Monday, September 28, 2009

Anniversary Trip.

I'm back in the real world after a weekend of basking in the glory of Disneyland Resort. We are always at Disneyland, but this weekend was special. Cameron and I took advantage of a discount for Annual Pass holders at the Disneyland hotel. Not having a stroller or children at Disneyland was like, well, going to Disneyland for us. We got to go on a few big kid rides and enjoy the parks at a different pace. Here's a few choice memories from our Anniversary Celebration weekend (our actual Anniversary isn't until October 16th, but we had to get the discount this month).

We stayed at the Crowne Plaza the first night. We got in around 3 PM and hung out in our room until the sun crept down a little because it was about 100 degrees in Anaheim. Can I just say that Bell Hop service is the best? It's worth the couple dollar tips that you give. We had help with everything! Ahh...

We took the shuttle from the Hotel over to the parks. It was the first night of Halloweentime at the parks. If you haven't done Disneyland at Halloween, you're missing out. It's beautiful! Main Street is decorated with all sorts of pumpkins, swags of orange fabric and at the plaza, a HUGE Mickey Mouse shaped Pumpkin. The Haunted Mansion is overlayed to be Nightmare Before Christmas and this year for the first time Space Mountain is themed as well. It's called Ghost Galaxy... we'll get to that in a bit.

We wanted to eat at Woody's Round-Up in Big Thunder Ranch. We've looked at it longingly for awhile. It's an all-you-can-eat family style dinner. There's a show to watch, too. It was decked out in vintage Halloween decor and beautiful fall leaves. It was really, really good. Sometimes I get disappointed in Disney food quality (especially desserts), but not this! They even served our drinks in canning jars, which is something I love! I grew up drinking ice tea out of Ball jars. :)

We were a bit taken aback by the crowding. I think it was mostly AP holders who were there for the first Halloweentime fireworks show. We decided to head over to Space Mountain to see what the wait time would be. It was 80 minutes! We decided to stick it out and enjoy the time together. Besides, they have a great show on the outside of the mountain. There are spooky sound effects, and a light show. I don't have great pictures of it, but I'll direct you over to Miceage.com to see great pics of Space Mountain. After waiting in line behind two siblings who punched and shoved each other the whole way through the line, we finally got to the front of the line and the front of the car! Woohoo! It was pretty spooky for Disney and it was worth the wait, I think. I think the story was well told and perfectly meshed with Space Mountain. It was pretty cool.

When we finally came out of the ride it was 15 minutes until the new fire works display. We mushed into the crowd on Main Street and waited... we enjoyed it! It's very heavily themed with Nightmare Before Christmas. I can't believe how much of that stuff is floating around in Disneyland Merchandise stores! Tim Burton is laughing all the way to the bank.

We went back to our Hotel room and watched a movie that Cam rented on his computer. He hooked it up to the TV. No $15.00 rented movies from the hotel for us, thank you.

The next morning we lounged in bed until about 9:30 and enjoyed every second of it. We packed up and headed over to the Garden Walk next to Disneyland. We ate lunch there and went to Lush (not a wine store, but a soap store). Next stop: DISNEYLAND HOTEL! Cameron has never stayed at the resort before and I've not been since I was 12. My family stayed in the Oriental Gardens which were demolished to make room for Downtown Disney.  We arrived a little early for check-in, but were welcomed and given keys right away. (They sent us a text with our room number when it was ready.) The cast member that helped us, Jeremiah was awesome! He goofed around with us, asked us if we had seen the Halloween fireworks, gave us some tips for a better stay. He even gave us Anniversary buttons and an autographed 8x10 of Mickey and Minnie. I know that seems small, but the gesture was huge. Disney hospitality is incredible. I know why people pay the big bucks to stay there. It's one thing to experience this as a kid, but I have a whole new appreciation for it now that I'm the grown up paying for the room. While waiting for our room we wandered the grounds. We went back to Horse Shoe falls and the Koi Pond. We meandered thru Neverland pool and Cameron tried to get me to pay $5 to play with the motorized Jungle Cruies boats. We found a wonderful shady spot and had lattes from the coffee shop (iced of course!) and people watched. Everywhere we went we were greeted with a "Congratulations!" or "Happy Anniversary!" because we had on our buttons. Another wonderful little detail that only Disney gives you.

We got into our room right at 3 PM. Cam and I couldn't believe the view we had! We could see right into Downtown Disney! I've hoped for a long time that I could watch the fireworks from Disneyland Hotel in one of those rooms and now we had the chance! I quickly snapped pictures of our pristine room's details and loved every second of it! From the wallpaper, to the headboards to the shampoo bottles everything was Disney!

We rested and then headed out to Downtown Disney for a stroll. We enjoyed not having a stroller to maneuver around and simply browsed.  We watched rockabilly band play and a cute elderly couple dance to the music. Just soaking up the ambiance...

We ate a Hook's Pointe in the hotel. I had scallops... yum. Cameron couldn't wait to go swimming in the Neverland themed pool. It is really, really rad. I loved Peter Pan as a kid (there's a reason Josiah was Peter Pan for his first Halloween) and would have passed out from excitement from seeing this pool! We swam for awhile and then sat in the jacuzzi. So nice... it did feel a little weird not to have kids, everyone else did!

Back to our room for fireworks! There's even a channel on TV that plays the Halloween Scream Fireworks music. During the rest of the day it plays what you would hear on Main Street. We stood on our balcony and watched the whole show... it was way too perfect and romantic!!

When we checked in we had been told about Magic Mornings. If you stay at the resort, you get into Disneyland a whole hour early. We woke up at 6 and marched through a dead Downtown Disney to the gates. We were among the first fifty people into the park! I've never been to Disneyland for the opening and this was special. The first family in the park does a count down and officially starts the day.

They only open up Main Street and Fantasyland for the Magical Mornings, but it was still awesome. We moved at a Snail's Pace down Main Street and enjoyed the empty sidewalks and quiet atmosphere. We got coffee and hot chocolate and were on our way into the castle. We actually got our picture taken outside the castle which is something we've not done since we were dating. We rode some dark rides in Fantasyland, went on the Matterhorn (where I kept flying out of my seat. It's hard to be short on rollercoasters), and rode King Arthur's Carousel.

We wanted to get the most out of our Hotel room, and we left the park via Monorail (the new one which I hadn't been on yet!) and had breakfast in our room. We ate right at the window and relaxed. Once again, AWESOME Disney food! We lounged around until 10:45 and then checked out.  They stored our luggage for the day and we were able to keep our car parked in the Hotel Parking lot, which is really nice!

We snuck over to California Adventure through the Park Entrance in the Grand Californian. We went on Tower of Terror, which Cameron hates... and then did the tortilla tour. But just to get the free tortilla. :) We went back to Disneyland to see if Indiana Jones was working. Sadly, it wasn't. So we bounced back over to Main Street to see if we could ride the Lilly Belle. We were just in time! We had to wait about 15 minutes and another couple also celebrating their anniversary joined us! It was great. We were ushered past the "regular" passengers through the front doors of the Main Street Station and go onto the Lilly Belle.

If you don't know what the heck the Lilly Belle is, it's the formal car that Walt and Lillian Disney used. It's also used for VIPs in the park. It's got historical Disney items in it like Lillian's smoking jacket, framed pictures, a tapestry that Lillian made, and original furniture.It also has the same carpet in it that's in Walt's apartment above the fire station on Main Street. It has the original "Hidden Mickeys" on it. After the tour we were given Lilly Belle tickets which are great free souvenirs.

We ate our sandwiches at the Disneyland hotel and just enjoyed our final moments at DLR in the shade. Goofy came by, kids played and we just relaxed. It had been the perfect weekend. Everything was just right. ♥

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