Friday, December 21, 2012
(Woo! Christmas can sure mess up a girl’s blogging schedule. But better late than never….) I wish every Thanksgiving could be just like this one. (Part 2)
3,175. That’s how many pictures Scope and I took over our Thanksgiving vacation in Disneyland. Uh-huh. 3,175! I know I’m snap-happy and all, but 3,175 seems like a lot, even to me. I dunno, I’m thinking it may be considered a sickness at this point. But anyway….
Day 2 of our trip started at about 4:30am. It was Thanksgiving Thursday and we had a Magic Morning option with our Park Hopper tickets which granted us access to Disneyland a full hour before the rest of the herd and we wanted to make the most of it. So, off we went!
Taking advantage of Magic Morning proved to be a stellar way to avoid the crowds. (For a refresher of our Disney Survival / Beat The Crowds Rules, click HERE.) We were even able to get photos of the three of us in front of the Mickey flowerbed and train station without any strangers loitering in the background!….
Hey, looky! Tinkerbell even joined us for a moment or two!….
Wednesday was in full-on Nightmare Before Christmas mania after running into Jack Skellington the day before, so she decided to wear her Sally Halloween costume dress to the park for the day. The employees—whoops, excuse me, “cast members”—seemed to really get a big kick out of seeing her in her costume. Disneyland is swarming with little preschoolers dressed up like Cinderella, Belle, and Merida (the Brave girl), but I guess seeing anyone over the age of seven in character garb is a much rarer sight. Usually, Wednesday is pretty shy, but she seemed to really appreciate the excited cast member attention, which was soooooooo cute! But anyway, back to Magic Morning….
The park was pretty empty, so there weren’t really any lines to speak of anywhere. We decided to hit Tomorrowland first and take a trip through the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, which we had never been on before. I totally didn’t know they were going to take our pictures during the ride!….
I—ahem—also didn’t know the ride was a contest until Wednesday said, “Ha! I’m KILLING you!” Up until that point, I had been shooting pictures, not Evil Emperor Zurg! (D’oh!)
Well, anyway, after getting my butt kicked on the Buzz Lightyear ride, we had a Disneyland photographer snap our picture by Sleeping Beauty’s Castle….
Then we made our way into Fantasyland where we attempted to pull the sword from the stone….
(The stupid sword wouldn’t budge—oh, poo—so, I guess we’ll have to find some other way to take over England.)
Our next stop was Toontown….
Scope and Wednesday blew up the Toontown Fireworks Factory….
And they rode on the Toontown trolley….
Scope visited the Toontown Gym….
And Wednesday and I found ourselves in the Toontown Dog Pound….
Once we were done fooling around in Toontown, we met up with my brother at the Haunted Mansion Holiday….
….which we excitedly rode through.
After the Haunted Mansion Holiday, Wednesday met Jack Skellington. Again. Jack asked Wednesday if she was stalking him—*snicker*—but also admired her Sally costume quite a bit. Wednesday just beamed with pride! :-)
Up next, we ran into my mom. Wednesday (full to the brim with Jack Skellington euphoria!) wasted no time in talking her into going back through the Haunted Mansion with us again.
The ride broke down for a few minutes while we were in there, leaving Scope’s and my “Doom Buggy” stranded right in front of the life-size talking Jack Skellington figure at the start of the graveyard, which was SO COOL! It’s pretty dang dark in that graveyard, so it’s really hard to get decent pictures in there when flash photography is a big no-no and the Doom Buggies travel too freaking fast for good quality, non-blurry, low-light pictures, so we there thrilled to be stuck stationary in front of Jack for awhile, just for the chance to get a non-crappy shot of him for once.
After that, we crossed paths with my sister and her kids, Thing 1, Thing 2, and Thing 3. Wednesday and her most favorite person in the whole wide world, Thing 1, got to talking and she found out from him that he really, REALLY wanted to go see the Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln show on Main Street USA. (He’s a fact-lovin’ sort of fella!) Thing 1 was feeling like no-one else was interested in learning about Abraham Lincoln like he was, so that sweet Wednesday asked him out on a cousin-date to go see the show, just the two of them, plus Scope and me. (Awww.)
So, we did.
While we were on Main Street, we saw Pluto….
….and Mickey (literally!) ran right by us.
(Every time we saw Mickey on this trip, he was in a mad dash somewhere. Definitely a busy boy!)
The kiddos wanted to ride a horse drawn carriage down Main Street, so we did that too. Our horse’s name was Sully. (Yeah. Just like in Monsters Inc.) Sully liked posing dramatically for pictures. Clearly.
As Sully carried us toward the castle, Scope practiced his best princess wave at the crowd. (Heh heh heh.)
Thank you, Sully!
As Sully clip-clopped his way back down Main Street, we skipped on into Fantasyland where Wednesday and Thing 1 went on the Alice in Wonderland Mad Tea Party ride.
When their ride was done, they decided to take a second spin (see what I did there?) on the teacups with my sister and Thing 3, with whom we had just bumped into.
Now, Thing 2 (my sister’s middle child) is a fiercely independent little thing, and she had decided she wanted no part of the teacup ride and wanted to wait on the sidelines with my mom, Scope, and me…. until the ride started up and she saw her cousin and her sibs go laughing and spinning by, then she changed her mind, of course. But it was too late.
She was QUITE displeased.
Oh well. At least the other three kids were happy.
It was Thanksgiving Day, which is notoriously busy at Disneyland, and we had decided to beat the dinner crowd by having our Thanksgiving meal at a restaurant across the street from the park in the early afternoon. On our way out of Disneyland, we ran into Donald Duck.
(He was such a flirt!)
Our avoid-the-mammoth-crowd-at-dinner scheme worked brilliantly. There was hardly anyone else there. The restaurant was serving traditional Thanksgiving meals to those who wanted them, but also all the regular menu items too for those wise souls, like me, who recognize that Asian salads are far superior to lame, old, boring turkey dinners no matter which day of the year it freaking is!
The restaurant also had little peg games on all of the tables to keep everyone entertained while waiting for the food. The pegs played leap frog with each other, and if you could end the game with only one peg left, well, smarty pants, then YOU have above ‘average intelligence’, according to the game rules. However, if you could end your game with eight pegs left and no more moves to make, then YOU are a ‘genius’. Uh-huh. It took Wednesday about two minutes to end up with eight pegs left!!!!
(Imagine that. My baby, a genius.)
(And, yet, she can’t figure out how to put her clothes in the laundry hamper!)
After dinner, Wednesday, Scope, and I headed back to our hotel to partake in the time-honored Thanksgiving tradition of a nice, long nap. *le sigh* When we finally hauled ourselves back out of bed, we were a little shocked to find out that the sun had already set while we were unconscious. The sudden nightfall reminded us that our Disneyland vacation was almost half over now, so we threw our hoodies back on in a hurry and ran back across the street to enjoy some more Disney-liciousness.
We found my mom, Thing 1, and Thing 2 over near It’s a Small World, which was amazingly gorgeous, all lit up in colorful Christmas lights in the dark.
While we were taking pictures of It’s a Small World, suddenly the lights all went blue and it started snowing! Yeah, snowing! Not real snow, of course, it was this fake-y pseudo snow with a soapy texture which smelled a bit like cinnamon toast or gingerbread, but it was still magical all the same.
After oohing and ahhing over the snow, we decided to hit California Adventure.
I was surprised as we approached California Adventure, because the front gate is completely different than it used to be. Gone is the cartoon-y Golden Gate Bridge with the mammoth letters that little kids were perpetually climbing all over. The front gate now looks like something from Cars, all shiny, streamlined, and retro.
After standing around like disoriented dummies for awhile, noticing that A LOT of California Adventure has recently been given a major overhaul, we pulled ourselves back together and headed over to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, which—surprisingly—had virtually no line. My sister met up with us and wanted to go on too. We had planned to leave Thing 2 (who is only five) in my mom’s care while we tackled the Tower, but still stinging over missing out on the teacup ride earlier, Thing 2 was insistent that she didn’t want to miss out on anything more and that she could handle anything the Tower of Terror could dish out. She and my sister argued about it, during which spunky little Thing 2 asked one of the spooky Tower of Terror bellhops if she was big enough to go on the ride.
“I’m sorry, but you ARE big enough,” he replied, creepily. And Thing 2 gave her mom the I-told-you look and fearlessly strutted off into the Tower’s lobby. That fearlessness didn’t last long though. Once the lights went out and Rod Serling started talking about “stepping into a nightmare”, Thing 2 changed her mind and wanted off the ride.
But—again—it was too late.
We plummeted and screamed! And plunged and shrieked!
(You can see the un-amused Thing 2 with Scope and my sister in the front row. I’m in the back row with Thing 1 and Wednesday.)
When the ride was over, Thing 2 was pretty disgusted. She didn’t cry, but she demanded to know what kind of jerk would have the audacity to even make a ride like that which “turns people into nightmares”! (Hey, girly—you were warned!) Needless to say, Thing 2 did NOT accompany us on our second trip into the Tower of Terror.
After that, we briefly checked out the Tim Burton Mad T Party, which is pretty much just a strange, neon Alice in Wonderland rave party. It was pretty cool walking down the misty Rabbit Hole to get to it though.
Then we went into the Beast’s Library where the magic books told us which Disney characters we are most like. I am most like Alice (from Alice in Wonderland), Wednesday is most like Sally (the one from Cars though, not Jack Skellington’s girlfriend), and I forget which GOOD character Scope was most like, but I do remember he was told that the VILLAIN he most resembles is Gaston…. and he was THRILLED because Gaston has the best theme song EVER! (LOL.)
After that, we headed back to our hotels for the night. Up next?…. You’ll just have to wait and see, won’t you? ;-) If I don’t get around to part 3 of this story before Tuesday, I hope you all have a fabulous Christmas!
Thursday, December 6, 2012
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.