-2012, 08:40 PM   #8
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I'm glad your family had a chance to take this (I'm sure) much needed vacation! Disneyland looks like fun. Thanks for sharing. -Amanda
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Old 09-12-2012, 09:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MissPrice View Post
I'm glad your family had a chance to take this (I'm sure) much needed vacation! Disneyland looks like fun. Thanks for sharing. -Amanda
Thank you. It took forever to do this, because i assumed you had to use Photobucket to host the pics, and my job blocks Photobucket, which meant i did all this at home, just now. Then i watch the demo, i could have used any picture hosting site.

But yes, it was much needed.
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Old 09-12-2012, 09:26 PM   #10
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Your TR

Just read your whole post about your Wish Trip, and loved seeing the pictures. Too bad about the plane bathroom

But glad everything overall went quite well, and love that you have some wonderful memories now.

And, loved the tip about mailing stuff back home instead of taking it as luggage. I hadn't thought of that, we may have to consider this as well.
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Old 09-13-2012, 12:09 AM   #11
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Glad to hear everything overall went well. I was a little worried when I read your post a couple weeks back about not getting the hotel you thought you were getting! It sounds like everyone had a magical time!

Jackie
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Old 09-13-2012, 01:30 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onceagain1 View Post
Just read your whole post about your Wish Trip, and loved seeing the pictures. Too bad about the plane bathroom

But glad everything overall went quite well, and love that you have some wonderful memories now.

And, loved the tip about mailing stuff back home instead of taking it as luggage. I hadn't thought of that, we may have to consider this as well.
U have to weigh your options. It cost us almost $80 to ship everything back to PA from CA. Looking back on that, it might have been cheaper to bring it on board. But then again, that's that much extra stuff you are dragging around. Its a tough call, it was no joke dragging the large bags around, little kids can carry / drag but so much, even on wheels.
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Old 09-13-2012, 01:41 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lilfoot93 View Post
Glad to hear everything overall went well. I was a little worried when I read your post a couple weeks back about not getting the hotel you thought you were getting! It sounds like everyone had a magical time!

Jackie
Thanks Jackie. We couldn't really help but still think about what could of been, during our time in CA. Like i said above, we really, really looked forward to staying at Paradise Pier. I went out my way to hype this up to my wife, and when you walk through a place, and inhale how suburb it is, and then are later denied, that's a terrible feeling. I mean they had an arcade, that i just envisioned, seeing me and the kids hanging out inside of. A little kids theater room. The whole point is that its supposed to make it convenient to the wish family, and nothing would of been more convenient, than walking down the steps...out the door, and having Downtown Disney being right there. And of course DD leads you right into DL / California Adventure.

Our wish granter, was surprised on how well we handled the mishaps. She said other folks would of lost their minds, and took it out on them. I explained to her under the circumstances, there's no sense in losing it, because what's done is done. Also, i don't have it in me to complain to... the people who are basically making it possible for your family to have a free vacation. We brought it to their attention immediately, but once it was clear nothing could be done, its not fair to them to make them the point of your frustration.
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Old 09-13-2012, 02:10 PM   #14
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Very nice TR!

You have a beautiful family!!
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Happy Wishiversary, Ethan!
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Old 09-13-2012, 10:20 PM   #15
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Loved your TR ! I love photo journaling so the ones with lots of pictures are my favorite ! As ohers have said you have a beautiful family.
You mentioned it almost in passing but am I understand correctly that you had two kids get liver transplants in one year ? wow what a hard year for you as parents.

On the bright side didn't you love Southern California ! My DH is from Van Nuys and I LOVE going out to visit my MIL. We always manage at least a day at DL but it's been years since we've been to universal out there. I saw in your backstage pics that they have part of the Whoville set there and I LOVE 'How the Grinch Stole Christmas'. Now I have to make a point of going back to US the next trip! Thank You !

I felt your pain at not being able to stay at Paradise Pier but it does sound like you got to stay at a great place. With Free dinner ! Lastly I didn't know you got and expense card from MAW ! It sounds like you can use it for anything !? How cool ! I'm happy your family got to go on this trip, and I hope Christian is in good health.
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