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Old 01-07-2013, 09:17 PM   #31
papamouse1
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Day 4... Part 2


...... Too soon to tell them everything

I instruct them to keep their feather boas and glasses on, grab their day packs and stuff and let's get going! Go where? Let's go see. Now truth be told, I kind of led them to believe that we were headed into Disney somewhere, but we when we got to the lobby of the Disneyland Hotel, instead of turning toward the parks, I told them they needed to go out front first. After standing out front in the loading area for what may have seemed an eternity to them I finally point to the driveway and say, "Well ladies, that is for you!"



We're Going To Hollywood!

This may have been my favorite reveal of the week, I totally caught them offguard... and they still didn't know all that was going to happen. My wife and I (before kids) lived in LA and had been to Hollywood to see the sights on more than one occasion. Our girls had been to Sunset Boulevard, and the different sites as well, so Hollywood sounded fun, but there was a little "been there done that" vibe in the air.

We enjoyed a nice leisurely ride into downtown LA letting our chauffeur navigate LA traffic (that was my gift to me right there...), but as my kids began to see the Hollywood signs on the highway, they realized we passed the exits that they thought we were going to... so where we headed? I thought we were doing something we have never done before each day for our surprise? Hmmm. well we've never done this have we? Gotcha!!


I hadn't been to Universal Studios since 1975, and none of my family had ever been, so this was definitely a nice surprise. We had arrived 45 minutes early and there was absolutely no line for the park, so we went to take some pictures and get some breakfast in City Walk. I gotta say the Crepe shop in City Walk was great! We filled up on delicious crepes, snapped a couple photos..

... then it was time to head for the park!

Well, things had changed since we last saw the front gate. When we got back to the gate, the crowd had swelled significantly... so much so that I began to think about paying for their very expensive front of the line pass to make sure we could see everything today... BUT I trusted my touringplan and said let's just get in line and go for it!

They let you in a little ways into the park and set up a rope drop scenario. While there was quite a crowd lined up behind the line I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it dispersed heading different directions. Based on our touringplan advice, we headed straight for the escalators at the back that take you down to the lower lot where they have 3 of the headliner rides including the Big Daddy of them all.... TRANSFORMERS!!


We knew that this ride gets slammed as the day goes on, so we hurried over there first thing. To say we were pleasantly surprised would be an understatement... we walked into a ghost town. For a moment, I wondered if the ride was down or something, because NOONE was there... works for me!

We literally walked straight through the queue and right on to a waiting car

Okay,so for anyone out there who has heard the hype about this ride and wants to know if it is worth it, let me just say
THIS RIDE ROCKS!

I can't remember the last time I had so much fun riding a new ride. The 3D video was MASSIVE and fantastic! I kept getting caught off guard by the action taking place... I laughed so much and hollered so much I think my kids started to get embarrassed
Hey, it's only fair I get them back after all the times they have embarrassed me in public, right? :

We finished the ride, walked all the way back out (this ride is huge and a very long inside queue and long exit...), and we realized there still seems to be no wait! WOOHOO! Let's do it again! The 2nd time was just as fun, and as we exited, we're considering a 3rd try when suddenly we were starstruck! Remember my story earlier about how we were starstruck when we saw the guy from "White Collar" on TV? Well, believe me, we are in Hollywood now, and we were about to get floored! My wife spies one of her favorite stars!!! a true skilled actor...



BUMBLEBEE!!!!!
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Old 01-07-2013, 09:18 PM   #32
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Day 3... Part 3


After our photo op with this true legend, we realize that suddenly the crowds have figured out where the real hidden treasure is at Universal and the lower lot is getting packed (I am sure they were all here to see Bumblee... according to my wife, he's a real "Cutie"), so we decide against a 3rd run on Transformers and head off to check out the other 2 headliners on the Lower Lot...
Revenge of the Mummy

... fun roller coaster with some real unique twists and turns. I don't want to give too much away but think Expedition Everest...

Jurassic Park

... all I can say is wet.. fun.. spooky.. WET! Maybe it was just us and maybe it was the fact that it was still morning the day before Thanksgiving and a little cool, but that ride hosed us down worse than Kali River Rapids or Grizzly Peak EVER did! It was pretty cool ..... literally

So far our trip plan is working great! The park didn't open until 10 and it was only 11:30! 4 headliner rides in 90 minutes on a packed day... not bad

We are all a little hungry again, so we go ahead and have lunch. Time to head up to the Upper Lot and check out the big shows there. 1st stop... Simpsons!

... this was a fun 3D ride, but the lines were really long and slooowww moving. But worth it in the end

After burning almost as much time riding this one ride as we spent riding 4 this morning, we need to hurry and catch the Waterworld show. By the time we get there, the stadium is pretty full but we find some great seats right up front... see the top of the heads in the photo? That was where we were... right behind the rail.


The show starts with a BANG! It is high speed.. fireballs.. explosions.. FUN! Then suddenly we discover why these nice front row seats were not taken...


Do you see the metal railing that is in the water right in the middle of the photo? That is what's left of the tower you see in the previous photo. After a HUGE explosion (the heat from it chapped my lips) the tower collapses into a heap in the water... creating a HUGE Tidal Wave of water!!! We got hosed again!

This show has been around awhile and there is always talk about it going away, but I think it still pulls it weight well.. We really enjoyed it! Soggy shoes and all

We took a trip over to check out the Terminator 3D show


This was a cool show, that mixed 3D projections, animatronics, and live characters. We enjoyed it and we are especially glad we saw it since in December, it closed forever at Universal Hollywood

Next Up... Shrek 4D

The show was OK but I think we enjoyed hanging out with donkey in his snack shack better



I couldn't get my girls to do a decent photo, because Donkey kept cracking all kinds of jokes... too funny!!

Well, the day is growing late and there is only biggie left that we just cannot miss.... time for the Big Papa.. The Studio Tour


Literally too much to talk about, and I was so busy taking it in, I took almost no pictures, and the ones I took were no good. We did enjoy the tour... makes me sad I never got to see the Studio Tour at Hollywood Studios before they chopped it down to nothing

It is just starting to get dark and almost time to go... nothing left to do but shop! And just when I thought we were done, I got a pleasant surprise!!



I am not sure my girls enjoyed it, but I love the Blues Brothers!! "Bring me four fried chickens and a Coke.... and some dry toast..."

Time to head out and try to beat the LA traffic. It is crazy outside the park, and I'm not looking forward to trying to drive out of here...
WAIT! I'm not driving... I got a Chauffeur for that. That ride home from Universal back to Disneyland was pretty nice I hear... I was too busy snoozing to notice

Finished out the day with a trip offsite to one of our favorite places to eat in LA... El Pollo Loco!

A perfect end to a perfect day


Next Up... Happy Thanksgiving!
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1999-2005 yearly DLC trips - various non-Disney hotels 2006 - DLC - Paradise Pier Hotel *Joined DVC! 2007 - Disney Cruise & WDW for our 20th wedding anniversary 2008 - DLC - Grand Californian 2009 - WDW- Old Key West & Animal Kingdom-Kidani 2010 - WDW- Beach Club & Animal Kingdom 2011 - Disney Cruise - the new Disney Dream & Holidays @ WDW! BCV & AKV Concierge April 2012 - MR Anniversary Cruise Nov 2012 - DLC to see Holidays & "WoC" May 2013 - Aulani! Aug2013 WDW & Universal Studios March 2013 Travel Agent AEP DCL/WDW

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Old 01-08-2013, 11:23 AM   #33
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Awesome!
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Old 01-08-2013, 01:04 PM   #34
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El Pollo Loco is yummie! What can I say, I have tons of that here !
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Old 01-15-2013, 02:18 AM   #35
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I apologize again for being so ssllloooowwww!!!!


I recently became a Disney Travel Specialist and have been busy finishing my Disney School and my Universal School.... now I'm right in the middle of Carnival Cruise training and SeaWorld.... busy, busy, busy! I will try to button this TR up by this weekend.

Thanks everybody for your interest
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Old 01-17-2013, 12:07 AM   #36
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1 Last Big Surprise!

Okay, it is time to button this up. This has become the TR that never ends

I am actually going to do the last 2 days... Thursday (Thanksgiving Day) and Friday.

The surprise for Thanksgiving was pretty straight forward and simple...


We had only eaten one time in the Storyteller's Cafe and absolutely loved it! So when I saw they were offering a Thanksgiving Meal there, I jumped on it . It is so funny to book dining, tours, etc. at Disneyland when you are someone who has planned trips to WDW where you have to book meals 180 days out, etc. I called DL 60 days out on the first day possible, and they acted like I was crazy! "Ummm sir, you really want to book dinner this early?" Hehe...

SO Thanksgiving was left as a non-park day. We planned to sleep in, swim, shop and eat. I had booked dinner for 4PM, so after sleeping in, swimming, doing some laundry, it was 1PM. Now what do we do? Shop? See a movie?

I know... let's go ahead and open up our final surprise gift that is actually for tomorrow! WooHoo!!!

Last BIG SURPRISE!!



"Ummmm... okay, I got a dolphin Christmas ornament. Nice, but I don't get it?"
"Pack your bags kids, we are going to San Diego!!!"

The plan was to have dinner at Storyteller's then sometime later to head to San Diego and go to Sea World on Friday! My wife and I had taken a "weekend couples trip" to San Diego a couple years ago around Thanksgiving, and we had never been to Sea World, so we checked it out. They had their special Christmas shows going, and we so impressed with the quality of the shows, etc... especially the Shamu Show. We LOVE Candlelight Processional in WDW, but honestly this show was even better. We decided we HAD to bring the girls to SW just to see this show.

Well something strange happened... My family got so excited about going to San Diego and Sea World, that none of them wanted to stay until after 5 to leave. SO... we cancelled Storyteller's, went over and ate another of the amazing Holiday sandwiches at Earl of Sandwich... said "Happy Thanksgiving", loaded the car and we headed out!!!

We have family that lives in SD, so we spent some time with them, and had so much fun we had no time to go sightseeing. So Day 5 was quiet and uneventful... and still a Thanksgiving memory we will cherish for a long time

Time for bed, tomorrow is Day 6... our last day

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Old 01-17-2013, 04:04 AM   #37
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Day 6-Nice Ending!


*** Just FYI... due to the amount of water areas, etc. I did not take any pictures on this day, so I had to use some of my daughter's photos and a few stock/Google photos
So it is the day after Thanksgiving, and we have one exciting surprise left... Sea World! Our kids have been doing Disney for 14 years, but we had never taken the time to treat them to other parks like Sea World or Universal. When I first started to plan this trip, I knew I wanted to try some new exciting things my girls had never done before. My oldest daughter graduates this year and is off to college next year, so there's no guarantee we will be doing our yearly trips like we have... so I wanted this one to really stick in their memory.

After my wife & I visited SeaWorld to experience Christmas, we knew we wanted our girls to experience it. It worked out perfect, because they just started the Holiday overlay on the Friday we were there!

I knew the crowds were probably going to be Crazy the day after Thanksgiving, but I wanted to make sure my girls got to experience it all... so I had one more surprise in store...



I would not normally recommend spending the extra $$ to get front of the line access at Sea World. There are less rides and more shows, and getting into a show on most days is not hard to do... on most days. But on Thanksgiving Weekend? The crowds were crazy!
So let me just say the Quick Queue Passes I pent $150 for were absolutely worth every penny!!

Not only were we able to ride rides like Manta over and over with zero wait, but we also got access to reserved seating in every show! We could show up the last second and got a seat front and center in every single show! We literally got to experience everything we wanted with almost no stress whatsoever.

So what did we experience?
Well, our very first item on the agenda was to try and beat the crowds to Manta..


This was a very fun, smooth roller coaster. It was kind of like California Screamin' with fast launch mechanism, but the cool thing is it would launch you, then eventually come to a stop somewhere on the track... then launch you again! We rode it once, then cam around and the line was already getting HUGE! No worries, we have Quick Queue. We go straight to the front of the line. That was fast! Wanna do it again? Why not? We rode it 3X in about 10 minutes literally

After that, I really don't remember what we did in what order. But here are the highlights..

Journey To Atlantis...


We really enjoy this ride. It is for the first section a water flume ride. Then it goes around, enters a cool room that does some special effects while it is actually on an elevator taking your whole car to the top for a short roller coaster ride. Very creative!



Shipwreck Rapids


This is the single wettest ride of this type I have ever ridden. You literally go underneath waterfalls!!


Which would be nice on a hot summer day, but this was a cool fall day and we were downright miserable. They have these really cool heater closets that you pay$$ and go inside a large human dryer that blows hot air like the hand dryers in some bathrooms. the were great with one caveat... it took alot of $$ to actually get dry. We just ended up buying new sweatshirts/jackets for everybody and changing our clothes. Would love that ride if it weren't so cold.



Wild Arctic Ride
This sums up this ride.... **Yawnnnnn.....*
It was an okay simulator ride, but nothing great to write about.


That pretty much sums up the rides...yep that's it!.. There is an elevator ride and a skybucket ride where you just look at the scenery, but we really aren't into those things.


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1999-2005 yearly DLC trips - various non-Disney hotels 2006 - DLC - Paradise Pier Hotel *Joined DVC! 2007 - Disney Cruise & WDW for our 20th wedding anniversary 2008 - DLC - Grand Californian 2009 - WDW- Old Key West & Animal Kingdom-Kidani 2010 - WDW- Beach Club & Animal Kingdom 2011 - Disney Cruise - the new Disney Dream & Holidays @ WDW! BCV & AKV Concierge April 2012 - MR Anniversary Cruise Nov 2012 - DLC to see Holidays & "WoC" May 2013 - Aulani! Aug2013 WDW & Universal Studios March 2013 Travel Agent AEP DCL/WDW

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Old 01-17-2013, 04:06 AM   #38
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Part 2

So let's look at the shows....

Blue Horizons



This show was just stunning with all the colorful characters flying around on guide wires, dipping into the water on bungie cords, while birds fly past our heads and animals leap into the air... you just have to see it to fully appreciate it. Maybe the single prettiest show at SW.


The other shows were remade just for the Christmas Holidays.

Clyde & Seamore Save Christmas


This is a wonderful show full of laughs and cute character interaction



Christmas Tails


A great show with all kinds of trained animals! I did mention in every show we just walked up last second and got great front & center seating right?
The Quick Queue Premiere pass was phenomenal on every single ride & show... well all but one

The Polar Bear Express 4D experience
For all the other shows, they just had a section that they guarded & only let people with passes sit there. But with the Polar Express show, they just let you go into the theater first and sit wherever you want and then let in the rest of the folks... which actually sounds like a great deal, right? We asked them where we needed to go stand and when, so they told us we didn't need to get in line for another 30 minutes, so we went over to get a hot cocoa. Came back with almost 10 minutes to spare, went to the place they told us to line up (it was an exit) but noone was there. I went and asked the front gate worker and they said they had already let the pass people in early...unfortunately, they were now letting everyone in, so we ended up in a really bad spot over to the side and WAY up front so the show was a disappointment. My wife and I had seen it on our last trip and thought it was one of the best 4D shows we had seen. Oh well... can't have everything go perfect

The decorations were great...


The animals were all adorable...


They even built a special a special "Snow World" where kids could ride sleds, throw snowballs, or whatever other snow fun they wanted...





We had an awesome day (other than getting soaked on one ride and crappy seats at 1 show), but the best event was still to come

Ice Skating!

Just kidding. Grand Finale was...


Shamu's Christmas

This is an absolutely amazing show!! It is packed with amazing lights, wonderful music from Jazz soloists on Sax, amazing solo vocals, and a large church choir and an incredible Sign Language Choir...



All interspersed with killer whales performing incredible jump, rolls, etc.





What an amazing end to a perfect last day!



Tired but fulfilled, we headed back to our Hotel to get some rest, as we would be heading back home early in the morning. In 2 days, we would be back in Carlsbad New Mexico, and back to our everyday normal lives.


I started planning and preparing for this trip a year before we actually went. Hours of planning and preparation to make sure that each day on our trip we would experience some things that we had never done before... and in the end, it all came together. Every single day my girls reflected on new and exciting things they had seen or done for the very first time. And the fact that I managed to keep it all a secret... nothing short of a miracle


Well, it is January, and I am already well into the planning of our next trip...
Aulani here we come!
We are headed there in June to celebrate my little girl (not so little anymore)graduating from High School. And while I have some nice surprises in store for them (if you can't tell yet, I LOVE to plan my trips ), there is no way it will be like this one we just experienced. It truly was a Once In A Lifetime trip that brought the "Magic Home"

Thanks for joining me in our journey!

That's A Wrap!
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1999-2005 yearly DLC trips - various non-Disney hotels 2006 - DLC - Paradise Pier Hotel *Joined DVC! 2007 - Disney Cruise & WDW for our 20th wedding anniversary 2008 - DLC - Grand Californian 2009 - WDW- Old Key West & Animal Kingdom-Kidani 2010 - WDW- Beach Club & Animal Kingdom 2011 - Disney Cruise - the new Disney Dream & Holidays @ WDW! BCV & AKV Concierge April 2012 - MR Anniversary Cruise Nov 2012 - DLC to see Holidays & "WoC" May 2013 - Aulani! Aug2013 WDW & Universal Studios March 2013 Travel Agent AEP DCL/WDW

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Old 01-18-2013, 05:52 PM   #39
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Great trip report

Great report. Lots of fun!

Glad you made it so magical. We are planning a little of that for next week. Last time we went we had Halloween decorations so we added dining and preferred seating to be new things this year!
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:13 PM   #40
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Thank you for sharing this!
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Old 01-18-2013, 06:29 PM   #41
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I loved your trip report! What great surprises each day!! This will def. use some of your surprises in the future
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:32 PM   #42
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Great report. Lots of fun!

Glad you made it so magical. We are planning a little of that for next week. Last time we went we had Halloween decorations so we added dining and preferred seating to be new things this year!
Wonderful! It makes it a little more special just to add some new things to the trip doesn't it?

I see you are from Vancouver... we lived there about 17 years ago where our oldest was born. I was a Pastor at Turning Point Christian Center
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:51 PM   #43
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Thanks for Sharing!!! Great Trip Report!!!
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Old 01-18-2013, 08:53 PM   #44
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Quote:
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Thank you for sharing this!
You are welcome it was fun!

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I loved your trip report! What great surprises each day!! This will def. use some of your surprises in the future
Go for it! Hope you have as much success as we did
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Old 01-19-2013, 06:30 PM   #45
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Small world

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Wonderful! It makes it a little more special just to add some new things to the trip doesn't it?

I see you are from Vancouver... we lived there about 17 years ago where our oldest was born. I was a Pastor at Turning Point Christian Center
That was a couple of years after I moved out here. I am a member at Columbia Presbyterian Church.

Love Vancouver. Grew up in Michigan.
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