Friday, October 10, 2008

All Good Things

My apologies for the one-day lag getting this out. I'll say this about vacations - they are not relaxing. They don't reinvigorate me or make me feel ready or anxious to jump back into work and everyday life. They wear me out. It is stressful business trying to ensure that everything flows smoothly and everyone returns home safely. Hence the delay; I was merely dormant while my body repaired itself.

We needed to check out of the hotel by 11:00 AM, but we wanted to be in the park by 9:00 AM (Thursday was another "Magic Morning" early entry day for certain ticket holders) to squeeze every possible minute out of our last day. Factoring in time for breakfast, we woke up at 7:00 AM to shower, pack up and load the car. We were allowed to park at the hotel until midnight. In one final troop surge designed to fill the last remaining pages of Brooklyn's autograph book, we hit the Storyteller's Cafe in our hotel. This is another character restaurant/buffet similar to Goofy's Kitchen, but with relatively innocuous characters and therefore not nearly as expensive. Chip 'n Dale are the headliners. Others include Rosie O'Donnell's monkey from Tarzan and a bunch of bears that looked somewhat familiar; the old Country Bears maybe?

Problem was, we already had both Chip and Dale's autographs, and most of the others declined due to excessively large stuffed paws where hands would normally be. We called it quits on the signatures. When Dale stopped by he tried to help Karsten entertain himself by dumping out the little basket of jellies and syrups out onto the table in front of him. Several minutes later Brooklyn got out of her chair and started to walk away "to go spank Dale because he made a big mess." Corporal punishment works.

I'm not sure what the point is of Disneyland saying only certain types of ticket holders can enter the parks early for the Magic Morning. When we got to the main entrances at 9:15 AM, 45 minutes before the gates open to the public, there were absolutely no lines. No normal lines for 10:00 AM entry. No special lines for the Magic Morning. Everyone was already inside. Both parks were jam packed with people all day - on Thursday. Those were by far the longest lines we'd seen the entire week. The Matterhorn line wrapped all the way around the mountain just like the old days when it was one of the best rides available. At any rate, we 'hauled hawkins'* over to Splash Mountain to begin our farewell tour. We asked the girls how they wanted to spend their final day. Madison chose Splash Mountain, Brooklyn chose the 'unicorns' (AKA King Arthur Carousel). We stopped by Indiana Jones to grab FastPasses for 10:30 for My and Sean (see forthcoming entry about the power I seem to possess over rides). We noted that Pirates was only a 5 minute wait at that point. So after Sara and Madison rode Splash Mountain and Brooklyn let a very nice elderly Japanese tourist gentleman tie her shoe (the intent of which was entirely communicated through hand gestures), we switched and I went with Madison again. Disneyland gives out a family switch pass for people with small children (that can't go on the ride). The parent who waits plus one additional person can basically go straight to the front of the line.

My and Sean weren't quite into the park yet to give them their FastPasses and take their kids, so we ducked into Pirates one last time. Pirates is located nearly halfway between Splash Mountain and Indiana Jones. They really did an excellent job of integrating the brand enhancements brought about by the movies while preserving the feel of the original attraction. The timing was perfect and we met up with My and Sean. Djeryd didn't want to do Indiana Jones again, so they snuck Erik onto it despite the two inches in height he was lacking. He loved it. We had five kids to manage for a while, so we ducked into Pirates one last time, again, because the line was still so short. Brookie was heard singing "a pirate's life for me" repeatedly throughout the remainder of the day.

After that we split up because Djeryd and Erik wanted to go to Tom Sawyer's Island (now called "Pirates Lair on Tom Sawyer Island") and we had promised Brookie she could ride the unicorns again. We still wanted to get over to California Adventure before we were through. We coincidentally reunited with My and Sean on Main Street as we were both heading out.

In California Adventure we went straight for Turtle Talk with Crush because My and Sean had missed it the day before. The show was completely different from the one I described in an earlier entry when Madison was chosen from the audience. My thinks the voice-guy wears a bunch of sensors on his face in order to capture the facial expressions and mouth movement. I really have no idea - it could be. I totally like, do not know the answer, dude, but I'll be anxious to see the featurette someday. Sean, Sara and Djeryd rode the big roller coaster "California Screamin'". We tried to do the Monsters, Inc. ride (see forthcoming entry about the now certain power I possess over rides), then wrapped up in A Bug's Land. I sat in a nice, big shady spot with a sleeping Anna and Karsten to wait for everyone to finish up.

To get to our cars we made the 10 minute walk through Downtown Disney, the retail, dining and entertainment district between the entrances to the two parks and the old Disneyland Hotel. This fit perfectly into Djeryd's grand scheme to dip into the Lego store for one final indulgence. He picked out a Star Wars set while Erik selected an Indiana Jones-themed set. It is unknown at this point whether Lego still makes/sells rectangular and square-shaped pieces anymore.

The additional time we allowed ourselves to combat rush hour was unneeded - traffic was great. However, those minutes came in particularly useful for Sean when he discovered his wallet was missing. Evidently they don't much like for unidentifiable persons to fly on airplanes. We checked with the car rental company, the Lego store, the Rainforest Cafe where we'd eaten the night prior - no hits. The kids were terrorizing the airport while Sara tried to keep any of them from escaping (there were automatic doors on two fronts). They allowed Sean to fly, albeit with 'extra' security screening. Our plane was a bit late. They changed our gate after we'd settled in. Sean called everyone he could think of to suspend his accounts. The flight crew gave the kids wing badges and chocolate. Brooklyn drove us crazy from asking, literally every 20 seconds, if we were off the ground yet. As soon as we were finally off the ground for real, she said "time for snacks" and her motives all became clear as she lowered her little tray. 

Karsten slept almost the entire flight. Brookie slept after her snacks. Djeryd made a little place for Madison to sleep in the row ahead of us using his Davy Crockett/Daniel Boone hat. When Madison wakes up quickly she talks a lot like Wesley from Princess Bride after he swallows Miracle Max's chocolate coated pill. After we had landed and the plane was unloading, Madison woke up and told the whole plane how she "was sleeping on the airplane and Djeryd was very nice and made a bed for [her] and made a pillow for [her] head with his 'skunk hat'".

We got home at 11:30 PM. Straight to bed for everyone.

We had such a great trip with My and Sean and their family. It is so much more fun (and convenient) to go to Disneyland with another family. The benefit of the extra adults far outweighs the challenge of the extra kids. It was very cool to stay on the premises and be so close to everything. Sean found his wallet this morning inside one of their checked bags.

I will post a few Disney-related follow-up posts over the next several days to cover some miscellaneous subjects, before deciding what to do with this blog in the long-term. Thanks for reading.

* The term 'haul hawkins' was coined on 10/09/08 during our return trip. I thought Sean had used those words and asked him to confirm, because I thought it was clever. Sean said that was not what he had said, but he liked it. We held a vote and the phrase was adopted immediately thereafter by a margin of 2-0.

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