The Wheels Finally Come Off! Trip 3 in JUNE 2014!

Discussion in 'Disneyland Trip Reports' started by smiles33, Sep 10, 2011.

  1. smiles33

    smiles33 DIS Veteran

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    I'm reviving my TR yet again since we may be going again in June 2014! :banana: I didn't set this up with the idea of having it be a multiple trip TR, but it's easier to do it this way since my Pre-Trip Report is here and I'll likely do the same prep again!

    Originally titled, "Wide Load Ahead: 2 Princesses in a Double Stroller & DH in an ECV" this PTR/TR thread chronicled our two trips with our DDs in a double stroller and DH in an ECV (he's had 2 hip surgeries, both of which occurred within 1-2 months after our DLR trips). Now that he's finally better and the girls are too old for a stroller, we are finally taking a trip on foot only!

    My PTR for our September 2011 trip starts immediately after this introduction/table of contents.

    SEPTEMBER 2011 trip - originally titled "Wide Load Ahead: Princesses in a Double Stroller and DH in an ECV"
    Day 1:
    Driving down from Northern California!
    An afternoon at Disneyland
    Day 2:
    Our morning in Fantasyland and the Princess Fantasy Faire
    Toontown and the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique!
    DCA, my afternoon as a single rider, and WOC!
    Day 3:

    My Magic Morning

    DCA with the whole family and lunch at Ariel's Grotto
    My last Single Rider afternoon, Aladdin, and the end of our trip

    DH's TR (written on a site devoted to his alma mater's sports teams where he frequently posts): Disney on Wheeeeeeeeeels

    My breakdown of all the rides we each were able to enjoy (since we went on so few with the whole family) is here.

    Here is my advice for those with mobility challenges and the benefits of using an electric convenience vehicle (ECV, aka scooter). DH really resisted it but after just 4 hours in DL the first afternoon, he was in so much pain that he caved in and let me rent him one. It only cost about $40/day and they delivered it right to HoJo!

    My rave review of HoJo's Kid Suite (and this was BEFORE they did some renovations and replaced the windows to further dampen the noise).

    APRIL 2013 TRIP - Kept the same TR title, "Wide Load Ahead..."

    My PTR for April 2013 starts on page 5 with post 67 here.

    I didn't take as many photos this time, so I didn't write a full TR. Instead, here's a list of everything we did on the 3 day trip.

    We splurged on the PhotoPass+ and got a ton of great ride photos:
    Carsland!
    Space and Splash!

    We did 3 character meals and here are photos and my comparison reviews.

    DH did his version of a TR again: Disney on Wheeeeeeeels Part Deux, Wheel Harder.

    And we lucked out being there while the Long Lost Friends promotion was going on and got some great photos with awesome characters! See this post.

    JUNE 2014 TRIP - Changed title to "The Wheels Finally Come Off" as we didn't bring a stroller and had hoped not to rent an ECV for DH this trip

    PTR begins on page 7 while TR begins on page 8.
    Day 1: Road trip down and 3 hours in DL and DCA before dinner then dinner at Goofy's Kitchen and used our FP for Splash Mountain


    DH's TR on his college alma mater website:
    D3: The Wheels Come Off!

    --------------------------------

    SEPTEMBER 2011 PTR
    It's finally official: we are definitely going to DLR next week, just 5 days from now. While we started planning this back in May, DH suffered a painful hip injury and we were unable to get any definitive answers until he got an appointment with the orthopedic surgeon to discuss the results of the high contrast test (after inconclusive x-rays and MRI scans).

    While it wasn't necessarily the news we wanted, DH will have the surgery (and it's scheduled already), but his orthopedic surgeon confirmed we can still go to DLR.

    ABOUT US:
    Me, 34 years old but will be celebrating my 35th birthday a week early at DLR!!! It's my first time in years! I haven't been to DLR since 1995 back when I was a student at UCLA. GO BRUINS!
    [​IMG]

    This trip is really largely for me, as DH doesn't care for Disney or crowds and DDs are still very young but I can't wait to see their faces. I'll be pushing the crimson double stroller.

    DH, 36, will be in an ECV (I'm still working on this as he insists he can just use his cane...I have Deckert Medical Supply programmed on my cell phone already!). Frankly, he has little (if any!) affection for Southern California in general, so he's grudgingly going to DLR for me. He's a die-hard Nor Cal man, 4th generation Cal Bear. So let's call him Grumpy Bear.
    [​IMG]

    DD5 just started kindergarten and loves princesses. We have a lunch res at Ariel's Grotto and a BBB appointment set up for her. She really enjoys the toddler roller coasters at our local amusement parks, so I imagine we may spend some time at the Gadget Go Coaster and the Goofy's Sky School. She doesn't want to go on Matterhorn or any roller coaster that gets dark. I'm also unsure if we will go on any dark rides. More on ride strategy in the next post.

    DD2 is my adventurous one. She loves the ferris wheel at our beach boardwalk. Not sure how she will react to meeting characters, but I'm sure she will enjoy the princesses, too.

    Here's a photo of DDs from a few months ago in the parking lot at our local amusement park.

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. smiles33

    smiles33 DIS Veteran

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    Ok, so I have lurked here for months, occasionally posting, and think I have figured out my "ideal" plan, though I'm remaining very flexible since I've got 2 kids and a DH who might be grumpy/in pain.

    First, the big news: since DH hurt his hip and the trip was in limbo for a while, WE NEVER TOLD DDs. Thus, this is still a SURPRISE trip! I am bursting with the news, though DH wants to wait until we get there and they see DLR to tell them. They have never been to DLR or WDW. DD5 already recognizes the Disney logo, even noticing we recently got Disney Visa cards (after seeing the $200 gift card incentive--that pays for 1 of our 3 day hopper tickets right there!).

    [​IMG]

    DD5 has been asking about going since a few friends from her preschool with older siblings recently went to DLR. We keep telling her that DLR is a bit far from us (so we can't just go like we go to our local amusement psrks) and expensive, so it's a special treat for very good girls. Lately, she has been a really good girl and I can't wait to see her face when she discovers we are at DLR!

    Day 1: Thursday, Sept. 15
    Drive to DLR, anticipating anywhere from 8-10 hours given frequent breaks and construction on the 5 (we are planning to use the 99 detour unless we hear otherwise on the radio/Internet on the drive down). Lunch is planned at Harris Ranch, as we really don't like fast food chains. Plus, we both love steak! We already checked out the menu and are leaning toward prime rib and ribeye for us.

    Dinner will entirely depend on where we are. I have a list of good ethnic restaurants I got off chowhound stretching a good 1-2 hour driving radius.

    Check in at the HoJo into our Kids Suite (THANKS AGAIN to JORY29, who so generously passed along her reservation when her family canceled their trip).

    [​IMG]

    Assuming my family is up for it, we head over together to DLR to pick up our real tickets (purchased off Last Minute Travel so we need to submit our vouchers to get real tickets). Otherwise I'll walk over myself. We may also check out DTD but DD2 usually is in bed between 7:30-8 so we will have to see how late we get into Anaheim.

    Day 2: Friday, Sept. 16 (1st day of Halloween decor!!)
    8 am park open time, so I hope to be at the security tables at 7:20. Tentative plan for breakfast is to bring cereal/milk and toast with almond butter for DDs (DD2 has a peanut allergy so no PB) and DH and I plan to eat leftover prime rib/ribeye from Harris Ranch, made into sandwiches (we will bring bread, mustard, mayo, etc.). I'm so glad we have a microwave and fridge in our suite.

    DH will "roll briskly" in his ECV while I do my best to walk briskly while pushing 100 pounds (DDs and stroller) to get FP for ST and then head to Peter Pan. I'm not sure if DD5 is willing to go on it, since it's a dark ride. But it's such a slow-loading ride that I want to go on it first rather than start with IASW and see how see does on that.

    Dumbo is second. Depending on how she does on PP, we may just skip other dark rides. She can be very timid (refuses to watch Beauty and the Beast now as Gaston scares her). I am also not sure of going into the whale's mouth on the storybook land canal boats. My hope is to point out happy kids getting off the rides before we get on. I showed her some YouTube videos earlier this year and she said no to all the dark rides and even Little Mermaid (due to that one scene of Ursula with the eels). I'm keeping my fingers crossed that see changes her mind!

    I also want to do Casey Jr. Train and IASW.

    We may then wander over to Toontown for DDs to explore while I will go get more FP (I will have 3 tickets and mostly will use the FP myself as DH doesnt care for any rides except ST). I am not sure when to ride ST (depends on how early a return time I can get), but we will have to baby swap it as neither DD is likely to want to ride it.

    I do want to keep the family near FL though to minimize back-tracking all over the park because at 10:50 am, we have a Bibbidi Boppidi Boutique (BBB) appointment for DD5. I also want to try the Bengal BBQ skewers and Dole Whip so I might just run over to grab those as snacks before the 10:50 res. I figured the res would be late enough that we would have had a couple hours to enjoy FL and be ready for a break. I also thought it would be good to do it on the first day so she can really enjoy the magic of DLR. I considered doing it Saturday morning, as our lunch reservation to meet the princesses at Ariel's Grotto is on Saturday. But I hear other girls just slept in their updo so I think it will still look great the next day. I didn't want to do Ariel's Grotto on Friday as I imagine the crowds will be worse on Sat than Friday, so we can maximize our time on Friday.

    After BBB, I want to see the 12:20 Aladdin show at DCA. Do we need to line up more than 20 min beforehand? I'm not sure how long BBB will take but it could be an hour. I don't know about park-hopping first with DD2 as DD1 finishes up, as that means DD1 will have to follow DH in his ECV across the park and that doesn't sound good. Plus I want to see the big reveal.

    Assuming we all walk over together, I'm thinking about sending them to wait in line while while I get us all corn dogs. Afterward, I hope to ride Little Mermaid and Goofy's Sky School. Somewhere in there I will also get a beer for DH to keep him mellow. :) We can also do our Disney Visa photo shoot before our afternoon break. DD2 will need a nap and DD5 may just fall asleep, too. Assuming DH is in his ECV, I will walk back to HoJo with them (since he can't push the double stroller). We may then grab Vietnamese sandwiches from Nhu Lan Bakery (Garden Grove/Harbor Blvd, recommended by Chowhounders). Afterward, I will ask DH to drop me off at DLR to ride solo while DDs nap and he rests.

    While they're back at HoJo, I hope to ride Indy, Soarin', Splash, HMH, and SMGG. That might be overly ambitious depending on FP and SR lines. Between 4:30 - 5, DH can load DDs into the car, pick me up, and we go grab an early dinner outside the park (maybe Thai Nakorn or Los Chilangos, both are Chowhound recommendations). Then we'll head back to HoJo, grab the stroller and ECV, and head back for more rides. I am hoping to make it back in time for the 6:30 Soundsational Parade.

    If it's not dark yet, maybe we can walk over to get a Jungle Cruise and take a walk to enjoy all the Halloween decor (provided we can avoid the Dia de Los Muertos and other potentially scary skeleton stuff as DD5 has a very vivid imagination and I don't want more fodder for nightmares!).

    Then we will probably call it a night given DD2's normal bedtime around 8. If we are lucky, maybe DD2 will sleep in the stroller or stay awake long enough for us to see the 9:30 pm fireworks? I am hoping we at least get to see the ISAW show at 8:45 before we have to leave. But it's pushing it and we might just leave after the Soundsational parade as we have MM the next morning!
     
  4. smiles33

    smiles33 DIS Veteran

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    Day 3: Saturday, Sept. 17 (Magic Morning!)
    We have MM due to buying 3 day passes so I want to be at the security tables by 6:20. We will have to see if that's possible. :confused3 DDs usually wake up at 6:30 but that's assuming they have a good night's sleep. They can roll out ready for school/daycare 15 min after waking up, but we still have an 8 minute walk. We may just end up rolling into DLR at 7 am (up at 6:30, quick breakfast in the room or pick up something hot from MCDonalds on the walk from HoJo).

    Assuming DDs enjoyed FL on Friday, we will do their favorites again. I might also take them to Autotopia as they might like driving cars. I also have read that the Nemo subs have a room for those with disabilities that doesn't require climbing down into the sub, so we might do that, too. I would love to take the Disneyland Railroad back to the front of the park but I read that the Main St station doesn't have a ramp so DH can't get his ECV off the train there.

    I see that two types of APs are blocked on Saturday, so it may be a good day to try the Tangled and Pixie Hollow meet & greets. Not sure yet.

    At 9:30, I want to head to DCA and grab WOC FP and explore all the little kid Bug's Life rides for DD2, like Heimlich's Chew Chew Train, King Triton's carousel, etc. I also want to do the stationery Mickey's Fun Wheel as DD2 loves ferris wheels! If we have time, maybe we'll watch the Crush show.

    At 11:50, we have lunch at Ariel's Grotto and meet the princesses!

    Assuming it ends around 1:30, I think we head back to the hotel for a break. If I'm not exhausted, I will walk back to the park myself to SR stuff. But I'd have to walk back again to pick the girls up in their stroller, so I may just stay at HoJo and nap myself! I'm also thinking this is the day we play at the Pirate's Cove water area at HoJo, assuming it stays nice (weather is expected to be in the high 70s).

    We will eat dinner off-site at a chowhound recommended rstaurant and then head back into the park. If DD2 naps for a while and gets up late, this may be the night we try to see WOC. I know we won't do Fantasmic because DD1 would be scared of the dragon. WOC is just so late and so crowded, especially with a double stroller and ECV! We will just have to see.

    Day 4: Sunday morning (1/2 day)
    We will not have MM entry so I hope to be at the security tables by 7:20 for an 8 am open. We also need to drive home today and I'd like to time it so we get lunch and have the DDs in the car in time for an afternoon nap!

    I think this will be our leisurely morning. Just walk around to absorb that Disney magic. Try our favorite treats/snacks again. Ride some rides but don't worry about FP (unless it's on our way). If DD5 is brave enough to try, maybe ride some new rides she previously avoided.

    I'm sure it's going to be tough tearing ourselves away from DLR around 11 am to return to HoJo, check out, grab lunch and drive home. I will need to make sure I save at least one of the Disney store sale goodies I bought a few months ago so they have one last surprise as we leave.
     
  5. smiles33

    smiles33 DIS Veteran

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    Based on reading many threads here, this is what I have compiled and have packed already. I'm not including basics (like clothes and toiletries) but thought it would be useful for other families traveling to DLR to see our list.

    DLR-specific Packing list:
    * Disney souvenirs pre-purchased during Disney Store clearance sale (princess dresses, nightgowns, character t-shirts) which I will dole out each morning
    [​IMG]
    * 2 extra big/thick Sharpie pens (easier for the costumed characters to grasp) and the glossy full-color Disney Jr. encyclopedia recommended by DISBoarders for an autograph book (about $10 on Amazon)
    [​IMG]
    * glow-in-the-dark sticks, necklaces, & bracelets to use at night to both identify our stroller/ECV and decorate DDs
    [​IMG]
    * Kid-sized earmuffs for during the fireworks (if we make it)
    [​IMG]
    * a slim travel zip wallet necklace (instead of a lanyard) for tickets, FPs, credit card, cash & hotel key (and maybe my iPhone? That may just have to go in my pocket as it may be too heavy)
    [​IMG]
    * peanut-free snacks for DD2 (though I hope she will be able to try some of the fun park food)
    * mini First Aid pack with bandaids, sunscreen, 2kinds of ibuprofen (for kids and adults!), and neosporin for cuts/scrapes
    [​IMG]
    * Klean Kanteens (wide mouth!) for water, which I will refill with ice water or filtered water at CS restaurants or the filtered water taps at Baby Care Centers
    [​IMG]
    * lime green Mickey heads to decorate our stroller in true DISboards fashion
    [​IMG]
    * bike lock for our stroller so I can lock it up in each Land, as opposesd to wheeling it ride to ride and locking/unlocking each time (we will probably spend most of our time in FL)
    [​IMG]
    * nightlight and a powerstrip for the hotel room
    * extra outfits for DDs (in case they get wet or DD5 wants to change out of her princess dress)
    * extra shoes for me to alternate between (Keens, Dansko, Sanuk flip flops, & New Balance running shoes--I've got all my options covered!)
    Dansko Sara sandals:
    [​IMG]
    Sanuk yoga mat flip flops:
    [​IMG]
     
  6. smiles33

    smiles33 DIS Veteran

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    Here is my morning-of checklist:

    1. Take digital photos of both DDs in case they get lost. This way I have a record of what they were wearing.

    2. Apply sunscreen and then write my cell # and DH's on DDs' arm/leg with a Sharpie (just have to make sure it's not readily visible and in all our photos!).

    3. On the first day, get a birthday button for me at Town Hall (but might wait until after the morning rush!).

    4. Pre-refrigerate Klean Kanteen water bottles so water is cold and bring peanut-free dry snacks for DD2.

    5. In the stroller in the morning: pack water bottles, snacks, mini-First Aid pack, small pack of diapers/wipes for DD2, and extra outfit for each girl.

    6. Have laid out in room for DH to pack into stroller after afternoon nap/break: light jackets for chilly evenings, glow sticks/bracelets/jewelry, and kids' earmuffs.
     
  7. smiles33

    smiles33 DIS Veteran

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    My shopping/food list

    Our Kids' Suite at HoJo has a microwave and fridge, so I'm planning on buying/bringing:

    - Yogurt, Milk and cereal for DDs' breakfast
    - Fresh fruit (snacks in the room and possibly in the park since DD2 has a newly diagnosed peanut allergy)
    - Hard-boiled eggs (we'll bring these with us) for snacks in the car/hotel room and maybe even breakfast
    - Goldfish crackers for snacks
    - whole wheat bread, mayo, and mustard to make sandwiches from our leftover ribeye and Prime Rib we plan to buy at Harris Ranch on the drive down
    - chicken drumsticks (DH will cook these Wed night so we can have some protein snacks for the drive down that he can eat while driving)
    - Jar of almond butter or sunflower seed butter
    - 2.5 gallons of drinking water for in the room/the drive as we'll refill inside DLR from the filtered water taps (no offense, Orange County, but treated sewage water just sounds gross no matter how good your $490 million treatment system is)
    - Cold beer for the hotel room at the end of the day as well as champagne for when the DDs finally fall asleep
     
  8. MAGICFOR2

    MAGICFOR2 DIS Veteran

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    Hi! I've just been looking over your plans - should be an adventure with all the wheels! :goodvibes I love your ideas for getting surprises in advance. We took our son and his family, DDIL and I got gifts in advance on clearance too, and she wrote letters from Tink and Mickey to go with them - the kids were so excited and didn't ask for souvies in the park at all! (ages 1 and 3).

    Good call on the water - they don't drink it either!:rotfl2:

    I know my DISfriend just had her aunt on the DL train in a wheelchair. They had to back up a little to get her lined up, but they did it. I see you said they don't have a ramp at Main St. Maybe he can get off and tomorrowland and then you are almost there?:confused3

    Your DH will probably choose to walk on the rides, but you can get a guest assistance pass at the front at guest services (they keep moving it) and then you can go through the FP line - take the ECV all the way up and they will help you. NO LINES!!!:banana::banana: I know they kind of act like the FP replaced the GAP, but they do give them out for wheelchairs and ECVs.

    Leisa learned alot about options for chairs with her aunt - here's a link to her trippie: http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=2749343&page=6

    I'm so excited that you are surprising your DDs! They will be so amazed, and it will be so fun to see it through their eyes!
     
  9. smiles33

    smiles33 DIS Veteran

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    My first official visitor!!!! Hooray!!!! :cheer2:

    I was thinking I was just posting for myself for a good couple days. :goodvibes

    I love the idea of writing notes from Tink or a Princess--my 5 year old will get a kick out of that. I think I have to work on making it very girly--she's been writing he name with hearts and curlicues lately, trying to make it extra "princess-y" so I'm sure she expects any letter from a princess to be just as girly!

    I'm off to read your friend's TR as I just skimmed through DLR's official blurb about guests with disabilities. I thought I read there that the ECV itself is like a GAC so you didn't need to get one. We'll have to see. DH is STILL insisting he won't ride in one so I'm not to rent it. Sigh. Stubborn man!
     
  10. MAGICFOR2

    MAGICFOR2 DIS Veteran

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    Yay! I didn't even realize I was first!

    Men can be so stubborn. He'll probably change his mind after a morning.

    I have also heard of people sprinkling that clear sparkly glitter around the gifts and calling it Pixie Dust from Tink!princess:
     
  11. eargal

    eargal Mouseketeer

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    I can't believe you've managed to keep this a surprise! :thumbsup2
    I really enjoyed all your pre-trip posts and I wanted to stop in and let you know that I'm here and looking forward to more! :wave:
     
  12. smiles33

    smiles33 DIS Veteran

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    OOOH, sparkly glitter sounds GREAT! And it's not in my house, so EVEN BETTER! I will need to go buy some.

    LOL, welcome to my SECOND visitor! We're on a roll now. :banana: Trust me, it would NOT have been a surprise if it hadn't been for DH's injury. I knew I couldn't tell DD5 and then say we weren't going, so it's just worked out this way. I've been hiding various Disney packages in my closet and just hoping she doesn't find it when we play hide-and-seek! Thanks so much for reading along.
     
  13. smiles33

    smiles33 DIS Veteran

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    We are driving down the 5 as I type! I can hardly contain my excitement. DD5 thinks we are going to a water park as she saw me looking for DD2's swimsuit this morning. We will have to see how long we can keep this up!

    On a somewhat sad note, I forgot my lime green Mickey heads! Argh! I even made a special trip to Home Depot for them. I had intended to string them together to decorate our stroller but was so busy packing that I forgot. Oops.
     
  14. smiles33

    smiles33 DIS Veteran

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    We didn't hit any bad traffic until 12 miles from DLR. We are just MINUTES away now!!!
     
  15. jobo

    jobo Mouseketeer

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    Hope you have a great time! look forward to reading the trip report :)
     
  16. smiles33

    smiles33 DIS Veteran

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    Waiting in line at Pixie Hollow with a 30 min wait. Got FP for ST at 3:25 with a 5:55 return. Also rode Tea Cups which DD5 LOVED. We only convinced her to leave by telling her we are going to Pixie Hollow.
     
  17. MAGICFOR2

    MAGICFOR2 DIS Veteran

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    I forgot you were leaving today!!!! Have a wonderful time! I'll bet the girls are stoked - can't wait to read all about it!:banana:
     
  18. smiles33

    smiles33 DIS Veteran

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    Live report: at security gates by Harbor at 6:20, but no one was there but 1 CM. Then I walked over to the DTD side of the security tents and saw 3 people in line. I headed back to the Harbor side.

    DDs were wiped out by WOC and weren't sleeping well the past 2 nights anyway (kept giggling late into the night). So we let them sleep in and I came to MM myself. I have to admit I considered skipping it. I'm exhausted too. I had to carry 28 pound DD2 from the esplanade to HoJo while pushing the double stroller with my other hand, as the fireworks started as we were coming out of DCA and woke her up. She was too upset to stay in the stroller. DH couldn't hold her either as he reluctantly agreed to rent the ECV so he couldn't hold her and drive.

    Line is about 15 deep at 6:45 and security not open yet.
     
  19. smiles33

    smiles33 DIS Veteran

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    Security FINALLY opened 6:45. I am the first person at turnstile number 21 but most of the dozen or so people in line on the Harbor side made it to the front of a turnstile. The lines from the DTD side were huge and some New Zealanders RAN in at a sprint. They ended up in line near me and someone asked them where they are from.

    Everyone is getting impatient as the gates are still not open with 7 min to MM! CM are wiping down turnstiles with disinfectant. The first family was chosen with just 5 minutes or so to go.
     
  20. smiles33

    smiles33 DIS Veteran

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    Okay, here we go: the official Trip report begins here!

    I woke up out of the blue sometime around 5 am PST, Thursday, Sept. 15. I lay there for about 5 minutes when I realized I was just too excited to go back to sleep. Just as I was about to stealthily slip out of bed, DH said, "I know you're awake. Just get up already!" And so our adventure began...we both got out of bed and started getting ready and packing the car.

    Sometime around 5:45, DD5 woke up. It's like she could feel the excitement and energy in the air! She usually doesn't get up until 6:30. I sat her down for breakfast and continued to pack. I also explained we had a surprise for her. But, as I posted above via my iPhone, I forgot to pack DD2's swimsuit so I had to grab it after DD2 woke up closer to 6:45. DD5 saw me, and immediately guessed we were going to a water park. We let her believe that up until we walked into Disneyland from the Harbor side and she saw the Mickey Mouse ears on the garbage cans by the shuttle bus stops and guessed we were at Disneyland!

    Anyhow, we left the house around 7:30 am. Both girls were in good moods and we never even had to pull out the iPad to keep them entertained.

    DD5 goofing around for me while I took photos of her in her new Cal hat:
    [​IMG]

    DD2, too cool for me to snap a photo of her actually looking at me:
    [​IMG]

    The drive itself was uneventful--we drove down the 5 and found that traffic near Bakersfield/Button Willow wasn't bad at all, definitely not worth taking the 99 detour. Yes, it's down to one lane in several portions, but I think it was about a 5-10 minute slow down (meaning under 65 mph). We took an hour rest stop for a brunch/early lunch at Harris Ranch. We landed there at 10 am and it was too early for a real lunch. We both ordered the coffee-sage crusted ribeye and ended up saving leftovers to make steak sandwiches for breakfast on Friday.

    I took some photos near Pumpkin Center (exit 244 off the 5) around 12 noon as it made me think of Halloween at Disneyland (Friday was the first official day of Halloween decor at DLR!) but you can't quite see the sign in this photo. It was still down to one lane here:

    [​IMG]

    Then as we neared the Grapevine, I got more and more excited and snapped this shot.

    [​IMG]

    We rolled into the HoJo parking lot around 2:30 pm. I could barely contain my excitement as we made much better time than expected. I didn't take any photos. Instead, as we neared LA, I posted here via iPhone asking for advice on what to do first, since we decided to go straight to the parks instead of saving the 3rd day for Sunday morning.

    We checked into our Kids' Suite (which was AWESOME, more on that later) and walked right over to the park.
     
  21. smiles33

    smiles33 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    May 4, 2011
    Messages:
    723
    I always have to unpack, so even though we arrived around 2:30, I had to organize our room. With the very short walk from HoJo to the park (about 8 minutes?), we didn't get to the park until closer to 3:15 or so. Luckily, there were no lines at security. We did have to stop at the ticket booth as I bought our 3 day park hopper tickets from Last Minute Travel. It saved us quite a bit of money as I also bought the Premium Character Dining vouchers. It took the CM 5+ minutes of typing into the computer before she gave us our tickets and vouchers, but definitely fine on a lazy Thursday afternoon. I wouldn't have been happy if it had been a Magic Morning and I lost those precious minutes waiting for tickets!

    We entered the park and decided to just head straight to Fantasyland. It was Thursday afternoon and Halloween decor was up even though Friday, Sept. 16 was the official opening day for Halloween at DLR. DH took the girls to FL and I headed right to Star Tours to grab Fast Passes (around 3:25 for a 5:55 return time). He was using his cane (still stubbornly refusing to get an ECV) so he was able to push the girls in their double stroller.

    We knew DD5 would refuse to go on all the dark rides, so we started with the Mad Hatter's Tea Cups, as there was no line at all. DH sat this one out (as he did on most rides since he's not really an amusement park guy). I enjoyed it and thought it was a great first ride for a tentative DD--it's gentle enough when not spinning!

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    Then we decided we might as well try to do some character meet-n-greets and headed over to Pixie Hollow. Later during our trip, I saw on Mousewait that there were often 30-45 minute waits. Thursday afternoon we waited about 15-20 minutes and finally saw Iridessa at about 4 pm.

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    Then Vidia and Tinkerbell:

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    As we exit Pixie Hollow, what do we see but a face painting station! DD5 gets her face painted (for $17!?!). She was thrilled and only washed it off the next day after we went to the Bibbidi Boppidi Boutique and she saw that they would put on REAL makeup (lip gloss, blush, and eye shadow!).

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    After that I decided to go do the Tangled meet-n-greet, as I saw that those lines are consistently 60+ minutes on Mousewait. We waited a good 30 minutes or so for about 1 minute with Rapunzel (no Flynn Rider that afternoon). The funny part is that the nice Disney Jr. color encyclopedias I bought to use as autograph books didn't have Rapunzel. I searched vainly but then saw a photo of a blonde with long hair and a pretty pink dress in the intro spread (before the Table of Contents) and had Rapunzel sign next to that. I realized later it was GISELLE from Enchanted! Oops.

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    Then we wandered over to Dumbo (which had maybe 10 minute wait?) and took this photo at 4:47 pm (the wonders of iPhone technology makes it easy to recall when I took the photos without the ugly time stamp on the photo itself!):

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    After Dumbo, we hopped onto the Casey Jr. train. DH took DD5 in an open-air car (they let him on first as he was using his cane and didn't have to loop through the line). DD2 and I got stuck in one of the cage cars. I took this one by stretching out my arm:

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    At this point, we were starving (having not eaten since 10:45 am at Harris Ranch). We were going to head to Bengal BBQ to try some skewers, but it looked REALLY far on the map. We were in front of Big Thunder Ranch BBQ, which is all you can eat (and looked like fast service), so we just ducked right in.

    Here is a shot of DDs outside Thunder Ranch by a cute Halloween display:

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    Frankly, the food was mediocre and downright disappointing considering how expensive it is. I think it was about $80 (including tax/tip) for 2 adults and one child (DD2 was free as she's only 2). I darted off to get FP from Indiana Jones while waiting for the food.

    After dinner, I sent DH to Star Tours, as that was the only ride he was even remotely interested in trying. While we were waiting for him, we tried to go to Princess Fantasy Fair but it had closed. I bought the girls Mickey ear ice cream bars and watched a pre-show "drum-off" for the Soundsational Parade near It's a Small World.

    When DH returned, he raved about ST. I went to do it via FP and he took the girls on the Carousel. Sadly, I was really disappointed. Luckily I went on it two more times during this trip. I hated the first time, loved the second time, and was ok with the 3rd variation.

    I've seen all 6 Star Wars movies, but don't consider myself a huge fan. The first ride was disappointing as it was the stormtrooper (no rebel spy was chosen, just a generic alien photo) - Falcon opening - Princess Leia - Tatooine pod race - traffic on Coruscant series. It wasn't all that impressive or interesting, to be honest.

    Second time I went (on Saturday) I got Darth (they chose a little kid to be the rebel) - Hoth AT-AT battle - Princess Leia - Naboo underwater chase and that was awesome! I loved this one as it was much more interesting to me.

    My last ride was on Saturday afternoon and I got the same stormtroopers opening (they chose a little kid to be the rebel again) - Hoth AT-AT battle - Admiral Ackbar - traffic on Coruscant.

    When I returned from ST, we met near the Hub and parked ourselves on a bench on the opposite side of the Hub (away from the parade route) to wait for the Soundsational Parade. All the spots along the parade route were packed. I bought the girls a box of popcorn to share while DH went to ride Indiana Jones (I picked up FP right before dinner). Note that they only had the R2D2 collectible popcorn container that night, but had the Mickey Halloween ghost popcorn container the next day.

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    DH hated IJ and described it as being blindfolded, hit with pillows (apparently teenage girls were sitting near him and kept slamming into him), with the Indy soundtrack playing in the background. With that kind of review, I skipped it and we just settled in for the parade.

    I LOVED the Soundsational parade. I was too busy watching DD2's reactions to take any photos. DD5 and DH went to sit in the section for guests with disabilities as he couldn't stand very long with his cane. Mary Poppins on her carousel horse, Princess Tiana and Louis on their float, the princesses, etc. It was all really well-done and just so fun!

    DD2 loved seeing Mickey Mouse and was a bit sad when his float moved on. Check out this video:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/98074671@N00/6170711741/


    The parade ended around 7:30 and we just walked along with the crowds back to HoJo since the park closed at 8 anyway. Plus, since DH was using a cane and not in his ECV, I didn't want to push him to go see DCA, which I bet was pretty empty for a Thursday night.

    Once back to the hotel, the girls stayed up until close to 10 I believe. They LOVED the Kids' Suite and kept bouncing around the room. DD5 enjoyed sleeping the top bunk and the two were giggling long after the lights were out. I'm still surprised we managed to get up and out the door by 7:20 am the next morning!

    The good news is that DH agreed to allow me to rent an ECV for him a few hours into our Thursday afternoon visit. So it was waiting for us bright and early on Friday morning around 7 am!

    Will have to post Friday and Saturday's reports later. Hope you find this TR helpful!
     

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