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Going to the Mother Park! – Cousins Birthday Trip October 4-8

Discussion in 'Disneyland Trip Reports' started by Woodskeeper, Sep 25, 2012.

  1. Woodskeeper

    Woodskeeper Lantern Enthusiast

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    Hi All! So I’ve been lurking these boards for the past few months—a daily ritual to help pass the time—and now that we’re only 10 days out from our trip, I figured creating a PTR might help this last stretch go even faster!

    So, let me start with the one amazing fact: I’m going to Disneyland! pixiedust:Myself (23) and my cousin, Jessica (24) will be taking our first solo (sans parents) trip together October 4-8 to celebrate my 24th birthday on October 6!

    So, small introductions:wave2::

    Me (Rory – 23, will be 24)
    [​IMG]

    Hometown: Orlando, Florida
    Occupation: Concierge/WDW Cast Member (MK Frontierland Merchandise)
    Favorite Character: Peter Pan
    Favorite Disney Movie: Aladdin/Tangled
    Favorite Park: Magic Kingdom
    Favorite Attraction: Splash Mountain
    Favorite Nighttime Entertainment: Wishes! (used to include MMY)
    Most Looking Forward To: World of Color/Fantasmic!


    Jessica (24)
    [​IMG]

    Hometown: LaGrangeville, New York
    Occupation: Library Clerk
    Favorite Character: Ariel and Eric
    Favorite Disney Movie: The Little Mermaid
    Favorite Park: WDW – Epcot, DLR – California Adventure (she has a love of unloved parks)
    Favorite Attraction: Pirates of the Caribbean (DL version)
    Favorite Nighttime Entertainment: Either Fantasmic (DLR or WDW)
    Most Looking Forward To: Everything!


     
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  3. Woodskeeper

    Woodskeeper Lantern Enthusiast

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    So, a little back-story:

    My family is from New York originally, but when I was 4 my parents moved us to Orlando, Florida, where I was raised. My dad’s brother (Uncle Jeff) and his family (Aunt Tricia, Jessica – 24, and Matthew – 22) would typically visit us at least once a year and we would all spend a week at Disney World. Jessica and I were as close as sisters! There was even this one time when we were 7 (I think) when I hid Jessica in my closet when they were supposed to leave and had our parents fairly freaked out for a good 30 minutes. Actually, being older now, what an awful ordeal we must have put our parents through!

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    From left to right, my sister, Lauren, my cousin Jess, Me - Rory, and my cousin Matthew

    Anyways, I’ve had an annual pass to WDW since I was 4. My mom runs Gifts of a Lifetime at WDW, an event company that does scavenger hunts/engagements/vow renewals, etc at the parks. I’ve been working with her since the company started in the late 90s. Because of this, I was in the parks at least twice a week for the majority of my adolescence. I went through my “Disney-stages”, first loving it, then hating it because I was there so often for work and not having fun. Suffice to say, I know the WDW parks, policies and strategies like the back of my hand.

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    My favorite picture of me as a kid

    My “Disney Dream” was to go to a Disney that I didn’t know as well—preferably Disneyland, CA, since my last time there I was 2. I used to beg my parents, but we couldn’t really afford to do a vacation out to the West.

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    Proof I was at Disneyland once... I'm the one in the stroller

    In 8th grade my cousin Jessica and I, along with my mom, went on a Disney cruise. It was around that time that I first discovered the DIS and met a few friends along the way.

    I could bore you with my life story of see-sawing back and forth loving and hating Disney, but basically I “re-discovered” the Magic my last year of high school and continuing on through college. In those years I was able to introduce the parks to friends who had never been, or hadn’t been since they were kids. In college, I basically accepted that Disney is a part of me—it was my playground growing up, the location of many a school dance, my first kiss was after the fireworks—I have so many memories tied to Disney, that I just kind of accepted it’s where I belong.

    [​IMG]
    My friends and I at Grad Nights 2007 (I'm the one with the hat on the bottom)

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    My college friends and I (first row) on our first annual trip to Disney (also my favorite ride photo ever)

    The summer between Junior and Senior year of college (University of Florida, Go Gators!) I took a job at Disney’s Hollywood Studios doing Outdoor Food and Beverage. I worked at the carts selling ice-cream and popcorn and sodas—and loved it! Senior year, I applied for the Disney Professional Internships in Event Planning, but didn’t get any, so instead I participated in the Disney College Program as a merchandise hostess in Frontierland at Magic Kingdom. I still work there seasonally, though I have a full time job at a 4-Star off-site hotel, doing Concierge (so, basically, planning is my thing). The DCP pretty much cemented my reasoning that I belong at Disney, but I think y’all get that by now =P

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    My Disney costume

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    Some of my best friends on the last days of our program

    Jessica, on the other hand, hasn’t been as exposed to the parks as I have. She definitely visits often, and has even been out to California (pre-WoC). Last January, she made her first solo trip to WDW with a friend, and while they were visiting, we joked that we’ve become exactly like our parents. Of course, just because she doesn’t go to the parks as often as I do, does not make her any less a Disney fan! She loves Disney just as much, if not more, than I do! So, when I decided I wanted to fly out to California for my birthday, it was only natural that she should come with me!

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    One of our first trips without our parents in NYC, 2008
     
  4. Woodskeeper

    Woodskeeper Lantern Enthusiast

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    So, as you could possibly tell from our hometowns, Jess and I are flying from 2 different locations. It was actually an amusing phone conversation when we were looking at flight times and fares—it seemed anything best for me was dreadful for her and visa versa. So, we came to the conclusion that we would just have to meet at the hotel.

    I’m flying a United non-direct flight from Orlando International to John Wayne Airport, with a short layover in Houston. (I got this for only $300 round-trip, so I won’t complain about the layover!) My flight gets in at 10:30AM and I’ll be taking the Disneyland Express Bus to our hotel, the Fairfield Inn on Harbor.

    Jess is flying a JetBlue direct flight from JFK to LAX (which she also got for a bargain!). Her flight gets in around 10:00AM and she’ll be taking the Super Shuttle to our hotel.

    With luck, we should actually get there around the same time, give or take an hour.

    Our first day plan is to grab lunch at In ‘n’ Out Burger (probably taking the OCTA Bus #43). I’ve been hearing about this place since I was in High School, and I’m so excited I finally get to try it! We’ll also probably do some grocery shopping either at the 7-Eleven on Harbor and Katella, or grab a cab to Albertsons.

    We’re hoping that we’ll get lucky and be able to check-in so we can relax a little, but if not, we’re planning on possibly going over to DCA for a quick ride on Little Mermaid (Jessica’s must-do multiple times). I have my Main Gate Pass, which will be our way of getting in the parks most of the time.

    We have reservations for Steakhouse 55 at 6:50PM, so we plan on being able to shower and change and taking a cab over to DLH (we’ll be in heels, so we don’t want to do too much walking). After dinner, we thought drinks at Trader Sam’s and walking through Downtown Disney (yup, in heels… we know we’re a bit crazy).

    So, quick summary – Day 1
    Flights:
    Rory – 6AM, United MCO-SNA (with layover at IAH), arrive at SNA 10:30AM
    Jess - 7AM, JetBlue JFK-LAX, arrive at LAX 10AM
    Shuttles:
    Rory – Disneyland Express Bus
    Jess – Super Shuttle
    Hotel: Fairfield Inn Disneyland on Harbor
    Lunch: In ‘n’ Out Burger
    Shopping
    Possible DCA
    Dinner: Steakhouse 55 @6:50PM
    Drinks: Trader Sam’s
    Downtown Disney
     
  5. Woodskeeper

    Woodskeeper Lantern Enthusiast

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    Jess and I are both fairly used to going to sleep late and having to wake up pretty early, so we’re thinking it shouldn’t be a problem, even with slight Jet Lag. Now, as stated before, Jess and I planned to use my Main Gate to get into the parks, therefore saving on park admission (a huge savings, btw!). Much to my dismay, when Disney came out with the blockout dates for Main Gates, October 5 was one of the dates!

    After a slight freak out, I calmly discovered that I had 2 print out passes as well that I could use, that did not have blockout dates (phew!) so we will be using those to get in for the 5th. We plan on getting to the park a little before it opens, as we have the Walk in Walt’s Footsteps Tour at 9:30AM.

    The tour should end around 1PM, so we’re hoping to get a few rides in, possibly meet Rapunzel (one of my favorites!), and then catch the Soundsational Parade at 3PM before heading back to the hotel to change for Mickey’s Halloween Party!

    Now, I’m a little spoiled with Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party here at WDW. As a CM in Frontierland, I watched the parade almost every night they had it. I LOVE Halloween at Disney. Jess, on the other hand, has never been around Halloweentime, so this is her first party of that sort. Our must-dos for MHP are the parade and fireworks.

    Jess is going as Katniss from The Hunger Games. I’m going as, my favorite, Peter Pan. If you’re at all familiar with The Hunger Games, you’ll know that Katniss’ male counterpart is Peeta. So, we’re now going as Katniss and “Peeta” Pan….. not really much of a difference, just fun really =P

    So, quick summary – Day 2
    8:45AM: Arrive at DL
    9:30AM: Walk in Walt’s Footsteps Tour
    Lunch – included in tour
    Wander after tour
    3:00PM: Soundsational Parade
    Walk back to hotel to change
    4:30PM: Arrive for MHP
    - Costume Cavalcade
    - Halloween Screams
     
  6. Woodskeeper

    Woodskeeper Lantern Enthusiast

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    So, being as MK is my favorite park, the original plan was to spend my birthday at Disneyland, ending with Fantasmic! Then came the day when I started looking through the Disboards for research for our trip… and then I saw that Gay Days was the same weekend.

    Don’t get me wrong, I love families of all kinds and people from all walks of life. But if you’ve ever experienced the crowds and craziness of WDW Gay Days, you probably would’ve freaked out just as much as I did.

    Of course, after doing some more research I found that DL Gay Days aren’t nearly as huge as WDW, but there will be an increase in crowds (and red). So, after seeing that Saturday is officially Gay Days DL Day, we decided to switch parks and spend most of the day at DCA.

    Our only definite plans for this day are that we’re going to arrive just before opening and just get in line for RSR. We’ve both done WDW in summer and Christmas Crowds, so we’re not really against waiting in long lines. We want to do Breakfast at Flo’s. We also have the WoC Picnic, which we plan on doing for Dinner.

    So, quick summary – Day 3
    Rory’s 24th Birthday!
    Arrive at DCA for opening
    RSR and Cars Land
    Breakfast: Flo’s V8 (Salted Caramel French Toast!)
    Aladdin
    Lunch: Either Taste Pilots or somewhere else, we’re not picky
    Little Mermaid (as much as possible)
    WoC Picnic
    WoC
     
  7. Woodskeeper

    Woodskeeper Lantern Enthusiast

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    So, since Gay Days is planned at DCA today, we plan on mostly staying in DL. The idea is that if there’s anything we missed at DCA, we’ll do that in the morning and then spend the rest of our time at DL. We both have a list of things we really want to do (mainly the rides that are not available at WDW, or are different, like Pirates, HM Holiday, Small World, Space and Splash). We only have a few definite plans set for the last day.

    We have lunch at 2PM at Café Orleans (yum!). This was my choice for my birthday meal! We decided to do a later lunch and snack for the rest of the day because…

    We also booked the second show Fantasmic dessert package. We plan on arriving early to get our seat assignments and then heading over to the castle hub to get good spots for Remember… And then heading back to our Fantasmic seats and ending our trip with the show.

    So, quick summary – Day 4
    Finish up anything we missed in DCA
    Arrive at DL
    Do anything and everything
    Lunch: Café Orleans @ 2PM
    Line up for Fantasmic seat assignments about 45 min before suggested time
    Get good spot for Remember…
    Return for Fantasmic Dessert Package 2nd show
     
  8. Woodskeeper

    Woodskeeper Lantern Enthusiast

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    So I'm 5 days away from my trip and this last week time is just trickling by so slowly :hourglass

    To celebrate my week away, I went to Epcot's Food and Wine Festival for the Cast Preview/Soft Opening on Thursday. I also went over to Universal for Halloween Horror Nights (I do love September/October in Orlando). Well, something about the food or the heat or the busy day made me come down with an illness and I've been stuck in bed now for 2 days :crazy2: Now I'm fearful that I won't be able to shake it before my trip. :worried: Keep your fingers crossed for me!

    In the meantime, since I've got my tv :happytv: and my computer :surfweb: for company, I figured I'd give you all an insight to my planning method.

    Quick backstory: I went to college for Recreation and Event Management (a lot harder than it sounds). The fun part of that coursework was having multiple group projects with all Type-A personalities. That being said, I now can't plan anything without a spreadsheet.

    [​IMG]

    I currently have a 4-page spreadsheet. The first page is a rough schedule (color-coded, of course). The second is a list of all my confirmation numbers, as well as addresses, phone numbers, and important contact information. My third sheet is a list of all attractions in both DL and DCA and they're color coded for what rides are must-dos, want-tos, can-skips and won't-dos. This is how my list currently reads:

    Must-Dos: DL - Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Space Mountain, Snow White's Scary Adventures (it was my favorite here at WDW!), Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan's Flight, Pinocchio's Daring Journey, Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough, it's a small world, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Snow White's Grotto, Tarzan's Treehouse, Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, Splash Mountain, Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, Soundsational, Fantasmic, Remember..., (Not to mention MHP and everything included)
    DCA - Disney's Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular, Monster's Inc. Mike and Sulley to the Rescue, Luigi's Flying Tires, Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, Radiator Springs Racers, California Screamin', The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure, Mickey's Fun Wheel, World of Color

    Want-Tos: DL - The Disney Gallery, Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters (highly similar ride at MK), Autopia, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Mad Tea Party (more or less just want to take pictures there... hate spinning rides), King Arthur Carrousel, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (basically same thing at MK), Gadget's Go-Coaster
    DCA - The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (hear it's better at DHS), Animation Academy, Grizzly River Run, The Bakery Tour, Golden Zephyr, King Triton's Carrousel of the Sea, Toy Story Midway Mania

    Can-Skips: DL - Disneyland Railroad (but will do anyway on Walk in Walt's Footsteps Tour), Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Astro Orbiter, Star Tours (same technology as the one at DHS), Mark Twain Riverboat, Jungle Cruise (not really a fan of the one at MK), The Many Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh (eh, more or less the same)
    DCA - Flik's Flyers, Francis' Ladybug Boogie, Heimlich's Chew Chew Train, It's Tough to be a Bug!, Princess Dot Puddle Park, Tuck and Roll's Drive 'Em Buggies, Muppet*Vision 3D (DHS), Soarin' Over California (Epcot), Goofy's Sky School, Jumpin' Jellyfish, Silly Symphony Swings

    Won't Dos: DL - Captain EO (I see enough of it at Epcot), Jedi Training Academy (used to work right across from it... no thanks), Pixie Hollow (I have a well-known hatred for Tinker Bell... probably the only Disney character I can't stand), Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer Island (I once dated a guy who insisted we spend at least an hour on TSI at MK... even completely different, the thought still makes me shudder), Enchanted Tiki Room (no, just, no), Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes (I have a fear of canoes)
    DCA - Disney Junior: Live on Stage (it would really mean nothing to me)

    My last page of my spreadsheet is a list of must-eats, but you'll have to wait for that one =D
     
  9. disneyismyheart247

    disneyismyheart247 Living the California and Disney Dream

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    It sounds like you're going to have a great time! It sucks Indy will be closed during your stay:( That's okay, though! You have a nice plan

    Just a tip on In-N-Out, ask for animals style fries;)
     
  10. Woodskeeper

    Woodskeeper Lantern Enthusiast

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    Thanks for the tip about the animal style fries! I had been considering it, but now I'm even more determined I should get them =P
     
  11. Woodskeeper

    Woodskeeper Lantern Enthusiast

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    I'm leaving in less than 12 hours! So excited, I can't wait! Packing was a huge ordeal today, trying to figure out what all to bring... I'm pretty sure I overpacked, but the suitcase isn't too full, therefore I think I'll be ok =D

    I can't wait to come back to share my adventures (and pictures!) with everyone!
     
  12. disneyismyheart247

    disneyismyheart247 Living the California and Disney Dream

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    Yay!! I hope you and your cousin get to California and Disneyland safely. Have a great trip and enjoy yourselves. Oh, and happy birthday!
     

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