Wednesday, December 9

Ouch - what a day!  Last night the weather forecast included snow, so when I got out of bed Carol rolled over, moaned and asked, "Is there any more snow?"  I lifted the window blind and looked in the back yard.  I saw the tracks the dogs made in the snow last night, so I replied, "Maybe a bit of new snow, but not very much.  Nothing to worry about."

Carol headed to the back door with the dogs and let  them out.  I heard her yell, "What were you looking at when you said there was no snow?"  It soon became apparent that what I thought were dog tracks were actually rabbit tracks in the six inches of fresh snow.  I went to the front door to get the newspapers . . . WOW!  A drift about twelve to eighteen inches deep surrounded my van!  Normally we fight snow on our way home from Disney, this year we're fighting it on our way out!

So I broke out the snow blower and started cleaning things up before packing the car.  Carol finished a final check of the suitcases and set them up beside the back door for me.  This of course was Zak's cue to begin his customary mope.  He excels at making us feel guilty when we leave him behind.  We loaded the bags and the dogs in the car and we were off by 10:00 a.m.  Zak curled up on the back seat and refused to look at us.  When we pulled up at Carol's parents home Zak didn't want to get out of the car . . . he knew he was staying behind and he wasn't at all happy about it.  He can be the saddest looking dog you ever saw!

We were back on the road by 10:30 on a snow-packed expressway.  The surface of the highway slowly changed to ice, then to loose packed snow, then we ran into blowing snow, then ice pellets.  We had a bit of everything!  The drive to Toronto normally takes us two hours, today it was four hours.  We passed plenty of cars and trucks in the ditches and at one point we sat still for almost a half hour waiting while they pulled a tractor trailer out of the ditch just ahead of us.

The snow and ice pellets turned to rain and the roads cleared as we neared Toronto.  We checked in to the hotel here at 3:00 p.m.

Carol seemed to get more excited as we neared Toronto, or perhaps she was just happy to be off the snowy and icy roads!  It was a long and tiring drive so I had a short nap and then we headed out for a bite to eat.  After dinner I dropped the car off in the hotel's long term parking lot and caught a shuttle back to the hotel.  It will be a quiet night of TV.  

Just a few weeks ago Carol told me, "When we get to Disneyland we will not go to the park on the first day.  Do not let me add another day to our 5 day park-hopper.  I will probably try to persuade you, but don't let me add the day!"  I am confused because she didn't wait until we got there, she started today.  "You know, it only costs about $5.00 to add a day to our passes?  If it's a nice day and we really want to go to a park tomorrow it won't be expensive."   So tomorrow we will be at the airport before 8:00 a.m. to wait for our 9:20 flight and I expect that shortly after noon Pacific Time we will be discussing whether or not we go to a park! 

Thursday, December 10

Something hit me at 4:00 a.m.  It was blankets, Carol had tossed some blankets on me!  "What are you doing?" I asked.  She replied, "You have all the blankets."  Even when I was groggy with sleep I wondered how she was able to throw blankets on me when I had them all.  Hmmmm?

I rolled over and nearly choked.  What is this wrapped around my neck?  A quick investigation revealed that it was the top sheet, fully wrapped around my neck.  There was no sheet at my toes, no sheet at my knees, hips or chest.  It was all around my neck!  So I unwrapped it, wadded it up in a ball and threw it over the bottom of the bed.  Naturally Carol got up, tossed all the rest of the blankets on me, retrieved the sheet, wrapped up in it and went to sleep.  I tossed and turned until the alarm went off at 6:30.

We had to catch a 7:45 shuttle to the airport so we hit the ground running.  The aircraft loaded on time and then the captain came on the PA system with the bad news.  The first officer was stuck in bad weather but he should be along in 10 or 15 minutes.  So we waited . . . and waited . . . and waited.  After an hour the captain announced that they had found another first officer and before long he arrived.  Unfortunately the plane had iced up while we waited so we taxied out for deicing.

We finally lifted off a mere 90 minutes late.  It's been over a year and a half since we were last here and we must have forgotten what a long flight it is.  Or perhaps the extra 90 minutes on the plane just made it seem longer.  Good news though, there was no one else in our row so Carol and I could spread out and enjoy a little extra room.  

It was an uneventful flight, no turbulence and a few good movies to watch.  Carol pointed out a few sights out the window along the way and we were surprised to see the Sierra Mountains in Nevada and California fully covered in snow.

We touched down at 1:00 and by 2:00 we had picked up our rental car, a Toyota Rav4.  Of course Carol had to shop, so our first stop was the Character Outlet Store on Orangethorpe Avenue in Fullerton.  We arrived at the Candy Cane Inn  about 3:00 p.m. and quickly unpacked and settled in.  By 4:15 we were walking up Harbor Boulevard toward Disneyland.

From the front of our room - Tower of Terror in the background

Candy Cane Inn pool and hot tub

The place is full of gorgeous flowers

We wandered through Downtown Disney and stopped in a few shops along the way.  The longest stay was at Downtown Disney Pin Traders where Carol picked up some new treasures.  

We had a 5:20 reservation at House of Blues but we arrived early and were seated by 5:10.  The meal was OK but not great and we found ourselves wishing we had reserved for Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen instead.  After dinner we wandered on through Downtown Disney and spent some time in the World of Disney Store.  Carol found a Christmas gift she just had to have . . . she has promised (once again) that she will be surprised Christmas day!

By 7:00 p.m. we were beginning to fade so we caught the shuttle back to the Candy Cane.  We had a swim and a hot tub and struggled to keep our eyes open until at least 10:00 p.m.  No park today . . . but we'll hit them hard tomorrow!

Friday, December 11

We were awake bright and early, our clocks haven’t reset to Pacific Time yet.  We were up, showered, had breakfast and on the shuttle bus by 7:30.

Our first stop was Guest Services where Carol added a day to our passes ($5.00 each) and I wandered around snapping a few pictures. The park still wasn’t open when we finished so we got in line. It was only a couple of minutes before the gates opened and we walked through the turnstile. Disneyland does not use the finger scanner system they simply pass your ticket over a scanner, Tinker Bell rings with pixie dust and away you go.   It’s much quicker than the biometrics which never seem to work!  

We started walking down Main Street when Carol realized she had passes for Mickey’s Toontown Morning Madness; it allows you to enter Toontown an hour before it opens to the public, which is an hour after the park opens. So off we went. It is very strange walking down Main Street at Disneyland; everything is so much smaller. 

Once we got to Toontown we were amazed that we were two of only about 30 people there. We took a few pictures with Mickey then sat down for the town meeting. All the Toontown characters dance out and put a little performance on for us, then they had us up dancing with them. At the end of the town meeting everyone was given an Honorary Citizen button. We still had about 20 minutes before they opened the gates so we wandered through Mickey and Minnie’s house, took pictures and then rode Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin.

It was now 9 a.m. so we walked out of Toontown and directly over to It’s A Small World. We could not believe the decorations in the ride, it was amazing.  Many Disney characters have been subtly added and the whole place is decked out with Christmas décor.  It’s quite a sight . . . we were so engaged in looking around at the new stuff that our minds weren’t numbed by the music!  Or was that because they had mixed in some holiday tunes?  

From Small World we headed toward Frontierland and stopped for our first ride on Alice in Wonderland.  We both just love this ride, it’s one of the old classics and is so unique.  It’s one we always do several times each visit.

We wandered slowly through the hub and through Frontierland, just soaking up the atmosphere on our way to New Orleans Square.  The crowd was still surprisingly light and we had time to stop and admire the décor and the sights along the way.  New Orleans Square has Christmas lights and decorative balls added to the beads and the rest of the Mardi Gras theming, it’s fabulous.

We wandered back to the Golden Horseshoe and got in line 30 minutes early for the 11:15 performance by Billy Hill and the Hillbillies.  “The Billies” have quite a following and you have to be in line early.  The doors opened at 11:00 a.m. and Carol picked us up a bite of lunch while I guarded our front row table and we had nearly finished when the show began.  Then of course, we had to stop eating.  It’s dangerous (and potentially messy) to eat while these guys are performing.  Sort of like drinking coffee while reading Moley’s trip report . . . you just don’t risk it!  They add a bit of a Christmas twist to their show, so there was some fresh material for us.  Our ribs are still sore!

After the Billies we shopped our way down Main Street, lingering for a while in the new Gallery Shop before catching the shuttle back to the Candy Cane Inn for some R & R.

After a short nap we made a quick trip to the Target store about a mile south on Harbor Avenue and by 3:45 we were back at Disneyland.  As we passed through the train station the Christmas Parade was just beginning so we found a spot with good sightlines for pictures and joined the crowd watching the show.

We wandered up Main Street and headed to Tomorrowland where we rode Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.  Carol beat me!  (whimper).  The rain was just beginning as we exited Buzz and headed over to the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage.  We have ridden Nemo in daylight and at night, this was our first ride at twilight.  They are all slightly different experiences.  This is still a very popular attraction but the lines have died down since our last visit.  We only waited about 20 minutes.  

After Nemo it was still drizzling so we headed back over to Buzz and then over to the Plaza Inn where we had dinner.  We are creatures of habit, I had my usual Cobb salad and Carol had her usual fried chicken.  It was terrific!

By then it was dark so we headed over to It’s A Small World to see it at night.  We got there just as the second Christmas Parade was passing by so we got to see the whole parade for a second time that day.  Bonus!

Then we found a spot high enough to get some pictures.  What a spectacle!  It’s all strung with festive lights and every 15 minutes when the clock performs it’s little show they do a light show and project colours and images on the building.  It’s an awesome display.  

We had hoped to ride again but the light show had attracted a huge crowd so we headed over to New Orleans Square where Carol checked up in for the Fantasmic Dessert Party.  Check in was complete by 8:30 p.m. - next stop – the Haunted Mansion.  This was the principal reason for our December trip, we are big Nightmare Before Christmas fans and we were anxious to see the special holiday overlay.  We were not prepared for what we saw.  WOW!  It was just astounding.  We expected most of the special décor to be outside and we gawked our way through the queue soaking it all in.  What we weren’t ready for was the extent of the theming inside.  Jack Skellington has taken over the stretching room, the graveyard, the banquet hall, the entire Haunted Mansion.  It is completely transformed into Halloweentown/Christmastown.  The graveyard is covered in ghostly white snow, the four singing busts in the library are transformed into jack-o-lanterns, all the pop-up spirits are wearing Santa hats, reindeer skeletons fly over the graveyard, Sally wishes you Merry Christmas as you leave, and Oogie Boogie spins his wheel to determine which gift you receive instead of a hitchhiking ghost.  We had Lock, Shock and Barrel ride out with us.  WOW!  What a ride!  

We wandered back over to the hub in the sprinkling rain.  We found a spot to sit while we waited for the fireworks and then stood in the hub to watch them in a light drizzle.  Tinker Bell didn’t fly in the rain, but the fireworks show was just terrific.  

We walked directly back to New Orleans Square and were seated for the Fantasmic Dessert Party at 10:00 p.m.  Carol wore her poncho in a light drizzle and we enjoyed a hot coffee while we waited for the 10:30 show.  Dessert was served “Box Lunch” style.  The plastic carton we each received contained two chocolate truffles, a small key lime tart, a small cheesecake, a macaroon, a cookie filled with raspberry jam, a brownie, a variety of cheeses and crackers and some fresh grapes.  It was more than we could eat while we waited so much of it came home with us.  The drizzle eased up and we were quite comfortable until just before showtime, when the rain started again.  The Fantasmic show started promptly at 10:30 but by this time it was no longer a drizzle, it was a steady rain.  Mickey Mouse came out and went through his opening scene, but as soon as he left the stage the show stopped.  The announcer came on and announced that the show was cancelled due to the weather.  Bah Humbug!  We were both disappointed!  The cast members assured us there would be a full refund, but we wanted to see the show so we were hoping we could reschedule a party before we go home.

As we left the party area we went directly to the Haunted Mansion and rode it again.  We picked out plenty of interesting changes that we missed the first time through.  We will definitely ride several more times before heading for home.

When we came out of the mansion it was pouring.  Really pouring!  We headed as quickly as we could to City Hall and Carol managed to get us booked for a Fantasmic Dessert Party on Thursday night, our last night at the parks.  Great!

We both got soaked on the way to the shuttle pickup area and were happy to see the bus pull in early.  We were back to the room at 11:45 where we got dried off and fell into bed exhausted.

Saturday December 12, 2009

We slept well last night until Atilla pulled up in the Hun-mobile at about 1:00 a.m.   He and Mrs. Hun along with at least two little Hun-lets moved into the room directly above us.  While Atilla thump-thump-thumped the suitcases up the staircase right outside our door Mrs. Hun screeched instructions at him, and the Hun-lets started some sort of athletic competition in the room.  Carol thinks it was the triple jump.  I think it was pole-vault.  If we meet them we’ll find out and let you know!  By about 2:00 a.m. it got quiet so we presume they declared one of the Hun-lets a winner.  Thankfully they left the elephants in the Alps, it might have been worse!


So we were able to sleep in a bit, until 6:17, showered and were headed down the road for breakfast at Mimi’s by 9:00.  It was pouring rain.  Not a good park day!  


After an excellent breakfast we drove over to Hollywood, about 35 miles away.  We parked at the Kodak Theatre and ran across the street to Disney’s Soda Fountain and the El Capitan Theatre.

Carol was drawn immediately to the pins, the pins they sell there are exclusive to the Soda Fountain and usually low editions. She was able to find a few valuable treasures. While she was doing that I wandered around and got some pictures of the décor, it is quite a fun place to visit. Of course you cannot go to the Soda Fountain and not have ice cream! We had planned to have lunch there but we had such a big breakfast at Mimi’s neither one of us was hungry so we settled for a couple of sundaes. Carol had the pin traders special that comes with a limited edition pin.

By the time we finished our ice cream it was time to go and get in line for the show at the El Capitan theatre. Carol had ordered tickets online for the 1 p.m. showing of A Christmas Carol.  It was VIP seating so we were ushered in and given a drink and popcorn as part of the package. When we got to our seats they were front row balcony but had very little legroom so we switched to some better seats in the general admission area.


The theatre is awesome, a 1920’s era monument to the movies.  Carol remarked as we stood in line before entering that most of the individual features of the décor were actually quite ugly, but there was so much of it that it made an awesomely impressive package.  The interior was the same, a deep velvet curtain and hangings, ornate gilt ceiling, and OH! That Organ.  Here’s a little bit about the organ I “lifted” from the El Capitan web site.  


The newly installed spectacular 4/37 Wurlitzer has four keyboards and 37 ranks of pipes, each of which represent different musical instruments. It was the last of five magnificent "Fox Specials" built in the 1920's, and is considered the top of the line in theatre organs and was designed with all the "bells and whistles" for movie palaces. It was meticulously restored over a one-year period and installed by G.M. Buck Pipe Organs, Inc. of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Theatre organ experts Gordon Kibbee and Bill Schutz served as consultants on the project and wrote all the specifications.

Over 2500 pipes have been installed in four chambers - two in each side of the theatre. The largest pipe is over 32 feet long! The El Capitan's "Mighty Wurlitzer" was originally installed in 1929 at the World Famous San Francisco Fox Theatre and subsequently purchased by Frank Lanterman in 1963 for his home in La Canada. Since its installation, this marvellous instrument, the "Mightiest of Mighty Wurlitzers" which was dormant for so long, has come to life again, performing to a new audience of hundreds of thousands of people at Hollywood's Classic Movie Palace, The El Capitan Theatre.”

The movie itself was very well done.  We enjoy the 1951 version with Alastair Simms as Scrooge, and the new animated version with Jim Carrey is done in a similar fashion.  We really enjoyed it, particularly in 3D.  There was a short live show featuring Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Chip & Dale before the movie and there were a number of costumes and props from the production on display in the theatre after the show.


As we exited the theatre it was pouring, so we hopped in the car and headed back to Anaheim.  The drive took over an hour because of the heavy rains.  We spent a few minutes in the room and then drove over to the new Gardenwalk just a block away on Katella Avenue.  It’s a huge new development of shops and restaurants.  We had dinner at Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Company and then headed back to the Candy Cane Inn where we settled in for the night.


It was a good way to spend a rainy day!

Sunday December 13, 2009

This was our $5.00 day!  This was that extra day Carol added to our park passes for $5.00 and we got our money’s worth!

We were up, showered, and on the shuttle by 8:00.  We walked into Disneyland by 8:10 and went directly to Sleeping Beauty Castle.  For the first time we were able to walk through the castle and see the diorama.  The exhibit recently reopened after being closed in the wake of 9/11.  It was nice to finally be able to walk through the castle.

We exited the rear of the castle and took a ride through Snow White’s Adventure and then hopped on Casey Jr.’s Train for a ride.  This was another first for us, and it gives a totally different perspective on the Storybookland buildings and scenery.

Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was next and then it was getting close to 10:00 and time for the California Adventure Park to open.  We left Disneyland a crossed the esplanade in time to enter California Adventure at rope drop.  We headed straight back to the Pacific Pier area for a ride on Toy Story Midway Mania.  We were disappointed when we arrived; the ride was down.  Carol waited for me while I headed over to California Screamin’ for a whirl or two.  By the time I was finished Toy Story had opened so we hopped in line for our only ride.  There is no FastPass on this attraction in California so we didn’t get the second ride we hoped for.

We wandered over to the wharf area and stopped for a tea and coffee then toured the “Blue Sky” exhibit which displays the changes underway at the park.  The new “Wonderful World of Color” looks like it will be an amazing show.  We can’t wait!

We hustled over to the Hyperion Theatre for the 12:15 Aladdin show.  We managed to get front row seats in the mezzanine, centre of the house.  It is a fabulous show, too bad it’s going to be closing next year.  The genie steals the show!

Carol had been feeling a little bit “off” all morning so we headed back to the hotel.  We both had a little rest and I took the car out to gas it up before we return it tomorrow.

By 4:00 we were heading back to Disneyland.  We stopped at the Plaza Pavilion where Carol did some pin trading while I wandered around taking a few pictures, then we headed over to the Little Green Men Shop where Carol picked up a few things for a friend back home.

Then we wandered over to Adventureland and rode through Pirates of the Caribbean.  It’s laid out quite differently than the pirate ride in Florida and we both prefer the California version.

We hopped on the train at the New Orleans Square station and rode all the way around to the Main Street Station.  We wandered up Main Street to the Carnation Café just in time for our 6:30 p.m. dinner reservation.

After dinner we headed back to the hotel.  Carol packed things up and got ready to switch hotels.  We move to the Disneyland Hotel tomorrow.


Monday December 14, 2009

Today was moving day so we didn’t rush to get up. We slept until 7:00 and had a bite of breakfast before checking out of the Candy Cane Inn and driving to the Disneyland Hotel.

At the reception desk we asked for the Magic building and we were delighted when the cast member upgraded us to a pool-view room from the parking lot view we had booked.  The room wasn’t ready yet, so we checked our luggage, returned the Alamo car right next door to the hotel and hopped on the monorail to Tomorrowland.  We were in the park before 10:00 a.m.

We picked up a FastPass for Space Mountain and then waited a few minutes until Honey I Shrunk The Audience opened at 10:00.  We haven’t watched that one in several years and never at Disneyland.

After the 3D show we scurried over to the Golden Horseshoe and lined up for the 11:15 Billy Hill & the Hillbillies Show.  There were two different players this time and they played a different set.  There was even a Beatles tribute! Carol had picked up a FastPass for Big Thunder while we waited for Billy Hill but the line was only 10 minutes so we went through the standby line.

Our next stop was Santa’s Reindeer Roundup at Big Thunder Ranch.  We took a few pictures of the reindeer and met Pluto there.

Then we stopped at Pinocchio Haus for lunch before riding Pinocchio’s Daring Journey.

We received a text message saying our room was ready so we walked back to Tomorrowland and visited Innoventions before we strolled through Downtown Disney on our way back to the hotel.  The room still wasn’t ready, so we went to the Coffee House beside the pool and took our coffee to a table outdoors.  While we waited Goofy came along and we had a private audience with him for several minutes.

Soon the room was really ready so we unpacked and rested before leaving at 5:15.  We caught the monorail back to Tomorrowland and were surprised by the crowds.  It was busy, busy, busy.

We made our way through the Hub and Frontierland to New Orleans Square.  We enjoyed our dinner at Blue Bayou; we even had a waterside table!  After dinner we waited in a huge line for our third ride through the Haunted Mansion.  Love it!

We headed over to It’s A Small World to see one more light show before catching the monorail home.  When we arrived at Small World they told us the lights were not working, so we headed off to the monorail.  Ooops! It was busted too – so we wearily dragged our carcasses all the way back home!  We made it to the hotel at 9:30, exhausted and crashed for the night!

Tuesday December 15, 2009

Carol was feeling a bit off this morning so I went off to the Coffee House for a bite of breakfast and wandered around the pool area getting a few pictures.  Later we took the monorail to Tomorrowland and went directly to Storybookland for our first ride of the day.

We carried on in Fantasyland by riding Peter Pan and then headed to Adventureland where Carol picked up a FastPass for Indiana Jones.  The wait was only 10 minutes, so we walked through the standby line and saved the FastPasses for later.  Next we went to Jungle Cruise and then the Tiki Room.

Carol was starting to feel a bit down again so we headed off to the hotel.  I stopped for lunch at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen while Carol went straight to the room.

After we both had a rest we went to the pool for a swim and a soak in the hot tub.

By 3:30 we were heading back to the parks.  We stopped in the new D Street store which just opened today and then walked through the Grand Californian Hotel and into the California Adventure Park.  We went to Disney Animation in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot.  We saw the Zoetrope for the first time . . . it’s worth a stop to see this interesting machine.  Our next stop was Monsters Inc. and then we crossed the esplanade to Disneyland.  

We headed up Main Street and across to Tomorrowland where we stopped at Pizzaport for dinner.  After dinner we took another ride on Buzz Lightyear and headed over to It’s A Small World to watch the light show again.  After the show we hopped in the line to ride the attraction again, but after a few minutes we gave up.  It’s A Small World has the longest line in the Disneyland Park.  That seems strange to us, since there is seldom ever a line for this attraction in Florida!

We rode Alice in Wonderland and then Mr. Toad before we caught the monorail back to Downtown Disney and returned to the hotel for the night.

  Wednesday December 16, 2009

With only two days left I made list of things we had yet to do.  We got and early start so we could have breakfast in Downtown Disney.  As we walked by the monorail station they were waving people away, it was broken down again.

We arrived at Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen to find it closed, so was the Jazz Express.  So there were no beignets for Carol!  We stopped at La Brea Bakery and were seated but neither of us was interested in anything on the menu so we left.

So we went directly to Disneyland.  There was no line at Carnation Café so we headed on in.  We were no sooner seated than Oscar appeared beside our table.  He is the longest serving Disney employee.  He started at Disneyland in 1956.  He told us he is the only one with over 50 years service since the 83-year-old pyrotechnic technician retired last year.  (83 and playing with fireworks?  Scary!) 

After a delightful breakfast we went to California Adventure and rode Soarin’, saw It’s Tough To Be A Bug, watched the toy soldiers perform near Ariel’s Grotto and then rode California Screamin’.  Carol rode it this time!

We decided to head back to the hotel and stopped at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen for bread pudding on the way.

After a rest we went back to Disneyland, had a quick hot dog at Refreshment Corner and then caught a ride on the horse-drawn carriage from The Hub to Town Square.  We checked in for the Holiday Tour at 2:45.

The 3:00 tour set off at 3:15.  We walked up Main Street with a few stops along the way to talk about different holiday traditions.  We stopped at Dr. Silverstein’s to hear a bit about Hanukkah and then went on to the candy shop for a sample of fudge.  We stopped again in front of Snow White’s Castle and then marched across the drawbridge.  Next stop was at Reindeer Roundup and then on to New Orleans Square and the Haunted Mansion.  We got express entry to the mansion and reassembled after our ride to parade over to It’s A Small World.  Once again we bypassed the line and rode as a group.  The lights came on just as we left to head over to Toontown where we enjoyed a hot chocolate and gingerbread cookie.

We walked back to the front of It’s A Small World to our private seating area and watched the Christmas Fantasy Parade.  The tour concluded at the end of the parade.  We tried to dash over to It’s A Small World immediately after the parade and take another ride, but 10,000 people had the same idea and they won the race.  It was just too busy in that area so we headed to New Orleans Square hoping to have dinner at Café Orleans.  Ouch – too busy there as well.

We ended up having a nice dinner at Carnation Café before returning to the hotel.  We were back by 9:00 p.m. and went for a relaxing soak in the hot tub before we settled in for the night!

Thursday December 17, 2009

It was our last day so we hit the ground running.  We wanted to get as much done as we could before the crowds arrived, so we rode the monorail to Tomorrowland and went straight to It’s A Small World.  There was no line so we asked for our own private boat . . . and we got it.  When we pulled up to the unloading area there were only a handful of people in line so we asked to go again . . . we didn’t even get out of the boat, just rode around again . . . this time with some company in the boat.

We hadn’t been to Critter Country yet, so off we went and had a ride on Winnie the Pooh.  Then we headed to Adventureland and rode Pirates of the Caribbean then walked back to Frontierland and boarded the Mark Twain Riverboat for a cruise on the Rivers of America.

At 10:45 I lined up to catch the 11:15 Billy Hill show at the Golden Horseshoe while Carol shopped.  She joined me for our third viewing of their show and then we wandered through Snow White Castle to Fantasyland where we rode Pinocchio again.  As we were heading back to the hotel for some R & R we decided to ride some of the old vehicles so we boarded the Fire Engine for a trip to Town Square and then rode the Horseless Carriage (a Franklin) back to the Hub.  Then it was back to the Disneyland Hotel for a nap.

By 3:00 p.m. we were back on the monorail and went directly to Alice in Wonderland for our last ride.  There was hardly a line as we passed the carousel so we hopped on for a whirl!

We grabbed a table outside the River Belle Terrace and watched the Princess and the Frog Show which takes place on the Mark Twain Riverboat.  Then it was time to line up for the 5:15 Billy Hill show - three is just never enough.

After the Billies cracked us up again we headed to Café Orleans for our 6:10 dinner reservation.  The crowds were huge by this time but we were quickly seated and had a nice dinner.  

We went directly to the Fantasmic seating area and stood in line for close to an hour to get checked in for the dessert party.  I’m glad we did, we got the best seats in the house for this great show.  It’s a whole lot more “intimate” a show in California than it is in Florida and they have added several new elements since we last saw it.

After we were checked in we rode Big Thunder Mountain Railway using the FastPass we picked up earlier and then went to Indiana Jones to use our FastPass there.  The FastPass line was 45 minutes long!  Ouch – we’ve never seen anywhere so crowded.  We left Indie without riding, headed to Buzz Lightyear for a quick spin and then returned to Main Street to watch the fireworks show.  We missed most of the show.  The hub was so crowded that nothing was moving.  They cast members did their best to keep a “one-way” walkway open around the hub in case of emergency, but most people were stopping and blocking traffic.  You could not get into the centre of the hub.  It was full . . . absolutely full.  So Carol and I did a slow stroll around the hub, in the emergency walkway, stopping whenever we could and moving on when the cast members became very insistent.  Not a nice way to watch the fireworks show!

Then we fought the crowds and made our way to the Rivers of America for the Fantasmic Dessert Party.  We just can’t say enough about this show.  It’s great.  The dessert package is not as nice or as elaborate as the one in Florida but the show is awesome.

After Fantasmic we headed to the Haunted Mansion and used our FastPasses for a quick ride and then headed out toward the exit.  We had planned to ride Indiana Jones on our way out, but we were dog-tired and about fed up with the crowds by then so we gave our FastPasses to a young couple.  It was fun to watch them scurry over to the ride and disappear in the queue.  Then we went back to the hotel and fell into bed for our last night there.

Friday December 18, 2009

We were up bright and early and finished up the packing.  Carol joined me at the Coffee House where I had a bagel and then we took a final walk around the hotel grounds, taking a few pictures, before heading out front to catch the Disney Express Airport Shuttle.

Do I have to go?


We pulled into our terminal at LAX at 11:00, in plenty of time for our 12:45 flight.  We were quickly checked in and once our big suitcases were gone we wandered back toward our departure gate.  I bought a book to read on the flight and Carol picked up a magazine.  We boarded on time and took off on time . . . all was looking good!  But . . .

Carol had picked seats directly behind the business class seats, thinking we would have more legroom.  And we did!  What we didn’t have was shoulder and hip room.  We were crammed in like sardines.  At one point I flipped the little table up out of my armrest and Carol and I both burst out laughing at the same time.  There were people on the plane whose belt buckles were bigger than my table.

Then disaster struck as we were taxiing out for takeoff.  The baby sitting directly behind us began to cry.  She didn’t sob or whimper, she screamed and screamed.  It was a sharp, piercing sound which brought tears to my eyes.  “She’ll soon get tired and fall asleep.” I thought.  Wrong!  She cried non-stop for the whole 5 ½ hour flight.  The only way to get relief was to watch the movie with the headphones plugged in tight and turn the volume up full.  Yes, it induced a headache, but it was less painful than the crying baby.

Don’t get me wrong, I did sympathize with the poor child who had the same ear-pops the rest of us did, and didn’t understand them . . . but I could have been a whole lot more understanding if she had been a bit further away.

Other than the cramping muscles, the piercing screams and the thunderous rumble of the movies, it was a good flight.  We left on time and arrived on time with no turbulence.  We left the palm trees and 70 degree temperatures behind and found it a brisk 25 degrees when we left the airport in Toronto.

We picked up our car from the hotel’s long-term parking lot and were on the road heading home by 9:45.  We made one quick pit stop for a snack (and a Tim Horton’s coffee) along the way and pulled into Carol’s parents at 12:30 a.m.  They had stayed up to meet us so we could bring the dogs home.

Zak and Zoë were sure happy to see us.