One Magical December Day <3 PTR

Discussion in 'Disneyland Trip Reports' started by Jaina, Nov 16, 2017.

  1. Jaina

    Jaina Actually, my name is Sara. It's a long, VMK story.

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    So, I just went to Disney last month. Less than a month ago, even. But I might be planning another trip to happen within the next month! Once I got home and had such a great time, my husband has been a little jealous and wanting to go. Only two problems with this: $$$ and the-five-children-we-have-that-someone-has-to-watch. Especially the 15-month-old, who is a little high maintenance, and doesn't get that excited about us even going on date nights sometimes.
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    Anyway. My brother and his wife are going with her family December 7-10, and they are taking their 4-year-old, but =really= don't want to take their almost-2-year-old because it changes the dynamics of the trip by a lot, with rider switch, nap worries, etc. So if we can find a time that works for them and for us, we might trade. I'll keep their 2-year-old while they go, and they'll come stay at our house and watch our kids for 3 days (travel, Disney, travel) while we sneak away for one holiday day! I really hope one of our dates works for them, but we're waiting to hear back on their schedule. They actually live in Kentucky, where he's going to D.O. school (we live in AZ) but they're here for 2 months while he does a rotation here and for the holidays.

    So, yeah. Here are my first possible dates:

    November 30th (which probably would be hardest for us, though it would be the best crowd-wise)
    December 4th (a best bet, though we have to kind of hurry back the next day to hit a concert for two of our kids)
    December 15th and 16th or just 16th (This one is a bit tricky because I don't super want to go on a Saturday, but we have a different concert Thursday night that we would need to leave after and drive halfway or something. This option would be the most expensive one.)
    December 19th (another good option, but also probably pretty darn busy)

    I already secured hotel rooms for each of these dates on Booking.com, and really hoping it's going to work out. If it can't for some reason, we might have to move our trip to January (my MIL might be able to come stay with them then,) and I'd be sad to miss the Christmas decorations. We saw them for the first time last year, but it was a crazy, exhausting (but full of good memories for the kids) trip, and I'd love to enjoy it with my husband at a more leisurely pace. We would do MaxPass, and we've both been enough that we can prioritize our favorite stuff, and not try to do it all in one day. The other option would be two days, one park per day, possibly with MaxPass too, but we're really trying to keep this trip on the calm side of the budget, since we hadn't planned to go until very recently!

    We haven't been just the two of us since 2009, so I feel like it's long overdue, and we are also long overdue for a few nights away without any kids!
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    Nervous about it working out, but super excited, too!
     
  2. Jaina

    Jaina Actually, my name is Sara. It's a long, VMK story.

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    So it looks like our most likely date is December 4th! (A Monday) I have no idea what to expect, except somewhat-busy crowds (hopefully not insane, just yet) and the hours are 8-12, which means we can take a break back at the room late afternoon if we want.

    My brother is ever-so-slightly flaky, (and life happens) so not cancelling our other hotel reservations just yet, but if we go those dates, we'll be staying two nights at the Anaheim Hilton. It's across from the Toy Story parking lot by the Convention Center. It was actually pretty reasonable on booking . com, and it gets good reviews. My husband will be excited, because he likes nice hotels, especially if they're a good deal, but we don't get to stay in them too often, since so many kids = pricey. It's so soon, though. We would be leaving two weeks from today!

    We'll see how this plan goes...

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  4. Jaina

    Jaina Actually, my name is Sara. It's a long, VMK story.

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    You guys, we leave in less than a week! I am nervous about everyone being (mostly) well and feeling like it's okay to leave. So much so that I probably won't buy our Disney tickets (through the app, adding MaxPass on) and quite nervous about how my "baby" is going to do for my brother and SIL. I really hope she sleeps for them! She's a bit hit and miss right now, since she has a molar trying to come through.

    I both love and dislike this time of year.
    All things Christmas (especially lights!), family, yummy food, warm cozy feelings and cold weather: yes, please!
    Tons of concerts and activities and things to try to keep track of: ugh.

    I cancelled my cub scouts tonight because we have a service project Saturday (right after our Christmas breakfast with our church family). Which is good, because I have the tail end of a cold I got at Thanksgiving, and a sinus headache. But the rest of the week is busy, plus I need to meal plan and cook some things ahead for while we're gone for those 2.5 days. My husband usually works Saturday (he has a lot of out-of-town patients) until at least 2, which means for the breakfast and service project I'll be flying solo. And of course I'm trying to throw crazy things in there like "Should I make a Disney Christmas shirt?" I am trying to ride the fine line between being excited and planning and having it all figured out like I prefer to, and between not driving my husband any kind of crazy, since this trip is more about what he likes/wants than me. (Since I just got to do a super fun trip last month)

    I asked him last night about what his priorities were in each park, and was a little surprised by some. I thought he kind of liked Splash, but I guess he's not a huge fan, and has no interest in riding it when it's cold and he might get wet. (GRR didn't even enter the conversation, haha) He wants to ride HMH, which I didn't realize he's a fan of. No BTMRR for him, which I knew, but I'll try to sneak on some time, since it's in my top 5. Neither of us care about the Matterhorn, and Space Mountain is a maybe. He definitely wants to do Small World because of the holiday overlay. Peter Pan is actually one of his favorites (he loves minature cities) so we'll have to figure out when we want to wait in that line. I guess while we're waiting for another fastpass. I've never been on it in the evening.

    Screamin' is a maybe. GotG is a definite priority, since he loved ToT a lot. Yes to Soarin, and TSMM. Yes to RSR. I will probably try to swing a ride on Mater's. :) We've never ridden that one together, since we've had to ride with kids. I guess we've never ridden RSR together either. It has been a long time since we got to ride things together!
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    No idea how busy it's going to be, with the Candlelight stuff the two days before. I'm guessing quite busy and hoping for the best. I felt like it was pretty busy when I went in October, and this time it will be cool (highs in the very low 70's predicted) instead of 105º! I know MaxPass will make a difference, and we're excited to see and enjoy and do a little tiny bit of relaxing together. I asked him if he preferred to see World of Color or the fireworks, and he said they both sounded stressful... so not sure on that yet. I will probably opt for the fireworks, since I have missed getting to see them on 3 of the last 4 trips... what is something else fun that we could do during the fireworks where we would still be where we could see them?

    I am still trying to decide if we want to make a dining reservation or not. :-/ It would be nice to have somewhere to sit down and enjoy for a while. Cafe Orleans sounds fun to me, but I've never eaten there. I've never seen the "snowfall" on the Rivers of America (or anywhere else, actually) either. I think I have some questions to ask on the main boards!
     
  5. momtohms

    momtohms Mouseketeer

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    Following along! DH and I went for a weekend without the girls last year to celebrate our anniversary, and its such a different dynamic without kids for sure. I wish we lived close enough to do it more often.

    Hopefully the crowds aren't too bad the day you are there! Can't wait to hear how it goes :)
     
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  6. Jaina

    Jaina Actually, my name is Sara. It's a long, VMK story.

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    Thanks! I really have no idea how they will be. We can handle some crowds, especially since we don't have a need to "do it all," but I'm hoping for no soul-crushing crowds. That would be sad for our supposedly-relaxing day!
     
  7. Jaina

    Jaina Actually, my name is Sara. It's a long, VMK story.

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    Okay, I needed something to do besides clean my kitchen, and I have been trying to talk myself out of buying some of those cute Christmas ears at the Parks for $25/pop. I know that's not really that much, but I got my last ears for $7.50 at the Disney outlet, AND we just did most of our Christmas shopping during Black Friday = Ouch. $$$ So I reimagined my zebra ears from our trip last year by sewing the bow down in back (totally reversible) and adding this bow. Does it look Christmassy? We'll see if I actually end up wearing it. (Unlike the ears I made for my October trip! )
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  8. Jaina

    Jaina Actually, my name is Sara. It's a long, VMK story.

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    Ugh. We're supposed to leave in less than 24 hours and I've got two kids with low fevers... they don't feel that bad, but I have no idea what kind of virus they have. Probably nothing big (we do a lot of immune support and stay away from sugar and all that jazz, and almost never need to actually go to the doctor) but I don't know if there's time to figure out if my brother and SIL are willing to come anyway (with their two little kids). This trip may have be be postponed for a couple months. I'd say it's 60/40 at this point, with the odds not in my favor. :( Trying to not be sad, and to just know it will work out eventually. Only really annoying part is that at this point we have to pay one night's hotel stay whether we use our reservation or not. :guilty:
     
  9. whoever

    whoever DIS Veteran

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    :( Here's to hoping they can break the fever and you guys can go have a magical time.
     
  10. Jaina

    Jaina Actually, my name is Sara. It's a long, VMK story.

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    We did end up going! It was a great day, and I'm working on a quick trip report!
     
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  11. momtohms

    momtohms Mouseketeer

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    Yay! So glad you got to go! Can't wait to read your report :)
     
  12. Jaina

    Jaina Actually, my name is Sara. It's a long, VMK story.

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    Okay, trying to make this happen while it's still fresh! December has been insane with concerts/parties/sickness...

    DAY 1 / PART ONE / TRAVEL DAY

    So when DD3 (16 months) woke up Sunday morning, she was still feverish, and seemed to not be feeling well. I thought our trip was doomed! My brother and SIL and their kids (DD4 and DSalmost2) had come in the night before, and slept at our house. Within an hour my little one seemed to be feeling more herself, and my brother had convinced her to warm up to him (they live out of state right now and she doesn't know them well) and gotten her to come snuggle with him. (impressive for her) He told us we should go and that they could handle it. I was unsure, but we really did want to go, and I figured she was probably on the mend. He's also a third year medical student, so I wasn't worried about him knowing if she needed anything more than snuggles and maybe some motrin if she got really uncomfortable. I appreciated his willingness to deal with a possibly grumpy toddler and possibilities of other kids getting it (they didn't!)

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    So Sunday morning about 9 am (right after I put DD3 down for a nap) we headed for Anaheim! We took our time a little bit, stopping for some lunch at In-N-Out, to attend a church service in Banning, and stopped in Redlands to see the LDS temple there, since we had never been there, and weren’t in a hurry.

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    We checked into our hotel, the Hilton Anaheim, at about 4:30. Check in time was 4, so there was just a little bit of a line. I had a cough, so we asked about switching from a king-sized bed to two queens. That was easy, and only $10 more. You know you’ve been married over 10 years and have 5 kids when you’re all about separate sleeping arrangements if it means everyone gets more rest, haha!

    Quick mini review for the hotel that I posted on booking dot com: The beds and the pillows were very comfortable for us. The room was a little older, but seemed clean. We used a noise machine, but it was very quiet. We did not try the pool. The lobby was busy, but full of beautiful Christmas trees. We never had to wait long for an elevator. The staff was all friendly and helpful that we interacted with. We kept the Do Not Disturb sign out for our 2 nights, so we never had maid service. Close enough to Disneyland to walk (15-20 min) or use the Toy Story shuttle (parking lot across Harbor - 6-9 min walk) for free. Self parking was just a little bit difficult (just hard to find a spot at first) and was $16/night with in/out privileges.

    We had a hard time (okay, my husband had a hard time) deciding what we wanted for dinner, but finally decided on the Grasslands over at the Anaheim Gardenwalk. We were kind of tired, and it was a little cold outside, so we opted to take a Lyft over there. It was supposed to be there in 5 minutes. Ha. It was the last night of the Candlelight Processional at Disney, and the Toy Story lot was actually closed when we pulled in about 4 PM. Traffic was crazy, especially around that hotel. It was a good 15-20 minutes before he made it. (we totally could have walked it in that time) That would have been no big deal except there was a benefit dinner being held there for Promise for Palestine, and there were some very hateful-sounding religious protesters outside (I am religious too, but this was anything-but-Christlike) that made me feel very uncomfortable. They weren’t even talking to me, but I felt very upset by it, and for the people they were talking to, (they had electronic megaphones) and it made the wait for the Lyft seem 10x longer.

    The restaurant, however, was very nice. It was actually very quiet there at 5:30 local time on a cold Sunday evening, and were seated immediately. There were tons of gluten free options for my husband, and we split some tasty little appetizers called Arepas and a big “Hangry” platter with several different meat choices, as well as some roasted veggies. It was much tastier than anything we had in the Parks the next day, and possibly my husband’s favorite part of the trip. (slight eyeroll)

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    We went ahead and walked back to the Hilton afterwards (we needed some exercise after all that meat) and it was pretty cold, but very pretty, especially when we took a right on the street before our hotel and walked back in alongside the Convention Center. We were on the 8th floor, but not looking towards the Parks, which I totally could have gotten if I had known beforehand what the layout was.

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    I think I was asleep by 9:30 local time, which was great since our sleep had been iffy lately with sickness and kids and I wanted plenty of energy for Disneyland! My husband was still trying to get to sleep at 10:30, and heard the fireworks, he said. I think that was the last time they had them for a while though, with all the wind!
     
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  13. RedHotMama

    RedHotMama Mouseketeer

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    So glad you and your DH could go on a couples trip! Hoping for one for us in a couple years. We're taking our five kids in a couple months!
    Can't wait to hear more!
     
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  14. Jaina

    Jaina Actually, my name is Sara. It's a long, VMK story.

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    Oh man, are you getting ready? :) Did you read through my report of taking our five last November/December? It was exhausting! But they loved it, and I think it will be easier next time we try it without a toddler/pre-schooler AND a baby. :)
     
  15. RedHotMama

    RedHotMama Mouseketeer

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    Yep, definitely getting ready! I started a PTR last night. Check it out: PTR Family of 7 Goes to DLR 2/4-2/10/18
    I haven't read your TR from your family trip. I'll look it up!
     
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  16. Jaina

    Jaina Actually, my name is Sara. It's a long, VMK story.

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    (note: We kind of meant to bring our nice Canon with us, but forgot it, and the focus of this trip wasn’t really photography, so all the pics are just from our phones, and mostly just for memory’s purpose!)

    So, I managed to sleep in until about 5:45 local time, which was pretty good with a Disney day on my mind. We were planning to leave at 6:45 and maybe take an Uber or ride the Toy Story bus – whichever appealed to us. But since we were both up and ready to leave by 6:20, we decided to walk. :) It was cold, but not too bad, and we were excited.

    We were through security and first in line at gate 23 (my husband’s favorite number) at 6:46 AM local time. Here's me looking like I'm about 12, saving my standing feet for later...
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    It was a bit of a long wait since they didn’t end up scanning us in until 7:45 AM, but I’m always excited to be one of the first in line. We had a nice conversation with the guy behind us, and AP who was there to get a candy cane. They actually scanned our tickets in 4-5 minutes before they opened the gates, so I had a chance to grab our first FP with MaxPass at that point, and we chose Small World, since we knew we were headed for Fantasyland first, and we were trying to avoid a lot of criss-crossing the parks and getting worn out too early. I didn’t realize it was part of MaxPass, so that was interesting.
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    As soon as we got in we strolled up towards rope drop, and paused to get a picture with the big Christmas tree, because I knew it would only get longer later, and I knew we were at the very front of a crowd that shouldn’t build –too- much in 10-12 minutes before rope drop. I think it was my first time seeing the garlands over Main Street, and I loved them.
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    The line for candy canes wristbands:
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    We didn’t have any trouble walking up to the front of the rope drop section right at Walt & Mickey’s statue, and we didn’t have too long to wait before they opened the park. We “walked with purpose” to Peter Pan, not stopping for anything, (and nearly being run over from behind from a stroller from behind with no child in it…) and entered the line that a CM was slowly walking up towards the front of Peter Pan. It was chaos, let me tell you. Mostly for the people that arrived a few minutes after us and were trying to figure out what was going on with the line.

    (the view behind us 5 min before rope drop)
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    We were in the line by 8:01, they started sending boats through finally at 8:07, and we got on at 8:16. Best Peter Pan time in a while, but not having 3-5 children with us was fairly helpful! I’m glad we did it first, but it wouldn’t have gone nearly as well with kids. If I had them, I would fine somewhere to park my big double jogging stroller that we usually need on Main Street, and wear the 3-year-old and 1-year-old in carriers so we could all “walk with purpose” straight for the line.

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    After that we didn’t feel a strong need to ride Dumbo or Alice, so we jumped on one of my favorites while we were there and rode the Carrousel. As we were getting on (no wait) I saw Captain Hook! :) My husband is super not into characters, so we didn’t do any of those really this trip. :-/ After he was such a trooper on our last trip making sure everything happened even though he was sick the whole time, I didn’t want to push him to do anything he didn’t want to! He was a good sport and rode with me. :) We got on that at 8:20.
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    At this point it was almost time for our 8:30 return time for Small World, but DH said he needed something just a tiny bit exciting to wake him up. The only thing in the vicinity was the Matterhorn, and for some reason I talked him into trying it, because he hadn’t seen the new yeti. We waited in the standby line for 6-7 minutes and got our Maxpass for Star Tours while we waited. I’m not sure what I was thinking, since I had just ridden the Matterhorn 6 weeks before, and since it’s rough as all get out. We survived though, and both vowed not to ride it again (I said for a good 10 years. He said he was good forever, haha.) It’s such a classic, but so not enjoyable with all its roughness! I wish it was a little slower (so you could enjoy the views) and smoother.
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    We were in line for Small World by 8:40 and waited 2-4 minutes with our fastpass. The standby line wasn’t long though. We figured we saved maybe 7-8 minutes. It was fun to see it all decked out holiday-style again, but the ride seemed to take longer than normal, and it seemed like our boat was especially slow. Actual, or imagined? Hmm. It took us 16 minutes from start to finish from what I can tell.
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  17. Jaina

    Jaina Actually, my name is Sara. It's a long, VMK story.

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    Since we had some time, and since lines were still not bad-looking, we decided to take the back passage from Fantasyland to Frontierland so we could check out the new Star Wars entrance, and so I could ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which is possibly my all-time favorite ride over the years. On the way, spur of the moment, we stopped and took this picture, to compare to one that I have from my first park visit, when I was 3 years old. There are over 30 years between these pictures. Look how Monstro has changed!! No wonder I was scared of him as a child...
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    The entrance was very cool. We are big Star Wars fans at our house, but we will probably wait at least a year for things to calm down a little before we try to come see Star Wars land, especially with our kids. Our family trips are just way too expensive and planning-intensive to go when it’s super duper busy.
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    DH has avoided riding BTMRR with me for a long time, because he always said it was too rough and made his back hurt. After I swore up and down that it was way smoother than the Matterhorn, especially since the refurb a couple years ago, he said he would go with me. I was so happy! He enjoyed it, and said it wasn’t nearly as rough as he remembered. Yay! We got in the standby line at 9:09-10 and were on the ride by 9:20.
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    We walked over toward Haunted Mansion Holiday, because its wait was also short, and DH wanted to try it again. The only time he had been on it was with our five kids last year, and that was the line we had a double meltdown in, plus he had a baby strapped to his chest and was trying to make sure the kid on either side of him wasn’t scared. So, yeah. Life with kids is different. We got in line at 9:28, decided to grab a Guardians FP at 9:31 (since that was a priority – it would be available at 10:30) and were walking in the mansion doors at 9:33. It took longer inside than I’ve remembered it taking before. We were basically in another line walking fairly slowly inside down the hallway with all the pictures. It just felt like they were trying to get lots of people in at once. Which was fine, just interesting. I’m not a big Haunted Mansion Fan. I can super appreciate what an amazing ride it is, but I don’t like spooky stuff. HMH is definitely better, and I really liked getting a good look at the gingerbread house this time.
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    We were off by about 9:48 and we decided to do another must-do on our list: ride the train. It was down last year when we were there, obviously, and I didn’t get a chance to ride it in October when I went. We wanted to see the changes to the ROA and experience the (slight) left turn. :) So we rode it around to Tomorrowland and departed there to use our Star Tours FP. We got in line at 10:11 and were on the ride at 10:23. It was interesting to see the new clips from the movie that just came out. (Hadn’t come out yet, at that point, and I haven’t actually seen it yet.)
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    We were pretty hungry by now, since we hadn’t really eaten any breakfast, and it was nearly lunch time according to our internal clocks. I grabbed one of my very favorites, a yummy corn dog from the Little Red Wagon and sat down outside of Carnation Café to eat it and people watch, while DH went over to the Bengal BBQ to get a few skewers (minus most of the sauces, since they weren’t gluten free). The sun was bright and glary, but it was breezy and just a touch cold.
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    As we finished up, we knew it was time to park hop so we could make sure to make our Guardians FP!
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