Sunday, December 31, 2006

Our Vacation - Day 6

Today I was stressed out. Last night I went to do some laundry at our hotel, and rumors were flying around the laundry room about how crowded it was going to be today at Disneyland. Supposedly if they reached capacity, they would shut the gates and if you left, chances are you wouldn't be allowed back in -- even if you had a Park Hopper Pass (which allows you to move from one park to another). I understand the capacity issues, but I was frustrated because if you buy a Park Hopper Pass you should be able to use it -- regardless. Anyway, we had made plans to get up extra early so that we could be there at 7:00 am (one hour before the park officially opened) so that we could use our 'special passes' but found out that they are not valid on Sundays. Thankfully we found that out before we got up extra early, and though we were very disappointed, it did work out OK in the end.

So, we get to the park, and the first question I ask is if our 'Hopper' passes would be valid no matter what, as long as we got our hand stamped for re-entry as required. I was told that yes, they would be valid. So off we go, Hakuna Matata!

We explored the outside of the castle (beautiful fountains and swans swimming in the moat), and we traveled up and down Main Street in a Horse-Drawn Streetcar and a Omnibus.

The Purple Dragon cautiously pats the horse that pulled our streetcar.

We visited the Tiki Room (where the birds all sing and the flowers croon, in the tiki tiki tiki tiki tiki room...). No flash photography was allowed, so my pictures didn't turn out very well. I'll spare you the agony. :)

Then we went on a Jungle Cruise (twice) where we saw many ferocious beasts...

I think The Princess realized that these animals were not real, but I'm not so sure about The Dragon.

We browsed a shop or two at this point and the girls found more souvenirs that they wanted (a snake for the Dragon and a parrot for the Princess) but I said we'd come back later. I did not want to carry more than was absolutely necessary.

We explored 'Tarzan's Treehouse'. This one took me by surprise because it used to be the 'Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse.' Lots of fun, but this one was definitely more popular with the kids.

We visited The Golden Horseshoe where we were entertained by Billy Hill and the Hillbillies (stomp your feet, hoot along and raise the roof at the liveliest session of pickin' and grinnin' this side of the Pecos... four brothers, all named Billy, put on quite a show of bluegrass and slapstick and comedy).

We sailed aboard the Columbia...

The girls sang "Yo ho, yo ho! A pirate's life for me!" throughout our cruise.

...and took a raft over to Tom Sawyer Island.

In one of many tree house structures on the island...

Crossing one of many bridges...

We decided to proceed to California Adventure to 'finish' the park so to speak. We got our hand stamped as previously directed, but were told (contrary to before) that the hand stamp was NO guarantee that we would get back in. AGH! OK, so I need to make the best of it, right? I tried. I so really tried. But there was always a nagging thought in the back of my head that we wouldn't make it back into Disneyland. Very frustrating.

Anyway, The King and I wanted to try out the California Screamer (awesome roller coaster!). The Pink Princess wanted to go on it too, so we had her measured and she was tall enough! So we got in line. And then, right before it was our turn to board, they measured her again and said that she was NOT tall enough. Oh great. She's in tears, the crowd is in an uproar (Let her ride! Let her ride! Let her ride!), and I'm mad as all get out. Not to mention that the person who pulled her out of line to measure her again is explaining the 'rules' to a hispanic family that is in front of me. He thought that THEY were her parents. I'm not sure which made me more mad... the fact that she couldn't ride after she was told that she could, or the fact that he made assumptions which placed my child with the WRONG family.

So, long story short, we got out of line (I was still fuming), and Isepik went to ride the coaster while I took The Pink Princess to ride on another ride (the 'Orange Stinger'). But guess what... she was too short for that one also. More tears, more agony, but at least this time we didn't wait in line. The solution? Mickey Mouse Lollipops! And then it was my turn to ride the coaster...

This is the best picture that was taken of me all trip! I'm the reddish blur with my arms up in the second row... but that was obvious, right?

We then waited in line to go on 'Soarin' Over California' again. I swear, that is one of the best rides in the park, hands down. Even The Purple Dragon liked it better the second time.

We then made a trip to one of the many shops so that we could purchase Mr. Potato Head pieces. You could fill a box for $18... as long as the box still shuts. We packed, and repacked, and repacked again, and got about 28 pieces inside the box, so it was less than $1 a piece. We now have Dumbo, Goofy, Pirate, Minnie, Sorcerer, Princess Potato Head, along with popcorn, cameras, Mickey Mouse Hats, Mickey shaped ice cream popsicles, and a variety of other accessories. Way fun!

Now it was time to head back over to Disneyland (a 50-yard walk). Would we get in? We did! And just in time for the 'A Christmas Fantasy' parade too! We got awesome seats, basically front row (there was one row of people in front of us, but they were all sitting down, so the girls sat in their stroller and had a perfect view of the entire thing. So awesome!

Toy soldiers...

Goofy is busy working on his gingerbread house.

I can name all seven dwarfs and identify them correctly... can you? This one is... here's a hint... Ahh-choo!

And the grand finale... Santa Claus, of course!

After the parade, we got a unofficial backlot tour of Disneyland because of the completely asinine way they directed the crowds. Let's just say it's MUCH prettier on the OTHER side.

We headed over to Autopia (which I alone had ridden alone late one night) which is way more fun when you have an underage driver with you... though it is awfully bumpy. I drove with The Purple Dragon who shows an aptitude for road rage. When we reached the end of the ride, there was quite a long line of vehicles waiting to unload. The Purple Dragon lost no time in announcing in her loudest voice "HEY ALL YOU PEOPLE! GET OFF MY ROAD! I WANT TO DRIIIIIVE!" We probably should've waited in line again because the girls had such a blast driving, but the line was REALLY long. REALLY REALLY LONG. So we didn't. Oh well.

The Pink Princess has her driver's license. Seriously... Stay OFF the road! Then again... stay OFF the sidewalks!

It was then time to acquire food. Three hours later we had food. No, I am NOT kidding. I'm not going to write anything else about that.

Since we had fast passes for the 'Indiana Jones Adventure' we headed there next. This ride was lots of fun! The Purple Dragon was too short to ride, but she fell asleep anyway, so it worked out OK. The Princess and I rode it together first, then The Princess rode it again with the King. While they were riding, I headed to the shop to purchase the parrot and the snake as previously promised to the children.

It was about 11:30 pm at this point, and we headed for Main Street. I had one more shop I wanted to visit... plus there were rumors of something happening when the clock strikes twelve...

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Saturday, December 30, 2006

Our Vacation - Day 5

After spending a beautiful afternoon in Santa Barbara, we were ready to return to the Magic Kingdom. Back to Disneyland we went, convinced we were going to complete every ride and attraction that we had yet to visit. Yeah, right!

The attractions we visited today were:
Chip 'n Dale Treehouse
Donald's Boat
Goofy's Playhouse
Mickey's House and Meet Mickey
Minnie's House
Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin
Astro Orbitor
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters
Space Mountain
Alice in Wonderland
Disney Princess Fantasy Faire
It's A Small World Holiday
Mad Tea Party
Matterhorn Bobsleds

First, a quick stop to visit that silly bear Baloo from the Jungle Book.

The Dragon was so excited to see Pluto... he's a DOG you know. :)

Time to help Buzz Lightyear out in Astro Blasters!

Taking a spin on the teacups - yep, we were whirlin' away when this picture was taken.

King Isepik trying on a silly hat at The Mad Hatter.

While we were in 'The Mad Hatter' the girls purchased Mickey Ears. The Purple Dragon's had pink ears, complete with crown and pink veil. The Pink Princess' was a 'Princess Pirate' complete with earring dangling from the left ear. You should be able to view the hats in the next few pictures.

Next on the list was Princess Fantasy Faire. Disney was kind enough to provide paper crowns and stickers so that the kids could decorate their own princess crowns. We also chose to wait in a very long line (One hour? Two?) so that we could meet some very special princesses. It was so worth it.

First on the list was the fairest of them all... the lovely Snow White.

We arrived during a shift change, so we got an extra princess -- the exotic Princess Jasmine.

Beautiful Belle...

And the charming Cinderella. Cinderella scooped The Dragon right up, and they yammered on and on for over 5 minutes.

Toontown has a serious problem! This jail can't hold the hoodlums in!!!

I love Toontown. Everything looks all, well... cartoony. It's fun.

The Purple Dragon is ticklin' the ivories! It really plays!

At last! The Pink Princess with Mickey Mouse!

This may have been the hilight of The Purple Dragon's day.

The Purple Dragon falls asleep again... this time on the Astro Orbitors.

The Princess and The King ride on Space Mountain. It's a roller coaster in the dark!

We left early so that we could get up really early the next day. There was still so much to see! The Pink Princess bought a 'Princess Aurora' bank before we left.

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Our Vacation - Day 4

Exhausted from all the walking we had accomplished at Disneyland and California Adventure the previous two days, we headed to Santa Barbara, California to visit my friend Gail and her daughter Amanda.

Unfortunately, we were so exhausted that we slept in, and then it took us a while to get going, and then we ran into really bad traffic. There was a 5-10 mile strip of ocean on our drive down, and The Pink Princess told me she saw a dolphin jumping in the water. Knowing that she hadn't been to an ocean in over 4 years, I figured she had confused the dolphin with the crashing of the waves. But a few minutes later, I saw one too. It was very cool!

By the time we finally arrived, it was around 3:00 (??? Someone fill me in here, I'm guessing) in the afternoon. Totally bummer deal, but not to worry, we were going to make the best of it!

Gail first took us to see the courthouse - I know, I know, it doesn't sound that thrilling but it's really a beautiful building with fantastic architecture and I'm really glad that I got the opportunity to see it. You can take an elevator up to an observation deck right below the clock tower and it had an amazing view. Gorgeous!

The Purple Dragon giving Miss Gail a kiss.

Beautiful view. I have no idea what the building is in the foreground.

Lovin' the ocean!

After we finished our visit at the courthouse, we made a quick stop at a coffee shop across the street because all the kids were dyin' of thirst. Thirst quenched, we headed for the beach! Let me just say, I LOVE the beach. And it seemed like the kids did too, even though it was a little bit chilly. Pictures say more than words, so I'll be quiet now and let you see our adventure instead.

The Purple Dragon playing in the sand.

Amanda and the Princess.

The Purple Dragon and the King.

The Dragon braves the water.

The Pink Princess walking in the ocean.


Amanda and the Princess - totally inseperable by this point.

OK, I'll say it again... I simply LOVE the ocean.

Cute feet!

After the beach, we headed to the wharf where we found a place to eat. The King took advantage of the sea food, the rest of us stuck to things like burgers, chicken tenders and french dip sandwiches. After dinner we headed back to Gail's where she made us Apple Nut Ring for dessert -- one of my favorites! The King and the girls watched a movie, and Gail and I got a little bit of time to chat and attempt to catch up. Our day ended all too soon, but it was so wonderful to see our friends again!

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Our Vacation - Day 3

We started out our morning very early so we could have breakfast with Lilo & Stitch! The Paradise Pier Hotel had a fantastic selection of food (including Mickey Mouse Waffles & Pancakes), but my favorite was the MTO-Omelettes. Yummy. The best part of the breakfast is seeing some of your favorite Disney characters up close and personal with lots of opportunities for photos and game playing.



Minnie Mouse! She's a flirt... just ask King Isepik.

Daisy Duck! We had to wait a long time to see her. I didn't know she was so popular.


After breakfast we headed over to California Adventure, a relatively new Disney theme park which none of us had been to before. The first ride we headed for was Soarin' Over California because it had received rave reviews from our family and friends. And it was awesome. I think I could've ridden that ride all day - so fun!

We visited the following attractions:

Monsters, Inc. Mike & Sulley to the Rescue!
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (The Princess, The King & I)
Disney's Aladdin - A Musical Spectacular
Disney Animation - Turtle Talk With Crush (The Princess, The Dragon & I)
Disney Animation - Animation Academy
Disney Animation - Character Close-Up
Disney Animation - Sorcerer's Workshop
Sun Wheel
Mulholland Madness (The Princess & I)
Golden Zephyr
King Triton's Carousel
Jumpin' Jellyfish
S.S. Rustworthy (The Dragon & The King)
Soarin' Over California
Grizzly River Run (The King, The Queen & The Princess)
Redwood Creek Challenge Trail
Mission Tortilla Factory (Tortilla by Mission Foods - yummy!)
The Bakery Tour (Sourdough Bread by Boudin Bakery - more yummy!)

I traded cameras with a family who needed their picture taken while The Princess and King Isepik were on the Grizzly River Run. This is the picture they took of The Dragon & I.

The Purple Dragon joined a Hillbilly Band and had a great time playing some jingle bells and dancing while waiting for the river runners to return. The Princess wanted to be in the picture with The Dragon's Hillbilly friend.

The girls really loved the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. I have to admit, it WAS fun.

The girls even got to participate in a Rubber Ducky Race! Everyone got stickers for participating.

Aladdin was totally awesome. Great show! And yep, the carpet really did fly!

A pink dolphin for the Pink Princess on King Triton's Carousel.

A blue dolphin for the Purple Dragon because blue is close to purple, after all!

Eliot (Pete's Dragon)was in the Electrical Parade.

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