This Disneyland trip was one that I hadn't experienced in a while. Not only were we at the resort for 4 days, we were staying at the Disneyland Hotel! Most of my trips down to Disneyland consist of either one day at Disneyland, as part of a bigger SoCal trip, or a 2-day trip at a grimy hotel. Needless to say, I was beyond excited. However, I was a tad bit weary going into this trip, for I was afraid MiceChat would have altered my entire perception of Disneyland; thankfully, that didn't happen. This first installation coming up is basically us getting to the resort, and our first night in the resort (not in the parks), so if you wanna skip it, you won't be missing much.
We (Bill, my father, Laura, my mother, Christopher, my brother, Lexi, my sister, and I) left our house at around 10:15, to catch a 12:20 flight from San Jose to Orange County. Normally, we would have departed from San Francisco, but the fares were cheaper, there was less of a chance of fog delaying us, and the San Jose Airport is much less busy than the San Francisco Airport (anyone from the Bay wanna vouch?). Southwest was our airline carrier, and a personal favorite of ours, for many reasons, including safety. For a white-knuckle flier like myself, it's very comforting knowing that Southwest has never had any passenger fatalities in its over 30 years in service. The flight was great, until our descent, when there was some moderate turbulence. I was relieved when we landed, to say the least. After making the ritualistic trek to baggage claim, we took a short walk to the shuttles, where we waited about 5 minutes for us and another party to board. I forgot the name of the shuttle (wasn't the Disneyland Resort Express), but we were very pleased with our ride and driver.
After the pleasant 13 minute drive to Anaheim, we arrived at the Disneyland Resort! Weirdly, Disney was blocking off a turn, so we had to go all around the resort, in traffic, to get somewhere we could have gotten in under 10 seconds. Anyways, I hadn't stayed at the hotel since 2007, so I was eager to see the changes they had made. Walking into the Fantasy Tower, my Mom, Lexi, and Christopher sat in the teacup chairs, while my Dad checked us in, and I walked outside to explore. I love how the minute you get out of your transport, you're already immersed in Disney; something you couldn't get staying in other hotels.
The staff (or the system) has greatly improved at the hotel. Previous check-ins we've had at the hotel have taken ages, to the point where part of my group have gone shopping, while the other part check in! While this check-in took a little bit, it wasn't horrible like other times. Once we got our key, I was thrilled to learn that we'd be staying in the Adventure Tower, the tower with the views. We'd be either getting a view of the pool, or a view of the entire resort; I was crossing my fingers for the second one. Luck must have been on my side that day, for we got an awesome view of the entire resort. You could see the tippity top of Cadillac Range, some of the pier, lots of Downtown Disney, Splash Mountain, and the Matterhorn! I stupidly only took a picture of the CA Adventure side, though.
The room itself was magnificent, everywhere you looked, you could see subtle hints of Disney. My personal favorite aspect of the room was the information fliers, that would tell you things such as how to access Wi-Fi, where to put towels, etc. On every one of the fliers, was a black and white photo of Walt, that would relate to what the flier was about. There were other cool things about the room as well - the headboard with the castle and fireworks, the Mickey hands holding up the lights, and the Hidden Mickeys on the carpet! I don't think we'll ever stay in a non-Disney hotel, while we're visiting a Disney park, again. While everyone was resting and unpacking, I decided to walk through Downtown Disney, and redeem the vouchers for our complimentary lanyards and pins. Was Downtown Disney always this big?! Maybe it's just that I haven't walked from the hotel through Downtown Disney in 5 years, but I really don't remember Downtown Disney being so huge; I thought it was just the pizza place, Rainforest, World of Disney, and a couple other shops. That walk was going to be the death of me throughout the trip. Anyways, I did love some of the shops I explored when down there the first day. WonderGround and the Lego Store are going to have to be two main stops on any Disneyland trip I go now.
The 4 lanyards and pins we got were a very nice souvenir from Costco; the lanyard each of us got was the generic blue lanyard, yet the pin was a rather large one, that featured Luigi and Guido in front of Casa Della Tires. Downtown Disney was getting crowded after I left World of Disney, so I opted to head back to the room. I don't know what my family does, but the room literally looked like we had been living there for months, so I went on a cleaning rampage. A few minutes after I had finally made the room presentable, I got a text from my Mom (who was at the pool with Chris), that Ken (my uncle), Jo-Anne (my aunt), and Becky (my cousin) were coming up. They all live in Rancho Santa Margarita, and we drive down there once or twice a year to visit them. Ken is a huge Disney fan, and takes Chris and I down to Disneyland on one of the days we're down south. You all may know him on here as "KenFromOC"; he tends to stick to commenting on articles, and rarely comes on the forums. He's basically the reason I have my obsessive love for Disneyland, and the reason I get to go more often. After we hung out in the room for a while, we headed down to dinner at Storyteller's Cafe. Our waitress was very nice, and the food was good too. I had a Pomegranate Lemonade, and the Four-Cheese Ravioli. The Pomegranate Lemonade was fabulous, and probably the best lemonade I've had in my life. When you first drank the lemonade, it had a sour, fruity taste, but a few seconds after, it turned absolutely sweet, and left a really good aftertaste. On the other hand, the Four-Cheese Ravioli was less than stellar. Instead of the "cheese", being a mixture of 4 cheeses, it was very one-note, and tasted more like a cheese cream inside - I would not order it again.
After dinner, Ken snuck us all some dessert from the buffet. I got a cheesecake cupcake (not even sure if it was cheesecake, but it sure tasted like it), that was really good. Maybe I'd go to Storyteller's Cafe more often if it was a lemonade and dessert buffet. Ken wanted to show me and Christopher something, so while my parents, sister, cousin, and aunt went back to the hotel to unwind, we went to the Grand Californian. Apparently, there was some "rooftop lounge" at the Grand Californian, but I wasn't so sure we were allowed up there after going up what looked like Cast Member only stairs. When we finally got up to the lounge, I was in awe. I made sure not to look at many Cadillac Range pics online, and it was worth it. One could see the Range from this lounge, and it was magnificent at night. Never have I seen such an unnatural, natural thing in my life - I was really excited to see it closer in the coming days!
This photo doesn't do it justice.
We then walked back through Downtown Disney (which I must say is a happening place at night), stopped at WonderGround for a bit, and kept on. Before going back to the room, we stopped to look at the artifacts they have in the lobby - so cool. Disney did a knock-out job with this renovation. For the rest of the night, we just lounged around, Lexi and Becky played, everyone caught up with one another, etc. They left around 8:45, but it wouldn't be too much of a goodbye yet, for they were meeting us in the park on Thursday! Fireworks never showed that night, which was a real bummer, seeing as how we all tried to stay up and see them. This wouldn't prove to be too much of a disappointment though, we still had 3 nights to see them (a luxury we haven't had in quite some time). Everyone crashed around 10:00 ... except for me. Maybe it was excitement, or the 3 servings of caffeine I had that day, but I could just not go to sleep. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn't. It didn't help that my Dad was snoring, or Lexi woke up five times in a duration of an hour, either. I think I finally fell asleep at around 2:30; 3 and a half hours of sleep I'd be getting for what would turn out to be just about a 12-hour day - yay!
Next installation is coming up soon!
**SPOILER ALERT** - We go into the parks.