Disney: Day 3 - Monday - [Check-in went well Sunday night. They let us leave the car briefly while we checked in and obtained a self-park permit, and then I drove across the road and parked (saving $12 a day!). We just wanted one day tickets for each park, so they sold us an introductory ticket for $79, good for one day at each park, but no hopping, which was fine for us.] We had breakfast (cereal, etc.) at Whitewater Snacks and then used the GC entrance to CA, which was really cool. We went to Soaring Over California and basically walked right on - we had to wait about 8 minutes for the present showing. As everyone says, it was really great. The scents are not quite right because once you get the pine scent and then they go to citrus, they still have to flush out the pine scent, so the orange grove smelled like a Christmas tree! We loved it. I had slight motion sickness from the film, but only slight. There were not many people in the park and there were almost no lines for anything, except for Soaring and for Millionaire. We then rode the Jumping Jellyfish, which was fun (and tame). I talked DW into riding the ferris wheel in a stationary car - it was great - and we really had a great view. [It was very cloudy the first few mornings in L.A. but they kept insisting it was not smog. It would burn off by the afternoon. The only defintely smoggy day was near the end of the trip.] I then got a wild streak, and while DW rode the merry-go-round, I jumped on Screaming - no line at all - just the amount of time to walk to the car and get on. I thought the music that came blaring out near my ears was way too loud, but when that thing took off with incredible acceleration, suddenly I had more immediate worries. I am not a big fan of roller coasters, but in general like the ones that don't go upside down. This one goes upside down only once, which was tolerable, but unpleasant to me. It is a long ride and I particularly enjoyed the series of ups and downs near the end. From how my nieces described the Rock n' Roll Coaster at MGM, I suspect they are quite similar. We then went back to Soaring with some Fast Passes we picked up earlier, but you really didn't need them - we did bypass one group and then weaited ten minutes and rode it again. Time for lunch. I had already decided we would try the wrap sandwiches that I had read about on the Mouseplanet menus, but not only did they not have those anymore, the place never opened. So, we had rice/teriyaki bowls and egg rolls at the Fortune Cookery. The food was ok, but for the price, should have been much better. We walked through the tortilla factory - pretty lame, and then we watched the ten minute movie at the Mondavi winery. I wished that we had just snacked on appetizers at the winery, but one glass may have led to a few more, and then an impending nap for DH! I tried one glass of wine from the counter and it was ok - nothing to rave about. We then went to the animation exhibit and enjoyed that, and then saw the Steps in Time show at the Hyperion Theatre. The plot is weak, but is mostly to allow for costume changes between song and dance numbers. The theater is state of the art and was fantastic as far as sound and stage settings and lighting. I am not a big musical fan, but the show was very good, especially "Under the Sea" and "A Whole New World". I highly recommend the show, once the heat starts getting to you. We got a Fast Pass for Millionaire at some point and then rode the Limo Ride, which was fun, mainly to joke about, and also because it went to many of the areas we had just seen for real the day before. The video I took is actuallly more fun than the ride itself! We had to wait about 25-30 minutes, but then were seated in the Millionaire show. I missed the fastest finger question, so I thought we were through with our chances to get on - we both misunderstood that you should answer every question the contestant does and that the fastest person in the audience with all correct answers would be the next contestant - we thought they meant for the fastest finger question only. We didn't even answer the first few easy ones, so were were out of the running. For the next contestant, I answered from the start, and when the show ended (about 35 minutes) I was ranked in the top ten, so that felt good. Maybe next time in Florida! It was fun to be in the set, and it is a really nice set that replicates the NY one, from all I could see. We then planned to finish up with Muholland Madness coaster, which I had tentatively talked DW into riding, but she gained a reprieve, as the ride was closed down for the rest of the day for repairs. From GC, I saw them working into the night to fix it - looked like something to do with the braking (nothing major!) - no cars fell off, at least! So, we went to the games area and I actually knocked down two "puppets" with three balls (never did that at a county fair) and one a monkey!. Here is where our plans became elaborate. We got hand-stamped and went to the room and put on bathing suits and then went back and rode the Grizzly Rapids (no line at all!) twice - it was starting to get breezy, so our plan worked out even better - after the second time, we exited and went to the GC pool and jumped in the whirlpool - ahhh, nice and warm. A wonderful day at CA - we really enjoyed it and did everything we wanted to except the small coaster. We had dinner at Tony Roma's, which was great, but seemed a little more expensive than at home, maybe because of the location, or because we had not been there in a long time - around $50+ with tax and tip and just ice teas. We went to sleep, looking forward to our first visit to DL on Tuesday morning and then to flying home Wednesday and relaxing at home until back to work Monday. The end of the innocence.... Day 4 - Tuesday - What can be said. We have all seen the pictures and the video over and over - felt the tragedy and the shock, the grief and the anger, until we are almost numb with disbelief. We had planned on early entry at 8:30 to DL, with our hotel i.d. Regular hours for both parks was 10-8, but when I turned on ther tv, the towers were burning and then we watched them collapse. We wound up watching tv longer and calling home, and we decided to change our reservations from Wed. morning departure to Thursday. I felt great that we were able to do that. Hertz said rates would continue on a day-to-day basis. We were getting ready to go to DL around 9:30 or 10, when we received a message on the phone at the GC and my wife said "Oh No!" really loud. She was really looking forward to DL and she said they had closed the park. We both thought it was a gross over-reaction, especially when all planes had been accounted for, but Disney was not alone in its decision, as many things closed for the day. I expect early entry people actually had to leave the park. We felt sorry for the people on vacation with little kids. How do you explain it? We had a sit-down breakfast at Storytellers. The character breakfast was just ending, and there did seem to be table interaction, and then they gathered in the lobby for photos and autographs. Nice breakfast, but $2.75 for a cup of regular jo?? We opted for the ice water, just out of principle. We then went to Whitewater Snacks and got tea and coffee and sat in the beautiful lobby of the GC - what a nice hotel - we really liked it, but both agreed for atmosphere and all, we lived the WL better, especially the pool area, and Artists Point has a better menu than Napa Rose, in my opinion, because Napa is a little to "over the top" with gourmet fusion and exotic ingedients. A couple characters came in the lobby to play with the kids (Rafiti, I think was one of them).