Just the Two of Us: A Spectacular Visit (DLR + Universal) - final thoughts added 7/17

shosh1530

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 20, 2020
Enjoying your report! And how cute is that -- DS asking you how proud you are that he rode Splash Mountain! I keep hearing about random soakings in Splash Mountain that don't seem to be drop-related. Not sure if I will get my 6 year old on the ride if there are random soakings. She has watched the ride on YouTube multiple times and really wants to go on it, but she hates getting her face wet. If I don't know when to cover her we might need to pass.
She might be ok if she sits in the back. The folks in the back of our flume appeared to have just a few drops on them. But it is hard to predict.
 

shosh1530

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 20, 2020

Day 5 - Conquering All the Mountains (Part 4: Space Mountain)

After exiting the train at Tomorrow Land, we headed right for Hyperspace Mountain. DS asked to stop and take a photo outside the ride so we could remember how he rode all four "Mountains" in one day.

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The Lightning Lane moved quickly and we only waited about 10 minutes. I booked a DAS for Star Tours once we had entered the line.

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This ride is right at the border of being too much for me to handle but still very fun. We took our masks off in hopes of a good ride photo, but we were in the back and you can't really see our faces.

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We headed over to Star Tours next and I was surprised to have a longer wait in the Lightning Lane (maybe 20 minutes) considering we did this walk on several times during our last two trips (but probably not at this time of day).

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The slower line meant that we could take in more of the queue. DS particularly enjoyed the travel videos that were showing as you enter the ride. We hadn't seen those before.

DS was hoping he would be the "rebel spy" that they point out during the ride. I don't remember which combinations of scenes we got for the ride, but I remember thinking it was one of the best rides we ever had.

We poked around in the Star Traders gift shop for a few minutes. It was already time for our Plaza Inn dining package reservation and I was feeling torn about what to do with it. I was still feeling full from our first lunch and wishing that we had a dinner reservation instead. I considered seeing if they might move it or cancelling but DS said he really wanted to do it and swore that he was hungry.

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The line for Astro Orbitor appeared to only be 5-10 minutes so I talked DS into delaying lunch a few minutes to ride and hoped that my extra full feeling would subside. This was a new ride for both of us. I think he enjoyed it but I got quite dizzy and probably won't ride it again.

As we rounded the corner to go to Plaza Inn we saw a small calvacade coming down Main Street. We stopped to watch it go by and DS was excited to see Mickey riding in the same fire truck that we came in on that morning.

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The mini-parade had several characters including Goofy, Chip & Dale, Gepeto, Peter Pan, Wendy, & Captain Hook, Genie & Jasmine, Eleanor of Avalon, and Donald Duck (and maybe some I don't remember). There was also a troop of non-characters that were dancing. It was a nice surprise to catch it.

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We checked into the Plaza Inn about 15 minutes late for our reservation without any problem. I had so much uncertainty about this particular package as the timing wasn't great for our day, I didn't know if they would have vegetarian options, and I wasn't sure the package would be really worth it. After we checked in they gave us our vouchers and lanyards for accessing the designated Main Street Electrical Parade viewing area later that night.

Thankfully the vegetarian aspect was not a problem. They directed us to go to the dining package window and just let them know our needs. DS debated whether he wanted to try the fried chicken, but in the end went for the penne pasta alternative they offered (either buttered noodles or marinara).

I asked for a non-dairy option so they gave me the pasta without cheese and breadstick. We waited a few minutes for them to make us salads without the bacon bits and they directed us to the salad bar area to find some dressing. We both also got our choice of drink and a mini-cheesecake.

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DS really liked his pasta. I thought it was pretty plain and probably would have enjoyed it more if I was actually hungry.

The salad was interesting in that appeared to be half of a small head of iceberg lettuce with some pickled onions on top. I wasn't sure how to eat it, but DS just picked it up and took a huge bite.

The cheesecake was by far the best part. I was only going to take a small bite to see what it tasted like as it safe to assume it was full of dairy (which upsets my digestive system). I ended up eating half of it, oops! And DS finished both his and the other half of mine (plus my breadstick).

We were ready to head back to the hotel for a nice long break after overfilling our tummies. On our walk back DS noticed that World of Color had a claw machine in the window that we had seen the day before over in Pixar Pier (filled with the little aliens from Toy Story). He was leaning toward using his gift card money for this so we decided we try to come back later to get it here if we didn't make it over to DCA.

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We thought we'd cleverly save a few more steps using our "secret" stairway from the courtyard back to our room. Unfortunately the door was locked and we could not see any type of key card entry. DS also spent a few minutes looking around the area for our snail friend but we couldn't find it.

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We took the lobby stairs back to the third floor and stopped for a minute to enjoy the view of the lobby. It was the first time we had seen the piano player during our visit. I also had never noticed how the structure around the fireplace makes the whole area look like a giant fireplace.

We rested in the room for a bit and then headed back down for one last trip to the pool. It felt a little less crowded this day and we were able to get a lounger over by the slide. If I wasn't so full I might have ordered some poolside drinks and snacks as we've never done that. Instead we just went down the slide over and over again as the line was on the shorter side. DS even got me to down one time on the tiny baby slide.

While we were swimming I noticed there was a helicopter circling DCA for several minutes. DS thought it was a police helicopter, but we couldn't really tell from far away. We moved over to the hot tub and watched it for several minutes, but never found out why it was there. DS invented wild plans for how we could fly over Disneyland and parachute into the park without a ticket.

After our swim we headed back up to shower and change and get ready for the Main Street Electrical Parade.
 
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deejdigsdis

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 28, 2009
That salad from Plaza Inn gave me a much needed laugh. (I am in bed with Covid -- finally struck our house for the first time ever -- and I'm not doing a whole lot of laughing these days.) Anyway, that salad looks so ridiculous. I was wondering how it was meant to be eaten and when you said your son just picked it up and took a big bite -- that image just made me laugh. The cheesecake looks really good, though.

I love how your son asks for his picture to be taken so you all can remember certain things. So cute.
 

shosh1530

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 20, 2020
That salad from Plaza Inn gave me a much needed laugh. (I am in bed with Covid -- finally struck our house for the first time ever -- and I'm not doing a whole lot of laughing these days.) Anyway, that salad looks so ridiculous. I was wondering how it was meant to be eaten and when you said your son just picked it up and took a big bite -- that image just made me laugh. The cheesecake looks really good, though.
The "salad" is ridiculous! I didn't post the photo of it with his huge bite due to the picture limit, but here you go:

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It really is the best (only) way to eat it.
 

deejdigsdis

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 28, 2009
The "salad" is ridiculous! I didn't post the photo of it with his huge bite due to the picture limit, but here you go:

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It really is the best (only) way to eat it.

😂 That really emphasized the ridiculousness. I actually zoomed in and took a screenshot of the salad itself and sent the picture to my sister. We have been wanting to eat at Plaza Inn again -- we haven't eaten there since the 90s. I told her the salad looked like it was the end of the month for the restaurant, they had another week or so before they could replenish their food supply, and just had to scrape by and make do with whatever they had on hand.
 

shosh1530

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 20, 2020

Day 5 - Main Street Electrical Parade (part 1)

We made our way back to Disneyland again around 6:30. Our goal was to have a light dinner, maybe hit a few rides, and then had to the viewing area for the Main Street Electrical Parade.

I had booked a DAS for Indiana Jones before we took our afternoon break and I guess the ride must have gone down as it had turned into a multi-experience pass. DS decided he still wanted to ride Indy so we headed that way. It was unfortunately down, so we continued on into New Orleans Square.

DS had been talking for weeks about wanting to try one of the Gumbo bread bowls. This is pretty adventurous for him and I'm guessing he must have seen one on Youtube. We went to Royal Street Veranda but were informed at the window that they don't have them any more and to try Harbor Galley. I did notice that Royal Street Veranda had a new veggie wrap on the menu (with Impossible meatballs), but I decided to stick it out for the bread bowl.

I quickly mobile ordered Harbor Galley with a 20 minute return window. We walked over to see if standing in line might be faster, but the restaurant was mobbed with a very long line. So we circled a bit to find a table and then I let DS play on my phone for a bit.

Time passed quickly and we soon had our two veggie bread bowls. I was impressed that DS ate his as he has not been willing to try soup in several years (but he does love sourdough).

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He had fun making a smaller little bowl out of the top of the bowl. He ate most of the soup that way and then polished off most of the bread bowl part.

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We booked a DAS for Jungle Cruise while we were eating as DS said he wanted to try riding it again with more daylight. On our way there we noticed Indy was back up so we used our pass to get in the Lightning Lane.

I felt like the line moved a lot faster than the last time we rode it as we were able to walk a good way of the queue into the ride without stopping. We ended up in the second row this time. It was almost as fun as our last journey, but several effects appeared to be down.

And then the ride came to a complete stop in a section that was pitch black just before the end. We were stopped for maybe only two minutes and I'll admit that I was slightly panicked, mainly worried that DS might freak out as he is sometimes afraid of the dark. But he took it like a champ.

Our DAS return time for Jungle Cruise was ready after we exited Indy. There were quite a few DAS holders waiting at the exit to ride. We debated abandoning the ride since we had already done it this trip and I wanted to get to the viewing area by 8. But DS really wanted to ride so we waited.

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We loaded on just before 8 pm. It was nice to see more of the details in the fading light than our first night of the trip. And our guide was pretty funny too.

After we exited, we headed toward Main Street to get ready to watch the parade. When we did our Plaza Inn package earlier in the day they told us they would start letting folks into the viewing area around 8:15.

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There were people waiting along the edges of Main Street, but I saw a few places where we could have stopped to watch even without doing the dining package (and I've read this even more true if you can wait for the second parade).

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We showed our vouchers to enter the dining package roped off area. There was plenty of open space if you don't are find sitting on the ground. DS and I grabbed a spot directly behind a family sitting on the curb.

There is a popcorn stand nearby, so DS got in line to buy a small bucket ($11). Then we took turns hitting up the bathrooms near Guest Services. I made a little cushion to sit on out of my sweater, but eventually it got chilly and I had to put it on. The family in front of us had these foam folding cushions that they got off Amazon. I'll have to try and find those for the future.

In hindsight, I wish we had not arrived so early and maybe squeezed in one more ride. The viewing area did not get any more crowded than when we arrived and we could have arrived at 8:45 and had the same spot.

The family in front of nicely squeeze in though and gave DS a spot on the curb.

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We booked a DAS for Grizzly River Run while we were waiting, thinking that we'd finally park hop and get a little more DCA time in for our last night. I jokingly tried to talk DS into trying for Guardians but that was still a definite no.

The announcer came on right at 8:45 but it takes a good 15-20 minutes for the parade to make it down to the train station. Finally they dimmed all the lights and could hear the music coming.

This is the 50th Anniversary of the Main Street Electrical Parade, but somehow I've never managed to see it before despite a lifetime of Disneyland trips. I've usually been the type of park goer who hits the top attractions during parade time, but it was very fun to see this one.

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I particularly liked how themes like Cinderella would go across multiple floats and groups of characters.

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More pictures in the next post...
 
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shosh1530

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 20, 2020
Day 5 - Main Street Electrical Parade (part 2)

Continuing the parade...

Captian Hook's ship and Peter Pan was also super fun to see.

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And of course Tinkerbelle!

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My favorite float was Pete and Elliot from Pete's Dragon. I remember this movie from when I was kid and have watched it with DS – who pretends to hate it. But even he was excited when Elliott rounded the corner.

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The final float with all the different characters was also cool (I'm guessing this was a newly refurbished element).

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And I was happy to see Moana represented!

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Watching DS watch the parade was also such a treat. He was waving to all the characters, craning his neck to see what was next, and turning to tell me each thing he spotted. Definitely worth it to watch!

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I asked DS if he wanted to watch the fireworks after since we had only seen them from the side rather than in front of the Castle. He wasn't interested though and was seeming pretty tired. He decided to skip Grizzly River Run and instead asked if we could head to World of Disney to some shopping before turning in.

So we headed out of the park into Downtown Disney. It was our first time in World of Disney (other than window shopping) and it was super packed. We actually had barely purchased anything the whole trip. DS wanted to get the claw machine we saw earlier and we both looked at all the pins, picking out the Marvel pride pin pack for myself and DS choose a few pins for himself. We grabbed a Star Wars pin to bring home to DH.

With our gift cards emptied, we walked back to the Grand. I was glad that we weren't turning in too late and DS went down fairly quickly. I decided to save packing for the morning after our character breakfast and tried to turn it, but had a hard time falling asleep. Ironically worrying about not getting enough sleep before the long drive the next day was fueling my inability to sleep...
 
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shosh1530

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 20, 2020
Day 6: Storytellers and Departure

I woke up feel pretty crummy after a terrible night of sleep. My tummy was hurting (possibly the revenge of the dairy-filled cheesecake the day before) and I had tossed and turned most of the night. I wished I could some how magically have DH appear to help us pack up and drive home.

I decided to take a shower to help myself wake up and then started gathering all our items into the suitcases. We had a Storytellers reservation at 8 am and I was hoping to hit the road not long after.

We headed down to Storytellers just before 8 and had to wait a few minutes to check in. They sat us in the same area as the when we had breakfast here last summer, but now they have the characters back in action. We were immediately able to see Micky, Minnie, Pluto, and Chip parade through the restaurant.

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Our waiter came over and took our drink orders. I asked about options for getting vegan options (or at least non-dairy, vegetarian) and she said a chef would come out to speak with me. A few minutes later, one of the chef cast members came to our table and mentioned that they could do the vegan, gluten-free Mickey waffles I had last time and also offered to do a veggie stir fry with potatoes. He also asked if I'd like some vegan chocolate chip they had and DS and I both agreed with that idea!

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Pluto came by our table and I was able to get a photo of him and DS. It was nice to have the up close character interactions as things were still distanced on our last trip when we had the character breakfast at Plaza Inn.

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DS went through the buffet line all on his own, picking out some scrambled eggs, pastries, and fruit. He grabbed a hug with Minnie after returning to the table.

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My special order came after about 20 minutes. The waffles were quite yummy and the veggies were also tasty. Unfortunately my stomach was still hurting so I wasn't able to eat much. DS was feeling just fine and enjoyed all his food. He proclaimed that Storytellers was better than Plaza Inn, although the food seemed pretty similar to me.

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Mickey came to our area and DS was able to grab a photo. I was ready to go, but DS wanted to also get a photo with Chip to complete seeing all 4 characters so we hung around for a bit. Our server brought DS some green tea in a to-go cup and there was an extra cup so I put our cookies in it for the road.


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Minnie came by one more time and I was able to get a hug and a photo this time. I noticed there were at least a few tables of adults only that were enjoying the characters too.

I was giving up home that Chip would ever make it to our section, but he finally did and DS got one last photo.

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We hit the bathrooms before heading up to our room and I noticed how pretty the lampshades are on that side of the restaurant.

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We were back in our room by about 9:15 and I quickly threw the rest of our things together. I called down to bell services for help with our bags, figuring it might take a while for them to come. They said they'd also take care of getting valet to fetch our car, so it would be waiting for us.

The bellman arrived not 10 minutes later! This was a far cry from our stay the year before when checking out took about an hour. I barely had enough time to scour the room for any loose items (and forgot to check the fridge, where I left our WOC dessert leftovers). I had envelope ready to leave a tip for housekeeping and also had tips ready for DS to give the bell staff and valet.

As promised our car was waiting and we were ready to go! Leaving DL and the Grand sure is hard. I took a few minutes to once again review the Google Maps directions and then we were off.

The drive home was not exactly smooth. We stopped to get gas and Google Maps rerouted us right afterwards. I could not get the voice directions to work once we were on the freeway. Thankfully our valet had given me his opinion of the best way to get to I-10 and I just had to trust that we were going the right way. It was all quite nerve wracking without a second adult to navigate.

My tummy troubles were unfortunately not getting better and I had to pull over to find a bathroom about 45 minutes into the drive. This at least gave me the opportunity to look at the map on my phone and figure out that Google Maps had gotten muted.

Once we were back on our way we hit a long traffic jam adding about 45 minutes to our total trip time. It turned out that Greyhound bus had crashed along some construction barriers inner side of the freeway. There were several fire trucks and police cars with strewn suitcases along the side. We didn't see any passengers and I hope everyone was ok.

We stopped in Indio to get some lunch at Chipotle and then had another long traffic slow down once we were in Arizona outside of Phoenix. It felt like the longest day ever, but thankfully DS stayed in good spirits watching his iPad.

I was thinking that our tank of gas would take us past Phoenix and I got super nervous as when the low fuel light came on during a stretch with no gas stations. We finally got to Casa Grande and pulled into one station but the lines for gas were crazy long. I turned around and went a bit further down the street hoping we wouldn't run out of gas before getting there.

Thankfully we made it to the second station, but when I went to pump the gas I could not find my wallet. I looked everywhere and tore the car apart. I had this sinking feeling that I must have left it at one our earlier stops and was near panic wondering how on earth to get gas. DS so sweetly offered me the last dollar that had from his trip money.

I went inside the gas station to ask if they might take a credit card over the phone. The attendant said no, but mentioned that they take Apple Pay. This was an exciting idea as just before we left for the trip I was trying to order some food online and it required me to set up Apple Pay. I had actually been really annoyed because the whole time we were in Disneyland Apple Pay kept popping up on my phone and I just figured out how to disable it.

It was still set up and I was able to use it to get gas. Hallelujah! I asked DS if he wanted to stop for food but we both just really wanted to get home. Thankfully home was only a little more than an hour more down the road.

We arrived after 7, about 9.5 hours from when we started the drive. I think that's 2 hours longer than usual and it felt like an extra 5. I was just relieved to make it home safely.

DH very sweetly had food waiting for us and took care of unpacking the car. I gave one of our cookies from Storytellers in return and we excitedly told him all of the details from the solo part of our adventure.
 
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erinch

Parsing the same ee cummings poem for 20 years
Joined
Mar 22, 2001
Thanks so much for your report! Did you ever find your wallet?
 

shosh1530

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 20, 2020
Yes, but it took several weeks! DH originally called the Chipotle in Indio when we were still driving and they said they didn't have it. When I got home I put a lock on all my credit cards and went and got a new Driver's License (which I needed to do to have RealID for flying anyway). I tried calling the folks that run the rest stops in Arizona to see if they had it but no luck.

Several days later, Chipotle called my husband to say that they had it after all. They were going to mail it, but never did even after calling two more times.

At the end of June, our neighbors were going to DL so we asked them to stop in Indio on their way back. I was finally reunited with my wallet last week. All my credit cards, Disney gift cards and cash were still there.

Thankully I have a valid passport since I was starting a new government job right when we got back and I needed it for ID purposes several times. My new driver's license arrived the day before my wallet came back.
 

deejdigsdis

DIS Veteran
Joined
Aug 28, 2009
Yes, but it took several weeks! DH originally called the Chipotle in Indio when we were still driving and they said they didn't have it. When I got home I put a lock on all my credit cards and went and got a new Driver's License (which I needed to do to have RealID for flying anyway). I tried calling the folks that run the rest stops in Arizona to see if they had it but no luck.

Several days later, Chipotle called my husband to say that they had it after all. They were going to mail it, but never did even after calling two more times.

At the end of June, our neighbors were going to DL so we asked them to stop in Indio on their way back. I was finally reunited with my wallet last week. All my credit cards, Disney gift cards and cash were still there.

Thankully I have a valid passport since I was starting a new government job right when we got back and I needed it for ID purposes several times. My new driver's license arrived the day before my wallet came back.

What a stressful drive home! Glad you made it safely, though, and that your wallet was eventually found. I would have been a wreck.

Thanks for a great report!
 

erinch

Parsing the same ee cummings poem for 20 years
Joined
Mar 22, 2001
Mentioning Indio made me remember!
I grew up in Redlands, and we used to go to Indo for the date fesitival. To get a date shake and ride a camel and stop at Hadleys. It was the deepest wish to eat in the dinosaur at Cabochon, but we never did.
 

BroadwayHermione5

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 9, 2017
Excellent trip report (minus the wallet that i a time and a half)! I am so excited to be heading to CA for the first time later this summer and you have given me such great tips!
 

shosh1530

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 20, 2020
Mentioning Indio made me remember!
I grew up in Redlands, and we used to go to Indo for the date fesitival. To get a date shake and ride a camel and stop at Hadleys. It was the deepest wish to eat in the dinosaur at Cabochon, but we never did.
We used to pass those dinosaurs driving to Southern California from Arizona when I was kid too. I never got to stop either but always wanted to...
 

shosh1530

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 20, 2020
Final Thoughts

Thanks to everyone who read along with my trip report! It was fun to write it all out and remember all the magical (and a few not so magical) trip moments. Now that I'm done, I thought I'd summarize some things about the trip.

Traveling with just one kid
If you are debating taking a solo trip with one of your children, do it! I only have one kid, but doing Disneyland with just the two of us was super special and fun. I was worried about managing on my own without another adult, but it was actually kind of easier. It reminded me of how much I like to travel solo in that there are less people whose needs you have to consider. Don't get me wrong, we've loved our trips with DH along and traveling with friends, but this time I could totally focus on whatever DS wanted to do. And we were able to channel the money that would have gone to a third person's tickets and food into some special experiences.

The one thing I might do differently though traveling with just one adult is being more careful with my stuff. Losing my wallet was really stressful, so having a back up plan if something happens would be a good idea (not having all your credit cards in one place, having a digital wallet, having an extra car key, etc.)

Nighttime Spectaculars
My favorite moments of the trip were seeing Fantasmic, World of Color, and the Main Street Electrical parade and I enjoyed each of the dining packages that we did. The WOC dessert party was DS's favorite. Mine was the Riverbelle Premium Fantasmic package just for the food and relaxed vibe. All of these felt like once-in-a-lifetime experiences and I'm not sure I'd repeat any of them again (especially with a larger group due to $$). I'm interested in trying some of the less expensive dining packages for WOC and Fantasmic to see what a closer up view is like. DS did much better waiting for the shows/parades to start than I expected so these now feel more doable to me.

Rides
Outside of seeing the shows, DS's big goal was to complete every ride at the parks that we hadn't done before. We didn't quite meet this goal, but had a lot of fun trying.

We took a relaxing pace each of our Disney days, so in total we rode 30 rides over 3 days (plus about 10 at Universal).

New rides this trip (for at least DS): Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes, Space Mountain/Hyperspace Mountain, Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters, Golden Zephyr, Jumpin' Jellyfish, Inside Out Emotional Whirlwind, Jessie's Critter Carousel, Pixar Pal Around, Mad Tea Party, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Splash Mountain, Disneyland Railroad, Astro Orbitor

Attractions still to do: Casey Jr. Circus Train, King Author Carousel, Pinnochio's Daring Journey, Dumbo, Sailing Ship Columbia, Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin (closed this trip), Gadget's Go Coaster (closed this trip), Guardian's of the Galaxy Mission Breakout, Silly Symphony Swings (we both felt too nervous to ride this), Turtle Talk with Crush, The Bakery Tour,

Food
This was a much better food experience at Disneyland than some of our previous trips – in part because DS was willing to be more adventurous. We tried plant-based dishes at several new Quick Service places (Docking Bay, Lucky Fortune, Paradise Garden Grill, Harbor Galley) and they were all so yummy. Mobile ordering was essential for us, especially with only one adult on the trip.

I think on our next trip I will do more dining reservations as I think DS might be able to handle it better now. Top of my list is Lamplight Lounge and Cafe Orleans.

Crowds/Wait times
I was prepared for the worst (all three days had been sold out before we left and first two days were grad nights) and was pleasantly surprised when things didn't feel nearly as bad as I expected. We didn't rope drop, but mornings were particularly nice. Things didn't really start to feel crowded until park hopping started at 1 pm (right when we would take a break usually) and then were pretty packed at night. My guess this was more local folks coming in with magic keys since they were not blocked the week we were there.

Most of ride waits with DAS were under 10 minutes when using the Lightning Lane (after having waited outside the queue as well). A few rides were more like 20 minutes, which was pushing it for DS but manageable.

Walking/Total Steps
We didn't walk nearly as much as probably most people do, but for DS it was a lot! I was worried about his ability to walk so much on our trip the year before coming out of a lot of couch potato time in the pandemic (on top of already having low muscle tone). He has been getting a bit more fit this year and didn't complain about the walking at all this time around.

Total steps over all 4 days: 65,096 (28.65 miles)
Universal Day: 19,064 steps (8.4 miles)
First Disneyland day: 12,481 steps (5.5 miles)
DCA day: 14,522 steps (6.4 miles)
Second Disneyland day: 19,029 steps (8.4 miles)

Universal Hollywood Studios
DS loved it, I still feel a little "meh" about it. I don't think it compares at all to Disneyland, but it was nice to at least go an see it once. I'm just not the hugest fan of all the simulator rides and the food was not great. DS wants to go back when Super Mario World opens.

COVID Precautions
This was our third trip since Disneyland re-opened and our first since masks are no longer required indoors (other than First Aid). We chose to continue wearing masks indoors and in really big crowds outside. The biggest thing I wanted to avoid was getting sick during the trip, especially with having to make the drive home by myself. For this reason we were the most careful at the start of the trip (outdoor dining only) and loosened up a bit at the very end.

We didn't see very many other people wearing masks, but I was totally fine with that. I actually enjoyed it more than our previous trips when masks were required and I felt stressed by people breaking the rules near us. I never felt like people were giving us odd looks or commenting on the mask wearing, so that was relaxing as well. Thankfully we never got sick on any of the trips (other than the tummy issues I had on the our last day this time). I'm seeing a lot more reports this month of folks coming home with COVID.

Fly vs. Drive
Driving alone for what turned out to be 9.5 hours was doable, but something I'd probably try to avoid in the future. So I kind of regret not buying airline tickets back when they were cheap. I'd consider flying in the future if the prices are good, if I can get direct flights, if COVID transmission isn't super high, and if flights aren't constantly getting cancelled. That's a lot of ifs though, so I'm still glad we live within driving distance. And with another adult along, driving is probably easiest if we have enough time off to do it.

What's next?
Speaking of time off, I'm already trying to figure out what our next Disney adventure will be. I just started a new job, so I'm not sure when I can get time off. Plus DS will be in middle school this coming year and I won't want to take him out of school.

I was toying with the idea of a very short trip for the Oogie Boogie Bash during our fall break/Columbus Day but missed out on tickets. DS would still love to go for Halloween. I'd prefer seeing the holiday decorations (Thanksgiving? Right after New Year's?).

I also have a hotel reservation for Caribbean Beach in early January just in case we decide we want to take the plunge on a WDW trip. It would be fun to try something new, but Disneyland just feels so much easier. I'm waiting to see if what the new magic key offerings might be before deciding.
 
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