Sunday, February 8, 2009

Disneyland Day 01

It wouldn’t be a trip to Disney without a trip to the airport without any sleep.  This trip is no exception.  We rolled out of bed at 5am following an hour nap because I we were both working.  Enchanted Rose came home a bit earlier than normal, but there was still some packing that needed to be done.  I, on the other hand, was trying to get some work done on my project so that my time away from work wouldn’t be too badly noticed.

Our flight was scheduled to take off at 6:30AM and since it only takes about 15 minutes to get to the airport, we figured getting up at 5am would be fine.

We got to the airport at 5:30am and we were greeted with a gigantic crowd.  We forgot that this was the same time that the Dance & Cheer competition was going on at the Walt Disney World Resort®, so the ticket counters were packed with OU family and students trying to get to Orlando.

Since we were flying on Continental Airlines OnePass miles we were going to have to pay to check our bags.  The line was long and it seemed like no one knew what they were doing.  I told Enchanted Rose to just head to the gate so that the plane didn’t leave without us.  She wanted to stay with me so she got to stay with me while I grumbled the entire time about how I wouldn’t be in this long line if I was checking into Southwest Airlines.  It seems that the fact that they are needing to collect payment is slowing the process down.

After getting our bags checked to Ontario, California, we made our way to the security gate.  The line wasn’t that long but it wasn’t moving to swiftly.  When I finally got to the bins, I had to unload my 2 laptops (I was also working on this trip) and it took me over 5 minutes to get all my contents into the X-Ray machine.  This was painfully long and I’ve never seen a TSA agent check bags that thoroughly before on the X-Ray.  It wasn’t just mine, it was the same way for everyone else who went before me.

I eventually made my way through security and was getting redressed when I heard over the loudspeaker that we needed to get to our gate in 5 minutes or they’d be giving our seats away.  So, I gave my wife a look and she gave me the look back to haul booty.  So, I was off like a shot and got to the gate.  Then I slowed down to allow Enchanted Rose to catch up.  Since I was there, they weren’t going to give our seats away.

We got on the plane and found our seats.  A gentleman was in one of our seats and insisted it was his.  I was ticked off enough and didn’t want to get thrown off the plane for losing my temper, so I let him have it.  But it meant that Enchanted Rose was going to have to sit in the aisle seat instead of the window which meant that she wouldn’t be able to lean against the wall when attempting to sleep.

Then we found there was no overhead storage.  But luck would have it that there was actually some space closer to the front of the plane.  Then, we found that one of our backpacks that has always fit under the seat wouldn’t on this plane. So, it had to be stashed in an overhead bin which was nowhere near the bin that had our other bags.  To add insult to injury, that bag was the one with my iPod and iPhone so there was no way for me to be entertained with my Disney podcasts such as The WDW Radio Show or Window to the Magic.

So, we were sweating and sitting there waiting to take off.  But we noticed that a good 10 other people got on the plane many minutes after us.  What happened to the giving seats away?

Then, the pilot gets on the overhead and tells us that there will be a delay because their hydraulic fluid was low and needed to be topped off.  If the flight was delayed, why even board the plane and make people like me have to run across the airport to catch a plane that is just going to sit there?

Well, after a few moments we felt the plane start to pull away from the gate, then it stopped.  The pilot, once again, fired up the mic and told us that the tug that pushes us to the runway broke down and they were going to have to solicit a vehicle from another airline.  Up to this point, they were telling us to not worry, that we’ll get to Houston in time for everyone to make their connections.  But now, that the tug broke down they stopped with these assurances.  It took 45 minutes for them to get us towed out to the runway.  So, at the point of takeoff, the time was pretty much when we should’ve been making our descent into Houston. 

We had a tight connect in Houston, so I was sweating bullets the entire trip and wasn’t sure if we’d even get on a plane to Ontario, California if we missed our connection because I noticed that all flights were pretty much full when I booked our tickets a couple weeks prior.  To top it off, the guy sitting next to me felt that he needed to sprawl out and his elbow was in my rib cage and his knee was jamming me in the thigh.

When we landed, I immediately fired up my iPhone, went to the Continental website and located what gate our flight was going to be taking off from.  Then we looked up the map of George H.W. Bush Intercontinental Airport in the in-flight magazine to see what our plan of attack was going to be. 

We were told that there would be electric carts waiting to take people to their gates because almost everyone was late.  We quickly found out there were no carts waiting for us so we decided to walk it since it really wasn’t that far.

We got to the gate in record time and sat down.  We saw the plane was there but no one was boarding.  So, I went up to the counter and asked how much time we had because Enchanted Rose wanted to see if she had time to get a bagel.  It turns out this flight was having mechanical trouble too and was delayed upwards of 20 minutes.  So Enchanted Rose darted off to get some carbohydrate love.

She just finished eating her bagel when they started boarding our plane.  We got on the plane and took off without issue.  There was room for our overhead bags and our backpacks fit under the seat.

So, at this point, Enchanted Rose drifted off into a deep sleep while I listened to podcasts and watched the onboard film, The Longshots.

When we landed in Ontario, we knew the worst was past us and the fun was going to begin.

We met up with Enchanted Rose’s mother who was going to be joining us at Disneyland.  Enchanted Rose stayed with her mom to chat while I stood at the baggage carrousel to collect our checked bag.

It didn’t take long to get our bag so it was off to the car.  Unfortunately, enchanted rose’s mom’s health requires that she need a handicap placard on her car, but it does come in handy when needing to find a parking place.  So her car was really close to the baggage claim.  We loaded up the bags and hopped in.

The first stop was going to be In-N-Out.  For those not familiar with this fantastic burger chain, it is a family owned, non-franchised burger joint which is primarily located in Southern California.  You can find one in Las Vegas and I heard rumor one is going to be opened near Phoenix.

We weren’t really sure which way to go to get there so Enchanted Rose’s mom asked the lady at the exit to the parking lot for directions.  About this time, I had found it with the help of the Yelp application on my iPhone and asked to get directions from Google Maps.  I used these directions as a backup to the verbal ones we received from the lady at the parking lot.

We found In-N-Out rather easily and ordered our usual #2 meal consisting of a cheeseburger, fries and a drink.  We waited for our food and ate it at some outdoor tables.

Once the food was over, we were off to Disneyland.  Since it was in the middle of the day the travel was quick to Anaheim.

Disneyland2009_20090115_0002 As soon as we got to Disneyland we made our way to The Grand Californian.  My mother-in-law stayed with the car while Enchanted Rose and I went inside to check-in.

The check-in process was really smooth.  We got a really chatty and friendly Cast Member behind the desk who seemed to be really clued into fact that this whole Disney Community exists.

After checking-in, we went and unloaded the bags from the car and since we had quite a few we decided to use the services of a bellman to get our bags to our room.

I went with the bellman while Enchanted Rose and her mom went to park the car.  The bellman put our stuff away  Disneyland2009_20090115_0012and made sure we had everything we needed.  I gave him a nice tip and thanked him for everything.

At this time, I should probably point out that we were in a Theme Park view room.  I immediately went out to the balcony to see what my view included.  I had an excellent view of Grizzly Peak and if I went to the far right on my balcony I got an excellent view of the Hollywood Tower Hotel.  Also, the monorail ran right outside my room.

By the time I was done with taking my pictures, Enchanted Rose and my mother-in-law were walking into the room.  At this point, we quickly changed into some cooler clothes.  It was 80-something degrees which was a heck of a lot hotter than the 19 degrees we left in Oklahoma.

After changing, we headed down to the lobby to see if we could purchase our tickets at there instead of going outside to do it.  We went to the Guest Relations desk and asked and were told that resort guests can purchase their park tickets at the front desk.  So, we went and got into line.

Disneyland2009_20090115_0026 When we got to the desk we asked if we could get the Southern California discount that was going on since my mother-in-law was a SoCal resident.  They graciously gave us the discount which was $20 per ticket.

With tickets in hand, we made our way to the entrance into California Adventure from the hotel. 

As we walked up to the bag check and turnstile tucked away in a little side alley of the Grand Californian, I was shocked and surprised to see the same gentleman that was working this position when we were visiting Disneyland in 2007.

It took no time to get our bags checked and get into the park.  We were surprised that we didn’t need to stick are Disneyland2009_20090115_0028 park tickets into the machine.  The Cast Member manning the turnstile had a handheld reader and scanned our tickets and sent us on our way.  I was rather relived considering the comments that have been making their way around the internet about how Disneyland is forbidding dSLR cameras into the parks or anything Disneyland2009_20090115_0029-1 that may look like “professional” equipment.  Well, I have my camera bag and my multiple lenses and tripod and to a rank amateur, I might look like a  professional.  Considering these measures were taken in response to increases  paparazzi presence when certain celebrities visit the park, I would have to say that I definitely don’t look like a paparazzi.  How many would be trolling for pictures to take and sell with their wife and mother-in-law decked out in full Disney geekwear (Disney Disneyland2009_20090115_0032 hat, Disney shirt, Disney pins, etc).

We immediately hooked a right and headed in the direction of Grizzly River Run.   As we passed the entrance to Grizzly River Run we saw Jedadiah Jones and the Disneyland2009_20090115_0038Miner 49’ers playing.  Enchanted Rose felt this would make a great thing to video record for our nephew CollinEnchanted Rose took removed the video camera from my backpack and proceeded to record, while I took pictures of things around the area.

After a few moments of recording and photo taking, Enchanted Rose’s mom  pointed out that if we were going to ride Grizzly River Run now would be the time to do it since we would have a chance to stay warm while the still was still up.  But the sun wasn’t going to stay up much longer.  She offered to stand strategically to get some pictures of us.  We decided that since my wife’s camera had a “Green Box” mode on it, that it would be the best camera to leave her with.  So she took our two backpacks and the camera and went off to await our emergence.

Disneyland2009_20090115_0034In case I’ve never mentioned it in my trip reports before, I hate getting wet on  rides.  I don’t particularly like getting wet in rainstorms either, but the weather cannot be avoided.  But, I decided that if I did this attraction, then the desire to do it’s clone over at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom would be less (Kali River Rapids). 

Disneyland2009_20090115_0385-1We didn’t have much of a wait to get on this attraction and we knew there was no way we were getting off of it dry.  This was made painfully clear by observing those getting off the attraction.  I suggested we tie our coats around our waists and sit on them to try and minimize how wet our rear ends got.  I got the lovely seat next to the opening which I heard was the one that got very wet.

I pulled out my iPhone and snapped a couple pictures and sent one of them to all my friends on Twitter.

Sure enough, we go wet, very, very wet.  Considering how quickly it was getting cooler now that the sun as going down, I really didn’t see the appeal to this attraction in JANUARY!

Disneyland2009_20090115_0047If it was sweltering hot and I had someone to hold my bags and cameras, I could see this attraction as being enjoyable in the middle of the summer.  I’ve been to Disneyland in June and know how hot it can get.  I could see it as a great respite from the heat.  But so does a trip to the pool or a nap in the room.

After getting off the attraction we slogged our way out the exit leaving a train of water behind us as it streamed Disneyland2009_20090115_0044off our soaked clothes.  I think the only thing dry on me was my butt because it was covered by my fleece pullover.  Enchanted Rose, on the other hand, was trying to shield hers with a sweater and it wasn’t much of a barrier between her and the water because she ended up as soaked as if she hadn’t been sitting on it at all.

We had to look a bit for Enchanted Rose’s mother.  We thought she  might still be where we saw her taking pictures of us, but she wasn’t  It didn’t take long for us Disneyland2009_20090115_0050 to find her.  She apparently was sitting on a bench across the way from the exit and we had walked right past her.

At this point, we found out that Enchanted Rose’s sister Julie and her lovely kids Regan and Collin were parking the car.  We asked if we had enough time to get California Screamin’ in because that is one attraction that she cannot ride with her kids.  She told us to go and have fun and to call her when we were done.

Once again, there wasn’t much of a line.  There were 3 of us, so two people wereDisneyland2009_20090115_0065 going to sit in one car and another would sit by themselves.  Enchanted Rose’s mom LOVES to sit in the front car and requested such when we got to the CM that was assigning rows.  I asked Enchanted Rose if it was alright if I sat with her mom because I could get an unobstructed view to take pictures.  I wanted to try a feature on my camera that I didn’t get to try yet. It is a burst mode that pretty much lets me hold the shutter button down and it just keeps taking pictures until the Compact Flash card’s buffer fills up.

Disneyland2009_20090115_0094 Whenever you ask to sit in the front, you typically have to wait a couple extra cycles to get on the ride vehicle.  This was true this time even though the lines were short.

At this point, I should probably point out that the lake is drained in Disney’s California Adventure.  So, it was weird pulling up to the launch spot and there not being any water around. 

It was really hard to keep the camera steady while we were whipping about but I Disneyland2009_20090115_0101think I got some good pictures. It was kind of cool hearing the camera rattling off shots like a semi-automatic pistol.

Enchanted Rose was sharing her ride vehicle with a young lady who was apparently visiting from New Zealand.  She  was quite chatty and polite.  Enchanted Rose said it was quite refreshing.

When we got off California Screamin’ someone called Julie to find out her location.  She was already in Disney’s California Adventure and was heading toward us.  To make the meet up sooner, we started walking toward her and met up somewhere near the A Bug’s Life play area. 

Disneyland2009_20090115_0108 We all decided to make Toy Story Midway Mania our next stop.  Collin likes the attraction and we definitely have grown to love it at Walt Disney World and wanted to see what it looks like at this Theme Park.

On our way to Midway Mania we stopped off at one of Collin’s favorite spots at Disney’s California Adventure.  It’s the lookout spot near the launch location for California Screamin’.  He loves to just sit there in his wheelchair and watch car after car launch to the sound of guests screaming in glee.

Disneyland2009_20090115_0115 After we felt like Collin got his fill, we headed to Midway Mania.  For those who Disneyland2009_20090115_0117 haven’t been reading my blog since the beginning, Collin is a Make-A-Wish kid and has many special needs which gets him a “Greenlight” pass which, I believe, is for Make-A-Wish kids.  It’s like a Guest Assistance Card (GAC) but allows access even when a fastpass or wheelchair line isn’t available.

We immediately went to the wheelchair access for Midway Mania and the cast members were very friendly and accommodating.  We had to wait a bit for a car but we eventually were loaded up.  I rode with my mother-in-law, Enchanted Rose rode with Regan and Julie rode with Collin.

Disneyland2009_20090115_0120 The reason my mother-in-law and I rode together was because we are both left handed and when two left handed people are in a car together, it’s not as important where people sit.  Enchanted Rose and I have found that where the right handed person sits can prevent a lot of elbow banging while trying to operate the cannons.

When my mother-in-law and I got to the scene where you are busting plates the screen was not working.  We couldn’t see anything.  But we found out that we were still able to rack up points by shooting blindly.  When we got to the unloading dock, one of the cast members asked us if any of us had problems with one of the screens Disneyland2009_20090115_0133which we replied to the affirmative.  They had us play some musical chairs and let us ride again.  I believe they were trying to leave the seat empty that would result in putting you in the screen that was “dead”.

The 2nd trip was without issue and I was able to increase my score from the previous trip.  It was definitely a  different queue expeDisneyland2009_20090115_0146rience because Midway Mania has an open air loading area while the attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida is indoors.

After Midway Mania we hopped onto King Triton’s Carousel of the Sea.  I’m not a big fan of the carousel, but even I got on and attempted to take some pictures.

After the carousel, we headed to our most favorite place to go at Disney’s California Adventure……Catch a Flav for ice cream.

While we ate our ice cream we went to the handrail overlooking the drained lake and allowed Collin to continue to Disneyland2009_20090115_0150 watch California Screamin’ from the other side of the “lake”.

After we were done with our ice cream, we headed over to the other side of the park to take a spin on one of Collin’s must-do attractions, the Golden Zephyr.  As we were boarding our Zephyr’s Disneyland2009_20090115_0164 Collin and Regan were picked as the Flight Commanders for our trip and were given some nice stickers.

After being flung around on the Golden Zephyrs we all made our way to the Jumping Jellyfish.  Julie sat out since she isn’t too fond of heights.

My mother-in-law was seated with Collin, Enchanted Rose rode with Regan and rode Disneyland2009_20090115_0168 by myself.

Of course, when you are 40’ off the ground you are going to try and take some pictures.  Who could turn down such a vantage point.

From here we decided we were going to ride Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!

Disneyland2009_20090115_0208 On our way we ran into some characters.  First it was was Sorcerer Mickey, Woody, and Cinderella near the Off the Page store.

Then we ran in to Mr. & Mrs. Incredible.  In both cases, they made every accommodation to allow us to get pictures with them.

At this point we were standing very close to Turtle Talk with Crush so we walked in Disneyland2009_20090115_0231 to see if we could get in.  Unfortunately, we were a bit late.  We figured we had enough time to ride Monster's, Inc. and get back to see Turtle Talk.

Disneyland2009_20090115_0240On our way over to Monsters, Inc. we stopped to get pictures of Regan and Enchanted Rose with WALL-E and inside one of the Monstropolis cabs.

After Regan got her fill of picture taking we hopped on the Monsters Inc ride which gave us a nice quick ride through the movie’s plot.

After leaving Monsters Inc, we high tailed it back to the Turtle Talk with Crush.  Unfortunately, we got there a couple minutes after they loaded the theater for the last show. 

Disneyland2009_20090115_0243 There was a nice older gentleman working the attraction and walked us in the back door so we could get in to see the show.  We hadn’t missed much because the Cast Member working the show was still warming up the crowd.

I noticed that the show was different than the one that I am used to seeing at The Seas in EPCOT at Walt Disney World.  After talking with Julie about the Disneyland2009_20090115_0248 differences, she informed me there were a couple different versions of the Turtle Talk show.

At this point Julie and crew needed to head home.  Julie would be coming back Disneyland2009_20090115_0252 later to join us for dinner, but she needed to get the kids home and she needed to get changed into nicer clothes for our evening out.

On our way to walking Julie out of California Adventure we ran into the Pixar Play Parade.  Everyone quickly ducked underneath the rope to get a spot to view the parade.  I am short and couldn’t get a good vantage point to get any decent pictures so I decided to go sit on a bench back against a wall near a shop.  It didn’t take long before a Disneyland2009_20090115_0269 Cast Member came up to me and told me that I couldn’t sit there.  I asked where I could sit, and was told that during the parade no one can sit anywhere.  I could go into a store and shop or I needed to get on the other side of the rope.  All traffic on the outside of the rope must stay moving.

Disneyland2009_20090115_0291Frustrated, I ducked under the rope to join the rest of the group where they tried to make room for me.  I attempted to take some pictures but the lighting wasn’t working in my favor.  There was a really bright spot light in my frame and it kept making the exposure come out too dark.

After the parade passed, we walked Julie and her family to the exit. 

At this point there were only a few more minutes before Disney’s California Adventure was gong to close so we Disneyland2009_20090115_0310made a quick dash to the Hollywood Tower Hotel so we could get a go on The Tower of Terror.

Being as close to closing at it was, we really didn’t have much of a wait to get onto our elevator car.  Even though  this is a smaller version of the version at Disney’s Hollywood Studio at Walt Disney World, the ride is just as fun.

At this point, it was about 6PM and we weren’t planning on meeting up for dinner until around 8:30PM.  So, we Disneyland2009_20090115_0311 decided to head over to the Disneyland side to see what we could do before heading to the room to change for dinner.

When we left DCA to head over to Disneyland, I was preparing to get my bag searched again and came to find out that this wasn’t going to be the case.  Apparently, they now have it setup so you only get searched once.

The people at the gate had to manually scan our park tickets here too.  But, once we were inside we headed straight over to Adventureland.

The wait for Indiana Jones was kind of long so we kept walking toward New Orleans Square and hopped on Pirates of the Caribbean.  The wait wasn’t long and we were quickly able to get onto this oldie but goodie.Disneyland2009_20090115_0323

There is definitely a longer opening sequence to the attraction that I had forgotten about. 

Disneyland2009_20090115_0336 After getting off of Pirates, we got a call from Julie to find out that she was close to leaving.  Enchanted Rose and her mom felt we had enough time to get onto Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye.  I felt that there wasn’t enough time, but the majority won out.

It became quite clear that the line wasn’t going to be moving quickly and I was worried we’ll end up making Julie wait a long time for us.

Disneyland2009_20090115_0353 After quite the wait, we finally got on Indiana Jones and even though it uses the  same ride vehicle as Dinosaur at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I find it to be a much more enjoyable attraction.  Granted the bumpiness of the attraction makes it downright impossible to capture any pictures.

After disembarking we made a beeline back to the Grand Californian to get ready.  Since California Adventure was closed, we had to use the Downtown Disney entrance into the Grand Californian.

Enchanted Rose has gone ahead of us because she was going to acquire another parking pass from the front desk Disneyland2009_20090115_0354that Julie could use since parking was sparse.

As my mother-in-law and I were entering the lobby, Enchanted Rose had just acquired the parking pass. 

While we waited for Julie to show up, we went to the Gift Shop to see if we could get a security tag removed from a clothing item that was purchased while we were in the park earlier.

When Julie called to inform us she was there, Enchanted Rose went meet up with Julie so she could show her where to park.

My mother-in-law and I went to the room to start getting ready for dinner.

After I got changed, I decided to setup my tripod and see what kind of shots I could get off the balcony.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have much luck.  All my pictures came out looking terrible.

Disneyland2009_20090115_0369  Even though we had an 8:55PM reservation at Steakhouse 55 the ladies wanted to try and get into Catal again.  When Enchanted Rose came out for a Girl’s Weekend in November 2008, they went to Catal for dinner and loved it.

We didn’t have to wait long to get a seat and were taken to one of the Disneyland2009_20090115_0371 tables out on the balcony.  The balcony was enclosed with plastic to keep it more comfortable for everyone

We were immediately greeted by our waitress and got our drinks quickly.  Disneyland2009_20090115_0373 But that is where the quality of the meal started to go down.  We hardly got any refills to our drinks and when I asked for my steak to be cooked rare I got it Medium Well and my mother-in-law’s steak was cooked medium-rare instead of well done (she claims it was rare, but most people’s rare is my medium rare).

We sent our steaks back and in typically kitchen fashion, the steak I got back was so rare there was no denying it.  It was cold in the center.  I have found that this is the usual reaction I get when I complain about the temperature of my steak being over cooked. 

Needless to say, none of us were too impressed with the service.  To top off the evening’s festivities, we had a couple of 20-somethings playing a rousing game of tonsil hockey behind us.

Disneyland2009_20090115_0376 Even though the service wasn’t great, the ladies had a good time.  There was a lot of laughing going on and if one didn’t know better they would’ve thought all 3 of them were drunk off their butts.

When the bill came we ended up not tipping our usual 20% to voice our displeasureDisneyland2009_20090115_0378 and left.

Since we didn’t get dessert at Catal, the ladies wanted to go to the Marceline Bakery to pick up something sweet to eat.  I was exhausted at this point (it was almost 1AM our time) and just kind of went along for the ride.

The ladies continued to giggle and laugh at nothing as they shopped at the Marceline Bakery.  Enchanted Rose picked up a Rice Krispy treat that had a chocolate coating.

At this point, we said goodbye to Julie and headed to the room to go to bed. 

On our way back to the room we checked to see what time Disneyland opened in the morning.  Since they weren’t opening until 10AM we weren’t in any real hurry to get up.

And with that we called it a day

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Anonymous said...

oh its no rumor about In'N Out being in PHX area. There already are some. Just rumour one is going be built closer to me (2 min vs 20 min).

Now off to get back to work. Hope to read rest of the psot soon.

Anonymous said...

Hi... just happen to cross your site... I see that you also love Disney... me too...

Im planning to go to Tokyo or Hong Kong Disney this Christmas. Hoho and I found some stuffs from Hong Kong Disneyland here as well:

I will definitely take tones of photos there!!!