Katherine's 10th Birthday Trip for Dapper Day and Club 33!!


DIS Veteran
Apr 7, 2013
So this trip finds us doing Fall Dapper Day with only ONE KID!!! Katherine had turned ten years old a few days preceding the trip, so we begged, borrowed, and stole to get my parents and Lindsey to take the two other girls for the weekend and a day on each side. Victoria was a trooper about it. Charlotte left in TEARS that morning. Oh well... she'll be ten some day and get a trip with us all by herself too. We were trying out our new-to-us vehicle. Unfortunately the Volvo XC90 V8 had some mechanical needs which I just couldn't justify addressing for a Swedish vehicle with over 100k miles. It was sold for a pittance and replaced with a few-years newer land yacht which we have affectionately named "The Axiom" of Buy n’ Large fame. We were really struggling with the Volvo for family trips and had even resorted to a roof rack to extend its practicality. Needless to say... once we gave up hope of fitting a vehicle in the garage, bigger was better (read more utility for the $), so this behemoth found its way home. As we packed our TWELVE bags/cooler into the back with the third row simply folded up, we had ample room. For future trips, we'll probably leave half the back row out, and have a spacious trip without being crammed in. Hopefully a family trip this spring will prove this out, but we still have the roof rack if needed.

Almost ready to go...Katherine almost lost some fingers after she wrote in the morning dew on a black vehicle...

She had the whole second row to herself which she would soon commandeer in its entirety.

Loads of room to spare..

And we were off at 08:43. A quick stop to fill up the battleship-sized fuel tank with some 91 octane and we let the 403 horses run and jumped on the highway at 08:50.

I had some things to address, so I let Amy drive. It was hard not to be a backseat driver. I figured out how Katherine could watch Dark Wing Duck while we could listen to the radio/music from the phones after a quick perusal of the encyclopedia-esque owner’s manual.

Katherine eventually stretched out and enjoyed a luxury seldom afforded by the eldest of three children... SPACE.

Amy has never driven... she did just fine despite heckles from me to "go faster".

This is where my story goes bad. I somehow dropped my trip journal (one from a previous trip in fact) at the FlyingJ gas station at exit one. It hasn't made its way home yet despite owner info in it with offer of reward. I do remember it took us about 10 gallons to get the 130-ish miles to the California boarder, but not the time. Oh well.. teach me to pay more attention next time.

We made it to the Disneyland Drive turnoff from Katella a minute or two before 2PM. Not bad, but we've definitely made better time with me at the helm.

Passing Paradise Pier. Despite the great views of DCA, I doubt we'll ever stay there. The amenities didn't seem "Disney", and the walk wasn't any fun last time we did it.

Oh yes... Our turn!!

A quick exchange with the guard shack attendee, a happy birthday for Katherine and a joke and we were pulling up to the inner sanctum of Disney Resorts.. We were home!!

I must admit, I felt like a Secret Service Detail pulling up. No celebrities here, just us. Unloading went flawless, a quick exchange with both Valet and Bell Services and we were on our way..

Our room was actually ready, so we scooted up and checked it out. We were pleasantly surprised with an upgrade to a pool-view room and ended up in 2228 for this trip, which was a view/wing we had never really been in. It was right over Pinocchio’s Workshop, and you could access it from either the elevators in the DVC wing, or from the lobby directly. I liked it all told.

Unlike my last stay at the Grand, being in a newer section of the hotel, this room was in great shape. Nothing to complain about whatsoever.

It’s the little touches which make the Disney hotels worth it.

Katherine loved the balcony and view despite being a lower room.

After bell services dropped our bags, we quickly organized and headed off towards the parks.

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DIS Veteran
Apr 7, 2013
We left the room, made our way to the DCA entrance from the grand, went through bag check without being accosted by the metal detector and wanding, and were in the park by 3:03 PM. Our first order of business was some food. We kept it light as we had dinner plans for later. Our first stop was Smoke Jumper's Grill. We LOVE this place. It is economical, great, and for me, serves beer. I got Katherine a Chicken Tender meal with Fries, and grabbed an order of Onion Rings for Amy and I to split and a Tower 10 IPA, which I absolutely LOVE.

After we concluded our delicious snack, we headed towards Paradise Pier via Buena Vista Street. I've never seen these Holiday Celebration Gates before.

On our way around the pier, we grabbed some Screamin' Fast Passes. Finally, we ended up at the Silly Symphony Swings. We jumped in line, were quickly boarded, and collected our affects at 3:50. I wish we could have been together, but being some of the last to load, the pickings were slim.

Our next stop was Goofy's Sky School. The queue said 25 minutes, so we jumped in single rider. We were through pretty quickly with the entire group completing our flying lessons by 3:58. I always love the view from Goofy... I still remember waving to Amy from the attraction while she stood on our balcony at the Grand in the DVC wing back in 2011.

Next up, we went for a spin on the Golden Zephyr... or so we thought. After we had boarded and done maybe one or two rotations we were told it was a failure to launch, and the attraction was closed and we were exited.

While Amy ran to the little Lady's room, Katherine and I did some shopping. Unbeknownst to Amy we purchased a Disneyland License Plate Frame for the Axiom, a Dole Whip Air Freshener, and a Princess Tiara badge to take the place of the Flex Fuel badge I'll be removing. We would unveil those later after we returned to the room.

By this time, it was time for our Screamin' fast passes to mature, so we headed that way. Katherine insisted on riding by herself being the independent one she is.



Mysteries & Magic, Visions Fantastic
Sep 1, 2016
Great trip report so far! You have a beautiful family.

I'm interested to hear how well the license plate cover fit. We purchased one for the Diamond Celebration last year and was so disappointed to get home and see that it covers up our registration stickers on our plate.


DIS Veteran
Apr 7, 2013
Great trip report so far! You have a beautiful family.

I'm interested to hear how well the license plate cover fit. We purchased one for the Diamond Celebration last year and was so disappointed to get home and see that it covers up our registration stickers on our plate.
It's still on paper plates, but it juts up at the corners for the tags. Will let you know when the plate arrives.


DIS Veteran
Apr 7, 2013
Adrenaline fix satiated, we decided it was time to head over to Disneyland and get some attractions in before dinner and found ourselves moving across the fairly empty esplanade at 4:38 PM. We made our way down Main Street and into Frontierland to check out the wait on Big Thunder. Deeming it too long, we grabbed some fast passes for it and ended up on Pirates instead for our first attraction, but not before we met a character we've not yet met... Dr. Facilier!! Being a big fan (and who I was for Halloween last year at the resort... pics below in lieu of my ill-fated, never published trip report), we had to stop and chat him up, get autographs and pics.

One thing I had never really paid much attention to was the antlers on the roof. Not sure of the significance.

Dr. Facilier was very dismissive. Not sure if that was the character acting or the CM's own creation because it didn't seem like that in the movie.

Our introduction complete, we were off to Pirates!!!

The lighting was darker than I ever remember it. So much in fact that nearly every shot didn't turn out at an f/2.8 aperture. Pirates was going to need some f/1.4 love for this to work. The darkness may have helped the port battle scene though as the shadow projections were crisp and well defined.

This cat has been eluding me for some time. It's after the bridge where there is the drunk guy talking to the hissing cats adjacent to the singing pirates. Everybody looks left at them and the burro. I look right. Not my best work, but best to date shooting in poorly lit conditions. He's got a fish in his mouth.



DIS Veteran
Apr 7, 2013
Pirates having taken almost 35 minutes to cycle through queue and attraction, we found ourselves ready for our BTMRR Fast Passes to open up so off we went.

There was a great framed shot of the Twain from the loading queue.

Insert one surly tween

And we were off..

And the ruined illusion due to the Starwars Land construction (still not happy they got rid of one of the best dining experiences in the park AND cut my beloved Rivers of America down, AND cut off the end of Tom Sawyer's Island...Grr...)

Staring down the goat for the equilibrium confusing technique.

Being hard to please... little miss stoic face

  • Disneyluvr2

    I'll never out grow the kids table!
    Sep 19, 2007
    Always love your trip reports and pics, Matt! Can't wait for the next installment! :D


    DIS Veteran
    Apr 7, 2013
    I often wonder about those who never see, or know about the Dominguez Palm. I love seeing it on every trip. I hope it lives another 118 years (Yes, that tree is 118 years old. Oldest living thing in Disneyland!!)

    While we were killing time before our dinner reservation opened up at Cafe Orleans, we checked out the NOS train station. Unfortunately, the conductors had left for the day, but we made a mental note to come back during our trip and check it all out. I couldn't resist a few shots of the water tower and locomotive.

    We decided to go see if we could be seated early. They said they would text us when our table was ready, and I think we got in about 20 minutes ahead of our reservation. No pics of dinner, but Katherine got the child's salmon (despite not being a child). I got an order of Pommes Frites, and a bowl of delicious gumbo. I'm not sure what they do different than how we make ours, but it seems like they doubled up on the sassafras or something. It had a more green flavor too it whereas ours is heavily influenced by the Tasso ham we get from the specialty meat and sausage store around the corner from the house. Amy got a salad of some sort as well as her own bowl of gumbo. We were going to get beignets for dinner, but were too stuffed and thus concluded our dinner at 3 minutes to 7.

    We had grabbed Indy fast passes prior to dinner, so afterwards, we milled about in the Adventureland shops while we waited for the window to open. I REALLY wanted some stuff from the Indy store, but seeing as the Grand had a whole new suite of apparel and I planned on dipping heavily into the Club 33 gift case, I passed. And a Hidden Mickey!!

    Eeyore sign is back in the Indy queue. It was missing at one point on my previous trips. One of these days I'll hit up the ride very early or very late with my 70-200 and enough time for a bit of a longer shutter and snap a proper pic.

    Mara Projections were crisp

    Laser eye of Mara!!!

    Amy and Katherine decided on the Tiki Room bathroom vs. waiting for the Adventureland ones. I watched Maui, the God of time tick by with his water clock.

    We cruised across the Esplanade at 7:45 and thought we would cruise through the turnstiles only to find a guy who was on his second admission without a picture and who was REFUSING to have the CM take his picture because he was "tired" and didn't want to have paid $900 to have a bad picture linked to his multi-day park hopper. Seriously!!! The CM refused to scan us through while her manager was dealing with the guy so we finally had to jump to an adjacent turnstile. What the heck is all I have to say.. people are weird.

    Katherine really wanted to do Grizzly, so I left Amy with the camera bag, pulled out our ponchos and off we went... THREE TIMES back to back with no wait. Sadly, there were enough people doing it that we had to get out of the raft each time, but oh well. Amy spent the time checking out Rushin' River Outfitters, one of my favorite themed shops in the parks. I am a HUGE GRR fan, so when I saw some new merch, I couldn't resist. Ended up with a GRR pullover sweatshirt for Amy and a GRR Tee-shirt for myself as well as a GRR coffee cup.

    On the way back to the room, we stopped and got our first of 3 or 4 swag collections from the Grand's gift shop. I grabbed a new-logo ball cap, a polo for me, and a t-shirt for Amy pictured below. We hit the room at 9:10 and made an early night of it.

    I just love how Mousekeeping arranges the beds at turndown, especially with kids’ stuff.



    DIS Veteran
    Apr 7, 2013
    Saturday, 11/5/2016

    We left the room around 6:25 AM.. We had a 7:00AM EMH to catch, and we had gone to bed early which REALLY helped. What helped even more was the Daylight Savings Time Change. Being from AZ, we don't celebrate this anachronistic practice, however it worked to our advantage today as we got an extra hour to get ready.

    Apologize for the quality of the next two, but cell phones just aren't up to the task of low light

    We weren't too far back in line in one of the four security lines which were queuing. Probably three families back I would say. It was DARK!! The pictures are misleading as I was shooting high ISO and did some post-processing lightening, but probably one of the darkest EMH I've ever had.

    There was no rope drop this AM. We were just let in straight away. Being up front at a gate, we had no encumbrance of people getting pictures taken to hold us up. Just GONE... We walked.. albeit quickly. I thumbed my nose at the runners. Katherine was doing a comical fast walk.

    They had some Christmas special stuff going on at the hub with zillion watt spotlights.

    Katherine can fly she can fly she can fly...

    Our diligence found us about 10 people back from the first ride Peter Pan.

    Again, the pics mislead you on the state of the light this morning... it was DARK.

    After a quick wait, we were off. I was in a ship up front and Katherine and Amy followed in a ship of their own. As with my comments on Pirates, Peter was exceptionally dark compared to normal. Didn't stop me from grabbing some firsts (albeit grainy due to sensor noise since I had the ISO way up)

    Love the projection animation of the group landing on Big Ben's hands

    Neverland was as with everything else... DARK

    First time I've ever successfully got Tigerlilly at the bottom of the plunge. She's underexposed substantially, but best I've ever done... not good enough

    The Indian camp is another hard shot. I really needed a f/1.4 lens here, but at f/2.8, probably still the best shot I've got to date.

    Another first, my best Hook and Tic-Tock Croc... still underexposed, but passable.

    A mere twelve minutes after the turnstiles whizzed as we glided through barely making contact with terra firma, we were taken to Neverland and promptly deposited back in reality. What next you might ask? We normally make a break for Alice, but this trip, we headed for a walk-on to Dumbo.

    I LOVE deserted Fantasyland

    Girl Power selfie!!



    DIS Veteran
    Apr 7, 2013
    I retract my comment about Daylight Savings time. I guess that was for Sunday morning.
  • whoever

    DIS Veteran
    Apr 7, 2013
    Once done with Dumbo, we did a quick time check. We were barely a quarter into our Extra Magic Hour... What would be next?

    Alice of course!! I really like the plussing they've done with Alice with the projection and new figures. That being said, I'm still extremely upset about how they've turned the vine from the second level to the first into something you could play a game of tennis on. It was so much of a better experience prior to the "updates"

    Here is the long-lost original...

    Alas at least the inside has a LOT of new great projections starting out with the new journey down the rabbit hole which has a good amount of vertigo inducing properties

    The endless hordes of marching cards are great

    The new Queen wiht the flying cards in the background is also superbly done.

    One thing I never get tired of is Matterhorn in the morning especially when viewed from an elevated vista.

    So what could possibly be next but a trip down the icy slopes with Katherine leading the way..

    Hi Harold!!

    Always loved the water brake at the end... Plunge!!

    At the conclusion of Matterhorn, another time check told us we had barely used half of the EMH... I really LOVE these kinds of days..

    Where to next? Tomorrowland!

    A jump to Hyperspace dropped us back into the Disney galaxy at 7:46.

    Probably just enough time for one more attraction before the park was officially open.. We went on an adventure with Star Tours. None of my party was the rebel spy, but we did get a fun trip around the galaxy.

    The park now officially open, we decided to head over to the West Side, but not before we stopped at the hub for some Disney Photog fun for some group pictures. I appreciate that I get photopass/attraction photos with my annual pass. I also like that they'll shoot with your camera in addition to theirs. I've got a little different approach in camera settings than they prefer, which gives me a bit of both flavors.

    While waiting I took in all the little details.



    DIS Veteran
    Apr 7, 2013
    Since the park was now open, before we headed to the West Side, we did a quick spin on Buzz. I didn't get anywhere near what I normally do. Must have been a defective blaster I swear!

    After the photo opportunity, we headed through Frontierland, around the Rivers of America and straight for Haunted Mansion. It had been a HUGE wait the night before so we made sure we would get on it with a minimal wait.

    Posing for the Christmas decorations.

    I like the projection honoring the hanging ghost host. I hope they don't try to PC this in the future.

    Scary taking some time to pound some nails, keep that ghoul in the coffin.

    Be careful with those flowers.. they snap

    Madame Leota likes her ornament house.

    Who crashed the present coffin through the doors?

    Liked the house this year, but nothing beats the Iron Maiden house in my opinion. The stitching on the tablecloth was a nice touch as was the gingerbread cake with the single candle.

    Liked this tiny jack-o-lantern.

    Loved this black widow wrapping paper.

    And it's like I paid the imagineers to put Amy's name on it. Yep... that's my Amy Sue... she gets to live.

    Jack with his bag of presents.

    And Zero with a candy cane.

    Sally is new to the attraction.

    Gazing longingly.

    The ghosts having a few drinks to celebrate the holidays.

    The mummy prefers a cup of tea.

    The viking was still singing...

    And the executioner was ready to chop some heads.

    And Oogie Boogie spinning his wheel.



    Now we're locals taking a break from having APs
    Jul 21, 2008
    Oh yay, glad you do have a TR for this trip (asked about it in the other thread because I didn't see a link to it in your sig). Anyway, amazing TR with incredible photos. Wow, what a treat! Thank you! Can't wait to see the Dapper pics!


    Jul 13, 2010
    Finally caught up! Can't wait for more amazing photos! The photos of ultra-dark EMH made me fatigued just looking at them. :crazy2:

    Canadian Harmony

    DIS Veteran
    Jan 23, 2015
    You have THE best photos and TRs. thank you so much, especially for the photos of Screamin' (I'm building up my courage for next time we go). I too have a 10 year-old and a 12 year-old so we're solidly in tween hell too.


    Aug 8, 2014
    I've just stumbled across this TR too. I have a now 11yo tween who would absolutely love a trip without her sister ( secretly I think she would like it best just a father/daughter trip, we are the big Disney nuts in the house). Sadly it ain't gonna happen seeing as we are a 12 hour flight away!

    Enjoying more if your great camera work too! Hope you make it back to finish this one off at some stage.