Sunday, September 09, 2012

Day 3 - Back to Disneyland (and Magic Morning!)

When we bought our tickets, we received a "magic morning" thing that let us choose one day to enter Disneyland an hour early.  I was determined to not let that go to waste!  So we got up and ready, and actually got to the park around 8:25 (would have liked 8, but oh well :) ).  With a plan in place, we made a bee-line for Star Tours!  Once again, Jared was too small, but Daniel was tall enough!  Mike took Daniel first while I waited with Jared (and they had almost no line!).  Jared managed to score himself and his brother some Disneyland buttons too!  After Mike and Daniel returned, we swapped out kids and I took Daniel on Star Tours again (lucky kid, right?).

Just as we finished up the 2nd run of that ride, the masses were moving through the park, as it just opened to the regular crowd.  We hurried to our next "must ride", which was Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage (used to be the yellow submarines).  I'd never been on that ride either (as I hadn't been on Star Tours either!).  We got on that and it was something we all enjoyed!  After that, we did Pirates of the Carribean, followed by a quick Mad Tea Party (spinning teacups).  We were making really good time in the morning!  So we stopped and had a bite to eat for breakfast and tried to figure out what to do next.  Some of the rides were not good for a small kid or two to wait in (the flying Dumbos, Alice in Wonderland, Mr Toad's Wild Ride, were some that we thought the kids would like!).  So we settled on the Tiki Room!  Jared loved it, and was dancing around very happy!

After hitting up the petting zoo in Big Thunder Ranch, we took the train around to the main street station and went back to the hotel for nap time.

Second part of the day, we returned, got on the train again and went to Mickey's Toon Town.  We scanned our tickets for FastPasses (something we hadn't done all trip!) for Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin.  Daniel and Jared went wild running around and through some of the buildings in Toon Town until we got on the ride.  We spent a good amount of time playing at Goofy's house, in the post office and up on Daisy or Donald's boat.  As a last hurrah, we made our way back to Tomorrowland and ran through Astro Blasters again.  The lines were never as short as they were that first day, but it wasn't too bad.  We bought a couple of more things at the gift shop at the end of the ride, and said our goodbyes to Disneyland...until next time.

Our exciting day ended up consisting of Star Tours (x2), Nemo's Submarine, Pirates of the Caribbean, Spinning Teacups, Tiki Room, Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin, and finally AstroBlasters again.  8 different attractions...not too bad!  8 times riding for Daniel...lucky boy!

Day 2 - California Adventure

Day 2 of our trip to Anaheim had us going to California Adventure!  None of us (out of the four of us) had ever been.

So we started out the day intent on definitely hitting up the new Cars Land.  When we got there (around 10 I think), the FastPass for the Radiator Springs Racers were all gone (???) and the standby was around 2 hours long (no WAY).  With that disappointment out of the way (more for us, Daniel had no idea), we did get to go on Mater's Junkyard Jamboree.  We did the rider swap again (Jared was too small), which ends up being good for Daniel because he gets to go on it twice.

After a quick picture with Mater, we made it to a Bug's Land, and rode the ladybugs twice (Francis' ladybug boogie...Jared got to go on that one!).  After that, we were sort of wanting for some ice cream, so we made our way to an ice cream shop and ended up getting our whole order for free, as we happened to be the "customer's of the hour".  That was our morning.

Coming back after naps and determined to hit up more than we had in the morning, we went to Mickey's Fun Wheel (on the sliding cars!).  Jared had the MOST fun out of all of us.  Mike doesn't care much for ferris wheels (makes him sick), I had a minor freak out with the sliding around, and Daniel was just nervous.  Jared...he was thrilled!

We ended with a little souvenir shopping (some light-up toys), riding the Golden Zephyr, and running through the obstacle course at the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.

All told, rides were Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, twice on Francis' Ladybug Boogie, Mickey's Fun Wheel, Golden Zephyr and Redwood Creek Challenge Trail.  Not a ton, but it was still fun just "seeing" things there.

Friday, September 07, 2012


I haven't posted here for a while, and I figured this blog was the most appropriate for detailing our latest trip here.  Looking back at my blog posts, the last time I remember coming to the area was in 2005.  We stayed at the Grand Californian, but, oddly, didn't go to Disneyland or California Adventure.

We decided to take this trip on kind of a spur of the moment (as in, didn't have reservations or anything until Tuesday night, and we left on Thursday night).  I'd been pining away at coming to Disneyland for quite some time, and gone through all of the price analysis and planning what we'd do here and so on.  So I was ready to go with reservations!

Anyway...we left Thursday after work.  Although we wanted to get out of work a little earlier and get a few things done before we had to pick up the boys and leave, that didn't happen.  Instead, we managed to get officially on the road right before 6pm.  Running into a little bit of Phoenix rush-hour traffic in the downtown area, we were on our way.  And we stopped three times to use the bathroom or top off on gas.  All things told, it took us 6 hours, 23 minutes.  Jared sacked out in the car around 9pm (late for him!), and Daniel finally gave up and dozed off around 11pm (late for him, of course, but he's a determined little guy...and this was all of 10 minutes after he insisted that he couldn't fall asleep!).

We checked into one of the "good neighbor" hotels (one of these days, we'll go back to one of the Disneyland resort ones...when money is less tight, of course!)...the Best Western Plus Raffles Inn.  I'll give the reasoning for that choice in a bit.  The kids were up, but exhausted when we got here, and I don't think we were all settled in and bedded down until around 2 or 2:30 am!

Moving right along, in my excitement, I end up waking up right before 8am, and about 20 minutes later I hear Jared up.  Jared and I run down to the breakfast room at the place we're staying and grab a few things, trying to encourage Mike and Daniel to wake up so we can go!

And we're off...we walk all the way there (a bit of a bigger hike than we really anticipated) and pick up our passes into the park.  The excitement is palpable!  We head into Disneyland, and we manage to catch a couple of the characters coming out to do their meet and greet thing.  Immediately, we see Pluto and Donald, and there's a pretty short wait to see Donald, so we wait.  Before we can get out any cameras and pull Jared out of his stroller, Daniel is up giving Donald a BIG HUG, hi-fiving and having a great time having a one-on-one with Donald Duck!  He was not shy AT ALL.  I wish I could have caught that moment on camera, but I guess I'll have to settle with the mental picture.  We grab a quick family shot of the four of us with the web-footed one, and we spy Mickey and Minnie together!  The two weren't out for long, and we were the 2nd to last in line before they were cutting people off.  Jared seemed entertained by Minnie Mouse (he gave her a hi-five and smiled at her even!).  So we got some great pictures there!

Satisfied with our character greetings, we head towards Tomorrowland.  That actually took longer to get there with a suddenly cranky toddler.  We had a detour into one of the candy shops, and eventually veered towards our intended destination.

First ride at the park...the Astro Orbiter!  They said it was an estimated 5 minute wait (the wait something we actually care about now with kids...right?), but it was more like 15 before we boarded (probably four cycles of the ride).  Jared was pretty good, even though he did want to stand up and look out when the ride was just getting started (they scolded us for it, sort of, before I pulled him down).  Daniel, of course, loved it!

Moving on to something else that somewhat unexpectedly became the most popular ride for us today!  Buzz Lightyear's AstroBlasters!  Now, Daniel has played the XBox Kinect version of the game (in Disneyland Adventures), but he loved this so much that we went on the ride FOUR times.  Each time, Jared huddled quietly next to us, we couldn't tell if he was enjoying himself or not.  It was fun!  We would have probably done it another dozen times if it had been up to Daniel., while still in Tomorrowland...we make our way to Autopia.  They had FastPasses to that, but I don't really think that was too necessary for that ride.  Jared ended up being too short to go on it (weird, since he was measured tall enough at the doctor's office!).  So we made use of the "rider swap" feature.  It worked out well because Daniel got to go on the ride TWICE (once with each of us) and didn't have to wait really between the rides.  Good feature.

After that, it was approaching 1, and time for naps.  So we walk back to the hotel (long walk, really hot), with Jared asleep for most of the ride.  He goes down for a nap, Daniel settles in with some web cartoons, and Mike and I nap between Daniel fussing about whenever one of his shows would end.  We get pizza, and get ready to head back to Disneyland for the evening.

Just as we're getting back in there (we decide to cheat and take the parking shuttle that happens to be close to where we're staying), the parade starts!  Everyone seemed to be enjoying that (Daniel recognized some of the characters, and I think Jared likes the music).  Then time for one ride.  It took a while as we followed behind the parade to get to the general area of the rides we wanted.  And we ended up choosing It's A Small World.  Again, both kids enjoyed the boat ride!

We get out of our last ride and it's already dark, so we decide to head back to the hotel.

So that's our day!  We've gone on 4 different rides (and went on one of those 4 times!), so we're off to a slow start, by hard-core rider standards.

Tomorrow...California Adventure!