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Old 07-18-2008, 02:18 AM   #1
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Yet Another Happiest Place on Earth Report Disneyland--Day Two, Part 2, June 10th

[I have some fairly believable excuses for not posting this installment sooner, but the real reason is that I’ve been stalling, waiting for the PhotoPass CD to arrive with the best pictures taken on our first day in Disneyland. This is Part 2 of Day Two and as this report starts I was still inside Paradise Pier Hotel, but I promise I will actually get us all to a Disney park before the day is over.]

It was Tuesday, 9AM. I’d been in Orange County, California for 17 hours, at Disneyland Resort for nearly 16 hours, slept just across the street from Disney’s California Adventure and had watched early morning pre-opening work go on in DCA for nearly 3 hours, but hadn’t yet set foot inside a park. So close and yet so far. Once Sharon got here we would get this show on the road and that should be within the hour. I was too excited to stay in the room any longer. It felt like I could shorten the wait time if I shortened the distance, so I took the glass elevator that faces outside the hotel down to the lobby. The front desk was busy with several happy people checking in and a few who had the tell tale look of guests at the end of their stay. Knowing I had some time before Sharon arrived, I stepped into the Treasures in Paradise gift shop, only a few steps from the hotel’s front door. I waited my turn to speak to the CM behind the counter, to ask him if I could get a new battery for my park watch either here or at one of the jewelry shops on Main Street. He said, sorry, no, but suggested I might buy a new watch from him. That seemed like a good idea and since I had the time to kill, I looked at everything in the shop’s watch inventory twice before choosing one with a numberless dial and cute little cameos of Mickey and Friends placed at the even number positions. The helpful CM cut away the packaging and set the time and I buckled on my new watch right there at the cash register. I was thinking that Sharon, a champion level shopper, would be so proud of me. I walked out of the gift shop looking at my new watch and that’s when I realized it was only 10 minutes after 9!!! This wait seemed to be getting longer instead of shorter. DCA wasn’t open yet, but I knew Disneyland was. If Sharon were arriving a bit later, I would have gone to Disneyland right then, but there wasn’t enough time to get there and back, not if I wanted a picture of my friend stepping into Paradise Pier Hotel for the first time—and not if I wanted to continue our friendship. She’d kill me if I went into Disneyland before she did.

So I sat and waited—and waited. I tried not to look at my watch all the time or get up more than once a minute to walk over to the big front doors to look at the driveway where shuttle after shuttle dropped off guests, but never Sharon. Sitting there that morning I learned that the stiller I sit the more I can worry. As the hands on my new watch crept toward 10 o’clock I started imagining reasons why Sharon wasn’t here yet. Of course, I was concerned for the well being of my friend, but more to the point, I was worried about the daylight we were losing! 10, 10:15, and 10:30 all came and went and still no Sharon. If her plane landed on time and the transfer took as long as my shuttle ride, she should have been here by 10. Wouldn’t she call if there were a delay somewhere along the way? That’s when I realized my cell phone was not in my hand bag, but still plugged into the charger on the desk in the room (where it was when its ring woke me at 5:45 this morning!). Sharon was late enough now to suspect something really had gone a bit wrong, but she was also late enough to think she could be here any minute, which meant if I left my post by the front door to go back to the room to get the phone, chances were good I’d miss getting that picture of her walking into the lobby for the first time. I had to chance it. I pressed the button on the glass elevator (which was about 15 feet closer to the front door than the other elevators and almost had a clear view of the door), then while waiting for the elevator car to get to the lobby level I ran to the front door to look one more time for arriving shuttles, then ran back as the elevator door opened. I jumped in, pressed the button for the 14th floor, then pressed it a couple of more times really hard to make it hurry! I flew out of the elevator as the door was still opening and raced down the hall (that I didn’t remember being so long) with my room key positioned to slam into the door as soon as I reached it. I was in the room, grabbed the phone, and was on my way back to the elevator in 12 seconds. You might think I was checking for messages as I ran back to the elevator, but here’s where I have to admit that my friend, Matt Churchill, has good reason to give me a bad time about not fully embracing current technology because I’d never bothered to have the voice mail set up on this phone (I’d only had it for three years!). So, if Sharon had called, I had no evidence. I could have tried calling her, but I didn’t have her number! Good grief!! I didn’t have her cell number!! So much for all my careful vacation planning. I could call my sister Sally back in Oklahoma. She and Sharon are best friends and they talk all the time and I knew she’d know Sharon’s number. The problem with this plan was that Sally teaches in a prison and every day she has to leave her mobile phone with the guards at the gate—a bureaucratic fact that wasn’t going to stop me from calling my sister. I called directory assistance which connected me with the prison operator who rang Sally’s classroom extension. I tell you all this so that you have an idea of the desperation level I’d worked myself into in just a few short minutes. I was talking to Sally at 11:05 when I saw Sharon’s shuttle pull up. A quick goodbye to Sally and I was out the door to greet our friend. This is the place I should show you the picture of Sharon entering the Paradise Pier lobby, the one that I’d been waiting all morning to take. I’d show you if I had one. In all the excitement and relief that came with Sharon’s arrival, I didn’t take a picture! It’s all right, though. This extraordinarily long preamble is over and now the Disney adventure begins—finally. (I’ll bet you’re thinking that, too.).

Sharon practically skipped through the lobby she was so excited to be staying at a real Disney hotel. When she agreed to do this trip with me, the only non-negotiable request she made was that we stay at a “real” Disney hotel (not a problem since that was my plan anyway). Sharon lives in Northern California and through the years has been to Disneyland many times, often when she has accompanied Howard to LA on business trips and then managed to finagle jaunts to Anaheim. Many of those trips were pre-DCA and all were day trips only. Howard, sweet (and wise) man that he is, lets Sharon have her way just about all the time, but he has a low tolerance for the crowds of Disneyland and Sharon never gets to stay as long as she wants—or shop as much as she wants. Even the trip she made with Sally and me and our friends, the Bridwells, in June, 2001 (DCA’s first summer) was done as multiple day trips as we drove back and forth from our hotel in West Hollywood. So, though Sharon had been to Disneyland since its conversion to a resort, she hadn’t stayed onsite and experienced it as a resort. This became our inspiration to do as many resort things as possible. Howard wondered how we were going to find enough to do to fill six days; we wondered how we could fit it all in!

We muscled Sharon’s luggage into the elevator and up to the room, where she did a quick look around, marveled at the view, and was ready to go! Across Disneyland Drive and into the Grand Californian we went, through the lobby (that Sharon had seen before so we didn’t have to slow down), and out to the courtyard and the Storyteller’s Café where we found that, though we could be seated right away, we could only have food from the breakfast buffet or we could wait 10 minutes for the buffet to be cleared away, be seated and order from the lunch menu. (It was 11:20, fifteen minutes since Sharon’s shuttle had pulled up in front of the Paradise Pier. This might give you an idea of just how close to each other the hotels at Disneyland are.) We were eager to get to the park, but reckoned we wouldn’t get there any faster by going on to a DTD restaurant, so decided to wait for Storyteller’s lunch. We moseyed down the walk to the Napa Rose for Sharon to take a look. We’d be having dinner there Thursday evening. A little further down the walk we found the Mandara Spa, where we had an appointment on Friday, and opened the door for a peek inside. Then we walked back to Storyteller’s. It was 11:25! See, I wasn’t kidding—things really are that close. Five minutes seemed entirely too long to wait, so we asked the CM at the podium if we could still choose things from the breakfast bar and were told, “Certainly.” Now this is where I think you can take the measure of the quality of a theme park restaurant. Storyteller’s Café had just spent the previous five hours or so feeding hundreds of guests from their breakfast bar and it was now less than five minutes until the bar closed. You would never have guessed it was the last few minutes by looking at that bar or tasting that food. Serving platters might not have been heaping full but there was plenty of everything offered and we had lots of tasty choices. We watched Chip and Dale and two of the Brother Bear bears posing with the last of the families who’d come for the character breakfast.

With brunch out of the way, we headed to the GC entry to DTD and straight to the Pin Trader cart for our lanyards and special issue pins (Daisy dressed as Belle), gifts to us for having the good sense to have Disney VISA Rewards cards. Then we scooted across the way to the Disney Travel office to pick up our Disneyland backpack. We were only supposed to get one for our vacation package, but Sharon has an irresistible smile and we managed to walk out each sporting a beautiful, blue ergonomically designed backpack decorated with classic Disneyland lettering and a tiny, tasteful appliqué of Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat and the Disneyland Hotel are at one end of Downtown Disney. Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure are at the other end.

It was 1 PM when we flashed our parkhoppers at the gate and finally entered the place where the Magic began.

We had decided to give PhotoPass a try and had our first pictures taken.

Sharon, Susan, Tinker Bell
We would be seeing the Electrical Parade this evening, so it seemed right that I wear this shirt. I’ve had it since the parade’s farewell summer at Disneyland in 1996. Those of you who have had a black souvenir shirt know how hard it is to keep the black from dulling, so it is with pride that I show you the results of giving this shirt better laundry care than any other garment I own.

Sharon, Tinker Bell, Susan

Under the Train Station and into Disneyland where we saw Mickey and Friends dressed in their Year of a Million Dreams formal attire posing for pictures in front of the Opera House.

Then on to something I’ve never done before—shopping on Main Street on the very first day before even walking to the end of the street. For the next hour and a half we walked into whatever shop caught our fancy and stayed as long as we wanted. We didn’t buy a thing. We just looked and gathered information that would be useful as we went through all the shops ahead of us this week. We worked our way up one side of the street and down the other and that brought us back to the Opera House, where we stepped inside to look at the fascinating Disneyland through the years displays. There’s an enormous model of Disneyland as it looked in the early years, models of rides, photos, original art, and documents from the Disney Archives. When the auditorium doors opened we went in to watch the film Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years. Somehow we’d missed this when I was here with the Stringers during the 50th Anniversary celebration. The film is not very long and it is very funny. Steve Martin, who grew up just a few miles from Disneyland and worked in the Main Street Magic Shop when he was a teenager, narrated.

We had a couple of hours before we were expected for dinner at Hook’s Pointe at the Disneyland Hotel, so decided that some rides were in order. Off to Adventureland where I think we very appropriately chose the Tiki Room to be the first ride/attraction we did after looking at those early days displays at the Opera House.

Indiana Jones had a long-ish standby line, so we backed up a few steps and got in the Jungle Cruise line. Still in a boat riding mood, we headed for New Orleans Square and the Pirates of Caribbean. That done, to the other side of the Square and into the Haunted Mansion. After that it was time to work our way through the park and to the other end of DTD for our dinner at Hook’s Pointe.
[FYI: ADRs are still called PSs in Disneyland. The restaurant business is still fairly new to these folks. In fact, until California Adventure and Downtown Disney opened in 2001, there was no Disney Dining and there were no dinner reservations—at all! In the olden days the only way to get a seating at the Blue Bayou, the one true table service restaurant in Disneyland (if you don’t count the little tables at Carnation Café) was to race to the Blue Bayou podium as soon as you entered the park and hope that you made it there before all the time slots were given away.]

I have happy memories of Hook’s Pointe, one of the few resort additions that Scott got to enjoy. This was a first for Sharon. I’ve read some scathing reviews of Hook’s Pointe that frankly puzzle me. Of course, tastes vary both in regards to food and ambience, but Hook’s Pointe gets high marks from me across the board. Matt Churchill had asked me to pleeeeeeease include no food pictures, so I'll just tell you that we had Hook’s Crab Spread as a starter, split the Steak and Shrimp dinner (perfectly prepared and delicious), and by splitting our entree we had a little space left for a very big chocolate chip cookie baked just for us and served with vanilla custard ice cream.

And per Matt's request--a No Food photo. No food here or at least not much. This is all that was left of that warm chocolate chip cookie and ice cream.

We ambled back to Paradise Pier to freshen up a bit. Then out the door, through the GC lobby to the hotel’s entrance to California Adventure, where we found a good viewing spot to watch from ground level the Electrical Parade I’d watched from 140 feet up the night before. No one does parades better than Disney and this one is my favorite. Now that it parades in DCA instead of Disneyland, it is no longer called the Main Street Electrical Parade. It's now Disney's Electrical Parade.

To round off the day and make sure that Sharon believed that dreams really do come true, we spent an hour shopping in Greetings from California. At one point we wanted to get a closer look at a hoodie that was hanging far out of our reach and a CM that must have been closer to 7 feet tall than 6 suddenly appeared to help us. He didn’t sell us anything but he did tell us the first of many rumors we heard over the next few days about the billion and a half dollar DCA do-over. He told us that no part of the park would remain untouched, although some rides and attractions would be left as is. When it is all done, DCA will represent California as it was when Walt first arrived in the 1920s. As Disneyland reflects the California Walt knew when Disneyland opened in 1955 and is overseen by the Partners statue we all know so well, California Adventure will look like the Hollywood Walt saw when he stepped off the train at the start of his great adventure and that park will be overseen by a new Partners statue that’s being made of Walt and Mickey when they were very young. Seems right, doesn’t it?

Day Three here: Day Three, June 11th

Last edited by SusanEllen; 10-18-2008 at 02:00 PM.
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Old 07-18-2008, 03:16 AM   #2

It was so peaceful doing that and I loved it!
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Brilliant day, and lovely photos, including the ones of my favourite parade
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Old 07-18-2008, 06:15 AM   #3
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At last Susan

I have been waiting for a further instalment - but I accept your reasoning that you were waiting for your photopass CD

Another lovely day - but I can't believe after all that waiting you forgot to take a photo of Sharon arriving

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Old 07-18-2008, 07:55 AM   #4
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such a fab and detailed report, loving the piccies.
Andrea xxx
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Old 07-18-2008, 08:29 AM   #5
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It's amazing how tiresome and worrying it can be waiting for friends that turn up late, isn't it Susan?

I'm glad Sharon made it eventually and you could start the fun in earnest.

I'm really enjoying your report.

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Old 07-18-2008, 09:22 AM   #6
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If I knew the Latin word for "forever" I'd add it to Mea culpa and have it tattooed to a prominent body part, then have a photo taken of it and sent to you.
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Old 07-18-2008, 10:51 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by SusanEllen View Post
If I knew the Latin word for "forever" I'd add it to Mea culpa and have it tattooed to a prominent body part, then have a photo taken of it and sent to you.
According to my good friend Mr Internet, the Latin for 'forever' is 'in aeternum'.
So you've no excuse now. Get down to the tattoo parlour forthwith.
Just what part of your body were you thinking of having done?

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Old 07-18-2008, 11:02 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Kevin Stringer View Post
According to my good friend Mr Internet, the Latin for 'forever' is 'in aeternum'.
So you've no excuse now. Get down to the tattoo parlour forthwith.
Just what part of your body were you thinking of having done?

Therein lies the problem, Kevin--"prominent body part." I have several (though Tammy and Debbie have derisively pointed out on occasion that some of their featured parts are more prominent than mine.) As tattoos are painful and more or less permenant, I will want to be sure I've chosen the one I want to live with the rest of my life, so it may take some time to get this done.
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Old 07-18-2008, 01:05 PM   #9
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You have a great way of writing Susan, I was there frantically pushing the elevator button and running down the corridor with you!

Glad you finally met up with your friend and had a great day.

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Old 07-19-2008, 01:47 PM   #10
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At last! Not sure I believe the excuses though.

Good report Susan, but when oh when will you join the 21st century? Get your phone set up with a message service and set to receive text messages - maybe one of the children at school could show you?

Looking forward to day 3, so will check back in a month or so
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Old 07-20-2008, 03:20 PM   #11
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Another great day and lovely photos too
Mandy xx

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Old 07-20-2008, 03:58 PM   #12
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Woo hoo! Another installment!

I knew there was a(t least one) reason I liked you, Susan - MSEP was my first night-time Disney parade and it will forever be my favorite! (and by the way - love the shirt!)

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Old 07-20-2008, 03:59 PM   #13
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Susan, thank you for finally getting us into a park and for making me wish that I was there, along with you. I cannot believe you forgot to get that elusive picture of Sharon walking into the hotel lobby (and I can't believe that you didn't later make her re-enact it so you could pretend you hadn't forgotten )

And thank you for the non-food picture - it looked like it would have tasted amazing if you had posted a 'before' picture
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Old 07-20-2008, 05:01 PM   #14
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Great day, I am really enjoying your reports, the pics of the electrical parade brought back some lovely memories
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Old 07-21-2008, 08:32 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by wilma-bride View Post
I cannot believe you forgot to get that elusive picture of Sharon walking into the hotel lobby (and I can't believe that you didn't later make her re-enact it so you could pretend you hadn't forgotten )

I love the Electrical Parade, I first saw it at DLP on my first visit and it's been my favourite one ever since too
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