As I said last year, I wait all year to see my boys and to have fun with them. This year we decided to spice things up and since I no longer work for the mouse it required some new key players! This year's crew included:
Holly (you remember her from Italy?)-
And lil Kirsten (The girl child)-
Various other friends joined us throughout the week, but those were our key players.
We stayed off property, which I would highly recommend. Disneyland hotels are very expensive! Plus the good neighbor hotels are just as close- easily walkable to Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure. We chose to visit during Spring Break, but even then it didn't get busy until the last day.
For those of you who are like me, a Walt Disney World pro then you need to be forewarned: Disneyland is a whole new beast! Over 50% of the annual business is based on Locals/Annual Passholders. And they are the smart ones! They come in for a few hours here and there. It's rare for them to come in for a whole day. So if you are rushing around like a crazy person fueled by the addiction of old school fastpasses, you're going to stand out.
Disneyland has a much more relaxed feel to it. Think EPCOT but within the Magic Kingdom or Hollywood Studios! It's all about taking your time and relaxing. Don't ruin your trip by being in a hurry!
So here's how it went down:
Day 1- LAX arrival.
When you've got 2 different starting points for 6 people, flights can get confusing. The Kansas crew arrived first, and we all managed to get the same flight. Holly had frequently flier points coming out of her nose (ugh, lucky B!) so she booked the best priced flight through Southwest. Lexi was on a budget so she'd been scanning the skies and found a great deal through Delta. Luckily, Holly and Lexi's flights were at similar times so they rode to the airport together and landed pretty close in time. Unfortunately, LAX has this thing where your plane has reached the ground but Taxiing will take another 35-40mins... 4th least favorite airport ever!!! (1-CDG, 2-ORD, 3-JFK, 4-LAX)
Once all together at the airport, we took the shuttle to our hotel. It's the shuttle advertised through Southwest. We've used them both times I've been to Disneyland and they're great and a fair price!
We stayed at Tropicana Inn & Suite, my 2nd visit to their lovely hotel. It's affordable and directly across the street from the Main Gates- less than a 5min walk! The room wasn't ready yet so we stored our luggage and went exploring. We hit up DTD (downtown Disney, for you newbies) and had lunch at this great New Orleans themed place. My shrimp PoBoy was way too much and I'd bought dessert for everyone... We took the dessert back to the hotel! Then we did some shopping and explored the 2 hotels on property.
Holly and I were about to talk our way into a small tour of The Grand Californian. Very cool.
After that, Lexi, Holly and I headed back to the hotel room. I hadn't seen them in person since December, so we needed some girl talk! It was great just hanging out and catching up. The kids, as we call them were off shopping and photo shooting. We all agreed to save our first day of the parks for when we could actually spend a quiet morning there. Lexi had never been before, so we were looking forward to showing her around.
Day 2- Disneyland!
Rise and shine for park open. Nothing like a good rope drop to get your blood pumping in the morning... Except coffee, which was my first stop on Main Street!
This classic was our next destination. Everybody wanted get to Indy so we hit Adventureland first thing. Lexi hated our next stop but I don't come to Disney without this ride!
We did all the must dos that day, including something I'd missed on my first visit- Mickey and the Magical Map!!!!
I loved it and went a second time on this trip with Lexi. It was THAT good.
Seriously, go see it!!!
We had lunch at Carnation Cafe on Main Street, it was Walt's favorite and he always ordered the Chili. They've removed my favorite thing from the menu: PB&J soda. "It's not bad," was my slogan last trip.
The groups broke off and us girls kidnapped Ethan. The lovebirds can make a single guy a little sick, so we brought him with us. My other must do was ToonTown! There's so much hidden magic in that area and some great photos too.
That evening was Fireworks as fastpasses to Fantasmic. No pictures because I'd seen it before, but it was nice to just take the show in without a screen in front if my face!
Day 3- California Adventure
I love this park. It's so well designed. It's everything I hope for Hollywood Studios after the remodel. This park breaks down into 5 lands: old Hollywood, Bugs Life kiddie park, Carsland, Grizzly Gultch, and the old Boardwalk carnival.
Now those may not seem like they match up but the beautiful design of the park makes your experience streamline. I just love the transition. My favorite areas? Old Hollywood during the day and Carsland at night- all that neon.
The Newsie's Street show was on Lexi's Must Do list. And Holly loves Heimlick's Chew-Choo... She's a nut!
Lexi fell in love with Carsland, I knew she would. We spent a lot of time just taking photos.
And then I got to introduce my 2 favorite Disney experience to them: the Animation Hall- all the art and storyboards and music, that place is my Happy place! And World of Color!
Words can not describe WOC. You just have to live it. That show is beyond... It's just simply... Yep, indescribable. Go see and then tell me what you'd say!
Day 4- Park Hopping
This day was all about 2nd rides and experience we may have missed. We went to WOC and Fantasmic again. We also had Holly talk us onto the fastpass line of Big Thunder at night... I don't know why that ride is better in the dark, but it just is and I don't argue with the facts!
I got to see more of the fanstatic Streetmasphere that Disneyland is known for. Below is the Nickle and a Dame group.
And I got the girls to get their fortunes from Esmerelda on Main Street. She's always spookily accurate!
All in all, it was a good trip and good people. I can't ask for more. Sadly, this will be my last DISNEMAW trip. Next year I have a few big trips so all the little trips are on the back burners. It's sad, but all good things must end. I'll miss my boys and our bonding time.