Thursday, December 6, 2012
I wish every Thanksgiving could be just like this one! (Part 1)
It all started at 2:30am. That’s what time Scope, Wednesday, and I flung ourselves out of bed the day before Thanksgiving. (And on purpose too.) We rushed around our house, throwing things into suitcases, cramming Pop-Tarts in our mouths, and calling out guilty goodbyes to our frog, Trevor, who was not at all amused by our early morning hubbub and was pouting profusely in the corner of his tank.
(Frogs. They like their beauty sleep.)
By 4:00am, we were running down our building’s breezeway in the dark, lugging luggage to our waiting taxi, which whisked us away to O’hare airport in record time through the foggy and eerily deserted streets of Chicago.
We had been a wee bit nervous of what manner of hellish mob O’hare would have awaiting us that morning (being one of the heaviest travel days of the year), especially after seeing an ominous news report a day or two beforehand which said O’hare was expected to be the Nation’s busiest (aka most murderously unbearable) airport that day. But I guess the hellish mob didn’t get the memo or something (or perhaps just favored beauty sleep, like the frog) because the airport was almost as empty as the streets outside.
This is what it looked like as we sailed through Security….
We don’t typically look that chipper at 4:30am. But we had a really good reason for our freakishly-good predawn mood: We were on our way to…. (….wait for it….) ….DISNEYLAND!!!!
Uh-huh! I know! My family members back in Seattle and Arizona had been planning a Thanksgiving reunion in Disneyland for about a year and a half. Due to certain Court-y thorns in our sides during that time, Scope, Wednesday, and I, sadly, didn’t see how we would possibly be able to afford to go along too. This particularly bummed out Wednesday, who really, REALLY wanted to see her beloved little cousins getting their Disney groove on. But then at almost the last minute, just like magic, the planets aligned just so, and the Disneyland reunion became a realistic possibility for us.
And we pounced on it.
So, there we were, lounging around O’hare in the wee hours of the morning. Soon we were boarding our plane and shooting through the sky towards The Happiest Place On Earth. On the way, we flew right over the Grand Canyon….
Pretty cool, huh?
Once we landed at LAX, we found the Super Shuttle we had reserved to take us to our hotel, and—bibbidy-bobbidy-boo—there we were at the Best Western Plus on Harbor Boulevard, which had our room ready for us six hours earlier than promised! (Yay! You go, BWP!) We dropped off our bags and then (literally) ran right across the street to Disneyland.
Here is what the Christmas-ified Disneyland entrance gate looked like….
We took our obligatory picture by the Mickey flowerbed and Disneyland train just inside the entrance gate….
And then, because Scope was a Disneyland virgin and this was his first time setting foot inside this particular Disney Park, Wednesday and I took him to City Hall on Main Street to get him his free First Visit button….
We were having a little trouble getting in contact with anyone in my family (people, turn your cellphones ON), so we decided to just take a walk down Main Street USA to checkout the holiday decorations. We had never seen Disneyland all decked out for Christmas before. It was really quite pretty….
Next we headed over to New Orleans Square to show Scope the Jack Skellington-y Haunted Mansion Holiday ride….
We knew that Disneyland was bound to be crazy-busy over the Thanksgiving holiday, so we had done a little Disney Survival research and arrived at the park armed with a bulletproof game plan to avoid the worst of the crowd traps, including the following rules:
1. Get our rears to the park as early as humanly possible each morning. (When it comes to Disney, sleeping in is for idiots who like standing in lines all day!)
2. Go back to the hotel and nap during the hottest, busiest, and most long line-iest part of the day. (Well, duh!)
3. Stay in the park as late as possible each night. (The idiots who like standing in lines all day will have already hit the road by then!)
4. Covet and hoard Fastpasses for the busy rides. (Did you know you can still use Fastpasses after they have expired? It’s true. They let you on anyway without even raising an eyebrow. So, collect as many Fastpasses as you can throughout the day and then use them all at night!)
5. Don’t—I repeat, DO NOT—join any ride line that is more than 30 minutes long. (Seriously. Why would you do that to yourself?!?!)
Naturally, we had assumed that at this time of the day (about 11:30am) the line for the Haunted Mansion Holiday would be disgustingly long and icky. We were all prepared to just take a quick peek, ooh and ahh, grab Fastpasses, and then try to track down my family again, but lo and behold, the line was actually runty, so we gleefully skipped our happy selves into the Mansion to enjoy its Tim Burton-y deliciousness!
This is what the gingerbread house in the ballroom inside the Mansion looks like this year. (They design a new one every year. And, yes, that’s REAL gingerbread!) It’s Jack’s House!….
After our romp through the Mansion, we tracked down my brother and his girlfriend—YAY!—and we took a cruise through Pirates of the Caribbean with them….
Then the five of us had lunch at Café Orleans. Wednesday and I shared a cheese Monte Cristo sandwich and it was incredible!….
As we left the café, we ran into my mom, my sister and her kiddos. Here’s Wednesday with my mom and the two oldest kiddos. (Let’s call them Thing 1 (the boy) and Thing 2 (the girl).)….
We were all gabbing away in New Orleans Square when a Halloween-ish chill suddenly filled the air. We looked yonder and Wednesday’s jaw hit the floor. Jack Skellington was there, live (well... okay… dead) in person!!!! So, of course, we ran over to meet him….
Jack Skellington was hilarious! The kids all thought he was fabulous! (And, even more importantly, I didn’t make a drugged-up moron of myself in front of him this year—so, yay!) If you want to see Scope’s video of the kids’ meet and greet with Jack, click HERE.
Next, we went with the group to Fantasyland. On the way, we got a gorgeous view of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle all frosted and jeweled for the holidays….
In Fantasyland, we hit It’s a Small World, which had also been given a festive makeover….
My sister’s youngest kiddo, Thing 3, really, REALLY enjoyed this ride!….
We got in some good quality time with the Cheshire Cat in Fantasyland….
(Awwww. I have a picture just like that one from 2001, only Wednesday was a wee little one in a stroller.)
We had an ice cream break….
And then before we knew it—BOOM!—it was dark out. Scope and I took Wednesday, Thing 1, and Thing 2 up into Tarzan’s Treehouse….
My sister joined us on Splash Mountain….
Wednesday and Thing 1 took a trip through Space Mountain….
Wait—let’s get a closer look at that picture. Check out Thing 1’s face!….
We enjoyed the fireworks show from an almost-deserted Tomorrowland while we ate a late dinner at Pizza Port, and it was a spectacular way to catch the fireworks show without being swallowed whole by the mammoth crowd on Main Street….
We went on a few more rides, including The Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion Holiday (again), Pirates of the Caribbean (again), and Star Tours. After Star Tours, we got our Yoda and Wampa fix in the Star Trader Store….
I kind of wish I’d bought that Wampa hat now. I can rock that thing!
By this point, Scope, Wednesday, and I had been awake for almost 24 hours and we were starting to feel the pain. We decided to call it a night and crash in our hotel. On the way out of the park, we saw Sleeping Beauty’s Castle all aglow and looking gorgeous….
And this is what Main Street USA looked like, all lit up with Christmas lights….
We even saw Mickey as he ran (literally!) right by us as we left the park….
(Pfffft! Just don’t stare at that pic for too long. It will give you nightmares, I swear.)
Then soon we were at our hotel across the street and falling into bed for a few hours of blissful sleep before doing the whole thing over again the next day.
I’ll be telling you about Day 2 next week…. once I figure out which pictures to post, which is kind of a daunting job because we took over 3100 pictures while we were there! (No, I’m not kidding!!!!) Oy.