Pre-Trip Report: Everybody In! The Whole Fam for Mom's Birthday

avalon451

Errrr... what?
Joined
Mar 1, 2008
Hello!

My name is Gail, but elsewhere on these boards I'm known as Avalon. When I first started out on the Disboards in 2008, researching our first family trip, I got to know quite a few people here. But I have a tendency to drop off when I'm not planning a trip, and there was a long, dry period in there from 2008 to 2015. But... Boom, baby! I'm back!

March of 2008, we'd never been to any Disney property. Kids were 5, 9 and 12. We splurged on the Grand Californian. And... the 12 year old started barfing the first day. By the time we came home, she was nearly hospitalized from some sort of random flu. So, DD and I did a mom/daughter do-over trip in October, which was fabulous. (trip report in signature)

Then... nothing. We had some crazy years, more downs than ups. 2015, I was messing around with some extra funds from my part-time library job, wondering what a solo trip would look like. DH encouraged me to go. It was so fun! But I missed my family. (unfinished trip report in signature!)

2016, again, as I love to do, just casually playing around with my bank account, flights, hotel rooms, etc, and I talked DH into a couple's trip for my birthday. Fabulous. Missed the girls, though. (full trip report in signature)

2018, youngest DD's high school band group went to Anaheim for a competition, and I helped chaperone. We had just a day and a half at DLR, and DD16, who remembered very little of the trip when she was 5, fell in love. She wanted to go again, with the family.

2019-- My, how things have changed. Oldest DD 24 (previously known at age 12 as "amazing barf girl") got married 2 years ago, and DSIL is a massive Star Wars fan. DD17 is jonesin' to go again. DH is also a Star Wars fan, though not as rabid as DSIL, so he's good and ready, too. DD21 is like, "Meh, okay, sounds fun."

We are going to celebrate my birthday, all together at DLR for the first time since 2008! So.... here we GOOOOOOOOOOO!

CAST OF CHARACTERS:

Me. I'm turning 55. Good heavens, that sounds weird. Could've sworn I'm only 30.

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I'm a part time library associate at a small library north of Seattle, WA.

Al, DD58, love of my life, engineering supervisor and corporate dragon slayer at Boeing, married me 30 years ago and still doesn't know what hit him:

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DD24 and DSIL24: if you happen to remember what she looked like on our mom/daughter do over trip in 2008... wow. She grew up. Actually, all three of my daughters did!

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That is oldest DD in 2008 at age 13, then DSIL and DD 2 years ago at their wedding, age 22, and all 3 of my girls at the wedding, aged 22, 19, and 15 at the time.

And here's all of us last October:

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DD 24 is a UX designer with a degree in graphic design. DSIL 24 is a musician, teacher, and music blogger. DD21 is in college working toward a medical assistant degree and working part time at the library. DD17 is a h.s. senior this year, in Running Start, and heading toward college for engineering.

That's all for now... I will post again with some plan reveals!

We are leaving three weeks from tomorrow! :cheer2:
 
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avalon451

Errrr... what?
Joined
Mar 1, 2008
So... the details. The deets. The modus operandi.... The master plan.

We're looking at Wednesday, September 11th through Sunday, September 15th. Flying in on September 11th gave me pause... a sad day to remember. But, as a friend in the travel industry said, it's probably now the SAFEST day to fly all year because of extra security measures. Nobody else in the family seems fazed by it.

We are flying on Alaska Air out of Paine Field in Everett for the first time. It's been open for commercial traffic for less than a year, and by all accounts from friends who have used it, it is a SWEET deal. Small, beautiful, security a quick breeze. Also it's about fifteen minutes from our house, whereas the big international airport, SeaTac, is on the other side of Seattle traffic. 45 minutes with no traffic... could be 2 hours if there's a fender bender anywhere along the way! Normally I'd have flown into SNA, but it would have cost about $100 more apiece for a morning flight. So this time we are flying into LAX. It's kind of a tradeoff... small airport near home to the bigger, more congested one farther away from DLR. Oh, well, we'll see how it goes. I know we are going to LOVE it when we get home and don't have to struggle through Seattle rush hour.

We will get into LAX around 9:45. The big question is: how long will it take us to get to DLR? Not too worried about it, because that first day is mostly "go with the flow."

I'm a total offsite girl. Cheap, close, a place to shower and crash, is all I need. But this time? All my kids and my SIL, too? I am mostly bankrolling this trip from my part-time job, which are my own discretionary funds. So I get to say what I can do with those funds. And this time we are staying at the Disneyland Hotel. Not quite willing to shell out for the Grand Californian, like the first time we went, but I'm looking forward to the retro glory that is DLH. I booked in March, before the ridiculous price hikes; then when the 15% off for Disney Visa cardmembers was extended through September, I was able to call and get it adjusted, which happily saved me a couple hundred bucks.

Also I've been wanting to go to Trader Sam's since my solo trip, and just haven't been able to work it in. Definitely going to do it this time!

We have three standard rooms booked. DH and I, then one for our DDs 21 and 17. It's tough to share a bathroom with 2 young women who are obsessed with "looking cute" and possibly Disney bounding. And also both DH and I snore, so nobody wants to put up with that! Then of course a room for DD24 and DSIL. They are arriving a day later than us, due to work constrictions.

We have 5 day parkhoppers for the four of us, and 4 day for the other two. I got them at a significant discount through LastMinuteTravel, which I've used before. Maxpass will definitely figure into our plans, though I think it won't be needed the first day.

Meals, shows etc -- again, I'm kind of splurging on a lot! Wednesday the 11th, arrival day: Cafe Orleans @ 1 p.m. for lunch. Then a late dinner at Carthay Circle, @6:50 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 12th: Napa Rose chef's counter, 5 p.m. We've done this before. It's always a special experience! I'm also making Savi's reservations for 9 p.m. (DH, SIL and I will be building light sabers!), and we'll hopefully repair to Oga's for a drink or two afterward. I have to try to get those reservations next week.

Friday, Sept. 13th, my birthday! This is exciting. DH has worked for Boeing for 35 years; he is a respected senior manager, though not an executive. He inquired of his boss's boss about the company Club 33 membership. He got the two of us in for lunch 2 years ago for my birthday; we just got word a few days ago that our whole party of 6 is in for lunch again! My kids are beyond excited, too! Apparently the company did not need to do any client schmoozing that day, so we were granted access. You should see the instructions, though. Ya better be on your best behavior! Dress code, code of conduct, "you are representing the Boeing company" etc. Anyway, REALLY looking forward to that, of course! Then later that evening, we have reservations for the WOC dessert party, which is at 10 p.m. that night.

Saturday, we are doing the first lunch seating at Blue Bayou. I tried to flip it into an F! seating, but they wouldn't let me and would only offer a later time. So I kept those reservations for one of my favorite restaurants, and instead for F!, we are also doing the HB on-the-go F! package at 6 p.m. I've done this before and it's just fine.

As far as ride planning-- I had to do it in two stages. First I had to come up with a plan for DD24 and DSIL24, since they will be there for only 2 full days, with a half day on each end. This won't be a problem for them, as they are like me-- go, go, go, and have a plan to follow. My DH and my DD21 are much more in need of breaks, an easier pace, and downtime. DD17 is sort of in between the two extremes.

When the four of us arrive around 11:30-12 on Wednesday, I'm planning on wandering Main Street, and riding PotC-- my favorite and my traditional first ride in the park. I may pull a paper fastpass for BTMRR. We'll have lunch at Cafe Orleans, and then ride one or two things, BTMRR, and maybe the railroad, before heading back to DLH and getting into our room. I think everybody is going to need a break from getting up early! Then I'll continue to stack a few FPs for CA, for before or after our dinner reservations at 6:50.

Thursday the four of us will use EE for DL. DD21 and DSIL will join us mid afternoon. Friday we'll EE CA. Saturday I will EE DLR again with DD21 and DSIL, and leave it optional for my DH and the other two daughters to sleep in, since it'll be essentially the same plan as Thursday morning.

Less than three weeks!
 
Joined
Aug 28, 2009
I was sick and down on the couch over the weekend so I read your Do-Over Trip Report from 2008. What a fun read! That was about a year before I ended my 13 year Disneyland drought. I joined the boards in 2009 while planning that trip. It was really fun to see a bunch of screen names I recognized but haven't seen around the past 7 or 8 years. The TR board doesn't seem to be as hoppin' as it used to be. It was also fun to read about long lost things like Lorealle and the Hojo Entertainment Rate, using FPs long after the window printed on the FP, the Billy Hill show, PS's, the Maliboomer and Mulholland Madness...so many changes! And wow, those short park hours. I don't miss 6:00pm closings! Looking forward to checking out your other TRs!
 
  • MkaMouse

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 20, 2017
    Following along! Your plans sound great!

    I remember some of your past posts where you mention eating gluten-free. Are you going to do the WOC Dessert Party with a gluten-free request? If so, would you please be sure to post about the gluten free breads and desserts they serve?

    Their gluten-free offerings this past March were quite underwhelming. Hopefully all the whining I did to Guest Services afterwards has inspired them to revise their menu.
     

    avalon451

    Errrr... what?
    Joined
    Mar 1, 2008
    I was sick and down on the couch over the weekend so I read your Do-Over Trip Report from 2008. What a fun read! That was about a year before I ended my 13 year Disneyland drought. I joined the boards in 2009 while planning that trip. It was really fun to see a bunch of screen names I recognized but haven't seen around the past 7 or 8 years. The TR board doesn't seem to be as hoppin' as it used to be. It was also fun to read about long lost things like Lorealle and the Hojo Entertainment Rate, using FPs long after the window printed on the FP, the Billy Hill show, PS's, the Maliboomer and Mulholland Madness...so many changes! And wow, those short park hours. I don't miss 6:00pm closings! Looking forward to checking out your other TRs!
    Thank you! I know, I miss some of those old time DISer's! Where's Hound when you need him? I still see Bumbershoot around sometimes, and of course Hydroguy checks in and updates his tips thread. And oh, that HoJo's retro rate. What I wouldn't give for a Q2 in Building 1 for $79 a night!

    I'm glad you enjoyed my old trip report! That's such a great memory. I sent a link to it to DD24 a couple of weeks ago, and she replied with, "Gee, Mom, thanks for reminding me how goofy I looked in 8th grade!" LOL
    Hope you are feeling better!
     

    avalon451

    Errrr... what?
    Joined
    Mar 1, 2008
    Following along! Your plans sound great!

    I remember some of your past posts where you mention eating gluten-free. Are you going to do the WOC Dessert Party with a gluten-free request? If so, would you please be sure to post about the gluten free breads and desserts they serve?

    Their gluten-free offerings this past March were quite underwhelming. Hopefully all the whining I did to Guest Services afterwards has inspired them to revise their menu.
    Thanks! Welcome to the madness! :)

    Yes, we are doing WOC with GF for 5 of us, and then DSIL is not GF but he has a tree nut allergy! So this should be interesting. I just emailed Special Diets at Disneyland today asking about several things, including the WOC dessert party. When DH and I did it 3 years ago, I thought I'd put in the GF request but I must have missed it, because when we got up to the podium, they didn't have that request. BUT, they scrambled to accommodate us. What they ended up doing was just giving us the regular plates so we could pick through and have what was safe (DH and I are not super sensitive, unlike 2 of our kids-- cross contamination doesn't usually bother us. I believe the macaron and the rice crispy treat were safe for us.) and then an extra plate of fruit and cheese. All in all we were happy with that. I read somewhere that they do now have a GF bread basket, somebody said it was good, but yours was not very impressive, huh?

    Other things I asked about: I've successfully requested GF Monte Cristo sandwiches at Blue Bayou before; so I did that again for both Blue Bayou and Cafe Orleans. I also asked if Blue Bayou can do GF pasta with their pasta dish.

    In the past, BB had pretty yummy brown rolls that were GF. Also, Napa Rose makes their own GF flatbread which is YUMMY. At Carthay Circle and (and even Club 33!) we got hamburger buns sliced up and fancied up with butter and herbs. They tasted good, though.

    Here's what I don't get: there are so many easy and delicious options for gluten free desserts, but at the nicest table service places, inevitably we were only offered creme brulee or sorbet. Yay. C'mon, Disney, even Jolly Holiday Bakery has a GF chocolate torte (it's obviously a GF brownie, but hey... pretty it up with some toppings and decorations and it would be fabulous!). Also, chocolate mousse is easily made GF. And macarons can be made GF and they're so pretty and delicate. Disney need to step it up! :)

    Anyway, I will for sure report back.
     

    momtohms

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 16, 2012
    Following! I recognize your beautiful family from reading some of your other TRs, and can’t wait to read another :)

    My DH is at Boeing too, but we’re down on the south end of town!
     
  • avalon451

    Errrr... what?
    Joined
    Mar 1, 2008
    So I was just re-reading my own trip reports (which got me more excited to go... how fun it is to enjoy this place with family!). Oh, those food pictures from my first trip report. All those yummy gluten-y things that we can't have any more! :sad1:

    DD24 was diagnosed with celiac 3 years after that "Mom and Me Do-Over" trip. It runs in families, so we all got tested, and it turns out my other two daughters have it, too. I had a positive blood test but a negative biopsy, which they said means I'm sensitive but probably not full-on immune triggered at this point. DH went gluten free to make it easier for the rest of us... and after a few years, he became as sensitive as me. Anyway, we've been doing this for 7 years now, and we're all quite used to it and pretty philosophical about it. We all improved a lot with a lot of health issues after going gluten free, so none of us ever intentionally cheat. It's just not worth it to get sick for 1-3 days every time.

    But I always miss trying out those delicious things at DLR that we used to... churros... corn dogs... various sweet treats. Ah, well, DLR is pretty dang good about food sensitivities. We've had pretty good luck so far and never gotten sick there. We'll see how it goes this time!
     

    avalon451

    Errrr... what?
    Joined
    Mar 1, 2008
    Following along! Your plans sound great!

    I remember some of your past posts where you mention eating gluten-free. Are you going to do the WOC Dessert Party with a gluten-free request? If so, would you please be sure to post about the gluten free breads and desserts they serve?

    Their gluten-free offerings this past March were quite underwhelming. Hopefully all the whining I did to Guest Services afterwards has inspired them to revise their menu.
    So, MkaMouse, I heard back from Disney Special Diets today. WOC doesn't sound very promising according to them. Here's what they said: " There may be limited allergy-friendly options available at the World of Color Dessert Party, however due to the nature of this dining location they are not able to adjust menu items. In addition to select pastries, the World of Color Dessert Party also offers a fruit and cheese platter that may accommodate this request. "

    So, although there's GF options for desserts most places in DLR (sorbet, creme brulee, brownies, macarons, rice crispy treats, marshmallow wands) they can't or won't provide them for WOC, for an $80 ticket? That seems.... wrong. "Hey, eat your cheese and fruit and quit complaining." Grrrr.....

    ETA: I just replied to the email, complaining in a politely whiney way. We'll see if I can guilt them into doing better than fruit and cheese.

    I know I saw a picture somewhere of somebody with a gluten free bread basket at WOC. So they for sure did it in the past.
     
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    2 Pinks

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 23, 2019
    Golly, I hope they have better GF options for WOC dessert party. I have a 15 year old with Celiac Disease and she won't be impressed with cheese and fruit for dessert. Maybe we will snag some desserts from somewhere else on our way so she has something more desserty.
     

    disgeek009

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jul 23, 2012
    So glad I found this! I'm also in north Seattle, and we're planning a trip to Disneyland in January. Can't wait to hear about your trip, especially the Star Wars activities.
     
  • avalon451

    Errrr... what?
    Joined
    Mar 1, 2008
    Golly, I hope they have better GF options for WOC dessert party. I have a 15 year old with Celiac Disease and she won't be impressed with cheese and fruit for dessert. Maybe we will snag some desserts from somewhere else on our way so she has something more desserty.
    I will definitely report back. I'm going to talk to a CM over there before the night we are doing WOC, see what they know. Also, I like your idea of snagging some other snacks. Tigger Tails for the win.

    My 3 daughters are all celiac, the oldest confirmed with biopsy, and she's definitely the most sensitive. She has to be careful about cross-contamination. The other two had positive blood tests but declined to get a biopsy, so we assume they are also celiac and act accordingly. However, in the 7 years since we were diagnosed, we've found they are not as sensitive. I had positive blood test but negative biopsy, but my doc thinks I am anyway because of how my health improved once we went GF. But again, I'm not that sensitive; even shared equipment usually doesn't bother me. DH went GF with us at the beginning... and he is now intolerant too!
     

    MkaMouse

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Jun 20, 2017
    Golly, I hope they have better GF options for WOC dessert party. I have a 15 year old with Celiac Disease and she won't be impressed with cheese and fruit for dessert. Maybe we will snag some desserts from somewhere else on our way so she has something more desserty.
    I think bringing your own GF desserts to the WOC dessert party is a very good idea.

    I looked back at my posts from last March, and here is how I described the GF plate I received at the WOC dessert party - grapes and cheese, a cold and hard little loaf of bread about the size of my fist, a tiny bowl of coconutty/gummy stuff (I think it was supposed to be some type of rice pudding), a tiny bowl of raspberry puree, one mini macaron, and a strawberry dipped in pink candy coating.

    Not even close to being comparable to the regular dessert party menu.
     

    2 Pinks

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Apr 23, 2019
    I think bringing your own GF desserts to the WOC dessert party is a very good idea.

    I looked back at my posts from last March, and here is how I described the GF plate I received at the WOC dessert party - grapes and cheese, a cold and hard little loaf of bread about the size of my fist, a tiny bowl of coconutty/gummy stuff (I think it was supposed to be some type of rice pudding), a tiny bowl of raspberry puree, one mini macaron, and a strawberry dipped in pink candy coating.

    Not even close to being comparable to the regular dessert party menu.
    My daughter jokes about a time during a school party where they were serving cakes and cookies and someone brought her a bunch of grapes to have since she couldn't have the cake. So we will have a good laugh at the grapes! But thank you for the description of everything else. Other than the macaron, grapes and cheese, she probably won't eat anything else. So we will definitely make sure we stop somewhere to get her some comparable goodies.
     

    avalon451

    Errrr... what?
    Joined
    Mar 1, 2008
    My daughter jokes about a time during a school party where they were serving cakes and cookies and someone brought her a bunch of grapes to have since she couldn't have the cake. So we will have a good laugh at the grapes! But thank you for the description of everything else. Other than the macaron, grapes and cheese, she probably won't eat anything else. So we will definitely make sure we stop somewhere to get her some comparable goodies.
    On our couple's trip, it got to be a joke between DH and I about sorbet. At every single table service place they hemmed and hawed and would ask, "Can we bring you some sorbet?" At BB they didn't even ask, they just brought me a dish of sorbet with a birthday candle in it. Till we got to WOC dessert party and the CM at the podium asked it, and we both chorused, "No, thank you! No sorbet!" Then we explained, and he understood because he had nut allergies.

    I did hear back from Disney dining special diets; they were a little short with me. Like, "This is what we know, but we don't know for sure, you'll have to ask when you get there." But then I got a call from the bakery that contracts with WOC, to ascertain how many in our party have allergies, and she sounded a lot more positive about it. So we'll see what we get.
     

    avalon451

    Errrr... what?
    Joined
    Mar 1, 2008
    T-Minus 3 days! This evening we had DD24 and DSIL24 over for dinner, so I could show everybody my touring plans and explain strategy. I forget that not everybody knows the acronyms. My son-in-law was going, "Um, question.... what is PotC, TSMM, and BTMRR?"

    Nail-biter: DH has come down with a cold. We are all staying away from him and washing our hands frequently. He thinks it's not that severe and he'll feel okay by Wednesday. I hope so! I keep shoving decongestant and fluids at him. Everybody is taking Emergen-C to support our immune systems. And I am imploring everybody to hold on to banisters and be careful going down stairs, etc. No sprained ankles, please!

    This is a direct result of our first trip, where our oldest DD got very sick on our first trip to the parks. Now I'm just paranoid! I've seriously been kind of anxious over how well this whole thing goes. With 6 of us, it seems like a lot could go wrong. And, because I'm doing all the planning and coordinating, I feel like the burden is on me for this to be fabulous for everybody.

    All of my kids have anxiety disorders to some extent, though they're all pretty good at managing them by now. DD17 is especially anxious about flying. Mostly because the last time, when her high school band group flew to Anaheim, the first leg we had some turbulence, and she threw up on the way down to land. She was okay for the next leg, and for both flights going back home, but that one instance has her quite scared. So she went to her doctor, who kindly prescribed her a few Xanax for anxiety, and also a motion-sickness patch. Her doctor said that would also help with motion sickness on rides. I think I'm still going to have to sit with her and talk her through it with some calming visualization and breathing exercises. She'll be fine once she realizes she can handle the anxiety.

    So... that's my pre-trip anxiety talking. Somebody please tell me to "chill out, it will all be fine!" :rotfl:
     

    avalon451

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    Joined
    Mar 1, 2008
    36 hours. I'm mostly packed. DH is coughing but claims he feels ok, that the cold is subsiding. I keep psyching myself out that I'm getting a sore throat, but I think it's imagination (at least I hope so!)

    Dang, kids, it's gonna be HOT! 92-94 on Friday and Saturday. Yikes. I've got cooling towels and plans in place to be back at the hotel during the midday heat.
     

    avalon451

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    Joined
    Mar 1, 2008
    14 hours. My nails are ready:

    434899

    I’m nervous, though. DH is feeling better, but dd24 and DSIL are both on antibiotics for some bug picked up in Costa Rica 10 days ago. Hoping they both feel better before they get in on Thursday.
    Wish us luck!
     
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    avalon451

    Errrr... what?
    Joined
    Mar 1, 2008
    I'm BAA-aaaaack!
    We got back on Sunday night at 6:30. Everybody was exhausted, but happy. We had a great time! The heat, however, was awful.

    There was so much that happened unexpectedly. I had firm plans to do many things, and as so often happens, the plans changed often and suddenly, and we just rolled with it. There were a few grumpy spots, but mostly everybody was feeling pretty satisfied with our accomplishments.

    The whole thing started off with me having a panic attack..... :rotfl:

    Wednesday morning, September 11th. I woke at 4:00 and couldn't go back to sleep, so I got up and got ready for our 5:30 Uber ride. I was worried that we wouldn't be able to get a ride out in our suburban area, especially an UberX (4 of us with 4 suitcases) but it was picked up immediately, and he showed up early, no problem. He was a short, nervous guy who kept making really cheesy jokes, to dead silence from us. I apologized, "It's a little early in the morning for us to get it," and he said he gave us a free pass not to laugh since it was before 8 a.m. We got to the airport in 15 minutes (I love being able to fly out of Paine Field). DH, who was supposed to be carrying my backpack, had slung it in the back with the girls. When we got out and tipped the driver, and went into the terminal, I was digging out my passport when I looked around and said, "Where's my backpack?" Al and I looked at each other, rushed back out to the curb, but David the Uber driver was gone. I tried getting into the app and calling him, but he wasn't picking up. I was trying to remember what all was in in the backpack, if there was crucial paperwork -- not so much, not passports or anything, but my folder that had all the plans, itineraries and receipts was in there, as well as a couple of expensive phone chargers, and the first aid kit with medication (not daily meds, just like Tylenol, dramamine, etc). As I was simultaneously trying to recall how crucial the contents were and trying to call back David, my knees went weak, my head started to spin, and I felt like I was going to pass out. I handed my phone to Allen, sat down on the pavement, and put my head between my knees while he kept trying to get through. Al said he thought I was going to faint and was getting ready to catch me. I've had panic attacks before, but it had been several years. Once I recognized what was going on I knew I could sit down and get through it okay. Finally Al said, "Nothing is irreplaceable. Don't worry about it." So when I'd caught my breath, we went back into the terminal, where DDs 17 and 21 were looking puzzled. I was feeling silly for getting so rattled over a backpack. I think it was just the wrong start to our day that threw me for a loop. So we went through security. We are all TSA PreCheck, but DD17 still got stopped for having too much liquid in her carry-on. We ended up having to go back and check her bag... another trip through security... I got "randomly chosen"... oh great. Finally when we got through and went up to the terminal lounge, I was sitting there still trying not to feel rattled, when an announcement came over the PA: "Attention in the terminal; if you have left a backpack with an Uber driver, please come and identify yourself at the entrance." I scurried back out through security, and there was David, holding my packpack. Hooray! He said he felt lucky he'd opened the back to look for something else, or he might have missed it for days. I shook his hand gratefully, and later gave him a massive tip in the Uber app. Then I went through security for the third time!

    Finally we got on the flight. I handed the flight attendant a package of Ghirardelli chocolate squares "for the flight crew." (if you do this, you will often get free treats and attention). We actually got going a little early. DD17 was anxious, but had taken a Xanax and put on a motion-sickness patch. She sat holding her sister's hand. The takeoff was smooth, and after we finished climbing, Fiona looked much happier and less stressed. The flight attendant came by with the cart-- "You were the one who gave us chocolate, right?" I said, "Yes, because you guys work so hard, and we really appreciate you." So she asked if she could get us a drink, with her eyebrows kind of raised at me, and I asked for champagne. Allen went to get out his credit card, and she shooed it away quietly, and gave us each our own split, and gave the girls a free package of popcorn.

    We got to LAX about 15 minutes early, at 9:25. Our luggage was the first off (Fiona's carryon, plus Al's which he gate checked for free when they were running short of space). I had a text already from our Execucar driver, saying he was in the waiting lot. So I called him and he was there within 5 minutes. For the record, I liked Execucar. They were prompt, had beautiful large clean cars, and polite service including help with our bags. Also for the record: I didn't want to fly into LAX because of all the horror stories I'd heard about it. But it was fine! We didn't have to walk far at all to baggage claim, and going back, our gate was the first one. Also, I think because we left the airport around 9:45 a.m. on a Wednesday, we missed the worst of rush hour, because our trip was only about 45 minutes! It was great.

    We were all pretty excited, especially the girls, as we got closer and closer to Disneyland. We pulled up to the hotel and tumbled merrily out of the car (definitely making sure we had my backpack and everything!). We were oohing and ahhing over the look of the DLH as we went into the lovely lobby. Then I went up to the counter and got a CM named Audrey (I think) a young, enthusiastic lady. Oh, boy. I put on my most excited, charming smile as I got us checked in, talking all about how excited we were and our plans, and my birthday (she immediately got me a button), and Club 33, etc. My kids said they were kind of embarrassed to watch me, because I'm not normally that sweet and enthusiastic, but it worked. She gave us a free upgrade to a pool view, moved us from the Frontier Tower to the Adventure Tower as I'd previously requested, and made sure we were all on the same floor (the girls were a couple doors away; when DD24 and DSIL came the next day, they were down the hall past the elevators. Perfect.). So that was awesome, and she was just the nicest CM. It was only about 10:30, and already one of the rooms was ready. So we were able to go up and dump all our stuff, use the restroom, get our various backpacks and fanny packs ready, and head out to the parks!

    Lines were quite short at 11:00, so we had our pictures taken and were through quite quickly. We strolled up Main Street, enjoying the sights and sounds. I picked up Maxpass for all of us, and pulled a FP for Indy. Then we headed to my favorite ride, and my traditional first ride in the parks, Pirates! The girls were so happy and excited. It was closed when Fiona was there for her band trip 15 months ago, so neither of them had been on it since they were 6 and 10 years old.

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    Then we were able to use our Indy FP already. Again, the girls hadn't ridden it since 2008, and loved it.

    After this, everybody was pretty hungry, especially Fiona, who hadn't eaten anything much for fear of getting sick on the flight. We had reservations for lunch at Cafe Orleans at 1 p.m. It was only 12:40, but we wandered over there, and the hostess was happy to check us in. We were surprised how many people were standing around waiting. Well, it turns out that they were really backed up, and they didn't call us until 1:30! I had a couple of pretty tired, hungry and grumpy girls by that time. But with some food and sitting down, they were restored soon. I'd emailed ahead to Special Diets, and asked for a gluten-free Monte Cristo. DD21 (Rhiannon) thought that sounded good, so I let her have it, and Al and I both had the shrimp and grits, which was delicious. We started with the pommes frites, which the girls demolished. Rhiannon liked the Monte Cristo, but of course it was so rich she could only eat half. Fiona had the bourbon chicken, and said it was okay, but nothing special.

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    After this, we rode Haunted Mansion Holiday with the FP I'd pulled after Indy. Again, a new experience for everybody but me. Then we were all pretty tired and ready for a break, and I'd had a text saying our other room was ready at the hotel. So the girls started heading back there while Al and I used the restroom. I asked him if he wanted a Dole Whip, and then proceeded to try out Mobile Order. Wow, is that a sweet deal. There was a big line at the Juice Bar, but as soon as I hit "I'm here," it said ready, and I walked right up and got our Dole whip and Dole whip float. We enjoyed them as we walked back to the hotel.

    Boy, though. That walk. That long, long walk through Downtown Disney, when you're already tired, and the place is absolutely packed with crowds, a high percentage of which are hot, tired, and cranky (and if they're infants, wailing). Folks, I know so many of you love "the Disney Bubble" and feel like you have to stay onsite, and the DLH is so classic and all. But lord above, that is a killer walk, especially BACK, when you're tired. Yes, it's a great hotel with wonderful history and great amenities. Yes, the artwork and details are awesome. But next time, it's back to a Harbor motel for me. Half the walk, 1/3 to 1/2 the price. Anyway.

    We got back, and I called the bell desk to ask about our Amazon Fresh grocery order. They had it ready, and brought it up to us: a couple racks of water, some various breakfast bars, gluten free muffins, yogurt, juice. We divided it between our two rooms and saved a percentage for the DD and DSIL arriving the next day. Then everybody crashed for a nap.

    Well, the girls did. Al and I sort of tried but kept dozing off and waking up, and finally we admitted we were restless. So we got up and went exploring. We ended up in Trader Sam's, which I've been wanting to try the last two times I was there. It was so fun! I had a HippopotoMaiTai. Al had a Mosquito Mohito. We were able to sit at the bar and enjoy all the silly antics of the bartenders. Our bartender saw my birthday button, and yelled at the whole place, "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, LET'S WISH A BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO GAIL, WHO TURNS 23 TODAY!" :rotfl:

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    Then we walked around the pool, went into the gift shop, and bought pins for our Disney bounding outfits for the next day-- a Minnie pin for me, a Goofy pin for Al.

    We had reservations for Carthay Circle at 6:50., so we woke the girls up and leisurely got ready to head back over to CA. I'd been able to pick up a FP for the Matterhorn, and also our Indy FP which we'd already redeemed, somehow turned into a multi-use FP because apparently it broke down very soon before or after we rode it. Not sure how that happened, but I wasn't going to argue. So we had a really nice dinner at Carthay. The waiter was very informative, funny and nice. They brought me out a special gluten-free birthday dessert, basically a hand made s'mores ice cream bar, without the graham crust, with a candle on it, and we all shared it. It was delicious!

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    After this, we walked back over to DL, to see if we could catch the parade. It was packed, and we were able to go through the back alley to Tomorrowland, and then around the Matterhorn, to find a spot not far from IaSW. It was okay; MSEP isn't my favorite, so that was a one-and-done for us. After that we used our FP on the Matterhorn. Bumpy, and again not our favorite, but fun. Then we made our way slowly over to BTMRR to use our multi-experience FP. Rhiannon wasn't too sure about it-- she's usually not a big fan of roller coasters-- but Fiona had ridden it a couple of times and knew she liked it. Al elected to stay with Rhi, so Fiona and I rode. The moon was almost full, and so bright we could see everything, even away from the lights. The view at the top of Blackspire Outpost was stunning! That was super fun. Fiona said later that it was her favorite ride.

    It was getting late, and everybody was tired, so we headed back down through Main Street and back to DLH, The beds are so comfy! We all fell asleep at once, though the sensation of being in a strange place tends to make all of my family restless sleepers for the first night in a hotel.

    TL : DR: Our first day had a few glitches, but all in all was a great success!

    This is probably more than you ever wanted to read; I'm a former English teacher and I tend to write way more than necessary. But I enjoy it, because it becomes a record and a journal of the experience. Then I can go back later and remember all the detail that I recorded, which is a little bit like reliving the experience!

    Stay tuned for Day 2!
     
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