A Video Tour of Our Room

I took video of our room which turned out to be pretty poorly lit, I’m afraid! I did a bit of editing, added a few flash photos and some music… it turned out ok. Definitely not an “art film,” but it will give you an idea of the accommodations we had at the Grand Californian Resort.
To view the video, click HERE.

Disney Store, Downtown Disney, Anaheim

Looking out from our balcony

Looking towards Disneyland

Can you see Space Mountain?


Heading Home

carpet in our room at Disney's Grand California

Can you spot the hidden Mickey on the carpet in our room?

Our flight was not until 6 pm and, with Don once again in meetings (continuing education, actually), I was left to my own devices until 3:30ish when we’d have to catch our bus to the John Wayne International Airport. I went on the power walk through Disney California and found myself accompanied by one of Don’s colleagues at Harborview in Seattle. Teresa was on her own due to a mix up in registration (for the meeting) so I offered to leave her my Disney Guidebook so she could plan out some time at the parks. It was a chilly morning – our breath was clearly visible – but one of the women was from Ohio and in shorts. It’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it? An interesting note about being in the park before it opens: the Grizzly Rapids Run is completely emptied of water every night. Who knew?!?
I had decided that my last breakfast would be at Catal – they had a brioche French toast that sounded delightful. It was good, but not as good as the Mickey Waffle – sad to say! After breakfast, I went back to the room to pack up before the late check out (noon). The Bell Captain kept our bags for me in their holding room until we were ready to leave – most convenient! I had used up my 3-day Park Hopper ticket (sigh), so my day would be spent Christmas shopping in Downtown Disney.
I managed (somehow…) to accumulate several purchases and still had time before I needed to meet Don back at the resort, so I approached the Disney Vacation Club booth to find out more about the program. We had looked into it a bit previously and – of all the time share possibilities out there – I was interested in learning more. I whisked away on a tram (bliss! my feet were so tired!) to the offices and chatted with Bruce who discussed scenarios, answered questions and gave me a tour of the model units from the Grand Californian. I would dearly love to someday have a family reunion or do Christmas at Disney World (specifically, Disney’s Animal Kingdom with a view of the “Savannah!”) and buying into the Vacation Club would help bring that dream to fruition. Plus, it’s Disney and I can count on them to do it right. The prices seemed reasonable to me and the program is fairly flexible regarding destinations and “point accumulation.” Perhaps, someday…
I was once again whisked away in the tram and back to the Grand Californian to collect our luggage and Don so we could hop the bus to the airport. I had just enough time to dash back into Downtown and buy some huge soft pretzels for our plane ride home before the bus was to arrive. Don returned to the resort just ahead of the Disneyland Express bus. Our airport experience was uneventful – no pat downs or body cavity searches – and our plane was fully loaded before our scheduled departure time. I believe we actually took off a few minutes early. The charming toddler behind me didn’t kick my seat the entire time, so the flight seemed quick and we were once again in rain swept Seattle. Home again, home again – jiggety-jig!

Mickey’s Fun Wheel: A Disney Sidebar

We had a fabulous viewing spot for the Wonderful World of Color show on the boardwalk of Paradise Pier, across from the giant ferris wheel. The light display on Mickey’s Fun Wheel was very nearly hypnotic as we waited for the start of the show. I took a short video clip – wish I’d recorded more! – added a couple of snapshots from the area and put it to “The Spectrum Song.” The song is from one of the old World of Disney television shows and sung by Ludvig VonDrake – remember him? Click here to view the video on YouTube.

PS Unless you open the link in a new window or tab, you will be directed away from this blog post.

Mickey's Fun Wheel at night

Mickey's Fun Wheel at night - beautiful!

Day 3: Don & Shirley do Disney (part 2)

Disney California

Just outside California Adventure

After a quick stop in our room, we headed back out to Disney’s California Adventure. We had several “must do’s” for this park – first on the list was Soarin’ Over California. This is an amazing ride that gives you the sensation of flying through the many environments in the state of California – including the scent of pine or orange trees! We decided to go as single riders as it had worked out so well for me before, but -maybe because it wasn’t as busy – the cast members seemed to be more sticklers for protocol and separated us down different hallways. They kept everyone in their lane from the line before “boarding” to seating assignments – ah well! Next time through, we stayed together and got in the front row – weeee! Before going through “Soarin'” again, though, we went over to the Grizzly River Run – a “white water rapids” ride where everyone gets wet – at least a little bit! We had tossed a Mickey poncho (from a previous trip to Disney World) into my backpack as well as some large plastic bags for Don’s shoes. It was in the low 70’s that day, so we weren’t worried about a little bit of water, but it is uncomfortable to walk in wet shoes and we had miles to go before we slept… The locals considered the weather to be too cool for Grizzly, so we walked right on and shared our “raft” with a young man – a kid in his mid-teens. We gleefully bagged Don’s shoes and tucked my backpack (with my shoes & socks) under my poncho, regaling the kid with tales of our upcoming soaking! It was great! I did get a good-sized splash in the face, but our clothes came through just fine.
We headed to the Paradise Pier area next to check the line for Toy Story Mania – it was long, so we decided to try out the Mickey Fun Wheel. The boarding process was tedious – it took a while to fill all those “cages” and I insisted on a non-moving cage. After the Ferris wheel was filled, I think we only went around twice before the unloading process began. The views were amazing from the wheel, though – you could see the whole California Adventure Park and the higher points of Disneyland. After dark, the wheel was beautifully lit with changing colored lights and simulated movement, but I’m getting ahead of myself…
Next was Toy Story Mania with it’s 40 minute wait – and this was a slow day in the park! It is much better to stand in line with someone instead of by yourself, though!! Don beat my score this time, although my accuracy percentage was better than his – I consider that a moral victory.
By now, it was time to pick up our picnics for the World of Color Show. I had purchased them online ahead of time to get us into a preferred viewing area for the show. We were still stuffed from our huge lunch in Blue Bayou, so we planned to take them up to our room and tuck them into the fridge for later. As we walked away with our cool new lunch bags, we found that the Pixar Parade would be starting soon and we had the opportunity to sit along the edge of the route – we took it!
Monsters Inc character Boo in parade

Boo from Monsters Inc toddles toward us.

We were able to see the full parade unobstructed and you know Disney does a good parade!
We hustled our food up to our room and grabbed our previously discarded jackets and headed back into Disney California. We had a bit of time (still!) before we were to get into the queue for our viewing area, so we wandered into the Backstage area and went on the Monsters Inc ride. Now this ride is specifically for the little ones – too bad they didn’t take the chase scene in the door area from the movie and make that into a ride. That coulda been something! It is a cute ride, though and it is fun to see the little ones as they enjoy the animatronic figures. As we walked out of the ride exit, Don said, “let’s go through again!” He wanted to try to get some pictures inside the ride. He cajoled me (and was supported by the lady with two kids who was following us out – “Aw c’mon! Let him ride again!”) so we went through again to take pictures. Weee! (the pictures did not turn out)
Now it was time to head back to the Paradise Pier area and find our preferred viewing area. Oh – that would be the hundreds of people surrounded by cast members and guided by rope lines across the water from Mickey’s Fun Wheel. Holy crap! Not so exclusive feeling anymore! Eventually, it was announced that, if we didn’t mind the possibility of getting wet, people could get right down on the boardwalk and line up along the water. We decided to chance it and settled on a couple of folded towels right at the railing. Others filled in around us, including a set of grandparents with a couple of grandchildren who pondered aloud what would happen if we should stand up. “They will let you stand in front of them and you will have a front row view!” exclaimed the grandpa. “As if!” I thought. This family was swathed in ponchos to avoid the splashes we were warned about. While we were waiting, the grandpa talked loudly and constantly so I was worried we’d get a running commentary throughout the show. We were also treated to a light show on Mickey’s Fun Wheel – very mesmerizing! I took some video of the changes and now wish I had taken more. (Look for a side bar on the Fun Wheel light show soon!) The show began and the music was loud enough to mask “grandpa’s” remarks. The prevailing wind – which was very slight, moved across the water parallel to our seats so we had the occasional light mist.
It was an amazing show – animation was projected onto walls of water, jets of color shot into the air (how did they make the color so intense!?), familiar Disney songs played throughout, fire blasted up from the water – hot enough to feel the heat. I highly recommend going to this show – and getting the picnic lunch for a preferred view as it is cheaper than the dinner at Ariel’s Grotto and the viewing area is not much different.
Our day of doing Disney together came to end after our late picnic in our room and we went to sleep knowing we would be leaving the next day….sigh!

Day 2: Autograph Hound

Today I was determined to get some autographs and managed to snag a few. Minnie, Goofy & Pluto were in Toon Town and I found Mary Poppins and Bert just before leaving Fantasyland. I also got Pinocchio and Geppeto out on Main Street as I was headed back to the room for a few minutes. I looked for others in Disney California and actually got in line to see Sully (Monsters Inc) but was told he couldn’t do autographs because of the claws. I saw Mickey several times but he was always swamped as soon as he appeared. In fact, I was pushed aside by a “lady” who abandoned Pinocchio’s line…in her defense, she did say “excuse me” as she shoved. I also had pictures taken with most of them! I took advantage of the photo-op spots, too when there was a cast member to take the  picture. They were very nice and took pictures both with my camera and theirs – I’ll need to look at those online.

Mary Poppins, Bert & Me

It's a Jolly Holiday!

I went to the animation studio at the Hollywood Backlot section in Disney Cali and saw the Talk with Crush show (sea turtle from Finding Nemo) which was very cute. It’s a Pixar animated show, but the twist is that he actually can interact with audience members -asking to speak to specific “dudes” and “dudettes.” It was totally awesome, dude! It started raining in mid-afternoon – I thought it never rained in California! Actually it wasn’t too terrible, considering where I live! I caught part of the Pixar Parade, but was behind a pile of people so I didn’t have a very good view. What I saw was cute, though! “Life-sized” Pixar characters dancing and singing – very colorful!

We had a dinner in the evening at the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. with the Pharmacy Residents (and others) – about 2 miles from our hotel. We decided to walk and got soaked on the way back. We hoped to see the fireworks again from our balcony, but apparently they were canceled due to the rain. Wimps.

My friend, Minnie Mouse

I’m leavin’…on a jet plane!

I am ridiculously excited about our trip to Disneyland tomorrow –even though I will be hitting the parks most of the time all by myself. Don has his annual pharmacy meeting in Anaheim and he bribed me to come along by booking us a room in the Grand Californian Resort Hotel for our stay. Our first time staying in a Disney Resort! Jonah is now a junior at the University of Washington and Andrea is married and in her final year of Vet Med at WSU, so it is just Don and I now. He has one day that we will spend at the parks together and we’ve already made reservations for the new World of Color show (Disney California) in the special viewing area – which includes a picnic – and for lunch at the Blue Bayou inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. I’ll save the Peter Pan ride to share with Don…
I’ve made an appointment for a pedi in the resort spa for shortly after we arrive and will probably go into Downtown Disney for the evening. Christmas shopping! There’s an early morning power walk of Disney California that I’m going to get in on and an Arts & Crafts (architecture style) tour of the resort, too. While by myself, I am planning on utilizing the Disney Photo Pass service so I can get pictures of myself with characters and at iconic locations. I made myself an autograph book and plan on keeping this blog up to date through-out. I might even get my face painted… Who knows?

Taking the Kids

Taking Andrea: My husband (Don), daughter (Andrea) and I had just moved from Groves, Texas to Seattle, Washington in 1987 when, through some miracle, Michigan State University was chosen for the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day, 1988. We were in the same time zone, we had a 4 year old kid and Don’s boss had tickets to the game she didn’t want. This confluence of events was perfect timing to go to Disneyland, too! I finally was able to go on the rides I had missed out on when I was a teenager and loved every minute! Don and I discovered that the Peter Pan ride was an opportunity for some quick smooching and we have been fond of it ever since! We took Andrea on the beautiful Carousel just inside Fantasyland and tested her potential as the right-wise King of all England on the Sword in the Stone (the first Disney movie I remember seeing in the theater!) She wasn’t, by the way. We gleefully rode Dumbo and spun ourselves nearly sick on the Tea Cups. Andrea shyly met Mary Poppins and had her picture taken Mary and with many other characters that day. A new Disneyphile emerged in our family…

Taking Jonah: As a family, our vacations tended to revolve around going to Michigan (and other points Mid-West) to see extended family or were in conjunction with a business trip for Don. It came about that in June of 1996 Don had a convention in San Diego – just a hop and a skip away from Disneyland! It would be a first visit for our son, Jonah, who was six and a half. Don scheduled a free day so we could experience the park together. It was a long-ish drive up, but well worth it! This time, we were able to experience everything through Jonah’s eyes. It’s always fun to see a child experience Disney for the first time! There were new rides to encounter – most notably the Indiana Jones ride – which Jonah was just tall enough to go on, as well as others we didn’t try out because Andrea was too small the last time. I believe we hit the Matterhorn and Space Mountain on that trip – screaming all the way! We now were a solid block of four Disneyphiles…

Waiting for Indy