Well, unfortunately, our trip has been over for a little over a week. We had a great time and got to spend some quality time with family.
For background, my sister (whom it's had been way too long since I had seen) had booked a vacation to California which, of course, included Disneyland. With me living in Arizona and her living in Wyoming, it was the closest that we had been to each other in years. We didn't have a lot of time to plan (or save), but I knew that I had to get out there and see my sister and her family.
As usual, we drove out to California. It's about a 9 hour drive for us but, for a guy that likes to drive, it was no big deal (I hate having to ride for a trip like that, but my family are champs). I had to work that morning so the wife and kids were waiting with baited breath by the time I got home. Heck they even had the majority of the car packed by the time I got home (an absolute first). It was about 7:00 when we pulled up to our hotel. We stayed at the Tropicana (for the 3rd time in a row). We absolutely love the location (but hate the pillows so we always bring our own). We had vouchers for the (no longer available) 6 day hopper passes and we were starving so we headed to the esplanade to redeem our vouchers and grab a bite to eat at Downtown Disney.
When we redeemed our vouchers for tickets we were asked for all of our identifications. I didn't think much about it at first, but midway through her punching our data into the computer I asked the CM why it was necessary. She told us that the reason was twofold. First of all, it's an anti-fraud measure, and secondly our information could be used to replaced a lost or stolen ticket if we provided our i.d. and the card stock receipt that she printed out for us. I don't know if they do this for all tickets or just those redeemed via vouchers, but I will request this documentation and service the next time I visit the park. After our tickets were in hand, we headed to DD for some much needed food. It was a long wait for our DD favorites (RFC and HOB) so we decided to shop around a little bit and take in the atmosphere, instead (amazing how quickly you can forget how hungry you are when your eyes start to wander). After wandering around DD and seeing my daughters' favorite street performer (Brother Yusef) we decided that that hungers pangs would no longer be ignored. We just happened to be standing in front of Tortilla Joe's. I was a little hesitant as I've seen less than favorable reviews of TTJs (to be fair, I've heard some very good reviews, also. Can't please everyone, I suppose). My daughter, who loves Mexican food, didn't skip a beat. "Let's go there". And away we went. By this time we are all exhausted. We figured we'd "eat something light" and be on our way. With that in mind, we all ordered Nachos. Um, big mistake. We were expecting a LOT smaller portion per plate. We ordered 4 and could have easily gotten away with two. It would have worked out perfectly, too. DD1 and I had steak nachos and DD2 and the wife had chicken. And, no plate of nachos is complete without a nice margarita (especially on vacation!). After stuffing ourselves to the gills on some of the best food groups on the planet (steak, cheese, nacho chips, sour cream and guacamole *those area all the food groups, right?*) we were ready for bed and the first of our six days in the park. As we walked out to the back patio to return to our room the Fireworks had just begun. Perfect timing and a great way to get us excited about our upcoming week.
Ah, there's no better way to cure a case of the Mondays than to start your week at Disneyland. We anxiously waited at the Main Gate, my daughters begin to review a who's who of the ticket match for the week (DD1 had the Mickey ticket, DD2 had Donald Duck, the wife was Pluto for the week and I, appropriately, was Goofy). It was finally here. The moment that we had been waiting months for. Through the gates we stop at the Photo Pass CM for our traditional first pic in front of the flower garden and train station. Then it was off to the left hand tunnel for two taps on the right hand wall and enter the park (a tradition for our family. I have no idea why or how it started but we've done it everyday that we've visited Disneyland. On our final day we exit the right hand tunnel, as you face the park, and tap twice. But, ONLY on our last day). We actually broke one tradition this visit. We, typically, take a train ride around the entire park before we exit the train at New Orleans Square. This time, for some reason, none of us had the patience for this. We were ready to go and we had all week to ride the train. Off to the left side of the park we went (after a stop at Market House for free re-fill coffee, of course).
My sister and her family arrive today! More to come.......