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Old 11-07-2012, 05:25 AM   #31
Velvetia
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Monday 16th October - Day Two - Part Two – More Hollywood!

So, on we went with the Studio Backlot Tour...

The King Kong bit of the tour it ASTOUNDING! One of the highlights of the trip without a doubt. It is a simulator ride but unlike any other I've been on, totally 4D and just really makes you feel like you are in the middle of a battle between King Kong and dinosaurs. DS7 of course LOVED it!

We also loved the flash flood and Jaws and the creepy looking guy hanging around a motel:

After the tour DS7 wanted to have a photo with his new hero, Dan the tour guide, and then we headed off to find ice creams, and met Spongebob.

We loved that the characters were just wandering around Universal, little did we know at this point that this would be the way at Disneyland too – we had recent memories of huge queues to meet characters at Disneyworld in the Summer of 2011…

The DSs weren’t interested in meeting Shrek and Fiona or Curious George who were also hanging around this area, I think they were getting hungry for lunch at this point so we headed down the escalators

(again! – Ragtime blah blah popular music charts in the 1970s…yadda yadda 1973 Oscar-Winning movie The Sting blah blah The Entertainer …” ),

to make our way to Panda Express. Only to find it closed and the Pizza Hut had a queue out the door so we opted for hot dogs from the nearby stand which we ate whilst having a look in the museum near the Transformers ride. I wasn’t sure if the boys would be interested in this but they really liked it in there, thanks largely to the Jurassic Park models and making of movie scenes showing on a tv and the Jaws, King Kong and ParaNorman displays. DG and I loved looking at the costumes they had. It was also beautifully cool in there on a very hot day.

The wait for The Mummy was only 10 minutes at this time, but the DSs didn’t fancy it…but we did bump into a couple of Ancient Egyptians…

We only had around an hour before our taxi arrived at this point so we asked what the boys wanted to do and the vote was for the Dinosaur playground so that’s where we headed:

After they'd had a good play, (this is a great play area created within the huge skeleton of a Triceratops), we made our way up the many escalators (yep, you’ve got it! – Ragtime blah blah popular music charts in the 1970s…yadda yadda 1973 Oscar-Winning movie argghhhh...) (I'm just kidding...we were all kind of amused in an eyes-rolling way by the repetitive commentary you get on the escalators).

So we headed down the main street of Universal when we happened upon Ms Monroe sitting in the shade. I am sure the DSs had no idea who she was, but I used to be quite a fan of Marilyn when I was younger. We waved bye bye to Ms Monroe and to Universal. I think we got quite a lot done in the 4 and a half hours we were there (10am - 2.30pm). It would have been great to spend a bit more time there, I would have liked to see WaterWorld, and to have ridden on The Simpsons ride, but time was not on our side this trip, we had so many things planned to do. So, we went tripping back down the red carpet to our waiting limo (well car…) to return to Anaheim for a nap and to get ready for our evening event…

In the next episode of our adventure – Mickey’s Halloween Party…
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Old 11-07-2012, 03:24 PM   #32
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What a fun day at Universal! Just from the pictures, all of you look like you had a blast. And the Doc Brown you met looks like the real deal! I LOVED Back to the Future as a kid, so would have appreciated it as much as you had.

The weather really cooperated for your kids time in the pool. The two days I was there on Tuesday and Wednesday, it was really warm. Can't wait to read more!
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Old 11-07-2012, 05:53 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by DaveinFallsChurch View Post
What a fun day at Universal! Just from the pictures, all of you look like you had a blast. And the Doc Brown you met looks like the real deal! I LOVED Back to the Future as a kid, so would have appreciated it as much as you had.

The weather really cooperated for your kids time in the pool. The two days I was there on Tuesday and Wednesday, it was really warm. Can't wait to read more!
Hey, Dave! I've been enjoying your trip report too! The weather was gorgeous for us - we went from high 80s temps to around 28 from one day to the next upon our return...it's been really really cold here in Scotland since we returned
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Old 11-07-2012, 06:22 PM   #34
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Monday 16th October - Day Two - Part Three – Mickey’s Halloween Party

So, we all had an hour or so nap and then DG put the finishing touches to our Halloween costumes, and we started getting Halloween-ready…

The DSs were so excited to be Trick or Treating at Disneyland and were both excited that one of their favourite movies (and mine), The Nightmare Before Christmas was going to be featured. DG had seen the film years before but couldn’t really remember it, so did brilliantly in making DS7's costume, with little to go on as a reference, as you’ll see when I reveal our costumes… At this point we didn’t realize quite how much Nightmare Before Christmas featured in the MHP festivities, and we didn’t expect for DS7 and DS5 to get so much attention in their costumes, but more on that later…

We were all ready to go just as the sun was nearly setting…

Now there is some debate as to whether it’s the Irish or the Scots who created Halloween. We, of course, believe it’s the Scots We call it ‘guising’ in Scotland, as in ‘disguising’ and children go from door to door doing their turn – a little party piece like a poem or a joke or a song and are then rewarded with candy. So there’s definitely a historical Scottish tradition and we, as a family have always loved Halloween…

We were pleased to see loads of people in fancy dress heading towards the turnstiles, we hadn't known what to expect, how many people would be dressed up and would we feel foolish As we neared the entrance we were enthralled by lit up character pumpkins above the gates! What a way to get our first glimpse of Disneyland…we were already in the party spirit!

Time to reveal who we dressed as…

DG and I had decided to make use of what we had at home as starting points for our costumes, rather than buying new costumes – DG and I purchased our wigs but then the rest of our costumes were things we had already. I already had a blue belly-dancer costume from a friend’s themed hen night so that really decided me on being Jasmine, similarly DG had everything except a Cruella wig and cigarette holder that could be fashioned into her costume. So even though we made quite a raggle-taggle ‘group’ (from three different Disney films!) we had all our costumes for maybe £10/ $ 15 in total!

DG had made DS7’s Zero costume from scratch (brilliantly I thought as she didn’t really know what Zero was other than the picture of him on the front of the DVD) and I bought a light up ‘nose’ and painted it orange, and we’d bought DS5 a ‘Jack’ jacket cheaply on eBay – both boys got so many comments and requests for photos from guests throughout the night! We hadn’t realized Zero had such a great part in the fireworks…and the ‘This is Halloween” song would be everywhere!

From first getting our wristbands at the entrance, everyone CMs and other guests alike were calling us by our character names – it was so fun! I got used to being called ‘your majesty’!

We didn’t have much of a plan for the party, which was perfect as it was just wonderful to wander around, go with the flow and soak up the AMAZING party atmosphere. We all loved the party and would have gone again, later on in the week on the Friday, had we been able to get tickets!

First up we headed through the trick or treat trail right at the town square where there was no queue and then we wandered up Main Street, just enjoying the sights – the Halloween décor and the other partygoers’ amazing costumes.

As we walked through Adventureland the Genie was out meeting guests outside Aladdin’s Oasis, had it been Aladdin I would have waited to get a photo with him, being my ‘other half’ and all, but the queue for the Genie was quite big and I wasn’t all that bothered meeting the big blue guy.

We headed to Critter County first as I had read that there was a good trick or treat trail there that was not too busy. As we made our way we met a pair of guests dressed as fabulous Jack and Sally, we were so excited to meet them as they were to meet Little Jack and Zero and we all had our pictures taken together.

The trick or treat trail through Critter County was really long with barely any queues, our bags were probably half full already!! There was no wait at all on Winnie the Pooh so we hopped on for a ride. We all loved it!

Then we headed back to the Rivers of America area which was spookily fantastic.

The Dapper Cadavers were singing on a floating stage and there was a HUGE queue for a trick or treat trail which we weren’t going to bother with. We loved all the decorative projections throughout the park:

We saw a guest in a fabulous Mother Gothel costume and asked here where Rapunzel was, and there just behind her was her gorgeous daughter who was around 3 and was dressed up as Rapunzel, sitting in her stroller. Both mother and daughter looked fabulous in their costumes, as we were admiring their costumes, ‘Rapunzel’ started whispering to her mother who then came over to our Cruella to ask if they could have a photo as the little girl loved Cruella de Vil (and though DG was the real deal!). Of course DG said yes, it was such a sweet request, and ‘Rapunzel’ was kind of awestruck, so DG said she didn’t have the heart to ham it up in a cruel Cruella way!

We found the popcorn cart that sold the Jack Skellington coffins which I’d been so keen to get and bought two of them...

Right next to the popcorn stand was yet another trick or treat trail – in the New Orleans Square bit so we hopped into that too!

Then we spotted the REAL JACK SKELLINGTON meeting guests! Wow we were excited but on further investigation the queue was HUGE, the boys really wanted to meet him so we promised we’d return when it was a little quieter…

We wandered on and at the Dia de Los Muertos area there was a photopass photographer so we hopped in line to get a photo.

We asked the boys if they wanted to go to the Pirate dance party in the neighbouring Zocala restaurant but they were a bit ‘meh’ so instead we decided to head back towards Main Street at this point hoping to find somewhere to get a non-candy snack.

We wandered to the Jolly Holiday Bakery and the queue didn’t look too bad so we lined up but after 20 mins hadn’t moved an inch so we ditched that idea and headed to Coke corner The wait here was much quicker and provided hot dogs for DG, DS7 and DS5 and a cheese-filled pretzel for me – which was fabulous. Think the boys had sodas here and DG and I had guess what – a lovely cup of tea, with creamer milk! Really good and just as we sat down, as luck would have it the first parade went by. We couldn’t see everything but could see enough to get a good idea of it!

After our snacks (and great cups of tea !) we were all re-energised and headed to the Town Square again to see if there were any villains about. As luck would have it, Cruella was meeting and greeting, so of course we had to get the ‘twins’ together! She was fabulous, calling out ‘ Sister! Dahling!’ to DG, and taking an interest in our little ghost doggie!

We saw that the Tremaines were also out so headed over to meet them but unfortunately the line had closed. The CM who was accompanying them was really friendly and made a big fuss of our Zero, telling us we’d better head towards Main Street to see the start of the fireworks as we might see someone familiar! So we took her advice and stood in Main Street to watch Zero flying around the castle – absolutely AMAZING, although I’d heard this happened I had no idea just how magical Zero would be – and Jack Skellington narrating the fireworks. The CM had also told us that meeting the REAL Jack would be really easy during the fireworks, so we took her advice and took off after around 10 minutes of watching the fireworks. This might seem strange as we were really enjoying the show, but the draw for our Zero and Jack to meet the real Mr Skellington was just too strong!! The CM had been right and there was a very small queue, maybe only around three parties before us. And just behind us was a guest in an amazing Ursula costume, she was one of our favourite costumes of the night! Some other of our favourites were a group of young ladies who were princesses in their raggedy type clothes, they were Briar Rose, Snow White and I think Cinderella. They looked fabulous and even had hamper baskets to trick or treat with.

However, I digress, we were at this point just about ready to meet the Pumpkin King himself. As we neared him he got very excited and called out ‘Zero…my good friend…are you ready for Halloween…”

He was just wonderful! The DSs still talk about meeting him and remember what he said to them – he chatted with them for a good while, signed their autograph books and was utterly charming!

DS5 found it totally awesome, and still remembers it fondly how jack bid him farewell “Bye Bye Little Me…”

After meeting Jack we decided to see what the queue was like for Haunted Mansion Holiday, but it was 65 mins – too long, we knew we’d ride it at some point this holiday, but not just now. Instead we decided to head over to Tomorrowland as we hadn’t been to that side of the park at all – we went towards Frontierland, at the dock we noticed that another JACK, Captain Jack was meeting guests. DS7 loves Pirates of the Caribbean and was keen to meet him, even though the queue was about 10 parties deep, but we queued up and it moved fairly quickly, maybe around 20 minutes and we got to meet Captain Jack!

DS7 asked him just how he survived the Kraken to which Captain Jack gave a very long-winded story of an answer which was really hilarious, and quite nonsensical! – he was superb and once again we were impressed by how much time the characters spent with guests, really interacting and not rushing through the guests. Captain Jack loved that the boys had picture cards with his picture on them for him to sign – he spent a time admiring himself in the picture, he was truly very funny! We were all so happy we’d met him!

We then made our way towards Tomorrowland. and found ourselves at another trick of treat trail which had no queue – we realized as we entered that it was Pixie Hollow! It was so cute to find ourselves pixie sized, we loved happening by chance upon this treat trail! We had got so much candy by this time (we’d had to put some in our rucksacks) that our Cruella was getting fussy and asking if there were any Butterfingers – she was getting quite into the Cruella persona by this time

We had to have a bathroom stop and just as we were coming out, the (second) parade was just going past us, where there was pretty much no people waiting, at the bit up towards Small World. Brilliant timing and chance– we stood and enjoyed the parade very much! Loved Miss Piggy at the end!

So we finally made it to Tomorrowland which looked great at night. Here we saw some dalmation-dressed guests who our Cruella spooked with a cry of “Doggies!” (Hilarious). We saw a wonderful party in fancy dress as Mary Poppins, Bert an lots of little penguins – another of our favourites!

We found another treat trail which started just outside Space Mountain. It was a very long trail with lots of stops and as a huge surprise to us there was Perry the Platypus at the end!! We hadn’t been expecting him at all, in fact the whole night we didn’t really refer to our maps, just wandered around and went with the flow which was a perfect way for us to do it, we enjoyed all the ‘surprises’ we came upon – like Perry!

After this we hopped on the train at TomorrowLand station and encountered one of DS7’s favourite ‘rides’ and one that we would come to know well in the next few days – the dinosaur diorama just after TomorrowLand.

We got off at Main Street as I’d remembered we had to go and redeem our Photopass+ voucher in the Kodak shop.

On the way we went through the Town Square treat trail and the trail in the Main Street cinema. We weren’t quite sure where the Kodak shop was, turns out its right up at the hub, so we were going against the flow of people exiting, as it was around 11pm at this time.

There was a small queue in the Kodak shop and right in front of us were the raggedy princesses we’d seen earlier. There was a great scene when a guest dressed as Maleficent walked through the shop and squealed: ‘I’ve been looking for a Briar Rose all night! Please can I have a photo!’. The two parties swapped photos. We loved how people were so approachable all night, there was such a great convivial party atmosphere. We couldn’t count all the times we were greeted by other party guests ‘Hi Zero, hi Jack, hi Jasmine, hi Cruella!’ .

With our photopass sorted out, we left the park, tired and happy to have been to A PLACE THAT PERHAPS WE HAD SEEN IN OUR DREAMS! and weighed down with pounds and pounds of candy!!

Coming up next: Disney's California Adventure, Here We Come!
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Old 11-08-2012, 05:43 PM   #35
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I love your report!
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Old 11-09-2012, 07:33 AM   #36
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I love your report!
Hey thank you, Julydeya - good to have you along
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Old 11-09-2012, 09:02 AM   #37
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Tuesday 17th October - Day three - Part One – Disney’s California Adventure – here we come!!

We were all up bright and early the next day and in the Park Vue breakfast room for 7am – again the breakfast was great, we had make-your-own-waffles and scrambled eggs. We sat inside this time as DS7 had been a bit bothered by there being wasps around outside on the balcony yesterday.

We were all struck once again by just how friendly everyone was – hotel employees and other guests alike. Perhaps its because it’s so sunny in California that everyone is in a permanently sunny mood!

So – we crossed the street and were in the Disneyland Resort. Park Vue Inn just can’t be beaten on it’s location!

Upon arrival at the Disneyland Resort, we went to a ticket booth on the DCA side and redeemed our e-tickets for 5 day ParkHoppers. I also redeemed my character meal vouchers, (I'd pre-purchased two character meals – you’ll hear all about them in upcoming episodes) and the clerk, I guess hearing our accents (or maybe noting our awed and slightly confused expressions! ) asked if it was our first visit and gave us two ‘1st Visit’ badges for the DSs.

We lined up for DCA, and were in the queue for around 20 minutes and then they opened the turnstiles and let us in to the fabulous Buena Vista Street.

As per our plan, we separated here – I joined the RSR FastPass queue and DG, DS7 & DS5 waited at the rope drop up by Carthay Circle. The FastPass queue was already right back at the square on Hollywood Boulevard, and filled up after me a long way, I would say right up to the theatre showing Aladdin…

As I was waiting there, loads of characters came out, if you’re looking for characters, this would be the best place to hang out, there are two burgundy-red coloured wooden ‘doors’ which is a CM (and character) entrance. I waved at Goofy, Chip and Dale and Mickey as they all come out in their 1940s costumes.

Once the park was opened, the FastPass queue moved fairly quickly up to the BugsLand ticket machines – I was only in it for maybe 10 minutes after the park opening, plus being in the queue static for probably 20 minutes prior to that. I came out with our FastPass tickets valid from 11am. Perfect.

So I had successfully completed part one of our plan. Now, meanwhile, DG and the DSs were heading to RSR, using the Wide Right Technique, then Luigi’s and then Mater's Tractor Tippin', so depending how long it had taken me in the FP queue, I was going to find them at one of these places.

As is had not taken me as long as I expected to get through the FP queue, I thought they’d still be in the RSR line, so I looked there first but couldn’t see them…so I headed to Luigi’s, thinking I would hang around there until they came but the wait was posted as only 10 mins, and in reality less than that – only one ‘round’ of the ride before my group got on - so I hopped on a tire all to myself.

Now, I’m glad I got a chance to ride Luigi’s but boy I found it difficult! Could be I’m not big enough to push it around... . Couldn’t move the darn thing very far at all. And I came off with aching muscles at the effort!!

Anyway as I was strapped in and ready to go, I spotted DG and DSs in the queue and caught their attention. I was relieved we’d caught up with each other, and they got a good chance to laugh at mummy trying to move this huge tire around !!

They’d enjoyed it too, they were much better at it than me…they managed to get their movements sychronised, and move the tire well. But we agreed it was not something we’d queue up for if the wait was longer than 30 minutes…

So, then I got to hear a very excited report of how awesome RSR is – DG and DSs all LOVED it! I couldn’t wait til our 11am FastPass window opened up!

DG reported that the Wide Right Technique works a charm, and she thinks the guy who posted it on the DISboard Forum is wonderful!! DG said they’d not really queued at all, and this was proved later when we went back to add on their ride photo (DG hadn’t realized it was included in our Photopass+ deal) and we had to go through the early ride photos – their’s was the fourth car of the day! They’d been in ‘Sally’:

So, we were all together now, and decided to make our way to Mater’s Tractor Tippin'.

On the way we spotted a CM on the street giving out Cars badges, we all got a different one:

The wait was 25 mins, not bad, went quickly and the DSs loved the theming in the queue. DS5 is a huge Cars fan and was telling us all about the props from all the Mater’s Tall Tales that featured in the queue.

And there was an opportunity for 'RAWK' poses by the bat wings from Heavy Metal Mater:

The ride itself was great fun! It does spin you round quite a bit but we all loved it and the music with Mater singing that was playing too!

Our next stop was Sarge’s Surplus Hut for some souvenirs - the DSs loved this store – we had to try on the Luigi’s Tyre Hats:

DS7 and DS5 spent some of their pocket money on a Cars figures and the CMs at the till asked them both if they both liked Cars and could they answer a Cars question? Now DS7 didn’t quite understand this and instead, he asked a question of the CM:

“Why is Doc Hudson not in Cars 2?”

The CM very kindly gave a really touching answer along the lines that Doc was a really old car and he had passed away but that all his friends remembered him fondly…DG and I were just about in tears with the sweetness of this, and DS7 took this in his stride and stoically nodded his understanding! The CM then asked him a trivia question which he answered and was made up to get another Cars badge!

We then spent a bit of time just enjoying the atmosphere in Cars Land – it really is incredible, just like being in the movie. We have all seen the two movies hundreds of times, they are real favourites of both boys, but especially DS5, and this had been the main reason for making the trip to California. The crowds were huge, but we had expected that and it felt manageable…and we were just really really happy to be here!

It was another HOT day so we decided on getting some ice lollies, as we did so, the Photopass photographer at the Cars Land sign was free, so we hopped in for a photo.

And and on our way back up Radiator Springs Main Street we stopped at the mini-tractor for a quick photo:

After this it was time to go for our RSR FastPass window. I think I was the most excited, as I’d heard so much from the others who rode it earlier! We barely queued up at all, maybe 5 minutes, in fact we had to throw away DS5’s ice lolly before we boarded, as he hadn’t had time to finish it - so that kind of shows how quick the FP queue was.

And yes – it was an AMAZING ride! I have heard so much about it, but the experience of it itself surpasses all expectations. Hats off to the Disney Imagineers! I can totally understand why you’d queue for a couple of hours to ride this. We were in a green car, who we decided was 'Ramone':

After the ride we excited Cars Land and DS5 spotted the Cars Land museum just opposite the entrance to the Land, it’s in the Blue Sky Cellar. We ventured in to find a fabulous (cool!) museum with a little movie theatre in it showing a really sweet Cars short film about Time-Travelling Mater and how he helps Stanley to create the town of Radiator Springs.

The DSs loved it here, and we’d find ourselves making many many trips here in the next few days! I’d recommend it, it is a cool and quiet juxtaposition to the heat and bustle of Cars Land opposite, and tells the story of how Cars Land was created complete with some brilliant models.

So, in our first experience of Cars Land we all thought we'd been incredibly lucky to have ridden all three rides (twice on RSR for DG and DSs!) with not too much waiting. We were all in awe of how brilliantly the Imagineers have captured Radiator Sprints...

Coming up next: Soarin' in Condor Flats...
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Old 11-09-2012, 04:50 PM   #38
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Can´t wait for the next chapter
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Old 11-12-2012, 10:20 AM   #39
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Tuesday 17th October – Day Three – Part Two – Condor Flats

Then we headed back towards Carthay Circle and into Condor Flats to get FPs for Soarin’. These in hand, we spotted Minnie Mouse in her ‘flying girls’ costume.

Now we thought it would be cool to meet her in this costume, as DG is a former air stewardess and wore a uniform very similar to Minnie’s!

As we made our way over to meet her, the CM said the line had just closed but that Minnie would be back to do her show in 20 minutes and after that in about 45 minutes would be meeting visitors again. We kept this in mind and made our way up towards our next destination which meant going through the Grizzly Peak Area…

I loved how this area was themed, the scent of the pine forests, and the rock formation rising above it all:

We stood and watched the Grizzly River Run for a while, just long enough for DS7 to say he really didn’t want to go on that…and this from the boy whose favourite ever ride is Jurassic Park, where I’m sure the ‘drop’ is MUCH bigger than on the River Rapids .

As we came up to the top of this area there was a photopass photographer standing idle so we asked if we could get some shots. He was really friendly, asking us where we were from, when he heard we were from Scotland, he said we had to go an meet Princess Merida who was visiting Disneyland from Scotland too – so sweet! He took some shots and got us all to point up in the air…:

We then made our way to our next destination on our plan: Ariel’s Under Sea Adventure. The wait was minimal – think it was posted as 10 minutes and moving all the time. We all really really loved this ride. It is so utterly charming, just done brilliantly!

After this it was our FastPass time to ride Soarin’ so we went back through the Grizzly Peak area and were in the FastPass queue for around 15 minutes in total before being loaded into our seats to Soar over California. Really loved this experience, and it makes a lot more sense here than in Florida . We loved ending up over Sleeping Beauty’s Castle with fireworks going off.

As we came out of Soarin', we saw a photopass photographer and one party where Minnie had been before so we though we have probably been 45 minutes since we were last here, must be time for Minnie to be meeting and greeting again and so we joined the line. Minnie came straight out.

The CM with Minnie remembered us from earlier and said ‘I’m so pleased you came back’. I explained that we hadn’t made it back earlier and so had missed the show and he said ‘Guess what – so did Minnie!’ For that show she was a little late and only joined in with the very last song. We didn’t ever get to see that show, so I don’t know quite what that would’ve meant in terms of the show but I’m so glad we hadn’t rushed back to see her Flying Girls show this time!

Coming up next – Heading ‘Under the Sea’…
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Old 11-12-2012, 11:01 AM   #40
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Old 11-12-2012, 12:58 PM   #41
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Tuesday 17th October - Day Three Part Three Under the Sea

so, onto Ariel's Grotto for our lunch reservation.

We checked in and got a pager. Then there was an announcement that Goofy's Instant Concert - Just Add Water! was about to start, so DG and DSs sat outside Ariel's Grotto on the pier to watch the show while they waited for our pager to beep, whilst I went to get a FastPass for Goofy's Flying School. On my way back, Goofy was just finishing his conducting duties.

DG and DSs had enjoyed the show, and could now picture, a bit, what the World of Color was going to be like, which we were planning to see on Friday night - once again it was great timing to happen upon something. We just loved how this kept happening on our holiday!

So, our pager went off just as I returned with the FPS and we were ready to enter the Under the Sea Kingdom of King Triton.

We were led down the stairs to meet Princess Ariel, there was only two parties in front of us and maybe three behind. Ariel was just as elegant and gorgeous in real life as we had been hoping.

I had read in reviews that people had been upset by how little interaction there had been from the princesses at this restaurant. When wed been queuing to meet Captain Jack Sparrow at the Halloween Party we had been discussing a question that the DSs might want to ask him keeping in context for the character of course and it had been a real conversation opener, so that was something we decided to try with all the characters that we met and it proved to be really good! That's a tip that I'd give to anyone wanting more interaction with the characters.

I think the question that DS7 asked Ariel was 'How is Flounder', I don't quite remember how the conversation went from that question but I do remember Ariel was just wonderful with the DSs. She spent a good deal of time chatting to them. She asked the DSs where they were visiting from, when they answered Scotland, she asked if we lived in a castle! ... The DSs were very honest and said no!

She then asked if she could come and visit and swim in the waters near Scotlad. DS7 told her it was very cold in the sea, but she could come and stay with us!

After a good chat it was time to pose for the photopass photo and for some photos that DG and I were taking. It is true that the photographer and character handler will ask if you want a photo with Ariel featuring Ariel and the children OR the whole family group that was fine for us, I can understand that they do have to keep the line of visitors moving, so cant do lots of photo set ups. We opted for the children to have a photo with Ariel:

I think it was clear as we made our way to our table that the DSs were a bit in awe of Ariel, she was just gorgeous! I wonder when they will start saying it's time to write to Ariel to invite her to come and stay...

So, upon entering the restaurant we all grinned in amazement - the décor in Ariel's Grotto is breathtaking, again I had read in reviews that it was a bit tatty I didnt find that at all. We really felt like we were in a Grotto under the sea. I loved all the light fittings:

We were seated in a booth table on the left hand side of the restaurant under a beautiful under the sea mosaic.

Now, I had also read that people can feel a bit rushed through their meal here we didnt find that at all. We were given our menus as we sat down and then a waiter came back in around 5 minutes to take our drinks order. He asked if we were ready to order, but we weren't just yet, and so he came back a little later, with no problem. The one thing that was a bit odd was that our appetizer tower arrived before our drinks, but only by a couple of minutes. The appetizers were lovely, really good quality and plenty for all of us to eat, the prawn and crab (I think) salad was particularly nice, and the DSs loved the antipasti Serrano ham and salamis.

We had a little while to enjoy our appetizers, when the royal messenger arrived and announced that there were some princesses visiting today. I think he sang a song as he walked all around the restaurant. He looked fabulous in a purple velvet doublet and hose& wish Id got a photo of him! He gave a suitably protocoligorically correct speech (that's for any Slipper and the Rose fans out there!), welcoming us all to Ariel's Grotto and asking anyone celebrating their birthday to stand while he issued a toast to them! So cute! Then he announced the first visitor... Cinderella!

We were around the 6th table to be visited and Cinderella was lovely, as were all the princesses. They don't hang around for ages, but they do spend a good deal of time chatting, signing autographs and posing for pictures. We felt like they interacted beautifully and spent long enough at our table that we felt like we had met them properly.

I can't remember what the DSs chatted to Cinderella about. To be honest, she is their least favourite princess, and their least favourite Disney film (oops) and just as Cinderella was leaving our table another trumpet call was issued and Aurora arrived, we had a little time to enjoy our appetizers and DS7 said he had a good question to ask Aurora when she arrived, he wouldn't tell us what it was but he had a cheeky twinkle in his eye...

So when Aurora arrived, he piped up 'Excuse me Aurora, are you feeling sleepy?' Aurora couldnt help herself giggling and then said: 'Well actually, I've just woken up from a long sleep so I'm not sleepy just now'. It was such a sweet moment DS7 was really getting into the spirit of asking a contextual question!

Next to visit was Snow White who was just gorgeous, very gentle, and smiley, just as Snow White is in the movie! The question: 'Do you still like red apples ?' 'Well', replied Snow White, 'I find they tend to make me very sleepy to I prefer to eat green ones these days!' Snow White is one of DG's favourite characters, so we asked a man at the next table to take a group shot which he did willingly:

And then finally the DSs' favourite princess Belle - although she might now be a joint favourite with Ariel now...

Beauty and the Beast is a movie that both boys love and meeting Belle was wonderful, she was so fabulously in character and by far our longest visit. The question: what is your favourite book? Well, Belle said what a good question, because I love reading. She gave it some thought and then replied Jack and the Beanstalk and proceeded to tell us the story! She was just fantastic. She asked DS7 what his favourite book was (My Dinosaur Encyclopedia) and what it was about, and then was regaled by DS7 with quite a lengthy description of the different types of dinosaurs there are! She still didnt rush to get onto the next table, we just didnt feel that at all here. The visit from her was so lovely and genuine, we almost forgot to get a picture!

I did ask the DSs later who theyd enjoyed meeting the most, for DS7 it was Belle and for DS5 it was Ariel.

So, our take on the comments that I see in Tripadvisor that the princesses barely stop to speak to you, and rush from table to table. Now, I dont know if we were lucky to be sitting in a good spot&it is a big restaurant, and we could still see Snow White and Belle making the rounds of the outside tables when we were on our desserts, so they maybe get a bit tired and quicker the later they are out visiting . Or it could be the novelty of having two little boys to chat to rather than little girls maybe meant we got a bit more attention, I dont know if we did as I wasnt really watching other tables visits, or maybe our boys are just quite chatty and corner those pretty princesses into converstions . We know that we all loved the experience and would highly recommend it.

When Belle had left, we did all have a little breath and think, now we can eat! Our main courses had arrived I think just after Belle's visit. I had the pasta:

DG had the sustainable fish:

And the DSs both had spaghetti and meatball lollipops:

We also got given some Ariel's Grotto badges by the waiter the DSs were running out of t-shirt space for all their badges!

We spent our time having our lunch, it was really delicious I was very impressed with the food here. It was DS5s favourite meal of the trip I think it was my 3rd favourite, but thats only because there are two amazing meals still to come in this trip report, that youll just have to wait for . Thats not taking anything away from the quality here though, the food at Ariel's was really really good.

The dessert tray that came was good, but way too much after such a big meal.

DS7 had the chocolate Ariel, DS5 the chocolate conch shell and DG and I each had the berries and we asked for the rest to be boxed up for a doggie bag, which the waiter did obligingly. We also had really cute cups, you can see them in the photo above, filled with fruit punch that come with a clip on character light. DG had an Ariel one and DSs had a Lightening McQueen one. These were extra to the set meal price but worth it for the little light up toys, which the DSs now have as their night light at night time...

So, after lunch we came out into the Paradise Pier area, and were intent to go on Goofy's Sky School but the DSs said they didn't fancy going on it, and wanted to go to for another ride on Ariel's Under the Sea adventure instead. I guess we we were still feeling Mermaidy . This time it was a walk on. As we exited, we came out to Phineas & Ferb's Dance Party right outside. We stood and watched for a while, but the DSs didnt want to join in, I was happily doing a bit of dancing on the spot ... Squirrels in my Pants! until the embarrassed cries of 'muuumm' grew too much and we moved off, in the direction of Carsland.

We had to go into the Cars Land museum again - by popular demand! - and then we headed to Hollywood Boulevard...

Up next: Monsters and Genies and Cars (oh my!)
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Old 11-12-2012, 02:03 PM   #42
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Old 11-12-2012, 03:15 PM   #43
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Your trip report is fantastic! I have really enjoyed reading it and now have a goal of one day visiting during Halloween. Thanks for posting
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Old 11-13-2012, 04:04 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by justliketink View Post
Your trip report is fantastic! I have really enjoyed reading it and now have a goal of one day visiting during Halloween. Thanks for posting
Hey , I'm glad you're enjoying it! Halloween at Disneyland was wonderful - I heartily recommend it!
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Old 11-14-2012, 06:22 AM   #45
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Tuesday 17th October - Day Three, Part Four - Monsters and Genies and Cars (oh my!)

As we neared Carthay Circle, the Red Trolley Boys and Mickey were doing their show so we stopped to watch and waved them off as the trolley went up the street. Such a cute show. We followed behind, looking for the Monsters Inc ride. We found it a bit tricky to spot and almost walked right by it - it is left off Hollywood Boulevard, the other side of the Mad T Party stage. This area of the park felt quite deserted during the day. I know it is more of a night-time place when the Mad T party is on, but in the middle of a weekday, it was very quiet - there was hardly anyone about.

This did mean that we got to walk onto the Monsters Inc. ride. Journeying to Monstropolis was just fabulous, the room with all the doors is Disney Imagineering at its best. When we stopped by Roz at the end, she croaked at the DSs in their hats "It's no use trying to disguise yourselves, I know you are human children!!' So funny!

As we came out we were struck again by how quiet it was in this area, we joined a queue of maybe 10 people to wait for the next showing of the Frankenweenie preview, which was showing at the Muppet Vision theatre.

Just opposite, slightly behind here is Stage 17 where you can come to 'Dance with the Disney Stars', the CM told us this was only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so we kept that in mind that it would be a good place to come back to at the weekend.

Although there was hardly anyone in the theatre, we thought the Frankenweenie 4D preview was spookily great, we hadnt seen the film yet, so this really when our appetite to go and see it. We decided to go and see the Frankenweenie exhibition next.

As we came up to Hollywood Boulevard, the Pixar Play Parade was happening, so we stopped to wave at Buzz and be squirted with water by Woody and Jessie. We loved how Slinky was half on a float, with his spring trailing and his back legs walking behind!! We really enjoyed all the parades that we saw at the Disneyland Resort, even though they hadnt been high on our agenda of things to do - they sure will be for the next time we visit!

Then we explored the animation building we loved all the Frankenweenie sets. I am a huge fan of Tim Burton, it was amazing to see the models and sets up close.

We all loved the Toy Story Zoetrope and probably would have spent a lot longer there than the three or four rounds of it we watched, had I not looked at my watch and realized we needed to go and get in line for Aladdin, and we had to do it pretty quick!

As we were in line for maybe only 5 minutes, behind a huge queue, I thought we would have pretty poor seats, but we managed to just wander in to four front stalls seats to the middle/ left of the stage. I'm still not quite sure how we managed to get such good seats, arriving so late - a little bit of unexpected Disney magic....

The show was just wonderful. The Genie was fantastic, even though I have to admit a lot of his jokes went over our British heads as they were very US-based, it didnt matter though. Jafar and his bird were just brilliant, and Jafar's transformation into a cobra was spectacular. I knew beforehand that the magic carpet didn't fly up and out over the audience any more, but the Whole New World number was still magical! And Prince Ali's entrance on an elephant is incredible. Loved it! A definite 'do not miss!' show.

As we came out the sun was lowering in the sky so we though we'd better head to Cars Land to catch the neon lighting. As we passed by Carthay Circle this time, the Five and Dime group were doing a show, DG and I liked them, but the DSs were impatient to get to Cars Land so we didn't really have a chance to see them...

When we arrived back in Cars Land, it was a good bit quieter than earlier. There was a crowd up by Flo's which we made our way to. It was DJ's dance party!

DJ was playing fantastic music, lots of Motown which DG and I really enjoyed. The DSs didn't want to dance, - but they did want a photo next to DJ so did some 'standing completely still dancing' whilst the Flo's waitresses and car mechanics danced around them!

There was a very minimal queue for Mater, compared to earlier in the day so we lined up to meet him, which took only 5 minutes or less. It was great to meet the real Mater, and to hear him talking and then watch him drive off up the street!

Then we went back into Sarge's Surplus Hut, the boys loved hanging out in this shop windowshopping. Then we heard 'Life Could Be a Dream' being played. That could mean only one thing, so we dashed outside to see the Neon lights being switched on - SO COOL!!!!! Cars Land really does look amazing with its Neon lit!

Then we joined the queue to meet Lightening, I think it was around 10 minutes to wait, again much less that it had been earlier in the day. He was really cool, with his headlights (yes! - headlights, not stickers!) beaming in the dark, and he spoke to the DSs whilst having a photo. DS5 was a little awe-struck! :

Our thoughts turned to dinner, and maybe going to Flo's but we were all still pretty full from our lunch, so we decided to stop at the Cozy Cone to see what snacks we might fancy. What we fancied was churros! I did warn the kids that only on holiday can you have just churros for dinner!! We sat at the Cozy Cone with a good view of Lightening and enjoyed our first ever churrros, we bought two cones to share and they were delicious little bite sized churros sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and with a cup of hot chocolate dipping sauce. Mmm! we'd all found a new favourite snack!

After this we wandered through Radiator Springs and soaked up the neon-lit atmosphere of Cars Land and got some photopass photographer photos by Flo's. I think we had a look at how long the RSR standby queue was but it was something horrific like 2 hours which we just werent in the mood for.

So, we made our way out of Cars Land and guess what - "Can we go to the Cars Museum?" was the cry from DS5, so we obliged and visited the Blue Sky Cellar watched the Cars short again.

Then we headed back toward Buena Vista Street and got a picture by a Photopass photographer at the Partners' Statue at Carthay Circle.

DS7 spotted Pluto just opposite, outside the Candy Store, just wandering around, so we asked him if we could have a photo and an autograph, he was lovely:

So, tired and happy after our day at DCA, we turned our feet towards the Park Vue Inn, looking forward to our comfy beds.

Coming up next time : Having a Magical Time in Fantasyland - and did we get to ride the Lilly Belle?...stay tuned...
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