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!

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