Cast Of Characters Julia, 38 DL trip planner Brian, 41 A longtime Disney fanatic (much more so than me!) Michael, 8 ÃÂ½ Emily, 6 Thomas 3 ÃÂ½ Kevin, 40ish friend of the family (and professional photographer) DAY 0 Ã¢ÂÂ Getting ThereÃ¢ÂÂ¦.. The kids got out at 2:40 from school. I left a note in the office explaining the kids absence (I had already told their teachers) and passed out gifts to the teachers. Friday is a noon dismissal at school, and neither teacher seem to care we were taking the kids out. In fact, MichaelÃ¢ÂÂs teacher has been to DL more times than her age! A girl in MichaelÃ¢ÂÂs class will also be at DL, and we hope to run into Brooke and her family. We were on the road by 3:30 (leaving San Jose). Thankfully, we hit little traffic going across Pacheco Pass, and were soon on I Ã¢ÂÂ 5, racing down the road (ItÃ¢ÂÂs always amazing to me, as our speedometer reads 70, to need to be in the slow lane-we were frequently Ã¢ÂÂleft in the dustÃ¢ÂÂ) We stopped to pick up food at Burger King, because the kids wanted the new Pokemon toy in the Kids Meal. Luckily, I checked their hamburgers we special ordered (only Ketchup!) and they were all wrong. I raced back in to the store, receipt in hand (which clearly said Ã¢ÂÂplain-only ketchupÃ¢ÂÂ) and the clerk was very nice and had things fixed in a few minutes. We ate on the road and after dinner (in the dark) the kids played with their toy. I donÃ¢ÂÂt know how they could enjoy them, since it was pitch black, but I never complain when the kids are happy and content (and it lasted a good half hour!) We then played a favorite game-IÃ¢ÂÂm thinking of a Disney character whoÃ¢ÂÂ¦Ã¢ÂÂ¦ (has big ears and flies in the sky, or is the father of Ariel, and so on) and then changed the game to Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂm thinking of something at Disneyland that (is a ride with dancing dolls, or the place where Mickey Mouse lives) After all this, the kids started dropping off to sleep, and we pulled into our hotel (Anaheim Best Inn) about 10pm. Check in went fast and when I asked for a downstairs room (the kids were asleep and Brian didnÃ¢ÂÂt want to carry them up the steps) we were accommodated. There were only about 10 or 15 cars in the parking lot, so were were anticipating a quiet day at DL for Friday. I was pleasantly surprised with the room. A fridge, microwave and coffeemaker were inside, as well as a wall mounted hair dryer. No table, just a single chair, but there was a lot of room between the end of the bed and the wall (maybe 16 feet?) Enough room that the kids could stretch out on the floor and not be on top of each other. Shampoo and lotion were in the bathroom, although I felt the bar soap and shampoo were definitely budget variety. The bed I slept on was quite comfortable (not at all a saggy mattress, which I was dreading!) We have a rate of $49 per night. Day 1 (12/15/00) We decide to use EE, which starts at 8:30 (the park opens at 10). We are up and at the front gate of DL by 8:10 (an 8 minute walk from our door at the hotel to the front gate at DL). Brian is convinced the CM checking us in has done it wrong, and I promise to have it checked out as we leave (I mean, how can it be done wrong????) We head straight for Dumbo and ride three times. We were the first people on Dumbo, and rode alone our first ride!! Brian then took Michael and Emily to the carousel, and Peter Pan, while Thomas and I rode Dumbo another two times. Thomas is still ready to ride Dumbo some more, but we sidetrack him by talking about Peter Pan, which we ride, while Brian and Michael ride Mr. Toad. We all ride Snow White, then go off to Star Tours, and meet Pinocchio and Geppetto near the castle. Our first catastrophe occurs when Thomas is measured for Star Tours-he is about an inch too short. The CM trying to measure him takes a long time, because every time he fixes his feet on the line, Thomas goes up on tip toe! When he fixes his feet, Thomas stretches his neck and leans back his head. I wish I had the Camcorder-itÃ¢ÂÂs really funny (and no, we had said nothing to him about height-itÃ¢ÂÂs all him!) So, we get a baby swap, and while Brian and Michael ride Star Tours, I take the kids to Astro Orbiter (another very short line) We ride twice and I work hard on not throwing up-I canÃ¢ÂÂt believe the kids like this! We meet Buzz (a big thrill for Thomas, who ADORES Buzz and Woody) and Brian and I switch (I ride Star Tours and he takes the kids on THAT ride) ItÃ¢ÂÂs now about 10am and the park is opening. We run over and get a fast pass for Autopia (return 10:45-11:45) and hop over to the Matterhorn. The boys ride and I take Thomas and Emily on the taecups and Alice. We meet up and all ride Alice and the teacups, and then head over to Autopia. ItÃ¢ÂÂs 15 minutes from the minute we walk in line to the ride being over (we now love fastpass!) The kids are now hungry, so we head over to Hungry bear for lunch, so we can sit and watch the ducks and riverboats. (2 salads and 2 kids meals $24.15) There is no line for the canoes, so we go on (except Brian, who doesnÃ¢ÂÂt want to get the camera bag wet-sureÃ¢ÂÂ¦..) There are two kids behind me paddling and by the end of the ride, my left side is soaked. Brian takes the boys to Tom Sawyer Island and I take Emily to Country Bear Jamboree. We are lucky-we walk in and the doors are opening for a show (no wait time at all!) I should add that Brian and I are carrying walkie talkies ($19.95 each-a day after Thanksgiving sale price) Emily and I are soon at Tom Sawyers Island, where the kids are having a great time. I play my role as mean, rotten mom and decree that everyone needs to go back to the hotel and nap, so we can stay up and watch the fireworks. We make our way down Main Street and see the cookie decorating at the firehouse and let the kids decorate a cookie ($3 each) Brian decides to check out the sweatshirts in a shop (he has birthday money burning a hole in his pocket) while the kids do cookies. As we get our hand stamped, I ask about our passes (remember my crazy husband?) Well, heÃ¢ÂÂs rightÃ¢ÂÂ¦.they are stamped wrong. There is a line for your EE day, and two others for the other days. So, our EE day isnÃ¢ÂÂt stamped. I ask if itÃ¢ÂÂs a problem, because we did do EE today, and not only is it not a problem, we can do EE tomorrow! I ask if thatÃ¢ÂÂs fair, and she smiles and says that our pass says we have an EE day left, and we should use it if we want to. WOW! We get back to the hotel and fall asleep. Brian walks to a convenience store to get lottery tickets and orders pizza ($23.14) for dinner. We get back to DL about 5:30 and take the train to Toon Town to see Animazement. ItÃ¢ÂÂs the same show as last October (1999) but we still enjoyed it. The kids loved it. At this point, we are totally shocked at the crowds at DL tonight. We have come at this time probably 4 out of the last 5 years and the crowds are usually quite small. We are definitely bummed. We pick up a FP for Small World and then head to get a spot for Fantsmic (ItÃ¢ÂÂs only about 6:45). ItÃ¢ÂÂs totally crowded in the roped off section, so we head off to Thunder Mtn. (we get a baby swap), while I take Emily and Thomas to Riverbelle Terrace to sit. A nice CM stopped by to clear the table, and brought the kids a soda, since I couldnÃ¢ÂÂt go anywhere (wasnÃ¢ÂÂt that nice?) He even apologized he couldnÃ¢ÂÂt bring more! He said that the crowd was at about 60,000, and it wasnÃ¢ÂÂt expected. He had been asked to work a longer shift as they were shorthanded. Brian and Michael returned and I went and bought drinks ($13.31 for a mocha, latte, 2 hot chocolates and a sprite) We decide to stay here to watch Fantasmic, as I have this fear of losing the kids in a crowd. So Michael and I ride Thunder Mountain (baby swap) and I buy a popcorn ($2.50) on the way back. After Fantasmic, we try to get to Small World (FP) but we canÃ¢ÂÂt get there because of the crowds for the fireworks. They were nice, but we had a hard time seeing through the trees and the castle. We also arenÃ¢ÂÂt in a position to touch or see the snow. We finally make it to Small World, with about a minute to spare! The decorations are beautiful-it looks so new and fresh. Even Michael liked it. After Small World, we leave the park. We are so happy not to be waiting for a shuttle-we take our quick walk and we are back at the hotel. We canÃ¢ÂÂt wait for tomorrow!