Day 1, Sunday May 22, 2005

Planning for our Disneyland trip began several years ago.  Gary and I originally considered a trip to California in 2003, but when we thought about the prospects of a 50th anniversary celebration (and the special pins that would bring) we decided to delay our visit until 2005.


Before we arrived at Disneyland we spent a week at San Diego and toured throughout the area.  What a wonderful city.  We enjoyed our stay at Pacific Beach, watching the surfers every day.  We toured the aircraft carrier USS Midway, the San Diego Zoo, The Wild Animal Park, Sea World, watched seals at La Jolla, took several scenic drives along the Pacific Coast Highway.  It's a beautiful area and we will definitely visit there again

Disneyland Entrance

I spent a great deal of time pondering whether to stay in the Disneyland Hotel, or one of the "good neighbor" hotels adjacent to the Disney Property.  In the end I let my emotion overcome my frugality and decided that when you visit the original Disney park, you should stay in the original Disney hotel.  In retrospect, it was a wise choice.  Our 7th floor room provided a great view of both theme parks, and looked directly down the middle of Downtown Disney.  Each morning and night we walked the length of Downtown Disney on our way to and from the hotel.

Main Street USA from the station . . . Where's the castle?

After driving from San Diego and checking in to the hotel, we went off to Disneyland.  I lined up at the Bank of Main Street to pick up my annual pass while Gary wandered around the Train Station area taking pictures.  When I met up with him again he said, "I couldn't find the castle".  Sleeping Beauty's castle at Disneyland is much smaller than Cinderella's castle at the Magic Kingdom.  When he tried to take a picture from the second story platform of the train station, looking down Main Street USA with the castle in the background, the castle was barely visible.  We had to adjust to using the Matterhorn as a landmark to determine where we were in the park, not the castle.

We had a wonderful lunch at the Plaza Inn and then wandered around the Disneyland Park getting oriented, and noticing the large and small differences between Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom.  We immediately fell in love with New Orleans Square.  It is such a realistic reproduction of the French Quarter that we found ourselves carried back to a vacation we had in New Orleans a few years ago.  It was a hot day and we went back to the hotel for an afternoon swim.  How convenient that you have to walk the length of Downtown Disney to return to the hotel . . . I was able to finish all my souvenir and gift shopping that first day. 


After resting up at poolside we headed over to the California Adventure Park and had our first ride on "Soarin' over California". It is an amazing experience, and difficult to describe.  They combine a giant concave IMAX movie screen and three rows of elevated and moving seats to simulate flying across California in a hang glider.  It is an awesome effect.  You really do feel as though you are flying in a glider and the scenery is breathtaking.  As you fly over an orange grove you smell the oranges, when you fly along the coast and skim over the heads of the surfers you can feel the salt air of the ocean.

OK . . . here's the castle . . . now where is Splash Mountain?

The Electric Parade

We can't wait for our September trip to ride the new "Soarin" adventure which recently opened at EPCOT. After "Soarin" we watched the Electric Parade, a parade of lights and music followed by Fantasmic, an awesome outdoor multimedia show with music, lights, fire, lasers, animation, live characters and fireworks which is presented over the Rivers of America in Disneyland's New Orleans Square.  We pre-booked for special reserved seating and a dessert package for the show.  While it was expensive, it was well worth it to have a spacious area to sit for the show.  The chocolate coated strawberries added to my enjoyment as well!

After the Fantasmic show we were tired out, and the park was closing.  What a surprise on the way out of the park to see the Indiana Jones ride with no line up!  We walked directly on to the ride . . . better than having a FastPass!

We slept well that night!

What a treat to see the Main Street Electrical Parade again!

Day 2, Monday May 23, 2005

Our second day began with breakfast at Goofy's Kitchen in the Disneyland Hotel.  We were joined by a number of characters including Goofy, Pluto, the Mad Hatter, Chip, Dale and Cinderella.  After a quick walk through Downtown Disney (the shops weren't open yet) we met our guide for the "Welcome to Disneyland" tour, a quick but informative walk around both parks.


After the tour I managed to get a little pin trading done at the trading meet they have daily near the Plaza Inn and Refreshment Corner.  The cast members involved seem to really enjoy trading and have a great selection of pins.  Gary enjoyed having a chance to sit and rest his weary feet while I was trading, and he struck up quite a friendship with the ragtime piano player outside the restaurant.


It was another hot day so we took a break for a couple of hours and had a swim.  Then we headed back to Disney's California Adventure for a second ride on Soarin'.  We both got wet on Grizzly River Run, and then Gary took the ride two more times by way of the singles line.  He was drenched.

Greeted at Goofy's Kitchen

Bill Hill & the Hillbillies

By 4:30 we were back to Disneyland where our dinner  was a quick snack at the Diamond Horseshoe Saloon.  We  thoroughly enjoyed Bill Hill and the Hillbillies.  They performed a rousing show featuring song, dance and lots of laughs.


Many attractions in California are almost identical to those in Florida, but some are different and unique.  Both Gary and I found that we preferred the Pirates of the Caribbean ride in California which is subtly different.  The jokes on the California version of the Jungle Cruise are just as corny as in Florida.  Even the Haunted Mansion and Splash Mountain are different.  We soon decided to quit comparing the parks and just enjoy ourselves.

We watched the "Parade of Dreams" from a great location beside "It's a Small World" before we enjoyed this classic ride.  The Alice in Wonderland ride was next, there is nothing quite like it at Walt Disney World and we thoroughly enjoyed it.  Our last stop of the day was Mickey's Toontown where we tried to snap as many pictures as we could before the sunlight faded.

It's a Small World

We were back to our room in time to throw open the large sliding windows and enjoy the fireworks show called "Remember Dreams Come True" - it was a great vantage point - we pulled two comfy chairs up to the window and watched the show in complete comfort and solitude.


 What a great way to end a wonderful day.

Day 3, Tuesday May 24, 2005

We spent about an hour Tuesday morning exploring and enjoying the grounds of the hotel and had a quick breakfast at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney before starting our day at Disneyland.  Some new experiences and some familiar ones included the Disneyland Railroad, Tarzan's Treehouse, Haunted Mansion, Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Splash Mountain.  I found a couple of "treasures" at a cute little pin shop in New Orleans Square and at the Disney Gallery beside the Haunted Mansion.

Pin Trading

I did a little more pin trading at the daily Plaza Inn trading hour, and then we wandered and rode some more attractions. 


We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner at the Blue Bayou.  The boats pass by the restaurant on their way into Pirates of the Caribbean.


We watched the Dreams fireworks show from Main Street USA and were blown away.  The show was wonderful when seen from our room the previous night, but when you see it from Main Street it is absolutely breathtaking.  It is a full multimedia show with the firework effects synchronized with Disney music while images are projected on the castle and the Matterhorn.  Most of the effects take place over the castle, but several times accent effects are launched from points all around the park.  It is a full 360 degree show!

Day 4 Wednesday May 25, 2005

We enjoyed a quick breakfast at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney again today  before starting our day at the California Adventure Park.  We entered the park through the Grand California Hotel and took time to quickly tour the hotel and grounds.  It's a magnificent facility, build along the same lines as the Wilderness Lodge Hotel at Walt Disney World.  

Carol at Paradise Pier

Our journey around the DCA park first took us to Paradise Pier where we watched Golden Dreams, a story of the early history of California.  Then we moved on to a gentle ride on the Jumpin' Jellyfish.  I watched while Gary caught a quick lift on the Maliboomer.  He told me that it wasn't as bad as it looked, something like the motion effect on at the Tower of Terror . . . so with some trepidation I joined him for his second ride.  He was right . . . it is like Tower of Terror, but multiplied a few times.  You shoot straight up 180 feet in a nanosecond . . . once was enough for me.  Our next rides, the mini-coaster Mulholland Madness, the Orange Stinger swings and the Sun Wheel were more my style.
Gary was still game for more thrilling action so he took two rides on the giant steel roller coaster called the California Screamer.  Just not my style I'm afraid, so I entertained myself in some nearby shops.

Gary - ready for takeoff on the California Screamer

We had lunch at Ariel's Grotto, a delightful sit down restaurant overlooking Paradise Bay where we enjoyed visits from Goofy, Max, Mickey, Minnie, Dale and Donald.  Max took all the children out on the deck beside the restaurant for games and songs.  It was a great show for everyone and a very scenic location.


Our tour took us back to Condor Flats for another "Soarin'" experience (we cannot get enough of this ride - we were there four times during our 5 day stay) and then on to "a bug's land" where Flik and his friends have several attractions for children, including the "It's Tough To Be a Bug" 3D adventure.

Carol at the Sunshine Plaza fountain

The fountain featuring the giant golden sun at the end of Sunshine Plaza was worth a few photographs before we turned into the Hollywood Pictures Backlot area.  Muppet Vision 3D is always a must-see stop for us at Walt Disney World, so it's no surprise that it was our first stop in this section of the park, then we "dropped in" to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.


One of the items we were given during the "Welcome to Disneyland" tour was a "good anytime" Fast Pass for the Hyperion Theatre show "Disney's Aladdin - A Musical Spectacular".  Gary and I are certain that they made a mistake when we checked in for this extremely popular presentation.  We waited for admission in a special "VIP Guest" area and were escorted into the theatre before any other guests.  The 30 or 40 others with us had three or four minutes to select any seat we liked before the other guests were allowed to enter.  I could get used to this kind of treatment.  A terrific show as well . . . not to be missed!

Another "not to be missed" attraction while in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot area is Disney Animation, where there are a number of "hands on" displays which demonstrate the animation process, the history of animation, and even a room with computer terminals where you answer a series of questions to determine which Disney character you most closely resemble.  Turns out that I'm similar to Belle!  I guess I always knew I was a princess.  As for my husband Gary . . . well he's just Goofy!


We had an excellent dinner at the Story Teller's Cafe in the Grand California Hotel and the headed back to Disneyland to enjoy the fireworks from Main Street USA.

Did you know that the light in the window of Walt's apartment over the fire hall burns continually in his memory?


Before the fireworks show we took time to explore the many shops (and buy some pins) along Main Street USA.  The we staked out a good vantage point to enjoy the magnificent show.  I cannot stress enough that you really must see this show from Main Street to truly appreciate it.


Once we got back to the hotel Goofy Gary made a quick dash dragged himself to the hot tub to soothe his aching feet so he could try to keep pace with me for another day.

The light in the window burns in memory of Walt Disney

Day 5 Thursday May 26, 2005

We began our last day at Disneyland with the "Walk in Walt's Footsteps" tour. The tour gave us an opportunity to enter the park early and get some great  photographs with no crowds.  We met our two tour guides at City Hall and began our 3 1/2 hour walk around the park.  The guides gave lots of fun facts and trivia about Walt and his family as we toured.  During a ride on the Disneyland Railroad they pointed out unique features of the park and many of it's attractions.

In the Tiki-Tiki-Tiki-Tiki-Tiki Room

Then we had a special opportunity, a visit to Disneyland Park's first attraction featuring Audio-Animatronics, Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room.  We were allowed in to the Tiki Room for a private viewing before it opened to the public and were allowed to take pictures before the doors opened and the regular park guests joined us for the show. Then we were off to #33 Royal Street in New Orleans Square where we were given a peek at the lobby of the exclusive Club 33, open to members only.
We stopped in a private fenced area in front of Snow White's castle where several characters joined us and posed with us for photographs.  The tour ended in New Orleans Square with a private lunch on the patio of the Disney Gallery, originally designed as Roy and Walt Disney's private apartment.  We were each given an exclusive, collectible "A Walk in Walt's Footsteps" cloisonné pin.  Just a great addition to my pin collection!

Carol at Snow White's castle

Carol and the horse drawn trolley

Following the tour we took our last walk around Disneyland and enjoyed our favourite attractions one last time . . . Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, the Indiana Jones Adventure, the Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, It's a Small World and the Matterhorn Bobsleds.  We were disappointed that we didn't get a second ride through the Alice in Wonderland attraction, but the line was simply too long.

We took another ride around the park on the Disneyland Railroad and then a ride on the monorail before having dinner in New Orleans Square.


We picked up some excellent take-out food at Café Orléans and sat on the Royal Street Veranda to eat while we once again enjoyed the Dixieland music performed on the street by the Olympia Brass Band.

Alas, our Disneyland adventure had to come to an end, so it was back to the hotel where we watched the fireworks one last time from the comfort of our room, then Gary had another soak in the hot tub while I packed our suitcases.


We left Friday morning in a rental car and drove through the desert to Las Vegas, where we had been married four years prior.  We stayed at the Mirage and celebrated our anniversary with an exquisite dinner at Kokomo's in the Mirage, the same place we had our wedding dinner in 2001.  After enjoying the new Cirque du Soliel show "Ka" at the MGM Grand and a Celine Dion concert at Caesar's Palace (just an amazing show!) it was time to head home.  


We were back to Burlington about 8:30 p.m. on May 30th.  


Now it's just a few months wait until we head to WDW for the Happiest Pin Celebration on Earth, September 9 - 11 at EPCOT.

Disneyland Entrance as seen from the monorail