Disneyland, DCA, Cabana, Napa Rose Chef's Table, and, oh yeah, D23 - Summer 2019


Jun 4, 2012
And I am back…with another tale of merriment and details galore (for you savvy trip planners out there) from our most recent trip to the Happiest Place on Earth…and D23! You may recall me from my earlier trip reports:
Our cast of characters remain the same, though we are now a bit older and wiser, okay maybe not wiser, but it’s nice to dream, eh? Myself, now 47, San Diego born and raised (if you need a good taco shop, just let me know), longtime (now retired) Disneyland Annual Passholder (why?! Because they priced us out!!!), left-handed, yet right-footed (I know weird, right?). My wife, 44, originally from the Los Angeles area, who eventually figured out that San Diego is better (you know it is!) and was kind enough to marry me. Finally, our daughter, “the Teenager”, now 13, our joy and torment (oh wait, I mean “delight”) all rolled into one.

Our plan this vacation was simple, juggle some parks time with some down time, while also getting our steps in during the Expo…and maybe rub shoulders with someone famous (more on that later). Shall we begin? Let’s go!

Day 1: Arrival & Pop-Up Disney!

Our alarms went off early Monday morning. It was still dark outside, which meant needing a virtual crowbar to get our darling daughter out of bed…you know, teenager. This being the last week of summer break for her, she had been enjoying many sleep-ins over the past several weeks. Even with a Disney vacation a mere few hours away, she barely stirred as we could hear her alarm going off behind her closed bedroom door. Shrewdly, I knew there was only one thing that would roust her from her cave, so already showered and dressed, I popped into the car and hopped over to the local Starbucks for some liquid energy for the three of us. Returning home, I carefully approached her door, gently placing the cup of caffeinated goodness at its base, lightly knocking, and quietly saying, “Frappuccino.”


I crept away slowly and could almost immediately hear stirring from behind the door. The handle slowly turned downward as the door sluggishly creaked open a bit. A hand reached out near the floor, securing the cup, and retreating back into the darkness, closing the door once again. Mission accomplished! The teenager was up!

For those not in the know, the work day drive from San Diego to Anaheim can be challenging if you don’t time it right. Leave too early and you arrive in Disneyland well before the parks and the majority of Downtown Disney is open. Depart too late and you may find yourself stuck in morning commuter traffic in Mission Viejo all the way up into Orange County. Thankfully, we left just about right, meeting a little traffic, but it wasn’t horrible by any means. My advice, try to time it right and if you can use the carpool lanes, then do it!

Our home away from home for the week was Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel. I am not going to call it the “Hotel & Spa” because the spa was being remodeled during our stay (not that we planned to use it anyway, but still). After confirming our name with the CM at the entry kiosk and getting a square, green piece of paper with our name and dates of stay tossed atop our dash, we pulled up into the hotel driveway around 8am or so, stopping as instructed under the archway in front. With the assistance of the eager and very nice bellman, we quickly pulled our luggage from our vehicle, loading it all up onto a trolley for storage. While my wife and daughter entered the Grand to get us checked in, I drove the car across the street for self-parking. If there is one mild annoyance regarding staying at the Grand Californian, it is the location of the self-parking (I know, cry me a river). After parking the car, I trekked back across the street. I found myself walking behind a “Suit”, you know a Cast Member of the upper level variety who gets to wear a suit and tie to work instead of a “costume”. As we approached the locked pedestrian gate across from the drive-up kiosk, he inserted his employee badge into the reader, waited for the click, and proceeded through the now open gate. Noticing me several nearby steps behind him, he paused and said (with the door still open mind you), “You just need to scan your room card first.” To wit I replied, “We are checking in right now and I have not received my key card yet.” He shrugged and allowed me entry…gee, thanks, dude! I guess had he not been there, I could have called over to the CM working the kiosk to buzz me through (assuming they can do that) or simply walked around the gate using the right-side car lane (hopefully without being tased).

Entering the Grand brings back very pleasant memories for us of previous stays at the Wilderness Lodge at Walt Disney World. Good times indeed. Entering the main registration area, I quickly found my wife and daughter talking to a CM at the very far end of the front desk. Moseying down to join them, our check-in process was almost complete and we were presented with a folder that contained all of our AAA vacation documents, as well as a couple of Disney buttons (only two though, not three, which I thought was strange, but didn’t say anything). Since our room was obviously not ready (totally expected this early in the morning), we confirmed my cell number with the CM and headed out towards Downtown Disney for a walkabout before lunch and Pop-Up Disney!

I won’t bore you with the details of each store we checked out. We hit our usual haunts and checked out a few new places that had arrived since the last time we were here, questioning how long a couple of these “new to us”, more specialized non-Disney shops will last, looking at you Sugarboo & Co. (not sure why anyone would buy these things while on a Disney vacation) and Rinse (horrible, almost hidden location outside the security checkpoint by the Disneyland Hotel). Ultimately, we found ourselves at one of our favorites, the WonderGround Gallery, where we admired the on-demand artist Disney character sketches. While flipping through them, I mentioned to my wife and daughter that there wasn’t a TRON (my all-time favorite movie) sketch, which perked the interest of the in-house sketch artist sitting nearby. He quickly turned towards us and said, “One second, I may have something over here you might like.”

Digging through a closet at the rear of the store, he pulled out a Mickey TRON sketch, in neon green. Handing it to me to examine, he beckoned me to return to the sketch table by the front window, whereby he pulled a black light out of an adjoining drawer, flashing it upon the drawing. “I did this one the other day and you can see the special hidden circuitry designs when viewed under a black light!” Visually, it was very cool, but not having a black light myself at home (I mean, who does really?), and preferring my TRON characters in blue (the red guys were bad after all, and I think the very few green dudes in the movie were soldiers working for the bad guy), I asked if he had any others in stock. He didn’t, but he said he could draw one! I glanced over to my family and they both nodded. I needed to get this. The artist completed the paperwork for me and told me that he could have it ready by around 1pm that afternoon. I had to pay for it at that moment, which was fine, and we then realized that it was finally lunch time.

For a very long time, I have been looking forward to enjoying a meal at Black Tap! During our previous Disneyland visit, it was still suffering through delay after delay. Thankfully, this time it was open and we were the second customers of the day! Two words to describe our Black Tap experience…delectable and expensive. I know, I know, we are at a theme park and that automatically adds to the cost of most meals, but wow these prices! If we hadn’t enjoyed our meal so much, I would be complaining profusely, but darn it, that meal was great! My daughter and I both ordered the All-American Burger, which came with the standard French Fries. My wife, on the other hand, ordered the Texan Burger, upgrading to the Sweet Potato Fries. A self-service fountain soda for each of us, plus we pre-ordered one of their famous Crazy Shakes, the Cotton Candy, to share! With gratuity (did I mention that this is effectively a “counter service” restaurant…though they do deliver your food to your table), it came to just over $100.00 for the three of us. OK, yes, I know, “Theme Park Upcharge”, but wow.

But let me say this…the food was fantastic! The burgers were sublime, not too big, but not too small either. The Martin’s Potato Roll buns were soft and chewy, and the meat was expertly prepared, very flavorful, making me look forward to each and every bite. And the fries, oh those fries…delicious (the sweet potato ones too)! I would rank these burgers up there with In N Out and Five Guys (my personal favorite burger joint) as one of my all-time favorites, but that price point is really hard to swallow.

Finally, our dessert arrived. It was beautiful!


After the requisite picture taking, we dug in, frequently sword-fighting with our spoons to get the next delectable bite. The Cotton Candy is a strawberry shake with a vanilla frosted rim with blue, pink, and pearl chocolates topped with a pink lollipop, blue and pink rock candy, whipped cream, and of course cotton candy. The lollipop was immediately claimed by our darling daughter, while my wife and I each took a stick of rock candy, mine blue and hers pink. I thoroughly enjoyed watching our daughter squirm as I dipped my rock candy into my Coke, swirled it around, and then slurped the liquid off of the candy. She could only tolerate this process for so long and then claimed my rock candy as her own, stating, “If you can’t eat this right, then you don’t get it!” Honestly, I didn’t mind, I was happy to give it up. Why, do you ask? Because I could then focus on the pearl chocolates that surrounded the rim! They were wonderful!

Lunch completed, we meandered around Downtown Disney a bit more and were very pleased to receive a text that our room was ready early! Sweet! Room 3133 here we come! Looking at the hotel property map, we learned that our room was the last on a run that led from the lobby area towards Downtown Disney. Did we score one of those rooms above Downtown Disney?! Um, no. As we walked down the hallway towards our room, we could see a window with Ballast Point in the not too far distance (a wonderful San Diego brewery with excellent food by the way, but we actually live fairly close to their main brewery and restaurant in San Diego, so the DTD location was not in our plans this vacation). Accessing our room, which sat directly across from a vending and ice machine room and adjacent to a housekeeping storage space, we immediately went to check out our view…or rather, the lack thereof. Looking out straight, we gazed upon the roof of the resort building; down was a beige flat top roof with a few greyish-silver air-conditioning hoods jetting up; to the right was (pause) actually I cannot remember; and to the left was the main entry arch with a few trees and the Paradise Pier Hotel in the far distance. All in all, not a great view whatsoever, but that was fine. Unfortunately, the worst of it was the fact that some folks decided to smoke on the sidewalk down below and it wafted up to our balcony. I mean, it wasn’t all of the time thankfully, but it was annoying given my wife’s allergies. Honestly, we had gotten lucky with rooms in the past, just not this time. It was clean and it was ours for the week! Too bad it was haunted…but I will get to that later.

Bags delivered and unpacked, we got ourselves together and headed to the old ESPN Zone for our 1:30pm reservations at Pop-Up Disney! I had bought tickets ahead of time online once we learned that the exhibit’s stay had been extended into early September. I hoped at the time of purchase that there was some sort of D23 attendee or resort hotel discount, but I couldn’t find either, so we ended up paying full price. And guess what?! While relaxing in our room beforehand with the resort TV channel on, sure enough a slide flashed by indicating a guest discount! Oh well, that’s life!

Arriving a tad early, we checked into Pop-Up Disney, received our group assignment, and were escorted into a large adjoining waiting room, where we found a couple photo-ops and Mickey Mouse videos projected in one of the corners. After waiting about 20 minutes or so, our group was called and we were escorted up the nearby stairs into the first room. OK, so what exactly is Pop-Up Disney, you ask? Well, imagine a series of nine very different, imaginatively themed “experiences” or rooms based primarily on Mickey and to a certain extent Minnie designed specifically for selfies and photos primed and ready for social media posting. The very first thing we see is a giant “couch” themed to look like Minnie’s read and white polka-dotted bow. The various “scenes” ran the gamut from the black and white old school Mickey shorts to neon, laser colors with a giant silver Mickey status standing in a mirrored room. Here are some of our favorite images:







Some of the exhibits offered perfectly positioned backgrounds for posing or simply jumping into, while others provided actual “props” to hold and enhance your picture. Overall, it was a blast and we all enjoyed it very much. Exiting the final room, we headed down the stairs and of course into the gift shop, whereby our daughter notified the CM that she had spotted all of the hidden Minnie’s along the way (the final two or three being in the gift shop itself), whereby she was presented a sticker (hey it was free).

Heading back to the hotel after picking up my TRON Mickey sketch from WonderGround (which is AMAZING by the way; not sure why DISBoards is posting this image vertically):


...we stopped in the Hearthstone Lounge for a nice cold beverage. Back in the spring, while attending WonderCon (a comic book convention for those not aware), we came over here for dinner and hit the Lounge for a cold drink beforehand. At that time, my wife and I both ordered an amazing Shandy, beer with lemonade. They were amazing and the bartender made them with two lemon slices, positioned upon the rim of our glasses as Mickey ears! This time, however, this bartender (could have been the same one, I don’t really know) decided that one lemon slice was enough and laid it inside the glass, floating on top of the beer and lemonade mixture. Thankfully, the beverage was just as delicious and refreshing as the last time. Our daughter, obviously not being of age for a Shandy, enjoyed a wonderful non-alcoholic cocktail as we all sipped to our hearts content.

After returning to our room for a little bit, dinner time soon approached, so we headed back out to Downtown Disney with our planned destination of Earl of Sandwich. We first tried Earl several years ago, not long after it first opened in DTD. To say the least, I was not impressed and had no sense of urgency to ever return. That said, my family wanted to try it again this time, particularly with it having been saved from the wrecking ball after the proposed luxury hotel plan was canceled, so I agreed to give it one more shot. My new opinion…still not impressed. Truly, I am not a food snob in any way, shape, or form, but I do not get the popularity of this place. I remember back in the day reading time and again how folks loved their sandwiches in then Downtown Disney in Orlando and how excited people were about it opening in Anaheim. To me, their offerings are just meh, decent I suppose, but lacking in any serious flavor; certainly nothing to tantalize my taste buds. This time, I tried their Holiday Turkey, with stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce…one of my personal favorite combinations. Honestly, it was lacking. Give me the Bobbie from Capriotti’s (look them up for those lucky enough to live by one; the San Diego locations all sadly closed) hands down over this. Sorry Earl, while our daughter loved her Greek salad and my wife liked her Full Montague, I won’t be coming back. Oh if they only had a Jersey Mike’s in there!

After hopping over to the Disneyland Hotel for a bit, we stopped by the clandestine Rinse soap shop and bought a few things; nice shop, but horrible location. Content with the day, we called it and returned to our room. Tomorrow…Disneyland and Galaxy’s Edge!!!


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Jun 4, 2012
Day 2: May the Force Be With Us

It was Tuesday and an early entry day for Disneyland. Up early, we hit the even earlier opening White Water Snacks or whatever it is called or going to be called (it’s physically there and so is the sign, but it’s not on the website any more, at least not under that name; methinks it is becoming part of the new GCH Craftsman Grill but has not fully transitioned yet), the GCH quick service location, very well hidden down beyond the currently under construction spa and the swimming pool, passed the GCH DCA entrance. I tried their breakfast burrito, which was actually pretty darn tasty (though I wish the pico de gallo and sour cream sides were included within), while my wife and daughter hit the Grab ‘n’ Go section, enjoying cereal and a chocolate croissant respectively; we also shared a bowl of fruit that was hit and miss, but mostly hits. Nice little tip here…as GCH guests, we discovered that we just had to show our room key to get free cups of coffee (not the specialty coffees they can make) or hot chocolate.

Content with our breakfast repas, we headed for the Magic Kingdom (west)! Early entry started at 7am for resort guests and we arrived just before then. The queues at the entry gates were not bad at all, but not terribly short either. We were concerned that with the Deluxe APs having been reactivated just two days earlier that they would come flocking to the park, but that proved not to be the case. Overall, the crowd level in Disneyland throughout the day was very, very manageable…and we have personally seen it bad on many occasions, so this was a blessing.

Since Galaxy’s Edge was not open as part of Early Entry, we decided to take advantage of the early morning crowds and hit Tomorrowland, specifically the rockets and Buzz Lightyear; both walk-on. We scouted out Matterhorn next, but found the line to be too long with only one side of the mountain operating; the Tomorrowland side of the attraction was closed after a portion of the rocky façade had fallen onto its tracks a week or so earlier. Since it is now on the FastPass system, I logged into the Disneyland app and grabbed us three FPs for a little bit later; gotta love MaxPass (so worth it)! We tried to hit attractions that were not on the FP system, so Alice, Toad, and the Carousel were our next targets. As we rode the carousel, we could see other guests coming together and filling up the walking space back by the Fantasyland restrooms…yep, they were queuing up for Star Wars! As 8am arrived, we watched a general flood of people making their way through Fantasyland en route to Batuu, but not us. We figured that we would let the initial rush do their thing and then mosey on over there in a couple hours or so, maybe even after lunch.

Matterhorn was next and then I nabbed FPs for Indy as we meandered over to ride the Jungle Cruise, Pirates, Mansion, and Pooh. Unfortunately, when our Indy FP time arrived it had broken down, so our FP turned into a wildcard, which we ultimately used on Indy later in the day.

Since we ate breakfast so early, we decided to enjoy lunch earlier than usual as well. Returning to Adventureland, we split up, with me grabbing a couple skewers (a Chieftain and a Bengal Beef) and two Jungle Juleps at the Bengal Barbecue, while my wife hit the Tropical Hideaway for a couple baos (chicken and beef), a chilled ramen shaker, and some sweet lumpia. Grabbing a table in the Hideaway, we feasted…and I am pretty sure that we were sitting across from a “famous” Disney podcaster, who shall remain nameless. Our impressions of the food? Well, I was a bit disappointed by the portion of the skewers from BB, particularly the chicken…and didn’t it used to come with a grilled green onion?! The Hideaway baos were good, not great, but good. The ramen shaker was the most popular item between the three of us, and the sweet lumpia with the pineapple dipping sauce was very tasty.

While we dined, I grabbed a set of FPs for Big Thunder that started within about 10 minutes. After riding the Wildest Ride in the Wilderness, we figured that it was finally time to go to a galaxy far, far away! Now, our daughter, during summer camp, had already visited Galaxy’s Edge, so presented herself as our most learned tour guide. We entered through the entrance behind Big Thunder and my wife immediately appreciated the transition from old west to a far distant alien world via the wall-mounted lanterns. And then we were in…


What can I say that hasn’t already been said? It is very immersive and super cool, but if I am honest, I really wish that they built areas that represented places from the actual Star Wars films. Give me a bantha ride on Tatooine, or a tauntaun ride on Hoth, or a boat ride on Dagobah, or a speeder bike coaster ride on the forest moon of Endor; give me the Mos Eisley cantina! Heck, I’d even take locations from Episodes 1 through 3; just something familiar! Don’t get me wrong, I very much enjoyed Batuu, but I really think that they missed a chance here that proved very successful with Harry Potter at Universal.

Initially, we just walked around and explored. Given the lack of serious crowds, we were not in any hurry to get onto Smuggler’s Run, which had a posted wait time of an hour at this point. First things first though, we purchased a set of thermal detonator Coke and Sprite bottles (man, those prices though!) and then found our way over to the Blue Milk counter. Funny thing this Blue Milk, as we walked around Batuu enjoying our refreshments, we observed others drinking some as well and describing the taste differently on their friends. I found it sweet, with a hint of blue raspberry and maybe a little pina-colada, but I overheard many others using other terms. The Green Milk? Every person I saw sip that concoction immediately made a face that I didn’t want to recreate myself, so no Green Milk for us.

We meandered around the space, soaking everything in and stopping for pictures with the Millennium Falcon and the Tie Fighter, including a Magic Shot that became my favorite picture of us on this trip:

We walked through the Droid Depot and Dok-Ondar’s, both very cool…and make sure to look up at all of the décor and scenery; the detail is awesome, but again I wish that it was more specific to the films.

Finally, it was time. The stand-by wait time for Smuggler’s Run was down to 45 minutes, so we entered the queue. It moved pretty well and we enjoyed standing behind the Falcon as its engines throttled up and of course sputtered out. Entering the “chess table” room, we were immediately handed our group and position assignments: our daughter and I were both pilots and my wife was a gunner. Upon entering the room, I immediately made a bee-line to the famous chess table, handing our daughter my phone to snap a picture of me. We barely had time to take the shot before the CM called our group to report. I wish that we had more time to explore the space, but oh well. We made our way to the cockpit, as my eyes grew as big as saucers when the door slid open. There it was and we were going to drive it!

How did we do? Well, we crashed it a bit. It’s tough when one person controls the up and down and another one manages left and right! Oh and yeah, I got to pull the lever to go into light speed! Joy!!! We managed to get two supply crates, so that was good, but we heard several complaints from Hondo Ohnaka as we exited. Sorry, dude, it was our first time! We will do better next time! My wife liked the gunner position, but said that it was just a lot of button mashing. Overall, we liked it and look forward to enjoying it again. It is Star Tours for the 21st century? Maybe a little, but this is exactly the type of film specific attractions I hoped for. I should also add that I am somewhat susceptible to motion sickness and, similar to Star Tours, this got me a little bit, but not horribly. I will ride it again and again and again, through probably with a break in between.

At this point, we needed another cold beverage (helps with my motion sickness), so we checked out Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, ordering a couple Moof Juices and a Phattro. We enjoyed these very much as we just sat and chilled in this wonderful space. The food menu sure looked interesting, but it will have to be an experience for a future visit. I hope that it stays “exotic” in nature and doesn’t get overly generic like many of the other Disney quick service locations have in the past.

Walking out of Galaxy’s Edge by way of the Resistance Supply area, we bypassed the market altogether, figuring that we would return after dark to check it out. We grabbed another set of PhotoPass pictures in front of the X-Wing, along with a nice Magic Shot, and then made our way by where Rise of the Resistance will be come January. I am very much looking forward to this attraction! That said, with it not yet open, this section of SWGE was very barren, making our exit quite easy, but it was just weird how few people there were.


Re-entering the “rest of the park”, we dilly dallied a bit, doing this and that, until it was time for our afternoon treat at the River Belle Terrace. I had learned several weeks prior via the Disney Parks Blog about a special Haunted Mansion 50th Anniversary dessert being served here. When I mentioned it to my wife, she immediately said that we should grab a reservation if we could…and I did! Called the Hitchhiking Ghosts Blue Velvet Cake Trio, the three individual treats (perfect for our family of three) were made of blue velvet cake, each shaped like a Doom Buggie, filled with blueberry puree and a cheesecake base, with rice croquette brittle and a vanilla-blueberry crisp with a ghost printed on it.


Oh my gosh were these delectable! Messy, but delectable! Oh, and afterwards our lips and tongues looked like we devoured a plate of Smurfs! So worth it!

Back into MaxPass mode, we spent the rest of the afternoon hitting a variety of attractions and shops, ultimately finding ourselves at the Main Street Train Station, sitting on a bench waiting for the next train. While kicking back, I happened to tap into Facebook on my phone and noticed a post from a childhood friend that I had not seen since high school graduation day. Currently residing in Japan, I knew that he and his family was back in California for a visit, but I suddenly became aware that they were at Disney. Messaging him quickly, he almost immediately messaged back. He and his family had just grabbed a couple tables at the Jolly Holiday Bakery to sit it out for that evening’s first Main Street Electrical Parade, which his young daughter had never seen. Deciding to skip the train, we marched down Main Street and met up with my old friend, meeting his wonderful family, and chatting up a storm. It was a great surprise!

Realizing that we were nearing our early dinner reservation, we headed back down Main Street and out of the park, over to La Brea Bakery Café. My wife and I both ordered salads, me the Asian Chicken and Lisa the Cobb. We both enjoyed them very much, in fact Lisa was shocked by the generous portions we received, especially the bacon in hers. Our daughter very much enjoyed her Fettuccini Alfredo and we all very much enjoyed getting away from the park for an hour or so.

Back inside Disneyland, we took our time walking through the Main Street shops as we waited for our next FastPass time to arrive. More attractions and more fun filled our time as the sun finally set, leading us back to Galaxy’s Edge once again. Entering in through Critter Country, the land really took on a new life after dark. We especially liked the creepy sounds of creatures emanating from the thick vegetation and trees as we walked towards the market. Not having visited this area earlier, we took our time exploring each. Our daughter almost immediately grabbed a Salacious Crumb, or should I say a Kowakian Monkey-Lizard, shoulder puppet, which freaked out my wife to no end. Our journey eventually brought us to Kat Saka’s Kettle, where we just had to get a bag of their unusual (yet yummy) popcorn in a MSE-6 Series Repair Droid souvenir vessel!


We continued to meander about, taking a few pictures here and there, until it was time for our 8:30pm reservation at Oga’s Cantina. When we arrived at the entrance to Oga’s there was quite a line, which I assumed, erroneously, was stand-by. Nope! One of the CMs at the front pointed us to the end of that line, where another CM stood with a handheld tablet checking in those with reservations. I didn’t see any other line at all, so I guess that only those with reservations were being admitted tonight. Thankfully, which the CM promised, the line actually moved quickly and we were suddenly inside at a standing table with an adult couple opposite from us.


I have to say that I LOVE this place! The ambiance is electric and fun and full of audio and visual treats and treasures! I had heard that due to its expected popularity that service was fast, you had to pay as you order (or quickly thereafter), and rounds were limited to two. Our server wasted no time in greeting us, providing an extra menu, allotting a few minutes for us to decide, taking our orders, and then presenting the bills (to us and our table mates respectively). If there is one negative about Oga’s it had to be the feeling of being rushed.

For our intergalactic beverages, we ordered the following:


Our daughter had the non-alcoholic Jabba Juice (she initially asked for the Hyperdrive, but was told that the droid that makes it had broken down). My wife had the Fuzzy Tauntaun, which the server warned her caused a slight numbing sensation; and I ordered the Yub Nub with the Endor mug of course! Each of us liked our drinks very much. The very sour “Buzz” Foam on the Tauntaun certainly lived up the hype, but maybe not quite numbness! We each took a little taste of the foam and sure enough it had a strange effect on our lips and tongues. In fact, I found that it actually electrified my taste buds afterwards, making every subsequent sip of my drink very, very intense flavor-wise! Honestly, I am not sure that it was good or bad in that regard. Further tests may need to be completed!

After finishing just the one round of drinks, I popped over to take a quick picture of DJ Rex, even though I heard that guests were not supposed to walk around, and then we set off. We hoped to hit Big Thunder one more time, but sadly discovered that it was down as we approached. Tired from a long day and completely satisfied with all that we had accomplished, we agreed to finish with one final pass through the Main Street shops, where of course we found a sweatshirt for our daughter and a bracelet for my wife. It had been a good day.



Jun 4, 2012
Day 3: DCA & Checking Off Our Daughter’s Last Ride

Up early again for, you guessed it, Early Entry, we returned to White Water Snacks for breakfast. As the day before, it was good, not great, but hey we loved the free coffee with our room key!!!

Since we entered the park through the GCH entrance, we headed straight for Soarin’, which was still playing the original California version. Nice! We sure do love them orange groves!! After grabbing some FastPasses for Racers and a pickle in Cars Land, we headed to Pixar Pier to ride the newly imagined Critter Carousel (I had to ride on the skunk of course!) and then Toy Story Mania since it had a fairly short stand-by line. The rest of the morning was simply FastPass after FastPass, attraction after attraction. Man, MaxPass is really worth the price (glad we bought in as part of our package before the price increased).


Lunch was at the Pacific Wharf Café, one of our personal favorites. Chicken, Apple & Walnut Salads in sourdough bread bowls for my wife and I, and the Turkey Pesto Club sandwich for our daughter. We grabbed a table out along the side of the restaurant and enjoyed a nice little meal with a pleasant breeze. The best part about getting the salads here is tearing out the bread from the inside that has soaked up the salad dressing; so good!

The afternoon was more of the same, but we decided to do something that we’d never experienced before…the Animator’s Academy. While we anticipated learning how to draw Edna Mode, I apparently misread the schedule and we found ourselves drawing BB-8. It was a little bit of a bummer, but the experience was still quite fun and I managed to impress our daughter with my artistic skills.

The crowds seemed a bit larger than Disneyland the previous day, but not by much; still easily manageable, but overall we thought the lines were longer. Given this and the heat, we decided that a cold treat was in order, so we hit Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats for these beauties:


Finally, the time arrived! Our daughter was going to ride the Grizzly River Rapids for the first time! Upon doing so, she will have ridden every ride at the Disneyland Resort! Not that she didn’t have multiple opportunities in the past, she just never wanted to ride it for fear of getting absolutely drenched. At the age of 13, her tune finally changed…and it didn’t hurt that it was summer and quite toasty today. FastPasses secured, we had a little time, so I took our stuff, particularly our BB-8 drawings, and high-tailed it up to our room in the GCH to deposit them, while also grabbing a plastic bag to hopefully keep our essentials dry. Yeah, I know that there are lockers, but we figured with us staying right there, we didn’t really need to use them; plus, we thought it might be a good time to head back to the room after Grizzly to enjoy a little air-conditioning and freshen up anyways. The Rapids certainly did not disappoint, at least not for me…I didn’t get THAT wet. My wife and daughter, on the other hand, both got soaked…heh, heh, heh. Back to the room for a little respite, and to dry off and change some shoes for the ladies, we then returned to the park later for our dinner reservation.

Dinner brought us to the Lamplight Lounge, which I was very excited about…and ultimately very let down by. Previously, we enjoyed a very memorable lunch at the old Cove Bar and hoped to re-live that experience at the Lounge. Alas, that would not be the case. First of all, the checkin process was clumsy. We entered through the restaurant’s upper level main entrance, confirming our reservation with a CM at the front desk. We waited for about 10 minutes and were then told to head down the nearby stairs to be escorted to our table. Once downstairs, we joined several other groups of people who were waiting not-so patiently. 10 minutes later, another CM called our name and showed us to our table, outside on the covered deck. The first problem was that the sun was lowering in the western sky, so it was quickly becoming an issue, albeit temporary; pull out them sunglasses family!

We started with an order of the Potato Skins, which turned out to be unlike any other potato skins we have ever had, which wasn’t necessarily a good thing. Instead of an actual wedge of an actual potato skin, covered in toppings goodness, these were more like potato patties. Now, they were served with a brown butter-caper yogurt, smoked paprika aioli, and Manchego cheese, which elevated them to another wonderful level, but they simply lacked the crunch factor that we love with potato skins. I liked them very much, my wife not so much, but I think that they should consider re-thinking their name on the menu to something a bit more accurate.

For our entrees, I finally got to try the famous Lobster Nachos (from Cove Bar fame), while my wife ordered the Salmon PLT and our daughter the Cheddar Burger. Honestly, it was all pretty meh. I was really let down by the nachos, especially the lobster, which I found to be rather rubbery and tasteless. The sections of the chips covered in the chipotle crema were delicious, but overall I was not impressed. The PLT and the burger met with similar reactions; they were OK, but not great. Drinks? We ordered from the specialty menu, non-alcoholic for me tonight, but again, they weren’t special like our Cove Bar visit (and while I am all for being green, I really don’t like the new paper straw thing [I went through three of them with my drink alone]; we should have brought our own). All in all, this visit was disappointing and given the price point, I highly doubt that we will return.


The evening brought us more thrills and fun as we bounced from attraction to attraction (again…MaxPass is worth it), shop to shop, and of course sweet shop to sweet shop. First, we stopped by Bing Bong’s Sweet Stuff to get a Bing Bong Apple (much better than the disappointing “Pineapple” Apple we got from Marceline’s on Monday; red apples should be banned from use in caramel apples by the way) for our daughter and then later we hit Clarabelle’s on Buena Vista Street, where I got a hand-dipped ice cream bar with a raspberry center, enrobed with dark chocolate and then dredged in a Pop Rocks mixture. My wife decided to pop over to the bakery next door and nabbed herself a delectable brownie.
  • gregf71

    Jun 4, 2012
    Day 4: The Day My Wife was Most Looking Forward To

    Early on during trip planning for this vacation, we decided that we very much wanted (or more to the point…needed) a restful day between our parks days and D23. Having enjoyed the pleasure of a poolside cabana years earlier at the Disneyland Hotel and again at Discovery Cove in Orlando more recently, we knew that this fit the bill perfectly this time around. Now, Disney doesn’t advertise the price of their cabanas on their website; you have to call them directly to confirm pricing and make a reservation. Several months before the reservation window opened, I called to see about the price and learned that it was indeed (as expected) higher than what we recalled we spent at the Disneyland Hotel. No surprise there whatsoever, but was did shock me was the fact that a full day’s rental was only $50 more than a half day rental. A little more than twice the time for a fraction of the cost! Sold!

    Breakfast this morning was at Storyteller’s Café. Since our last visit, it had once again been re-branded, now as Mickey’s Tales of Adventure Breakfast Buffet! We have always loved Storyteller’s, not only for the quality of the food, but the overall ambiance of the restaurant. I was most excited to try the chilaquiles and eggs with tomatillo salsa, which didn’t disappoint at all! The selections were all good, as usual, and it afforded us our best chance to snap some shots with members with some friends:


    Thoroughly fed and satisfied, we returned to the room to get changed for our swim day. Sun-screened up like Achilles being dipped in the River Styx, we headed down around 9:30am to get our resort pool wristbands, checkin with the cabana host, and begin some hardcore relaxing! We were assigned Cabana #1, back over by the secondary pool and a hot tub. We had no cabana on our right (as you looked out from within) and two on our left:



    Our host gave us the rundown on how things worked. We have two couches and a table inside the cabana, a dining table and chairs immediately outside, and two lounge chairs in front of them. We enjoyed a large flat-screen television, a fridge (with some wonderful, cold, rolled up hand towels chilling within; great on the face later during the hot afternoon), a safe (more like a lockable compartment in the entertainment center), extra towels, and a menagerie of various small bottles, including sun screen, moisturizer, and interestingly a lens cleaner spray and cloth for our sunglasses; there were also bottles of sparkling and regular water in the fridge, as well as a soon to arrive fruit plate, all included. Our host also pointed out that a selection of movies were also included. I pictured movies on demand through the TV and remote, but no, if requested, the host retrieved an actual DVD from somewhere and played it on an attached player. So, of course I perused the video library and asked for The Rocketeer!

    Soon, our cabana server arrived to introduce herself and deliver the fruit plate. It was a fine assortment of grapes, strawberries, melon, and pineapple. One problem…the pineapple was dull-colored and flavorless. I mean seriously, zero, zilch…it was like eating fibrous paper, neither sweet nor sour, just texture. We each tried a bite of separate pieces of pineapple and unanimously agreed. Oh well, we figured, all of the other fruit was sweet and delicious. I did mention it to our attendant, not as a complaint, but as a FYI in case others were to get similar sub-par pineapple. She immediately jumped into action, collecting the remaining pieces from our plate, telling us that the “kitchen” takes this very seriously. Within about 10 minutes, she returned with a covered place of new pineapple slices, all a vibrant yellow, perfectly juicy, and delectable!

    So what did we do all day? We lounged, we swam, I watched a movie, we lounged some more (our daughter actually fell asleep towards the end), we soaked in the nearby hot tub a bit, and of course we dined. Lunch came from the recently opened GCH Craftsman Bar & Grill. We ordered the thin-crust Charcuterie Pizza to share, with premium pepperoni, prosciutto, salami, Italian sausage, arugula, fire-roasted tomatoes, grana padano, and aged provolone. Wow, this was amazing!!! Our daughter strangely didn’t quite care for it, but my wife and I absolutely loved it. Alternatively, we also got an order of the beef nachos, which were actually quite good, much better that those lobster nachos I had at Lamplight the night before. For drinks, we had a couple Citrus Grape Spritzers (sweet and refreshing), and a bit later a couple adult beverages from the bar, both delicious, but for the life of me I cannot recall what we ordered.

    As with all good things, our cabana time eventually came to an end and we returned to our room to get ready for what would be the cherry on top of our entire vacation…dinner at the Chef’s Table at Napa Rose!

    Our reservation was for the later, second Chef’s Table seating. Checked in, we waited for a few minutes in the entry lobby, and were eventually summoned by a host to our amazing seats. Front row, off to the left, with clear sight of the open kitchen and all of its wondrous activity!


    There appeared to be three Chef’s Table sections, each with four seats; there was us (filling three seats, and the one to my right remained empty our entire meal, which was nice), a claiming counter for the serves immediately to my right, a second CT section, and then around the corner to the left of them, the third section. I am so glad that we got one of the two sections along the front of the kitchen; the third one around the corner seemed to have such a limited view.

    The Sous Chef warmly greeted us, introduced himself, and chatted us up about what we were about to experience, as well as interviewed us about our likes, dislikes, and most importantly any food allergies we might have (thankfully, we have none). Our menu this evening would be customized for each of us by the Sous Chef and Chef de Cuisine based solely on that brief interaction and the ingredients they had on hand that evening. So exciting!

    Our main server soon arrived, introduced himself, and confirmed drink orders, for which my wife and I both chose the wine pairing accompaniment. Our daughter was in for a special surprise of her own (not of our doing, but theirs)! We were told that we could ask questions of any of the kitchen staff that we were observing, and they were keen to respond. On a few occasions, they even overheard us chatting amongst ourselves, queuing off our comments and providing us with information on their recipes and processes.

    The bread service came first, which the three of us shared, but that would be the only course of the total seven where we did. The basket held a variety of different breads, including a wonderful sourdough, but it was the butter and the decoration thereon that drew our gaze.

    The presentation of each subsequent course arrived from behind us, as the servers elegantly delivered each plate over our respective shoulder, describing in detail the delectable delight that now awaited our taste buds. Up first, my wife and I both received shrimp ceviche (the only time we two had the same dish), while our daughter got a vegetarian spring roll.

    Course after each scrumptious course was paired for Lisa and I with a half-pour (or so) of wine that was selected specifically by our main server (with possible input from the house sommelier I suspect) based on the dishes we received. Arriving each time with two bottles in hand just before the presentation of the next course, our server would describe the wine, where it came from, and why he (they) chose it to accompany each dish. Every glass was exquisite, unique, perfectly paired, and added so much to the meal overall.

    Now for our daughter…not wanting to have her feel left out given our amazing wine pairings, our main server inquired if she would be interested in some of the most tantalizing grape juice in the world, to wit she eagerly agreed. He soon appeared with a bottle of “the white.” Produced by Navarro Vineyards in Northern California, and per him sold to a very limited number of restaurants (though I discovered later that you can buy it online through their website), throughout her meal, Hailey enjoyed glasses of both the Gewurtztraminer and the Pinot Noir, both made with the same grapes the vineyard uses to make their alcoholic wines, just without the alcohol. Our daughter was ever so kind to allow us to sample both varieties and they were both some of the best stuff I have ever had in my lifetime! We unanimously agreed that the Pinot Noir was our favorite of the two, not taking anything away from the “white”. And even better, at the end, our server allowed us to purchase a bottle to take home, which I learned later was at a decent price when comparing it to the cost of a bottle plus shipping on the Navarro website. Score! Wonder if it will pair well with tacos?!


    OK, back to the food! As I mentioned, we had a grand total of seven courses, including the initial bread service. I could post pictures and descriptions of each, but with three of us, methinks that would be too much here. So, here is a list of what each of us enjoyed, with a few of the best images thrown in:

    Our daughter enjoyed ricotta stuffed squash blossoms, an incredibly vibrant endive and watermelon salad, pesto pasta with duck, and fillet mignon with roasted vegetables.


    My wife enjoyed strawberry rubbed salmon, Hamachi, braised wagyu beef dumpling, and fillet mignon with roasted shishito peppers.


    I enjoyed gulf shrimp and swordfish, shrimp and lobster fritters with the most amazing marinated steak underneath an Asian dressed salad, roasted quail stuffed with a prosciutto wrapped peach, and a lamb t-bone steak with lamb sausage.


    Prior to our final course, dessert of “course” (heh, see what I did there?), as usual our main server presented my wife and I two bottles. As soon as he began describing the wine for my wife, an Inniskillen Pinot Noir Ice Wine from Canada, we both jumped back in our seats, pointed at the bottle, and yelped with excitement! We have enjoyed glasses of a white version in the past, but never a Pinot Noir. Needless to say, Lisa was ecstatic and I was bit jealous! Noting my reaction as well, our server decided to pour me a glass of the Pinot as well. Joy!


    Words cannot properly describe how amazing this ice wine was. If you have never had an ice wine, they are intensely sweet. For me, and my sweet tooth (and taste buds), this was the apex of wines!

    Without further ado, our dessert course consisted of a chocolate torte with a chocolate macron for our daughter, a chocolate cannoli with chocolate mousse and a slice of flourless chocolate cake served with soaked cherries (which she kindly shared with me) for my wife, and for me grilled slices of nectarine with house-made vanilla ice cream and raspberry sorbet served atop a circle of raspberry gel.


    Finally, the bill came…gulp! Yeah, it was A LOT, but it was worth every penny. During our honeymoon, my wife and I were privileged enough to dine at Victoria & Alberts at Walt Disney World and it was one of the most amazing and special dining experiences we have ever had. Our dinner at the Napa Rose Chef’s Table was equally as unique and memorable. The best part…it was free! Well, not really, but knowing that this trip was coming up, we saved a whole year’s worth of Disney Visa credit card rewards points, which ended up more than covering this unbelievably awesome meal. Icing on the cake!


    Jun 4, 2012
    Day 5: D23 Day 1 – I’m Melting!

    2019 was our third D23 Expo. 2015 was our first and it was fun, but getting into the convention center was an absolute sun-stroking nightmare. 2017 happily got us out of the sun pretty quickly and up into the second floor of the convention center, unfortunately joining groups of attendees who were effectively forgotten about as later arrivals walked right in. 2019 had to be better, right? Well, sort of. I had hoped that with the new RFID enabled badges and online activation that access to the event, not the panels, just the event itself would be more streamlined. We purposely chose not to get up super early, deciding on a 6:30am wake-up and dining on our favorite beignets at the Jazz Kitchen Express in Downtown Disney. We ended walking up Disneyland Drive towards Katella around 8:15am or so, whereby I immediately noticed that, unlike 2017, there was no line stretching all the way down Katella and down several blocks of South West Street. Great, I thought, this was going to be all good. We ended up walking down Katella, stopping just beyond the large convention center digital sign. There we stopped, joining a smallish queue leading up to a series of barricades manned by D23 staff. Off to the right, I could see the walk-through metal detector machines with 40 or 50 deep lines of people waiting to get through. One problem…nothing was moving…and no one knew anything…and it was getting hot…OK, three problems. Occasionally, a D23 staff member would come out, walking down our line a bit, confirming that we were in the correct place. Unfortunately, when several of us asked what was going on and when we could expect to move, they couldn’t provide any useful information. Eventually, one “in the know” staffer explained that there was an initial mass of thousands of attendees that already made it in, who were still being “processed” through; once they were in, then they would be re-opening the access points. But how much longer would that be? That particular point she didn’t know, so we waited and sweat a lot (not as bad as 2015, but it wasn’t fun). At about 10:15am give or take, over an hour after the opening of the Expo, the barricades opened, the security queue moved pretty quick, and we were trekking our way to the show!

    Once inside, we went to the left, then right, left again, straight for bit…and then we found the cheese! Oh wait, sorry, past life memories of being a racing mouse; back to our story. But, yes, we did actually start by going left! Walking by the Dream Store, we noticed that the line was overly horrible, plus the CMs working out front and managing the queue were telling passers-by that it was the fastest moving line of the entire show! Well, we decided to give it a chance and honestly they weren’t wrong. I mean, we still ended up walking back and forth for almost 40 minutes, but 40 minutes wasn’t that bad! We were in…and we bought a popcorn bucket! Yay! A TRON-blue, Mickey balloon-shaped popcorn bucket! Yay!!


    Then, we walked around, checked stuff out, and rinse and repeat. We eventually found our way over to the Emporium space, which turned out to actually be all of the independent vendors and podcasters. Four words…TOO MANY FUNKO POPS! My gosh, it wasn’t nearly as bad as WonderCon, but lord! And we could have done with a few less pin sellers too. I don’t know, I don’t mean to be negative, but I really found the selections here to be monopolized by too much of the same thing, but I guess for folks who were looking for those types of items, they must have been in Heaven. Needless to say, I didn’t buy a thing over here.

    While my wife and I perused the Emporium booths, our daughter left us for the nearby stage, where Asher Angel was performing. We could hear him pretty clearly from the distance and he had some nice dance moves, but we all agreed (and our daughter was the first to say it) that he was either having a bad singing day or is enhanced by studio technology. Still, she enjoyed the show and a small break from mom and dad.

    Lunch was procured from the food trucks outside. We had some solid Greek food and some tasty lemonades. Both very good, but wow the prices…and yes, I know how much we spent at Napa Rose the night before.

    Back inside the Expo, we hit the Archives costume exhibit, which was very cool and just continued to walk around and soak in everything, especially some super cool Marvel costumes:





    We didn’t have any panel or booth reservations, well in actuality I did, but I didn’t want to go alone. As you may be aware, the entire pre-registration process for panels, events, and select booth offerings was, ok I am going to be nice here, challenging. The initial online launch crashed and burned and their second attempt an hour later also failed. The next day’s attempt “worked”, but it had flaws in my opinion, and a lot of attendees were a tad perturbed. Even though my wife and I both logged in at the same time, I eventually managed to get beyond the initial “running” queue, only to discover that seemingly nothing was available (Flaw #1 – Be clear up front what is no longer available instead of wasting people’s time). I grabbed a spot for one lesser panel and then tried for another, whereby the site spun and spun and spun, finally telling me that it was no longer available. Tried one more panel and same thing. Giving up, I exited and awaited my confirmation email. Guess what? It said that I got into all three of them. The problem was that it made no mention of the guest I selected to add, not to mention there were no details about how the guest thing actually worked. In our case, our daughter was under 14, so couldn’t register for panels or what not. Would she be my guest if it actually registered my guest selection? Or was she automatically allowed in with me because she was under 14 and my wife would be my guest? We had no clue and couldn’t find any information anywhere online, and from what I read the D23 customer service line was not answering or responding on social media. I just figured…forget about it. I’d rather spend our quality time together, and so we did.

    While at Disneyland earlier in the week, I happened upon a Haunted Mansion soundtrack album that I knew my brother had mentioned wanting in the past. It has a very cool image of the attraction poster printed upon it. After texting him and confirming that had yet to obtain a copy, I purchased one for him. Now at D23, while walking by the Music Emporium booth, I noticed that they had it, plus several others, including the Pirates attraction album he mentioned in his response the other day. I texted him again and asked to confirm this one, noting that the price was strangely higher here than what I had paid in the park. I bought the Mansion album for $11 and change plus tax, which was the current price on their website, but here they were charging $15 plus tax. I figured that we were paying less since we weren’t being charged for shipping, so whatever, but still the upcharge was curious.

    Towards the mid to late afternoon, we were chatting about stuff in the Dream Store and decided to try to get in there again. I hadn’t noticed, but apparently there were some things being released on Saturday that I had not seen. Since the line was actually fairly short, we jumped in again and were in within 5 to 10 minutes. I saw the stuff, a tiki shirt and sweatshirt, plus some Big Thunder items I think. Pretty cool. But then, as we walked around the space a bit more, it happened! Our daughter grabbed my left arm and started excitedly saying something to me, something that I just couldn’t quite make out. She noticed the look of confusion on my face, so she started pointing over to my right. I turned to look and right next to me was John Favreau himself! Unlike many others, who were quickly pulling out their phones to take a picture or video, I immediately noticed that he was there with his two daughters, so I let the man be. I have to wonder how many social media postings I am in. Still, it was pretty cool to see him in person.

    Exhausted by around 4pm or so, we trudged back to the GCH to figure out where we wanted to have dinner. Our first choice was Tongaroa Terrace at the Disneyland Hotel, but upon arrival we found Trader Sam’s and the new walk-up bar overflowing, leaving no seating for the Terrace. There was literally no one ordering food from the Terrace and every table was covered with tiki mugs. Bummer. A bit distraught, we knew that we didn’t want to battle the long security lines to get back into Downtown Disney from this side, so we headed back to the front entrance of the GCH. We were going to settle for White Water Snacks when I had an epiphany…the new Craftsman Bar & Grill by the pool!

    When we arrived, the place was hopping, but thankfully they were able to squeeze us in to a table, a tad small it turned out, but it was fine. We decided to go family style with some appetizers, including avocado toast with soft burrata cheese and grilled ciabatta bread, the shawarma chicken skewer with pita and tzatziki dip, and the garlic-soy-glazed chicken wings. It was all delicious, but the chicken wings stole the show hands down! Dessert brought us back into Downtown Disney for some creamy goodness at Salt & Straw. It was a fine ending to a tiring day.
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    Jun 4, 2012
    Day 6: D23 Day 2 – The Return

    OK, our second and last day of D23; there would be no Sunday for us. Given the discomfort of arrival the previous day, we gambled and slept in a little later. I have to admit though that I was concerned that we would be queuing down West Street. Breakfast was back at White Water Snacks and then back over to the convention center. Gods be praised!! There was no line to get through security!!! What the heck happened?! No idea, but it was glorious!

    Inside the show, we started left again, but this time we had a plan! My wife and daughter very much wanted to get into the Disney Store shop, while I very much wanted to visit Mickey’s of Glendale. In our two previous D23 experiences, we never made it into MOG; would this be the year?! Well, two hours later I was in; same with the ladies (albeit two and a half hours)! Thankfully, we both had some awesome people to chat with while we waited; gotta love Disney fans! So I was in, now what?! Don’t panic, I thought, and don’t grab one of everything! I have to admit, the MOG stuff, which this year was split between the more popular pin store (even longer line) and everything else, was pretty darn awesome! Selections made, I came away with a sweet WDI baseball cap, a dark blue EPCOT shirt with one of my favorite Spaceship Earth designs on it, a new Spaceship Earth pin (yeah, there were a few pins on this side), and a couple pens, including one that looked like a paint brush! I was happy.

    Exiting the MOG store, I skipped over to the Disney Store to see how my family was doing. I didn’t see them in the visible queue, so I went around to the front and saw them inside. What did they procure, you ask? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Not that there wasn’t some cool things in there, it just wasn’t anything that they or we wanted; and there looked to be plenty of some of the more highly demanded items. When they exited the space, the CM noticed their empty hands and asked, “You waited in that line and didn’t buy anything?” Yep, it’s true!

    Lunch was actually sharing a pretzyl and a soda inside the main hall, nothing fancy at all. It was cool because while dining at the Craftsman the night before, Hailey begged us to go to Storyteller’s for dinner tonight, so I secured a reservation.

    The remainder of our time was spent meandering through the Expo floor, revisiting places we saw yesterday, particularly the EPCOT and Star Wars “hotel” displays, including the TRON Coaster vehicle!!! Did I mention that I like TRON?!


    We also enjoyed repeatedly walking by the Precious Moments booth to see how the Little Mermaid sculpture was coming along. It was amazing to see the progress over such a short period of time.


    Oh and we got to see Dr. Pol…and puppies!!! Just like at Disneyland, we ran into another childhood friend of mine from elementary days who was there with two of her kids. Ultimately, we ended up over at the Disney+ booth, seriously thinking about signing up, but I wasn’t too keen about paying up front for the service, a sweet deal actually, using their systems there. I knew the offer was going to be online as well for D23 members and I preferred the security of doing it at home, even though they were offering a special Founders pin.


    Suddenly, our daughter, looking up from her phone, got a look on her face! Apparently, a young woman she follows on social media, one of those DIY people, had just posted from the Dream Store! She was completely ambivalent about what to do. She wanted to see her, but she also said that she didn’t want to come off as a stalker. I assured her that she wasn’t a stalker and said that we should head over there, but she wouldn’t do it. Strangely though, she suddenly wanted to go check out some vinyl figures we had looked at the day before, at a booth that just so happened to be across from the Dream Store exit. I laughed internally about her obvious management of the situation, but I couldn’t tell her that. After buying the two blind box figures that she wanted, which nicely turned out to be a Mickey and a Minnie, I convinced her that we should all go back into the Dream Store; I wanted to check out those tiki things anyway that were released today. Long story short, we got in there and didn’t see her DIY person, Lisa bought the tiki inspired shirt, and I tried on but ultimately decided against one of the sweatshirts. Oh, and did I forget to mention that while at that vinyl figure store, I found one of the Disney+ Founders pins on the floor?!

    Back to the GCH, we had a nice dinner at Storyteller’s. When we were seated, the host mentioned how lucky we were that our “server” (it’s a buffet you know) was this particular person whose name I forget. She said that he is one of the best. Very cool, we thought, however, we must have caught him on an off night. I mean, he wasn’t horrible at all; we have had much, much worse, but he forgot to bring the bread service, disappeared for several minutes when we had plates to go or drinks needing refilling, and brought me the wrong drink twice. Again, not major issues and we still very much enjoyed the food. And then we made a hidden Mickey of our own:



    Jun 4, 2012
    Day 7: Breakfast and Homeward Bound

    Check out day, but one last excellent meal before hitting the road. This morning’s destination was what we consider to be the greatest hidden gem for breakfast on property, Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel. Seated almost immediately, I had the amazingly and plentiful German apple pancake (with extra lingonberry jam), my wife the egg white omelet, and our daughter the classic French toast. This has become our last day of vacation tradition when we stay at Disneyland and it has never failed us. As always, the food was superb and the service it’s equal.

    OK, so you may recall that my mentioning earlier that I thought our room at the GCH was haunted. Yes, I write with hyperbole, but yeah, there were some strange sounds heard multiple times over the course of the week in the wee hours of the night. It sounded like knocking, but not like normal pipes in the wall type knocking. We ruled out the mini-fridge and random other guests hitting our door thinking it would be funny. And it happened every night at different times; the only thing consistency being that it was in the middle of the night when everyone but the vampires should be sound asleep. Who knows, maybe it was out wonderful room attendant bringing us more chocolate squares? She really spoiled us with lots of them throughout the week with turndown service; heck, I was passing her in the hall once and she stopped to hand me a bunch. Disney and there little magical touches!

    So that’s it! That’s all he wrote! I hope that if you read this report in its entirety that you found it useful for trip planning or somewhat entertaining. We are now starting cursory investigation for a possible ABD trip to Japan in 2021 in honor of my 50th birthday and our 20th wedding anniversary. Hopefully it will all come together! See ya real soon!
  • ashley0139

    DIS Veteran
    Sep 24, 2009
    I enjoyed your report! So you didn't go to any panels at D23? I'm jealous of your later wake up times though haha.

    That cabana looked so nice, and I definitely want to do the chef's table at napa rose one day.


    Jun 4, 2012
    I enjoyed your report! So you didn't go to any panels at D23? I'm jealous of your later wake up times though haha.

    That cabana looked so nice, and I definitely want to do the chef's table at napa rose one day.
    The cabana was wonderful. So relaxing! And, nope, no panels at D23. Been to three Expos and have never gone to a panel sadly. Wanted to, but with the fiasco of the pre-registration, my wife not getting any reservations, and the lack of clarity of the "guest" option + minors, we decided not to bother. Maybe in 2021!


    Aug 23, 2017
    Another great report, would love to stay at GCH one day! I am actually re-reading your Aulani 2018 report again, as my daughter and I are headed there in December. I had to laugh, as in that report your daughter woke you up the morning you left - how times change now that she is a teenager and she is only tempted out of the room by the Frappuccino for this trip - ah the joys!!!
  • gregf71

    Jun 4, 2012
    Another great report, would love to stay at GCH one day! I am actually re-reading your Aulani 2018 report again, as my daughter and I are headed there in December. I had to laugh, as in that report your daughter woke you up the morning you left - how times change now that she is a teenager and she is only tempted out of the room by the Frappuccino for this trip - ah the joys!!!
    Glad you are getting more use out of our Aulani report! We are actually starting to discuss a possible return. Enjoy your trip!!!
    Aug 28, 2009
    Wonderful trip report! I am reading it poolside while my son and his friend take one last dip in the neighborhood pool before it closes for the season. Wishing my seating and surroundings were similar to your cabana! How crazy to run into childhood friends. Thanks for sharing!


    Earning My Ears
    Nov 9, 2012
    What a great detailed trip report! I loved your jokes too:-).

    Good to know about that free coffee for guests at the former Whitewater snacks.


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