Halloween Time Disneyland Trip Report - September 2018


Earning My Ears
Jun 20, 2017
My 3-year-old daughter Dot, my husband, and I just got back from an amazing 4 night trip to Disneyland. We got there just as Halloween Time started (September 8-12).
I just got bitten by the Disney bug about two years ago and have been to the parks on both coasts, but we're from the San Francisco Bay Area so Disneyland is a lot closer. Our goals this trip were to soak in Halloween Time, try every new flavor of churro, get an Oogie Boogie rice crispy treat, and see Haunted Mansion Holiday and Space Mountain. Did we succeed? Read on...

Day 1: Travel Day (in which mistakes are made)

Our flight from SFO to SNA was at 9 o clock. Counting backwards, we would need to get up at 6 to leave at 7 to be parked and at the airport at 8. Right? But at 6 o clock we did our very best zombie impressions. "COFFEEEEEE....." Fortunately I'd packed the night before so we didn't have to do much. We got out of bed, got dressed, and were on the road at 7:30. There was plenty of parking, and security at SFO moved quickly despite the long lines. We got on the hour-long flight with no problem, and had just enough time for everyone on the plane to get a drink (and gingerbread cookies, which Dot enjoyed) before we landed.

When we arrived at SNA just after 10, there was hardly anyone there. I heard the immortal words from Dot: "I want to use the potty!" Great! Unfortunately, it took rather a bit longer than expected, and the poor guy from Lansky limo service called me when I was in the restroom wondering where we were. I sent my husband to pick up the luggage and meet them. I couldn't recommend Lansky enough. It was expensive, but the car was large, scrupulously clean, and they already had Dot's car seat set up. It was an easy 20 minute drive from the airport to our hotel, the Courtyard Anaheim Theme Park Entrance.

Dot had a lot of fun with the spooooky decorations at the hotel. Our room was ready, so we went upstairs to check out our 1-bedroom suite. We'd been upgraded as a surprise to a waterpark view, but we didn't want Dot to look at it because she'd want to spend all afternoon at the waterpark and not go to Disenyland. She was entranced enough with the bunk beds. It was a really great hotel and we love being able to sleep in a separate room from Dot.

It was now about 11:30 and the weather was HOT in Anaheim. We went from 68 degrees in SF to a good 98 in SoCal. We were hungry, starting to get cranky, and ready to begin our Disneyland trip. I'd reserved a stroller from Traveling Baby, but it hadn't arrived at the hotel yet, so we walked and carried Dot the 10 minute walk down Harbor to Disneyland. We were pretty beat by the time we got there, it was so hot, so we rented a stroller from Disney.

There was no wait at all to get into security and FINALLY we were in the park! We were starving so it was time to get a snack. I thought they might have Oogie Boogie treats at Jolly Holiday Bakery, but I was wrong. So we made do with some spooooky Mickey macarons:

We also got a bat cookie:

After that, we decided to head into Fantasyland. First stop: the carousel, as Dot can't resist them. Then we did a spin at the Mad Tea Party. Then we hit Small World, which is a huge favorite of ours. We didn't really have a plan - we were just enjoying the day and being with each other as a family. The crowds were starting to build but they weren't oppressive yet — but the heat was starting to get that way.

I should mention that we did get MaxPass with our tickets. I was excited about the Photopass photographers (even though we barely saw any), but it was incredibly handy making Fastpasses right from your phone. And there always seemed to be great ones available! Right after Dumbo I checked out availability for the Haunted Mansion - a priority of ours - and we could get a return time in just over an hour. Sweet!

Then we made the biggest mistake of the day. Dot really, really, really wanted to ride Dumbo, but the line was 15 minutes and is all outdoors. But we indulged her and waited when we should've gone to get lunch. By the time we got to Dumbo, we were hot, tired, and cranky and quite frankly, i don't think the ride is worth it. I know it's a classic, but it's not my favorite.

After the Dumbo thrills and spills, it was time for lunch. We headed over to Red Rose Taverne because my husband is a vegetarian and I wanted to try their cauliflower sandwich. The verdict: the cauliflower and the green beans were pretty good, but the tomato and lettuce on the sandwich is not. But overall we enjoyed it and it was light and really well seasoned. Dot is nuts about the sliced apples - she promptly ate two packets.

Now it was time for the 2nd biggest mistake of the day. We should've gone back to the hotel and taken a nap or gone for a swim. But after food, everyone got a second wind, so we decided to head over to the Haunted Mansion. This was important to us because Dot is really into ghosts. She's at that phase of kid development where she likes to be scared. I showed her a couple of videos of the Haunted Mansion, but when I found out that it was going to be Haunted Mansion Holiday, she wanted to know Jack Skellington's story, so we rented the movie for her. And she loved it, so she was really excited to see Jack, Sally, Zero, and Oogie Boogie.

Haunted Mansion Holiday was awesome. Awesome! The overlay was so impressive and if you like the movie (and we do) it was a fantastic experience. We really loved it. The gingerbread house is great and it's fun to follow Zero all through the Mansion. It was just perfect.

After that Dot really wanted her Oogie Boogie rice crispy treat, and I had heard at Jolly Holliday they were available at Pooh Corner. So we headed over to Critter Country to get one, with a stop at a churro stand along the way. I had never had a Disneyland churro (though on occasion I would get them on the subway when I lived in NYC), and my husband had never had a churro at all. We went from, "huh, churros, that's interesting" to "OMG I must stuff my face with churros right now." We made it our mission to try every Halloween churro that we could in the park.

We lucked out at Pooh Corner - they had Oogie Boogie treats! Thank goodness. We all hung out in the shade while Dot enjoyed her villainous snack:

It was really starting to get hot, so my husband suggested that he single-ride Splash Mountain while Dot and I headed back to Frontierland to get a souvenir poison apple stein and to use a Fastpass I made for Big Thunder. I can't believe I thought this was a good idea, but I did, so we headed back there. Dot and I chilled out at Zocalo Park while waiting for him to finish up at Splash, and when he returned, I went on Big Thunder. I love that roller coaster and don't understand why wait times are so short. Oh well! More fun for me!

At this point it was about 6 in the evening and we were really hot and really tired and our feet hurt. But we were supposed to be in DCA at 7:30 for a dinner reservation so we couldn't go back to the hotel. So we decided to press on. (I know! I know!) Back at the hub we watched the Pixar Play Parade and ate a Maleficent Churro (spoiler: It was meh):

And then finally we headed over to DCA. This was my first time there and I was really excited about it. I'd heard mixed reviews of the park but I loved it. We had just gotten back from visiting Yosemite and the falls were dry, but at the Disney version of Yosemite the falls were running!

In the golden light of the late day, the park looked stunning:

Our reservations were for the Sonoma Terrace Paint the Night reception. I figured, we needed to eat dinner at some point anyway, let's have a show along with it. We turned up around 7:15 and people were already lined up - I think we were the third party in line. They let us in promptly at 8 and asked us if we wanted a low table right next to the railing or a high table and we requested a low one. The seats were FABULOUS.

The reception has its pluses and minuses. The seats were absolutely fantastic. We could not have had a better view of Paint the Night, which I love love love. The food at the reception was not very good. We got a bread basket (good), and a meat and cheese plate, which just wasn't very nice. I had requested a vegetarian plate for my husband and they didn't give him one, which is unusual for Disney. They were very nice about switching it out. Also, the sangria is excellent. So go for great seats and don't expect much out of the food.

And here is where the mistakes of the day caught up with us. Dot passed right out in my arms and nothing, but nothing would wake her up. The whole parade went by and she slept right through it. I was a bit disappointed for her sake, and then I thought, hey, these are fantastic seats for us.

At the end of the parade we were given chocolate truffles and a caramel apple for Dot, and then we slowly made our way out of the parks and back to the hotel. It was a long walk and we were completely exhausted, but what a great day we had in Disneyland. It really is a park to bounce around in and soak up the atmosphere and we absolutely did that.


Actually, my name is Sara. It's a long, VMK story.
Jul 22, 2005
Following along! BTMR is probably my favorite ride at Disneyland, and I have loved DCA since it opened. :)


Earning My Ears
Jun 20, 2017
Day 2: Incredicoaster? Yes, please!

The next day was our first full day at Disneyland, and I was determined we wouldn't push ourselves as hard as we did the previous day.

We started out with Small World (the best way to start a Disneyland day, in my opinion), then did Alice in Wonderland, and then three rides on Mad Tea Party at Dot's request.

Also at Dot's request, did the Storybook Canal Boats. She really wanted to go through Monstro's mouth, which is the best part of that ride.

After that we headed over to Toon Town. I had hoped we'd be there for the opening, but we missed it. That's all right. Dot looooved Toon Town, particularly the stationary trolley, where we met an awesome Photopass photographer, who took some really incredible pictures. Dot loved climbing all over the trolley, loved playing at Goofy's Playhouse on all the chairs and with the piano, and had a great time at Donald's Boat playing lots of imaginary games. We spent about 2 hours letting her just jump around and play.

On a side note, this is why I'm really sad that Disney World is closing a lot of its play areas for kids. This isn't how I'd choose to tour around a theme park, and I have to confess I wished I was out riding rides or doing other things, but kids want to play. They don't want to stand in lines and ride in boats or cars all the time, they really just want to climb and jump and run. It's nice to have those beautifully designed play places where kids can just be and I know Dot appreciated it. So thanks, Disneyland.

After we did a LOT of playing, we rode on Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin. My husband and I loved the movie – it made no sense to Dot, but she enjoyed the ride. There's not really any plot, but it was still pretty fun. Then we got Dot to go on Gadget's Go Coaster, which she enjoyed.

My husband had spotted Mickey's Magical Map, and thought we might want to see that show before our Fantasmic lunch package at River Belle Terrace to relax a little bit and get out of the heat. So we went. It was pretty good — it's yet another Disney show about the power of imagination, which I think they have done better elsewhere, but the technical elements of the show, mixing live action and screen motion, was really good, and they featured some of my favorite princesses that don't get a lot of love — Mulan and Tiana, which we all enjoyed.

After that it was time for lunch at River Belle Terrace. We all love that restaurant because we like to sit by the railing and watch the Rivers of America. The food is, shall we say, meh, though I had the soup, which was really yummy, and the server suggested we try the lemon tart, which was also good. Dot was pretty tired and had had it, and didn't want to eat anything, though she perked up after some fruit. The servers are so sweet at River Belle Terrace, and they did a great job cheering Dot up. After the meal, we got our Fantasmic seating tickets, and were told to start lining up at 8 PM.

We had planned to head back to the hotel, but Dot really didn't want to leave, so we decided to stay for another hour or so. We went for a ride on the Columbia. My husband got to see all the Rivers of America, but Dot wanted to explore the ship's cabin for the entire ride. Plus: we did get to see the...ah...interesting fake soup.

After that we did the Pirates of the Caribbean and visited our good friend Jack Skellington at the Haunted Mansion. And with that, Dot passed out in her stroller.

So now we had a choice. We could be sensible and go back to the hotel and rest our feet and perhaps have a nap before Fantasmic, OR, as my husband said with a twinkle in his eye, we could go ride the Incredicoaster. So obviously we went to the Incredicoaster.

Unpopular opinion — I know it's not finished yet, but...<whispers> I really like Pixar Pier. It's like the Santa Cruz boardwalk, but better, cleaner, and more fun. And I love the Incredibles, so I was super excited to ride the Incredicoaster. It did not disappoint — my knees were shaking when I got off the coaster. I will note that I did not smell the cookies at the right place, but mostly I was just trying not to completely freak out. In my ride photo, I'm doing this:
<insert grimace emoji>

I switched places with my husband and was craving something cold and sweet. The line was too long at Adorable Snowman, so I went to Bing Bong Sweet Shop to get one of the rainbow drinks. But before I could, Dot woke up. Argh! She hadn't napped for long enough and was tired and really cranky, so I held her until my husband got off the Incredicoaster. We then went to Pacific Wharf to get some margaritas, and got our picture taken with Red at the entrance to Cars Land, which looked beautiful. But we were going to see it the next day. We HAD to go back to the hotel.

By the time we got back, it was quarter to 6, and we needed to be back at Disneyland by quarter to 8 to get our seats for Fantasmic. So what did we decide to do? Go swimming! My husband had forgotten his swim trunks, so I was on duty. Fortunately, the Courtyard has a cute water park that Dot found hugely entertaining. That said, there was a gang of about 6 tweens that were running all over the water park, slamming into the little ones, and generally behaving like huge hazards. In fact, a couple of them slipped and fell on the slick concrete and landed in the pools. They could have really hurt themselves, and the parents, who were drinking and socializing, just did not care.

Dot was having a good time though, and was NOT interested in leaving — but fortunately it was getting dark and cold so I convinced her to go see Mickey. We cleaned up, got dressed, and walked back to Disneyland to go to Fantasmic. The River Belle Terrace seats were pretty good - we were about five rows back but no one was really blocking our way. That said, though, you're on the cold hard ground — my legs, butt, and ankles really ached at the end. My husband was kind enough to get us churros to snack on while we waited for the show to begin. We used the Disneyland Play app to pass the time, and played the trivia game about Frontierland. Does anyone remember the ride Mine Train Through Nature's Wonderland? Literally three quarters of the questions were about that ride. Whoever wrote that game really misses that ride, clearly.

Fantasmic began, and everything that people say about it being better at Disneyland is absolutely true. The setting was gorgeous, the villains section made a lot more sense, the pirates section was cool, and the dragon was very impressive and a bit scary. I did miss Mickey's dance routine from Disney World, as well as his flaming sword when he defeats the dragon. (Sorry, spoilers.) But other than that, Disneyland's Fantasmic was better.
I think Dot was a bit overwhelmed by the whole thing — the sound was LOUD and the dragon really was huge. At the end, though, she kept saying, "Mickey saved my life!" and has not stopped talking about it since we came home, so it made an impression on her. Way to create love for a character, Disney!

We had hoped to stay for the fireworks but Dot wasn't interested. So, with that, we headed back to the hotel for some sleep.
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  • Sunclytie

    Earning My Ears
    Jun 20, 2017
    Day 3: When are we going to the Haunted Mansion?
    We had planned to sleep in and relax a little bit this morning, but Dot was up at an ungodly hour wanting to play. We were able to get her to let Mommy and Daddy sleep until the sun woke up (!) but as soon as she saw sun peeking through the curtains she was ready to get started on fun fun fun! Oh boy.

    One of the things I absolutely love about both Disneyland and Disney World is that it rewards early risers. Usually. So we were able to play for a little bit and get Dot excited to go to the parks. There was one thing on her mind — she wanted to see her new bestie, Jack Skellington. OK, kid. Off we went, with a stop for coffee at Starbucks.

    Disneyland usually rewards early risers, but today, a Monday, the security line stretched all the way beyond the bus terminal. Not much to say about that — it was a long, long line. But it just goes to show you — we had no problem getting into the park either Saturday or Sunday (and Sunday we got there just after park opening), but on Monday it was a mess.
    When we finally arrived at the turnstiles, the line to get into Disneyland was a total mess. So instead, we decided to go to DCA, but Dot was really unhappy about that, because she wanted to go to the Haunted Mansion. But there was just no way - the line to get in was halfway across the Esplanade, whereas there was no one in line for DCA. You don't have to tell me twice!

    Our first stop was Monsters Inc. I've always liked this movie, and Dot likes Boo, so we thought it would be a hit. Fortunately, at this time of day, it was a walk-on, so we rode it twice in quick succession. I thought the monster vending machine in the queue was hilarious:

    Dot was starting to get a bit upset because she really wanted to see Jack Skellington. But Anna and Elsa were right around the corner! We told her that we'd see Jack later and got in line to see the royal family of Arendelle. It was delightful, and Anna and Elsa were very sweet and funny. Then we had about 5 minutes till the Crush show, so we went to visit him, and Dot had a nice little chat with him. She loved the animation building, with clips from all of her favorite movies. We also checked out the store and bought a Jack Skellington Christmas ornament.

    We were passing by Schmoozies, and I saw on the menu that they had a spooooky whoopie pie. I asked my husband if he wanted one and he said, "Of course I do." It did not disappoint:

    The ice cream was delicious but the cake was pretty bland. It worked together as a whole, though.

    Next we decided to head over to Cars Land. I was so excited to see this, and Dot adores Cars, so we were all pretty pumped up. It's incredible. At my insistence, we went through Pacific Wharf to get this view:

    But the whole land, especially dressed up for Halloween, is so charming and funny — and really well done. We got on Mater's Junkyard Jambooree, which was pretty hilarious. Our song was the Purple Fender Bender, but all the song parodies were pretty clever.

    I had hoped that Dot would be 40 inches tall by the time we got to Disneyland, but she was something like 39.5 inches. We tried to get her onto Radiator Springs Racers, but no luck. I'd scored a Fastpass that morning, so we used the Fastpass and rider switch to switch off. I'd thought she'd want to ride Luigi's ride (I can't remember what the Halloween overlay is), but Dot wanted to check out the merch. Of all the lands in Disneyland and DCA, my favorite merch was in Cars Land. I wasn't expecting that! We bought a sugar skull car Christmas ornament.

    Then my husband returned and I got to go on RSR. Wow, what a fun ride! I can't wait to do it with Dot when she's tall enough. It's beautiful and exciting and fun. Plus our car won! What more can you ask for?

    After Cars Land, it was about lunchtime, and I was able to get a FastPass for the Haunted Mansion in about 90 minutes. So we decided to head over to Disneyland, grab some lunch, and visit Jack. (I love park hopping at Disneyland. It's the best.)

    We decided to give Hungry Bear a try, mostly because there seemed to be a lot of seating. It was pretty good – the food is simple, but the upstairs seats, particularly by the Rivers of America, are really nice. But service is very slow. They also had the fruit cereal churro sundae for Halloween, which we had to try. I liked it more than my husband did.

    After lunch, we headed straight over to New Orleans Square and finally did the Haunted Mansion. Mission accomplished! We headed back to the hotel, with two stops on Main Street — Dot asked for a Disney Princess book, so we got her 5 minute Princess Stories (which is AMAZING - you really can read the stories in 5 minutes) and an Ariel doll. She wanted the bride Ariel doll, and was insistent on it. We headed back and everyone took a nap and woke up around 4.

    Dot wanted to comb her new doll's hair, and when we opened her, we discovered that her hair came out in a clump when we tried to brush it. Oh boy — time to take it back. Fortunately, everything went smoothly. The nice folks at the Emporium were happy to exchange the doll, even for a mermaid Ariel. So my thanks to them, and fortunately mermaid Ariel's hair stays in her head when you comb it.

    My one request this trip was to see the neon lighting ceremony in Cars Land. So after our business in Disneyland we went over to Cars Land, and got there around 6 for a 7 PM ceremony. We'd bought some glow sticks at the dollar store for Dot to play with, so she was enjoying those as we parked on a bench and got snacks (bagel twists) from the Cozy Cone. It was fun to hang out and explore some more of Cars Land and she really loved playing with her doll.

    It was soon time for the ceremony. They pick a different song for Halloween Time — I won't spoil it and tell you what it is — but it was perfect. And Radiator Springs looked so great with all its neon lit up. This is why Disneyland is so awesome. I got a lump in my throat. My sharp-eyed husband saw that Lightning McQueen was meeting at the Cozy Cone, so obviously we had to get in line for that. We had a nice chat with a man behind us who handled phone reservations for Disney World. It was his first trip to Disneyland so that was very interesting.

    I'd wondered how meeting with Lightning McQueen would go. It's not as personable as some meet and greets, but he does talk to you. His handlers were feeding "him" information about Dot's name and our anniversary and so forth (we were wearing our buttons), so we wondered if there was an actor inside the car. Does anyone know?

    Everyone was beginning to get hungry so we headed over to Flo's for dinner. I had the Fillmore Pot Pie (ha) which I recommend. It actually took a long time to get our food and mobile ordering didn't speed things up at all. On the way out of the park we saw Paint the Night pass by. I thought it was only on the weekends, but they had it during the week too, so we made plans to see it the next night, our last night at Disneyland. We went on the Ariel ride and then headed back after another great day.
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    Actually, my name is Sara. It's a long, VMK story.
    Jul 22, 2005
    Sounds like a super awesome day! Sorry she woke up so early! Our almost-3-year-old was up about 3:30 local time the first day. And he never. napped. It was insane, and Mom and Dad were worn out after that trip with our early risers!


    Earning My Ears
    Jun 20, 2017
    Day 4: The Most Relaxing Day in a Disney Park…Ever

    It was our last full day at Disneyland, but it didn’t start out as a relaxing day at all. When planning this trip, we had to switch our dates, and the Courtyard wasn’t available for all the days that we wanted to come to Anaheim. So we thought we might try the Grand Californian for one night to see how we liked it. Thanks to the fall sale, we were able to get club level at a really great rate, so it would be fun!

    My husband and I decided to split up: he would take Dot to the parks in the morning while I switched hotels and rode Space Mountain, and we would trade off. So we packed up and the two of them went to get coffee and breakfast while I checked out.

    I got a Lyft to take me and our suitcase over to the Grand Californian — the driver seemed totally mystified about what I was doing — and then arrived at that gorgeous, gorgeous hotel. The doors are so beautiful. And the lobby is incredible.

    I waited in a short line to check in, and when it was my turn, I said, “I probably should have requested this before, but do you happen to have a room with a king bed?” She said she’d check, and looked in my file and said, “Oh! Happy anniversary! Let me see what I can do for you.” She went away for a bit, and when she came back I wondered what had happened. She said, “You’d been assigned in a room with two queen beds, but I was able to get you into a room with a king bed.” “Wow,” I said, and thanked her. The room wasn’t ready yet, but I left my bag with bell services and watched the craftsmen put the finishing touches on the Oogie Boogie pumpkin carving in the lobby. It occurred to me that since the lady took so long to secure our room, maybe there was some pixie dust coming our way.

    But I’d have to find out later, as I was on a mission to get to Space Mountain! I went through the DCA exit — it was about 10 AM, so there was no line — and there I was right at Grizzly River Run. Amazing. I headed towards the exit, but I stopped off for a purple sugar churro:

    It wasn’t my favorite, I have to say.

    I left DCA and headed across the Esplanade to Disneyland, and then went straight to Tomorrowland. Here’s where things broke down a little bit. I asked a cast member where the single rider line was for Space Mountain, and he said that it was at the exit. So I headed to the exit, but there were no signs for single rider. So I asked another cast member, and he said it wasn’t open yet. I said, “OK, so when will it open?” CM: “In a bit.”

    Uh…that’s pretty unhelpful, dude. So I could either wait for “a bit” or go back to the standby line, which was 30 minutes long. I texted my husband, and he and Dot had been on Haunted Mansion and were in line for Alice, so they were cool. So I got in the standby line.

    Space Mountain had its Ghost Galaxy overlay, and while it was really fun (whispers) I think I prefer Disney World’s version better. It was just a bit more exciting! Though after the Incredicoaster, I think most roller coasters are less exciting.

    As I left Space Mountain, I went around the back side of the Matterhorn and saw the vendors that will paint personalized name posters made out of Disney characters. They were so nice! I really regret not getting one for Dot.

    I met up with my husband and Dot at the princesses in Fantasyland, where the line was going sooooooo sloooooooowly. It took most of my ingenuity to come up with ways to entertain Dot in the line, and my husband ended up going to get some cookies to keep everyone’s blood sugar up. But finally we got to meet the princesses. Dot had so much to say to Ariel that both the princess and her handlers started to look a little bit antsy. It was cute.

    At this point my husband left to take a turn on Space Mountain, and I asked Dot what she wanted to do. She wanted to walk through the Sleeping Beauty castle and see the exhibits. So we did that. Six times. When my husband got back, he was a bit surprised that we hadn’t done anything else.

    I really wanted to go on the Jungle Cruise, and the line was only 5 minutes, so we did that. Dot really enjoyed seeing the animals, and as a lover of cheesy jokes, I thought it was great. I’ve gotten quite a few laughs since out of the “why is a tiger striped” joke.

    We decided to head back to the Grand Californian and check out the club lounge to see if we could cobble together a lunch. The short walk back to the hotel was amazing. I hadn’t gotten a text yet about my room, but we checked in with the nice ladies on the sixth floor and they happily let us in the lounge. What a pretty space. The snacks were delicious and all of us made a decent lunch out of it. The egg salad sandwiches were particularly good, especially paired with a glass of white wine. Uh oh – I was starting to get a little bit spoiled. The lounge was so pleasant and it was great to have a comfy place to relax after running around all morning.

    The one clever thing that I managed to do was put Dot’s and my swimsuits in my park bag, so we’d have them even if the room wasn’t ready yet. And since we were still waiting, we decided to head down to the pool. We changed in the club lounge (my husband had forgotten his swimsuit altogether) and headed down to the really beautiful pool. The water slide was closed, unfortunately, but we swam in the other pool and jumped in the hot tub and generally had a very good time. My husband ordered us some great cocktails:

    Around 4 PM I got the text that the room was ready. We swam for a few more minutes, I finished my cocktails, and then we headed to bell services. My husband commented to me, “I don’t think I’ve ever felt so relaxed on a Disney trip. Everything is just right here.” It really was wonderful.

    When we finally got to our room it was clear we had gotten some pixie dust. Instead of the garden view room I had booked, out our window was an incredible view of Pixar Pier! So thank you to the kind cast member at the check-in desk who made this lovely surprise happen.

    Dot liked the view but was a little grumpy about leaving her beloved swimming pool. So I said to her, “Do you want to catch a falling star?” That perked her right up. We’d seen La Luna before this trip to Disneyland, and she really liked it. So we all had a quick shower and then headed into the park (by falling out of our room! Amazing!) to go catch a falling star at Pixar Pier.

    I’d liked Pixar Pier before but here’s where I really fell in love. We went straight to the carnival games because I knew that the La Luna game would be really easy for Dot to play. And she caught on right away — you catch a star with your net and then trade it for a plush star. She liked that a lot. But then she wanted to try the other games. At the Wall-E game, the cast member engineered it so it was my husband on one of the guns and me and Dot on the other, and Dot won the round (It’s funny how that happens. ;-). So Dot won the little cleaning robot plush. Then we went to Heimlich’s game and she just didn’t quite have the strength to get the little bean bags to the holes. But she had a great time and was absolutely delighted with it. We thanked the cast member and she said, “what toy would she have wanted if she had won?” “I said, Heimlich the caterpillar.” So the cast member gave it to Dot! WOW! How nice was that? Dot still talks about catching a star and adores Heimlich.

    Clutching our loot, we took a ride on the Pal-a-Round (the non-swinging side, which was terrifying, although both my husband and Dot were clamoring for the swinging side), went on the Golden Zephyr, saw the Coco show, and took a quick spin on the Little Mermaid ride. Then we noticed that the sidewalks were just starting to fill up for the Paint the Night parade so we snagged one of the last good spots on the street. My husband, bless him, ran to get beer and pizza for everyone, and I gave Dot some more of the dollar store glow sticks, so we were all fed, happy, and entertained while we waited for the parade to begin.

    Dot was as delighted with the parade as I thought she’d be, though again, the music was really loud. The best part was when she recognized Tinkerbell’s friends, and Silvermist came over to talk to her (if you have a preschooler, you’ll know exactly what I mean). It was so sweet! We all had a fantastic time, and we decided this was the perfect way to end our last evening at Disneyland. So we took the short walk back to the hotel and went to the lounge for some treats and a nightcap. Then we headed back to our room, waved at the lights over DCA, and collapsed into bed.
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    Earning My Ears
    Jun 20, 2017
    Here are my Halloween Time churro rankings (from best to worst):
    1) Smores churro (but it's messy)
    2) Regular churro
    3) Pumpkin spice churro
    4) Fruit cereal churro sundae
    5) Maleficent churro
    6) Purple sugar churro

    I didn't get to try the sour apple churro, unfortunately. We couldn't find it!
  • Jaina

    Actually, my name is Sara. It's a long, VMK story.
    Jul 22, 2005
    What an amazing last day! I'm so glad it turned out so nicely for you!!

    Eve & Wall-e

    Jul 18, 2018
    The Grand Californian is a beautiful hotel. I love the lobby and the fireplace area. I really enjoyed reading your trip report.


    Earning My Ears
    Jun 20, 2017
    On our last day in Disneyland we had to get up early, as we had a breakfast at Storyteller's at 7 and a noon flight out of SNA. Storyteller's was awesome. I know people say it was chaotic, and it was busy, but not too bad at 7. The restaurant is really big, too, so it didn't feel crowded. The food was excellent — I particularly like the chilaquiles.
    Dot got to see Chip and Dale, Pluto, Mickey, and Minnie. Their outfits were just great, and the characters were very sweet and interactive.
    After breakfast we went upstairs, packed, and got ready to check out. Because we were at the concierge level, we checked out very easily on the 6th floor.
    While I was waiting in line at bell services to return our rental stroller, a gentleman who seemed like a hotel manager asked me about my stay. I was honest with him - we'd had a great time.
    Lansky was at the Grand Californian waiting for us and we headed to the airport. And that was the end of our really fantastic Disneyland trip.


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