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Old 08-14-2014, 08:51 PM   #1
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Sissy, the 4 Boys, & the Fairy Grandparents Visit Disneyland

Hi! Welcome to my first Trip Report. This is the story of my family's first trip to Disneyland.

I'm Dondra, but my nephews call me Sissy. I love Disney, especially WDW which has always been my happy place!! The magic I felt at WDW as a child has never gone away! I have 5 nephews ages 11-6 (my sister has 3 boys and my brother has 2 boys). Since I do not have children of my own, I get to share my love of Disney with my nephews! We've all been to WDW (some of us many times), and I had been to California Adventure way back in 2001. However, none of us had ever visited Disneyland Park. So my parents and I decided to plan a big California Adventure! We invited all 5 boys, but the youngest (my brother's youngest son) wasn't ready to leave his mom and dad yet. (He'll be getting a trip to Great Wolf Lodge instead.)

So... Sissy, 2 Fairy Grandparents, and 4 boys traveled to the magical place where Walt once walked.

This trip was a dream of mine, but I had no idea what kind of challenges would come our way as we planned. We decided to take this trip in January 2014. My dad leaves all the planning to me and Mom, and she only likes to be included in the financial decisions, lol. So I do most of the planning.

Thanks to the DIS Budget Board, I was able to purchase our park hopper tickets through Orbitz during the time in February when ebates was offering 20% back. Woo hoo!! With super discounted tickets purchased, I turned my efforts to finding a place to stay.

I did lots of research on here about where to stay, and narrowed down our accommodations choices to two hotels and one condo. Mom and I met on February 22 to decide where to stay so we could book. We decided that the condo would be best for our needs because it had more space and a full kitchen, even though we would only have 1.5 baths instead of 2 full baths if we had two hotel rooms. So, with that decision made, I booked the condo.

Then on February 25, I got a call at work from my Dad telling me that my Mom was in the emergency room because she was having stroke like symptoms. My mom has been a nurse for 47 years! She had just reported for duty at the hospital when her coworkers noticed something was very wrong because she was slurring her words and couldn't write. Thank goodness she works in a hospital where they could rush her right over to the ER!! Her speech symptoms went away after a few minutes, but she was still having trouble writing anything legible. The doctors started running tests to determine what had happened. What a scary time that was for all of us, especially my mom. We found out that my mom had suffered a major stroke in her left parietal lobe. After two days in the hospital (and uncomfortable nights for Dad and I who took turns sleeping in the chair next to her) she was allowed to come home to begin speech therapy (to help her regain her reading and writing skills).

Mom made really good progress for a couple of months, but then started regressing and acting very "out of it." By this time, it was June and our trip was only about 6 weeks away. Dad and I were concerned about whether or not she would be able to travel or not. At that point, my mom needed almost constant supervision. I was extremely worried about the logistics and stress of traveling with 4 young kids and 2 elderly parents, one of whom could not care for herself, much less help with the kids. I debated long and hard about canceling the trip during this time, but I knew Mom was looking forward to it so I decided not to.

After a couple of very challenging months for my Dad and I, we finally found out that it was one of her medications that was causing the regression and bizarre behavior. My mom has other health issues so she was seeing several doctors at the time. As soon as she went back to the neurologist, the neurologist knew immediately that the new medication a different doctor prescribed was the culprit. (Lesson learned: if one of your loved ones ever has a stroke, be sure that their neurologist is consulted before they start taking any medicine another doctor prescribes). Within a week we could see improvement, which was a huge relief for all of us! Needless to say, after 5 months of medical ups and downs, we were all ready for some fun.

Finally, it was time to head west!

Last edited by djmeredith; 08-18-2014 at 04:07 PM.
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Old 08-15-2014, 11:09 AM   #2
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Yay!! Cannot wait to read and see more photos And I must say, what an incredible Aunt you are! Those are some lucky boys
Our Mickey's Halloween Trip Report 10/11/13 dressed as TRON: http://disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3186334
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Old 08-17-2014, 03:59 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by crystal1313 View Post
Yay!! Cannot wait to read and see more photos And I must say, what an incredible Aunt you are! Those are some lucky boys
Exactly what Crystal said
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Old 08-17-2014, 03:29 PM   #4
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I realized I forgot to introduce the rest of my family in my first post. The Fairy Grandparents are Mimi and Poppy. My nephews are Drake (10, turned 11 during our trip), Aiden (10), Drew (8), and Nico (6).

ARRIVAL DAY – Thursday, July 24
4:30 a.m. comes very early when you’ve been up until almost 1:00 with a 10 year old boy who is too excited to sleep!! We all spent the night at my parents’ house since we had to be at the airport by 6:00 a.m., and needless to say there was lots of excitement. Poor Drake could not sleep and was awake until well past midnight.

We woke the kids up at 5:30 a.m., finished loading the van and set off for the airport. We didn’t arrive as early as I had hoped but we made it to the gate before boarding. We flew Southwest using Rapid Rewards points (all 7 tickets booked with points earned from credit card sign up bonuses!). I think I only paid about $100 in fees. We would’ve never been able to afford this trip without the points.

We flew from Louisville, KY to Phoenix, AZ where we switched planes and continued on to John Wayne International airport in Orange County, CA. We left Louisville at 7:15 a.m. E.S.T. and arrived in CA around 10:00 a.m. P.S.T. (3 hour time change). When I planned the trip I thought it would be great to arrive so early in the day, but it turned out to be a huge mistake!

None of us slept on the planes as I had hoped, so we were tired when we arrived. After getting the rental minivan, we were on our way to Downtown Disney! We could not get into our condo until 4:00 so I planned to have lunch and spend time browsing at Downtown Disney and the DLR hotels.

The boys wanted to eat at ESPN Zone for lunch so that was our first stop. They don’t open until 11:00, and we had to wait about 5 minutes before they opened the doors. Exhaustion was setting in, and two of the boys had meltdowns during lunch. It was during lunch that I began to realize that not having access to our condo until 4:00 was going to be a problem.

Lunch was sort of a blur, but I remember that my cheeseburger was good, Aiden liked his chicken wings, and Poppy didn’t care much for the BBQ sandwich he ordered.

After lunch, we went upstairs to the game room. Although I can’t really call this a true “budget” trip, I did try to limit expenses where I could because I was paying for most of the trip. The ESPN game room was definitely NOT in the budget, so I told the boys they would have to use their own money if they wanted to play any games. They all opted to skip the games, lol.

By the time we finished lunch, we all needed a nap! My mom was doing much better medically, but her deficits were exacerbated when she got tired. Dad and I knew we would have to accommodate her need to rest during this trip. It was already HOT outside when we left ESPN Zone so we decided that Mom and Dad would go to the DLH lobby to sit in the air conditioning while I took the boys to the shops.

Drake is missing from the photos because he was too grumpy to get his picture taken.

Each of the boys had a souvenir allowance to spend during the trip, and each of them immediately wanted to spend their money on everything they saw! Knowing they were choosing items that they would quickly regret, I quickly told them that no one could buy anything until the next day. However, I did make an exception to this rule for Drew who had planned to buy a Goofy stuffed animal to complete his Disney stuffed animal “collection” which he started last summer at WDW.

After about 1.5 hours, the boys and I were super hot and tired so we headed for the DLH lobby to meet up with Mimi and Poppy and cool off. It was about 2:00 at this point, so we still had 2 hours before we could get into the condo. I have to be honest, by this point in the day none of us were feeling any Magic! We stayed there looking at park maps and schedules until about 2:30.

While Drake and I went to get the van, the rest of our group finally received a dose of Disney Magic when goofy appeared in the lobby! This bought smiles all around!

Goofy was still there when Drake and I returned, but he still refused to have his photo taken so Drew joined me.

We stopped at the Target on Harbor for groceries and then it was time to find our condo. We stayed at one of the condos in the Sherwood Village complex which is at the corner of S. West Street and S. Orangewood Avenue (behind the convention center). Home Sweet Home for the next 8 days:

We got settled, Apple Scooter delivered Mom’s scooter, and we ate dinner. I wanted the kids to be in bed by 8:00 (which would’ve been 11:00 home time) but it was closer to 9:30 by the time everyone got showers and into bed. Finally, it was time to get some rest! We were headed to Disney California Adventure in the morning and I hoped to be there at Rope Drop.
My First Trip Report: Sissy & the 4 Dwarfs + 2 Fairy Grandparents http://disboards.com/showthread.php?...5#post52081775

Last edited by djmeredith; 08-17-2014 at 05:21 PM.
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Old 08-18-2014, 05:17 PM   #5
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Super Good Looking Family... Go ahead and keep posting.. I need a Disney fix right now..

Nice Condo Pic's. It looks so comfy.
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Link to RHMH - July 2014 Disneyland Trip Report Thread -- http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=3302724

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Old 08-18-2014, 08:01 PM   #6
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