A few weeks ago on the heels of a weeklong trip to San Antonio, the family and I spent the weekend at Disneyland in Anaheim, Ca. I’ve been a Disney fanatic for a long long time, and enjoy heading down to the parks whenever we can. This was our first trip of the year, to visit the Mouse, and I was excited to take the kid since she’s starting to recognize him from books, toys and TV. Every time she sees him she goes “mouse… mouse…mouse” it’s very cute and I enjoy hearing it. It’s amazing what kids pick up, I have to remind myself to watch what I say and do, because they are just sponges, even when they are still so young.
Well this was a short trip only 1 1/2 days in the park, but two glorious nights at Disney’s Grand California Hotel. We’ve been lucky enough to stay at all three of the Disney properties over the years, and a few of the ones at Walt Disney World, and this is our favorite on property hotel. This hotel is modeled after the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite and has a beautiful massive open lobby with open beam construction and views up to the ceiling. It seems to inspire days old with staff dressing like they were straight out of The Great Gatsby or the roaring 20’s minus the flappers. It’s just a very very warm space even though it’s so massive, it has small alcoves to sit and visit, a large fireplace and even a kids corner to hang out in. It’s always bustling with activity, but I’ve never had trouble finding a spot to sit and relax or just people watch. They even have a well stocked bar, for those nights when the kids go to sleep early and the adults need a “break”, we were there till after midnight one night and the joint was still jumping.
We had a nice room on the fourth floor overlooking a courtyard, the monorail tracks and a side view of Downtown Disney. Overall it was nice and quite. As far as I know all rooms have balconies and if you’re lucky you may get a park view. The design of the rooms are inspired by Mission style furniture, which features beautifully carved wooden furniture. If they wouldn’t notice I’d love to pilfer it for my bedroom at home. Unfortunately I was not able to get many pictures of the room before we messed it up with all of our stuff. So the lobby and pic of the bed will just have to do. We arrived late on Friday, with a kid who was hours past her bedtime, and luggage and kid paraphernalia for bedtime that just exploded across the room. In any event the beds are very comfortable, they have soft pillows, and offer a pack in play in every closet. Plus nice cotton robes to use for your visit. As for toiletries, they have my favorite H2O, I’m always inclined to ask for an extra set before I leave, cause they just smell so great, and are the perfect size for my carry-on bag. And as an added bonus they provide a Redwood tree seed package to take home and plant in your backyard. How cool is that.
Even thought we were at the park on a long weekend with lots of kids getting Monday off from school, the rain and colder weather kept the locals and tourists away. So we really never had to wait in long lines. The only two rides with stupidly long lines were Midway Mania w/out a fast pass option with waits close to an hour and Radiator Springs Racers which sold out of fast passes by noon both days, and the standby was well over 75 minutes long. Otherwise most lines were 10 minutes or less or even no waiting. Thank you LA for having locals that go to ball games in the third and skip Disney when the weather is nothing but sunny. Not once that weekend did it rain, nor did I need a jacket, it was 65-70 all day, what more can you ask for.
There were many highlights to the trip, from surprising our friends daughter at the airport when she found out we were going to Disneyland for her birthday or going to Club 33 come to mind. Even one I never expected, my daughter asking to ride a ride numerous times. Even though I missed the birthday’s girls live reaction to her finding out that the trip to the airport was not just to drop off my family, but for both families to head south, I got to see the video and it was awesome. But to be fortunate to visit the uber exclusive and EXPENSIVE Club 33 was definitely fun too. For those non Disneyfiles, Club 33 is in the French Quarter above Blue Bayou, and was to be Walt’s apartment on property, it never was converted to that but became an exclusive restaurant instead. If you’re at street level at Pirates of the Caribbean or Bayou the balcony above where you might see people hanging out and wonder “how did they get there”, well that’s Club 33 . I understand the members waiting list is tens of thousands long, and the annual fee to be a member is too. Definitely something we can’t afford to attempt to become members of. Because of its exclusivity you have to know someone who is a member and in our case my wife does, thank you again for hooking us up. That being said, we try not to use that favor too often, nor do we have the income to support a visit to the club each time we visit Disneyland. But for a special occasion like a 12 year olds birthday, it’ll do just fine.
The club offers a price fixe lunch or dinner, we chose lunch, cause it fit our schedule and it didn’t disappoint. You get a complimentary glass of champagne and access to a spectacular buffet spread plus a made to order entree. The buffet included crab claws, shrimp, puff pastry appetizers, three salads and a few meat and cheese options. Plus a mouthwatering desert buffet, with all kinds of cakes, cookies and sweets. Definitely a decadent lunch! Oh yeah did I mention this is the only place in Disneyland you can get an alcoholic drink. Sure all the other parks offer booze, but Disneyland bucks the trend, we’ll see for how much longer.
So what were some of the hidden gems of this trip (sorry I’m a bad blogger) I didn’t take any pictures of the new entrance to California Adventure or Carthay Circle, I’ll leave that to others to document. I will say the reimagining of the old Buena Vista lost where Walt came up with Mickey and the franchise is just amazing. I have nothing to compare it too though, I don’t know what Buena Vista looked like back in the 20’s, but compared to how it use to look, it is fabulous. Although I do miss the giant California letters out front that are now gone. What also comes to mind is the AMAZING corn dogs on the pier and on Main Street, by far one of the finest corn dogs on the planet. If you’ve never had one you’ve not lived, oh and now they offer a spicy version, and man was it good.
So even though we had a short trip this time, it was great. We got to spend time with a ton of friends and were able to take our kid on a ton of rides, which made it even more fun. Sure she couldn’t ride the Matterhorn, but she went on Pirates of the Caribbean, Buzz Lightyears Astro Blaster, both Merry Go Rounds which we’d probably still be on if we were still there (and she kept calling King Triton Santa), plus all the rides in Bugs Land. Even though we couldn’t take her on all the rides, the parent switch option we were able to hit almost of the ones we wanted too. But frankly, just walking around the park seeing her happy face amongst all the fun, was treat enough, and I can’t wait to plan my next trip.