For the first time ever (that I can remember anyway), I have finally visited Disneyland during one of the major holidays. Halloween at Disneyland is a much enhanced experience, featuring a couple pretty major ride overlays and a significant amount of decorations. Kids are even encouraged to dress up in costumes, as you can see from Marissa as Snow White in a dress that Julie's mom made years ago, and both Julie and Marci wore when they were very young. We've been planning this trip for several months, determined to get as much of Julie's family as possible to attend as a sort of family reunion. We were very excited when it was confirmed that Mom, Marci and the kids were making their way over from Missouri, and of course when Tyler, Sarah and the girls confirmed they would be joining the fun as well.
Julie and I left on Thursday morning, made great time (without the slightest incident with the local highway patrolmen), and were at our hotel by mid-afternoon. The others were traveling from Arizona, and with four kids, so they were running a little later than we were, so we checked into our hotel room to rest a little. We stayed at a favorite of Sarah's, the Del Sol Inn, immediately (and I mean immediately) across the street from the walkway to the esplanade and entrance to Disneyland. We had two rooms for the whole group, and had been informed that each room only had one bed (Julie and I had brought the air mattress), but were surprised to find spacious rooms with two beds each! The air mattress turned out to be a big hit with the little kids though, so bringing that ended up being a good call anyway. We met the rest of our group when they arrived in town at Huntington Beach. It was a little later than we expected, so we just caught sunset and a pretty much deserted beach at nighttime. A couple of the kids had "never seen the sea," so that was pretty exciting for everyone. The water was warm and lovely, but it was night, so we just rolled up our jeans and waded in the shallow water and chased the waves.
The next day started our two-day Disneyland Halloween extravaganza! I will illustrate highlights by way of bulleted list:
- Spending time with Julie's family! As much as we love to do Disneyland as a couple, it's sometimes fun to go to Disneyland with kids--A couple of the kids were pretty new to Disneyland, but a couple of them are old pros already. Julie and I were glad to serve as runners for fastpasses and to check on wait times and ride closures opening back up. It was fun to have a bigger group for rides that take your photo, like the Tower of Terror, Space Mountain and Splash Mountain, and to switch it up with who you sit next to on each ride. Having so many people was a different experience, we knew before going that it was going to have to be a lot more fluid and flexible, and we didn't do everything we might usually do, or as many times as we usually do, but we did a lot of other things we don't usually GET to do, because we're just two, so it was a great time. We even had seating for dinner and Fantasmic, which was unusual and delightful. (Now if only that new dragon would ever be up and running when I go there...) Plus, Sarah's love of and history with Disneyland rivals mine, so it's fun to go with her in company so we can swap stories and share secrets. We even met a young couple vacationing from Canada on their first-ever trip to Disneyland while we all waited to order our Dole Whips in the queue area for the Enchanted Tiki Room. We gave them some tips and ideas to make the most of their trip despite the crowds.
Rapunzel was in there! You can tell because her hair is coming out of the tower!
|(That girl behind me was actually really annoying.)|
- Speaking of which, the crowds were great on Friday, and pretty good on Saturday morning. By Saturday afternoon and night, it was pretty crazy, but we know how to work a busy park. The weather was fantastic the entire time, I wore long sleeves and was perfectly comfortable with an overcast morning at Disneyland.
- I came prepared with dramamine this time around. I am sorry to say that these days I start to get a little queasy after a few of my favorite rides, so I decided I would take something to take the edge off, even if it meant being a little drowsy. I would rather be a little tired at Disneyland than nauseated at Disneyland. It worked pretty well, and we even found a kind that was non-drowsy. Brilliant.
|Silly Symphony Swings! It's like the Orange Stingers ride they used to have, except now it's Disney-themed. We had to go on it because it's new, but maybe we won't again for a while because it made us feel really dizzy.|
- Club 33! Thanks to the generosity of a family friend, we were able to get our entire party into lunch at Walt Disney's super-exclusive restaurant above New Orleans Square that most park guests don't even know exists. Julie and I had eaten there on our honeymoon, and we were excited to share it with the rest of the family. Although the reservations had been available in two separate groups, at least they were only 30 minutes apart and we sat in the same dining room. The lunch buffet was amazing as ever (crab claws!!!) and the entrées were excellent--Tyler even declared his chateaubriand was the best steak he ever had.
- Halloween Festivities! Most notable of course is the Haunted Mansion Holiday. How many years have they been doing this, how many years have I been hearing about it and longing to do, dying with jealousy at all the friends who have gone and seen it? Too many! No more! It was amazing! The entire Haunted Mansion is re-themed as if the characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas have taken over, and it's a perfect cross-over. Running from early October to the new year, it's still the beloved Haunted Mansion, but it's an explosion of Halloween, Christmas, the Haunted Mansion and Jack et al. Amazing. We rode it once on the first day, and then Julie and I rode it three times in a row the next morning. I would loved to have gone a few more times (just SO much to look at!), but by mid-day the line was insane, and it didn't let up. Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy was a fun change for the beloved roller coaster, featuring a new spooky soundtrack and several projected instances of an eerie ghost/alien/creature/comet thing grabbing at you and chasing you. Main Street was decked out with carved pumpkins and yellow and orange banners, as well as a giant Mickey jack-o-lantern at the entrance hub. Unfortunately the Halloween Screams fireworks show has been relegated to the twice-weekly, separate-entrance-fee Mickey's Halloween Party trick-or-treating event (along with the costume cavalcade parade), so we were unable to see that (hosted by Jack and featuring flying Zero!!!), but they're only fireworks, right? Maybe one day.
- WORLD OF COLOR!!! So it's been running since June, but this water/light/color/laser/music/film projection show was nothing short of amazing! The screen of water is enormous, and the dancing colors and lights can only be compared to the Bellagio light show in Las Vegas, but just so much more. It's hard to explain, but it's incredible. You can find videos of it on youtube, and while I recommend checking those out to get the idea, you really just can't get the idea of the scope of the show without seeing it in person. The wait for fastpasses and crowds were unexpectedly pretty minimal, and our view from the bridge to Paradise Pier were perfect. I've been singing the theme song (alternating with themes from The Nightmare Before Christmas) almost non-stop since.
It was a great two days, and I'm thinking we just have to make our next Disney trip to the southeastern coast... It's just been too long for me, and it's been never for Julie.
|Much thanks to Sarah for capturing perhaps our best jumping photo to date.|
So there you go! A fairly concise trip report by my standards, I think. You can find more pictures on facebook, which are very entertaining. I feel so fulfilled to have checked off all of my top priorities for this trip, a couple of them things I've been looking forward to seeing for years. Lily even declared that she loves me as much as Disneyland, and if you know Lily, that is really saying something.