Vacation Day 2 – Disneyland Day 1

It’s happening!

We awoke around 7:30 AM and got ready… after the short ride on the A.R.T. and through resort security then through the gates, we ended up inside Disneyland around 10 AM. After getting through the entry gates you often meet a princess (this day it was Ariel).

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Whether you go left or right, you will pass under a sign that reads, “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy” and these words are so true! There’s so much to see, hear, observe and experience!!!

So we are now inside the park and unsure of what to do first.  I was trying to figure out the PhotoPass thing…

After passing by a couple character meets (it’s hard to keep focused with so much happening around you) we asked some Disneyland Cast Members (that’s what they call the folks who work there) where to get help/better understand the Disneyland PhotoPass and they told us to go to the Photo Supplies store at the end of Mainstreet USA. This was a neat store and I imagine has quite the history, going from film to modern day digital image capture. I didn’t see any historic plaques about it though… perhaps a question for another adventure. In any case…

TIP: Get/buy the PhotoPass BEFORE you get to the park but make sure you get the first day to maximize your value/use!

Now, there was an incredibly helpful cast member named Bob who helped get me sorted out. Thanks Bob, you brought back the magic! J

After we had the PhotoPass activated and ready, we started our way over to Tomorrowland! While heading over there, the Disneyland Band passed by. These folks know how to play their instruments! I imagine this could be the pinnacle career position of any true brand class fanatic, excellent to hear and great watch their choreography with music.

TIP: If you have a magic morning, Tomorrowland and Fantasyland are the only parts of the park that are open for magic mornings (do NOT do them during a regular daytime excursion, you may miss other parts of the park if you do).

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Once into Tomorrowland we grabbed a FastPass® (tips on the FastPass later) for the Star Tours ride and made our way over to the Nemo’s Reef ride. As we stood in-line for the submarine ride we got to watch (from a distance without a direct line of sight to the show) the Jedi Academy. They showed off their force powers and light saber fight with Darth Vader, The Seventh Sister and then Kylo Ren.

Popcorn and cotton candy in line helps the wait go by (40 minutes wait, yikes). We really enjoyed the Nemos Reef ride (which used to be simply called “Submarine Voyage”).

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Next, we headed back over to the Star Tours ride which was a fun Star Wars experience, to say the least! During the “trip” one of the people on the ship was revealed as a rebel spy! On one of the ships screen to the right of the main area a photo of someone on the ship who is suspected rebel spy is shown. Who was it? It was my wife! Such a funny/great experience. After that, we went over and grabbed a fast pass for Space Mountain. While on our way, there were a couple storm troopers walking through the Cantina area who arrested one of the tourists as a rebel spy… turns out, it was a mistake and the tourist was released (they let her take some pictures and leave). We then headed into the ‘Star Wars: Path of the Jedi’ film which was a family friendly summary of all the movies 1-7 in one! It’s in the same theatre where the Michael Jackson Captain EO movie was. I wonder what happened to that movie now? Instant classic!

Something that turned out to be a fantastic opportunity was to have the Chase Disney Visa, this gave us an opportunity to have a special, private character meet (for Disneyland it was Darth Vader in Tomorrowland). We then got to meet Chewbacca, a very tall and friendly character! Well worth the wait to meet.

Being in Tomorrowland, we took an opportunity to ride the monorail, an impressive mechanical marvel of 1959, which is still pretty impressive to this day. If you ask REALLY nicely (and they’re offering it) you can ride in the nose/front or the rear/back.

We made our way into Fantasyland and over to the Snow-white Scary Adventure, which turned out to be a little scarier than we thought it would be! Our seven year old didn’t enjoy the ride much and she’s not that sensitive of a kiddo. In the lineup at the start of the ride, there is a golden apple and a golden storybook. If you touch the apple you hear the evil queen laugh maniacally in the distance… nice touch!

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After that ride, off to the happiest cruise that ever sailed, “It’s a Small World”. This is an original ride of Walt’s that started out in the New York World fair in 1964. It originally wasn’t planned to continue beyond the fair. However, in 1965 they shipped the characters & pieces over to Disneyland in California for a permeant home. Fun fact: with Disneyland Paris, Tokyo, and California, the song now plays every single hour of the day and over 12,000 times!

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Back to our trip… after the happiest cruise that ever sailed, we stopped into one of the Fantasyland shops and picked up some trinkets. Around this time the “Sound-sational” parade started through the street, and it was SOUND-SATIONAL! Really, it was great. Whoever was Mickey was truly talented, he drummed exactly at the right beat and when you’re in the shops you can hear Mickey playing the drums better than the speakers in the street. Okay, maybe it was just because he did the drumming 7,496 times throughout the summer but still… come on.

After the parade, we headed into Fantasyland to check out the castle walk through (the story of Aurora, a.k.a. Sleeping Beauty).

TIP: Try to open doors without signs and look into all the windows you can! Some great effects happen and often lead to being startled, which is great fun for everyone you’re with!

Outside the castle, there is a wishing well that, if timed correctly (did you get the Disneyland App?), you can meet Aurora and/or the Evil Queen!

After we saw the well, the Queen of hearts with Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum, the Rabbit and mad hatter all stormed by. The characters are great fun, the Queen of Hearts kicked a garbage can on the way by because she didn’t like where it was placed, the twiddle twins followed suit and smacked it also. Across the road is Pixie Hollow, where you can find Tinkerbell and one (or more) of her fairy friends, but no one was home for us.

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At this point we returned to Tomorrowland because our Space Mountain FastPass was getting close, we thought we should get a fast pass to Buzz Lightyears AstroBlasters since we were walking by. We talked to a cast member who got us our first visit pins! These we, will cherish forever. Back to buzz, you sit in a spaceship (groups of two) and shoot at Emperor Zerg and his evil henchmen as he attempts to steal the batteries from Buzz. NOTE: You can have the ride pictures emailed to yourself for free you just have to enter your email address.

Onto Space Mountain, this is a roller coaster in the dark! There are little stars (dots of light) everywhere but you can’t see anything, you’re completely in the dark.

We then went over towards the Matterhorn and got in line. This was great because while in line, we met some people who worked for the park and talked with them about strategy and best practices of the park. This is where I learned about how FastPass REALLY works, I really wish I’d had these tips before the park! We did the Matterhorn and then watched the electric parade! Fun fact, you can buy one of these blinking LED Mickey Mouse head balloons for only $14.99! Rumour has it, if you pop it, you can bring the bits to a balloon vendor and they’ll give you another one… lifetime warranty? In any case, we didn’t have the opportunity to try.

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We made it back on the A.R.T. and into our beds around 9:30… pooped right out. We all zonked out almost immediately.

 

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The Disneyland trip has arrived! Vacation Day 1

Well, we’ve arrived in LA, California! What a long day of travel yesterday. Early wake up for everyone… we started the day at 3:30 in the morning, which wasn’t all that bad actually. I mean, we’re going to Disneyland, right?

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The flight from our Okanagan Valley to Vancouver was on a prop plane that wasn’t very full. There were enough people on board that we couldn’t each have our own seat but, as a family, we sat together which was nice. But from Vancouver to LAX was another story!

The flight company we used (Ai r Can ada) over sold their flight so they were asking for 4 or 5 people to take another flight that routed through Denver and got you to LAX at 6:45 PM instead of 2 PM. They also offered $400 a person travel credit which turned into $800 cash per person when they could only find 2 takers.

In any case, we eventually got onto our plane (which, of course, was SUPER full) and ended up sitting in 2 rows of three rather than a group of six. Not the best seating arrangement but definitely not the worst.

Once in LAX we got off our plane, ran into an old acquaintance from high school, and proceeded to the baggage claim. Oddly enough, we started down an escalator and into a long windowless (and ad/poster free) tunnel. We were joined by two pilots and no one else! Where had we ended up? I asked the two pilots who said we’d found a little-known hall to get to the baggage claim that not many people (except for pilots) use. This was a great find as we literally walked right out of the tunnel and up to the luggage carousel which had spit out our luggage almost immediately when we got there.

Because of this sneaky tunnel, we saw very few people and didn’t see any celebrities (nor were we recognized as the celebrities we are! J *wink*).

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After our first brief wait in line in LA, we were onto a SuperBlue Shuttle and off to our hotel! In true Los Angeles style, the road was packed, bumper to bumper. Our driver was good, weaving in and out of traffic to get to our destination in a timely fashion. We even drove by a three car accident.

Upon arrival at the hotel, we checked in and listened to the “welcome” message from the host/concierge and went up to our room… which wasn’t ready yet. The door was propped open and there were some dirty dishes and a clipboard on the counter. I left my family there in the hall and headed back down to the front counter to inquire about the situation with the room and we were promptly moved to another room with an apology. The room is nice, a very good size for a family of four however for a family of six, a little tight but it turned out to work just fine. Everyone had a bed to sleep in and we managed not too badly with only one bathroom (although we had to leave the shower/toilet unlocked so others could use it if needed during showers). All we really needed was a place to eat breakfast and sleep anyway. Remember, the trip is about family experience/memories rather than hotel stays!

After we unpacked a little we decided eating food was in order so off we walked down the road to get some Subway although, before we could see a Subway we saw the Cheesecake Factory, which we promptly walked in and asked about the wait time. Amazingly enough, the lineup was super short and we made it to a table within 20 minutes. What a delicious meal we had that night, which was concluded with some amazing cheesecake (of course!). We had a slice of Oreo Dream Extreme and one Chocolate mousse (which had our eldest daughters name written on the plate with chocolate syrup because it was her birthday. It was time to get an Uber for some groceries! We hit up Vons and filled up on the basics. AND, of course, Henry Wienhards root beer, have you had this stuff? Best root beer on the planet! No lies!

Stay tuned, more to come!