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Old 05-12-2014, 03:37 PM   #31
disnygirl55
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As Jill mentioned, we have had quite a snowstorm here in Wyoming and Colorado. It has finally stopped, after dumping 12 inches on us in Wyoming. Here is a photo borrowed from a friend of mine of her snow covered patio furniture yesterday, after about 9 inches had fallen. It was blowing so much this morning that I couldn't get a good picture. Mother Nature is having great fun with us this year - a week ago, it was 80 degrees and we had the air conditioning on in the house. This morning, back to the fireplace. I think I'll be in shock when I step off the plane in Orange County on Wednesday!
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Old 05-12-2014, 05:26 PM   #32
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Coming to you from just a few miles from the park. It is hot hot hot!

You should have a great time. The schools are still in session so hopefully the parks won't be too crowded.

Jill is already on Day 4 of her TR so she is really cruising along.
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Old 05-12-2014, 08:41 PM   #33
disnygirl55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by franandaj View Post
Coming to you from just a few miles from the park. It is hot hot hot!

You should have a great time. The schools are still in session so hopefully the parks won't be too crowded.

Jill is already on Day 4 of her TR so she is really cruising along.
I just found Jill's trip report this afternoon. I'm so excited to be reading it. You ladies had a great time in California!! Great food, great touring, great friendship.

Excited to get a little heat, although I suppose the excitement about leaving this cold behind will be short-lived.

I will be trying to hold back the tears a lot in the next week as I visit Walt's place and then step foot in that magnificent atrium on board. Sniff...
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Old 05-12-2014, 09:47 PM   #34
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I had a great time in California! Loved meeting Alison!

It's supposed to be 80 this weekend...I can handle a late snowstorm when I know great weather is right behind it! I couldn't believe it didn't stop snowing until almost 3pm today!

Don't bother holding back the tears! I was a sobbing mess at the end of the Walk In Walt's Footsteps tour and I always cry when I board a Disney ship.

Jill in CO
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Old 05-12-2014, 11:38 PM   #35
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Have a great time neighbor (South Dakota here)! Cannot wait to hear all about it! Definitely following along with this TR.
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Old 05-13-2014, 01:42 AM   #36
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Love your report so far and looking forward to more. I hope you have a wonderful time in Sonoma, I grew up in Sonoma County and it is just beautiful!
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Old 05-13-2014, 09:29 AM   #37
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We will be on the 2 night with you It's a little something to hold us over until Alaska! We are also using the short cruise to get to gold

I hope you have a great time at Disneyland Have a Krakatoa Punch at Trader Sam's for me (love that place).
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Old 06-03-2014, 05:20 PM   #38
disnygirl55
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Day 1 – Travel and Disneyland!

Finally – the day came to wake up early (3:30 AM) and begin our adventure. Our flight on Frontier Airlines was due to leave at 8:00 AM, putting us into Orange County at 9:30 AM. After a few last minute chores, we were on the road at 4:45. Only a few minutes behind schedule, we arrived at Denver International at 6:15 AM, and got through security without any delays. Most humans are not at the airport at this time of day, so it was not crowded at all. We always prefer to begin vacation as soon as possible, so the day is not wasted.

Flying is definitely not as fun or comfortable as it used to be. Frontier Airlines, which we have always loved to fly, is now beginning to nickel and dime for everything. First snacks went away, then the free checked bag, then the free soft drink, and now they want to charge us for carry-on bags (beginning in another couple of months). The only thing that keeps us flying Frontier is that each seat has a TV monitor, and DH really enjoys watching TV while we fly. That, and the fact that Frontier is based in Denver, so there are lots of direct flights to choose from. OK – rant over – I didn’t mean to get so off-topic, and no one really cares, but it is just really getting annoying.

When we arrived in Santa Ana, it was already blazing hot, and we learned that we were in for a couple of days of record high heat – 100 degrees PLUS during our first two days in the park. (I told you I wouldn’t be complaining of the snow for too long). We had to wait about 20 minutes for the next Super Shuttle, but at least it was in the shade, and we were excited that we were in California!

We were the second stop on the Shuttle, and it was wonderful to step into the cool lobby of the Grand Californian. The bell staff took our bags for later delivery, since it was so early in the day, and a very nice gentleman at the check in desk gave DH a nice certificate to thank him for his military service. I wish I could remember his name, but he was also former military, and told us how each year, the cast members at the Grand Floridian who have prior military service are able to participate in a dedicated flag ceremony at Disneyland, and how they are presented with these commemorative certificates to pass along to guests of their choice. It was great to visit with him. He also gave us the schedule of the special events at the Grand Floridian for the week – the morning Power Walk through California Adventure (which we really wanted to do, but didn’t happen); the evening movie poolside (also didn’t happen); and the kids’ scavenger hunt around the hotel with the huge cookie prize at the end (you guessed it… didn’t happen.)

We were antsy to get out to the parks after that, so we stepped aside in the lobby, reorganized the hotel documents and the military service certificate, and were off! We headed to the hotel DCA entrance and the security checkpoint. Then we went through the turnstiles into DCA and exchanged our paper e-tickets for our park hopper passes. It was really convenient to do it that way, rather than going to the ticket booth, as we had to do last time we went to Walt Disney World. The attendant snapped our photos so that they were in the computer system. We went straight to Bugs Land to see about Fastpasses for Radiator Springs Racers, and were able to get a return time of 5:30 – 6:30 PM. That was all we did in DCA, and crossed the esplanade plaza over to Disneyland. Yep – the sign over the archway gets me every time. Sniff! But no time to be sentimental, because my main (non-human) man was waiting for me on Main Street. He was SOOOOO happy to see me – you can see it in his face.



We were hungry at this point, so wanted to see if we could get into Café Orleans a bit earlier than our lunch reservation. After a very short wait, we were welcomed into this beautiful café. DH ordered seared salmon over salad (a very responsible and refreshing choice) , but I had to give the Monte Cristo a try, since Café Orleans offers a cheese-only version without the ham, and I wanted to see if it was as good as it sounds. I’m a little addicted to cheese. I’m glad that DS didn’t order a meal, because that sandwich was enough to feed four people, let enough one. So DS and I each ate one of the four sections, and then I used a fork to eat some extra cheese out of the leftover sections. I ordered a mint julep, the guys had sweet teas, and we shared the pommes frites between the three of us. On such a hot day, I could have done without the heavy food and just had the julep and the fries, to be honest. But we were trying to pack a lot of new experiences into our 2 ½ days at the park, so the Monte Cristo was still an excellent choice. The Pommes Frites were a huge hit with everyone. Extraordinarily delicious, and one of the best things we’ve ever eaten at any restaurant, we all agreed. So my cancellation of the Blue Bayou turned out to be one of the best decisions of the trip. I probably never would have tried Café Orleans if BB had been running as usual along with POTC, and this little restaurant is a real GEM. We would eat there again in a heartbeat.

After lunch, it was time to see some attractions. Since we were close, we headed to Indiana Jones. DS didn’t remember it very well from our trip 3 years ago, so was excited to go. We were beginning to bemoan the fact that we only had the daypack that went through security with us at the airport (so therefore did not contain sunscreen). DH was turning a little pink on the back of his neck. Since I’ve ridden Indy several times, I left the boys to ride by themselves, and I walked back to Main Street to visit the shops for sunscreen, and enjoy some blessed cool air. The sunscreen was pretty pricey (and is stocked behind the cash registers), but I didn’t think twice. It was a necessity, even though we had three perfectly good bottles back at the hotel in our checked luggage.

I met DH and DS back in Adventure Land, and we headed to Haunted Mansion. This is my favorite attraction, so I was excited! No wait whatsoever – which was especially awesome. Then we crossed the park and hit Space Mountain and Star Tours, which were also on our top 10 list. Next was Astro Blasters, which again had a very short line, which inexplicably didn’t move for about 5 minutes (we were soon to find out.) But then the line began to move quickly again and we were in, and trying for a high score. The ride stopped about 10 times while we were on it (technical difficulties – maybe heat induced?), so I DID achieve my high score, since while the ride was stopped, we could still rack up points – Take That, Evil Emperor Zurg!

Sad to say, but that’s about all we could take of the heat. We had received a message from the other part of the family that their plane was delayed from Seattle, so we wouldn’t expect them until around 4:30 or so. We had also received a text with our room number, indicating that it was ready. We meandered back through the shops along main street, toward the front of the park. I took this absolutely HORRIBLE photo of myself in some fantastic Minnie Mouse headgear to send back to work to demonstrate how miserable the heat was while my Wyoming coworkers were shoveling snow. Notice the sweat ravaged hair, lack of makeup (I believe it melted off on the way to Space Mountain) and the heat-defeated expression. But I was very very happy. Truly.



As it was now 103 degrees, we were JUST as happy to spend a little time in our hotel room, cooling off while waiting for the rest of the family to arrive. The hotel had managed to arrange connecting rooms on the 5th floor overlooking Downtown Disney, which was an amazing feat, since the hotel was fully booked. The balcony had a table with two chairs, and from the far left, we could look out and see Space Mountain and the Matterhorn. The huge Disney Store was directly below us, a few floors down. Bell services delivered the luggage, and we unpacked the single suitcase we planned to get into during the Disneyland portion of our stay. My sister texted us soon after that they were downstairs checking in. My sister and niece were presented with “first visit” buttons, which was very special, and my niece was also given a photo of Belle. She told the cast member, “But that’s my favorite princess!”. It was really precious. Nice memory. I felt so proud that the trip was starting off so magically for them – I want them to love Disneyland as much as I do.

We repeated the entry into DCA through the hotel entrance for my Mom, sister and niece, as it was getting close to our Fastpass return time for Radiator Springs Racers. The three of us headed there, and dropped the three newcomers off in Cars Land to ride Tow Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree. They all had a good time, and I think they rode twice. Even with Fastpass, our wait time was around 15 minutes for RSR, but it was much better than the wait for the poor souls standing in the regular 90 minute line. People had purchased water mister fans galore, and we were cooled off just by association from the people standing in line close to us. (It wouldn’t be long before my sister bought one of her own for us to use!). RSR was pretty amazing, I must say. It’s probably still not in my top 3, but I really enjoyed it. On this first visit, we did not get to experience an actual “race” as there was no car next to us, so that put a slight damper on things, but it was very slight. It was still a LOT of fun. And great to feel the breeze on our faces.

We then met back up with the rest of the family in Cars Land and headed over the bridge to Paradise Pier. My Mom’s leg was really acting up, and was very painful for her. She has some nerve pain due to some old injuries, and it’s gotten worse as she’s gotten older. It was sad for me to see, as I only see her once or twice a year, and I hadn’t realized how bad it has gotten. I felt guilty for expecting her to keep up with us. She is so young in many ways, so I don’t stop to think about what she’s been dealing with. So… Mom and niece were going to sit in the shade by the fountain next to King Triton’s carousel while the rest of us rode California Screamin’ – but darling niece decided to throw tantrum #1, and refused to let her Mom leave her. So my sister decided to leave Mom in the shade while she took our niece on the carousel. DH, DS12 and I went to ride California Screamin’ – and the wait wasn’t very long. About 5 minutes, if I remember. This was a good, good thing, as DS wasn’t at all sure about whether he would survive an upside-down roller coaster, despite all of our promises to the contrary. I didn’t want to give him too much time to think about it and chicken out. Sure enough, he started out terrified, but pronounced it “cool” when the ride was done. “You were right, Dad! It was going so fast that I couldn’t even feel that we were upside down!” Still, he wasn’t chomping at the bit to get right back on it.

My original thought was to go over to Disneyland to Hungry Bear or Harbour Galley for a bite to eat at dinner, but with my Mom’s leg and the heat, we decided to find something closer. So we ate at Pilot’s Grill next to Soarin’. Nothing special, and the atmosphere kinda stinks, but Mom and Sis got a beer and we all got waters and some munchies, so were able to relax and cool down. Sis had found a table next to an air conditioning vent, so before long, we all decided that going over to Disneyland would be a good thing after all. On the way out, we saw Mickey in his “Hollywood” duds close to Carthay Circle, but just as we got in line so our niece could see him, his handler took him away. I held my breath, waiting for tantrum #2, but my sister handled the situation with aplomb, made some excuse about Mickey’s work hours or OSHA or Minnie had dinner on the table or some such, and we all happily traipsed over to Disneyland.

Ah, now here’s where we really started to feel the magic. Main Street as the sun was going down was cooler, the old-time music filled the air, balloons and smiling people were everywhere, and I think we all had a hitch in our breath as we saw my sister and niece take it all in for the first time. I think they were a little stunned into silence when they could finally see the castle at the end of Main Street. (my sister said it was smaller than she’d expected.) It was time to find rides that our niece could experience, so she would have a bit of fun on her first day ever at Disneyland. So we took a left and headed back to Haunted Mansion (she loved it, and was so excited to see the “Scary House” as she said.) My sister loved it too, I think. We split up into 3 separate doom buggies, so my sister and niece rode together, DS and his Grammy rode together, and DH and I had a doom buggy to ourselves for the first time in 12 years. LOL! Having an even number of people in the party really turned out to be handy! And the hitchhiking ghost didn’t have to sit on anyone’s lap!

From there, we rode Winnie the Pooh, Snow White and Pinocchio, and then decided to go back to the hotel. It was getting close to 9:00, and I still wanted to go to Trader Sam’s for a drink with DH and my sister. Our niece did not want to stay at the hotel without her Mom, and was pretty verbal about not getting ditched with her cousin and Grandma, but we ducked out anyway. What a relief to get temper tantrum #2 out of the way! The three of us walked down to the Disneyland Hotel, but there was not a table to be found ANYWHERE. I was so disappointed. Of course, DH was crabby that we’d walked all that way for nothing, and I wasn’t very happy either. Darn it! I really wanted a Krakatoa Punch or an Uh Oa! Apparently, record hot days equals a huge crowd after dark at Trader Sam’s, even on a Wednesday. So as a consolation prize, we went back to the Hearthstone Lounge at the Grand Californian and found a table there. We had a couple drinks each and chatted for a while, and then headed back upstairs. It had been a long, hot day for everyone, and we were all nearly asleep on our feet.

Sorry for the lack of photos – it didn’t seem like we saw much “new” – and everyone was a bit too hot and miserable to want to pose for photos. It gets better from here on out, I promise.


Next Up: A full day of fun with BBB and Napa Nose!
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Old 06-03-2014, 09:42 PM   #39
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Great first day! I hate Frontier now....I hate the direction they are going.

What a change in temp! Nice they recognized your husbands service....hopefully the rest of trip goes with no more temper tantrums!

Jill in CO
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Old 06-03-2014, 09:43 PM   #40
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Wow! You really did soooo much on your first day! We are locals and I remember how hot it was, too! Really enjoying your report! Can't wait for the next installment!
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Old 06-05-2014, 11:13 AM   #41
jetskigrl

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Ok...lets shake things up a bit
 
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Looking forward to reading more...

We are in 8032 October 2015 (B2B 5-night baja and 2-night weekend getaway) to celebrate our 20th anniversary.

I can't wait to hear about the room and see pictures
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Old 06-05-2014, 04:12 PM   #42
disnygirl55
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Day 2 – Disneyland Day 2 – Part 1

Today was early entry at Disney California Adventure. Usually, it would have been Disneyland’s EE, but with Grad Nite happening the following day, they flip-flopped the early entry schedule. Since we’re early risers, we were up way before early entry time of 9:00, and we took the opportunity to buy beignets for the whole family from Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen Express at Downtown Disney, and caffeinated beverages from the Starbucks, which was not there during our last visit to Disneyland. We got a large order and a small order of beignets for the six of us, not knowing what everyone’s appetite would be, and it was just about right. We had one beignet left over. They are pretty good sized, with lots of powdered sugar. We took the drinks and treats up to the room and had breakfast on the balconies. It was a beautiful cool morning. I called the Rainforest Café shortly after 8:00 AM (lo and behold, they answer their reservations line that early!) and got us a lunch reservation for noon. We had decided that it is an interesting, good place to eat with young children, so we were happy to do that rather than eat in the park. After dividing the breakfast treats, we also split up, and DH and DS went on ahead to DCA without the four girls. Even though the ladies took longer to get everyone ready to go, we still made it into the park in plenty of time to enjoy early entry. We went right to Toy Story Midway Mania, which was a good choice, as the line got quite long later on. Here is my Mom, sister, and niece – ready to ride.



While we were in line, the guys texted to find out where we were, and came over to check in. They had just gotten off TSMM themselves, and were ready to head over to Disneyland as soon as it opened (at 10:00). Mission: Matterhorn! The ladies’ plan of attack was to rent a stroller for darling niece, and get to Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for our niece’s appointment at 10:10. I got them in line at the park turnstiles while I went to rent the stroller. I also looked into getting an ECV (scooter) for my Mom because of her leg pain, but it was $50, and I knew we probably wouldn’t be in the parks THAT much on this day, due to our lunch reservation at the Rainforest Café and dinner plans at Napa Rose at 5:30.

Since cast members were allowing people in through the turnstiles already, I sent my Mom, sister, and niece to make their way to the boutique, and I would follow once the stroller was procured. I figured, how could they miss it? It’s right on the other side of the castle walkway. Well, the family joke is that my Mom and sister could get lost in a bathtub. Even my other sister back home who didn’t join us said something later like, “You let them try to find it themselves??!!” But at any rate, they weren’t lost for very long, they arrived right on time after circling the castle only a few times, I presume, and I was only a couple of minutes behind. My sister was a little concerned about the stroller, and what would happen if someone took it, but I assured her that in all of our years of stroller-renting while our DS was young, it had only “disappeared” once, and was probably due to being parked in the same place too long. And it was so easy to replace it with our receipt for the day. Sister wasn’t sure that the little one would agree to be in a stroller, but we all played it up, telling her that it was her royal princess carriage, and she could sit in it once she had her princess dress on.

I had convinced my sister that it would be worthwhile to do the “Castle” package at BBB, after reading all the reviews. It was more expensive (around $200), but it would include a new princess dress, tiara, sash and wand, makeup with a face jewel, fingernail polish, gloves, a little purse and (most valuable of all) front line access to the Royal Hall to meet the princesses. I knew once she saw those beautiful dresses hanging on the wall, she would insist on a new princess dress anyway, so we avoided temper tantrum #3 by building the price into her Christmas gifts last December. Although I didn’t take a picture of the costume wall, it is set up in sections according to princess. There was not a section for Anna or Elsa, for those of you who are curious, but they had some accessories for them on a miscellaneous wall.


After perusing the dresses, darling niece decided that she wanted to dress as Ariel. She wanted a second crown (Elsa, I think); but her Mom again redirected her attention, and thus avoided a scene. After a short wait (well designed by the good folks at Disney to give the children more time to play the “gimme gimme” game in the “store”), our niece’s fairy godmother-in-training came out to greet her and lead her over to her transformation station. First, we sat on a little bench next to two small dressing rooms, where the costume of choice was waiting to be tried on. Once dressed, our niece was led over to the styling area. Behind the styling chair was a large oval mirror, covered by a curtain with two little birds from Cinderella. These mechanical birds would later draw the curtain aside for the grand reveal at the end. In front of the station, wooden benches were arranged, so that family members could sit. The benches were plenty large for two adults, so I either sat at an unused station or stood behind the bench.

I was so impressed with our niece’s behavior. She was entranced by the whole process of getting her hair done (she was given a laminated card to choose from about 5 or 6 different hairdos – and I was grateful that she chose the traditional bun on top of her head. It looked so cute on her – and honestly, there were a couple hairdos I thought were slightly hideous.) Here are some pics of the transformation in process, including blowing on her fingernails to dry the polish. Pretty adorable.









The look on her face when the curtain was drawn aside (and the magical sparkles went off in the mirror) is why all of this was worth it. And she truly acted like a princess throughout the appointment, which took a bit over an hour, if I remember correctly.





Once she was completely made over, it was time for photos in the carriage hall, located off to the side by the two dressing rooms. While we waited for the photos on the same bench we sat at before the styling commenced, the bill came, and there was an opportunity to leave a tip to charge to the room – but my sister opted to give a cash tip to the fairy godmother in training in person, so another cast member summoned her over to us, and the deed was done. The photographer took several photos, and my sister received a folder with the best photo. I’m sure she had the opportunity to buy the others at a later time, as they were attached to a Photopass card.





Another fairy godmother in training took darling niece’s hand and led us all outside, announcing the newest princess to a few princes and pages lining the walkway on the way to the Royal Hall – just a short distance away. By this time, the sun was coming down pretty strongly again, and all I could feel was sympathy for those poor young men standing in the sun in their costumes and capes. Luckily, the princesses – I believe they were Aurora, Tiana, Cinderella, Belle and Ariel, were in a beautiful air conditioned building. Each princess was walled off from the next one, so we walked from room to room, greeting each princess and receiving a hug, a quick chat, and an autograph from each. Our niece informed Belle that she was her favorite princess. The best encounter, however, was from Ariel, who was the last princess we met. She commented on our niece’s beautiful dress (of course – since it was nearly identical to the one she was wearing) and also remarked on her beautiful “human legs”. She was very sweet to her, and looked and sounded so much like the cartoon Ariel.

At that point, it was a little after 11:30, so we decided to catch the monorail to Downtown Disney for lunch at the Rainforest Café. The guys had texted us that they had already left the park via monorail and went to a few stores at Downtown Disney (the Lego Store, Trend “D”, etc.) and would meet us at the Rainforest Café for our noon reservation. Yowsa – it was really hot now and my Mom’s leg was really hurting again. When we got to the monorail entrance, a cast member was there and informed us that the monorail had just closed and was DOWN for a few hours. I could have cried. We began to hike back to Main Street and the exit to DTD. We had to stop at the circular plaza by City Hall so that Mom could rest her leg and get some shade. I was REALLY regretting the decision not to get her an ECV, even though she could not have taken it through Downtown Disney, and would have had to leave it by the security checkpoint. Note to self: Next time we go to Disneyland, rent one of those cute red Apple Scooters that I saw so many people with. You can take them anywhere and even back to the hotel!

I texted my DH, letting him know the situation and that we might be a few minutes late. It was all good. He and DS were each having a drink in the bar area at the Rainforest Café, and enjoying some male bonding time over a mango margarita (for DH) and a smoothie (for DS).

After a couple of minutes, Mom was ready to go a bit further, so we left the park and headed through Downtown Disney toward the Rainforest. It seemed like one of the longest walks I’ve ever taken – worried about Mom and the unbearable heat that was only making her leg feel worse. Eventually we saw the sign up ahead (right next to the non-operational monorail, thank you very much) and stumbled into the cool and dim wonderfulness of the Rainforest Café. We all ordered drinks to cool off and were shown to a table right away. It wasn’t in the “jungle” area of the restaurant, but was next to one of the large aquarium tubes, so we were amused watching the fish swim around and hide in the coral. It was a very satisfying lunch, and we all soon felt refreshed and rejuvenated.

With the heat the way it was, we decided that we’d really had enough time in the parks that day, even though we hadn’t done much. My sister decided to take the two kids to the hotel pool for an hour or so, and everyone else was grateful to go back to the cool of the room and relax and take naps. We passed by Whitewater Snacks at the hotel, as it was Mom’s plan to take the kids to dinner there while DH, my sister and I went to Napa Rose at 5:30. We made sure DS could navigate from our room to Whitewater Snacks, since (knowing my Mom’s sense of direction) he would likely be in charge of leading the way.


Next Up: Day 2, Part 2 – Napa Rose Chef’s Counter Meal!
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Old 06-05-2014, 07:52 PM   #43
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Loving your TR again! I love the pix of your niece as Ariel. She the fave princess of mine and DD!!! She's beaming!

Your poor mother and the pain! That sucks about the monorail! That's great that your DH and DS were able to do the male bonding while the ladies bonded!
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Old 06-06-2014, 09:35 AM   #44
disnygirl55
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Originally Posted by pepe3penelope View Post
Loving your TR again! I love the pix of your niece as Ariel. She the fave princess of mine and DD!!! She's beaming!

Your poor mother and the pain! That sucks about the monorail! That's great that your DH and DS were able to do the male bonding while the ladies bonded!
Thanks so much for following along. It really was an awesome moment to see that joy on her face when she saw herself in the mirror. Now that DS12 is older, it is fun for the guys to do their own thing. I warned DH that I'd probably spending a lot of time with my Mom, sister and niece, since it was their first trip to Disneyland (for sister and niece) - and I really wanted to see it through their eyes. There is a lot we didn't get to do because of the heat, and the crowds on Friday, but it was a good first trip for them. Once our niece is 40 inches tall, we'll have to try it again. There was a lot she wanted to do that she wasn't tall enough yet for. And as she's growing up a little, she's more fun to be around. LOL!
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Old 06-06-2014, 11:15 AM   #45
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Day 2 – Disneyland Day 2 – Part 2

When everyone came back from swimming, and naps were done, we all took showers and prepared for our dinner at the Chef’s Counter downstairs at the Napa Rose restaurant. DH and I had eaten at Napa Rose a few years ago, and it was an excellent meal, with which we had the wine pairings.

I read that the restaurant offered a Chef’s Counter experience, and we decided that it would be a fun treat for us, and invited my sister to join us. As mentioned before, we were able to make the reservation about 2 ½ months ahead. There are about 12 seats in total available – 8 really good ones with views of the ovens and food stations, and another 4 seats close to the dessert station, with a limited view of the overall kitchen. On this particular evening, the seat next to me remained vacant, but all others were taken. A family of four with two young children (like around ages 3 and 5) sat in the seats by the dessert station. I don’t like to judge, but I just don’t think the kids got a lot out of the experience. Napa Rose is not exactly a kid-centric place to eat. But oh well – different strokes for different folks, and I’ve read that children are welcome at the Chef’s Counter or at any seat in Napa Rose, as long as you are willing to pay the price.

The sommelier came over first to ask us if we were going to have wine pairings, which we all were. Then Chef Gloria came over to find out what our plans were for dinner. All three of us opted for the Chef’s tasting menu, as we are mostly adventurous eaters. Chef Gloria asked about any particular likes and dislikes. DH and I asked for no sweetbreads or organ meats. Chef Gloria said that today was a good day for that, as the next night’s menu had sweetbread specialties. My sister asked for no fish, but told Gloria that she liked other types of seafood and shellfish. I wish they had presented us with souvenir menus, as I have a tough time remembering exactly what we had to eat. With only a couple of exceptions, all 3 of us had different things to eat, and therefore different wines. We had things like lobster, scallops, duck, rabbit, lamb, beef, chocolate, mushrooms… there was not a thing served to us that wasn’t delicious. I’d never had rabbit before in my life, but DH received it for one of his courses, and it was one of the best things I’ve ever tasted. Really!!

Chef Gloria came over and explained each course to us as it was served, and we were also able to ask a few questions of the other sous chefs and the pastry chef, who was working on some specialty ice creams at the dessert counter. Chef Sutton was either off that night, or working at one of his other restaurants on property. Chef Gloria told us that he might pop in, but we never did see him. Gloria was amazing, and everything clicked right along. Much less chaotic than you would see on Hell’s Kitchen or another similar show. We could tell this team was used to working together. We only saw one plate of food turned away at the pass for not meeting Gloria’s standards. The pours of wine were generous, but none of us got very tipsy, as we had a lot of food in our stomachs. At the end, we were presented with a nice box of chocolates to go, which we took upstairs and doled out to the rest of the family. Here is a sampling of different courses we were served.


















Prior to our dessert course, we were asked if there was anything in particular we wanted. My sister said, “Anything that goes with Merlot,” and we all got a good chuckle out of that. So she wound up with a rich chocolate dessert and the wine of her choice.

After dinner, we had another quick cocktail at the Hearthstone Lounge, and then turned in for the night.


Next Up: Day 3 – Final Day at Disneyland!
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