The last time my family took a vacation was March 2010 to celebrate Kylee’s first birthday and it was at Disneyland. I was still very overwhelmed from the experience of being a part twice-over within a couple months, that I wrote about the trip, but never posted it. It’s still sitting on my Google Docs folder.
For those of you who know me personally, or who follow me on Facebook, you’ll know it’s been a very trying year for my little family. I’m not going into the details here because this is meant to be a more joyous writing. But, it has put a big strain on our personal finances. So, we had to postpone our trip a few times due to airfare that far exceeded the rest of the cost of the trip combined.
This trip was made possible due to three fantastic things:
- Southwest Airlines decided to run a 50% fare sale
- Our wonderful babysitter, Michael Ann, was willing and able to come (her first trip to a Disney Theme Park)
- Booked DVC points
We were able to get 3 nights in a 2-bedroom DVC unit at the always fabulous Grand Californian resort. The other 3 nights are standard rooms in the same hotel but we used our points to pay for it.
The car accident that involved Nancy last year has really left her in a lot of pain and has greatly limited on what she feels capable of doing. Because of that reason, this trip would have been impossible if Michael Ann hadn’t been able to come. Just the simple task of pushing a stroller could put her out of commission for the trip. So, we are thankful for her coming along and we are looking forward to showing her one of our greatest loves.
Our trip began much like all the other as far as I’m concerned………to bed late, up early.
I got up bright and early at 7:30AM so that I could go get doughnuts. I didn’t want Nancy to have to cook on the morning before we needed to leave. Michael Ann was coming over at 9AM and our flight was at noon.
I wanted to be out of the house by 10AM to make sure we had enough time to get our luggage checked in and all of us through security and not lose our place in line that we paid for with Early Bird Check-in.
But, I knew there was no way in heck we were getting out of the house at 10AM. There were all kinds of last minute repacking and scrambles to make sure we didn’t forget anything. I think, somewhere in one of those bags was a kitchen sink.
We ultimately left the house around 10:45 AM and it only took about 15 minutes to get to the conveniently located OKC airport. When we got to the curb for passenger drop-off there was no-one there so we called an audible and decided to use curb-side check-in. There was NO WAY Michael Ann and Nancy was going to be able to haul all that inside to check-in while I was parking the car.
So as they were dealing with the curb-side check-in I navigated the very full parking garage trying to locate a parking spot. I eventually had success and it was very, very, very far from the terminal. So, as any good spouse, I ran as fast as I could with my laptop backpack and rolling carry-on to get to the security checkpoint.
I never heard back from my wife when I told her that I was on my way, so I assumed they had gone through without me and were headed to our gate. A visual inspection verified my assumption and I made my way through security alone. Sure enough, I got picked to go through the back-scatter machine and get “extra” scrutiny. Fortunately, the TSA agent didn’t get to “Friendly” with me. My bag, on the other hand, got irradiated by X-rays three times as they were trying to gauge if my computer equipment was a security threat or not . I was patient, because at this point, I knew we were in no threat of missing our flight.
As I rolled up to our gate, I saw Nancy, Michael Ann, and the kids spread out over several chairs. Everyone looked OK. Nancy said that it went well and the kids cooperated. Apparently, kids under a certain age don’t need to take their shoes off anymore!
We had plenty of time before our flight, so I was asked to go get a snack for the kids and to try and locate a Dr. Pepper for my lovely wife. I took Kai with me and we wandered the concourse. Kai decided on some Cool Ranch Doritos and I got a gigantic bottle of water for Nancy. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any Dr. Pepper. So, we headed back.
When I got back, Kylee wanted a snack so I took her across the way to the newsstand and got her some Skittles and found the Dr. Pepper.
At this point, it was getting really close to boarding and as luck would have it, Kai needed to go to the bathroom. Kylee, never wanting to be left out, threw a major fit when she saw Kai and Nancy walking away. So, Michael Ann took her and they all went to the bathroom leaving me with the bags and an upset stomach as I was beginning to worry that at the final moment, we were going to miss our opportunity to take advantage of our great A boarding numbers.
As luck would have it, they came back just as they were starting to ask people to line up. We got in our positions and made our way on to the plane.
We were able to get two rows side by side on the plane. Kai and I were on one side and the girls were on the other. We decided that Kylee probably needed two adults because she’s been really headstrong these days and felt the extra adult would help keep her entertained.
We landed in Denver, but didn’t have to get off the plane. Nancy told me she NEEDED to eat something because she needed to take some medicine for her ever increasing back pain. I asked the crew on our plane if I could get off and was told that I could, but they were about to board again so I may not have time to locate food, purchase it and get back in time.
So, Nancy was forced to fill up on snacks so as to prevent an upset stomach from the medicine. At this point, Kai was really getting antsy to get to “Mickey Mouse’s House” and started asking repeatedly if we were still going.
Eventually, the door was closed and we were heading into the sky. Kai started getting snuggly so I knew he was tired. I helped get him comfortable and he was fast asleep in no time.
But, poor Michael Ann and Nancy. Kylee had no interest in sleeping and she was getting more and more demanding. If they told her she couldn’t do something, she threw a fit. But I have to give them credit, they found ways to defuse her every time. We were able to avoid becoming “That family.”
This part of the trip seemed to take FOREVER. We were really ready to get to California and get to the hotel. Because when we landed at 2:30, it was really 4:30PM back home and we hadn't really eaten anything and the kids really didn’t take a nap.
We had decided to give the Disneyland Express a chance on this trip. It isn’t free like at Walt Disney World, but we felt we should save the money we were going to use for a rental van in case Nancy needed a wheelchair or ECV during this trip.
What had me stressing was that at 3:00 the bus went from coming every 30 minutes to coming every hour. We had 4 bags and a stroller that needed to come off the plane.
By 2:50 we had all our bags, but no stroller. At Nancy’s suggestion she, the kids and Michael Ann started making their way to Concourse A, which is where you’ll meet the bus. I stayed behind to wait for the stroller. Eventually, I went to the Southwest office for baggage claim and asked where a stroller would show up. I was told that it will appear at the oversized baggage carousel. Then they asked what flight I came off of. I told the lady and she placed a call. By the time I walked back, the stroller was there!
I grabbed the stroller and the proceeded to sprint as fast as I could to Concourse A. I had this vision of the rest of my part waiting to get on the bus but couldn’t because I wasn’t there.
I caught up to them before they got to Concourse A and we got to get there together, but the bus was no where to be found. I looked at my watch and it was 3:05PM. We had missed the bus by 5 minutes!. Now we had to wait an hour before the next bus came.
Kylee was really being difficult at this time. She was not listening and at one point almost ran into traffic. She got a stroller time out which she didn’t appreciate at all. By the way she was acting, I would think passerby's would think we were water boarding her.
At 3:40PM, Kai said that he needed to “go potty” and couldn’t wait. So, I grabbed him and ran back to Concourse A. The whole time I was asking him to hold it.
We made it without an accident but as we were leaving the bathroom he informed me he had to go back. Not going to get into potty details her, but those with kids know what is going on….LOL
We got things done and I had to run back. As we rounded the corner to where the Disneyland Express was supposed to be, the bus was there. I was informed it showed up as soon as Kai and I left.
Then we got back on the bus. The bus driver decided to put Cars on the little TV screens so we positioned ourselves so the kids could see the TVs. We waited until 4 o’clock to come so we could leave. As the departure time approached, we still hadn’t seen anyone else come for a ride on the bus. Ultimately, we ended up having the bus to ourselves.
The way Disneyland Express works is that it takes you to the Disneyland Hotel, then someone gets on the bus and takes your payment or takes your voucher if you pre-paid. We prepaid and that sped things up. He gave me the ticket to use to get the trip back to the airport covered and we were on our way to the Grand Californian.
We were greeted by a bell person who helped load our bags onto a cart. We then proceeded to check-in. The process went smooth and we were even able to get moved to a room with a day bed so we wouldn’t have to put both kids in a pack-n-play.
As were taking care of the administrative stuff we started seeing people streaming into the lobby from MEI-MouseFan Travel. We knew they were at Disneyland for training but weren’t sure if we’d run into them. We were keeping an eye out for people we knew, like Beci Mahnken. But, we didn’t. As we were heading to the elevators we happened to look toward the front door and I had seen Annette Owens and Nancy saw Beci. Before I could say anything, they both saw us and let out a big hello. We hadn’t seen either of them since Mousefest 2008. So, in that time, we started the adoption process, got matched with Kai, found out we were pregnant, travelled to China, had Kylee and then 2 years of life with kids. It was great seeing them. I know there are a lot of people who have wanted to meet our kids and I’m glad two of those people got to finally do so.
We, made our way to the room, which was fabulous. Kai was really excited about the idea of sleeping on the day bed. We got ourselves situated and called bell services to get our bags delivered. Once we had our bags, then we could get the stuff we needed for a night in the parks.
But, first we had to get tickets. We couldn’t purchase the full 7 days we needed at the hotel, but got the maximum 5 they were authorized to sell. We could pay the difference at the gate to get them expanded to 7. I think Nancy and I decided we are going to upgrade to an Annual Pass because we want to come back before the year is up.
Once we had our tickets, we made our way to the entrance into DCA that is available through the hotel. We had decided we were going to take the front-desk’s recommendation to try Flo’s V8 café. A lot has changed at California Adventure since March 2011 so we wandered in the general direction and had no problem finding our way there.
We got our photopass and had a few pictures taken in front of the Welcome to Cars Land sign then made our way to Flo’s.
I must admit that the theming of CarsLand is remarkable. It really is like you are stepping into the movie. Flo’s was very colorful and they had lights moving in rhythm to the old 50’s music playing inside.
The food options all looked good and I think we fell prey to the fact that we were all starving because we quickly racked up an $80 tab for the 5 of us.
No, I have to say. This is some of, if not the best quick service food I’ve had at any Disney theme park. Oh my goodness, it was delicious. In addition to the great food, the décor was outstanding. It became quite apparent from the decorations inside that we are given additional info about Flo that she used to headline a Motown style group.
We could tell the kids were hungry because they scarfed down their food. Then they were bored at being at the table. Since I’m usually the first one done eating we wandered over to the back bank of windows which overlooks the racers attraction. The kids enjoyed seeing the cars speeding by.
After all the other adults finished eating, we decided we needed to go find something fun for the kids to do. We decided to go to the Tow Mater attraction with the tractors. As we were making our way there, we had to stop to let Lightening McQueen drive by. Kai was excited to see Lightening and kept talking about getting to see him in “real life”.
We were excited to see that both kids met the 32” height requirement with a few inches to spare. The line wasn’t long and we were quickly on the attraction. Nancy and Kai were in one vehicle and Kylee, Michael Ann, and myself were in the other. We put Kylee between the two of us for her protection.
That ride really whips you around. There wee several times where Michael Ann and myself were flung toward each other and poor Kylee got sandwiched. She found it extremely hilarious.
After that attraction ,we were trying to think of what we could do next. I suggested Luigi’s Flying Tires attraction, but wasn’t 100% sure where it was located. We wandered a bit and found it. But we found the exit and weren’t really sure where the entrance was located.
We eventually stumbled across it but it had a 30 minute wait. We decided to chance it and proceeded to queue up. Kylee was a bit more antsy. She felt compelled to climb on guardrails and while she is talented at doing this, I just didn’t want one of her few failures at climbing to occur on vacation and warrant a trip to a hospital.
Poor Michael Ann had to do a lot of holding of Kylee to keep her from climbing the walls.
Patience prevailed and we were able to make our way onto the attraction. These ride vehicles really were like little hovercrafts. You maneuvered them by leaning your body in the direction you wanted to go. It quickly became apparent that Kai and Nancy were out to get us. They just kept hammering us with their vehicle.
When the ride was over, we decided it would be best to head back to the room. It was when Kai asked for another drink of water that I realized that we had forgotten their water bottles in the van back at the OKC airport. So, Nancy decided we should go look for some new ones. After all, the ones we forgot came from Disneyland back in 2011 it shouldn’t be hard……famous last words.
We went to Sarge’s first. No dice. They suggested we go to Elias & Company. When we go in there, they told us were on the wrong side of the store and needed to go to the side closest to the entrance. Well, this store is huge so that took awhile.
I reminded Nancy that we had the 3 aluminum water bottles we picked up from the Disney Store back at the room, so that should help us get by until we find a more suitable solution.
So, we headed back to the room via Downtown Disney. We were pointing out all the cool stores to Michael Ann on the way back.
When we got back to the room, it was something like 10:30PM CST (8:30PM local time), the kids were cranky and they needed to get to bed.
I did the baths while Michael Ann put the pack-n-play together. Nancy was getting the day bed together for Kai. We were quickly able to get the kids bathed, but Kylee refused to acknowledge she was tired. In fact, we knew she was tired because she was throwing one rage after another over trivial stuff like not being allowed to apply her own lotion to her body.
Nancy cuddled her on the bed and she was dead to the world in a matter of minutes. Kai was ecstatic to be sleeping on the day bed and kept saying over and over, “Good night everyone. I’m on the day bed”.
Soon he was asleep too.
Everyone went to bed because we have an early 7:30AM reservation at Storyteller’s Café for breakfast. We are hoping that because it’s really 8:30AM on our OKC time that the kids won’t act like we were waking them up that early.
I decided to try and see if I could resurrect my trip report while everyone slept. So with this sentence, I can say that I’ve completed my first trip post in a long time.