Dates: December 13-17, 2001 Travel Method: Plane, Super Shuttle Resort: Grand Californian Accomodations: Concierge room Ages: Adult Experience: Frequent CAST Robin/Me - age 38, trip planner Paula/Sister - age 28 Wes/Brother-in-law (husband of Paula) - age 28 HISTORY Darn the Disney Club! Darn them, I say! This trip is all their fault. There I am, minding my own business, planning my little November 2001 trip to Walt Disney World, secure in the knowledge that this will be my last trip to visit the mouse for a while (third trip to WDW in a year's time) when my Fall issue of Disney Magazine arrives. You know Disney Magazine, the little four-time-a-year publication you get for free when you join the Disney Club. Innocently thumbing through the magazine, I happen upon a one-page article about the re-decoration of the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland to a new "The Nightmare Before Christmas" theme for the holiday season. "How clever." I think to myself as I scan the article. "I must show this to my sister." Well, when my sister Paula (who still can't believe "The Nightmare Before Christmas" didn't sweep the Academy Awards the year it was released) saw the article, she went nuts over it. I didn't say anything about trying to go at that time but, lo and behold, the very next day, I received the monthly Disney Club newsletter which had details about the Disneyland Fall Getaway special (oh, they're cunning aren't they?!). It seems that if you pay for three nights at a Disney hotel and buy the three day park hopper pass, they will give you the fourth night hotel and a fourth day on your park hopper for free. The rest, as they say, is history. My sister had just started a new job so she had some extra spending money coming in and I'm never one to turn down a trip to Disney. I called and made reservations for us at the new Grand Californian resort. The rate was good so I decided to go ahead and book the concierge floor as a treat for my sister and her husband, Wes, who had decided to go with us by this time. Now I was ready for some serious planning and scheduling. What?!? You say Disneyland doesn't take priority seatings until 30 days ahead of time? You've got to be kidding me! Have they lost their minds!? These nutty, laid-back California people--don't they know the planning that we like to do for our WDW vacations? How we make resort reservations 6 months in advance; carefully mark off the days to the 120 day mark, the 90 day mark, the 60 day mark; chart e-ride nights and parade schedules. And now I'm supposed to sit and do nothing until 30 days out? Oh, the inhumanity! I did go ahead and reserve a full-size rental car with National ($68.00 after the Disney Club discount and coupon for one day free) although I was uncertain if we would use a rental car or just take a shuttle from the airport. The rental car was actually cheaper after the great discounts I got but it seemed silly to rent a car just to drive to the hotel and park, since I knew we wouldn't be going anywhere after we got to Disneyland Resort. Also, there are no rental car agencies on-site at LAX. You have to take a shuttle to the rental car agency which seemed like a waste of time to me. The 30-day mark finally arrived and I made reservations for the Practically Perfect Tea at the Paradise Pier hotel and priority seatings for the Blue Bayou restaurant in Disneyland. Wow, that was easy--no getting up at 6:00am to call for an Illuminations Cruise or breakfast at Cinderella's castle. Guess I'll go back to hibernating until time to go. As the time for the trip grew near I began to have my doubts as to the practicality of taking this trip a mere two weeks before Christmas. I have a million and six things to do to get ready for the holidays--I can't be flitting across the country at a time like this! I'm not even done with my shopping yet. Oh well, everything's already paid for so I might as well suck it up and go, right?!