Saturday, December 4, 2010

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

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