June 2017 Trip Report – WDW vets reflect on their first DLR trip

Discussion in 'Disneyland Trip Reports' started by Khokhonutt, Jul 9, 2017.

  1. Khokhonutt

    Khokhonutt DIS Veteran

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    We are home!

    The good news is, this was a great vacation. The bad news is, this was such a good vacation, my brain has been in non-work mode for over two weeks. I did have time on our drive home to think about things, but we're now a week separated from the Disney part of our trip that I didn't take the time to fully document.

    I'd love to take the time to organize everything, but then I'm afraid I'd take too much time organizing and never get it done. So I'm going to take the fling poo on the wall approach. I'll fling and see what sticks. Hopefully it ends up being helpful and entertaining to at least some of you.

    We started our trip on Wednesday, June 21st. I was able to finish up and cut out of work around noon. My wife, who is trying to get a job closer to home, ended up with an interview at noon, so it was around 1:30 pm before we hit the road. I had the car packed and the pups ready to go, so as soon as my wife changed, we pointed to rental car west.

    Our first stop would be just west of Nashville, TN. On the trip out, I usually take advantage of us gaining timezone hours and the excitement of the trip. For that reason we drove a little later into the evening and were up and out very early each day.

    Folks ask how our dogs do on our trips. Here's a picture of them settled in, not long after we left.
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    The light tan ball of fur on the left is Bear. The white ball of fur on the right is Marti. They mostly sleep on trips, although they do migrate up to Mom's lap, the floor near Mom's feet and occasionally help me navigate. Marti loves to take time out to sniff the air coming in the car as well.

    On our way through Asheville, NC, we stopped at one of our favorite food places.
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    It's called Rocky's Hot Chicken Shack and they do outstanding Nashville hot chicken. For those not familiar with Nashville hot chicken, it's marinaded and breaded chicken, with a spiced breading. For many people that's enough spice and it is very flavorful. But for those of us who like it hot, they can do several levels of spice. We get it hot, but still a couple levels below the hottest. The "trick" with Nashville hot chicken is they take some of the hot oil from the fryer and put it in a metal bowl, add the spice mixture for the heat you want, then toss the chicken in that mixture. The flash frying of the spices give them a unique flavor that is passed on to the chicken. It's hot goodness that is presently making me drool, just thinking about it.

    It was too hot to leave the dogs in the car, so my wife walked them while I ordered our food to go. We both hit the restroom, then we got back on the road. The rest of the first leg of our trip was uneventful. We got into our first hotel around 10:30 pm and were up and out by 5 am the next morning.

    Our goal for Day 2 was to make New Mexico before we stopped. We headed west on I40, made it through Tennessee and most of Arkansas, then we had to stop at an old college/high school band stop.

    This is Feltner's Whatta-Burger.
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    Texas and NC have their own what-a/whatta sandwich shops, but this place is the best, in my mind. We stopped here, both in high school and in college, when I was in band.

    It's a good old southern burger joint with consistently hot, fresh, good food.
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    They even had a picnic area, so we could let the pups stretch their legs.
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    We stopped at a Walmart, then gassed up after lunch, then we headed west again. This time we crossed Oklahoma without ever stepping foot in the state. Nothing against Oklahoma, it's just one of those goofy goals I end up setting for myself when I'm driving. Once we made it most of the way, we kept going, stopping just inside Texas to fill up with gas and empty our bladders. :)

    Our next two stops were part of my RT66 research I'd done regarding Cars Land and a place I'd meant to stop several times, but never thought to until we drove by.

    First stop, the Conoco Tower in Shamrock, TX. It's easy to see this was the inspiration for Ramone's body shop in Radiator Springs.
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    We also saw one of Mater's relatives, parked in the back.
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    Then, mixing old with new, these electric car chargers were out back as well.
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    And here's our combo picture showing both the real and the Disney version.
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    My one remaining bucket list item for this place is to see it at night. I'd love to see it lit up in neon.

    Our next stop was the Cadillac Ranch, just west of Amarillo, TX. While not specifically in the movie, I understand this was part of the inspiration for the finned car mountains in the Cars movie (and in Cars Land). We've driven past this several times and said we need to stop. This time we put it in the GPS and made a point of stopping.

    Here it is from the road, just off I40.
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    And here are a couple pictures up close.
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    After this stop, we finished our trip through Texas and stayed just into New Mexico. Mission accomplished!

    I'll end this post for now. Next post we'll cover the rest of our trip into Vegas and then we head to California!
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2017
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  2. jcc0621

    jcc0621 DIS Veteran

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    Can't wait to hear about the rest of the trip!
     
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  4. lwanthony

    lwanthony Music Man

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    Love the pics, and report! Glad you have a great trip, can't wait for more!!!!!
     
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  5. AuntieMe3

    AuntieMe3 Mouseketeer

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    I've been looking forward to your trip report! Cant wait to hear the rest! We love road trips and hope to make it across the country sometime. The furthest east we've gone is Ft Riley, KS where my brother and sister in law were stationed for awhile. Interested in your travel days to and from Vegas, as someone who lives almost in the middle of Vegas and Anaheim, we've had some horrific traffic lately so I was wondering if you go caught up in any of it.
     
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  6. Khokhonutt

    Khokhonutt DIS Veteran

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    Go west, young man!

    Ok, let's continue our trip west, but first a couple of notes.

    First, for those of you who didn't read our pre-trip report, we rented a car for this trip. There are a number of reasons why this approach works for us. First, putting 5,000+ miles (5,432.9, to be exact) on someone else's car, just makes sense to me. I don't have to buy tires for the car. I don't have to have the A/C fixed (see later in the report). While my wife's spark gets 40 mpg, it's not a long distance traveler and while my truck is comfortable, it doesn't get spectacular mileage (and it would need tires by the time we got back).

    We ended up renting a full size car from Avis. We ended up with a Kia Optima.
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    It was a real nice car, was comfortable and got great gas mileage. We loved it right up until the A/C gave out on our way home. We rode most of the way from Oklahoma City to Fort Smith, AR without A/C in 90+ degree temperature. The good news is we swapped it out in under an hour and it was someone else's problem after that.

    As we continued west, we had more Cars Land related and just general RT66 related stops to make.

    First we stopped by the Wigwam Motel, in Holbrook, AZ. It was one of a few inspirations for the Cozy Cone Motel in the movie.
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    I thought it was neat how they had an old car by each tee pee, to kind of make it appear correct for the period when it was more popular.
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    People actually stay there. We saw house keeping going form tee pee to tee pee. I kind of wish we took more time to check it out, but we had miles to cross before we rested.

    Here's a panorama of the place. I love old places like this.
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    And of course our selfie, so we could put together our mash up picture.
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    And here's our Cozy Cone, Wigwam combo shot.
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    Maybe it's just me, but we seem to be smiling bigger in the Cars Land pictures. Why would that be? :)

    Our next stop was at the suggestion of a friend and it's very cool for a fan of The Eagles (band). The stop was in Winslow, AZ and you can search for it by the name, "Standin' on the Corner Park."

    It's a park commemorating the song "Take It Easy". You can literally be "Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona..."
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    If you look carefully, painted in the reflection on the far building is, "a girl, my Lord, in a flat-bed Ford."
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    This is me being demure, because she's, "Slowing down to take a look at me." Apparently, I don't do demure well. :)
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    This picture cracks me up. They had the giant RT66 logo on the intersection and if you look to the right side of the picture, there was a large group of Asian folks.
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    We were entertained while they kept running out into the intersection, taking pictures, almost getting run over and just laughing the whole time. Finally, they noticed us standing there and insisted we join in the fun, while they took our picture. This was our picture in the intersection of the corner, in Winslow, Arizona.
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    After getting our pictures in Winslow, we headed west again. We did stop at one of our favorite rest areas on the trip. It's a scenic rest area in Arizona, but these signs always crack me up. I've posted it on Facebook as, "Arizona hates your pets." It looks like they're saying, walk your dogs over there... ...By the rattlesnakes and scorpions... ...Please... :)
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    This picture was my wife's idea. We stopped to try a place called Raising Caine's. It's a good chicken place, started in the Vegas area, I think. We ate in the car, because it was too hot to leave the dogs in the car. When we eat in the car, we get some very interested parties in the back of the car.
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    They're usually pretty good about staying back and letting us eat, but our little girl dog is very food motivated, so she has to be pushed back occasionally.

    Here we are driving around Vegas, on our way to our daughter's house.
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    Our total drive time, door to door, from our house in NC to my daughter's house in Vegas was roughly 36 hours. That's driving time, time for gas and bathroom breaks and time for meals. We left NC around 2pm and were at my daughter's house around 4pm. We changed times 3 times (once for Central time, once for Mountain time and once for Pacific time). Travelling west is our favorite. You gain hours as you go west. You gain speed limits as you go west (I love the 75 mph speed limit signs. I call them my favorite welcome signs.). And we're usually full of energy at the beginning of the trip.

    We pushed pretty hard on this trip out, because we wanted to get to Vegas on Friday, so we had some time before we had to board the dogs on Saturday. When it's cooler, we usually make a point of having a couple sit down meals each day. This time we mostly ate in the car, so we could leave the A/C running for the pups. Our daughter treated us when we arrived with home made tamales. She and her boyfriend went to a friend's house to learn how to make them and they made a ton. If you've never had a fresh, home made tamale, you're missing out. They are so much better than what you can get in a restaurant, unless you live in the southwest. We did our best to put a dent in them before we headed back east.

    On Saturday, the girls went to get their nails done, for the trip and I took the car for a wash. It was pretty nasty from the little rain we did see on the way out.

    Here are their fingers.
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    And here are their toes.
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    I also surprised the girls with custom made Minnie ears. I can't believe we didn't get a picture when I gave them to them, so I'll have to tease some of our Photopass shots. My wife's are Moana (we've been on a Moana kick, since we saw the movie with our neighbor's little girl) and my daughter's are Lion King (what kid her age didn't love that movie?). I think they came out nice, but they did suffer a bit from the rides and such by the end of the week.
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    We boarded the dogs in Vegas without issue. We used Craig Road Animal Hospital in Vegas. They were very nice in working with me long distance to make sure we had all paperwork in order before we left on our trip. I was a little nervous that we'd get out there and have a problem with the boarding, but it really went well. They took the dogs with no problems. We always hate leaving them. Disney and Hawaii have been our only trips where we left them behind. Otherwise they're always there and it's strange not having them. That said, I don't think we're around the room during our Disney trips to properly take care of them, so this is one time when we suck it up for their sake.

    So I think that brings us up to departure day on Sunday morning. We all settled down early and set our alarms for 4am, ready to battle the Vegas to California Sunday traffic. Fingers crossed!!! Next update we'll officially start the Disney portion of the trip!
     
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  7. theluckyrabbit

    theluckyrabbit Moderator Moderator

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    I forgot to mention before that L.A. now has 2 authentic places for Nashville hot chicken straight from Nashville! Howlin' Ray's Hot Chicken (Home | Howlin' Ray's | Nashville Hot Chicken in LA) and Hotville Chicken (run by the niece of the owner of Prince's in Nashville; https://la.eater.com/2017/1/17/14298380/princes-hot-chicken-nashville-hotville-los-angeles) are both walking distance to each other in Chinatown, by DTLA. Should you go by there on your next visit, these could make for fun reasons to stop.
     
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  8. jcc0621

    jcc0621 DIS Veteran

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    Where did you get the ears made?! I MUST have a pair!!!!!
    I really want to the cross country thing when my DH and I retire so we can go see all these cool places. ONLY 10 years to go :rolleyes1
     
  9. Khokhonutt

    Khokhonutt DIS Veteran

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    Day 1, Vegas to California and some Disney exploring!

    In my research for Disneyland Resort, we decided on our week (last week in July) and our days (Monday through Friday) for a few reasons. For one thing, my wife works for the school system, so her vacation time is pretty much limited to Christmas break, Spring break and Summer vacation. I get work holidays around the 4th, so taking consecutive weeks around that time worked well for our visit in Vegas after Disney. Our week, while potentially busy, seemed to be a good choice, so that's what we booked.

    Our plan was to drive down on Sunday, do some stuff around Downtown Disney and the DLR resorts, then spend Monday through Friday in the parks. I had heard nightmares about California to Vegas on Fridays and Vegas to California on Sundays, so we planned an early start on Sunday. I rousted the group at 4am, made coffee, grabbed a quick shower, then packed the car. We were on the road by 5am, which was my plan. The drive ended up being great.

    Here's a picture of us driving through Vegas at O'dark-thirty.
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    Then this is on I15 in California.
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    We had very light traffic and I was pleasantly surprised at how scenic the ride was. I had heard folks lament about the boring drive through the desert. Maybe I'm just odd, but I really enjoyed the scenery and the drive. We ended up grabbing breakfast in Victorville, CA, then we arrived at our hotel (Best Western Plus Park Place Inn & Mini Suites) a little after 10am. I hoped they would allow us to park, but expected they wouldn't, so we had a plan B. I parked and went inside and they were not even talking to people about parking or rooms yet. We were told we could park sometime after 1pm and our room was guaranteed after 3pm. Their parking is gated, but you can get through for free by circling around and turning in your parking ticket within 5 minutes. I did notice some open parking on our way around, even though I was told there was no parking, but we decided not to push it since we had a couple of plan "B"s.

    One option was to get some Dim Sum at a place mentioned by chunkymonkey in her trip report, but a week or so before our trip I found out there was a Genki Sushi close to the parks. Genki Sushi, as the name implies, is a sushi place we visited a few times in our visits to Hawaii. It's not fancy, expensive sushi, but it's decent and it's fun. They have an interesting ordering system where you use a tablet to place your orders, then as your order is made, it comes out to you on a little train car. We like it because the items you order are relatively small portions, so you can try lots of stuff. We love their spicy tuna bowls and have tried many of the rolls. It also brings back fond memories of Hawaii. :)

    Here we are at the restaurant. We did have to kill a little time before they opened at 11am, so we walked around the mall, then got right in when the restaurant opened.
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    And here's a shot of me unloading our food, from one of our deliveries. You can see the tablet in it's holder (above the food) as well.
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    After lunch we headed back to the hotel. By the way, I caught all kinds of flack for driving everyone past the fun stuff, and then leaving. I was really hoping we'd get to park this time, so I didn't have to do that twice. :)

    Here we are, getting close!
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    Getting excited!
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    Hooray, they let us park and we headed to Downtown Disney! Here we are at the front of the hotel.
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    Woohoo! We made it!
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    Being Lion King fans, we had to do this. Check out the lady behind my wife and kids, towards the right. I'm not sure she's amused with our shenanigans.
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    The Lego store is always fun. I call this one beauties and beasties.
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    Our daughter's boyfriend vowed to protect us from the dragon.
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    We wandered through the Grand Californian and the rest of Downtown Disney, then we headed over to the Disneyland Hotel.
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    We waited a bit, then got a table inside Trader Sam's Tiki Bar. We were lucky because we had been in the bar for a while and saw one table that was about done, so we waited by the door. As we waited, we noticed the table next to the other table was also finishing up. As we were standing there, a girl walked in, walked up to the original table and asked if she could have that table. That table nicely responded that we had been waiting first. Her response was, "well I asked." The other table looked at us and basically nodded that we were ok. Fortunately everything worked out, but I have to wonder about some people these days...

    Here we are in the bar.
    Our daughter and her boyfriend:
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    And me and my wife:
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    We totally gave into the fun of this place and ran up a vacation sized tab, making the volcano go off and the ship sink. We also ordered food. The panko crusted long beans were delicious, as were the flat bread and the Hawaiian burger.
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    This was a great kick off for our vacation!
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    After a visit to the fancy bathrooms in the Disneyland Hotel, we headed back to our hotel. Our room was ready, so we checked in and moved in. We were very impressed with the room. As I understand they are recently renovated and they show it. We couldn't have asked for a nicer place to stay. It was close by and the breakfast had something for everyone to start our day each day. All in all I would not hesitate to stay here again.

    Here are a few pictures of the room.
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    After these pictures, we all crashed, ready for our first day in the parks the next day. I did hear the fireworks later that evening, but couldn't even manage to get out of bed to take a look. I'm glad we didn't regret that decision later in the week, but we were all pretty beat and we still had a few drinks in us. :)

    Tomorrow we head to the parks for the first time!!!
     
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  10. Khokhonutt

    Khokhonutt DIS Veteran

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    Don't wait! There is so much to see on road trips. I love them! Find an excuse and go!

    I ordered the ears from a seller on Etsy.com. If you've never shopped there before, it's a great source for hand made items. I've bought several items there, from gifts for my wife and daughter, to an anniversary ring for myself, and the ears. I got my wife and daughter's from a seller named AnascreationsByAna, but there are tons of different shops selling ears. I went with hers both because of the specific ears I was looking for and because she worked with me on a last minute order and made sure I had them in hand before we left on our trip.
     
  11. ErinF

    ErinF Mouseketeer

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    Joining in! We were in DL right before you guys. Really love all your Cars Land related stops. Can't wait to read more about your trip!!
     
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  12. jessrose18

    jessrose18 ADVENTURE IS OUT THERE!!

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    joining in !
     
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  13. Khokhonutt

    Khokhonutt DIS Veteran

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    I stand corrected on the picture of the girls with their ears. My wife was reading through this and sent me the picture. After looking around, I put it in another gallery.

    So here's the picture of my pretty girls. I love these smiles!
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    :)
     
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  14. deannaf87

    deannaf87 DIS Veteran

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    Your road trip looks fun! Hoping to make the trip from Texas to Disneyland via Route 66 next summer. It looks fun!
     
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  15. Khokhonutt

    Khokhonutt DIS Veteran

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    There is so much to see and do. You should have a great time!
     
  16. jenng1983

    jenng1983 Disney fanatic in Canada

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    Following!!! We just went in June too, and we also drove, from Calgary, Alberta. :)
     
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  17. Khokhonutt

    Khokhonutt DIS Veteran

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    Park day 1. Let the real fun begin!

    We really had 3 goals for our Day 1 in the parks. First, we wanted to get our PhotoPass+ figured out. Second, we wanted to get the lay of the land. Third, as part of our planning, I had everyone list the ride they would really like to ride on day 1 to kick things off. That list ended up including Toy Story Mania, Pirates, Splash &/or Space Mountain and the Matterhorn.

    We got up early, grabbed breakfast and headed to the parks. I didn't get pictures of the breakfast, but there are plenty out there if you search Google images. We found the food to be hot and fresh with a good variety for an included breakfast. I've had better, but I've certainly had much worse. They had a nice selection of drinks, including coffee, juices and milk. They had hot water and tea bags for tea. They also had yogurt (greek and regular) with a selection of toppings if you wanted to add to them. They had English muffins, bread and bagels, with a toaster. They also had a selection of cereals. On the food bar they had fruit and pastries. They had home fry potatoes each day, eggs each day (scrambled and in little circles so you could make a breakfast sandwich). Meat alternated between ham and breakfast sausage. There was sliced cheese, tortillas and salsa, so you could also fashion your own breakfast burritos. We all enjoyed what they had. We had talked about a breakfast in the park at some point, but we all felt having breakfast before we headed to the parks was the best use of our time, so we took advantage of the included breakfast every day we were there.

    One thing we did do, that's a little different, I suppose, is we purchased a supply of to go coffee cups from Walmart, for the week. We also brought our own creamer (we like the sugar free hazelnut variety). I did this for two reasons. One, we like to have our home creamer for a taste of home. Two, while the breakfast ended up having to go cups, they were pretty small, ours allowed for a bigger serving. And three, we didn't have to rush to finish our coffee each morning. Each morning I made up a cup for each coffee drinker, which we filled when we got to breakfast. We'd eat, then carry our cups with us to the parks. We usually finished our coffees before we got into the parks, so we tossed the cups and didn't have anything to carry around the rest of the day.

    Speaking of not carrying things along, I actually brought two video cameras along, this trip. I brought our GoPro, which I mainly planned to use for stills and a Sony action cam for video. Neither one of them made it into the parks during our trip. We did everything on our phones and I just didn't feel like carting around another bag. It made for an easier trip through security, although the way they have things setup now, you only go through security once, unless you go back to the room during the day. There were maybe one or two times when I'd wished we had the other cameras, but for the most part I had no regrets about travelling light.

    Speaking of pictures, as we entered the park, we had to get our, "we are here" pictures. We knew we had the photo package, so we went ahead and grabbed a PhotoPass photographer and got a temporary card from them. Here are a couple of our pictures at the park opening...
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    That reminds me. One thing we did in DTD on Sunday was get our "First Visit" buttons. Technically I was at Disneyland with my Mom, sometime in 1964, when I was a year or so old and our daughter's boyfriend was also there as a young child as well, but for practical purposes this was our first time. We got our buttons at World of Disney and the girl was very happy to hand them out. She even put the year and a little personalized art on each button. These played into many conversations and picture opportunities through the week.

    Speaking of which, I love having conversations with the CMs about where they're from or the interactions we'd have with them when they asked about how our first visit was going. It's one of the things my wife pokes fun of me about, but I really enjoy about the parks. It makes the whole visit more personal and enjoyable for me.

    So after entering the park, we made our way to the Photo Shop at the far end of Main Street. I expected a little challenge with our PhotoPass+ package, because we bought one of the last available packages of its type back in November of 2015. We were supposed to do this trip last summer, but things happened that made us push it off to this year. I held on to all of the documentation (fortunately) and brought it into the Photo Shop. We were not prepared for the instant celebrity status this would give us among the photo folks. Each time we went into one of the photo shops, they had to show our PhotoPass+ card to everyone and talk about how long it had been since they'd seen one. They were also all keen on telling us what all we got with the package that you don't necessarily get in more recent packages. The only bad news they had for us in the Disneyland Photo Shop was that they didn't have any of the cards at their shop. We'd have to go to the photo shop in California adventure to get our official card and lanyard.

    With that info, we went on in to get castle pictures using our temporary card.
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    Now here's where I wish I had taken some notes. I can sort of give you an idea of what rides we rode, but I can't swear to the accuracy. :) I know from here, we went over to get a FP for Space Mountain, then we walked on standby for the Matterhorn. As you will see in some of our ride pictures, I'm not exactly a thrill ride guy. In our trips to WDW, I've never ridden Rock 'n Roller Coaster or TOT. I'm usually good with one Space Mountain ride per trip. I do really like Big Thunder Mountain, I think it's because I specifically don't like the heights on most roller coasters and that one never gives me the impression of being that high up. That said, I had made up my mind I wanted to ride as much as I could at DLR, to experience some of what makes DLR unique.

    I can't say I loved the Matterhorn. It was as bumpy and jerky as folks say, but it did offer some spectacular views of the park. We rode it both this morning and later at night, later in the week. I rode both times. The second time I was not that excited to ride it again, but the night views were awesome. After Matterhorn, we went to use our Space Mountain FP.

    I'm smiling here, but you can see my death grip on the front bar. I think my wife's eyes are closed because the girl behind her screamed all the way through the ride.
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    The kids look happier. :)
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    I think I liked Space Mountain at DLR better than WDW. I knew they were different, but didn't realize how different. I do pretty much have the WDW version more or less memorized, so I know when to brace myself. This one was a surprise, which was fun. I also think it's faster with more turns than drops, which I prefer.

    After Space Mountain, we did some wandering around, then I wanted to ride Pirates, both because it was my request for the first day and because we had lunch reservations at Blue Bayou and I wanted the kids to see it from the ride perspective before lunch.

    The ride didn't disappoint. The standby line made it one of our longer waits for the week, but it was still only like 20 minutes. Overall, I think the additional scenes and drops make me agree with the assessment that the DLR version beats out the WDW version. I have to admit it wasn't as big of a difference as I was anticipating, but still the additional scenes are cool. I can never get too much of the Pirates of the Caribbean.
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    After the ride, it was time to check in for lunch. We had a 11:30am reservation, so we requested and received a water side table.
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    We thoroughly enjoyed this meal. I knew it was something I wanted to do, being a Pirates ride fan, but I did see a fair number of borderline reviews. I saw folks who thought it was too dark or that they didn't care for the food. True, it was not brightly lit, but we loved the atmosphere. We had fun with the glowing drinks and the food we had was outstanding. We all loved the gumbo, in fact my daughter managed to wrangle a second cup from our waiter. We all shared our food. The guys got the skirt steak and the girls got the jambalaya. Both were very good in our opinion. This will be one of our must do meals any time we visit DLR in the future.

    After lunch we did another favorite, the Haunted Mansion.
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    I think it's a wash between the DLR version and the WDW version. The new queue at WDW is cool, but the outside views at DLR are very nice. The slight differences between the stretching room and how you get to the doom buggies is not a big enough difference to me to make a call one way or the other and I think the general ride is more or less the same. It was very cool knowing the organ was the one used in 20,000 Leagues and I very much enjoyed the return of the hat box ghost.

    After HM, we did the Tiki Room.
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    My last time at the Tiki Room was after they added Iago to the WDW version and I was not a fan. I think they've "fixed" the WDW version, but I don't think that happened until after our last WDW trip. I've always enjoyed this show and it was very enjoyable seeing the original version.
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    After the Tiki Room, we headed over to California Adventure. We took care of our PhotoPass+ stuff, then set out to explore.

    First thing we found a PhotoPass photographer who was an ex Marine. After some friendly inter-service banter, we had fun taking some goofy pictures with him. He took the time to get to know us a little and we ended up with these pictures.

    This one cracks me up because it reminds me of a picture we took on our last WDW trip, which was an anniversary trip for us and a graduation trip for our daughter.
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    Here's the picture from our last trip. :)
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    He then staged this picture of me going after the kids for "neckin'". I laugh at these pictures because my wife can never keep a straight face. She's supposed to be sternly holding me back. I'm not picking up stern from her smirk. :)
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    After that fun, we headed over to Cars Land.
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    Getting our kicks on RT66.
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    We'll have more pictures and comments on Cars Land. All I'll say for now is it's everything it's cracked up to be. We enjoyed this part of the parks several times during the trip.

    One note I will make is in regards to the free waters at counter services. We made good use of this, stopping all over the resorts for free water. We found it all to taste fine and was a welcome cold drink whenever we needed one. We did find that the churro stand at the Cozy Cone was one of what we call the "generous" free water spots. They gave away a larger cup than some spots. Honestly the small cup is plenty for a cold drink, unless you're really thirsty, but it was nice to have the larger cup on occasion. We found a few locations around the park with similar large cup offerings, but I can't remember them all. This one we tried the churros out and had drinks several times, so I remember it.

    After looking over Cars Land, we headed over to Toy Story Mania and California Screamin'. The fast passes for both had pretty quick return times, so we first grabbed a fast pass for TSM, then one for Screamin', then rode TSM and Screamin' pretty much back to back. I use the term "we" loosely here. I did not ride California Screamin'. My hesitation to ride it was confirmed when even my daughter said it was a little too much for her stomach. We actually saw a guy toss his cookies after the ride, which didn't help my cause. :)

    Here's the ride photo from California Screamin'.
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    Our daughter's BF is a fan of Captain America, so we made him get in line for a picture. Here is one of our super family photos.
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    After those pictures we went to check out the Animation Academy. We never did this at WDW, but meant to, so we made a point of trying it at CA. It really is a fun, air conditioned attraction, where you end up with a nice free souvenir. We also found out that after the first session each morning, they have a schedule you can take a picture of, so you can pick your favorite character to draw.

    Here are the goofy kids in line.
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    We lucked into a Baby Groot class. This was one of the more popular classes, we found out later. I have to say, I'm no artist, but the way they present the "class" it really is easy to come out with a somewhat decent drawing each time. You'll see later that we did this a couple more times over our week. Here are my wife and my Baby Groots.
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    I honestly can't remember what other rides we rode on our first day. I just know it was a lot more than we thought we would get done, which pleased me. We did stay for the fireworks, which is our tradition at WDW as well. I loved the fireworks show. We were sad to see Wishes leave WDW. I've seen the new show on youtube and it's spectacular, but Wishes had been there the majority of what I'll call our modern day family trips, so it was a sentimental favorite. The DLR show uses the Wishes soundtrack and adds Julie Andrews (Mary Poppins is also one of my favorites) and Walt himself speaking. We found the human stampede for fireworks viewing pretty normal, for what we've seen at WDW. We did the hang out near the Tomorrow Land side of the hub, then follow the heard towards the middle after the parade passed. It was a decent spot to see the projections on both the castle and the Matterhorn. In hindsight, I think being farther back was a little better, but our view for our first fireworks show was still nice.

    So ends a successful first day in the parks. Tomorrow we're going to try and get up to use our Magic Morning at DL.

    You may note that we didn't do the planned break in the middle of the day for this day. That actually worked out fine. In fact over the course of the week, we only made it back to the hotel once. We kept having success with FastPasses and jumping on rides, so we just kept doing stuff. Before we knew it, it was late in the day. We did sleep well at night as a result, so I'm not sure if the beds were really comfortable or if we were really worn out (a question I've had about the WDW beds for years :) ).

    I'll try to get our Day 2 in the parks out soon...
     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2017
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  18. Khokhonutt

    Khokhonutt DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Messages:
    847
    One more addition to our first day. Here's the California Screamin' launch, when my wife and the kids rode it.

     
  19. Kiotzu

    Kiotzu Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2015
    Messages:
    269
    Joining in on your trip report, really enjoyed your first few posts!
     
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  20. Khokhonutt

    Khokhonutt DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Messages:
    847
    Day 2 in the parks. Magic Morning!

    Since we were staying in a Good Neighbor hotel, we only had early entry one morning to DL with our 5 day passes. Per many folks' recommendation, we decided to use ours the first available morning (earlier in the trip when everyone had more energy). Magic Morning entry was at 7am, so we set the alarm early, got up, grabbed breakfast and headed to the park. We weren't at the front of rope drop, but my wife really wanted to ride Peter Pan, so we went straight there. We arrived with the rest of the mob to a 40 minute wait. We had planned to do Fantasyland this morning, so we just bit the bullet on the wait, which wasn't awful. Over the course of 5 days, I think we waited more than 20 minutes for 4 rides (Pirates, Soarin' when we decided to ride standby with a 30 minute wait, Peter Pan and Autopia). The rest of the time we either pretty much walked on rides or used fast pass.

    I do think we waited the full 40 minutes for Peter Pan, but then pretty much hit the rest of Fantasyland with no waiting. Here we are as we got in line at PP.
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    The Snow White evil queen checked in on us during our wait.
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    We had plenty of time for couples pictures as well. :)
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    I think we rode Mr. Toad next. At least this picture suggests that. I remember Mr. Toad in WDW, but obviously hadn't been on it in a long time since it was removed from the Magic Kingdom.
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    Even the shadows have mouse ears at Disneyland!
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    Any excuse for a smooch. :)
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    Oh, and make sure you do your SnapChats!
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    I particularly enjoyed the rides that were not in WDW. We rode Casey Jr.'s train and the Storybook Land Canal boats. We had fun with our Canal boat captain. She had been testing what ended up being our boat, so she was riding around with no passengers at first. People were waving from the other boats, so we made a point of waving to her when we went by. Then when we got on her boat I told her I wasn't sure I trusted the fact that she didn't bring back her last boat load of guests. She played along and I think my daughter said something about dad jokes. :)
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    The detail in Storybook Land was impressive, but what really interested me was the miniature grass they had growing. I need to see if I can find some of that for my yard. It looks like it would cut down significantly on the need to mow. (More dad jokes.)
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    It's funny, the only ride we ended up missing in Fantasyland was Alice in Wonderland. I'm not sure how we missed it, but in the end it was dumb luck. Tune in tomorrow to see why.

    Next we rode It's a Small World.
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    The DLR version of Small World really is more impressive than the WDW version. The outside facade is much more elaborate and we enjoyed to outside loading area and ride into "show" portion. It was also fun to look for the Disney characters that are in this version. As a special treat, the clock went off at the top of the hour as we got off the ride. If you've not seen that, the clock area opens up and what look like wooden dolls make a procession around the clock. It's like a huge, elaborate cuckoo clock.

    After Small World, we headed back to Toon Town.
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    We weren't really interested in any of the rides in this area, but we did want to get pictures with Mickey, so we visited him at his house.
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    The character interactions weren't a huge part of our plan this trip, but even old people can enjoy interactions with the "boss". I love this picture of my wife and Mickey.
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    I'm drawing a blank on exactly what we did after we left Toon Town. I know we walked down the recently opened path between Fantasyland and Frontierland. I think maybe we caught the Disneyland Band on the way. I'm pretty sure we rode Big Thunder Mountain, then killed a little time walking through the Tarzan tree house, but it's possible we hit Big Thunder later. I know we rode it at some point during the week, but I'm honestly not sure if it was once or twice. :)

    Here are the kids at the tree house.
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    I saw a lot of people pan the tree house, during our planning and research. I personally like it, both at WDW and DLR. I like the stroll through the tree house, if for nothing else for the views of the park from the top. I think the Tarzan version is well done. In some ways I think it's even nicer than the WDW version with some of the water features.

    Our next stop was a lunch reservation at the River Belle Terrace.
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    We thought the food here was very good. Again, we all shared, so we got to try several options. The bread and pimento cheese appetizer was a hit, as were the other entrees. We were again very happy with how accommodating they are about special orders and such. There was no problem getting more bread when we ran out with dip left. My wife's salad is also a meal sized version of one of their side salads, that was not on the menu. It was served with the brisket that was an option with the other salads. Bottom line, if you have a question ask, we find they're almost always willing to accommodate special requests.

    After lunch we walked over to Critter Country and rode the Winnie the Pooh ride. The kids got excited when they saw this guy behind us in line.
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    My wife and I didn't recognize him, but he's an actor in a couple of the DC comics TV shows the kids watch. They even had to score the creeper selfie with him in the background. :)
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    As we were wandering through Critter Country, we saw one of my wife's favorite characters, Tigger.
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    And one of my favorites, Eeyore.
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    And of course, Pooh.
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    As I'm going through our pictures, I think what happened at this point was that we had a FastPass for Splash Mountain, but it was down. We knew we could ride again later, to we moved on to other things. I think we did some wandering through the shops along Main Street. We grabbed some churros.

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    Speaking of churros, I had to make a point of trying these at DLR. It amused me how many discussions were spun up about churros in DLR vs. WDW. To be honest, I'd never had a churro at WDW, so I had no basis for comparison, but the ones we tried at DLR were good. We took the advice I'd read to try and visit a busy cart, for fresh ones. I'm not sure I'd base my assessment of the parks on churros, but it was a fun addition to our snack list. :)

    After our snack, we headed back to the room for a nap. This was one of the only days we managed a daytime break. We knew we had World of Color and it ended up allowing us to make it to the Disneyland closing time.

    When we returned to the parks, we decided to have a light meal at the Refreshment Corner. We wanted to have something relatively light before our WOC dessert party, that we had scheduled for this evening and the kids wanted to try one of their secret menu items, the Frito pie. My wife and I got the chili in a bread bowl. I thought it was ok. The bread bowl was good, although we didn't eat the whole thing. The chili was pretty average, but not bad. I would have liked some hot sauce.
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    I'm sure there are some things I missed that we did the rest of this day, but the next thing I have in our pictures is World of Color. We discussed as a group the pros and cons of trying the WOC dessert party. In the end we decided to give it a try. It's a bit of a splurge, but in the end we found it totally worth it. We apparently arrived pretty late, as we were one of the last ones in the line that had formed, but it didn't seem to matter. We opted for a tall table in the back row and this was our view.
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    Here we are with the menu.
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    And this is my wife's plate of desserts.
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    We tried everything and liked it all. We each got 2 of the blue alcoholic drinks. As others have said, the alcohol content seemed a bit light in the drink, compared to others we had in and around the parks, but they were good. They also provided us with water bottles, which were also welcome. We appreciated the place to sit and enjoyed the interactions with our server, but if I'm being honest this isn't the perfect viewing spot for the show. I knew that going in, but I feel it's worth mentioning.

    That said, the show was great and we very much enjoyed what we saw. As you can see in our pictures below, we could see most of the projections, but the very bottom of the show was obscured by the rest of the crowd. In general I don't think it detracted from the show. And it certainly didn't detract from our enjoyment of the show. You'll just see later in this report that we loved the show so much we saw it again later in the week and I feel our view for that show was more complete.
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    The rest of the week my daughter would spontaneously sing, "The world is a carousel of color!" Bottom line, we loved this show. Words and pictures do it no justice. The music and story are very enjoyable and in my opinion it's one of the best shows at any of the parks we've been to.

    After the show we went back over to Disneyland. We found out the fireworks were cancelled this night. I've always said I'd rather be lucky than good. In this case we were lucky we planned WOC on a night when the fireworks did not go on.

    We rode the monorail (sadly the only time we managed to do so this trip). Then we rode Autopia.
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    It was a treat to ride through the park at night. I wish we had done the monorail in the daytime as well, but I guess you've got to leave something for next time.

    After riding the monorail, we went back to use our FastPass for Splash Mountain. Here's our ride photo.
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    My wife is hidden in this one, but the kids faces are priceless. I'm back there with my typical, "Yes, I'm having fun. Yes, I'm having fun," face. As I said before, heights and drops are not my thing. For a long time I wouldn't ride Splash Mountain, but I've sucked it up our last few visits. We did notice you get a lot more wet on the DLR version. For us in the back, when the water washes up over the side during one of the early drops, then the kids in front during the big drop. I don't remember ever leaving the WDW version soaked like we did in DLR. It was a cool walk back to the room for dry clothing. :)

    On our way out the parks, we stopped by the photo shop to add our ride pictures to our PhotoPass card. The girl who helped us was one who had helped us before and she liked asking us Disney trivia questions. This evening, she gave us homework instead. She told us about a light on Refreshment corner where they bulbs alternated colors. At one point the bulbs would not have ended up alternating, so they painted half of the bulb to match the pattern. I'd read about this in my research, so we eagerly went over to locate the bulb and my wife snapped this picture of it. It's the one in the back corner.
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    So ends a successful day 2 in the parks. Once again, when we got back to the rooms, the beds were a welcome sight! Good night world, we'll catch you on day 3 in the parks!

    :)
     
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  21. Jfsag123

    Jfsag123 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    1,719
    Loving your report so far! We also road tripped, though we were on Route 66 for the drive back, not the drive there. Y'all made some great time!

    I really appreciate the little DL details you've been pointing out. Seems like you all had a lot of fun!
     
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