2014 was a crazy year for us (ha, judging by the time it took me to get this post written, I’d say life in general is crazy). In between Bryan’s ridiculous schedule (don’t get me started) and gobs of upgrade training, 0430 wake up calls for Jacey’s school, swim 6 days a week and oh, let’s throw in 6 months of chemo for me and we didn’t have time for…well really, anything. Our “vacations” consisted of 3 travel swim meets and if you have never had the pleasure of a swim meet, just let me tell you…they AREN’T a vacation.
After I came through chemo with flying colors, we made the decision to drop everything and get out of Vegas for Christmas. Disneyland and DIsneyland California Adventure were the verdict, since they are within driving distance, our budget wasn’t ginormous and we hadn’t been since 2010. We hopped on Costco Travel, booked everything (no military deals for us due to blackout dates), paid the deposit and prayed work didn’t cancel Bryan’s leave request. Everything panned out and 6 days, 3 parks, 2 cities, 2 hotels, 27+ miles walked, 768 miles driven and tons of laughs later, we ended 2014 with a bang!
Monday :: December 22
Monday, Bryan and I packed up the truck and headed to Los Angeles. It is amazing how quiet the ride was, minus Jacey. :-) Jacey, lucky girl, had already been in LA for 2 days, with some dear friends hitting Universal Studios and Knott’s Berry Farm, so her total of fun was actually 8 days, 5 parks, 2 cities and 3 hotels. After we got to town, we checked into our hotel (DoubleTree Suites by Hilton on Harbor Blvd) and then went to grab Jacey. Picked up some dinner and managed to make it back to our hotel before the Disney fireworks which we had a great view of from our room. After the fireworks, it was lights out, because it was going to be a LONG week.
Tuesday :: December 23
Tuesday, we were up bright and early to catch the ART (Anaheim Resort Transit) bus and head over to Disneyland. We had 0700 reservations at Goofy’s Kitchen for a character breakfast before heading into the park. Food was outstanding and the characters did a great job of interacting with the customers. After breakfast, we hit the park (Disneyland) for day 1. Lines were very manageable until about noon, when it became crazy. Thankfully, we utilized the FastPass system and it made things pretty smooth. We made a pit stop for lunch at Cafe Orleans for a Monte Cristo (who can pass up that amazingness?) and a few minutes off of our feet. The afternoon was filled with more rides until time for Fantasmic! and the Believe Fireworks. While the show was amazing, the seating was just a complete mess and definitely NOT filled with that Disney magic you expect. First thing when we hit the park in the morning, we went to grab a Fantasmic! FastPass from over near Big Thunder Railway as recommended by several people. When it got close to the seating time listed on our FastPass, we attempted to figure out where to go. It seemed like no one knew. We were told to hang out in the “square”, then we got chewed out for hanging out in a prohibited area. They finally let us in, only for us to discover that all the FastPass got us was seating on the sidewalk, behind a 2 foot fence, packed in like a can of sardines. Next time, we will forego the FastPass and take our chances on a standing room spot behind the FastPass section. After Fantasmic!, the fireworks and the “snow”, we were going to head back to the hotel but noticed that the line for Pirates of the Caribbean was non-existent, so we hit that first. We had skipped that ride earlier in the day, because it isn’t their greatest ride and had a 3+ hour wait. Yes, 3+ hours for a boat. After Pirates, we hopped back on the ART and headed back to the hotel to get ready for another day of fun!
Wednesday :: December 24
Wednesday, was Disneyland California Adventure day! Once we were through the gates, we headed over to grab a Radiator Springs Racers FastPass before our breakfast reservations at Ariel’s Grotto (a little birdie told me they run out of those FAST). We had to indulge our princess, with some Disney princesses at least once during the trip. While the food at Ariel’s Grotto was not as good as Goofy’s Kitchen IMO, the character experience was better. Jacey got pictures with several princesses while we were there. After breakfast, it was time for rides. We got to ride everything we wanted at least once and several things 2-3 times. Soarin’ had the longest wait of almost an hour and we used FastPasses for RS Racers, Tower of Terror and California Screamin’. Jacey was petrified to go on Tower of Terror the first time and then it quickly became one of her favorites. Dinner was at Carthay Circle with the World of Color dining package. Once again, not impressed with the “special” show seating, but dinner was fabulous! We will definitely make reservations there again. After World of Color Winter Dreams, we hit a few more rides before heading back to the hotel. Thus for on the trip, the ART transportation had been great, no more than a 15 minute wait to hop on each time. This time though, that was sadly not the case. They had combined routes (or that was what we were told) and there weren’t enough busses for the amount of people. AFter an hour of waiting, even as tired and sore as we were, we were ready to hike to our hotel which was just a couple miles away when a shuttle with our magical number on it showed up. Hallelujah! That night, we still held on to our Christmas Eve tradition of opening new jammies, tree or not and soon thereafter, everyone crashed.
Thursday :: December 25
Merry Christmas! Christmas Day was our last day in the parks and a memory that won’t soon be forgotten. We chose to use our Magic Morning today and set out for Disneyland bright and early. We used our extra hour to catch Space Mountain a few times before the masses were allowed in. Since this was our second day in the park, we just hit the rides that we either really loved or the few that we didn’t catch on day 1. Even though it was a bit chilly, a Dole Whip also could not be passed up. Indiana Jones rattled my brain as much as the first time I rode it a long time ago and I loved the Christmas decor in Haunted Mansion (it was especially spooky when I broke down…LOL). For dinner, we had reservations at StoryTellers Cafe inside of Disneyland Hotel. We had already decided that Christmas Day was going to be a shorter day in the park. We had read instances of the park getting too full and denying entry for a while and took that into consideration when making our dinner reservations outside fo the park. It was worth it though. The dinner was fabulous and we were all exhausted. Jacey even fell asleep in my lap waiting on our table…something the teen never does anymore. Sure enough, after dinner when we were walking back through the entry are to the ART bus, the gates to Disneyland were closed and no one was getting in. I felt so bad for those poor kids out there waiting. Back in the hotel, we talked to family, semi-packed up and just relaxed.
Friday :: December 26
Friday, Jacey thought we were headed home but we had one more surprise for her. As crazy as we were, we packed up the truck and headed down the freeway to San Diego to utilize our Waves of Honor free Seaworld tickets that we had not previously gotten to use in 2014 due to chemo. Waves of Honor is a fantastic program that gives military families free tickets once a year to one of the parks in their business family. We had lots of fun and as always, I get teary when I watch the Shamu shows. I’m a sucker for marine life. Bryan and Jacey rode their favorite Seaworld ride Manta and try as they might, they had to go Shipwreck Rapids without me. Last year, they finally convinced me to go after gobs of people came off the ride barely wet. Guess what happens to me? I get stuck under the waterfall. Drenched does not touch how wet I was. This year, I wasn’t falling for that again. :-)
Saturday :: December 27
Saturday, we slept in a little bit, hit up Point Loma Seafoods (I needed a seafood and salt air fix) for lunch, IKEA (as always if in the area…..hurry up Vegas store) and home. After our week, that was all we could muster.