As I posted a week or two ago, our family has decided to jump into the new ‘Celebrate’ campaign with both feet and do a trip with myself and each child on their birthday. My wife and I both have birthdays in May so will probably do one slightly longer trip on one of our birthdays (Hers is a blackout date so probably mine).
Let me start by saying that whether or not you like this new campaign at least you know exactly what you will get and how to get it. The thing I did not like about the ‘Year of a Million Dreams’ was that it was pure chance if you would receive anything. We made 5 Disney trips (3 WDW and 2 DL) during the YOAMD period and received nothing which would not be so bad except that it seemed like everyone else had some dream paraphernalia made worse by the fact that many who won were not even aware there was a promotion while those that knew about it ended up feeling like they got nothing.
So the first birthday of the year was on January 8th and Alaska Airlines is having a sale to LAX for 15,000 mile round trip so we decided to go for it. We were scheduled for a 3:00pm flight from Seattle to LA but decided to just skip school for two days instead of just one so we would have most of two days in the parks. It was great to escape the rains and floods and get down to sunny and fairly warm So Cal.
We took the Gray Line Disneyland Express bus from the airport and since we were staying at the Disneyland Hotel (Did I mention it was my first stay at the Disneyland Hotel?) we were the first to get dropped off and last to be picked up so it could not have been easier.
We had a room on the 11th floor, just a couple of doors down from the Presidential Suite. Here is the view of the parking structure and bit of the park.
The hotel did not appear to be very busy, very laid back. On our way to the monorail we noticed that Hook’s Lagoon pool was being refurbished but the sign indicated the other pool was open so we thought we would check it out when we got back from Disneyland.
We took monorail red over to Disneyland, Hannah had hoped for blue but we would end up getting blue the next time. As we circled the park we noticed the monster line for the Matterhorn, this line would stick at 30 minutes from park opening to closing both days we were there. I would have thought they would have opened both sides of the mountain but I guess not.
Our first stop was going to be Space Mountain but instead we encountered the first of MANY ride breakdowns. It did not end up affecting our trip or ‘ruining’ anything but both Space Mountain and Indy were down each day right when we wanted to get fastpasses which somewhat messed up our plans but in the end we were able to do everything.
Since Space Mountain was closed we went over to Big Thunder and then decided to grab some lunch. The Stage Door Café was right there and I was happy see fish and chips on the menu. We ended up ordering more than we needed as I got the fish and chips, Hannah had the kids chicken nuggets, and we split an order of Mozzarella sticks with apples. I was happy with the portion of fish I received but I did notice something funny, on the receipt it appears that they show how many pieces each item comes with Mozzarella Sticks (5), Fish (4), etc. but I only had three pieces of fish. Is this a change? Three pieces was plenty anyways. I also overhead the lady in front of me order a large soda (Only the normal $2.69 soda was on the menu) I ordered a large soda as well and for $2.99 received a much larger soda. Is the large soda available at most other locations?
We were going to hit Indy next but it was down so we did Winnie the Pooh. The Haunted Mansion still had Jack up front, but not for long as the next day almost all of the exterior Christmas decorations were removed from the mansion.
We then made our way over to California Adventure and took a turn on Midway Mania, standard 30 minute wait. We picked up fast passes for Screamin’ but Hannah wanted to wait until the next day (She has never been on Screamin’ yet, almost got her on it last trip but no luck so far). Hannah was getting a little tired since we got up early for the flight so we walked back to the hotel. We stopped at the monorail station to pick up a schedule and amazingly we find that Fantasmic is playing. This was not on the schedule the last time I checked so we were excited to go back later after a swim and rest. Somehow we lucked out and got a shot with Minnie (We never wait in line so it is a rare shot of us with characters).
Back at the hotel we tried to find the other pools, we walked though the very nice glass shop (Don’t know the name) and saw the cool waterfall paths and then came across the pools and beach. The water was very warm which made it hard to get out once it was time to go. After about an hour in the pool we went back to the room to find it had been decorated for Hannah’s birthday. This was a great surprise as I had not asked for anything special. I did not know they would do this, is it normal if you are celebrating a special event?
We hung around the room for 30 minutes or so, not much of a rest, and then grabbed the monorail (blue this time) back to Disneyland for Fantasmic. We had about an hour to get dinner so we made a quick stop at Pizza Port (FYI: Space was a 75 min wait) before walking over to see what kind of spot we could get for Fantasmic. We lucked out and were in the first row of standers right in the center of the show (Which saved me having to hold her so she could see). The show was great even without the Mark Twain and we both agreed again that the Disneyland version of Fantasmic is better than the Walt Disney World version. After that we ended the day with a couple of sundaes and were asleep by 10:00pm.
The next morning we packed up and dropped off our bags at bell services. We arrived at the ticket booths at 8:35am to get Hannah’s birthday fun pass but the booths had not opened yet. I was hoping they would open soon as the line was growing for Magic Morning. After just another minute or two the ticket booth opened and we were able to get the fun pass and join in line. We did not end up that far back in line and by the time the gates opened at 9:00am the line was back to the CALIFORNIA letters. I was surprised how many people in the line did not have Magic Morning vouchers or Hotel guest cards. There were a half a dozen people in the short line in front of me that were turned away.
Our plan for the morning was the same as every Magic Morning which has always worked well. Peter Pan, Mr. Toad, Alice, Matterhorn, Space, then start loading up the FastPasses (We have 5 passes). Everything was going according to plan except that by the time we got off Alice the Matterhorn was already a 30 minute wait. We just skipped by and did Space, Star Tours, and then Buzz, we were going to email our Buzz picture home but it came out terrible so decided to try again later in the day. We went back to Space as Fastpass had just started up and somehow got 2 Fastpasses with one pass on the first one (It had to have been stuck in there from the guy before who was getting one from the CM) and so we used 3 of our passes to end up with 4 Space FP’s and still have 2 passes left for Indy before heading over to California Adventure and finally Screamin’.
So much for that plan, went over to Big Thunder and it was down, went to Indy for our FP’s and it was down. Exited Disneyland at 10:35 for California Adventure, got Screamin’ FP’s and did Midway Mania with only 10-15 minute wait. Got all the way down to the coasters on Screamin’ before Hannah backed out, so close! Maybe next trip.
Had lunch at the Pacific Wharf Café and then did Soarin’. By now we had to get serious about spending Hannah’s fun pass so we started spending more time at the stores, she wanted a sweatshirt, a pin, and a plush for her $69. We had quite a time finding a sweatshirt as the first one she liked was an adult so we needed an XS but S was the smallest, the next one we found was a kids but only came in an XS and we needed a L or XL, finally found one that worked and it is an adult S but not too big.
Checking the information board back at Disneyland and Indy is still showing as down but we decide to head that way anyways to do Pirates and hit Winnie the Pooh one more time. As we pass by Indy I see it has just reopened so we hang out by the FastPass machines for a couple of minutes and sure enough they reopen the machines and we have our FastPass. A quick ride on Pirates, Winnie the Pooh, and Big Thunder (also reopened), and we were back for our Indy FastPass. It was a great ride as the two ladies next to us had never ridden before and it is so fun to be with people that are on their first time on an attraction.
It was amazing to see how much could change in one day, therre were walls (still smelling of fresh paint) all around the right-side of the hub, most of the holiday decorations were off the Haunted Mansion, I could have swore the snow was still on the castle Wednesday and gone on Thursday, amazing. Back to Space with our FastPasses and another try at Buzz to send home but out photo was lost in transmission so no luck there. Decided to use out last Space FastPasses but it had managed to breakdown in the 20 minutes we spent on Buzz. We had about 45 minutes left before needing to take the Monorail back to the Hotel for our ride back to the airport se we bit the bullet and got in line for the Matterhorn. It was a 30 minute wait but it was worth it, I think that is Hannah’s favorite ride, too bad we only got to do it once but there is always next trip.