Saturday, December 4, 2010

Day 8 – Saturday, June 26, 2010

Plan: Travel home

I woke at 4:00am, way before I needed to. Eventually, I went back to sleep at 5:15am and then woke again one minute before the alarm was set to go off at 6:30am. I showered, dressed and had a bowl of cereal and a piece of the chicken. I was still full from dinner yesterday but I didn’t want to just throw out the leftover food. Jason came over and hung out. Pirates of the Caribbean was on TV so we watched that for awhile.

I guess we underestimated the time we had this morning because all of a sudden we only had a few minutes until we were supposed to pick up Sandy, Matthew and Samantha and we still hadn’t checked out yet. We quickly finished packing and threw everything in the car. We raced to the front desk and checked out, fortunate that there wasn’t anyone else ahead of us. I had hoped to fill up the gas tank before picking up the rest of the group, but there wasn’t time.

We pulled into the parking lot of the Anaheim Plaza and found Sandy and the kids waiting for us by Mom and Dad’s minivan. While Matthew loaded their carry on bags into the trunk of the rental car, Jason loaded our bags and his framed print into the back of the minivan.

On the trip down, since Mom and Dad didn’t plan on unloading everything from the van each night, Jason and I packed a small bag with some items that we wanted them to bring into the motel room with them. In this bag was Jason’s big camera, our laptops, and the power cords, cables and chargers for the numerous electronics that we were bringing along. When we dropped our bags off at Mom and Dad’s house before the trip, we half-jokingly cautioned them not to leave the bag behind at the house or at one of the motels along the way down. Mom has a reputation for leaving things behind when she travels, but I knew Dad would take good care of the bag. To ease our minds, he took pictures during the drive down of “Bag” in various poses and emailed them to us. We received pictures of “Bag” lounging by the motel pool, enjoying a beverage at Starbucks, etc. Dad had a whole storyline going with “Bag’s” escapades. Since Jason was bringing “Bag” back with him on the plane, we thought that was the end of the story. Instead, Dad created another storyline, this time with “Art,” the framed print Jason bought at the Disney Gallery.

After a quick stop to fill up the gas tank, we drove to the airport without incident and returned the rental car, arriving at airport security 35 minutes after leaving the hotel. As Jason’s carry-on bag went through the x-ray machine, the TSA agent stopped the conveyor and called him back. His bag was so tightly packed with stuff that they made him take everything out and put it into separate bins. The agent named off everything that he had in his bag before he unpacked it. It’s amazing the level of detail that they have with those machines.

It had been a very full, busy week and we were all tired so we were happy to just sit there quietly until boarding time at 10:00am. The plane left about 20 minutes late and made up only six minutes of the time in the air, landing in Portland at 12:52pm instead of 12:38pm.

Jason and I said goodbye to Sandy, Matthew and Samantha. A friend was picking them up. Jason and I went downstairs to where the shuttle busses were. Once again we didn’t have any luggage to pick up, which was really nice. I pulled the little card from my wallet with the phone number for the off-site parking lot. I was told that the shuttle was on the way and we should wait at “Island 2.” We immediately stepped outside and the shuttle was there. It was a short drive to the parking facility. The driver dropped us off right at our car. Within minutes we had exited the lot and were on our way home. We ended up taking a scenic tour through downtown Portland after a wrong turn, but finally ended up back on the highway. Shortly afterwards we were back at home. Usually the first thing I do is get laundry going and start to unpack, but since the majority of my belongings were in the back of Mom and Dad’s minivan for at least another 6 or 7 days, then there wasn’t much to do. I had a day and a half to relax before returning to work, another great trip behind us.

Summary: It was great to be able to experience Disneyland with my sister, Sandy. Being with a large group brings its own challenges, but I think we managed to keep issues to a minimum. This is probably the last time I’ll ever go during the summer months. Jason and I definitely prefer the cooler, less crowded times of the year, even if it does mean reduced park hours. Thanks to an excellent touring plan, we were able to see and do everything that we wanted to with minimal wait times. World of Color was spectacular and I want to see it again.

Next up: Jason and I are planning a 4-5 night trip during the first week of January to get one last trip in before our AP’s expire in February. We’re hoping to time it so we can get one day of the Christmas decorations before they start coming down, but it all depends on what kind of airfare we can get. Mom and Dad will squeeze in a couple of days in August when they return to attend the anniversary party for some good friends. They also plan to return in March 2011 for a visit.

Thanks for taking the time to read my trip report. If you’re interested in seeing my pictures, please visit my Flickr page at

Day 7 – Friday, June 25, 2010

Plan: Morning at Disneyland; Lunch at Café Orleans; Dinner at Knott’s Berry Farm to celebrate Dad’s birthday

I slept in until the late hour (for me) of 6:45am. Jason and I decided not to rush over at park opening today. Since Sandy, Matthew and Samantha used the last of their 5-day park hoppers yesterday, it would only be those of us with AP’s visiting the park today. We had accomplished so much the previous five days with our detailed touring plans we decided today was just going to be a laid-back day at the park, without rushing around to any attractions. We hung out in the room until 9:00am and then drove over to the Toy Story parking lot, hoping it would be open by then. Luckily it was. We parked in a spot in the Jesse area and walking onto a waiting bus. Our luck continued as we were dropped off at the bus stop as close to the entrance as possible. The big rush to enter the park was over and there was a very short line at the turnstiles.

Our first stop was to the Market House for coffee, where we saw Dad sitting at one of the tables outside. Jason went and sat with Dad, while I went in to get our coffee. In addition to coffee, I picked up a couple of cookies for us for later. This brought our purchase to over $10 and I was able to use the 10% AP merchandise discount.

Dad said Mom was across the street at the Blue Ribbon Bakery getting cinnamon rolls. Jason and I held the table while Dad went in to get their coffee. When everyone returned to the table, we sat there for a while and talked. The weather was perfect. A little overcast with a hint of coolness still in the air.

After we finished our coffee, Jason and I headed over to Captain EO for one final show. Our timing was perfect as the door was just getting ready to close as we entered.

Next we headed across to Adventureland for one final Dole Whip. They were already letting people in for the Tiki Room show. We wouldn’t have had time to get our Dole Whips first so we decided to wait for the next show. We sat in the patio area for a few minutes and then timed it just right, getting our Dole Whips just before a large line formed. We enjoyed the show as usual, very happy that Disney didn’t monkey with this show like they did the one in Walt Disney World.

Leaving Adventureland, we decided to head to Town Square and find a shady bench to sit and watch the characters interact with guests. After five days I still hadn’t had any Disney popcorn, so I bought a box from the vendor in the hub since I wasn’t sure if the cart near City Hall would be open this early in the day. As we past Market House we stopped in for coffee refills and then found one of the very few shady benches in Town Square.

After we finished our coffee, and I finished my popcorn, we decided to go see Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. While we waited for the next show, we sat and watched the 50th anniversary film that was playing in the lobby. When that was over, we decided to just skip Lincoln and look through the Disney Gallery next door. Jason was looking for a particular print that he’d seen earlier, but was now unable to find. After a while he gave up and we went over to the Emporium to check out some Mickey Mouse watches that he’d also seen earlier. They were only $12.95 so we each bought one. This was my only souvenir of the entire trip. While we were in line to pay for the watches, Dad came up to us. Mom was doing some shopping, so Dad chatted with us for a few minutes until we were finished with our purchasing.

Jason decided that the print from the Disney Gallery was really important to him, so back we went so he could ask a CM for help. She checked in the back and found both the print and frame that he wanted. I was glad that we went back.

After a restroom stop we decided to head back to the hotel. It was 1:00pm and we both wanted to rest before we met up with the rest of the group at Knott’s Berry Farm for an early dinner. We boarded a waiting bus to the Toy Story lot that only had six other people aboard. It was deliciously cool inside the bus. It was a quick trip back to HoJo’s. As we walked to our rooms, we encountered Matthew and Samantha sitting outside in the courtyard with their laptops using the WiFi. They had walked all the way down Harbor from their hotel, stopping at McDonald’s along the way where they were unsuccessful in connecting to the WiFi. Jason invited them into his room while I went to the lobby to check the five of us in for our flight home the next morning. There was one person working the front desk and she was helping a family check in. It seemed to be taking them a really long time to get everything figured out. I didn’t feel right interrupting her to ask if she could get my boarding passes off the printer that’s behind the desk. Finally, a man came up from the back and grabbed my printouts for me.

Back in the room I rested for a while and then Jason came over to hang out. At 3:00pm we received a text to let us know that the rest of the group was leaving their hotel and would meet us at Knott’s. We left shortly after that. As we were driving towards the Knott’s parking structure, we spotted their van up ahead of us. Jason and I lucked out and were able to score a parking spot on the street very close to the restaurant. There’s a two hour limit, but hopefully we won’t be here any longer than that. There was absolutely no line at the chicken dinner restaurant, so Jason and I sat on a bench outside to wait for the rest of the group to walk over from the parking structure.

It was only a few minutes until the rest of the group arrived. We headed inside and found only one group ahead of us waiting to be seated. This is the absolute shortest line I’ve ever seen. We could have been seated immediately, but Mom wanted to sit in the garden room. The rest of us were so hungry that we really didn’t care where we were seated. With a group our size, it’s really better to take the first available table since it’s not as easy to seat a party of seven as it is to seat a smaller party. The last time we were all here together we sat in the garden room and it was very difficult hearing each other over the sound of the waterfall that was right next to our table..

When a garden table didn’t open up for awhile, Mom went to check out other possible seating locations to see if they would be acceptable. Mom is very particular about where she sits and isn’t usually content with the first table she is shown to. In everyday life, Dad usually drops Mom off at the door to the restaurant and then lingers over parking the car so that by the time he joins her all the drama involved in being seated is taken care of.

Dinner was excellent. Most of us had the chicken dinner meal where you get your choice of creamy chicken noodle soup or rhubarb, cabbage or corn, salad, mashed potatoes and gravy, four pieces of chicken, plenty of piping, hot buttermilk biscuits with butter and Knott’s jams/jellies, and dessert (choice of pie or ice cream). Beverages were not included but most of us ordered berry punch. I clearly remember the punch being so good that you didn’t want to stop drinking it. For some reason this time it was just so-so.

There was no way I could finish my meal, it’s just too much food. I tried to focus mainly on the side dishes since the chicken would be easiest to take back to the hotel in a doggy bag. I ended up with two pieces of chicken leftover. I should have gotten the pie to go since I was absolutely stuffed, but I didn’t and really regretted it afterwards. I was miserably full.

After dinner everyone except me and Jason went next door to look through Virginia’s Gift Shop. I’m not much of a shopper and rarely just browse through a store. Besides, our two hour parking limit was almost up so it gave us a good excuse to leave. We said goodbye to Mom and Dad since we most likely won’t see them in the morning when we pick up Sandy and the kids to go home.

Back at the hotel Jason and I quickly packed up and then watched some TV. Sandy came by for a few minutes to check her email. At 9:00pm Jason said goodnight and went to his room. I was asleep by 9:30pm.

Highlights: It was a nice, leisurely day without any pressure to do anything. My knees were about done in for the trip so I was happy to just sit and enjoy the surroundings. Dinner at Knott’s was a treat. It’s funny how I can go there to eat and never have the slightest desire to enter the theme park.

Day 6 – June 24, 2010

Plan: Breakfast at Carnation Café, Dinner at Ariel’s Grotto, World of Color


I was up at 5:30am and quickly showered and dressed. Jason came over and we hung out in my room. I had a cup of coffee and a Mimi’s muffin while I checked my email. The movie “Apollo 13” was on HBO so we watched that for awhile. I haven’t seen that movie in years. It’s funny the things you’ll watch on TV when your options are limited.

At around 7:00am we left the hotel. We were directed to the Pinocchio lot and as we drove down the aisle we could see Mom and Dad getting out of their van. We pulled in directly next to them and walked together to the tram station. They said that Sandy had walked over earlier to use her Magic Morning. The night before Dad had told everyone that the van was pulling out at 7:00am in the morning. The door to Samantha and Matthew’s room was closed. Mom and Dad waited five minutes and then left without them.

It didn’t seem as crowded as it’s been earlier in the week. Other than a couple of dining reservations, the day was very loosely scheduled. We were through the turnstiles at 7:50am. Mom, Dad and Jason went to wait near the rope for park opening. I spotted a chair on the small porch in front of one of the Main Street shops so I decided to just hang there for awhile. A man walked by with a cup of coffee and spotted me sitting there and said he thought I had the right idea. He went and sat down on another chair while he drank his coffee.

When the park opened at 8:00am, everyone in our group headed for Tomorrowland. I had given Jason my AP so he headed for Space Mountain for FastPasses. Mom handed off her AP to Dad before she headed into Buzz Lightyear. Dad picked up FastPasses for them for Buzz. I sat in front of Buzz and waited for Jason to return from Space Mountain. We had planned to meet Sandy outside of Buzz at 8:05am. We waited until 8:10, but there was still no sign of her so Dad, Jason and I headed into Buzz. We were almost boarding, when Sandy texted that she was outside Buzz. He told we were already inside. We’re all hard-core Buzz players and we don’t share a vehicle because it hinders our game play, so it doesn’t really matter if we are near each other or not since we really don’t pay attention to each other while we’re on the attraction.

We left Mom riding Buzz while Sandy, Jason and I went across to Star Tours. Jason and I rarely ride this anymore because sometimes we end up feeling nauseous afterwards. But we wanted to ride it one last time before it was closed down for the upgrade.

We met up with Dad outside Star Tours. Samantha showed up at the same time. We waited while she ran to Space Mountain for a FastPass. Sandy told us about her Magic Morning and how she hadn’t remembered that we told her only Fantasyland and a few Tomorrowland attractions were open. She had tried to go over to Adventureland to ride Pirates and was surprised to see the area blocked off.

After Samantha came back from getting her FastPass, she and Sandy went to ride Pirates. Jason, Dad and I decided to do Captain EO. We could see from the monitors that the doors to the theatre were about to open so we just hung out near the doors on the side so we could be seated near the back. The Cast Member was telling everyone that there were still plenty of seats available in the first few rows. Of course there were. Those are the absolute worst seats in the theatre. We sat at the end of the row about three rows back the first time we saw Captain EO in February and it was so blurry that we could barely see any of the film. So now we make sure we’re near the doors that lead to seats in the back. This time the moving floor effect was working. I was glad that Dad was able to experience it. After the show, he said that it really enhanced the experience.

After Captain EO we considered riding Buzz again, but the line was longer than we wanted to deal with. We decided to head over to Market House for coffee. We could see Mom and Matthew sitting at a table outside. Jason and I went in to get our coffee. As we did all week, we purchased our coffee on separate receipts to make it easier to get a refill later if we ended up splitting up. As we headed outside to join the others, we could see Sandy and Samantha in line for coffee. We all sat at the table until 9:35am and then stepped across the street to check in for our 9:40am Carnation Café breakfast. Again we had two separate reservations to accommodate our party of seven, but we luckily able to all sit together at one table.
Breakfast was great. I had the Mickey-shaped waffle this time. Oscar was working the room as usual. After we finished breakfast, Jason, Samantha and I went to Space Mountain to use our FastPasses. Dad walked along with us. Earlier in the week he had worked his way through the exit until he reached the loading area. He was able to take pictures of us in our ride vehicle. He thought he might try to do that again. If not, we would meet him at the exit.

We entered the FastPass return line and made our way up to the point where the FastPass line and the standby line merge. We’ve always been able to immediately hand our FastPasses to the CM and continue on. For some reason, this time the CM let a ton of standby people go through while we stood there waiting. Maybe we’ve just been lucky in the past, or possibly they do things differently in the summer when the stand by line is longer. While I watched the huge line of people go by, I was mentally calculating how many ride vehicles this was putting me behind. I’m usually a patient person and don’t mind waiting my turn, but my knees were really bothering me and I was hoping we could just walk on through.

Space Mountain was fun. Again, I left my glasses on which made for a much better experience. Dad wasn’t able to get through the exit, or else chose not to, but we met up with him near Star Traders. The four of us decided to head over to It’s a Small World. Before jumping into line, I took a lower resolution picture of the new Hidden Mickey on the hedge back where the parade floats are stored so I can submit to the Hidden Mickey’s website.

After It’s a Small World, Jason and I decided to head back to the hotel for a rest. I wasn’t looking forward to the long walk to the front of the park so we decided to talk the train. Using the train as transportation to other areas of the park sounds like a good idea. In actuality you usually end up spending more time waiting in line then you would have spent walking to whatever area you were headed to. As we walked towards the train station, I could see there was a train already in the station. I was hoping by some miracle it would still be there when we arrived at the station, but no, it loaded up and was long gone by the time we made it. We were near the front of the line though for the next train. Many people hung back and waited where there was a little shade. I wanted to make sure we made it onto the next train. It seems like very few people get off at the Toon Town Station. We waited about 10 minutes for the next train and were able to find seats together.

During the ride, Dad and Jason commented on how they really dread the stretch of the route where we go through the Grand Canyon and Primeval World. The train slows down and it seems to take forever. I actually enjoy that part. We don’t ride the train that often and it’s something interesting to look at. As usual, there were the people that disregard the warning and can’t resist the temptation to take a flash picture of the dioramas. As a result, they are rewarded with a nice picture of their flash reflecting off the glass. As for our group, even knowing full well that it’s extremely difficult to get a decent picture with the dim lighting, no flash, and moving train, we all eagerly snapped away, full of hope that maybe this time we’ll get a picture that isn’t dark and out of focus.

We disembarked at the Main Street Station and met up with Matthew. Samantha and Matthew decided to walk back to the hotel. Jason, Dad and I took the tram to the parking lot and hopped in our car. We stopped at Dad’s hotel so he could pick up his laptop and then brought him to our hotel to so he could check his email. We were surprised to find that our rooms hadn’t been cleaned. This was the earliest that we’ve returned to the hotel all week so I have no idea what time housekeeping usually gets to our rooms. We hung out in my room for about 20 minutes and then drove Dad back to his hotel.

One the way back home, we stopped at McDonald’s for some lunch and to kill some time hoping the room would be cleaned by the time we returned. This McDonald’s is very expensive. Our standard McDonald’s fare at home is a McDouble, which is a dollar, and a sundae, which is also a dollar. At this McDonald’s the sundaes were $1.89 plus sales tax (which we don’t have in Oregon) and the McDouble wasn’t even on the menu. We ended up spending $9.20 for lunch, which really isn’t bad, but more than double what we’re used to spending.

When we returned to the hotel, our rooms still hadn’t been cleaned. I really needed to rest and I couldn’t put it off any longer since we had to be back in plenty of time for our Ariel’s Grotto reservation. So I put out the Do Not Disturb sign and settled in for a short nap.

I didn’t nap for long, but it was enough to re-energize me. Even though we could have hung out in the room for awhile longer, we ended up leaving at 3:00pm just to be sure our rooms got cleaned. Although I keep my room very clean, I did want fresh towels and more coffee pods.

We drove over to the Toy Story lot as we’ve been doing all week and were stunned to find that it was closed. Jason pointed out that our first clue should have been the lack of Toy Story themed busses that we usually see on the street. We really didn’t want to park in the Mickey and Friend’s lot because we would be at DCA for the first World of Color and we expected it to be a mad house at the tram loading area after the show. So after some careful consideration we decided to walk from the hotel over to DCA. We parked at the very edge of the HoJo parking lot, closest to the street. We crossed over to the other side of Harbor and walked along that sidewalk. It’s much less congested with people and you don’t have cars pulling in and out of the various hotel driveways. We stopped twice for me to rest. Once at the string of bus stops that are outside of the park entrance and then again at the last bench we came to before we reached the bag check area. Jason is always so patient and willing stop for me to rest whenever I need to. Even with my sore knees we made great time. It was much faster than driving, although driving is easier physically.

We made it through the bag check and turnstiles fairly quickly. I wasn’t sure if there’d be big lines of people coming over from Disneyland to see World of Color but it wasn’t crowded at all. I was ready to rest again so we sat in Sunshine Plaza facing the entrance, where we had a good view of the Golden Gate Bridge. While we sat there we decided to try to get a photo of the Monorail passing over the bridge. The problem was that we had no idea how often the Monorail passed by and there wasn’t a way to get any advanced warning of its approach. While we sat there we spotted Dad entering the park. All three of us had our cameras ready, and finally the Monorail came through. We had our cameras set on continuous shooting so we were able to get the shot we wanted.

The plan was for everyone to meet outside of Ariel’s Grotto by 5:00pm for our 5:10pm seating. Even though we still had about a half hour to wait, we decided to walk back to Ariel’s anyway. As we approached we could see the green army men doing their show right outside of Ariel’s. We found a shady bench with a good view of the show and sat down. A few minutes later, Matthew and Samantha joined us and took the bench next to us.

At 4:30 we received a call from Mom. She had gone back to the hotel for a rest and then decided to park in the Toy Story lot, which of course was closed. It figures after that after a week of us raving about this lot to her, she finally decides to give it a try and it’s closed. I doubt she’ll ever give it a try again. Jason had tried calling her earlier to warn her but she didn’t answer her phone. This wasn’t surprising since we’d be lucky if she even had the phone turned on. He didn’t leave her a voice mail, since she’s unfamiliar with how to retrieve messages and would have waited until one of us could retrieve it for her. She said she was going to park in Mickey and Friends and will meet us as soon as she could. A few minutes later, Sandy joined us with Mom showing up around 4:50pm.

At 5:05pm Dad and I checked in at Ariel’s Grotto and were given a pager. We were trying to get everyone to come over and sit in the waiting area, when the pager when off, not five minutes after we checked in.

We were seated inside, which I had requested when I made the reservation, not sure of how hot it would be outside. Two tables had been pushed together to create one long table. We were given menus and our drink orders were taken. While we waited for our drinks we tried to decide which of the two appetizer options we wanted. One was cured meats and shellfish, the other was grilled vegetables and cheeses. When our server returned we decided on the grilled veges and cheeses because not everyone likes shellfish. With a party of our size we could have had one of each choice of appetizer.

The appetizers were brought out and the plates placed on metal 3-tiered holders, one at each end of the table. The plates held Manchego cheese, Chef’s blend of marinated olives, Ciligiene Mozzarella, Endive cups with Apples, Walnuts, Dried Cranberries, Bleu Cheese, Marinated Piquillo Peppers, Artichoke Hearts, Zucchini, Eggplant and Asparagus. The bottom tier held Mixed Greens with House Citrus-Tarragon Vinaigrette. There was also a basket of rolls, baked in a flower shape, with butter, light ranch and pesto sauces on the side.

For our entrée, we all chose the Santa Maria-style Tri Tip, which was slow-roasted over Rock Salt and smoked with Red Oakwood. It was served with Cheddar Herbed Mashed Potatoes and Seasonal Vegetables. A few people in our group aren’t fond of mashed potatoes and they were offered Rice Pilaf as an alternative. The seasonal vegetables were asparagus, zucchini, yellow squash and onions. The meat was very flavorful, tender and cooked perfectly.

For dessert, our server brought out two platters, each with an assortment of tiny desserts, which included Chocolate Molten Cake, Tiramisu Chocolate Cups, Passion Fruit Quenelles, Green Apple Mousse in a Cone, French Macaroons, Chocolate Ganache Crunch Triangles, Seasonal Berries, and a World of Color White Chocolate Film Strip. We are all very full from dinner, but managed to nibble at the desserts. Our server offered to bring us a box for the rest of the desserts, but by the time he returned with it we’d managed to finish everything off.

Along with the check we were give our World of Color tickets and told to line up near the lighthouse between 7:30 and 8:30 pm. When we left the restaurant at 6:30pm of course we immediately walked over to the lighthouse to check things out. They hadn’t started roping off the viewing area yet, but were told it would happen shortly. We asked several CM’s what to expect and given several different answers. We ended up just hanging around the lighthouse until the CM’s starting putting up the barriers to keep us out while they cleared the area. It didn’t really seem like there were a lot of people waiting around until the barriers started going up. Then suddenly we were all crushed into one big group. We were at the front of the crowd, at a point where two of the barriers met. We were hoping that the CM’s would let people in through this barrier. At 7:15pm, 15 minutes before the time printed on our tickets, the CM’s opened up the barriers. First it was just the barrier to the right of us, but immediately afterwards they opened up the barrier in front of us. Everyone was making a mad dash for their assigned viewing areas. We were among the first to enter the blue, preferred dining viewing area which was in the center, circular area. Instead of racing to the very front, we opted for the front of the third tier. We thought we’d get a better overall view from this location. I knew we had a long wait ahead of us, so I sat down with my back to the railing. Mom noticed some benches along the top tier that were empty. She spoke to a CM who told her that this was a disabled viewing area and that we were welcome to sit there. She asked if we could have members of our party sit with us and we were told yes. She and I went to sit down. At first Dad and Sandy stayed where they were, but eventually they came and joined us. The younger members of our group decided to stay put.

It was so nice to be able to sit in comfort while we waited. Gradually, the viewing area below us began to fill up, but even as late as 8:20pm there were places along the railing in the third tier. Around 8:25pm everyone stood up for the preshow which began at 8:32pm. It was very loud, mainly because there were speakers very close to our bench. I wasn’t over fond of the pre-show. I would have been happy just sitting there until the show started, although the puppets were interesting. The show lasted about 15 minutes. It was breezy and chilly by the water. I was kind of wishing I had a light jacket with me.

World of Color was amazing. I enjoyed every minute of it. It was great to be able to sit and watch the show. As much as I was looking forward to seeing the show, I was also dreading the hours of standing that seemed to go along with it. I think I did miss some of the effects close to the water. I’m hoping my knees are in better shape when we return next January. I would love to be able to stand right at railing by the water and view the show from that vantage point.

When the show ended, we sat around for awhile to give the area a chance to empty out. Eventually we were politely encouraged to leave so they could clean up for the next show. We followed behind the tail end of the crowd. Sandy, Samantha and Matthew went on ahead, but Mom, Dad, Jason and I stopped for a quick restroom break. As we neared Soarin’ CM’s were directing people who were parked in Mickey and Friends out through a gate that I’d never noticed before. We said goodbye to Mom and Dad and continued on our way out through the turnstiles. Matthew came out of nowhere to walk with us up to Harbor where he turned right and we went left.

We made it back to HoJo’s by 10:15pm. Jason had been suffering from what he thought was a allergy (but ended up being a cold) so we stopped by the gift shop at HoJo’s to look for some allergy medicine. In spite of 10% discount offered to AP holders, he ended up paying $11.00 for 5 Claritin tablets.

We hung out in my room until 11:00am and then Jason returned to his room. It was lights out for me shortly afterwards.

Highlights: Dinner at Ariel’s Grotto was excellent although I don’t thing we’ll make it an every trip kind of thing unless we want to do the World of Color Dining Package. World of Color exceeded my expectations and I was so relieved that I didn’t have to stand for the show. As great as I thought the show was, it took a huge investment of time and probably isn’t something we’ll do if we’re here for a short trip.

Pedometer Stats:
Miles: 14,215 (1,579 aerobic steps)
Steps: 4.48

Day 5 – Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Plan: Tackle the left side of Disneyland, starting in Adventureland and working our way through Frontierland, New Orleans Square and Critter Country. Everyone except me and Jason will eat at Blue Bayou for lunch.


I woke up at 5:00am, about 30 minutes before the alarm was set to go off. I decided I could sleep until 5:45am, so I reset the alarm for an extra 15 minutes. Once I was up, I showered and dressed, then texted Jason that he could come over. Our room keys work for both room, which makes it super convenient. If we needed privacy to dress, we would just flip the deadbolt. Jason let himself into my room and settled down with his laptop. I ate one of the Mimi’s muffins and a banana while I checked my email and the MousePlanet forums.

We left the hotel at 7:07am and parked once again in Pinocchio. Security wasn’t open yet and there was a big line forming. We noticed that there were actually two lines, the long line that we were currently standing in and a much shorter line that ended when it reached a tree. No one seemed to notice the shorter line, so we left the long line and moved over. While we waited for Security to open we observed a large tour group led by a tour guide holding an Adventures by Disney sign. It was the Backstage Magic tour. I had listened to a podcast recently where someone reviewed their experience on this tour and it sounded amazing. They were really impressed with it and looking forward to taking it again.

We watched as security opened a special line just for them and they were quickly through the line and on their way into the park before it opened. At 7:30am the rest of our group arrived and joined us in line. Even though we’d been in this line for about five minutes, we were still hidden by the tree and no one else had joined the line behind us.

By 7:50am we were inside the park and lined up at the rope. Once the park opened, we headed left into Adventureland, where Matthew, Samantha and I picked up FastPasses for Indiana Jones with a return time of 9:15am. No one else was interested, it being too rough a ride for them.

Next up we all entered the Jungle Cruise queue and walked onto the first boat of the day. We had a fun skipper who did a great job of delivering the usual spiel.

Our next stop was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad where there was absolutely no line. Mom wasn’t going to ride, so she arranged to meet us at our next destination. Dad didn’t want to ride either, but he went along to take pictures. He was able to walk through the exit and take pictures of us boarding the ride vehicle. Then he walked around near the exit to take pictures as our train flew by. We were assigned to the last three rows of the train, a perfect spot for the Goat Trick. We shared the secret of the Goat Trick with Sandy, but she was reluctant to try it, since she has a delicate neck and wasn’t sure what it was really all about.

One ride was enough for Sandy, but the rest of us went around for a second, since the line was so short. We immediately boarded a train, this time in the front two rows. We prefer to be further back because by the time the end of the train reached the summit of the hills, the front of the train was halfway down the drop on the other side before it picked up any speed. Once again Dad took pictures as we sped around the curve and back into the mountain.

We all did Pirates of the Caribbean. Even though there was only a five minute wait, the CM packed us all into two rows. Mom was on the outside and managed to get soaked on her left side when we hit the bottom of the first drop.

After Pirates, Matthew, Samantha and I used our FastPasses for Indiana Jones. In the past I’ve always saved my FastPass for this attraction until later in the day and then we always have a really long wait, even when using the FastPass. The point where they merge the FastPass and standby lines is so far back in the line, that even though they hold many of the standby people outside, there are still enough of them inside the building that it makes for a really long wait. This time I wanted to use our FastPasses early enough in the day, when the stand by line was short, to reduce the amount of time I was standing in line. It was 11 minutes from the time we entered the FastPass return line to when the CM was doing the seat belt check.

We found the rest of the group sitting inside River Belle Terrace drinking coffee. Mom, Dad and I remained there while Jason, Matthew, Sandy and Samantha did Tarzan’s Tree House. Jason took a picture of a Hidden Mickey that wasn’t in Steve Barrett’s Hidden Mickey book. He showed the picture to Dad, who is an avid Hidden Mickey fan. I knew Dad would be heading into Tarzan’s Tree House to see the Hidden Mickey for himself before the trip was over.

Samantha and Matthew were starving so they headed over to Market House for coffee and cookies. Dad, Jason and Sandy took everyone’s park tickets and went to get FastPasses for Splash. Mom and I wandered slowly over to the park area near the New Orleans Train Station where we had all agreed to meet. Once we all regrouped, Dad handed back our park tickets and Splash FastPasses (which had a return time of 10:15am). While cookies were eaten and coffee drunk, we planned the order that we would be seated on the Splash Mountain log. Jason was opting out of Splash since he didn’t want to get wet. This solved the issue of us not all fitting into one log. We wanted to purchase the ride photo and didn’t want to purchase more than one overpriced picture. We also wanted everyone to be visible in the photo and it’s easy for someone to be hidden by the person in front of them. Initially, we thought we’d be seated in order of height, but Mom and Sandy were both very nervous about the big drop at the end and didn’t want to be anywhere near the front. As the shortest, I was slated for the front of the log, which was fine with me. I love the drop at the end and also didn’t care if I got wet. It was so warm out, that I was hoping to get wet. Even though Samantha should have been in row 4, she got bumped to row 2 by two of the people with more seniority in life than her. Sandy was in row 3, Mom in row 4, Dad in row 5 and Matthew in row 6. Once the order was established, we decided that I would lean slightly to my right, the person behind me would lean slightly to the left, and so on with everyone alternating the direction they would lean. This would ensure that everyone would be visible in the photo. Just to make sure everyone had it straight, we did a practice run with everyone lining up and leaning the appropriate direction. We were pleased with result and ready to move on to our next attraction which was the Haunted Mansion.

By now it was 9:50am and there was just a very brief wait until we entered the stretching room. Jason and I always make sure we stay together because it’s dark and once you leave the stretching room, things move fairly quickly and there isn’t time to be looking for each other. Mom was standing near us but wasn’t anywhere near Dad, with whom she planned to ride. We were very close to the boarding area when she realized that she better find Dad, but things were moving so quickly that she didn’t have a chance. Jason and I hopped aboard our Doom Buggy and thought Mom would just step aside and let others board until Dad caught up with her. We had just passed the loading area when the ride stopped. Jason and I were sure that it was somehow related to Mom. The ride started up again very shortly and we continued on our way. At the end of the ride as we stepped out of our vehicle we noticed that Mom was in the vehicle behind us, so the ride stop was unrelated to her. I don’t think she was able to think fast enough to formulate a plan for meeting up with Dad and just ended up riding alone.

Next up we continued around to Critter Country and rode Winnie the Pooh which had a posted wait time of three minutes, but we really just walked on. The CM wasn’t really doing a good job of loading the vehicle. I’m not sure if she directed Matthew, Samantha and Mom to row 1 or if Mom just followed them. Dad and Sandy went to row 2 and Jason and I were in row 3. I didn’t think three people would fit in one row so I said to Jason that we should just take the next ride vehicle. But someone said that the three of them would fit. Well it was very obvious once Samantha and Matthew actually sat down that there was no way a third person would fit. By then those of us in rows 2 and 3 were already seated, so there was nothing for Mom to do but to wait for the next vehicle. Our vehicle took off and as we entered the building we looked behind us and saw Mom seated all by herself in her own vehicle.

When we got off the ride we had to tease her about being too good to ride with any of us on both the Haunted Mansion and Winnie. She laughed, which made me feel better because I felt bad about her have to ride alone.

It was 10:15am and we were eligible to use our Splash FastPasses. I hadn’t planned on us using them until after lunch, but since we were there we decided to go ahead and save ourselves the walk back to Critter Country later on.

I think Splash Mountain has the most awkward FastPass line and any attractions with FastPass. It parallels the stand by line the entire way and I feel like people are resentful that we’re racing through the line while they’ve been standing in line for what is usually a very long time, although on this day, the stand by line was only about 15 minutes. When we reached the front I asked the CM if we’d be able to all be in the same log. She made sure that we were and soon we were on our way.

At the bottom of the first drop a huge wave of water washed over the front of the log and completely drenched me. I could hear groans from Sandy and Mom sitting behind me as they too were soaked. After we got off the ride we regrouped to survey the damage. All four of us women were wringing water out of our clothes while the two guys were only slightly damp. Fortunately, you couldn’t tell from looking at me that there wasn’t a dry inch of clothing on me. It took several hours for me to dry out completely but I wasn’t complaining. I was completely cool and comfortable. Our picture turned out great. Everyone was perfectly positioned so we could see the entire group. Sandy had her mouth wide open in a gigantic scream and she looked terrified. Mom went to purchase the photo while Sandy had her picture taken with Pooh and Tigger.

It was nearly time for Dad to check in for their Blue Bayou reservation. Initially, it was going to be just Dad, Mom and Sandy since Sandy had never eaten at Blue Bayou. Then Samantha and Matthew decided to pay their own way and go. Dad had tried to get them added to the reservation earlier in the week, but the CM just said to let them know when they checked in. They decided to head over that direction so they would be one of the first to check in when the podium opened at 11:20am, so that they would have a better chance of getting a waterside table.

Jason and I decided last year that we were through with Blue Bayou. We used to split a Monte Cristo so we would have room for dessert. We would usually share a cookie boat sundae, which I believe was around $8. When we first started doing this, they would charge a $4.00 split plate charge, but we would each get our own side dishes. We felt this was worth it because having our own entrée was way too much food for us. Then one year they still charged the $4.00 but you no longer got your own sides. I remember it was awkward because they only brought out one soup and two spoons. With tax and tip the bill came to over $40 and we basically just ordered on meal. We decided we could make better use of $40. Now they charge a $12 split plate charge and you again get your own sides

While everyone was off at Blue Bayou, Jason and I contemplated our options for lunch. We decided on bread bowls at the Royal Street Veranda. We both chose the Steak Gumbo and decided to split a trio of Fritters which came with a dipping sauce. We took our food over to the River Belle Terrace and found a table along the railing overlooking the Rivers of America. This was my first time trying the bread bowl and it was delicious. It was a little spicy and very filling. It was a beautiful day and we enjoyed watching the Mark Twain and Sailing Ship Columbia pass by every so often. When we were hear in February, Rivers of America was still undergoing its refurbishment and was drained with walls all around it.

We lingered over our meal until the others were done with their lunch. Someone texted Jason that they were leaving the restaurant and he texted back that they should meet us at the Mark Twain. Jason and I walked over just as the Mark Twain was boarding passengers. We hoped the rest of the group would hurry so we could make it on, but it wasn’t to be. We waited and boarded the next time around. All of us except Dad and Jason found seats at the bow of the ship. They wanted to wander around and take pictures. It felt great to sit there in the sun because I was still very wet from Splash Mountain.

After Mark Twain we went over to the Enchanted Tiki Room. Jason and I had Dole Whip Floats, while everyone else had Dole Whips. The outside line at the Tiki Juice Bar was very long, but we went inside and there was no line at all. The inside line is reserved for people who are staying for the show. That’s fine with us as Jason and I love the Tiki Room.

When the doors opened to enter the theatre, Jason and I led our group to our favorite spot, the back row. Most everyone else seems to head to the front rows, but we prefer it in the back. The seats have padded backs and you get a great view of everything without having to crane your neck up.

After the Tiki Room, we had finished everything on our touring plan. Jason and I were heading back to the hotel for a rest. Mom asked if she could hitch a ride with us. In spite of my resolve after yesterday’s incident to just drop it, I once again tried to convince her to drive her own car back so she could park in the Toy Story lot later in the afternoon. I really was trying to save her wait time at the end of the evening, but she adamantly resisted the suggestion. After Dad and I both tried to convince her unsuccessfully, I gave up and told her that I’d be happy to drive her back. We made plans for everyone to meet at Coke Corner at 6:30pm.

On the way out we suggested that Mom swing by Buzz Lightyear and pick up a FastPass for later in the evening. While she did that, I stopped by the Candy Palace for my traditional piece of fudge. This time I chose Rocky Road.

Once we dropped Mom off and were back in our rooms, I made a cup of coffee, iced my knees and ate half of the piece of fudge. I’ve decided that Rocky Road is my favorite flavor. I read my book for awhile, watched some TV and then napped for a short time. At 4:30pm Jason came over and we hung out in my room until it was time to leave.

We picked up Mom and continued on to the Toy Story lot. At first they directed us down an aisle with everyone else, but when we reached the CM that was directing people into specific parking spots, he told us to continue on down the aisle to the handicapped area. I was very relieved as we would have parked near the very end of the row, far away from the bus loading area. Instead, we found a spot just a few places from the loading area and within minutes were comfortably seated in a cool bus.

There were no lines at the turnstiles so we were inside Disneyland within minutes. It was almost time for the parade to begin so we hurried up the street to Market House where we picked up a coffee refill. We crossed over to the other side of Main Street just in time. Dad had save us a table near the railing on the upper level near the AP processing center. We sat and watched the parade. Dad told that while watching the earlier parade, a mentally disabled man was very disappointed that he missed seeing Minnie in her special parade dress. So even though we all find this parade to be less interesting than other parades in the past, we kept a sharp eye out for Minnie. Sure enough she was wearing a very beautiful sparkly red dress.

After the parade was over, we decided to just stay put for the fireworks even though they weren’t due to begin for another couple of hours. We knew our view would be partially obstructed but it was shady and comfortable and no one felt like sitting in the hot sun in front of the castle. While we always had the majority of our group at the table, occasionally a couple of people would go off to do something else. Matthew and Samantha went to ride Space Mountain. Mom went to use her three FastPasses for Buzz. Dad and Sandy went to do Winnie the Pooh.

Matthew had been thinking about the bread bowl that Jason and I had for lunch so around 8:00pm he went and got one for himself and brought it back to the table. Around 8:15pm Dad and Jason went across the street and picked up hand dipped corn dogs and chips for the rest of us.

After we finished eating, Mom mentioned that she saw a Mickey shaped ice cream sandwich that looked good. Dad went in search of one for her and came back with a Mickey ice cream bar. Not exactly what she wanted, but she still enjoyed it. This got me to thinking that while I love, love, love the Mickey ice cream bars, I’ve never had one while inside a Disney theme park. When we visit Walt Disney World, I usually have one a day, but only back at the resort. I’m not sure why I never get one in the parks unless I’m worried about it melting in the warm weather.

We still had time to kill before fireworks, so I headed back to Market House for another coffee refill and an oatmeal cookie. One thing nice about the warm summer weather is that there never was much of a line at Market House for coffee. Compared to last February when the line could get very long, especially around parade and fireworks time.

When the fireworks began, we realized that we were sitting in a horrible spot. We thought the tree would only block part of our view, but it ended up blocking most of it. At one point I moved down to stand near the entrance to Coke Corner where I had a better view. There was a man standing there too. After a couple of minutes a CM told us that we couldn’t stand near the doorway. The man subtly flashed a badge at the CM, the CM nodded at him and the man stayed where he was. I had no badge to flash so I moved away from the doorway. I was able to see Tinkerbell and Dumbo as they flew between the castle and the Matterhorn, but not much else. We really should have moved to a better location, even if it meant sitting in the sun for awhile.

After the fireworks were over I went back and joined the rest of the family at the table. We waited a few minutes for the worst of the crowds to leave. Sandy, Samantha and Matthew decided to walk back to the hotel. Since we were all leaving at the same time, we decided to text each when we arrived at our hotels to decide the question of whether walking, parking in Toy Story, or parking in Mickey & Friends was fastest.

Jason and I passed through the Disneyland turnstiles at 10:02pm. Seven minutes later we were on a bus to the Toy Story lot. From our seats we could see a steady stream of Toy Story busses making their way to the loading area. As we exited Disney property and crossed Harbor Blvd, we received a text from the walkers to say they had just arrived at their hotel. Jason and I pulled into our parking space at exactly 10:30pm, with Mom and Dad texting their arrival at 10:41pm.

I was exhausted so I watched TV for about 15 minutes and then turned out the light at 11:00pm. Sandy, Matthew and Samantha will use the last day of their park hoppers tomorrow. They still have the Magic Morning, but so far only Sandy expressed an interest in getting up early enough to use it when the park opens at 7:00am.

Summary: Today just underscored the beauty of a good touring plan and the vital importance of arriving at park opening. When you visit during the off season you can be more relaxed, but during the busier summer months it’s essential. We were able to work our way through Adventureland, Frontierland, New Orleans Square and Critter Country with little or no wait times. At one point in the morning, Dad took a picture of the area in front of Aladdin’s Oasis and the Jungle Cruise that was totally deserted. He was absolutely amazed at how empty the area was. Even during less crowded times, this area can become a log jam of people.

Highlights: It was really fun going from attraction to attraction with almost no wait time. Jason and I enjoyed the bread bowls we had for lunch and didn’t miss the Blue Bayou at all. We had a lot of fun planning out how we were going to position ourselves for our Splash Mountain picture. I loved parking in the Toy Story lot and avoiding those horrible parking lot trams.

Pedometer Stats:
Miles: 4.19
Steps: 13,292

Day 4 – Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Plan: Segway Tour in the early morning for Dad, Sandy, and Samantha; DCA in the morning; Lunch at Big Thunder Ranch BBQ; Back to DCA in the evening

I was up at 5:45am and quickly showered and dressed. Jason came over and we watched the local news, even though I never watch the news at home. I made a cup of coffee and munched on a donut. Since today is a Magic Morning day at Disneyland, we planned to start the day at DCA. Jason and I planned to meet Mom and Matthew in line at DCA around 9:15am. Dad, Sandy and Samantha would text us when they finished their Segway tour around 10:00am. Again, Jason and I decided to head over early and hang out in Disneyland first. We left at 7:30am and got a good parking spot in the Pinocchio lot. There were no lines at Security, but long lines at the turnstiles since it was close to 8:00am by the time we arrived. By being observant and not joining the first line we came to, we were able to find a much, much shorter line in the center that was easily half the size of the lines on the outer edges of the plaza.

Once the park opened we were sidetracked by a fairly short line to see Minnie. We hopped in line and when it was our turn, Jason asked Minnie’s handler if she would be willing to snap our picture. She was happy to do so. After saying goodbye to Minnie, we continued on to Market House. I got a cup of coffee, but Jason decided to head across the street to get a cup of ice water at Blue Ribbon Bakery.

Beverages in hand, we made our way back to Town Square and sat on a bench and watched guests interact with characters. After awhile, we decided to hop aboard a waiting horse-drawn trolley. I asked the driver if we’d be able to stay on for a round trip, or if we needed to get off at the hub. He said that since things weren’t very busy, we could just stay aboard for the return trip. It was a fun ride and gave us an opportunity to snap pictures of Main Street. We waited for a short time in front of the castle and then made the return trip back to Town Square.

After leaving the trolley, it was time to head over to DCA to meet up with Mom and Matthew. We exited the park to find a huge line of people waiting to get into DCA. We joined the line at a place near one of the compass points in the very center of the plaza. As soon as got in line, Matthew and Mom came up to join us. We waited about 15 minutes and then the turnstiles opened.

Once inside the park we headed immediately over to Soarin’. The plan was to pick up a FastPass and then hop in line for a ride. We all got FastPasses for 10:40am. I hit the jackpot and the machine spit out two FastPasses. I guess this made up for the problem I had on Sunday, when nothing came out of the machine.

As we were heading to the Soarin’ entrance, there was slight grumbling from Mom that there wasn’t anything planned for breakfast. This was frustrating for me because in the six months before the trip, no one other than Jason and Dad expressed any interest in being a part of the planning process or even just talking about the trip. I know that not everyone is as interested as I am in planning our Disney trips, so after awhile I just left the subject alone unless someone else brought it up, which was rarely. For me, I know that the more planning I do ahead of time, the easier it is for me to just relax and enjoy the trip once it begins. I planned the trip the best I could, based on what Jason and I like to do when it’s just the two of us. So in spite of my reminder when we were at Food 4 Less that there were days when we didn’t have breakfast plans, only Jason and I bought breakfast items for the room. Everyone received their pocket itineraries at the beginning of the trip so they knew exactly what was planned for meals.

Okay, end of rant, back to the trip report.

So Jason and I ate in the room before we left, but Mom and Matthew were starving. They decided to skip Soarin’ and head over to Baker’s Field for something to eat. We would meet up afterwards. Jason and I entered Soarin’ and there were only a few people in line ahead of us. However, we waited and waited for what seemed like a very long time. Jason wasn’t feeling very well and was thinking about heading back to the hotel to rest. I encouraged him to do that, letting him know that I didn’t mind doing Soarin’ by myself. So, he decided to leave. I waited a bit more and finally boarded the ride. I was seated in the top row on the far left section, in the far left seat. I think this is the first time I’ve ever ridden in this position before and it felt strange. I think because I could see the edges of the screen that I was very conscious of how high up I was and it was a little unsettling. Even so, I still enjoyed the ride.

I met up with Mom and Matthew sitting outside at Baker’s Field. The Segway Tour people had texted that they finished the tour and were heading to Toy Story Mania. By now it was after 10:00am and the park was officially open. As we headed to Toy Story, I could see the FastPass line for World of Color, which wrapped all the way around to the Blue Sky Cellar area.

I didn’t feel up to walking all the way back to Toy Story and then waiting in what would likely be a long line. My knees were really bothering me today. So I decided to wait for everyone in the Pacific Wharf area. I wandered slowly over there, stopping at the Mission Tortilla Factory to pick up a tortilla. I found a table in the shade where I could see the bridge near Ariel’s Grotto and happily munched on my tortilla.

After about 10 minutes, Jason texted me that he didn’t go back to the hotel after all. He was with Dad, Mom and Matthew and they were headed my way. I let him know where I was sitting and in a few minutes they joined me. The line at Toy Story was huge so they decided to pass. Sandy and Samantha decided to go ahead and wait in the line. The rest of us sat there and chatted for quite a while. At one point Jason, Dad and I went to the edge of the water and took pictures of Grizzly Peak.

A long time later, Sandy and Samantha joined us and we made our way to the Tortilla Factory. They were making corn tortillas today and we each got a warm tortilla at the end of the line. Dad was wearing his birthday button, so in addition to his warm tortilla, he received a plastic bag with three tortillas. When we were all here in 2007, they were handing out a dozen tortillas to the birthday people. Since we had three people celebrating birthdays that trip, we were loaded with tortillas.

Our next stop was It’s Tough to Be a Bug, but no one was really excited about seeing that so we skipped it and headed over to Monster’s Inc. By the time we arrived at Monster’s Inc. the wait time was 20 minutes. Mom wasn’t interested in riding so she went across the way and sat down at one of the benches in the outdoor stage area. I’m not sure what that area is called. I started to wait in line with the others, but it was the longest line that I’ve ever seen for this attraction and it isn’t one of my “must do’s” so a couple of minutes into the wait I bailed and joined mom. There was a Cinderella meet and greet going on so I watched her interact with the kids until she left to go backstage.

Mom carries a book and her electronic Yahtzee game with here at all times, so she was settled in to wait. I took the time to update my trip report notes until the others emerged from Monster’s Inc. I checked my watch and the wait time truly was 20 minutes. Sometimes wait times are exaggerated a bit, but not this time.

Everyone except Mom headed over to the Animation building to take the Animation Academy class. Skipping It’s Tough to Be a Bug put us back on schedule so we had about a 10 minute wait until the next class started. It was a full class. The character we were taught to draw was Chip. I have no drawing talent to speak of, but I was mildly impressed with my character until I glanced over to Matthew on my left and Jason on my right, both of whom are much more talented than I am, and saw their amazing drawings. After we finished, the instructor said that the next class would be learning to draw Dale, which I thought was an odd choice since he is very similar to Chip.

We stopped to admire the Toy Story Zoetrope before heading over to Turtle Talk with Crush. Dad, Jason, Sandy and I did that, while Matthew and Samantha went to find their grandmother. Crush was funny and we enjoyed the show although we were all afraid that we’d get called on.

Matthew texted that he and Samantha and Mom were waiting for us at Coke Corner in Disneyland. Sandy headed to Soarin’ to pick up a FastPass for later. Dad headed for the lockers outside of DCA to retrieve his belongings that he stashed there before the Segway tour. They were given complimentary lockers to store their things while they were on the tour. Jason and I headed over to Disneyland and Coke Corner where we met up with Matthew and Samantha. Mom was sitting in her favorite spot in the corner which was shaded and benefitted from the air conditioning spilling out from the doorway nearby.

Since I was walking very slowly today, Jason and I decided to start the walk back to the Big Thunder Ranch BBQ where we had a 1:30pm lunch reservation. The others would catch up to us shortly. On the path behind Big Thunder Mountain Railroad we saw Jessie posing for pictures.

As soon as the rest of group arrived, I checked us in for lunch and was given a pager. We waited about five minutes for our table. The food was very good. We had ribs, chicken, coleslaw, corn bread and beans. It was $19.99 per person and didn’t include beverages or dessert. Dinner is $24.99 and in addition to everything served at lunch, it includes corn on the cob wheels and polish sausage. Since it was all you care to eat, we decided to save ourselves the $5.00 per person and do lunch instead of dinner. Everyone except Jason and I ordered a beverage. We’re used to just drinking water with our meals when were on vacation just to save a little bit of money. We asked for a second helping of ribs, which were excellent. They were very tender, with the meat falling off the bone. The entertainment was fine. One of the cowboys come around with his guitar to the various tables and when he found out that we were celebrating two birthdays and three graduations, he sang a special song for us.

By the time we finished lunch it was 2:30pm and Jason and I were ready to head back to the hotel for a rest. It was very hot and our table started in the shade, but Jason’s half of the table ended up in the sun by the time we finished so he was ready for some air-conditioning. We made plans to meet near the Hyperion theatre around 6:30pm to try and make the 7:00pm Aladdin show.

Jason and I were at the tram station ready to board the tram when Mom called asking if she could hitch a ride with us back to her hotel. We told her we would wait for her at the parking lot. We told her we were parked in Pinocchio and would wait for her at the car.

We made it to the car and got the air conditioning going. While it’s super convenient to park in Pinocchio where we have a short walk to the tram loading area, it also means the car is parked in the direct sun. The car was boiling hot. We waited and waited for Mom. Finally, Jason called her and was surprised that she actually answered. We’ve had a really hard time getting her to leave her phone on. She’s trying to “save the battery,” although we’re not sure what’s she’s saving it for. She said she was just then boarding the tram. Jason told her to just walk through the hedge when she got off the tram and we’d see her.

Again, we waited and waited and couldn’t figure out what happened to her. There’s no way the tram would take that long to get to the parking lot. Finally, she called to say that she couldn’t find us. She didn’t remember that we said we were in Pinocchio and instead walked over to the Chip and Dale area.

When she reached the car, I suggested that she might want to pick her car up and drive herself back to the hotel so she could park in the Toy Story lot later in the day. I tried to explain that it might be easier at the end of night to retrieve her car from Toy Story than fight the crowds waiting to take the tram back to the Mickey & Friends lot. I either didn’t make myself clear or she just didn’t understand what I was saying because she thought that I was saying that I didn’t want to drive her back to the hotel. It was frustrating because as much as I tried to explain that I didn’t mind at all driving her back to the hotel, it seemed like she had it in her head that I was inconvenienced by her. Finally, I gave up trying to explain and the rest of ride was in chilly silence.

We dropped her off at her hotel after arranging to pick her up at 6:00pm. We made a quick trip to Food 4 Less for honey (Jason had a slight sore throat and thought some tea with honey might help), and then stopped by Mimi’s to pick up the free 4-pack of muffins. We arrived back at the hotel at 4:00pm, a full hour and a half later. Jason and I parted ways and headed to our rooms to rest.

I napped and relaxed for awhile, then Jason came over and we hung out in my room for awhile. Sandy texted Jason and she and Samantha had gone back to their hotel for a rest and asked if we would pick them up when we picked up Mom. At 5:55pm we headed over to the Anaheim Plaza and picked up Mom, Sandy and Samantha.

We headed to the Toy Story lot and encountered no line to get into the lot. I was expecting to be directed to the same handicapped parking area we parked in on Sunday evening, but were instead directed to the regular parking area in the Woody section. After asking the CM, I was told that the disabled parking was full. Fortunately, our parking spot was fairly close to the front of the row and it was a short walk to the bus pickup area. It was less of a walk than if we’d parked in the closest spot in the Pinocchio lot.

We stepped onto a waiting bus and sat down in blissful air conditioning. As we exited the lot, I could see multiple disabled spots available on the other side of the bus loading area. There had been about a half dozen CM’s standing at the entrance to the lot, directing us over to Woody. It’s too bad some of them weren’t able to monitor the availability of the disabled parking area. It would have been quite a hike if we’d had to park at the end of the row.

When we reached the drop off area, I was pleased that the bus pulled into the very closest spot to the security area. We breezed through security (this side is definitely less crowded than the other side) and into DCA.

Dad had texted that he and Matthew were waiting across from the Hyperion theatre. When we met up with them, Dad said there had been some question about whether or not the 7:00pm show would go on as scheduled. People had been waiting around until shortly before we arrived when the decision had been made that the show would go on. The CM’s were lining people up in the mezzanine section, which we knew would involve walking up many flights of stairs outside the building. Dad talked to a CM who directed us to another CM where Mom and I were issued an elevator pass.

Mom and I waited near the elevator, while everyone else waited in the mezzanine line. There were a few benches nearby, but they were taken by other people. It was tough standing for the 20 minutes until they started letting people in. The CM explained that they would let some of the people into the theatre that were waiting in the preferred seating area and then she would start taking groups of us into the elevator. She explained that the regular line for the mezzanine would pass right by the spot where we exited the elevator and we would be able to join our party as they passed by.

After some of the preferred seating people were let into the orchestra level, she asked one of the people in a wheelchair and their companion to follow her into the elevator. Since there wasn’t room for a second wheelchair, she indicated that Mom and I should follow her too.

We rode up and when we emerged from the elevator, the regular line was already pouring into the area. We didn’t know whether or not the rest of our party had already entered. I thought we should wait there, while Mom thought we should find seats for all seven of us. I knew we might have trouble saving seven seats, when CM’s were asking people not to save seats. We bickered briefly about it and finally decided to just sit down. Mom didn’t like being up so high so we headed down as close as we could. Fortunately, the rest of our group arrived just then and we were all seated together about three rows from the railing.

I’m split between sitting in the mezzanine where you get a great view of the flying carpet, and sitting on the lower level where you get a great view of Prince Ali on the elephant as he makes his way through the theatre. Since this was Sandy’s first time seeing the show, I was glad that we would get a great view of the flying carpet. Unfortunately, this time they left out the flying carpet part. It seemed a little awkward. We could hear them singing, but didn’t see Aladdin or Jasmine until the song was almost finished. They appeared on stage, but there was so much smoke that you could barely see them. It wasn’t until after the show that Dad said he’d heard that someone in the cast was injured earlier in the day, which was why there was some question about the show actually going ahead. I hoped it wasn’t a serious injury. As much as I love the flying carpet scene, I certainly didn’t want anyone to risk getting injured.

After the show, we wanted to make a restroom stop, but were afraid that the restrooms closest to the theatre would be packed. Since our next stop was Soarin’, we decided to use the restrooms over there because they’re usually not that crowded. That ended up being a big mistake. The line was huge. I think they were clearing the Paradise Pier area in preparation for World of Color and it seemed like everyone was heading to the restroom. The FastPass return line for Soarin’s was huge too, extending way out of the building.

We decided to scrap our plans for Soarin’ for now. Instead, we used the restrooms near the park entrance and then had ice cream at Burrr-Bank Ice Cream. We found an empty table and gathered seven chairs around. Dad, Mom and Jason went to order the ice cream. When Mom came back with her ice cream, I went to help Dad and Jason carry the rest of the order to the table. We all enjoyed the ice cream, but Jason and I really miss the Steamin’ Chocolate that we used to order a few years ago. It was a brownie, with a couple of scoops of ice cream, topped with fudge sauce, whipped cream and a cherry. It was our favorite and one of us always brings up how much we miss it each time we eat here.

After ice cream, we headed back to Soarin’ where the line was little bit shorter, but still longer than Jason and I wanted to wait. We decided to check out Glow Fest and then head back to the hotel. I passed my two FastPasses off to Sandy before we left.

Glow Fest was interesting. It was very lively and bright. There were a few people dancing but I didn’t see any rowdy behavior or anyone obviously on drugs. In the back of my mind, I was expecting some wild, out of control, party like atmosphere, but it seemed very much under control. Most of the people were just looking around. There were a couple of places where you could buy drinks, but the prices were so high that it would be very expensive to order more than a couple of drinks. We walked the length of Hollywood Blvd and then back again. Jason took some pictures, but I was ready to leave. There really wasn’t anything there to draw me back a second time.

We left the park and stepped directly on to a waiting bus. It was a quick drive back to the hotel. We said goodnight and Jason went to his room. I updated my trip report notes. At this point I officially gave up trying to actually write the trip report and will wait until I’m back at home to continue it.

Highlights: It feels like on the days when we’re at DCA days we don’t really accomplish a lot. The lines for Toy Story and Soarin’ were really long and I was glad that I rode Soarin’ first thing, even if I did ride by myself. Big Thunder BBQ was fun and the food was excellent.

Pedometer Stats:
Miles: 4.19
Steps: 12,276

Day 3 – Monday, June 21, 2010

Plan: Disneyland Day; Breakfast at Carnation Cafe


I was up at 5:30am after a good, although short, night’s sleep. I showered and dressed then texted Jason that I was ready so he could come over. We hung out in the room until 7:00am and then drove over to Mickey & Friends. We didn’t even try to park in Toy Story, figuring it would be closed this early in the morning. We parked in the Pinocchio lot, two spaces from the front.

The rest of the family was waiting in the security line, which had just opened. After security we found a line where we were only a few people from the front. Since it wasn’t a Magic Morning, we were let into the park around 7:45am and held at the end of Main Street. At rope drop we all headed straight for Fantasyland. I played with RideMax for quite a while, tweaking things here and there until I came up with what I felt was the ultimate touring plan for this area of the park. First stop was Peter Pan, where we waited about 8 minutes. Next was Dumbo, where six of us piled into our own flying elephant. Jason stayed on the ground to take pictures of us. We then headed over to the Matterhorn. Mom doesn’t ride the Matterhorn, so she headed over to Buzz Lightyear to pick up a FastPass. It wasn’t until after she left that we realized we should have given her our tickets so she could pick up FastPasses for the rest of us. Dad was going to ride the Matterhorn with us, but decided while we were in line that it was too bumpy for him. He took all of our park tickets and went to get FP’s for Buzz for later. We rode the Tomorrowland side which is supposed to be a bumpier, faster ride. There were multiple times when the bobsled from the Fantasyland side was on the track right next to us. I wished I had my camera ready because I could have taken some great close up shots of the other bobsled.

After the Matterhorn, we headed over to Storybook Land Canal Boats, where we were going to meet up with Mom and Dad. Within a few minutes, Dad appeared, but there was no sign of Mom. We all figured that she wouldn’t be able to resist hopping on Buzz, since it’s her very favorite ride. After waiting a while longer we decided to skip ahead to the Mad Tea Party since Mom wouldn’t be riding that. Sandy and Dad sat this one out. There was no line at all. Samantha and Matthew were in one teacup, while Jason and I were in another. Jason and I don’t spin the teacups, and spent most of our time taking pictures of Samantha and Matthew.

There was still no sign of Mom when we left the tea cups. We were getting a little frustrated because the lines for Fantasyland attractions get long quickly. We watched the line for Storybook Land get longer and longer. Finally, we decided to just get in line and hoped that she would arrive before it was time for us to board. As soon as we got into line we saw her coming. There was one family behind us, so we let them go ahead and waited for Mom. Yep, we were right, she couldn’t resist Buzz and took a couple of rides. She thought we’d take longer at the Matterhorn.

We waited in line for a couple of boats and then boarded. With seven of us, I thought we might get our own boat, but they loaded a few more people in. I was at the very front of the boat which gave me a great opportunity to take pictures without people’s heads in the way. Dad was busy trying to take pictures of the Hidden Mickey’s.

In spite of our delay waiting for Mom to meet us, we were running about 30 minutes ahead of the RideMax schedule. We’ve generally found that RideMax is somewhat conservative in their wait time estimates. We’re happy with that as it is very satisfying to be ahead of the schedule.

Since we had time to spare before our Carnation Café reservation, we sent a few people over to Space Mountain to pick up FastPasses and then met at Market House for coffee. Even though ordering coffee all on one receipt would have put us over the $10 threshold to be eligible for the 10% AP discount, we decided to order separately so we’d each have a receipt to carry. This would make it easier to get free refills later in the day if we didn’t happen to be all together. When I stepped up to place my order, I found that Mom had given the CM enough money to cover everyone’s coffee.

We took our coffee and found a bench in Town Square and just sat and enjoyed the day. A few minutes before 9:40am we walked back to Carnation Café. When I called to make our priority seating I was told that the maximum number that they could seat on a reservation was four. So, after checking with a supervisor, the CM allowed me to make two reservations to accommodate our party of seven but warned me that we wouldn’t be able to sit together. When we checked in at Carnation Café, I gave the names that both reservations were under and without even asking they were able to put us all together at one table. In fact I saw several parties of more than four people sitting together. While we were prepared to be split up, we were glad that we were able to sit together.

We were at a table way in the back, which was fine since I was worried that we would be seated at one of the tables along the railing where walk-ups line up. I find it awkward to sit there with people staring at you while you eat. If I were standing in that line, I would make sure I was looking in a different direction. It just seems like common courtesy.

Breakfast was great. Since we planned to eat here twice during the trip I had Oscar’s Scramble this time and would have the Mickey-shaped waffle next time. Oscar’s Scramble includes scrambled eggs with cheese, potatoes, bacon or sausage, and a mini-croissant. There also a strawberry and orange wedge garnishing the plate. I made sure to eat that since I wasn’t getting nearly the fruits and veggies that I’m used to eating every day. Jason and I always take pictures of our food and once everyone else saw what we were doing, they also whipped out their cameras. I’m sure it looked odd to everyone around us. Oscar was there and spent a lot of time at our table. He seemed to greet us like he knew us and I wasn’t sure if he really did or he was just good at making people feel like he knew them. We don’t come here that often and I know he sees a lot of people each day. Still it was good to see him. It’s been about five years since he said he’s going to retire and although I know he deserves to retire, we really look forward to seeing him each time.

After breakfast we headed over to Captain EO. Jason and I love this because we both remember seeing it in 1993, although Jason was fourteen at the time. I’m not sure everyone else loved it as much as we do, although Mom seemed to enjoy seeing the 80’s hairstyles and fashions. For some reason the floor didn’t move at all during the show, which I really missed.

Next we did Buzz Lightyear, with no wait at all and then everyone but Mom and Dad did Space Mountain using our FastPasses. I always take my glasses off because I’m afraid they’ll fly off. I decided to try it with them on and it was just fine. Although it’s a very dark ride, it was nice to be able to see a few things during the ride, and it was nice not to have to fumble for my glasses when the ride was over.

Our last planned stop for the morning was It’s a Small World. The line extended beyond the roped queue area but moved quickly. When we reached the point where we branch into two lines, we chose the line on the right side.. We also took note of the person that entered the left side of the line so we could see if our line moved faster. As usual it did. When we boarded our boat I could seen him still a ways away from boarding. We all enjoyed seeing the new characters that were added.

Normally at this time I would head back to the hotel for a rest during the afternoon and then return in the evening when it began to cool off. But because Sandy, Samantha and Dad had their Segway Tour early the next morning, we decided to just stay in the park and meet at Coke Corner at 6:00pm. We’d call it a day at that point, grab an early dinner and get a good night’s sleep. Sandy and Matthew took off on their own, but Mom talked about getting a chocolate dipped waffle cone so the rest of us decided to get ice cream if the line wasn’t too long at the Gibson Girl Ice Cream Parlor. Dad was joking that the best time to get ice cream is when the park first opens otherwise the line is always ridiculously long. We walked over to Main Street and while the line was fairly long, it seemed to move quickly. I wasn’t super hungry because we’d just finished breakfast not too long ago, but it seemed like the optimal time to do this.

All the tables at Gibson Girl were full so we took our ice cream over to Coke Corner where we all crammed around one table. The ice cream was good. I know it’s just Dreyer’s, but it always tastes better at Disneyland.

After we finished the ice cream, Jason and I went over to Market House for coffee refills and everyone else went their own way. We took our coffee to Town Square and found an empty bench where we could watch characters. After awhile we decided to split up. Jason took off to take pictures around the park. I moved up to sit on one of the benches in front of the train station for awhile. While I was sitting there I realized that this was the first time I can remember being totally on my own in the parks. It was a strange feeling. I didn’t really know what to do. After awhile I decided to take a round trip on the train. I could hear a train approaching so I went into the train station. There were a lot of people waiting. I was about 10 people from the front of the line when the gates closed because the train was full. Fortunately, I was standing in front of a bench so I sat down to wait for the next train. While I was waiting I glanced over at DCA and decided it would be fun to maybe do a couple of rides on Soarin’ using the single rider line. So rather than wait for the train, I headed over to DCA.

It was extremely warm in the plaza area and the distance between Disneyland and DCA seemed a lot shorter from up at the train station than it did when I was actually making the trek. There were long lines of people at the turnstiles waiting to get in and I was resenting World of Color that was making DCA more popular than it had been in the past. I sure missed the emptiness of DCA.

By the time I made my way through the turnstiles, I was regretting my decision to leave the comfort of my bench at the train station. My knees and legs were killing me and I slowly hobbled my way around to Soarin’. When I asked the CM about doing single rider, she politely told me that because Soarin’ was so busy, they weren’t doing single rider at that time. What a disappointment!

I walked over to Taste Pilot’s Grill and sat down at one of the outside tables for a few minutes to give my knees a chance to rest. While I was there I considered my next step. I decided to head over to Muppets since there usually isn’t any problem getting into the next show and then I’d go over to the Animation building and do the Animation Academy, where they teach you to draw a popular Disney character.

I hobbled over to Muppets where I found an eleven minute wait until the next show. I was just about to ungracefully sit on the floor to wait when I spotted a place to sit off to the side. It was cool and comfortable and I was able to revive somewhat. When the doors to the theatre opened, I was at the back of the crowd. It wasn’t a huge crowd so there wasn’t really any need for people to move all the way over to end of the row. Most of the crowd went to the center of the row and sat down. I headed along the back and enter one of the back rows from the opposite side and had a perfectly unobstructed view of the show. I was also positioned to be one of the first people out of the theater.

After Muppets I walked across the street and entered the Animation building which was packed with people. I headed to the Animation Academy and saw a huge crowd of people waiting for the next class, which was still 10 minutes away, so I decided against doing it. I went into the room with Toy Story Zoetrope and sat down on a cushioned bench for awhile. That thing is just amazing. It was fun to hear the gasps of surprise from people seeing it for the first time.

I sat there for about 10 minutes and then headed back to the Animation Academy to find out when the next class was scheduled to begin. It wasn’t for another 30 minutes so I gave up on that idea. I decided to just head back to Disneyland, find myself a shady bench, and just rest.

I slowly made my way to the front of DCA, stopping several times to rest on a bench. I was really in a lot of pain and it was unbearably warm and very crowded. I was sitting on a bench outside of DCA’s Guest Services when Jason texted me, asking where I was. This end up being a frequent activity for most of us throughout the week. Someone would text the group, asking where everyone was, and we would respond by sending a picture of something near us. Or, sometimes someone would take a picture of some obsure area where they were and send it to the group asking us to guess where they were. I stepped out from Guest Services and snapped a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge. Jason was surprised that I was way over at DCA. I followed up the picture with a text telling him I was heading back to Disneyland.

I was just passing City Hall when Jason caught up with me. We decided to head over to the Tiki Room and have a Dole Whip. Once we reached the Tiki Room, we decided again the Dole Whip because it was a too close to dinner. We sat down on a bench to wait for the next show. As we sat there we came to the conclusion that we were both done for the day. If we headed back to the hotel now, we would have a good hour and a half to rest before dinner. Jason texted everyone else and asked them to give us a call when they were leaving for dinner.

We were able to hop on the next tram back to the parking structure and soon were back at the hotel. Jason went to his room and I headed to mine to soak in a hot bath. After my bath, Jason came over and we watched Castaway on HBO. Around six, we got a call saying that the rest of the group would be by to pick us up for dinner at 6:45pm. After dinner everyone was coming back to my room with their laptops to use our Wi-Fi for awhile. At 6:40pm, Jason and I walked to the lobby and picked up a guest parking permit for Mom and Dad’s minivan so they’d be able to legally park in the parking lot later.

They were pulling up just as we stepped out of the lobby. We hopped in and were on our way to El Pollo Loco on Ball Road. There was a lengthy discussion as we figured out how much chicken to get and what sides everyone wanted. Samantha doesn’t care for El Pollo Loco so she picked up something from Panda Express next door and brought it back to eat with us. There was a lot of food, but we did a good job of finishing most of it. There were four pieces of chicken left that Mom wrapped up to take back to the room. Jason and I always make a point of eating at El Pollo Loco whenever we’re at Disneyland. Sometime in the past year they opened one near us in Beaverton. We ate there a couple of times, but decided that it just tastes better in Anaheim.

After dinner we all piled into the van and came back to my room to use the Wi-Fi. Jason and Dad brought over a couple of chairs from Jason’s room so everyone had a seat. There were seven of us in the room with six laptops. Looking around it seemed like we were running some kind of illegal hacking operation with everyone hunched over their computers.

Everyone left by 9:20pm. Jason said goodnight and went to his room. I was tired so it was lights out by 10:00pm.

Highlights: Having our RideMax plan work so beautifully; being able to ride the Matterhorn, which was down for refurbishment during our February trip; seeing Oscar at Carnation Café.

Pedometer Stats:
Miles: 4.48
Steps: 14,204

Day 2 – Sunday, June 20, 2010

Plan: Disney California Adventure Park; Fantasmic Premium Viewing for Patty, Jason and Sandy


In spite of going to bed so late, I woke up at 4:30am and was unable to go back to sleep. Finally at 5:25am I got up. I quickly showered and dressed, then texted Jason to see if he wanted to come over. He was over immediately with his laptop and started working on his trip report. I checked my email.

Since today was a Magic Morning at Disneyland, we planned to start the day at DCA. Only Sandy, Matthew and Samantha are able to take advantage of Magic Morning and they planned to use theirs on Thursday. We planned to meet at the turnstiles to DCA at 9:15am. Jason and I decided to head over early and spend some time at Disneyland before meeting up with the others. We left the hotel at 7:05am and decided to try the new Toy Story lot. We were surprised and disappointed to find it closed. I had heard good things about it and was anxious to give it a try. So we backtracked and parked in the Mickey and Friends structure. Since we were so early, we found a great spot in the Chip and Dale area very close to the walkway.

We boarded the next tram that pulled up and were soon through Security. Our first stop was Guest Services where I picked up our Fantasmic tickets for this evening and the Segway tickets for Tuesday. We still had 15 minutes until park opening so instead of lining up at the first turnstile we came across, like almost everyone else, we checked the length of the other lines and found a much shorter one in the middle.

At park opening, instead of racing to an attraction, we stopped at one of our favorite spots in the park, the Market House. We both got cups of vanilla coffee and a cookie, white chocolate chip for Jason, Mickey-shaped sugar cookie for me. This brought us over the $10 mark so we were able to get a 10% AP merchandise discount.

We took our coffee and cookies and headed back to Town Square where we found an empty bench near the center of the square. The day was overcast and cool and the park didn’t seem particularly crowded. We were speculating that since it was Father’s Day, maybe Dads wanted to spend it on the couch at home rather than head to the parks.

We had a great time just watching the characters interact with the guests and enjoying the atmosphere. At one point, Pluto came by on his way to his meet ‘n greet spot. Since the line to see him was very short, we hopped in and had the cast member take our picture. We also had the PhotoPass photographer take our picture in front of the big “You’re Invited” invitation with the balloons. He took one with Jason’s camera and then took several of us with his camera, posing us in certain ways that I’m guessing will include some special effects when we check the pictures online.

It was nearly time for us to head over to DCA so we finished our coffee and made a quick stop at City Hall for two birthday buttons, two graduation buttons, and three “Just Celebrating” buttons.

We lined up at DCA right behind the letter “N.” We texted our location to the others and they responded that they were just getting parked. At 9:15am they arrived and joined us. I wished Dad a Happy Father’s Day. I’ve never seen such lines to get into DCA. Many of the people in line were there to get FastPasses for World of Color.

When the turnstiles opened at 9:30am, we headed immediately over to Soarin’ to get FastPasses for later. Samantha and I had problems with the FastPass machine. We put in our tickets but nothing came out. When we tried another machine, it said that we already had a valid FastPass. There wasn’t a CM at the FastPass machine so we went to tell the CM at the entrance to Soarin’. He ended up writing us a manual FastPass.

We could see the line for the World of Color FastPasses extending around from Grizzly River Run all the way to Sunshine Plaza as we made our way to the rope near A Bug’s Land.

At 10:00am the park opened and we walked back to Toy Story Mania. We had agreed ahead of time that people should walk at his or her own pace, but wait at the entrance to the ride until everyone arrived. It’s a pet peeve of ours when a few members of a party enter the queue and then assume that it’s okay for the rest of the party to cut through the line to catch up.

We arrived at Toy Story Mainia to find that it was closed and of course the cast members couldn’t commit to a time when it would be open. After a quick re-evaluation of our plans, Matthew and Samantha went to ride California Screamin’, Dad, Jason and I went to ride Mickey’s Fun Wheel, Sandy wandered around Paradise Pier, and Mom held her #1 spot in line for Toy Story.

While on the Fun Wheel, I scoped out the viewing area for World of Color and thanks to the many posts on MousePlanet, I was able to see where the dining package viewing area was and where I thought we might want to line up.

Afterwards, we met up near Toy Story, which was still down. It’s such a long walk back to this area that I really wanted to do everything we planned to do here before heading to another part of the park. We were trying to decide what to do next when Toy Story opened and we quickly got into line. Two lines had formed in either direction so it was slow going while the two lines were merged at the ride entrance. Once we actually entered the queue, the line moved fairly quickly. We probably waited 15 minutes. It was a very fun ride and we enjoyed seeing the new game that was added recently.

We had planned to pick up FastPasses for Grizzly River Run so we could all ride together, but with the FastPass machines being used for World of Color, we decided that those of us that wished to ride would use the single rider line.

But first it was time for lunch at Taste Pilot’s Grill. Four of us went to find a table, while three of us stood in line to order. It was around 11:30am and there was no line to order and plenty of tables available. Jason and I decided to split a Chase Pilot’s Cheeseburger. It came with fries, although not the criss-cut fries they used to serve. I took the burger up to the toppings bar and loaded us up with lettuce and tomatoes. It was plenty of food for the two of us and ended up being wise decision as everyone else ordered their own meal and ended up leaving at least some of it on their plates.

After lunch we used our FastPasses for Soarin’. Since this was Sandy’s first time on the ride, Jason asked if we could wait for section B2, which is the middle row of the center section. I know many people like to be in the top row of the center section, but we like the middle row because you don’t see the curved top of the screen. We don’t mind the row of feet above us. Sandy absolutely loved Soarin’, which I was glad about because it’s my favorite DCA ride too.

Next up was Grizzly River Run. Five of us were doing this attraction. Dad and Jason were sitting it out. Neither of them wanted to get wet and they wanted to be able to take pictures of us on the ride. We handed our stuff over to them and they put it in a locker for us. After picking up our single rider passes from the CM at the standby entrance, we went in through the exit. There wasn’t anyone waiting in front of us and I barely had time to pull on my poncho before Mom and I were assigned to the same raft. Matthew and Sandy were able to ride together and Samantha rode by herself. Mom and I stayed fairly dry with our ponchos. The others were wet, but not soaked.

By now it was around 2:00pm and Jason and I planned to head back to the hotel to rest. Sandy wanted to look around DCA a bit first since it was her first time in this park and then she would walk back to her hotel. Mom wanted to go over to Disneyland and ride Buzz. Dad, Samantha and Matthew went their separate ways.

Jason and I retrieved the car from the Mickey and Friends structure and drove back to HoJo’s. On the way, Jason suggested half-jokingly that we should stop in at Mimi’s for dessert. I thought that sounded like a great idea so we pulled in and were seated quickly. We decided to split the Triple Chocolate Brownie, which consists of two large triangles of brownies and several scoops of ice cream topped with caramel and fudge sauce and whipped cream. It was so huge that even with two of us working on it we weren’t able to finish it. We also order iced tea and were both so thirsty that we just guzzled the first glass. Our server was Gina, and she was super friendly. She quickly refilled our glasses and then as we were getting ready to leave, she offered us refills of the tea in a to-go cup. The dessert was $4.99, which we felt was a bargain considering it could easily feed three people.

Back at the hotel, we parted ways and went to our rooms to rest. I dozed for about 20 minutes and then was woken up by the sound of people talking loudly in the hallway. Then I heard doors slamming, which shook the entire building. After about 10 minutes of this, I gave up resting and texted Jason that he could come over if he wanted. He was over in a few minutes with his laptop and worked on his trip report.

Looking at the bottom of the Mimi’s receipt, I noticed an invitation to complete an online survey in exchange for a free 4-pack of muffins. I completed the survey, which was fairly lengthy and wrote down the code for the free muffins. These will be great to have in the mornings in the room.

Around 5:15pm we started getting ready to head back to Disneyland for the Fantasmic! premium seating. Sandy had texted earlier to ask if we could pick her up on the way since she had decided to head back to her hotel for a rest. We texted her that we were on our way so she could be waiting for us outside her building. It was a short drive down Harbor to her hotel.

We decided to try the Toy Story lot again and this time it was open. I asked the CM at the booth what time they generally opened, and he replied that today they opened at 10:30am. We were directed to a disabled spot that was super close to the loading area. I think we were only three parking spaces away. As we stepped up to the loading area, a bus across the way finished loading people up and drove around to pick us up. The bus was only partially full so we had no problem finding seats. It was a short, air-conditioned drive over to the resort. We were dropped off very close to security. All in all it was a very pleasant experience and involved much less walking than parking in the Mickey and Friends structure. I only hope the return trip is as easy at the end of the evening.

The plan was for everyone to meet up at 6:20pm at Coke Corner. When the three of us arrived we found Dad, Matthew and Samantha waiting for us. We all sat there for awhile chatting and then the three of them left the park to meet up with Mom and have dinner at Coco’s on Harbor.

Once they left, we decided to eat dinner at Coke Corner. Jason saved our table while Sandy and I picked up hot dogs and chips. While we ate we watched the afternoon parade and were all very unimpressed with it.

At 7:00pm we walked over to New Orleans Square to check things out for Fantasmic! The podium was out and there were a couple of CM’s there, but they weren’t checking people in until 8:00pm. She said we could line up if we wanted. We found a spot on the wall to sit and wait. It was nice to just sit there and check out our surroundings. There was a protein spill across the way from us and we watched two custodial CM’s clean it up, though it did make us slightly queasy to watch.

Gradually, the line to check in got longer and longer. Promptly at 8:00am, the CM motioned to us that we could check in. When Jason and I did this in February of 2009, we weren’t anywhere near the front of the line, so by the time our turn came to check in, the CM let us choose where we wanted to sit from the remaining available seats. This time, since we were first, we were assigned seats 1 through 3, which was the front row of the far right hand section (if you’re facing the stage) of the seating area, making us front and center for the show.

Once we checked in, we were told to come back at 8:30pm to be seated. With some time on our hands, we decided to do Haunted Mansion, which had zero wait time. We just walked right in and were out by 8:07am. I don’t think I’ve ever done Haunted Mansion so quickly. Next we walked around to ride Winnie the Pooh, but it was closed for technical difficulties. We wandered slowly back, walking along the little path that runs behind the Harbour Galley to see where the Splash Mountain logs go after the big drop.

After a restroom stop, it was time to report back for Fantasmic! We were seated promptly and a very friendly CM handed us our dessert boxes and took our drink orders. She recommended moving the grapes from their spot in the dessert box and using that compartment for a beverage holder. Sandy had coffee, while Jason and I both had hot chocolate. The temperature was definitely cooling off. Sandy had a sweatshirt, but Jason and I absolutely refuse to bring any type of jacket or sweatshirt to Southern California during the summer months. One thing we really like about Southern California is that the temperature peaks early in the afternoon and begins to cool off in the late afternoon and early evening. In Oregon we may not have much in the way of summer, but when we do have a spell of warm weather, the temperature doesn’t peak until 5:00 or 6:00pm, and often takes until late evening to cool off to a comfortable level.

We munched on our dessert boxes until we felt ill, and then decided to save the rest for later. At 9:00pm Fantasmic! started and it was as wonderful as always. I never wanted it to end. I love the soundtrack and listen to it often on my iPod. My favorite part is the end when the Mark Twain comes around with all the characters waving. It brings tears to my eyes. This was Sandy’s first time seeing it and she loved it too.

When Fantasmic! ended we waited a few minutes and then the fireworks began. This was our first time seeing Magical and while we did have an okay view, I do want to see them from in front of the castle. Seeing Dumbo flying around was amazing.

After the fireworks ended, we slowly made our way out of New Orleans Square. We decided to exit via Frontierland since Adventureland gets so congested. The CM’s doing crowd control let us through to Frontierland, but directed everyone behind us to Adventureland. We were confused about this until we saw the huge crowd of people waiting to get in to the second showing of Fantasmic!. We made our way passed the Golden Horseshoe just as the crowd was unleashed. I would have hated to been caught in that stampede.

We slowly made our way up Main Street and out of the park. As we approached the pick-up area for the Toy Story shuttle, we could see a roped queue, but people were moving through quickly. When we reached a CM, he was counting off people and assigning them to a numbered zone. We were assigned to zone 2. Within one minute of reaching the zone, a bus pulled up and we all hopped aboard. It was another comfortable ride back to the parking lot. The bus dropped us off at the same point it picked us up and we were out of there within two minutes. I am definitely sold on this parking lot. It was fast and convenient. If only it would open up first thing in the morning.

We dropped Sandy off and headed for our hotel. Jason worked on his trip report while I transferred pictures from my camera to my laptop. After plugging in the various electronic devices to charge, I was ready for bed. It was lights out at 11:30am.

Summary: Today seemed very long but we enjoyed every minute. We seemed to pack so much into the day that at times Jason and I would look at each other and say, “Is this really just our first day?” I hope the rest of the trip goes by just as slowly. I don’t want it to zip by. It was fun doing things with Sandy for the first time and seeing her reactions.

Pedometer Stats:
Miles: 4.23
Steps: 13,430