Aloha, Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas

jedijill

Chiefs fan living in Bronco country
Joined
Jan 17, 2005
I'm finally caught up and sad to read the going home update. :( What a fabulous trip! Love all the holiday decorations and character pictures you got! Can't wait for your next trip!

Jill in CO
 

jenseib

Mommy to Claire
Joined
Oct 28, 2006
Booo! I hate going home. It's funny as it almost never rains in CA and yet on our last day there last year it was raining off and on too. But we made the best of it!
Thats nice the flight home was so short. Really nice.
 
  • dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Corinna, this was again a lovely trip report to read. Thank you very much for all the effort you put into it!
    This is truly a labour of love for me. Thanks for reading along.

    I prefer to not connect in the US. I know we have different opinions on where to connect.
    Our hand luggage is fortunately small enough to fit under the seat so no separation issues here, but I would still prefer if it went overhead. This time I am connecting in Amsterdam and I have to admit that I am treading clearing the formalities in Los Angeles. Immigration there is a complete nightmare.

    I'm finally caught up and sad to read the going home update. :( What a fabulous trip! Love all the holiday decorations and character pictures you got!
    Thanks for reading along. I will post a summary post tomorrow.

    Can't wait for your next trip!
    I just said to Graham earlier that in three weeks time, I have to pack. I am going for some training in Dubai during the last week in August and then I have a long weekend off so I have decided to stay behind and have a mini vacation. Once I am back from this, it is three weeks until Disneyland.

    Sounds like a pretty smooth journey home. What a fabulous vacation!!!
    It really was. Now it is full steam ahead looking forward to the next one.

    It's funny as it almost never rains in CA and yet on our last day there last year it was raining off and on too. But we made the best of it!
    This is only the second time I have encountered rain in Southern California and the first time it blew over in less than 30 minutes. However, if the news are right, Southern California will get a very wet winter.

    Corinna
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    As I mentioned above, the next trip is getting ever closer. As I took so long over this trip report and things are really going to be very busy until I leave for Disneyland, I won't do a proper pre-trip report, but I will post the odd update on here.

    Well, this week it has all been happening. As I had always expected most of my Disneyland trip would be planned for me, but I am actually pretty cool with this. It really has been all go since the crack of dawn on Monday morning when my friends in California jumped into action. I kept meaning to post and update, but this week has been a little bit on the crazy side and I never got around to it.


    First of all, the way things have panned out, apart from the travel days, there is only one day in California where I am left completely unsupervised. Again, I am pretty happy about this as this trip was always about spending time with friends. What added interest to the planning process is that at that point I found out that one of my friends is away for a long weekend while I am there. Add to this the commitments my other two friends have, and we ended up with one full day that all of us are available. This happens to be my first full day at Disneyland. This would not necessarily have been my choice of day for our VIP tour, but now I am pretty excited about this. It is great that I get to see most of my friends pretty much as soon as I get there and I also get all the major rides out of my system. We are going to have an earlier start this time, which will give us time for a nice dinner and some drinks after the tour.


    The second event took a bit more working around. We are going to have a girls’ night out at The Melting Pot. For those of you not familiar with this restaurant chain, it is a fondue restaurant and I always wanted to try this. However, this is decidedly not Graham’s thing. So this trip is the perfect opportunity to give this a go. I had very little in the way of plans, but I wanted to do two Halloween parties while I am a Disneyland. I expected the parties to take place on the Friday and the second Tuesday that I am at Disneyland going on past experience. This would have been perfect for me. However, this year there are three possibles: Friday, Monday and Wednesday. Friday was set in stone and I decided that it would make more sense to go to the Monday party as I have an early flight on Thursday morning. However, it soon became apparent that the only night that everybody was available for dinner, was the Monday night. So I decided that I was more attached to the idea of everybody being there for dinner than an early night on Wednesday. We are now having our dinner at The Melting Pot on Monday and I will do the second Halloween party on the Wednesday.


    Speaking of Halloween parties, I now got my tickets for all of them. I also got very lucky that for the two parties at Disneyland, I will have company. My friend Sue and I had been planning for a while that we would go to the first Halloween party together. With the change of date for the second party, I will now go with my friend Jennifer and her husband Jeff, which is especially nice as our friendship really began during a photoshoot at Mickey’s Halloween Party in 2011.


    Other things that have fallen into place is that I have sorted out Disney’s Magical Express for the new dates, got my ticket for Walt Disney World, ordered Photopass+ for Disneyland and sorted out my dining reservations for Disneyland. As far as my ticket is concerned, I decided to go with the 14 day Ultimate Ticket in the end. I had originally planned on getting an annual pass with DVC discount, but between there being a bit of a discount available on the 14 day Ultimate Ticket and the exchange rate not being wonderful, this worked out cheaper. With my DVC membership card, I tend to get the same discounts as I would get with an annual pass at Walt Disney World so this made sense.


    So that actually leaves very little left to do for this trip. I still have to sort out my transfers in California. I also have to do our ESTAs and sort out the remaining standby tickets. I am still pondering on whether or not to get Memory Maker. All of those things taken together will take less than 30 minutes to sort. The biggest item remaining on the To Do List is making the Fastpass reservations and this will be my task for tomorrow.

    Corinna
     

    jedijill

    Chiefs fan living in Bronco country
    Joined
    Jan 17, 2005
    Your DL plans are really coming together! I love The Melting Pot. What a great place to have girls night.

    Jill in CO
     

    franandaj

    I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!
    Joined
    Nov 15, 2009
    I don't know why I did not comment earlier. I read your final update as soon as you posted and I guess I was reading from my phone (which I still am).

    You certainly had an early morning! I would have such a hard time getting up and goi ng that early!

    It's crazy how Americans try to avoid baggage fees by packing suitcases as carry on luggage. They really need to put limits on the size of some of those bags. I usually have a bag that will fit under the seat as well so I don't have a problem but I amazes me what people think is OK to put in the overhead bins. Glad the rest of the flight was uneventful.

    Good to know that the Melting Pot is Monday night. I'll put that in Fran's phone so she can be my designated driver. Also your Magic bands are awaiting your arrival in California.
     
  • dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Your DL plans are really coming together!
    The sure are. I wish I could say the same about WDW. Still, I am hoping that making Fastpass reservations tomorrow will focus my mind.

    I love The Melting Pot. What a great place to have girls night.
    I am really looking forward to this.

    You certainly had an early morning! I would have such a hard time getting up and going that early!
    This time round it won't be much better either. I have a 8:05 flight out of LAX so the latest pick up time I can choose is 5:10 AM. I am decidedly not a morning person. Still with me now going to the Halloween party the night before, I am hoping that I will be so tired that I sleep the whole flight.

    I usually have a bag that will fit under the seat as well so I don't have a problem but I amazes me what people think is OK to put in the overhead bins.
    I am hoping that I won't have to squeeze my carry on under the seat this time. I will have Dooney Haunted Mansion Weekender this time round.

    Good to know that the Melting Pot is Monday night.
    Yes, Monday night ended up being the only evening all 4 of us could be available. Maybe I can come and see the house Monday afternoon and go to the restaurant with you? I have already figured out how I can get from Disneyland to Long Beach.

    Also your Magic bands are awaiting your arrival in California.
    This is just the annual pass band. The proper ones have a message that I can continue to customize them until August 31st so they will arrive sometime in early September.

    Corinna
     

    mandymouse

    Bahama Mama Time !!
    Joined
    Mar 8, 2003
    Corinna, thanks for sharing your amazing trip report, it really was a special trip :) I've just re-read it as we are planning a trip to Hawaii next year and I cannot wait (woohoo !!) :) I look forward to reading your updates for your next holiday too
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Corinna, thanks for sharing your amazing trip report, it really was a special trip :) I've just re-read it as we are planning a trip to Hawaii next year and I cannot wait (woohoo !!) :) I look forward to reading your updates for your next holiday too
    I am glad that you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading along. If you have any questions about Hawaii, feel free to ask. Between our Hawaii cruise in 2012, where we visited 4 islands and this, I have a fare idea of the lay of the land.

    Corinna
     

    carissa1970

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 23, 2013
    I am glad that you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading along. If you have any questions about Hawaii, feel free to ask. Between our Hawaii cruise in 2012, where we visited 4 islands and this, I have a fare idea of the lay of the land.

    Corinna
    Corinna, did you do a trip report for the cruise? We are thinking of doing one someday, but not sure. Thanks!
     
  • franandaj

    I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!
    Joined
    Nov 15, 2009
    Yes, Monday night ended up being the only evening all 4 of us could be available. Maybe I can come and see the house Monday afternoon and go to the restaurant with you? I have already figured out how I can get from Disneyland to Long Beach.
    This would be perfect. How are you planning to get to Long Beach from.Anaheim? I would imagine it's actually pretty easy. Katella Blvd turns into Willow Street when it passes from Orange County to LA County. Our house is right off Bellflower Blvd which crosses Willow. From some of the walks you describe in your travels, you might have an easy time walking down from there, or I can also pick you up. I'll be excited for you to come visit the house, we have started to get back to decorating now that Fran has recovered from her broken leg and medication mix ups.
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Corinna, did you do a trip report for the cruise? We are thinking of doing one someday, but not sure. Thanks!
    I did. It is linked in my signature under Taking Stitch to Hawaii and NOT Leaving Him There.

    How are you planning to get to Long Beach from.Anaheim?
    Walking and bus. According to Google Maps, it is 1.3 miles from Disneyland to the closest bus stop. I then need to take the number 50 bus and on the other end, it will be 1.1 miles from the bus stop to your house.

    From some of the walks you describe in your travels, you might have an easy time walking down from there, or I can also pick you up.
    The walking should definitely not be an issue. This is about the same as I do each way as part of my daily commute. I will have US SIM card in my cellphone so if I get lost your end, I can call for backup ;-)

    Corinna
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Epilogue

    This must be the longest I have ever taken over a trip report. As I type this, it is just over 6 months since we returned from this fabulous trip and by the time I post this it will be almost to the day 8 months since we returned. This will also have been the longest interval between two trips in over a decade after neither plan A nor plan B for a potential trip earlier this year worked out. The next trip will also be very different. Although I am hugely excited about my upcoming trip, I am also a little sad that I don’t get to share it with Graham, who is planning a solo trip of his own. (Since I typed this, things have changed. The first half of the trip will still be a solo trip, but we are meeting up in Orlando for the second part).

    Looking back at this trip, it was nothing short of amazing. It was a perfect mix of extremely active and very laid back, old and new, man-made and natural. I did some stuff that never in a million years I would have thought I would get to experience. Most importantly, it was about the people. I met some amazing people and managed to catch up with friends some of which I had not seen for far too long. I am hugely grateful to everybody who touched my life during this trip.

    So here are my final thoughts:

    Aulani was everything I hoped for and then some. Not in my wildest dreams would I have imagined just how much of a little slice of paradise it really is. I joked before we went that Aulani is essentially is a cruise ship on dry land and this is exactly how Aulani is run. I never thought that anything could be better than Disney Cruise Line, but Aulani truly is. The cast members are all amazing. There are so many different things to do between the facilities and the activities that even in 10 days, we did not manage to get everything done that I would have liked to do. I am however glad that we did make time for some excursions. Byodo-In is easily the most beautiful place I have ever seen and I was hugely moved by Pearl Harbor. Nobody can ever take those memories away from me. My personal highlight though was snorkeling, both in Rainbow Reef and in the lagoons. I am still really surprised how well I coped in the lagoon with the reef just below the surface and how amazing it was to see this habitat so close up.



    Disneyland is my ultimate happy place and on the whole the trip did not disappoint. I did make some amazing memories between getting to tour the Dream Suite, doing a VIP tour with friends, the Thanksgiving feast and getting a little piece of tradition by getting a hand-made candy cane. I was able to revisit old favourites and experience new things. The biggest surprise for me was that on reflection, I do prefer the holiday season at Walt Disney World. Yes, Disneyland has the three Christmas overlays with Jingle Cruise, Haunted Mansion Holiday and It’s A Small World Holiday. I also really enjoyed the A Christmas Fantasy Parade. Unfortunately I was never able to see the Believe in Christmas Magic fireworks as they were cancelled every time I would have had the opportunity to see them. I also loved all the themed decorations. I did however really miss the big events like the Osbourne Lights, the Candlelight Processional and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. I usually have to work over Christmas and after the two recent trips to Walt Disney World in November and December, I had the feeling that I had my Christmas. I did not have the same feeling after this trip. I still would not hesitate to go to Disneyland during that time of year again if the opportunity ever arose again.



    There were three things that I was rather disappointed by as far as Disneyland is concerned. Maybe I am spoiled, but I don’t think I want to stay offsite again. Our hotel was lovely and the staff was great, but I did not always feel safe walking back to the hotel by myself, especially after dark. There are far too many beggars in the area and some of them are quite aggressive. I think Disneyland and the resort of Anaheim really need to get together to do something about this. I know that they now have some kind of tourist police on International Drive in Orlando and Anaheim would definitely benefit from something similar.

    The other big disappointment was to do with service at the table service restaurants. Our experience at Steakhouse 55 and Naples was a disgrace and I would think at least twice before giving them another chance. This is a real shame as they used to be two of my favourite restaurants. I also think that the food at Steakhouse 55, when it finally came, was not up to its usually standard. It was pleasant enough, but for a signature restaurant, I expect a bit more than pleasant enough. Even at the Thanksgiving feast, which was great as an experience, the food was somewhat hit and miss. Considering the amount that we paid, I should expect better than rubbery turkey, although to be fair, most of the food was lovely.

    Not quite in the same league, but still a disappointment was World of Color – Winter Dreams. I really meant when I told a cast member that this is an insult to the Disney name. I can’t understand how a company like Disney with so much talent could get it so wrong. I think they just tried too hard to extend the show to the normal length and some of it simply did not work (Frozen Karaoke anybody?) After this, I was very concerned when World of Color Celebrate was announced. However, having seen the video of this, fortunately this has turned out a winner.

    So another trip is over. 90% of it was wonderful and this is what I will remember in the years to come. The disappointments will fade and in due course will be forgotten. Now I can concentrate on things that I have not had time for in the last 6 months like reading a good book. I can also now look forward to the next trip in earnest. I see you on the other side.
     

    Paula Sedley-Burke

    Proud to believe in Rainbows and Unicorns...
    Joined
    Nov 20, 2008
    Despite the rain it sounds like a lovely last day. Oh my gosh I adore your red holiday jacket! How cute. Some great photos that was neat getting that time with the photopass photographer. I love the idea of making your own happy hour. Perfect when you need a bite but not a whole meal. What fun too. Do you find decent beer in DL? I like ale myself and although I don't drink now I did find it hard to find ale or our beer in America. They tend to favour what they call beer which is I would say like our lager. It's a different drink. I adore Guinness too. I haven't tried Samuel Adams. Best beer I had was in your fine home country. I was working in Munich. Oh my word you guys know how to brew! I was in heaven.

    Shame you had to end it.

    Yum re your pancakes! Stack them high!
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Despite the rain it sounds like a lovely last day.
    It was. I am used to plenty of rain here.

    Oh my gosh I adore your red holiday jacket! How cute.
    This is one of my all time favourite souvenirs.

    Some great photos that was neat getting that time with the photopass photographer.
    That was a real stroke of luck. I could not believe when she apologised to me for taking up too much time. I was in heaven.

    Do you find decent beer in DL?
    I have never been a beer drinker and now I can't as I am yeast intolerant. Graham definitely seemed to enjoy the Samuel Adams and he also really enjoyed the IPA from a brewery in San Diego. Some of his favourite beers are craft beers from Hawaii.

    Best beer I had was in your fine home country. I was working in Munich. Oh my word you guys know how to brew! I was in heaven.
    I am glad you enjoyed it.

    Corinna
     

    PrincessInOz

    Thanks for my avatar, Mary Jo!
    Joined
    Feb 8, 2010
    Always sad to see the end of TRs.
    I've really enjoyed reading along with yours.
    Thanks for sharing.
     

    Paula Sedley-Burke

    Proud to believe in Rainbows and Unicorns...
    Joined
    Nov 20, 2008
    Your upcoming trip sounds very nice! I love that you are doing 2 Halloween parties this is my favorite Disney event. Do we get a sneaky preview of outfits?
     

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