But You Have Promised Me A Subtropical Paradise

dolphingirl47

In Search of the Tag Fairy
Joined
Dec 25, 2007
Day 1

This was a bit of an unusual start to the holiday for us. For most of our holidays, we have stayed at an airport hotel the night before our flight. This had also been the plan for this trip, but for some reason the airport hotels all had silly expensive prices, even with the travel industry rates. As our flight also left later than usual at 11:35, we decided that we would spend the last night before the trip at home and take a taxi to the airport the next day. The drawback to this was that however often I told myself that I was officially on holiday once I got home from work, it did not feel that way. Even a fantastic meal at the local Brazilian Steakhouse washed down with a couple of Caipirinhas did not create a holiday feeling. The advantage however was that I could pack at my leisure when I got home and did not have to try to squeeze it in during those very busy last few days at work.

This should have been my week of 5 early shifts so when the alarm went off at 6:00, it almost felt like a lie in. We got up and got ready, packed the last odds and ends and then we headed out. We were picked up at 7:00 and the drive to the airport was very smooth. When we got there, Monarch was still wrapping up the check in for their flights at the desks that Delta is using, too. So once again we got to watch how they got ready for opening check in. Eventually everything was good to go and we were waved forward. We were first in line for the online check in line. Those of you who have followed my trip reports for a while will remember that the fact that I was traveling on a German passport leaving from the UK and going to the USA always caused some excitement. This inevitably resulted in the Spanish inquisition. I got so fed up with this that early last year I decided to apply for British citizenship, which was approved in October last year and became official in December. Although I have traveled on my British passport once before for a weekend trip to Dubai, this was my first trip to the USA since becoming British. I have to admit that I felt rather smug. One of the members of security introduced himself and asked what our final destination would be and when we would return to the UK. We answered the question and he took our passports to be swiped. He then came back and asked if he could see our itinerary. Fortunately I had decided to print this. Once he had checked the details for our return trip, he handed us our passports back. We then got the usual questions about who packed the cases, had they been unattended at any time and did we have any electrical items. This was fairly routine stuff. What threw me is when he asked how long we had owned them for. This is when I started to get a little nervous. I had bought a new camera for this trip and had this for less than a month. I told him this and he asked where I had bought it from. When I told him Amazon, he was satisfied, thanked us for our patience and wished us a good flight.

We then proceeded to check in. Although there were a few people in the normal check in line, we were the only people in the online check in line. This showed as our check in agent was in no hurry and was quite chatty. As we had got to the airport so early, we had no problem with this. Graham's suitcase was almost exactly at the weight limit and my was 1.8kg over. The irony is that this is exactly the same that my magnets weighed. She reassured me that this was perfectly OK. I had printed our boarding passes out yesterday, but the first thing she did was printing new ones for us. Eventually we were all set and headed through security.

Security was probably the quietest I had ever seen this. The only reason there was any wait at all was that they have changed over completely to self-service gates. In front of the gate there was a scanner for the boarding passes and it advised to touch the bar code against the scanner. The trouble with this was that there was more than one bar code on the boarding pass and inevitably we tried to use the wrong one. Eventually we figured out which one to use and which orientation the scanner was looking for and we were on our way. We were directed straight to a security checkpoint where there was no line. Neither of us set off the metal detector this time round and even though we had joked at home that our hand luggage would get singled out as Graham had his telescope and I had my new camera with a fairly big lens, this did not happen.

Once we had collected all of our stuff, we headed to the departure lounge. I was hoping to get a new neck pillow as I had lost mine on our Dubai trip and Graham had forgotten his. They had a good deal if you bought two neck pillows so we both got a new one. We then went in search of breakfast. We ended up in Frankie and Benny's. Graham had the New England Breakfast, which consisted of fried eggs, bacon, sausages, baked beans, mushroom and hash brown. He washed this down with an orange juice. I was not that hungry and had pancakes with bacon and maple syrup. I had wanted their fruit punch, but this contained almond syrup, which they were out of. So I decided on another mixed fruit juice drink. This contained passion fruit syrup, which they were also out of. I was at a bit of a loss as to what to have. I did not fancy a plain orange juice. Our server offered that she could mix something for me. I agreed and advised that I am allergic to banana, but anything else is good. I have no idea what was in this drink, but it was delicious. When we finished breakfast, there was a huge line waiting to be seated. However, they were in no rush whatsoever to get us the bill and let us pay. Eventually we had settled up and we went to find our gate.

Graham made himself comfortable. I left my hand luggage with him and headed to the duty free shop. They have a MAC Cosmetics concession there. The previous week I had seen a limited edition lip gloss in town that I really liked. So I decided to get this as it is cheaper at the airport. I also ended up with a matching lipstick . When I got back, I sat down near the gate and started my trip report and then read for a bit. Soon it was time to board our flight.


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It was nice to have a newer aircraft with on demand entertainment. Once we were at cruising altitude, I started to watch Les Miserables. Unfortunately about 20 minutes in, they made an announcement they had issues with the entertainment system and needed to reboot this. I used the time to work on my trip report and read a bit. Unfortunately I noticed that the USB power was not strong enough to charge my iPad, but at least it slowed down the charge going down. When the entertainment system was up and running again, I made a second attempt at watching Les Miserables. At some point during the film, lunch was served. This consisted of a garden salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing, a roll, cheese and crackers and a vanilla and chocolate biscuit. For our main course we both had Chicken Mole Poblano with mash and ratatouille. This was very tasty as was the Chardonnay out of a cardboard box we had with it.

Once Les Miserables was finished, I had a quick bathroom break and then I settled down for my second film. I had really wanted to see Jack Reacher when it was in the cinema, but somehow missed it. I love the books and wanted to see how this is translated into a film. One thing that always struck me was the curious casting of the main character. In the books, Reacher is 6'5" tall with a 50-inch chest, and weighing between 220 and 250 pounds. They cast Tom Cruise for this role. Still, it was a good film and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

When the film was over, I flicked through the selections, but there was nothing that really grabbed my attention. I had figured out earlier that when you access the map that shows the progress of the flight, it has a little box at the bottom where it shows whichever film you have selected. So I put Les Miserables on again and then accessed the map so I had some music in the background. I then spent the rest of the flight reading my book.

About 90 minutes before we landed in Atlanta, they served a snack. We got a sun dried tomato and cheese panini, which to my utter delight was yeast free and a vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce. By the time they cleared everything away, we had already started our descent into Atlanta.

Once we arrived in Atlanta, we had a quick bathroom stop and then headed to passport control. They redid this since last year. Now they have separate passport controls for people whose final destination is Atlanta and those with connecting flights. The line for visitors did not look too long, but they cleared the line for US citizens and residents a lot quicker and moved us across. We were then directed to the line for a desk almost straightaway, but where then moved to the line for another desk and then back again. It looked like we arrived in the middle of break time. This did not do my poor nerves any good. This was my first time entering the USA on my British passport. The wife of one of my colleagues was asked some questions the first time she went to the USA after becoming British regarding why she entered USA with the passport of a different country last time and now was entering with a British passport. So I expected the Spanish inquisition. The strange thing is he did not even acknowledge it. He asked how long we would be staying, where we would be going, what jobs we were doing back home, if we had brought any items that would remain in the USA and how much money we had on us. At one stage he also asked us when we were last in the USA prior to this visit and I was sure that this would then trigger more questions, but he then just stamped our passports and customs form and welcomed us back.

Customs was a huge surprise. This is normally crazy busy. When we came down the escalator to baggage claim, the customs area was completely empty. Our luggage was sitting on the stationary belt so we just had to collect it and then we could go straight through customs. They just took our customs declaration off us and waved us through. Security was also painless. Once we cleared security, I checked the screens with departure information. This was just as well as our departure gate had moved from Domestic Terminal South to Concourse A. We took the Skytrain over to Concourse A. Our plan had been to have dinner at Atlanta, but Graham was not hungry at all and I was not up for a proper dinner either. Graham found somewhere to sit near the gate and I went for a wander. When I came back, I read and worked on my trip report for a while. A little while later, I started to feel a bit hungry. I managed to find some mini corn dogs, some orange soda and a peanut butter Snickers so I was happy. Once I Had finished my Corndogs, I headed back to the gate. I was reading for a bit and soon it was time to board.

Inevitably we ended up in zone 3. I really don't understand how Delta's zones work as irrespective where our seats are, we are in zone 3. Zone 3 boards last. Also inevitably on Delta domestic flights, they never have enough room for carry ons. So sure enough, as they were starting to board zone 3, they made an announcement that the staff on the aircraft had informed them that there was no further room for carry ons and every carry on would be gate checked. I was not happy as I had my brand new camera, my jewellery and some breakable gifts in my carry on. As we approached the gate they were very busy tagging everybody's carry on and I was ready to use my charm on the gate agent, but she just waved us through with our carry ons. I looked at Graham slightly confused and then took off as quickly as I could before they changed their minds. Looking at the carry ons that were piled up just outside the aircraft door, I started to understand how we had managed to get away with this. Both of ours would have comfortably fit together in each and every one of the so called carry ons that were waiting to go into the hold. We ended up having to put our trolley cases and personal items underneath the seat in front of us, but they all fit and actually worked quite nicely as footrests.

Neither Graham and I remember the take off. Actually, I can't even remember taxiing away from the terminal so I must have been out cold as soon as I sat down. The next thing I remember is an announcement that we had started our descent into Los Angeles. I stayed awake then and looked at all the pretty lights. I love big cities at night when I am flying. We landed shortly afterwards. I realised that something was not quite right as soon as I got off the aircraft. On our last two trips to Los Angeles we have flown with Delta and the terminal did not look familiar at all. It soon became apparent why. We had not landed at Terminal 5, which is the usual Delta terminal, but in Terminal 8, which is normally reserved for United. We then had to walk to terminal 6, which is also normally used by United and is quite a hike. Because of the distances involved and the fact that Delta a merely guests at this terminal, it took forever for our luggage to arrive. I was glad that our friends that we were staying with for most of our time in Southern California were still out of town and we were therefore headed to Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa for the first night. I would have been mortified if we had gone straight to them and had arrived so late. When I went to find the Supershuttle pick up area, I realised why we had arrived at a different terminal. Terminal 5 is a big building site at the moment. I did find Supershuttle eventually, checked in and was given a van number. We had to wait about 10 to 15 minutes for the van to arrive. We got the last two seats so we did not end up riding around the airport and we were the first people off so that worked out nicely.

As we arrived so late at the hotel, we could walk up straight to the check in desk. There was some confusion at first as we were already showing as checked in. Apparently we had been automatically checked in earlier in the evening. With this out of the way, we were presented with our Key to the Magic cards and given our room number. We had a room on the ground floor this time round. I had a quick peek through the patio door and was not inspired. When I checked again in the morning, I saw what precisely I was looking at, which was a fence and some bushes. If we had stayed there longer, I would have been disappointed. However, as we just needed a bed to sleep for one night, this did nicely. We quickly freshened up and got ready for bed. Door to door, our trip had taken 26 hours so it was no surprise that we were fast asleep as soon as out heads hit the pillows.
 

Pinkocto

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 22, 2011
I'm here :) marking my spot, can't wait to read all about it!

***Went back to read, great intro. Bizarre about the security guy asking how long you owned the luggage. I've never heard that one before. Glad you were able to keep your carry ons on the second leg, I hate to let my camera out of my sight.

That's one long day of traveling!

Can I ask if you've used Disneyland Express? I'm trying to figure out the best/cheapest way to get to the GCH from LAX in September. It sparked my interest when I read you used Supershuttle.
 

jedijill

Chiefs fan living in Bronco country
Joined
Jan 17, 2005
I'm here! Off to a great start. Glad to hear you had a good flight on Delta...my last few international flights on Delta have been sub-par.

Very strange security questions.

Can't wait to hear more!

Jill in CO
 
  • carissa1970

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 23, 2013
    I'm number 3! Lol. I've noticed people like to be in the first few. I can't wait to read more!!

     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    I'm here :) marking my spot, can't wait to read all about it!

    ***Went back to read, great intro. Bizarre about the security guy asking how long you owned the luggage. I've never heard that one before. Glad you were able to keep your carry ons on the second leg, I hate to let my camera out of my sight.

    That's one long day of traveling!

    Can I ask if you've used Disneyland Express? I'm trying to figure out the best/cheapest way to get to the GCH from LAX in September. It sparked my interest when I read you used Supershuttle.
    It was not the luggage, but specifically the electronic devices he was concerned about. This made more sense when I returned to work. I thought he was worried about drug smuggling, but when I returned to work I had a bunch of emails that airport security somewhere had found cellphones that had been converted to guns.

    It was definitely a long day.

    We have always used Supershuttle and I would recommend them. The reason why we decided against Disneyland Express is that I had heard that you stop at the Disneyland Hotel on the way to pay. Supershuttle I can pay for in advance online.

    I'm here! Off to a great start. Glad to hear you had a good flight on Delta...my last few international flights on Delta have been sub-par.

    Very strange security questions.

    Can't wait to hear more!

    Jill in CO
    We love Delta. I work for an airline myself so I have pretty high expectations towards service on an airline and Delta have always exceeded them.

    I'm number 3! Lol. I've noticed people like to be in the first few. I can't wait to read more!!

    Welcome. I tend to post updates twice a week. Usually on a Thursday and a Sunday.

    Happily joining in! Glad it was a smooth start.
    Welcome.

    Corinna
     

    disgeek009

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 23, 2012
    I'm so happy you went on another vacation, since I love your trip reports! Can't wait to hear more! :)
     
  • Pinkocto

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 22, 2011
    It was not the luggage, but specifically the electronic devices he was concerned about. This made more sense when I returned to work. I thought he was worried about drug smuggling, but when I returned to work I had a bunch of emails that airport security somewhere had found cellphones that had been converted to guns.

    It was definitely a long day.

    We have always used Supershuttle and I would recommend them. The reason why we decided against Disneyland Express is that I had heard that you stop at the Disneyland Hotel on the way to pay. Supershuttle I can pay for in advance online.
    That's really scary about the guns! Wow!

    Thanks so much for the info, I like the idea about paying in advance much better.
     

    franandaj

    I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!
    Joined
    Nov 15, 2009
    Running out the door to a show right now, but I'm marking my place so that I can come back and read!

    ETA: OK, all caught up! That was odd that he asked how long you had your luggage. I can just imagine my answer... "Well we got the one suitcase on our last trip to WDW. The black one, well it came from Costco, but I have no idea what year we bought it....that green one it was part of a set, honey, do you have any idea when we bought that? The garment bag, I had that before I met you...." I have a feeling the guard would have been sorry he asked on that one! :lmao: I would still have all the carry on bags to explain!

    So what time did you actually get to the VGC? I'm guessing you were in one of the units facing DCA? Or were in you in one of the even numbered units that faced Grizzly Challenge Trail (if you were higher up)?
     
  • jjk

    <img src=http://www.wdwinfo.com/dis-sponsor/images
    Joined
    May 24, 2004
    looking forward to reading more :goodvibes
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Running out the door to a show right now, but I'm marking my place so that I can come back and read!

    ETA: OK, all caught up! That was odd that he asked how long you had your luggage. I can just imagine my answer... "Well we got the one suitcase on our last trip to WDW. The black one, well it came from Costco, but I have no idea what year we bought it....that green one it was part of a set, honey, do you have any idea when we bought that? The garment bag, I had that before I met you...." I have a feeling the guard would have been sorry he asked on that one! :lmao: I would still have all the carry on bags to explain!

    So what time did you actually get to the VGC? I'm guessing you were in one of the units facing DCA? Or were in you in one of the even numbered units that faced Grizzly Challenge Trail (if you were higher up)?
    I did not make it very clear. It was not the luggage he was concerned about, but just the electric items contained in it. That aspect was actually not too bad this time round. We both had brought two cameras (one water-proof and one normal per person) plus I had my iPhone and my iPad. Still, the luggage kind of had a home-coming. One suitcase we bought many years ago on International Drive in Orlando. I bought my suitcase at Costa Mesa. My purse came from Disneyland and my backpack from the Disney Magic.

    We arrived at GC just before midnight and were in our room by midnight. We were in 1518. This is one of the rooms facing Grizzly River Run. We had the same location on the 4th floor in 2011 before our cruise and I actually quite liked the view there.



    Joining in ....now I have to go read. :rotfl:
    Welcome:wave2:

    I'm here too. Going to catch up.
    Welcome:wave2:

    looking forward to reading more :goodvibes
    Welcome:wave2:

    Corinna
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Day 2

    Even though I had not managed to get to bed until just gone midnight I was wide awake at 4:00. I went to the bathroom and checked my emails and then went back to bed. Two hours later I was awake again. This time round I got dressed and went for a walk. I had a wander around the pool area and then went to reception. I was expecting two packages. For one I had tracking information and knew it arrived two days earlier, but it had not made its way to the hotel yet. The other one had arrived. Once I had picked up my package, I went back to bed once more and then we both woke up at 7:45. We got up and ready and reorganised our luggage.

    We were ready for some breakfast. Shortly before we left for this trip, I had an email from Disney Cruise Line announcing that for our repositioning cruise, Pirate Night had been replaced by a Pixar Night. I had known for a while that this would be the case for the Alaska cruise. Although I am pretty excited about the Pixar Night, this could well mean that I wouldn't get to see Stitch as the only time he is around on every cruise is Pirate Night. I have also never seen Stitch around the parks at Disneyland. There is however one place at Disneyland where you can see him and that is the character breakfast at Paradise Pier. I knew I was pushing my luck as I had already booked a character dinner for that day, but Graham agreed. So we walked over to Paradise Pier. We were seated almost straightaway. On the way in, we had our photo taken with Mickey. I had pre-purchased Photopass + and this includes the photo package. Because I had not got my Photopass + lanyard yet, they told me that I would get my photo package when I picked up my lanyard at the park. Breakfast was lovely. I started the day with coffee and orange juice and a Mickey Waffle with maple syrup. Graham had some oatmeal with raisins to start of with. We then both had a plate of hot food. Graham had some chicken sausage and some pork sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs and Chilaquiles. I had some pork sausage, breakfast potatoes and a nice big portion of Chilaquiles. Chilaquiles are a Mexican dish consisting of fried tortilla, Salsa Verde, beef and cheese. I had fallen in love with this dish in 2011, but Graham tried it for the first time round. He liked it, too.


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    Once I got back from getting my hot food, Stitch was approaching. He came over to meet us and Graham tried to take a photo, but for some reason this did not work. As soon as Stitch had finished with us, all the characters and the children headed to the front to the restaurant to play a game. When Stitch returned, I attracted his attention and explained that the camera had not worked and asked him for another photo. The restaurant was still really quiet and he was happy to oblige. Once I had finished my hot food, I went to get some fruit. They had some smoothies including a melon smoothie. However, nobody could tell me if this contained banana so I passed. Graham also got some fruit and yoghurt. Shortly afterwards, Pluto came to the table for some photos. We both did one more trip to the buffet. I had some breakfast flatbread and Graham had a pastry. We still had to see Daisy and Minnie and I was just about to give up when they both came to visit in quick succession. Stitch also came for another visit.


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    We headed back to the Grand Californian. Graham had offered to take care of the luggage so I went straight to the hotel's entrance to California Adventure. My next task was getting my Photopass + lanyard. For as long as I can remember, there was a Photopass kiosk opposite Soarin over California so I figured I may as well do this ride while I was in the area. The posted waiting time was 10 minutes and I was in two minds on whether to just join the standby line or going for the single rider line. I decided on the single rider line. Time-wise, it probably made no difference as I waited about 10 minutes. I did get lucky though. When I was sent to a departure gate, I was told to join row two. When we were allowed to enter, I stored my backpack and my flip-flops in the net underneath the seat and sat down. I was just about to buckle myself in when a cast member approached me and asked if I was the single rider. I confirmed that I was and he told me that he had a spare seat in row one and asked if I wanted this. I quickly grabbed my stuff and moved. This was some nice pixie dust right at the beginning of the day. I loved the ride as much as usual.


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    When I got to the exit and looked across the plaza, I noticed that the Photopass kiosk was gone. I went to the shop that is opposite Soarin over California to ask about this and was advised that Photopass had moved to a shop at the front of Buena Vista Street. The cast member gave me some pointers as to how to find it and I was on my way.
     



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