FINALLY! The "Surprise" Disney Trip That Made Magic -- Nov 17-23, 2012

Discussion in 'Disneyland Trip Reports' started by papamouse1, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. papamouse1

    papamouse1 <MARQUEE BEHAVIOR=ALTERNATE><font color=red>Papa M

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    OK... Let's give this a shot!

    I have never done a TR before, so I hope you will bear with me as I stretch my wings!! :goodvibes

    Our trip was such an amazing trip... maybe our best Disney trip yet. I hope you enjoy it as well...





    Here's a little Table of Contents to skip ahead as the story progresses


    It's Time to set the Trap!

    We're Off To Grandma's House

    Meet The Adventurers & Welcome to Day 1/2!

    Day 1 (part 1)... Let The Surprises Begin.

    Day 1 (part 2)....

    Day 2: "Rise & Shine"

    Day 3: "Disneyland With A View"

    Day 4: We're Going Hollywood

    Day 4 Part 2

    Day 4 Part 3

    Day 5- Happy Thanksgiving!

    Day 6-A Nice Ending
     
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  3. papamouse1

    papamouse1 <MARQUEE BEHAVIOR=ALTERNATE><font color=red>Papa M

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    Okay... I think I got my Photobucket woes sorted out so time to start my first TR "adventure". I am confident that this TR will not win any awards ( I am almost embarrassed to try after reading so many awesome TR's here over the years), but honestly I am so excited about our trip that I just gotta tell somebody!! :dance3:

    The journey for this trip really begins back in June of 1999.
    [​IMG]
    You may have heard our story on a DIS podcast back in August... in 1999, we took our kids to DL for the very first time while my youngest was only 2 months old. We were so touched by the experience, we made the commitment to somehow return to Disney every year. We have had 13 years of amazing memories as a family.... but there is one problem with doing Disney every single year. It's impossible to "surprise" your kids when they know we never miss.
    Well nothing is impossible with a little Disney magic :wizard:
    AND a little white lie :rolleyes1

    Our oldest graduates this year from High School and for her Senior year, we let her choose our trip for her graduation trip... she wants to go to Aulani! Well, being the good father, I let her know we would all be willing to suffer through a trip to Hawaii just to make her happy... BUT it would come at a cost. If we went to Hawaii, the cost would be quite large, and it would mean we would not be able to take our annual trip in 2012 in order to save for Aulani in 2013.

    I lied! :scared1:
     
  4. papamouse1

    papamouse1 <MARQUEE BEHAVIOR=ALTERNATE><font color=red>Papa M

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    It's Time To Set The Trap!

    Well, after convincing our girls that Disney was off the table for 2012, it was time to start planning "ninja style". You can imagine, going to DL over Thanksgiving week meant I had to start planning early. After several years of planning for WDW trips, I had gotten good at getting up early and getting all my ressies done on the very first available day. I have to say, though, that WDW definitely has its act together better than DL when it comes to booking dining, tours, etc. Booking dining with DL needs to be done with a pen and paper. They send you no e-mails to give you confirmation numbers, etc... whatever they tell you when you book, you had better write down!

    I decided early on that I really wanted to make this trip unique since we had never been able to surprise them before... so I started coming up with different things we had never done on any of our prior trips... then came the idea! Why not plan a special event each day of the trip, so there would be a "gift" for them each day! Hey, why not wrap up a special clue/gift for each day and have them open a gift every day of the trip! And even better, how about not even telling my wife about the surprises, so all 3 of my girls could experience it together? Great idea, right?

    Have you ever tried to keep a secret from your wife for 7 months? I think that was even harder than keeping it from my girls :goodvibes


    Well about 2 months before the trip it was time for Phase 2!!!
    We live in New Mexico, and my mother in law lives in Phoenix (which is halfway to LA from where we live). So, we told our girls we were taking a trip to visit Grandma for Thanksgiving. We told them we were going to make it into a little vacation and would be gone for 8 days, and we would be checking out some other things in Arizona, not just staying at Grandma's. "It won't be a Disney trip but we'll have fun." I had my MIL playing along like a real champ (although I think deep inside she wasn't too happy we weren't going to stay) :)


    In the last couple of weeks before the trip, as I was spending time on my computer finalizing schedules, making up touring plans, etc. the secret seemed like it might be cracking. My girls are used to seeing me online on Disney sites, forums, and helping others plan trips every night...:surfweb: but they started asking strange questions. You know the questions I am talking about... the kind that try to hide what they are really wanting to ask. I got a little nervous that months of hard work was going to crumble before my eyes because of my nightly obsession of going over all the details of the trip. How could I throw them off the scent? How could I get them thinking Phoenix, instead of "Hey Dad, who are you planning a trip for? Hey Dad, when do you think we can go to DL to see all the cool new stuff?"

    Time for a new plan!!
     
  5. papamouse1

    papamouse1 <MARQUEE BEHAVIOR=ALTERNATE><font color=red>Papa M

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    The Old "Misdirection"

    As my girls got more inquisitive about what I was doing online, and as they began to try and peek at what I was doing, I decided it was time to mess with their brains.:rolleyes:

    I waited until I knew they were both nearby and I web-surfed and found this...

    [​IMG]
    "Hey girls, look at what they have at the Phoenix Zoo! A Christmas light show! It's not as cool as Disney at Christmas, but maybe it would be fun! Wanna do that one day while we're there?"


    A little while later, I look at this...
    [​IMG]
    "OOhh check this out! A mule ride into the Grand Canyon! That would be kind of fun!"

    Of all the things I wish I had a video of from this trip, one of the things I would most like to have is that look on my girls faces as they tried to act excited about all the things I began to show them we would be doing for their vacation! Suffice it to say, they didn't think this was a good substitute for "Disney Magic" ... and the end result was my plan worked! They no longer wanted to see what I was planning on my computer...

    NEXT UP: Time to leave for Grandma's house!
     
  6. papamouse1

    papamouse1 <MARQUEE BEHAVIOR=ALTERNATE><font color=red>Papa M

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    So Off We Go To Grandma's House

    Well, the time finally arrived and we were off to Phoenix. It is about a 9 hour drive from where we live to Phoenix, and we didn't get out of town until after the girls got out of school on Thursday, so suffice it to say, it was a looonnnngggg night. The trip was pretty uneventful other than the occasional times my wife and I caught ourselves starting to talk about LA & Disneyland... or our hotel reservations at DL Hotel.... etc. Good news, we managed to catch ourselves each time and did not "spill the beans".

    There was one other fun event on the trip there. We stopped in a basic run-of-the-mill truck stop in Parker, AZ to get gas and grab a bite to eat. My wife & I were sitting in a booth waiting for our kids to come join us, when I saw a man walk to the food counter to order. It was one of those "that guy looks familiar" moments. He turned around to look for someone (later I saw him with wife & 2 kids) and when he did he caught my eye. Suddenly I realized who it was ... it was Tim Dekay, the actor who plays Peter Burke on the TV show White Collar. As soon as he realized that I was staring at him (stranger danger...) he bolted down a side aisle. I told my wife, "I think that guy was the actor on White Collar, one of our fav shows, so she popped up out of the booth we were in and looked around. She saw him looking our way to see if we were looking, and without thinking she blurted out "you're right, that's him!" Poor guy... he went even deeper into the dark corners of the store. Luckily, noone had heard my wife so things remained quiet. We sat and ate our lunch without seeing him again. Then right as we were headed out the door to our car, the poor guy came around a corner (I'm guessing to finally pick up his food he'd ordered) and literally ended up face to face with me. I could tell he was nervous and he was turning a little red... you could almost read in his eyes, "Please don't do something weird..." I leaned towards him and quietly said, "If you really are who I think you are, we just want you to know we LOVE your show." Man, did he ever look relieved... he just reached out tapped me on the shoulder and said "Hey, thanks!" I felt bad for the guy, you could tell he was just on a trip with his wife and kids and wanted to be left alone... then some star-struck hicks from New Mexico spotted him in a worn out truck stop. No place is safe!

    So, we finally arrive in Phoenix around 2AM, chat with Grandma for a little while, and crash! We were all exhausted, so we just went to bed. In the morning, I got up and had coffee with my MIL, and we talked about the big "reveal" we were going to do this morning. I was surprised how excited she was to be a part of it... she loved the fact that even she knew details about the trip that my wife (her daughter) did not. After breakfast, I casually pulled out 3 gift boxes... 1 for my wife and then 1 each for my girls... and just told them we wanted to let them open a gift early so Grandma could be there when they opened them.
    [​IMG]


    They were both still pretty exhausted, so to say they lacked enthusiasm would be an understatement. So, on the count of 3 I had them open their boxes altogether... Surprise!!
    [​IMG]

    In each box was an assortment of gift boxes, envelopes, etc. with a day written on it. Then on each day of our trip, they would open up a gift for that day with some type of an exciting experience that we had never done on any of our former Disney trips!
    [​IMG]

    I have to say, that had to be one of the coolest Christmas reveals I have ever had with my kids! My youngest looked like she was in shock (not sure she believed what was happening), and my 18 yr old was acting like she was 5... grinning and doing the "I gotta potty" dance! My wife did what she does best... she cried :)

    We told them to enjoy the day with their cousins and with Grandma and Grandpa, because we would be leaving for LA first thing in the morning. I think they had fun with their cousins, but it was obvious they just wanted the day to pass as quickly as possible. they went to bed early to get fully energized and be ready for our exciting adventure!!

    NEXT UP: Day 1/2!

     
  7. cristyhas3

    cristyhas3 Mouseketeer

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    This is awesome! I can't wait to read more!!! I'm so curious about what surprises you have planned.
     
  8. papamouse1

    papamouse1 <MARQUEE BEHAVIOR=ALTERNATE><font color=red>Papa M

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    Thanks! Can't wait to finish the whole story... wasn't sure anyone was following this TR so now I'm inspired to "stay the course" :thumbsup2
     
  9. HeyItsNickCA

    HeyItsNickCA Mouseketeer

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    I'm reading! :) interested to see how the trip went :)
     
  10. keltiesmom

    keltiesmom Mouseketeer

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    Where's the rest?! We are surprising our kids with their 1st trip on Christmas morning.
     
  11. papamouse1

    papamouse1 <MARQUEE BEHAVIOR=ALTERNATE><font color=red>Papa M

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    Sweet! Are you actually leaving on Christmas or just letting them know on Christmas?

    Don't know if you would be interested but there is a site that can have a Disney character call your kids on Christmas with the surprise,,, inda fun! If that is something you might like check it out HERE

    I am working on next install now and hope to have a couple of days up tomorrow... Thanks for sharing in my FUN!!:thumbsup2
     
  12. papamouse1

    papamouse1 <MARQUEE BEHAVIOR=ALTERNATE><font color=red>Papa M

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    ... before I get started today, I realize I completely forgot to introduce the cast of this little adventure...
    [​IMG]

    Beginning from the left to right...
    PattyJo (better know as PJ)
    She is 13 now and if you read the first post, then you already know this is the one who help start our Disney obsession... Thank you PJ! :)
    She loves to ride Alice, Snow White, and at WDW, RocknRoller Coaster! Can't get her to touch California Screamin' though, even though it is the same basic ride. She likes not being able to see where we are about to fall out of the sky! She also turns white when you mention Tower of Terror, but that's a story for another time ;)

    My DW, Carrie (otherwise known as Carebear)
    This wonderful woman has put up with me for 25 years as of last February.. and trust me that qualifies her for sainthood all by itself. She will pretty much try anything once. She used to love it when PJ was too young to ride the roller coasters, etc because she had a built-in excuse... "oh that's OK I'll just take PJ over to ride the Tea Cups." Now PJ wants to ride the big rides, so she has to go the bathroom alot more now for some reason :)

    That's me, Brad (aka papamouse1)!
    I will absolutely admit it, I am the single most Disney-addicted person in my house. I have no idea what I am going to do if my kids ever outgrow it. The good news is, I think I found the way to keep Disney in my wife & I's life forever... Disney Cruise! We just went on a Disney Cruise for our 25th anniversary... our 3rd Disney Cruise, but our 1st without kids! :banana:
    I gotta say, I am not sure the kids are going with us ever again :cool2:

    Catie (aka Catie... yep just Catie)
    Catie is 18 and getting ready to graduate from High School this year. She is an amazing student and an equally amazing dancer! She's been traveling for the past 6 years on a competition team, and has had a blast! Next June we are headed to Aulani as a gift to her for a job well done... RIGHT, I am going to Hawaii only because of my teenage daughter ;)



    Welcome to Day 1/2!


    You really can't call our arrival day, Day 1, since we didn't get there until late in the afternoon. We didn't want to waste a day of our tickets on just a few hours, plus it was Saturday and the crowds are usually pretty big at DL... so what to do?Have I mentioned, we LOVE downtown Disney :)

    We arrive at the Grand Californian, tell them who we are at the gate, then pull up to the front door... "Welcome Mr. Coates to the Grand Californian! May we help you with your bags?" I know it may sound corney, but there is just something magical when they call you by name as you first arrive... you really feel like... "Alright, here we go!!"

    We had stayed here before but not in the DVC Villas, so felt strange walking to the right out of the lobby where there used to be trees and parking lots. I have to say though, I know now why those Villas are hard to get... they were WONDERFUL!

    We got settled into our room, and decided we were hungry, so off to Downtown Disney we go. It had been a tradition for years that we would go to the Rainforest Cafe for dinner at least one evening of our trip to DL, but can I say I am so glad my kids have now outgrown the interest in the audio animatronic show there... they were ready for a change. So where do we go tonight? Tortilla Joe's... nah we get great Mexican food all the time in New Mexico. Brennan's Jazz Kitchen... have to admit I love those ribs and the Andouille Encrusted Salmon. Yum!

    But we need something new? Where to go? Suddenly there it is... tucked into a little corner by the theater... EARL OF SANDWICH!! I know you you may not believe it, but I swear there was a kind of glow surrounding that entire building, almost like an angelic halo :littleangel:

    Okay, I admit it, I LOVE me some Earl of Sandwich. The line was clear out the door and down around the new skating rink, but I had read on the DIS that the line went really fast (it is true by the way), so we lined up. It took about 40 minutes to get to the front, and while we waited, one of the waitresses came around and handed out a menu to everyone so they could be deciding what they wanted. My family must have changed their minds 10X in those 40 minutes ( well maybe not that many times, but it felt like 10X). Not me... I knew what I wanted! Give me some Thanksgiving Love Baby! If you have not heard about this Holiday Sandwich the Earl is serving up, then listen up, it's really quite simple. Grab a plate and load it up with all your Thanksgiving goodies... some juicy turkey, a little dressing, how about some sweet cranberries, and of course you have to have gravy, right? .... now grab a bun, stuff your plate of food in it, add a little cheese, then toast that puppy and voila! You have an Earl of Sandwich Holiday Delight!
    I am really sorry for the lack of food porn, but I have developed a habit over the years at Disney... instead of sitting down to eat and saying "I gotta take a picture of this!", I will instead consume my wonderful meal and then say "man I should have taken a picture of that!" :goodvibes

    I tried to convince my family to order it too, but they thought it sounded too weird. So guess what happened? No, go ahead.. guess? Ahh Man! You guessed it. I gave all of them a bite and before I knew it they were all looking at me like poor starving orphan children with those big round eyes... "excuse me sir, may I have just one more bite?":worried:
    Suffice it to say, I only got half a sandwich... but it was delicious!

    With dinner out of the way, it was time to stroll around Downtown Disney. "So girls, what would you like to do first?" I have to admit, I was not expecting their answer...
    "Build A Bear!!!"

    [​IMG]

    I really thought at 13 and 18, they might be past this, but guess I don't know as much as I thought about my kids. The last time we had been here was 5 years ago, but it really hadn't changed. Find your favorite character, get in line, get "stuffed" then dress 'em up... pretty simple! They have perfect little outfits to match whatever character you select, it's really quite a racket!

    First up is Catie. She selects the perfect little "Mumble" from Happy Feet (she likes movies like Happy Feet, Despicable Me, etc... cute characters). Next up, you can put a voice chip in your character, so she chooses a chip with Mumble's voice. "Show them Happy Feet... don't call me little... you shouldn't make fun of people because they're different...". Then time for an outfit. He's a penguin, so what do you dress a penguin in? A tuxedo of course! He is adorable!

    Next up is PattyJo. She selects The Grinch (she loves movies like The Grinch, Nightmare Before Christmas, Frankenweenie..). Hmm, OK if that is what you want. Time for a voice chip. "Hey, here is a perfect chip with a bunch of Grinch sayings!" Nope. She want to get the chip where you can record your own sayings. The gal working there tells her to go around the corner where it is quiet and record her message before she install it into Grinch, so off she goes with her Mom. all of a sudden, I can hear her Mom laughing hysterically. You know,,, that kind of laughter that makes you want to say "I don't know that lady!"

    They come over and PJ is grinning from ear to ear... "listen to this Dad". She pushes the button and a voice that sounds like it is a lead singer from a Thrash Metal band (you know what I mean, sounds raspy and growly, more like a wild animal than a human?) comes out of her little Grinch..... "BITE ME!!" I absolutely couldn't believe that voice came out of my little girl... she was so proud! Well, i guess that's not so bad right? Time for an outfit. How about this leather jacket? Oh wait, perfect! Here's a little Lederhausen outfit just like in the movie! Nope... she puts her Grinch in an Alice in Wonderland dress! You heard me correctly... Alice! I'm starting to think I may need to get my youngest in for some professional counseling. :blush:

    Well, with their new friends in their boxes, off we went to enjoy the street performers, the Disney Store, the amazing Lego store...
    [​IMG]
    Who has the patience to build that?

    A little hot chocolate, and we are officially done in for the evening, so it's back to the room for a good night's rest. We have never been the type that got up early for Extra Magic Hour before, but with the new Carsland, we are going to tough it out this year so we can get in all the new goodness!

    As we arrive back at the room the girls suddenly realize... "Hey, Dad can we open our presents now for the trip? Maybe just one? We always open one present on Christmas Eve, right?"

    Nope, you have to wait until tomorrow to see your first surprise :cool2:


    I just love having power! Hey, I live in a house with 3 women, I seldom get this chance to be in charge :rolleyes2


    NEXT UP: "It's Sunday! Time to go to Church!"


     
  13. julydeya

    julydeya Mouseketeer

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    Loving this report!
     
  14. papamouse1

    papamouse1 <MARQUEE BEHAVIOR=ALTERNATE><font color=red>Papa M

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    Thanks! Sometimes it is just tough to put into words the emotions you feel when stuff happens. I wish I could attach soundbytes so you could hear Grinch's voice :cool2:

    BTW your profile says you are in Mexico... where at?
     
  15. julydeya

    julydeya Mouseketeer

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    I love reading trip reports. Makes the wait more enjoyable :)
    We live in Monterrey. I have travel to WDW like 6 times, and the coming one will be the first one to Disneyland. I know this will be a lot different since it will be a trip surprise to our 4 years old princess. First time for her! :cool1:
     
  16. papamouse1

    papamouse1 <MARQUEE BEHAVIOR=ALTERNATE><font color=red>Papa M

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    Day 1 ... Let The Surprises Begin!


    It's Sunday morning, and we rise bright and early. The first thing my family wanted to know was "can we open our surprise gift now?" Hehe... no way! Make em sweat, right? I told them to take their gift with them into the park and we would open them after we did Carsland.

    We have never been the type to hit the park at rope drop even though I am an uber planner and big proponent of making touring plans. But, with the Carsland phenomena running rampant and with this being Thanksgiving week, we knew we needed to tough it out and get in early. We got in line about 6:30 for a 7AM entrance; headed straight for Carsland and followed our touring plan. We rode Luigi's, then Carsland, then Mater's.

    [​IMG]

    Let me just say right up front... WOW!! Carsland is the single most impressive upgrade/expansion I have seen in the last 14 years we have been going to the parks... the detail was absolutely breathtaking.

    [​IMG]
    loved the details like this rock formation :)

    ... or check out this mountain range with a huge bridge and waterfall in the distance

    [​IMG]
    Truth is the bridge is tiny and you could throw a rock and hit it, it's so close. Trust em, the photos don't do the forced perspective justice. It's absolutely incredible


    We were doing great on time so we headed back to do Toy Story, California Screamin', and then back to Ariel's. We headed up and got FP for Soarin' ... all this by 10AM!!
    Okay, I am a convert! Rope drop isn't just a better way to do the park it is the ONLY way to do the park. That was absolutely amazing... trust me, the park ended up crowded and tough to maneuver later, having done the big rides first helped a TON! :thumbsup2

    Well, it was time, so we sat down on a bench in the park and i told them they could open gift #1. They all 3 had the same thing, so they opened at the same time. 3... 2...1... OPEN!

    [​IMG]
    Suffice it to say, they smiled, but clearly, they were under impressed. "DAD... you are a Pastor, we go to church all the time. You really aren't taking us to church on our vacation are you?" ... "why of course I am!" :angel:
    We leave the park and start walking through Downtown Disney, but instead of turning into our Hotel, we keep walking... "where we going Dad?" "You'll see".
    I start walking towards Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen and one of them blurts out "Look! That must be it, it's Jazz, like on the card!" ... "Nope! You are looking the wrong way. Look right over there...

    [​IMG]

    In all the trips we have taken to Disney, we have never made it to House of Blues or the Gospel Brunch. Which is surprising because we all LOVE this kind of music and we love to worship God. Maybe for some, this would be no big deal, but believe me, my group was ultra-excited!!

    If you enjoy jazz, good food, and a high energy worship concert, you have to make this a priority. It was absolutely amazing! The food was wonderful... fresh, hot, and a great variety.... and the concert was off the hook!!

    You see the blur of this guys fingers?
    [​IMG]

    That is because he was cookin' on that bass!!


    Well, nothing finishes off a good meal like a little R&R, so we headed back to the Hotel to swim, nap and relax for a bit. Definitely need an afternoon break when you do Early entry :cool2:

    ...After a nice break, my girls are feeling a little let down... we had already done their gift for the day, so what's left to do besides just ride rides? Keep in mind, we have never been to Disneyland for the holidays, so there is plenty left we haven't seen before. It's 3PM and we are headed to Disneyland!
     
  17. papamouse1

    papamouse1 <MARQUEE BEHAVIOR=ALTERNATE><font color=red>Papa M

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    Day 1 ... Let The Surprises Begin! (part 2)
    ...After a nice break, my girls are feeling a little let down... we had already done their gift for the day, so what's left to do besides just ride rides? Keep in mind, we have never been to Disneyland for the holidays, so there is plenty left we haven't seen before. It's 3PM and we are headed to Disneyland!

    On the way over to the park, I took a quick look at my phone apps to see what the lines were like in Carsland now... 150 minutes+ for RSR. We did all of Carsland AND multiple headliner rides in the same amount of time this AM... did I say I love EMH and touringplans? :cool1:

    Since we are only here for a short day (we want to get out of the park around 10 and get back to bed... doing EMH again tomorrow), so we get in a few of our "must-do" rides... Space Mountain, Star Tours, Big Thunder Mtn... but really tonight is all about Christmas! We really want to experience Christmas Disneyland style. Last year, we went to WDW at Thanksgiving for our 1st experience of the holidays there. If you have never been, you have to find a way to do this! It was amazing! we absolutely loved all the resorts done up, and the Mickey's Christmas Party,etc. and we wondered if Disneyland could even hold a candle to all of that. Well wonder no more... Disneyland is different, but we loved just as much... maybe even better!


    Why better, you say? Well, they both have Great Christmas Parades...
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG][​IMG]

    They both have stunning Castles!
    [​IMG]


    They both have the best holiday fireworks anywhere!! But let me tell you what Disneyland has that WDW does not...







    THIS...

    [​IMG] [​IMG]



    AND DON"T FORGET THIS...

    [​IMG]
    Haunted Mansion Holiday by Corsey21, on Flickr

    I have read alot about the overlays they do at Disneyland for the Haunted Mansion and for Small World. Everyone talks in glowing terms about both of these... but I am not even sure their words do it justice. The sheer detail in the total remake of these rides for the holidays is nothing short of amazing. From the outer shell, to the inner sight gags, even down to the soundtrack itself... completely redone! I love, love, love these 2 makeovers.

    Well, after fireworks finale, we called it a day, and as we walked back to our hotel room with so many holiday images forever etched on our minds, I couldn't help but wonder... can we ever go back to doing Disney at any time of the year but the holidays? I think the last 2 years have absolutely ruined us for anything less than holiday magic pixiedust:


    Coming Up: Now That's What I Call A Show!
     
  18. DisneytheKid

    DisneytheKid A bad attempt at Billy the Kid

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    Such an amazing trip report!!! I love how you managed to surprise them! I cant wait to read more:cool1:
     
  19. julydeya

    julydeya Mouseketeer

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  20. papamouse1

    papamouse1 <MARQUEE BEHAVIOR=ALTERNATE><font color=red>Papa M

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    Thanks folks... working on Day 2 to go up tonight :thumbsup2
     
  21. papamouse1

    papamouse1 <MARQUEE BEHAVIOR=ALTERNATE><font color=red>Papa M

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    Day 2... Rise and Shine!

    So Monday morning rolls around after a good night's sleep and it's time to get over in line for Extra Magic Morning Hours again for DCA. We are staying at the Grand Californian at this point, so the private entrance is right there... can I just say I LOVE that entrance! Especially this time of year when the security tables to the main entrance are backed up into a different time zone! Now keep in mind, I had talked to my girls on the very first day and asked them if they were willing to get up early everyday so we could do EMH and get more done and they were excited to do it... for one whole day! PattyJo (my youngest) and my DW decided they would rather sleep than go to Carsland again... that's insane right? I tried to explain to them that the crowds would be nuts today and I couldn't guarantee they would get another chance to ride RSR, but they said they didn't mind doing single rider later in the day, even if it a wait, so we left them to dream happy thoughts and we went to have fun!!

    So Catie and I get up and head down to get in line. We get to the gate and realize we don't have our tickets, so back up to the room we go. When we get back down it is almost time for the gates to open and the line is MUCH longer today than yesterday. There must have been a couple hundred people waiting (at least it felt like that). The gates open and we are antsy to get in and rush to Carsland... then it happens... Gridlock!

    One family forgot to sign all their tickets, so our line has to wait for them to sign. Then the next couple forgot their ID's so they want to debate for 10 minutes on how they shouldn't be held up from going in the park (Hello? Line behind you!!). This whole time people have been streaming into the park in the other line. By the time we finally get in, it is 15+ minutes past park open, so we kind of give up on the thought of getting over there ahead of the crowd. The day before we had gone over by going past Soarin' onto the main street and up to Carsland, but we decided, the crowds coming in the main gate would be bad there, and we had heard the entry into Carsland through the Pier area was really beautiful, so we went to the left and up & around this time just to check it out. Now I must admit we did a little "Jalking" going over... you know, jog a little, walk a little, jog a little, walk a little.
    We made good time over to the pier and the rumors were true... that entrance into Carsland is totally amazing! It doesn't have all the neon, etc. but it totally looks like you are going down route 66 into the desert/mountains ... beautiful. Right about the time we got to the main street we saw this..

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    I will show more on this later, but can I just say, these new "characters" in Carsland make for the coolest character meet-n-greets!! But more on that later. Now what I really wish I could show you is a photo of what we saw looking the opposite direction of this photo? Do you notice how few people there are in this photo? Well right behind us was Main Street, and guess what? Noone was there yet! We got to the corner, and a CM told us we had to wait right there. I couldn't figure out why until I looked to my left down Main Street and there they were... thousands of people walking behind a rope held across the road, and they were being walked back to the RSR... we had actually beat rope drop!! Woohoo!

    When the rope arrived to where we were standing, the CM told us to jump right in, so we got in right behind the rope. We were the 24th and 25th person to get on the ride, rode it, came back and got in single rider line and rode... in the end we managed to ride RSR 2x in right at 30 minutes! During Thanksgiving week! Merry Christmas to me!!

    After riding RSR, we decide the line at Mater's was more than we wanted to do, and we weren't big fans of Luigi's, so we figure we'll just head over to California Screamin' next. But as we exited the RSR area we saw this...

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    and this...

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    Did I mention I LOVE these new characters? The fire engine was animated... the ladder went up and down and he interacted with the guests. We were standing next to Mater getting our photo taken, and suddenly (maybe because I arranged my hat in a very special fashion as you see in the photo), Mater started chatting with me! I don't remember exactly what he said, but he made some comment about being a plumber or a mechanic, and suddenly I felt inspired! I turned around and did my very best Ross Perot imitation...
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    "You gotta get under the hood & fix it!!"

    If you actually you get the "Ross Perot" comment, then I am confident you qualify for the Senior Discount menu at Denny's!! ;)

    So it's time to head over to one of our favorite rides... Catie & I have done this ride with just the 2 of us on every trip we have made to DL for the past 10 years! It's our father-daughter bonding time... holding on for dear life!
    California "Screamin'"
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    I bet you are wondering, "is he so cheap he actually took a photo of the TV screen showing his ride photo instead of just buying it? Yes, I am just that cheap! :goodvibes
    Actually, we have a drawer full of ride photos we have purchased over the years and have never done a thing with, so I have sworn off buying anymore :rolleyes:

    After a quick ride at Toy Story Midway Mania ...we just beat the herd coming in for regular park opening :) ... it's about time to go meet up with the rest of the family and open up our surprise for the day, so we text them to meet us at Grizzly River. Time is a little late so no time to ride Grizzly right now, so time to open up surprise #2!!

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    It wasn't until after they had opened their surprise that I realized I had printed out the wrong card! It was supposed to say, "Come walk where Walt walked & dine where Walt dined". Today's surprise began with a quick jaunt over to DL park to take part in our very first Park Tour! My DW has always wanted to take some time and go on one of the tours to get a different view of the park. I had tried to book the Christmas tour, but it just wouldn't work with the rest of our surprise schedule, so instead we did the "Welcome to Disneyland!" tour.

    We went to the sign in kiosk and got registered. I have to say, I was kind of surprised at how excited my girls were to take this tour... maybe it was just the cool collector's pin they got!
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    The tour started with a short trip back across the Promenade and into DCA again (didn't we just leave here?). Our guide shared some wonderful information on the transformation of Buena Vista Street. As we arrived at the main hub area, the red car arrived with the newsboys doing a wonderful song and dance show. We watched for a bit, but needed to move on, so down Buena Vista into Hollywood Land we go!

    I was very excited, because our guide had shared that we were gong to the special preview of 3-D Prep and Landing that was showing at the Muppet 3-D theater! Unfortunately, as we got there, we found out it was down and so our guide took us to It's Tough To Be A Bug instead. I kind of liked the backup plan ,but the rest of my clan wasn't too enthused. They do NOT like this place... they don't care for the 4-D "bug experiences" that happen during the show :). After, the show we headed over for a brief visit to the Animator's Academy and then over to Tower of Terror where we picked up FP's for later in the day. Then we headed towards Carsland to check it out! The family we were with on the tour seemed very excited (I don't think they had seen Carsland yet) so imagine their disappointment when they realized that we were going to "look at it" but not go "In It"!
    We literally stood over by the Blue Cellar and looked down the Main Street and she said there it is!! Of course, looking at the mass of humanity that was packing the street by this time of day, I think I know why they don't take the tour down the street :goodvibes

    This basically brought our time at DCA to an end, so we headed back over to DL!

    As we entered the park we headed over to Pirates where we went through the exit and got right on the ride... kinda funny since there was no line at all and we probably would have gotten on faster to just go in main line :).
    To be honest, the tour went completely downhill from here... we rode the train from New Orleans Square over to Tomorrowland, got off, and walked back to the front of the park. She shared some little things along the way but don't even remember anything she said. As the tour concluded, they handed us some FP's. She was hoping they might give us Haunted Mansion FP's but we them for Star Tours and Soarin' instead. All in all, it was a great tour for someone who was new to DL and wanted to get a good lay of the land... and be able to ask questions of the guide about the park. Unfortunately for us, my kids know so much about the parks THEY could the guides!! We did enjoy our time though... so that takes care of the "walk where Walt walked" part of the surprise, now what about the "dine where Walt dined part?

    Well, this is where I took a little "license" with the accuracy of the surprise. You see, we didn't actually dine where Walt dined, but it was built to "resemble" a time when Walt was around... Surprise!
    We are having lunch at Carthay Circle!!
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    To fully appreciate our excitement, you just have to know we are full blown "foodies". When I ask my youngest about her favorite part of our last WDW trip, it wasn't the shows, rides, pools... she wanted to talk about the whole lobster she ate at Narcoosee's!!:cheer2:

    But there just never are any restaurants in the parks at DL that get us excited ...unless one of you can get me into Club33? Anyone? PLEASE!! :cloud9:

    We now have a place to look forward to!
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    Without doing a full review, let me just say the food was superb the service was top shelf, and the bill was ASTRONOMICAL!!
    we wanted to get the Preferred viewing for World of Color, so we had to order an entree and an appetizer OR dessert for each person. We don't drink so there was no wine. Our lunch for 4 of us with the tip was just shy of $200!
    That will teach me to complain we don't have enough high dining at DL parks!! :rolleyes2

    Nothing better after a good meal than a nice nap! So we headed to Grizzly River Run to get FP's then it was back to the hotel for an afternoon break


    I think I'll just hit fast forward for the rest of this day since the bulk of the "Surprise" was now over. We had a wonderful day at DCA riding the favorites we missed yesterday and jumping on our favorite for one last fling!

    There were a couple of Highlights / Lowlights for the remainder of this day...
    First...Remember, my wife and youngest DD wanted to come back later to ride RSR? We had not ridden it at night and heard it was cool to do so we went back to get in the single rider line... nice idea, right? WRONG!! The line literally came all the way out of the entrance and into the park for a minimum of 60+ minutes for single rider!
    Second... Have you ever had Grizzly FP's and forgot to use them... then thought "hey it's dark & cold but it won't be too bad will it?" WRONG!! Holy Cow that was cold. I was hoping maybe they turned down the water jets at the end for cold days like they do at WDW, no such luck. We Got Hosed!!
    Thirdly... Let me say that WoC is the single most amazing show I have experienced at any park... WOW! I loved it. My only complaint has to do with the "Disney Policy" to not confront unruly guests. We paid almost $200 for lunch in order to have access to the Preferred area. We got there way early to line up so we could get first shot at a great viewing spot. One CM would send to stand here.. then new CM would tell us to move and stand here.. and on and on.. FINALLY, they had form a line right across the pathway to the entrance to preferred area. There was a couple hundred of us obeying their instructions... we were right at the front of the line so confident we would get a good spot.
    AND THEN THEY SHOWED UP!!

    You know who I'm talking about, those people who truly believe the world DOES revolve around them and they DID spend more for their tickets than you so they have the RIGHT to do whatever they want. A group of about 25 individuals just walked right over to the entrance and started a new line. People from our line started asking the CM who was lining us up to please move them to the back of our line. He went and tried to talk to them... they completely ignored him. Didn't look at him , didn't speak... and didn't move. Now their line began to swell as others joined them. We watched as a parade of 4 different CM's including one that was clearly management) asked the people to move and not one single person moved... and not one CM including the manager did a thing about it. Needless to say, when they finally opened up the area, there were close to 100 people who had cut in front of us and our quality spots were all gone...
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    Don't get me wrong, we still loved the show, but not at all what I had planned so hard for...
    And this is my rant, OK? Please Disney, grow a backbone! You afraid they will get mad and make a scene? Then let them get mad! Seriously, you prefer to appease the rude people and diminish the magic for dozens of others? I hate that it's getting to the point in the parks where the only way to get a break sometimes is act just like them! I REFUSE! I will not be THAT GUY that keeps someone from enjoying the same park they paid to enjoy as me...

    RANT OVER :cool2:

    ONE LAST COOL THING I FORGOT! One of the perks for the tour was also preferred seating for the Aladdin show... and boy do I LOVE me some Aladdin!!
    It was so cool, we showed up 10 minutes before showtime and were put in a section where there were already quite a few people. I was nervous that we would either be put clear up front (HINT: don't sit right up front for Aladdin show or you will miss some cool parts), or that there were too many people with preferred seating. Well, they opened up the doors and let us in first, and we got to sit ANYWHERE WE WANTED!!

    The best seat we have ever had for this show! Now that's how to do Preferred Seating Disney :thumbsup2

    NEXT UP: What A View!"



     

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