Coming up with a plan…
Almost immediately after our trip in September 2007 I began making plans for our 8th annual family trip in 2008. On Apr 1, as a surprise for our son, I came up with the idea to ask one of his friends if she, Alex, her sister, Savannah, and their father, Don, would like to join us on our trip. She responded with a yes so the planning really kicked in!
Decisions! Decisions! I had first selected Nov 10-21 but DH suggested we stay right up til Thanksgiving, which would have been until the 26th which was fine with me as I never turn down an opportunity to add a few days to our trip. However, Alex said they could take the week of Nov 9-16. So, even though I had wanted to avoid the possible crowds of the Veteran’s Day weekend, I backed up the dates we had chosen to go and planned for our family to stay an extra week. I really wanted to be in the park for the Christmas season on the 21st so we could see the new castle lights and meet Santa at the Reindeer Roundup but didn’t want to be rushed so we went ahead and opted to stay a few extra days to the 23rd and ended up with a little over 2 weeks to spend leisurely at the park.
As soon as we narrowed down the exact dates I called and made reservations for our room at the Anaheim Desert Inn. I have found that booking as early as I know the dates can often save quite a bit, so on April 16 I booked for our November trip. I got a very good rate. We have stayed with them during all of our past trips and they have become, somewhat, a part of our tradition. Nothing fancy. However, they provide all we need, are reasonable, very close to the park and clean. They also offer a large family suite, which is basically 2 rooms for about the same rate as one standard room at one of the Disney properties so that cinches the deal for us.
In April, I also booked a limousine from U-R-THERE-Limousine Service to pick us up from the airport. I thought the kids would get a kick out of it, and frankly, I would too! I told DH but wanted to let it be a surprise for everyone else.
My next step was to start watching American Airline fares. I didn’t last long! I ended up booking those in April too simply because the price they were offering was already as low as what we paid the previous year.
Then from there, I spent a lot of time perusing all things Disney which also included lots of time spent on message boards taking notes and making plans for our to-do-list. Thanks to all who have added to my useful information!
Alright, I know, I know! Get to it already! Well, here it is:
Trip Report November 9-23, 2008
November 9, 2008 Getting there.
After much anticipation, our day to head to Disneyland finally arrived! I really liked the new plan of choosing an afternoon flight so we could get to California on Sunday evening and not mess up an entire day traveling. When we arrived we would have the option to decide whether to go to the park late or just wait until morning. Our flight was originally scheduled to leave at 3:15 pm but was delayed until 3:40 pm. We don’t fly very often so we like to be at the airport PLENTY early. Also, we find it kinda helps build even more of the excitement to at least be making progress towards our destination! We left our house at about 12:15 pm. and headed to DFW where we were supposed to meet our traveling companions at 1:30.
We made a call to see if they were on the way to the airport. Well, they obviously do travel often enough to not get worried about arriving late because Alex, our son’s friend, was not even at home but they were expecting her at any minute. We decided we probably should have followed her example and went to church but alas, we appeared to be backsliding. We were hoping God knew us well enough to know that if we didn’t get an early start we would probably end up being late. That’s usually the way it goes.
We arrived at the Park Air Express to park the car for 2 weeks and called to check to see if she had made it home yet. She had and was currently in the process of packing. Nothing like waiting until the last minute! We made it to the airport, checked in and sat around acting goofy while we waited for them to arrive.
Several other conversations transpired before they were finally actually in route to the airport. They seemed to remain much calmer than we were. They did finally arrive about 2:30.
We had just enough time to spare to grab a bite to eat. We ate one of the best turkey sandwiched I think I have ever had at some little BBQ joint inside the airport. We finished our meal and did not even get seated in the waiting area before they started boarding passengers for our plane. Our flight left on time and thankfully was uneventful. We even arrived on time!
When we got to the airport, Don headed to the men’s room but somehow we lost track of Savannah. After a few tense moments for some of us, she shows up unaware that we did not know where she had been. (It brought back memories of when we had lost Alex at the movie theater some months back. These two girls are very independent and apparently do not rely on explaining their whereabouts.)
Anyway, since all was well we made our way to the baggage claim area where we were met by a driver holding up a sign with our name on it. How cool is that? He looked just like the driver in Driving Ms Daisy. Don was pretty sharp to catch on that we would be riding in a limo but the kids remained clueless until we were actually standing in front of the limo. (It ain't easy to get a good picture of a 10 passenger limousine and a bunch of people in a dark garage.)
With her typical reaction, Savannah let out an ear piercing squeal of excitement.
The limo was very cool! We enjoyed the lights, music and clowning around in the ceiling mirrors.
DS loves making crazy faces but he looks a bit more normal, and handsome in this picture.
We had some good laughs about the country hicks riding in the limo.
We even broke into a round of the Hee Haw song, “Where oh where are you tonight? Why did you leave me here all alone?”, complete with “phttttt you were gone”. We had only been with our traveling companions a few hours and I was already reduced to tears from laughing so hard! I can only imagine what the driver must have thought. However, I imagine while we were pretty strange I bet he gets some real doosies! At least we were sober.
So anyway, the limo was a big hit! And, U R There Limousine Service was excellent! Everything about them was very impressive. We arrived at Anaheim Desert Inn and got our luggage all unloaded.
When I checked in, I found that our grocery delivery had already arrived about an hour early and had been stored in a backroom for us. This was just fine with me because it meant we would not have to waste any time sitting around waiting for them to show up. So, after we got our luggage and groceries to the room we set out to the park to pick up our tickets.
I had opted to get our tickets from GetawayToday.com because they offered 8 day park hoppers with 2 free magic morning days. After the 8 days, my plan was to upgrade us to our annual passes. As it turned out we did not use the MM entries because we were no good at getting all 7 of us up that early. DH was not very happy that we only had a paper pass instead of a nice AP with his picture on it. He rather enjoys being an AP snob. Needless to say, next time I will just go ahead and get the APs.
While DD and I were rearing to get into the park, the majority vote was that everyone was tired and just wanted to rest and head to the park in the morning. Whaaa! I travel with a bunch of party poopers! Since we also wanted to enter the park all together, we conceded and decided we might not suffer too much by waiting til morning to get to the park. Hunger had hit so we headed into Downtown Disney which ended up being a total waste of time and energy because it was pretty crowded and the waits were too long so we ended up just going back to Denney’s next door to our hotel. They had some really great nachos but I would have preferred my cheesecake to have not been frozen. After that, and much to my disappointment, we called it a night.
November 10th, our first day inside the park!
I was awoken by a phone ringing at 5:00 am. Don was calling Alex. He had forgotten to pack his sneakers so he had walked to Target to get some for walking in the park and wanted to see if they needed anything else while he was there. Already awaken by the phone, still on Texas time and excited toget to the park, I went ahead and got up and started getting ready. Everyone else lazed around a bit and then Alex and Savannah began working on homework. I realize it was important that they keep up with their studies since they had taken time from school but, golly… it was our first day! We finally made it to the park at 11:00. It was a beautiful day and not too very crowded.
Our very first ride was Pirates!
This is my favorite ride. Every time I ride it I see something different. It was fantastic to be back! I don’t think Savannah liked it very much. She is very sweet, gentle, and innocent and doesn’t like violence. I’m not too sure she was very crazy about being in the dark with a bunch of sword wielding pirates and skeletons.
Looking back now, I guess we were not being very thoughtful of frightening newcomers but since it was right there what do you think we headed to next… HM!
Right as we were pulling up the hill from the loading area there was a CM, acting his creepy, part who reached in to grab me. I thought it was pretty funny! I am glad he was on my side because I am sure Savannah would not have thought so. She obviously was not impressed with this ride either.
I can understand how she might feel. When we first started coming to Disneyland we didn’t much care for HM ourselves. We aren’t much into ghost and goblins or anything so related. We don’t do Halloween and we don’t watch scary movies. However, over the years and after doing HM on the Christmas tour, where DD decided she loved it, we have come to look past any deep meaning and just value it as a well themed ride.
Since we had gotten to the park so late it was already lunch time so we headed to Plaza Inn. It is DH’s and DS’s favorite place to eat in the park. Not me. I don’t like packaged gravy mix but I went along to get it out of the way. DD and I shared the chicken which is usually pretty good but, boy, have those chicken legs shrunk! They also did not have much of a dessert selection so no strawberry shortcake for me. The guys were very satisfied.
When we got through with our lunch it was almost 2:30 which is just about time for them to start playing musical chairs. I have always wanted to see it but have never taken DD because we are usually taking our midday break at that time of day. It looked like a perfect opportunity since we were already in the area so DD and I split from the main group and headed for Coke Corner. We got there just in time and DD jumped right in with the kids. Peter Pan, Alice and Mad Hatter were all there and they were wonderful with the kids! It was so much fun to watch and DD had a wonderful time. Unfortunately, Alex had forgotten her camera and I had loaned her my camera for the day. Luckily, I did have DD’s new camera so I was able to take some pictures.
After the game we got autographs and pictures with Peter and Alice.
DD did not want Mad Hatter’s. I think he makes her nervous!
We headed over to Splash to meet up with the others. They had taken Don on his first ride. As worthy of any first time, he came out drenched! He was a good sport though and they have some hilarious memories of the ride.
As is most often the case with large groups, we could not decide on a ride everyone could agree on so the “big kids” headed to SM. Apparently, they did did some clowning around while waiting in line.
DD and I headed to Peter Pan but it was very crowded, as usual, so we passed on by and ended up on the Teacups. Then, we headed to Alice and popped out on the upper level during the parade. From there we thought about riding Nemo but decided to wait until we could all ride it together which ended up being a mistake because they rode it without us. That was the last time we had that thought!
We met up with DH and watched our first show of many in the Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room. DD and I just love that show! From there we took a ride on the Jungle Cruise. Johnny was our captain and a very good one too. When we got through, it was getting cooler and since this was our first year without our stroller to cram full of coats we would have to go back to the room to get them. DH wanted to go back to the room because he is always the first one to get blisters but I convinced him to stay with DD just long enough to ride Astro Orbitor, which I just hate, while I mad a dash back to the room to get the coats. He left when I got back and DD and I headed towards Pirates. She HAD to have some popcorn along the way and as soon as she got that she changed her mind and decided she wanted to go make her own hat. I agreed, if we could check the lines in Fantasyland along the way. It was pretty crowded and Storybookland was closed for the parade so we just went straight back to Toontown. Got the ears made, which I expect she will probably wear a couple hours and be done with. We headed back to see if Storybookland had opened back up but it hadn’t and we ended up trapped by the parade. Then, we drifted towards Tomorrowland to check on Nemo but it was long too so while deciding what to do next, DH calls to say that he is still in the park and supposed to meet back up with us and head back to the room to order in pizza. I cannot believe that everyone is ready to call it a day and that I went all the way back to the room only to get back and do well, let me see…. buy some popcorn, a set of Mickey ears and do a lot of walking. Not one single ride! I am thinking to myself what is wrong with these people? (grumble, grumble) I comply again, so we hop on the train back to Main Street Station and head back to our room by 7:00. UGH! When we got there, Alex was already asleep. I ordered pizza and planned to sit down to watch a pay per view movie but the darn movie wouldn’t work so we had to just watch something on the regular stations. I found out that I was a lot more worn out than I thought and soon fell asleep too.