We made it! We finally made it to Disneyland...just the two of us! We have been wanting to take this trip for a long time. I remember being in our basement apartment in Orem, and one of my birthday presents being a trip to Disneyland. That was three years ago! As I mentioned previously, for Christmas George and Nancy gave us some money to help pay for the trip, and they also offered to watch Charlie while we were away! It was perfect! Just what we needed to make it a reality.
We searched on Priceline, and were able to get a really good deal for flights, hotel, and a rental car. Because of the package deal, we arrived in California early on Wednesday morning, and flew out late on Saturday night. The plan was to spend two days at the parks, so that meant we basically had two extra days in California.
Tuesday night, we dropped Charlie off at the Grubers. We picked up some Costa Vida, ate with them, and I was able to show them Charlie’s bedtime routine. He went down like a champ...like usual. After putting him down and explaining other items for Charlie, we headed back to our apartment to finish packing and to go to bed before our early morning. Our flight left at 6:25 AM, so we had to be at my mom’s house by 4:30 AM so she could drop us off. That is an early morning, people! I was surprised to see how many people were at the airport at that time. Several missionaries...so that was kind of fun to see.
We arrived at the Long Beach airport at 7:00 AM with the whole free day ahead of us. We picked up our rental car (where the worker at the counter told us his little Disneyland secret. He told us to go to Customer Service at the park and tell them that we have Irritable Bowel Syndrome so they will give us special front of the line passes. How ridiculous and pathetic is that?! And partially awesome! Of course, we couldn’t bring ourselves to do it.)
For our free day, we hit up McDonalds for breakfast, and then made the drive to San Clemente so we could see Grandpa Banks’ condo. Smart phone navigation is such a life saver! I love it! The only down side is if it gives you a route with a toll road and you don’t know what other route to take….so you just follow what it says. Before you know it, you are paying $6 for driving down a road that I am sure was completely unnecessary. Oh well, we made it safely and directly to San Clemente. We were hoping to get some beach time and maybe some surfing time, but that day was cloudy and a little too chilly to hang out much outside. So we took a nap at Grandpa’s condo. It was a little different being there this time, since everything was being packed up. It was very bittersweet for Jason. The condo is now ready to sell, so that was probably the last time we will see it. The view from the back patio overlooking the golf course and ocean was still beautiful, even with the clouds. A real heaven on earth!
View from the back patio:
For lunch we went to the Fisherman’s Restaurant on the pier. I got the BBQ Chicken Salad and it was awesome! Jason got the Fish Tacos, and really liked those as well. After lunch, we walked the pier and then checked out Califa Beach. Again, it was a little too cold to hang out on the beach or get in the water. So it was a short and sweet visit.
Love the sourdough bread, too!
Next, we made the drive to Anaheim to our hotel. Thanks to Priceline, we got a cheap hotel that was walking distance from Disneyland. It was the Quality Inn and was about a 15 minute walk from the parks. It was only like three or four at this time, so I took another short nap (hey, it was a really early morning and late night) while Jason watched some of the Olympics. It was nice to finally have some TV so we could watch some of the events while getting ready and such. When evening came, we headed to Downtown Disney. Man, even that part is magical. I love it! We checked out the Grand California Hotel (someday we will stay there!) and looked at the shops and restaurants. We finally picked Tortilla Joe’s for dinner. It was amazing! They have amazing salsa and a delicious Fajita Burrito. I don’t know if I was just starving or what, but I LOVED it there! I would go back there in a heart beat.
We took a sneak peek in anticipation of the next two days
Thursday morning finally came! That was our California Adventure day. We had a free continental breakfast at the hotel and walked to the park. We were so lucky with amazing, warm weather! For whatever reason, there was a crazy line at the baggage check between Downtown Disney and the park entrances. So that slowed things down a bit. Oh, did I mention the Grubers have a couple of connections to getting into Disneyland free? That’s right! Alli helped us connect with a friend who could get us in free that day. We met them at 10:45 AM: Diana and her little girl, and Alli and Duke came. Diana got us all into the park, and then Jason and I went our separate way (as was planned). It was awesome! Thanks Diana and Alli!
First on our list was to get Fast Passes for the new Cars ride. The last time we had been was in 2009, and the ride was not built yet. So we were anxious to ride the ride that everyone was talking about. Apparently it is still a huge deal, because by the time we got into the park, the Fast Passes for the entire day were already gone for that ride. So we got tickets to the World of Color (also something we hadn’t experienced yet...it was under construction last time) and then headed to Radiator Springs. We were so impressed with that area! We loved it! The town is spot on (having watched Cars recently many times with Charlie), and the rocks look so legit! Even though we didn’t have a Fast Pass, we still got onto the ride in good time….thanks to the Single Rider line. Man, that is the way to go if you can! It definitely cuts down your waiting time. The normal line for the Cars ride was about an hour and a half, but we only waited about 30 minutes (not bad) and we both rode within one minute of each other. For the rest of the day, we continued riding Single Rider on all of the rides that offered it.. It was great! The other rides we enjoyed (several times) were Tower of Terror (probably the favorite for both of us), Toy Story Mania (another favorite that neither of us had been on), Soarin’ Over California, California Screamin, Luigi’s Tires (very creative idea, but one you could skip), and Monsters Inc. We also went to the Animators Area (which I love). For a late lunch/early dinner, we shared a cheeseburger at one of the shops. The food there just makes me happy!
Excited for our first ride
As you can see...we really liked the rocks...
Beautiful during the day and majestic at night
Tower of Terror
Toy Story Mania
Before we knew it, it was time for the World of Color show. Since it was still early in the season, and a week day, the park closed at 8:00 PM, and the show ended at 8:45 PM...pretty early to my standards, but I was pretty beat. The World of Color show was awesome! I’m so glad we got tickets so that we could have a good spot. With everyone standing to watch the show, that is when I really felt my feet hurting. Man, they were aching from a long day on my feet. I don’t know how I did it as a kid...getting there from the second the park opened and being some of the last people to leave. My feet were not prepared for the work out. But we toughed it out, and I was so glad I did.
Since it was only like 9:00 PM when we left the park we decided to hang around Downtown Disney for the rest of the night. We were a little hungry so we grabbed a sandwich at Earl of Sandwich. Another amazing choice! We shared the Chicken Chipotle Avocado Sandwich, and we really had to discipline ourselves not to go back for another. It was so good! Against Jason’s better judgment, I convinced him to purchase tickets for the next day. We had been waiting for a couple of weeks to hear if another of Alli’s friends could get us in for free on Friday, as well. We never heard back, and it was already getting late so I told Jason he should get the tickets that night so we wouldn’t have to wait in a potential line in the morning. He was reluctant but finally gave in to my wishes. Low and behold, 30 minutes later we got a text from Alli saying that she finally heard back from her friend and he could get us in for free. Ah!!! Of course this would happen to us! So we stewed about it for a little bit, debating on what we should do. Could we return them...could we sell them…blah blah blah? If we went in with her friend, we would still have to wait until 10:00 AM to get in. Since we couldn’t return them, and selling them at full price wasn’t guaranteed (and a potential stress and headache), I convinced Jason to have us just keep the purchased tickets. I was anxious to get into Disneyland when it opened, and I figured we were super lucky as it was getting into California Adventure for free. Jason settled for my wishes like a kind husband (but I am sure it was killing him).
And then it was Friday morning...Disneyland day! Another gorgeous day! Even warmer than the day before. As planned, we got into Disneyland by 8:45 AM with the rushing crowd as they dropped the ropes. We booked it to the Matterhorn and were the first ones to ride. That was such a rush and so fun...for me, definitely worth paying for the tickets. The other rides we enjoyed that day were Space Mountain (Jason’s favorite), Star Tours (with new 3D videos we hadn’t seen), Autopia, Indiana Jones (my favorite), Jungle Cruise (by far our longest wait...as the line length was deceiving, very frustrating), Haunted Mansion, Astro Blasters, and Pirates (another favorite). We also visited Tarzan’s Treehouse and the Tiki Room (for the sole purpose of resting our feet). Again, we took advantage of Single Riders and Fast Passes whenever we could. For lunch, I got the chicken tenders and fries (a childhood favorite) and Jason got a pork sandwich. During the parade (which I was sad to hear they no longer did the light parade) we shared a traditional turkey leg. So yummy! The only rides we were sad to miss were Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain, and Peter Pan. Splash and Thunder Mountains were closed, and by the time we ran to Peter Pan after the parade… apparently everyone else at the park had the same idea, because the line was already ridiculous!!! So we decided to skip out on that one.
Waiting to race passed the ropes
We stayed for the firework show (which was awesome!) and Fantasmic (always a crowd pleaser). I have to say, I was at my point of complete exhaustion. My feet started hurting pretty early in the afternoon, and my energy level was pretty low as well. How disappointing for an Arbon! My dad would have been disgusted. But I toughed it out as best I could, as I was also having such a fun time! After getting a gift for Charlie, we took the Monorail to Downtown Disney and headed back to the hotel. To say the least, we crashed into bed.
Saturday morning….we slept in! Our return flight didn’t leave until 8:05 PM so we had time to spare. We were lucky to be in California that day because that meant we could join in on Capri’s birthday party. She had a party with some friends at Kids Castle, so we met them there for arcade games, lunch, and cake. After the party, we visited Grandpa Banks at the independent living home. It was fun to surprise him there. He was in the commons area sitting with his new girlfriend, Doris. So that was a little interesting...but I know he appreciated the visit. After the visit, we went to visit Alli and the kids again, but this time back at their house. We watched Capri open some of her gifts and had a good chat. Before we knew it, it was time to head out. We made a quick stop at a delicious restaurant called Lemonade (a must visit).
Back at the Spencers
By the time we flew in to Salt Lake, it was about 11:00 PM. My dad and Bryan picked us up from the airport (Bryan was driving...getting in his hours for his license..crazy!). It was close to midnight by the time we made it to the Grubers to pick up Charlie. It felt more like stealing him in the night! George and Nancy had already gone to bed since they had early mornings the next day. Charlie was also asleep downstairs, so we had to quietly pick him up and carry him into the car once his other things were packed. It was so sweet, on the ride home, he just sat in his car seat staring at us. You could tell he was confused and tired, but also content that we were back with him. And boy, we were happy to see him again. We sure did miss him and thought of him often as we saw other toddlers on the trip.
A huge thank you to everyone who helped us and made this trip possible! Love you guys!