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Old 08-06-2013, 05:21 PM   #1
teacherlisa1978
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Carsland, Candy Corn, and Caramel Macchiatos

To all who come to this happy place, welcome!

This is my pre-trip report for our much anticipated first visit to the DLR since Christmas 2009. Best of all, it is my first trip to the Land with my 3 year old Lightning McQueen fan, Michael. We had a great extended family vacation to WDW last summer (and another planned for 2014) but can't wait to take our first Disney trip as a family of 3. Disneyland was the location of my very first childhood Disney trip and it has always held a very, very special place in my heart.

Here I am a few years ago-I'll always miss these letters and can't imagine seeing the Esplanade without them again!


And here's my sweet boy and his Daddy last summer.


And one of my favorites-we had a great Princess dinner in Epcot and my little guy was way, way more into the princesses than I expected. And I think Snow White kind of liked him, too!


This trip will have many firsts-our first visit to Carsland, first Halloween trip, and maybe, just maybe, my first Starbucks caramel macchiato inside Disney? (If I'm willing to brave the line, which I'm not sure I will be!)
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Carsland, Candy Corn, and Caramel Macchiatos-a DLR Trip Report
Disneyland: 1989, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2013
Disneyland Paris: 1994-free trip won through the Disney Store!
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Old 08-06-2013, 05:35 PM   #2
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The When:

We'll be heading to Anaheim after work on October 17th, a Thursday, and staying until the following Tuesday. I've never gotten to see the parks decorated in their Fall Finery and have always wanted to, so that was definitely part of the motivation. Also, because my husband started a new job last winter he wasn't eligible for anything more than a day off here and there all summer long. Which kind of stinks when you're a teacher with 2 months off but we've made the best of it with some long weekends of camping and beach trips. But! He can finally take a few days off in October and I knew where I wanted to go right away.

Then, when I found out we'll be there for the Halloween party on Monday the 21st I was really excited. I've never been to a hard ticket party at Disney and this seemed like the perfect chance. Plus, my son was absolutely thrilled with Halloween last year at 2 years old and I know he will have a blast celebrating in the park.

So, here's the nitty gritty:
Fly from SEA to SNA on October 17th and...somehow...get ourselves to the Embassy Suites Anaheim South. We've stayed here 3 times and love it so that was an obvious choice for us. Free hot breakfast, 2 rooms to spread out in, and we don't mind taking the bus since we are used to it at WDW-just feels like what you do on a Disney trip.

But-the question is, how do we get from the airport to the hotel? We are still trying to figure that out. Our flight arrives late in the evening so it looks like the DLR Express is out, and we could take a cab, which means we have to bring our car seat. I don't know about SNA but in my experience cabs at airports like to load quickly and take off-installing a car seat is not quick for us, at least. I am kind of skeeved out at the thought of using a car seat from the cab company and expect that would increase our wait anyway. So, I'm looking for suggestions if anyone has any...we have a lightweight Cosco scenera seat to bring and don't mind hauling it with us.

Once at the Embassy we'll take their shuttle to the parks each day. Last time we were there it was run by ART but I guess now the Embassy has their own shuttle. I've been trying to find out information on this (how often it runs, mainly) and haven't gotten very far so I have a little detective work to do on that.

We plan to take a break at the hotel every afternoon as our son is still a pretty good napper and stroller naps don't work very well for him. Plus, I like to sit down in a quiet hotel room and just relax after everything that goes into a busy Disney morning. So hopefully the shuttle will allow us to do that. If not, we'll figure something out.

And then I still need to figure out how to get us BACK to the airport late afternoon on Tuesday. I figure we'll do the same thing we did to get us FROM the airport I just need to figure out what exactly that is!

Next up: day by Disney day...
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Old 08-15-2013, 05:11 PM   #3
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Fuzzy Disney Math

You all know how it is...how the fuzzy Disney math creeps up on you.

We were originally taking this trip because we wanted a short, relatively budget trip in the Fall since, due to my husband's job, we couldn't take any vacation time this summer. And we really wanted to ee Carland too, of course. But. We were really pretty bummed because we adore WDW and those trips are the ones that really feel like a true vacation to us. Don't get me wrong-we love DLR too, but it's different and feels more like a long weekend destination to us rather than a true vacation.

After seeing Kevin Rafferty speak in June at the Pacific Northwest Mouse Meetwe began to get really excited about going to the Land.

Last week I started working on some of those last nuts and bolts for the trip-transportation here and there, mainly. We were pricing out rental cars versus shuttles, with parking fees at the hotel and the park and it started to add up. Finally my husband turned to me and said, "What's it going to take to get us on property someday?"

Excuse me, what? You have to understand-my husband is a penny pincher, bean counter, accountant by trade, and while we always stay on property in Florida it hadn't even really occurred to me to try it in Anaheim. It just didn't seem fiscally sound. And we've truly loved staying at the Embassy Suites. But we started doing the math and it really wasn't going to be all THAT much more just to stay at Paradise Pier. Just a couple hundred more dollars.

And then when I realized we'd get an Extra Magic Hour (that IS what they're calling them now, right? So hard to keep track!) every morning I was really excited. We're very much morning people and love that first hour when the park isn't crowded. And we started thinking it through-not losing the time where we'd have to wait for a shuttle, get our son back and down for a nap, when we can just walk to our room and put him down. One of us can stay in the parks later if we want to do some single rider lines, or shop in Downtown Disney. Getting back to the hotel after the Halloween party, Fantasmic, and World of Color will be a breeze now. We are so excited that we made this change.

Of course, by the time we STILL add in the costs of our transportation to and from the airport, and add on the Surf's Up breakfast (how can we not? We'll be staying right there in the hotel and our 3 year old is crazy for the characters!), the money savings over renting a car is pretty much gone but we are choosing not to focus on that aspect of it right now. My husband and I are so much more excited for our trip and I have a feeling it will be very hard to go back off property after this!
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Carsland, Candy Corn, and Caramel Macchiatos-a DLR Trip Report
Disneyland: 1989, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2013
Disneyland Paris: 1994-free trip won through the Disney Store!
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Old 08-15-2013, 09:31 PM   #4
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Lisa --

I was lured in to your TR because of the clever title and reference to candy corn -- I knew it meant that there was a Halloween trip in the works!

Your little guy is adorable, and I think he will love the Halloween party as well as Halloween Time in general! (And Cars Land will be a huge hit, as McQueen rolls through the streets of Radiator Springs every so often.)

You mentioned always wanting to "see the parks decorated in their Fall Finery." I will forewarn you, just so you know what to expect -- there is almost nothing in the way of Halloween decor in California Adventure at all...which is sad. There used to be actual decorations in DCA (Candy Corn Acres was very cool, and the Halloween party used to be held in DCA) but when the construction walls went up for the billion dollar makeover, the traces of Halloween faded away. In 2011 all that was in DCA that was even remotely Halloween-ish was Duffy's photo spot. Last year there were a couple of "Frankenweenie" things specifically tied into promoting that movie, but that was it. You will see Halloween goodies in the DCA candy and bake shops, though, and Halloween merchandise in some of the DCA shops.

I really think that Disney could do so much more with DCA for Halloween Time, as they have done for the holiday season. They could add some retro/vintage Halloween decor to Buena Vista Street and some whimsical, automobile-influenced decor in Cars Land. But, alas, it is not to be as of yet.

Disneyland is where you'll find the bulk of the Halloween/Fall fun. Main Street and Frontierland are basically the hubs of Halloween decor/activity, and then, of course, Haunted Mansion Holiday is in New Orleans Square and Ghost Galaxy is in Tomorrowland.

Check inside the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney as well -- I think they put up a Halloween decoration or two here and there.

Halloween Time is a great, fun, festive time to be at DLR and I think your family will really enjoy it. I look forward to following along with your report as plans evolve!
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Old 08-16-2013, 02:24 PM   #5
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Thank you Sherry E! We are very excited. 63 more days!

As far as decor goes I just really want to see those cute smiling pumpkins at the front of DL. I've seen pictures for years and can't wait to finally get a picture of us in front of them!

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Carsland, Candy Corn, and Caramel Macchiatos-a DLR Trip Report
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Old 08-16-2013, 02:32 PM   #6
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Following along.
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Old 08-16-2013, 02:44 PM   #7
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Following along too! I will be there the 23rd-27th of October! I love trip reports and PTR as well! Hmmm maybe I should do one???
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Old 08-19-2013, 09:33 AM   #8
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Following along. Your little guy is SO cute. Loving the Snow White Kiss photo, too cute!
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Old 09-06-2013, 04:43 PM   #9
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Thank you all for following along! As I'm a teacher and just finished my first week of school I haven't had much time to "think Disney" lately, but when I found myself getting stressed this week I remembered that we are only 6 weeks out from our trip! Almost time to start packing!

That said, I did just call Paradise Pier Hotel. I dread making phone calls in the worst way. But I wanted to link our two reservations-our room only for the night we arrive (I figure we'll be lucky to be at the hotel by 11pm and have us all asleep by midnight-yikes! Then it's up for Surf's Up Breakfast at 7 the next morning!), and our package which starts the next day.

Did I mention how much I detest making phone calls? I'd already begged my husband to call our vet back about an issue our dog is having so figured I'd used up my good will for phone call favors for the weekend. So I bit the bullet and called. Holy cow, how easy was that? The cast member understood exactly what I wanted to do, ensured that it would be no problem for us to keep the same room for the entire stay and the whole thing was complete in under one minute. If only all phone calls were this easy! Magical!
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Carsland, Candy Corn, and Caramel Macchiatos-a DLR Trip Report
Disneyland: 1989, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2013
Disneyland Paris: 1994-free trip won through the Disney Store!
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Old 09-06-2013, 04:55 PM   #10
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The Food!

I loved being able to make all of our dining reservations over e-mail for Disneyland. As I've said before I truly dislike phone calls. I've liked using the online reservation system for WDW (even if I do have to get up at 2:45 am since I'm on the West Coast and don't want to take any chances and missing out on my 180 day mark!), but e-mails 60 days out are way easier. The first day, I didn't realize they'd need my phone number to be able to make the reservation so I had to get back to them later, but I still got my reservation as requested and it was no big deal.

Here's what we have going:

Friday morning: we arrive late the night before but decided to do Surf's Up Breakfast at 7 am since we'll already be at the PPH. Then we'll spend the morning in DL until we're tired and ready for naps. I'm thinking some corn dogs will be a great lunch treat. That night it's dinner at Goofy's Kitchen since DL will be closed for the Halloween party.

Saturday: we'll have muffins or granola bars, something simple in the room for breakfast, and then have an early lunch reservation at Blue Bayou. Monte Cristo sandwich, here we come! That night we either want to try the Jazz Kitchen Express or Earl of Sandwich.

Sunday: We'll have a simple in room breakfast again and then we're dining with the princesses at Ariel's Grotto for lunch. Our last trip (2009) we all really enjoyed the meal here so we're looking forward to it.
I know we'll leave for a while for our son's nap but I'm hoping to get back in time to see Carsland light up in the evening. Dinner will be at Pacific Wharf-love the Crab Louie in a bread bowl!

Monday: Another simple breakfast and then we want to do lunch at Flo's. I'm actually not that excited by the menu so I might wander over to get something from the Cozy Cones and eat at Flo's with my family. I know our son will like the kid's meal in the Lightning McQueen box and my husband has several things he's excited about. I'd do the veggie tater bake but I believe it has soy crumbles or something in it? I don't do fake meat...

That night we're attending the Halloween party! Either Earl of Sandwich or Hungry Bear will be on the agenda for tonight. We definitely want to eat at EOS at some point on the trip so if we haven't gotten to it yet this will be the night. If we've already gone there, we might try Hungry Bear since I've read such good things about their menu which is quite different than our last visit. I also really like sitting by the water there.

Tuesday: Simple breakfast in the room again, then we'll be hitting our favorite rides and attractions this day. Not sure what we'll eat or if we'll just snack our way through the day. Our flight leaves around 6 pm so we'll have the morning and early afternoon time at the parks.

We realized that we're only doing 1 dinner reservation on this trip. We're actually really pleased with how it's working out. It's always seemed so rushed when we have to get to a dinner reservation, especially when you take naptime into consideration. This way we can let him nap as long as he needs to, and get up and go when we're ready. We've also found that with dinner reservations we don't end up seeing much of the parks in the evening, so we like the freedom this will give us.
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Carsland, Candy Corn, and Caramel Macchiatos-a DLR Trip Report
Disneyland: 1989, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2013
Disneyland Paris: 1994-free trip won through the Disney Store!
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Old 10-17-2013, 02:51 PM   #11
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Today's the day! Leaving for the airport in 3 1/2 hours. I've been packed since the weekend. Get home, change clothes, surprise my son with his new Mike & Sully jammies (hoping wearing Pajamas might encourage him to sleep on the plane!), and go!!!

Here's where the really interesting part happens. My husband can't get off work early tonight so he's meeting us at the airport later. I'm going early so I can get the luggage checked, get through security, and get our son some dinner before the flight. Hopefully we'll be about halfway through dinner when my husband meets us.

So I'll be loaded up with a GIANT rolling suitcase to check, my backpack and purse to carry on, my son's small backpack, the stroller (gate check), and the car seat. And a 3 year old. Yikes. I am checking the car seat only because I simply can't manage it all if I don't. It's going to have to be one of those trust things. It's not ideal but it's what's happening.

I'm hoping to update from the parks this weekend!

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Carsland, Candy Corn, and Caramel Macchiatos-a DLR Trip Report
Disneyland: 1989, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2013
Disneyland Paris: 1994-free trip won through the Disney Store!
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Old 10-18-2013, 10:35 AM   #12
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Hope everything went smoothly with your flight. Right now you must be about to enter the parks for Day One! Have a wonderfully magic day!
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Old 10-18-2013, 08:01 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dizneefan13 View Post
Hope everything went smoothly with your flight. Right now you must be about to enter the parks for Day One! Have a wonderfully magic day!
Thank you! Flight went great. Michael is an awesome little flyer. Watched Monsters Inc, read 2 books, a little Angry Birds and time to land!

DK Livery was great with pickup too. My not so handy husband had some trouble installing the car seat but the driver helped and it was okay.

Check in at PPH went not so great but it's a long story...all has been worked out now. I'll fill in later. We had a wonderful breakfast at Surf's Up this morning, a fun few hours in the park, and then swimming. Michael even went down the slide! He's finishing a nap now then it's off to Goofy's Kitchen for dinner. Can't wait!

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Carsland, Candy Corn, and Caramel Macchiatos-a DLR Trip Report
Disneyland: 1989, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2013
Disneyland Paris: 1994-free trip won through the Disney Store!
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Old 10-25-2013, 04:31 PM   #14
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Day One-Travel

We are back! What a wonderful time we had with only a couple of tiny hiccups along the way. My son keeps telling us "I need to go back to Disneyland right now!" We are toying with the idea of going back to Anaheim instead of Orlando with the extended family this summer. Needless to say, a wonderful time was had by all.

We got through security and the wait for my husband to arrive...I never could find the play area at SeaTac and couldn't ask anyone because then my son would hear me asking for the play area and insist on finding a play area right now...for the sake of peace in the fmaily we ate ice cream instead!

As I posted earlier we had a very nice flight. Michael ate some snacks, watched Monster's Inc., played with some of those "Imagine Ink" books with the "magic" pen and played Angry Birds on my husband's phone before we landed.

We were the last ones off the plane since we were sitting at the very back and had a lot of gear to gather so we let everyone else off first. We picked up the stroller from the gate check area and my husband had trouble getting the cord un-knotted (as he was cursing this situation out he apparently didn't realize that his darling wife was the one who knotted it!). I was talking with another family and my son starts to run off down the long hallway at SNA. He thought it was funny, wouldn't stop, and I ended up sprinting after him down the long deserted hallway. Which resulted in him having a time out, and two airline employees suggesting the use of a monkey backpack/leash. Nice start to the trip.

Then, because we were so delayed in getting to baggage claim there was no more baggage on the carousel. We saw our driver from DK Livery holding up the sign with our name on it so my husband went and flagged him down, while I saw our luggage being carted away. Eek! I didn't realize we'd taken quite THAT long to get down to baggage claim. And I guess SNA is just way more efficient than what I'm used to at SeaTac.

So, we got things all sorted out and our driver helped us get to the parking lot and the SUV we'd be riding in. I think it was a Tahoe. It was quite big, very clean, and really comfortable. My husband had trouble installing the carseat (I love him dearly, but he always has trouble installing the carseat), and the driver assisted. Soon we were on the way and made it to Paradise Pier in probably about 20 minutes. We were very happy with DK Livery's service and helpfulness. I've always disliked taxis in the past because I don't always feel safe in them. That was not an issue with DK Livery at all.

When we got to Paradise Pier with 7 pieces of luggage plus a stroller we were all tired and eager to get to our room as soon as possible. Darling husband dropped the luggage sort of in the middle of the lobby and followed our son around while he explored. Which was fine, there was no one else around, but I felt like I had to keep turning around to check on the luggage while also trying to check us in. A lot of paperwork was getting shuffled around-we had our room only reservation for Thursday night, along with our Costco package starting the next day. Lots of things to sign and review. I asked about our Fantasmic! seating and the clerk assured me she had the vouchers and would hand them to me. Then a lot of papers were given, she told us our room number, assured me we would not have to change rooms the next day or go to the front desk (yay!) and we were all set.

As we gathered everything up I had this nagging feeling that I did not get vouchers or tickets or anything, but I figured they were in the big pile of papers I'd been handed. We got to the room, and Michael was super excited to see the Donald Duck picture on the wall, the Mickey lamp, and especially the beach ball pillows. I was really happy with how well maintained and perfectly clean the room was. Mildew, holes in carpet, chipping paint all really, really upset me. I had zero issues and that's really rare for me in a hotel.

As we settled in I started searching for our mysteriously missing vouchers and came up empty. I emptied out every nook and cranny of every piece of luggage (including car seat bag and stroller) I'd touched since arriving on property. Nothing. My husband (Dean) went down to the front desk while I continued furiously searching while trying to mellow out an excited 3 year old and get him ready for bed. Dean came back and told me the front desk said they didn't have them but I could go to guest services at the park the next day and have them reprinted. Not what I wanted to do, but at least they weren't gone for good.

Finally, around midnight we were all settled in (my son loved that you could pull down the back of the couch and make a twin sized bed that was the perfect size for him) and going to sleep.



Next up: Surf's Up Breakfast and on to Disneyland!
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Carsland, Candy Corn, and Caramel Macchiatos-a DLR Trip Report
Disneyland: 1989, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2013
Disneyland Paris: 1994-free trip won through the Disney Store!
Walt Disney World: 1992, 1997, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014

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Old 10-27-2013, 05:36 PM   #15
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Surf's Up Breakfast and Disneyland Day One!

Friday morning started off just great! We were up and at 'em bright and early ready for our 7 am reservation at Surf's Up Breakfast downstairs in the PPH, and then going on directly to Disneyland from there.

This was probably the very best character meal we've ever had-and we've gone to many of them at both DLR and WDW. I believe we were the 2nd or 3rd family seated. After our photo with Mickey we were barely seated before the characters began coming around. Minnie, Daisy, and Pluto all came over numerous times. They'd dance with Michael, play with him, pose for many photos, and Minnie even tried to help encourage him to eat his breakfast. Later, Stitch joined in on the fun too. There were 2 or 3 occasions where the characters had a surf/dance party up front and invited all the children in the restaurant to join in. So much fun. Minnie was so sweet with my boy that I actually teared up. She is his absolute favorite and she was just so sweet and loving with him. To top it off, the food was all delicious. There was an omelette bar, smoothies, a yogurt parfait bar, and lots of hot and cold food. The pastries looked like your typical mass produced and pre-packaged type, but everything else was wonderful. For the rest of the trip, every time we'd walk by the PCH Grill on our way back to the room we'd look at it wistfully, and came *this* close to booking another meal there our last morning. (Sleep won out!) It was wonderful and is going on our "must do" list for future trips.







Afterwards, we headed over to Disneyland. We used the shortcut through the GCH, following signs to the business center and popping out in Downtown Disney. We enjoyed this walk so much more than when we've taken a shuttle and had to walk through all the buses to get to the Esplanade.

We are pretty die hard rope drop people so I wasn't sure how it would be arriving after opening, but we still rode Dumbo with only a short wait, and were able to experience Buzz, Autopia, Mickey's House, Roger Rabbit (which turned into one of our son's absolute favorites ever, for no reason we can figure!), Gadget's Go Coaster (his first roller coaster and he loved it!). Michael also toured Donald's Boat, the treehouse, and experienced quite a bit of ToonTown. I took him on the subs (he's a huge Nemo fan and loved this!) and then on Astro Orbiter while Dean went to ride Star Tours.

The lines were practically non-existent this day, and it was wonderful. This made it hard to stick to the "plan" I'd created as everywhere we walked there were short lines! So why stick to the "plan"? Because I knew Saturday would be very crowded and I was trying really hard to save attractions for Saturday that would work better in crowds. But it was hard to restrain ourselves!







At 11 we went to the Little Red Wagon for the world's best corn dogs. My husband was quick enough to snag us a table. Our son was pretty much only interested in eating chips, but we didn't push the issue. It's not like corn dogs would be that much healthier. He'd eaten a lot of fruit and yogurt at breakfast, so we quickly decided on our vacation eating plan-"it all averages out over the course of a day." Chips for lunch was fine as long as he included lots of healthy choices later.

After lunch we hiked on over to Winnie the Pooh, hoping to fit in a couple more rides before an afternoon break. My husband and I were happily chatting, taking it all in, and arrived at Winnie only to realize our boy was asleep. Very, very asleep. We changed course, and Dean took him back to the room to hopefully continue a nap (because a day without a nap is guaranteed to be not a very good day in our world), and I stayed in the park.

I tried to ride Indiana Jones single rider-they weren't operating single rider. So I went over to Star Tours-no single rider. (I thought I'd read that this was sometimes an option-I guess I had read wrong.) Luckily, I was able to get on Matterhorn with a less than 10 minute wait. All those reports I'd read about how jerky it was post-rehab were oh so true. I was glad they'd raised the height restriction as there was no way I'd feel safe with my little guy on it.

Some Disneyland popcorn in a Halloween container was in order then, and I decided I needed a little pick me up so I checked out the Markethouse and did indeed get my Disneyland Starbucks Caramel Macchiato! I decided that Starbucks just tastes better in Disneyland. There was literally no wait-I walked right up to order. I'm sure it's different in the morning but at 1:30 in the afternoon it was great. Then it was off to City Hall to try to track down our Fantasmic! tickets. After a long wait (over a half hour) in the sun I was finally inside. It seemed as if most people in line had questions about the new DAS program. The wonderful Katie was able to sort out the issue after another 20 minutes and a long phone call to Paradise Pier. She was confused because I kept talking about my "vouchers" which is what the gal at check in had called them the night before. Once she explained that I should have been given tickets we realized I hadn't misplaced them, they'd never been given to me. She had trouble getting through to the people at PPH, but was finally able to come back and assure me that my tickets were being held at the front desk. She was great, and told me if they still had any problems they could call and speak to her at City Hall and she'd get it straightened out. Phew.

Oh so tired at this point I headed back to PPH. Along the way I found out Michael woke up as soon as Dean got him back to the room, and they also discovered that the room hadn't been cleaned and was scheduled to be taken care of in a half hour after the housekeeper's lunch break. Okay, so they headed to the room with the cartoons off the lobby (cute and a nice feature), where I delivered their popcorn bucket. I went to the front desk and after more explanations and some more confusion, I finally had our Fantasmic! tickets for the next night in my hot little hands.

By this time our room was clean and we were able to go up and get ready to hit the pool! California sunshine here we come!
__________________
Lisa-travelling with my husband and son (4)

Carsland, Candy Corn, and Caramel Macchiatos-a DLR Trip Report
Disneyland: 1989, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2013
Disneyland Paris: 1994-free trip won through the Disney Store!
Walt Disney World: 1992, 1997, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2014

Last edited by teacherlisa1978; 10-28-2013 at 02:27 PM.
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