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A Spur of the Moment Disneyland Weekend – Trip Report

Bandleader Mickey at Disneyland!

Mornin’ Mickey!

I run a tight ship when it comes to my Disneyland vacations but well, sometimes life gets in the way and things don’t always go on schedule. It’s best to be flexible! Turns out that pretty much any day spent at Disney is a magical day, no matter how you slice it!

We got up up just after 6am to get ready for the drive. Fortunately we’d packed up mostly the night before so after a quick breakfast we were in the car and on our way. We did have to pick up the stroller from Grandma’s house and fill up the gas tank which added time to my already 20 minutes late time schedule! We live in San Diego, around 90 minutes drive from Anaheim and the Disneyland Resort. This day however would prove to be about 2 hours though, since we ran into a bit of traffic on the way up. The Santa Ana winds that blow in from the desert were warming up the air, which was nice (it was near 80 degrees on this January day!) However we were also getting the crazy fast winds that blow dust and tumbleweeds across the freeway!

About an hour into the drive it dawned on us that we’d forgotten our preschooler’s shoes at home! Ugh…so, after a quick side trip to Target for new kicks, we were soon pulling into the Woody parking lot. To be totally honest, I had no idea that there was a Disney resort parking lot in this area. I knew about the Mickey and Friends Parking Structure and had parked at one of the other “off-site” lots but didn’t realize that there was this lot until we passed it on the way to the Target. Parking was so much easier here than at the Parking Structure! We simply boarded one of the Toy Story buses that drove a few miles down the road and dropped us off right in front of the esplanade. There was no waiting for the trams and no long walks, I loved it!

Taking the Disneyland shuttle from "off-site" parking lots

We picked up my daughter’s Disability Access Service (DAS) card at Guest Services and found out that the system has changed even since our recent visit in October. I’ve outlined the system here. Guest still visit the special kiosks scattered through out the Park to receive their designated return time for a particular attraction. However now instead of receiving a small paper log with a return time, guests are now instructed to turn over their Park tickets at the return/Fastpass line of each ride.

New Disability Access Service (DAS)

Cast Members have scanners which scan each ticket and a photo pops up on their screen with the number of people in the party and the designated return time for verification. My daughter wasn’t cooperating that morning and refused to pose for the photo inside City Hall but the Cast Member was kind enough to take a photo of a photo from my husband’s camera phone so there would be an image for the scanner. The new update to the system worked out nicely and the process was much quicker without the Cast Members having to log rides and times on a piece of paper!

New scanners at Disneyland for the Disability Access Service

After receiving the DAS, my daughter was moody and upset and didn’t want to ride anything at first. I took the boys on the King Arthur Carrousel so my husband could get her relaxed and acclimated to the Park atmosphere.

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The entrance bridge through Sleeping Beauty Castle is currently closed, presumably in preparation for the big Diamond Celebration, Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary! Snow White’s Grotto and the Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-through are also currently off exhibit.

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After a snack and a rest in the shade, Alonna was ready to join us for a ride. We kick started the day with a bang…Big Thunder Mountain Railroad! Dillon just turned three only two months ago, but at 40″ high we were ready to have him try a few of the Disneyland coasters. He’d wet his feet on a few of the coasters at Legoland a few weeks ago but we weren’t sure how well these more “high speed adventures” would go over! We needn’t be worried…while he’d  scream throughout the rides and grip onto the bars tightly, afterwards he was all smiles and excitement. He kept saying, “That was AWESOME!” And so we marched on!

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Disneyland CA

After riding a few more favorites, we made our way across the esplanade to Disney California Adventure Park. As Disney Chase Visa members, we receive a personal Character meet n’ greet and a free 5″ x 7″ photo! We met up with Minnie, who was greeted warmly with a big hug from Dillon like they were old pals!

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In the same area (Hollywoodland), FROZEN FUN is currently taking place! It’s a highly popular (and highly populated!) new area that features a meet n’ greet with Anna and/or Elsa, a sing-a-long theater show, real snow play, specialty foods and snacks, shopping (naturally) and warm hugs from Olaf himself. My kids love the movie but none wanted to participate in the activities since it was quite busy in this area. They were anxious to get on more rides, so we drove ourselves over to Carsland!

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It was my son’s first time riding the Radiator Springs Racers and he was so excited! At each ride that had a 40″ height requirement, Dillon was checked several times through the ride (first at the entrance and then again, usually half-way through the line). This is such a wonderful ride, we were so glad he was able to join us on it this time. And he, of course, loved it! More, “This is AWESOME!!” greeted us through the exit line!

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We took a spin on Tow Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree before jogging through the underpass and onto the Pacific Wharf for lunch.

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I’d not eaten at the Cocina Cucamonga Mexican Grill before and it did not disappoint. Large portions that we shared between the five of us, vibrant flavors and we were accompanied by the darling Mariachi Divas. My husband loved the spicy pasilla-tomatillo sauce that came with the tamales. My Hacienda chicken Caesar salad with pepita dressing was enormous and really hit the spot! Total bill for this meal was $35 and it fed all five of us (we didn’t purchase drinks but brought in Gatorade and water bottles). You receive 10% with your Disney Chase Visa or Disney Redemption Card from the Disney Chase Visa program.

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One of my favorite parts of a Disney day is the Character interaction. We happened upon Donald alongside Paradise Pier looking so dapper in his nautical get-up! He was delighted to see himself not only on my son’s t-shirt but featured on his hat too! Donald even tried to put the hat on and danced about a bit, to the joy of my son.

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The big kids went with Dad on California Screamin’ while Dillon and I watched the riders whizzing by! A spin on King Triton’s Carousel, Toy Story Mania and the Jumpin’ Jellyfish followed.

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We hit up Bug’s Land and then headed back over to Disneyland Park for ice creams and more adventure. While in line for waffle cones, nap time happened and Dillon missed the special treat. It’s okay, we splurged and got ice cream again after dinner too!

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The little guy woke up ready for more! We rode Star Tours as well as Space Mountain! I wasn’t sure how he’d like being in the dark with all that spinning but he did great and again, it was “AWESOME!”

As evening came we headed for our favorite dinner spot, the French Market in New Orleans Square. We ordered the meatloaf with mashed potatoes, veggies and a roll, the grilled chicken with double-veggies and a roll and a bread bowl overflowing with steaming hot corn chowder. Again, we received 10% off for being Disney Chase Visa card holders and the total bill was $35. It was all so delicious (but too dark for photos at this point).

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My eldest son, who suffers from occasional migraine headaches was starting to develop one, so after dinner we stopped off at First Aid for children’s acetaminophen and an ice pack. We took things easy for a bit, allowing the medication to work and walked slowly over to It’s a Small World, which was still decorated for the holidays. Somewhat odd, it being a month since Christmas to still have the holiday overlay but I believe it comes down this week. We hummed along to “Jingle Shells” with the mermaids all the same!

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While using the restroom, we happened upon the beginning of Mickey and the Magical Map, a newer show that I’d not yet seen. The show had just begun and Cast Members had already roped off the entrances. I’m not sure what my husband said to him but we were escorted through the ropes and down into a special area with padded bench seats and an amazing view! So bright and fun with wonderful dancing and costumes. And the live singing was fantastic, we absolutely loved this show!

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Earlier in the day I’d picked up Fastpass tickets for the 8:45 Fantasmic! show. With the new viewing areas we were going to be able to stand in specific sections to watch the show. Unfortunately the crazy wild Santa Ana winds that had been plaguing us all day reared up again and the show was “delayed”. With my son still not feeling well, we decided to call it a night and beat the crowds by leaving a bit early. Within ten minutes we were boarded on the bus to take us back to the truck. I have the feeling the Fantastic! show as well as the fireworks display must have been fully cancelled because the winds never did die down.

In any case, even with the abbreviated evening, we still had a magical day. So much fun being able to ride so many things with my preschooler for the first time. It was nice not to have to wait at the stroller with him too. It will definitely be a new phase in our Disney vacations from now on, with all of us being able to ride together! Even though our day didn’t go exactly as planned, it paid to be flexible and we still had a wonderful Disney day!

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As a blogger, I received two complimentary 1 day Park Hopper passes from Disney; all thoughts and views are my own.