By Karen Fisher Ho
COVID, masks, six feet apart, hand sanitizers, vaccination cards and all the other insanity of 2020 and 2021 inflicted upon us all, made this family trip to Disneyland the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’.
Our family of eight, two daughters and their hubbies and kiddies and Grandma and Grandpa checked into the redwood lodge themed Grand Californian. The hotel’s lobby decor of overstuffed leather chairs, wooden beamed ceiling, large fireplace, stained glass windows, antler chandeliers and a piano player tickling the keys of Disney tunes, set our mood.
In early November around Veteran’s Day, both the California Adventure and Disneyland parks are decked out in Christmas holiday decorations. Icicles appear to drip off Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, beach ball sized red, green, gold and silver ornaments dangle from tree branches and lamp posts and Its A Small World is a showcase of vibrant colored blocks and clocks, all welcoming the season. Even the Haunted Mansion, with Tim Burton’s creepy ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ theme, has holiday greenery with a ghoulish design and fire-y pumpkins.
Day 1 – 6:45am
Grandma was ready with her back support velcro’d in place, ankles and arches tightly wrapped in ace bandages and of course water and Advil in the backpack. But Day 1 began in the Grandkiddies room. With six phones set on the Disney app screen, it was deemed mandatory to snag a reservation slot for our party of eight for the newest hottest best ride in Disneyland’s Star Wars : Galaxy’s Edge. Our seven year old grandson was our time keeper; counting us down to exactly 7am when the reservation window would open.
Fingers at the ready, screens up. 7am! Click! Click! Click! Tense, excitement. Then a scream, “I got it” CONFIRM! as the other five phones displayed ERROR. Our Son-in-Law had snagged a reservation for us at 2pm that day to ride the most popular ride in Disneyland, Stars Wars: Rise of the Resistance. Yehhh!
Iphones charged, park hoppers and vaccination cards were at the ready. Our four year old grand daughter and her seven year old brother were loaded into the stroller, fully packed with snacks and juice boxes. We advanced to Disneyland’s park entrance, tickets and passes on our screens and through security, Mickey and Minnie await!
That day we thundered down Thunder Mountain Railroad and jumped into a carriage in Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. On Autopia, the roadway jiggled us about with the Grandkiddies at the wheel and Grandparents on the gas pedals. Parents, GrandParents and kiddies equestrian skills were tested hopping aboard King Arthur’s Carousel.
After lunch it was a mad dash to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge for the coveted Rise of the Resistance ride. The excitement was continuous from entering the star cruiser, a march to the interrogation bay, into escape pods and speedily shuttled here and about while dodging enemy fire. We saw Rae, Poe, and BB-8, as well as Kylo Ren, 50 armed Storm Troopers, and ducked under two AT-TT (All Terrain Armored Transport) . It was the best!
As we waited in several long lines each day and the anticipation of the fun to come, my daughter asked her little girl “Who do you want to the ride this ride with?” She looked up at me with her red glittered Minnie-eared headband teetering on her small head and responded “Grandma”. I smiled touching my hand to my heart and dropping to-my knees to her level, not a heart attack, hugging her as I said “I would like that too.” She was my ride buddy for the entire trip. That’s Grandma bliss!
The day ended in exhaustion and with a smile as I wondered “Can I continue at this pace tomorrow?” But it was too late. I was in it to win it! Off to Calif Adventure tomorrow.
Day 1 – By the Numbers:
17 hours standing, steps 22,891, 9.6 miles walked
Day 2 The next morning, in Cars Land, we hopped into vintage roadsters in Luigi’s Rollickin Roadsters, each car moving in car-eography with the rhythmic beat to songs such as ‘Mambo Italiano’.
Next stop was the wet and wild Grizzly River Run. In the eight person inter-tube we were smashed, splashed and dropped over rapids and down water falls. A rogue wave slammed my younger daughter and the Grankids laughed and pointed at her soaked sneakers and shorts.
Goofy’s Sky School was highly recommended by the smallest of our group so of course Grandpa and Grandma hopped aboard. The tiny car for two rode on high rails whipping around tight corners and tighter curves and had Grandma screaming in terror the whole ride.
At day’s end we checked in for our reservation at Carthay Circle Restaurant; described as American, fine dining, cocktails, and table service. You had Grandma at table service and cocktails! The Carthay Mai Tai was a proper beginning to an epicurean delight of Pomegranate Pork Chops, Yukon Buttery Mashed Potatoes, ending in Dark Chocolate Cake.
Day 2 – By the numbers:
15 hours standing, steps 20,541, 8.7 miles walked
DAY 3 Seeing the “Happiest Place on Earth” through my GrandKids eyes was priceless. Screaming as Splash Mountain descent into ‘the splash’, our feet no longer on the ground in Soarin, and that last stomach swirl in the pink Tea Cup ride are experiences I will always treasure.
Disneyland at night is always breathtaking, Mark Twain’s Riverboat framed in lights as it floated along on the Rivers of America, the balconies of New Orleans Square brightly lit to showcase the beautiful terraces of cascading flowers and New Orleans architecture. Sleeping Beauty’s Castle dazzled with colorful spot lights and show lights. And even the carousel’s gold reined stallions glistened in the moon light.
Day 3 – By the numbers:
16 hours standing, steps 26,189, 11.1 miles walked and in course of three days a total of 26 rides experienced.
Showered and exhausted, I slide into bed. wondering if my legs were at least an inch shorter, after all the walking. Then I heard a pop off the balcony. I opened the curtains to a spray of colored dots and sparks above the hotel, over the park; the 9pm fireworks. Grandpa and Grandma slid into the balcony chairs, stretched wobbly legs onto the companion chairs and enjoyed the explosions of light and color. An exhausted smile took over my sixty-seven year old face. This was the best trip ever!