We went last week. My wife Linda flew down, and I went with my kids and grandkids, Beth, Dave, Madelyn, Wyatt, and Lucas. The drive down was ok, and the grandkids traveled just fine. They do rather well in the car, and so we got in at The Desert Inn and Suites in pretty good shape. Linda had arrived a bit earlier and was already in the park.
Things were moved quickly to the room and we got ready to spend the evening in the park. Stroller, kids, water, clothes. This. That. We're walking now. Even the trek to the entrance is magical. Anticipation. The music. Familiar sights, a peek at this ride or that from over the berm. The security check. The line. The musical chime as they scan entrance tickets.
This is our second year of annual passes. If you plan on a stay of more than three days or a return within the year the annual pass is a good investment.
We always enter under the left arch as you face the train station and the Mickey image in flowers on the bank of the berm. Linda was waiting as we entered, and suddenly we were on Main Street.
This visit was surprisingly uncrowded. That being said there were still many rides with waits over an hour. We took our time over the course of the visit. Three full days, plus the first evening of our arrival and part of the day on the day of our departure.
Even so, my 56 years was telling. I grew footsore and weary each day, and we resolved to do less and less each day as the visit progressed. The "gotta do it all" anxiety affected the first evening and the first day. After that we relaxed, knowing we were coming back again and again throughout the year.
I find that the Magic Kingdom is even more magical when you can share it with children. Having this grandchild or that in tow for various rides made them new again. I don't do Dumbo unless accompanied by a child. I enjoy it every time I have a little pilot along.
We ate pretty well this trip. Our focus was not so much on buying Disney trinkets this trip, so the money could go more toward food. The chicken dinner at the Plaza Inn was our first meal. We split four meals among four adults and three children, with a few items added, and had more than enough to eat. Unless you are very hungry splitting meals here can save some money, and the meals are pretty good.
They also have pasta and pot roast meals, along with salads and deserts.
We had brunch at Goofy's Kitchen to celebrate Madelyn's eighth birthday. Though this is not a particularly inexpensive experience it is really fun with the kids. The brunch buffet has some very nice foods for adults, and a vast array of playful foods for the kids. Peanut butter and jelly pizza, cup cakes, and many other things to please the playful palate.
I enjoyed smoked salmon, Pancetta, smoked cheeses, bacon, Eggs Benedict, scrambled eggs with black olives, bacon, fried plantains, fruit salad, bacon, coffee, some more cheese, and bacon. I wasn't hungry until around seven that evening.
We did the Blue Bayou the next day for a late lunch. This restaurant is inside the beginning section of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and features the illusion of being on a big patio in the bayou at night. I always get the Monte Cristo sandwich, since they do it so well.
Years ago we went and I ate my Monte Cristo, and left over bits from several other family members. Apparently it is not just my feet that have become less adventurous over time. I could just barely finish my meal. Oh, but it was good!
Several meals were catch-as-catch-can. Hungry? Grab something. Two times we just started the day with the free breakfast from the motel. Twice, however, we did breakfast at the LaBrea Bakery Cafe. The meals are still less than ten bucks, and quite good. The location is nice, at the head of Downtown Disney and near enough to the entrances to both parks to enjoy the sights and sounds.
Another notable meal was the Big Thunder Ranch Barbecue. All you can eat, very good food, and a fun environment. Plus, entertainment! Cowboy musicians and performers entertain as you eat, engaging the kids and the adult audience. They even pulled up on stage six Marines who were being deployed to Afghanistan, and honored them while incorporating them into the fun.
That was not an inexpensive meal, but pound per dollar I think we reduced the actual cost. I recommend it if your budget can allow. This is one experience we have passed up in the past, but probably will become a part of future visits. Good food. Entertainment. All you can eat. Disneyland! Can it get any better?
With some judicious planning we managed to get to a lot of the rides when the lines were under thirty minutes long. Some were down for repair and improvement, but only a few. It is hard not to have fun, even if you don't chose to ride all of the rides. Beth is currently pregnant, and so could only ride some of the rides, but she still had a great time.
The newest attraction is in California Adventure. The new attraction is deep in the park, at the boardwalk. Toy Story Mania! We had to visit the area several times before the lines got short enough. Our first visit was a 40 minute wait, but well worth it. The second time we waited less than thirty minutes! This fun ride incorporates several rider participation games, and is housed in a very attractive boardwalk beach style building. Don't forget to spend a little time with the Mr. Potato Head barker out front, and enjoy the art and style while in line.
We did three full days, plus two partial days. The weather was very nice, though the later part of each day grew a bit hot. The lines and crowds were manageable, and there were very few negatives in this particular visit.
Our suite in the Dessert Inn was a two queen main room, a fold out sofa bed front room, and one bath. We traded mattresses from one of the beds to the sofa bed, as it was really not pleasant to sleep on otherwise. However, we saved a bit using this suite rather than the four queen bed suite. That suite would have had the added benefit of another bathroom, but we made this suite work.
One option for those choosing a suite like this would be an inexpensive air bed mattress for the sofa bed. It could be placed along a wall when the sofa bed was folded, allowing the space to be used as a living room as well as a bedroom. That would be easier than swapping the mattresses, and some such air beds are not particularly expensive.
During one of the fireworks displays we saw a man step off of a curb and take a fall. The fireworks require reduced lighting, as do the evening parades. It is a good idea not to move very much during these times, unless you are familiar with where you are walking. A spill like that could ruin the vacation for a family member.
Strollers are a good idea, even if the kids aren't actually stroller sized. They provide a place to rest for a fatiguing child and a place to put stuff in general. Bring your own and rent any extras you may need. Adults might consider renting a wheelchair for the same purpose for adults who may fatigue easily.
Our next trip is just Linda and I, plus her mother Alta. This will be a slow paced visit, less focused on rides than on the experience. Alta does not yet feel the need for walkers or wheelchairs, but those who must choose between such accommodations or not visiting the park should consider them. The park is fun even if you are not riding many rides, but all of that walking can be tiring.
I would love to visit the park with my parents, but that raises an issue that could make some visitors uncomfortable. There are only a few smoking areas within the two parks, and that will mean smokers will have to plan their travels within the park to allow them to smoke when the need arises. When your mobility is limited and you are also a smoker the fun day in the park could become a form of torture.
That brings up another recommendation. Become familiar with the general locations of rest rooms prior to visiting the park. This can be particularly important should you have, say, issues at the time of your visit to the Disneyland Resort. I once visited another amusement park in another state with a, uh, condition. It was not much fun.
Well, that's enough for now. We had a great visit, and our annual passes insure we will have several more this year.
Cruise to nowhere, and a salty cocktail hour
12 hours ago