As many of you know, I am a Disney-aholic! I pretty much love anything Disney and especially love going down to Disneyland as often as possible. It had been about 2 and 1/2 years since my last visit, so when I stumbled upon the "Disney Travel Agent Appreciation" announcement, I quickly consulted with my calendar to see if we could squeeze a trip in this year. Luckily, we had one free weekend in the time frame they were offering this promotion and I was able to get our dates and resort preference.
GETTING DOWN TO DISNEYLAND:
My new found favorite way to get to Disneyland is to fly Jet Blue into Long Beach airport. Since my last visit to Disneyland, Jet Blue has expanded their service and they now fly from SFO, San Jose and Oakland to Long Beach. The times are still best from Oakland and San Jose and we were able to get a wonderful $98 roundtrip per person airfare San Jose-Long Beach. Smooth flight, everything is on time, Jet Blue planes are very comfortable, the staff actually seems to genuinely enjoy working for the airline and you even get soft drinks/water and a real snack for FREE! Yes, you heard me - FREE! You can also check your first bag for FREE! We were only going for 2 nights and could have carried on our wheelie suitcases, but because of the ease of Long Beach and our confidence with Jet Blue, we checked our two bags and it felt very weird to go through security with only a purse- I actually felt as thought I was missing something.
One hour in flight down to Long Beach, the airline staff were very efficient with taking drink orders and passing out your choice of a snack and just as efficient and polite when cleaning up before landing. When you arrive into Long Beach, they deplane from both front and rear exits, so you get off the plane much quicker and typically by the time you get to baggage claim your bags are there as well. I went to get our car rental, while Bill got the luggage. This saved us from waiting in line at the Hertz counter ~ I did have a problem with the first car they gave us (dead battery) and when I walked back in the line was now 20 people long (I didn't have to wait though, they helped me right away)- gave us an upgrade on the car and we were on our way.
Twenty minute side-street drive to Anaheim. If you google the directions from the airport you'll see they say about 30 minutes by highway and 28 minutes avoiding the highway. It's 28 minutes if you hit every red light and about 20 minutes if you hit them at green. We pulled up to the Disneyland Resort Hotel within an hour of our flight landing at the airport.
DISNEYLAND RESORT HOTEL:
It has been years since I stayed at the Disneyland Hotel, in fact, ever since Grand California opened that is where I had been staying. This time, I wanted to experience the Disneyland Hotel because they recently renovated the entire property. All rooms were redecorated, the towers were all renamed and most importantly the resort became completely NON-SMOKING!! Every staff member we came into contact with between the parking valet, luggage valet, front desk were all very friendly which really helps to set the mood for a fun time at the "Happiest Place on Earth." Our room wasn't ready, but we didn't expect it to be at 11am, which was the time we had arrived ~ so we checked our bags with the bell desk and started walking towards the Monorail. (I will continue about the "Park" experiences in a separate section).
Our room at the Disneyland resort was very comfortable. The beds were very cozy with plush duvets, I had a bit of difficulty getting in and out of bed as the beds were very tall, and I am just the opposite- so I literally had to "climb" into bed ~ which after a full day of walking in inappropriate shoes (when will I ever learn?) - I was very soar and getting into bed was a task...oh but once I was there, my body was recovering from the hard days in the park. My husband had forgotten his razor, so a quick call to housekeeping and they came up right away with enough supplies to get him through a month. Our room was always made up perfectly and all supplies were replenished. We actually had a room that was handicap accesible, so our bathroom was HUGE! We really didn't have any complaints with our room and we had a very nice view of the Neverland Pool.
We ordered room service our first evening (late) for something light and that was delivered promptly. We spent some time both evenings at The Lost Bar overlooking the Neverland Pool for our "night cap". We had met up with an old friend from High School and her husband and 3 year old, so after one of our days at Disneyland we had met them and came back to the hotel for cocktails. If you are sitting at the tables near the Lost Bar you do have to go up to the bar to order, so I can't say that "service" was great, because we really didn't have any service. The atmosphere was perfect though and we had heat lamps all around. It was a perfect night and you never would have believed it was the end of October! We did our traditional dinner at Steakhouse 55 (formerly Granville's Steakhouse) and they never disappoint. Our experience was 5 star from start to finish with excellent food, attentive service and romantic atmosphere.
This was my first time visiting Disneyland for the Halloween Holiday Season. It was very festive (as you'll see with the pictures below). Pumpkins, Candy Corn and all that resonates Halloween was decorated all over both parks. We got to Disneyland our first day around noon time and it was a Saturday, the busiest day of our visit. We did as many rides as we could and used our Fast Pass system to avoid the longest lines. Our only new attraction in Disneyland since our last visit was the Finding Nemo Submarine ride. That line was very long, so we decided we'd take care of that early the next day when we had early entrance. Overall, lines weren't too bad and we had a very good time. We ate a mid-afternoon lunch at the Tomorrowland Terrace and the food was very good.
We decided to go over to California Adventure around 4pm since that park closes earlier we wanted to make sure to get a few of those rides in for the day. It was less crowded over there and we were able to go on California Screamin', Tower of Terror, Soarin' Over California and the newest attraction Toy Story Mania. Toy Story is a wonderful 4 dimensional interactive game ride (similar to Buzz Lightyear in Disneyland) - but better! We rode this ride the most over our short weekend and it will be a ride that I will continue to ride over and over again. Once California Adventure closed at 8pm, we headed back to our hotel for a late night snack and an early bedtime so we could start our next day bright and early.
Sunday we were able to enter Disneyland at 7am and we did! It was foggy and cool, but we were able to go on everything in Fantasyland and once the rest of the park opened up we did several other popular rides early in the day before having our traditional character breakfast at the Plaza Inn around 11am. Breakfast was very good, it is a buffet with many choices and cooked to order omelettes that were very tasty! I got my "fill" of character photos and we had a very nice leisurely meal. The weather was so wonderfully warm that getting soaked on Splash Mountain didn't matter much - we dried off fairly quickly. We were able to go on the Finding Nemo ride once it opened (it was not open right away due to technical difficulties) ~ we waited 40 minutes for that ride and that was the longest that we waited for anything. It wasn't worth it ~ it was the old submarine ride with a few movie projections of Nemo & friends along the way. For kids that have never been there, it would be fine ~ but for an oldtimer like myself- it didn't do it for me.
Monday we slept in a bit and then checked out of the hotel, checked our bags with the bellman and headed over to California Adventure and had lunch at Award Weiners in Hollywood Pictures Backlot and then proceeded to go on Tower of Terror, California Screamin', Mulholland's Madness and Toy Story Mania as many times as possible before we had to leave at 3pm for the airport. We definitely got our fill and had a wonderful time!
TRAVEL BACK HOME:
We retrieved our bags and car rental from the Disneyland Hotel and drove to Long Beach airport, again about 20 minutes to get there, easy drop off of the car, walked across the street to check-in and easy through security, then we waited for our on-time flight back to San Jose, which actually left 10 minutes early because everyone was there on time. Smooth all the way around. From the time we landed (early by 20 minutes) we had already retrieved our bags and taken the parking shuttle to the car so that the time we started our drive home was the actual time we were supposed to have landed. All in all, this was a great weekend getaway ~ we could not have asked for anything to go differently!! It was awesome!