Monday, December 29, 2014

Our Wonderous, Mystical, Adventure
to THE Magic Kingdom

Terry and I flew out of Philly on Monday arriving in Los Angeles late in the afternoon. For a couple of days before Christmas, the security lines at the US Airways terminal were nonexistant and we were able to breeze on through. We were early enough to have a light lunch and enjoy some carolers before worrying about catching our flight. I hate to fly so I was pleasantly surprised by all this. 

Jess picked us up and drove us to the Grand Californian where we were given a room for the night on the Club level. Talk about luxurious! Unfortunately (or maybe not as far as my wallet was concerned) we were there for just the first night before moving down to the fifth floor where we had adjoining rooms with Rick and Sandy who flew in on Tuesday.

Tall Christmas Tree in the lobby.
 HUGE Gingerbread house in the lobby, too.
The recipe for 500 pounds of gingerbread house.

The three of us dined at Trader Sam’s, a Tiki bar tucked in an out of the way locale. (Everything else had a 45 minute wait to be seated.

Trader Sam's where every drink order sparks a floor show of sorts.
Disneyland is actually three separate areas: Downtown Disney (primarily retail and dining), and the two theme parks: Disneyland Park and California Adventure Park. The former is free to anyone while the latter two require admissions. We got three day tickets that allowed us to enter either park. Unlike Florida’s Disney World, everything is very compact and within walking distance. Staying at the Grand Californian made it even easier to reach two of the three. There were entrances to Downtown Disney and California Adventure right from the hotel plus there were perks of being able to access rides in the wee hours before the general public was even permitted entrance.

Jessica, Terry and I spent Tuesday in Downtown Disney while we waited for Rick and Sandy to arrive. Once they had checked in, we dined in Downtown Disney and roamed around enjoying the beautiful weather and some of the street musicians before heading back to the hotel and a dip in the hot tub.

 Yeah. They are made from Legos.

Wednesday we all headed out to the parks with Jessica acting as our guide. We breakfasted at Flo’s over in the Cars area of Californian Adventure.

The Cars area is much more impressive at night when the neon shines brightly.

We then walked over to the Paradise Pier area where Rick and Jess took a ride on the roller coaster. (Sandy couldn't due to pregnancy. I wasn't allowed because of my back. And Terry also had a
back condition," i.e. a yellow stripe down the middle of hers.) 

 Terry and Sandy await the roller coaster riders.
 Rick & Jess are ready to go.

Then we had a Boardwalk experience with carousel rides and arcade games. (Rick, Sandy and Terry won stuffed animals and Rick had the high score in the Woody and Buzz shooting gallery/ride.)
Sandy on the bench. In this case, of the carousel.
Mr. Potato Head: Side show barker.
 Rick, Terry (and their winnings) and Jessica.
Rick, Rich, and Jessica.
 (I was the only one who didn't succumb to the ear thing.)

We stayed in the California Adventure Park for dinner at Ariel's Grotto. Sandy went back to the hotel to rest and Jess went off to go to work, but Terry, Rick and I stayed around the water front for the World of Color light/water show. It was a heck of a show combining animation and fountains of water as screens. We were right on the rail of the water front. We watched the sun set. We got wet.

Sun setting behind the roller coaster.
Sun setting behind the roller coaster and ferris wheel.
Reflections on the lagoon prior to the World of Color show.
 Thursday, Christmas morning, we exchanged gifts in our hotel room before heading out to visit THE Disneyland Park. We had our picture taken in front of the castle. (Still waiting for them, Jess.)

The castle was decorated for Christmas.

Thank goodness they redecorated/themed “It’s a Small World” or I might have jumped overboard. Sure, some of the places they showed as celebrating Christmas don’t, but what the hey! Anything to avoid that earworm!

We also visited the Haunted Mansionother sites before ...

Haunted Mansion.
Haunted Mansion.
Haunted Mansion. The countdown to Xmas is at "zero" because...

... lunching at the Carthay Circle Restaurant. (The building is a replica of the theater in which the first full length animated movie (“Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”) premiered.) The circle in front of the restaurant serves as a performance venue for several song and dance groups and we got to see two performances in the three days we were wandering about.
The Carthay is now a restaurant.
Traveling musicians arrive on the Circle.
Goofy cuts a rug with singer/dancer.
A Red Car on Hollywood Blvd.
Mickey heads west with a dream.


Rick and Sandy, and Terry and I had retired for the night (Jess went off to work) when a little after 10 PM the fire alarm went off. The hotel was evacuated because—we heard—there was a minor fire in one of the kitchens. We stood outside with the rest of the guests in the cool night air for a half hour while the fire trucks pulled up and the firemen checked things out. Fun times, fun times.

Friday morning Rick and Sandy went out early to take advantage of the Magic Hour when hotel guests could access certain rides in the parks. Rides that had 40-50 minutes wait times the previous afternoon, were pretty much walk on up. Then we all went over to Goofy’s Kitchen (in Downtown Disney) where we had breakfast with a number of Disney characters. Goofy, Chip and Dale and others were in attendance. 

Terry & Dale
Jess & Dale

After breakfast we took the monorail back to Tomorrow Land and on to Main Street USA where we hit a couple of more rides. By then, the wait times were growing and growing so we didn’t get on some of the more popular rides. (Some of these are definitely out of order!)

Fantasy Land
Toad Hall
Terry & Mr. Toad
Rick & Sandy posing with Dumbo.
Dumbo, Sandy & Rick.

Appropriate detail on the Dumbo ride...
...and in a weather vane nearby.
Terry & Rick take a spin. (Jess and I rode together. Sandy was not allowed.)

Then back to Downtown Disney for lunch at Brenner’s with the Rosenbaums. 

Wayne, Terry, Ellie & Rich outside Brenner's
After lunch, Jess needed a nap (working until 2 AM will do that to ya!), Rick and Sandy went their own way, and Terry and I went back to the Paradise Pier where we got to see a parade with characters from Toy Story, Cars, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, and Monsters, Inc. We also tried our luck with the arcade games again. And Terry won…again. 

Somewhere in here, we (Terry, Jess and I) also got to see a cute little melodrama complete with villain, heroic sheriff, damsel in distress...the whole works.
The (boo! hiss!) villain and the lovely lady in distress.
Pluto didn't like it when I said Goofy was better looking.
Pluto poses with Terry & Jess.
Santa (now on vacation himself) checks in with some of his clientele.

Chip loved Jess' Aperture jacket.

As the sun set, we gathered back at the hotel before going out to River Belle Terrace in Frontierland for dinner and the live action/animation/water/light show Fantasmic! WOW! What a performance! And what a way to wind down after three hectic and fun filled days.

Saturday morning we breakfasted in the hotel’s Storytellers CafĂ©. We were visited by several Disney characters. Then it was time to pack up, check out and head home. Terry and I had a 2 PM flight out of LAX so we were the first to leave (via taxi). Rick and Sandy relaxed in the hotel and at Downtown Disney where they went to watch Into The Woods before setting out for their flight back to Portland. (They ended up getting home about the same time we did. That would be 2:30 AM EST or 11:30 PM PST.)  Jess headed home (two-three blocks away). 

After a great five days at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel and Spa with Jess, Rick and Sandy, Terry and I returned home late Saturday night/Sunday morning. The last 45 minutes/miles were spent driving in the rain. That was the only rain we experienced since we left on Monday. There was even this strange thing in the sky out in Anaheim. I think it’s called the Sun.

[As luck(?) would have it, I returned home with one heck of a chest/head cold. Could have been from being in an airplane for 5 hours--twice. Could have been from being around thousands and thousands of people in the parks. Could have been from the changing climate. It got down right chilly after the sun set and getting wet at one of the shows and one of the rides or standing around for the fire alarm sans jacket didn't help. I'm just hoping that the doctor won't have to postpone my back surgery too far into January. I meet with him on December 30th to find out.]