Mr., I'll Make a Fan Out of You, June 2017- WDW Lovers Take on Disneyland and the West! (UDx3 1/16)

Discussion in 'Disneyland Trip Reports' started by Jfsag123, Jul 12, 2017.

  1. Jfsag123

    Jfsag123 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    1,679
    Introduction

    We are WDW fans – not uncommon around these parts. Here's a link to my TR from our trip last summer, for anyone who may be interested: https://www.disboards.com/threads/1...ways-wanted-june-2016-tr-update-1-30.3522836/ Disneyland has always been that smaller, less magical Disney park out west that we swore we’d get to some day because it’s “Walt’s park”, but never actually made concrete plans to go to. This year was to be no exception. We were scheduled to return to our beloved Beach Club Villas at WDW, but life had other plans. We had several curve balls thrown at us that ultimately forced us to cancel our trip. Then my MIL, a Disney fan who happened to move within a 20 minute drive of Disneyland last year, stepped in and suggested we head in the opposite direction and come out to California instead – she’d even throw in Disneyland tickets! How could we refuse?

    We were incredibly grateful and immediately started planning. I defected to the DLR side of The DIS and started trying to learn all I could. At first we talked about flying, but then decided, rather than fly over all the country along the way, we’d take our time driving and stop along the way to see various things – road trip! When all was said and done, we ended up with 15 days of amazingness, the middle 5 of which were spent at Disneyland.

    The W’s

    Who: Kelley (Me), Rees (DH), Cora (age 9) and Alex (age 6)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    What: A 15 day road trip we dubbed The Great Southwest Adventure + Disneyland

    Where: Various locations in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and, of course, Disneyland!

    When: June 14-28, 2017

    Why: Rees and I went to Disneyland for one day as a part of our honeymoon (we spent 2 weeks in California) many moons ago. Prior to that, I went as a 5 year old and Rees visited a few times as a child/teenager. Our children had never been to Disneyland, but consider WDW their second home and are obsessed with the parks. We all are. When I mentioned a coastal swap for our Disney trip this year, my WDW snob children basically turned up their noses. “But it’s only two parks!” “The castle is so small!” “No EPCOT?!?!”

    I must admit I had some of these thoughts myself, but I didn’t want to validate my kids’ poor attitude and was trying to go in with an open mind, so I kept them to myself and tried to pump the kids up. We watched the vacation planning DVD and movies important to the DLR parks. We all consider ourselves Disney fans and this was an opportunity to walk in a park in which Walt had actually walked as well (a fact I didn’t yet have respect for the previous times I’d visited). By the time our trip rolled around we had moved into cautious optimism – we expected to miss WDW, but were excited about experiencing Disneyland in its own right.

    Ready? Let’s go!
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2017
  2. Jfsag123

    Jfsag123 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    1,679
  3. Avatar

    Advertisement


  4. Jfsag123

    Jfsag123 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    1,679
    Day 1, June 14, part 1: Hitting the Road/Monahans Sandhills State Park

    I had packed most everything and loaded up the car the day before we left, so we didn’t have a ton to do before getting on the road. The goal had been to be on the way by around 8:00am and we weren’t far off from that.

    So everyone knows Texas is huge, but no one knows just how huge until they try to drive across it. Sweet Lord. And, until you get into West Texas, it’s a pretty dull drive. Flat, endless, and full of cows, oil rigs, and wind turbines. Woohoo. I am comfortable talking smack about my home state…but don’t any of y’all try it. ;)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Anyway, once we got into Abilene, I put on the song of the same name (“prettiest town I’ve ever seen”). I can only assume the songwriters hadn’t gotten around much when they wrote it, as we saw many prettier towns along our way.

    While driving through Abilene, I told the kids to take notice of the moment and savor it – we still had the entire trip in front of us – hadn’t made a single stop yet. Within a couple hours, we would begin checking destinations off our list.

    We stopped for gas and drinks in Colorado City, TX. Not typically noteworthy, but the clerk here did a magic trick for the kids, which they got a big kick out of. Shortly after we arrived up here:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We pulled into the parking lot and were the only car in it. We walked inside the visitors center and saw no one. They had a little museum with exhibits, so we perused that for a bit and eventually a ranger came out.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A little context: this state park is all hills of deep white sand. It was mid-afternoon and about 104 degrees outside. No one besides us was crazy enough to be trying to hike/play in those conditions. However, we’d been preparing ourselves for this for weeks. We knew this trip would involve lots of outdoor time in extreme heat, so we had been taking regular hikes in the middle of the day back home for some time. And being from Texas, we’ve had a bit of experience with heat anyway. We had hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, and canteens. We were ready.

    After assuring the ranger that yes, we really did want to experience the park in 104 heat, we rented a couple of disks and got moving.

    [​IMG]

    First we walked the nature trail. This was not on purpose. We thought the trail would take us out to the dunes. Instead, it made a loop and went back to the visitors center. Strike 1, Kelley. But at least it was pretty.

    [​IMG]

    Further studying of the map (by someone who was not me) led us to recognize that we needed to drive a bit further to access the dunes. We found a little picnic place to park and got out to explore. We started trying to walk up the first sandhill and our feet sunk so deeply into the sand we could barely move. And I had myself and the kids in sandals with no socks, which led to extremely hot sand pouring in around our feet. Strike 2. Ran back down to the car to change shoes and put on socks. I had neglected to pack socks for myself and the children. Strike 3, you’re out.

    We regrouped. I borrowed a pair of socks from DH and put the kids in their tennis shoes so they’d at least have coverage and we tried again, this time with more success.

    [​IMG]

    This is an image of my feet. A thinking person might ask…um, where are the feet? Do you see the little loop sticking out of the sand at the top of the photo in my shadow? That loop is the adjustable strap at the top of one of my shoes. My other foot is under where you see the blue semi-circle, which is my knee. So yeah, it was deep.

    We ended up having a great time. The kids slid down the dunes over and over again. Since we had the place to ourselves, they were able to play and whoop with abandon. Yes, it was hot, but it was worth it.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Once we were so tired from dragging our feet up and down dunes we could barely move, we dragged ourselves back to the car and got on the road again. Next goal – food!

    My dad had recommended a little place in Pecos, TX, that supposedly had great tamales. We were all down for that, so we decided to check it out.

    [​IMG]

    It says drive through, but there was no drive through, so we went inside. We took our food to go and planned to eat it once we got to our motel. We hopped back in the car and pretty soon we were seeing this:

    [​IMG]

    To be continued!
     
  5. Fia

    Fia I have a dream

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2015
    Messages:
    45
    WooHoo! I love a good road trip. I live in West Texas so I know how pretty it is not! But the people are nice. :flower3:
    Really looking forward to reading about the rest of your trip.
     
    Jfsag123 likes this.
  6. ErinF

    ErinF Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2016
    Messages:
    221
    Joining in!! So glad you're doing a TR, I can re-live my own trip a little through you! :P (I'm too lazy and unmotivated to do one myself, not to mention the fact that I'm not a very good writer.) Wish we could have run into y'all, but I think our time in DL only overlapped with yours by 1 or 2 days.

    We did the whole driving thing 2 years ago, though didn't do near as much sight seeing or make as many stops as I imagine y'all did. The sandhills look pretty cool! I don't think I've ever heard of them, and I've lived in TX my whole life. Bad Texan! :sad2: Y'all are super brave to do that in this heat, that's not for the faint of heart for sure.

    Can't wait to read about all the adventures!
     
    Jfsag123 likes this.
  7. ArielSRL

    ArielSRL DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2006
    Messages:
    7,331
    I'm here! I'm here! Third isn't too bad! I definitely love a good road trip. As kids we always drove to our vacation destinations...sometimes straight through, other times, stopping along the way. My dad used to travel to universities for work so we were always going somewhere and then there was the time in 2002 that I went on a 7 week road trip across the country...the last time I visited Disneyland! I drove across TX that trip, with a notable stop in San Antonio.

    Anyway, I'll be taking notes for a possible future trip. I really want to take my boys on a good road trip and out to DLR, as you know. But the 2018 one may have inadvertently been delayed due to that little thing I did where I bought a DVC contract. Oops. Still hoping to get there one summer though!

    The sand dunes look fun, but hot! Looking forward to more!
     
    Jfsag123 likes this.
  8. Jfsag123

    Jfsag123 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    1,679
    Ha! West Texas was a lot more scenic than the rest of the state is, IMHO. I've been all over the north, south, and east parts of the state, but this was my first time in the west. The people were definitely nice. Thanks for joining in!

    Hey! I wish we could have run into y'all as well. Maybe we'll show up in the background of each others' pictures lol. How was y'all's trip??

    I hadn't heard of them either! So I guess we are equally bad Texans. :thumbsup2 This was another suggestion from my dad, which is a bit of a theme on this trip. He's done a lot of traveling in the Southwest and loves the region, so I told him our routes and asked for ideas. I appreciate you terming our heat craziness "bravery." :rotfl:

    Glad you're here! Thanks for reading!





    Third is a lot better than I typically do! lol A 7 week road trip?! That's amazing, and like my dream. I often talk about one day wanting to have the freedom to take a road trip that's not time restricted so we can just randomly choose roads and highways and see what we end up seeing. I think I need more info about your visit to San Antonio.

    Maybe you will get some ideas of things to do...and not to do. I definitely think y'all should go for that trip! It was a whole different experience for us, in a good way, and I'll bet you guys would love it.

    Whoops! :p Well I think you've got a decent excuse for the delay. I understand wanting to take those fresh DVC points out for a test spin. Although you could also use them to try to snag something at Grand Californian at the 7 month window...

    That is a completely accurate description! Fun, but hot. They should put that on their t-shirts.

    Glad you found me over here in the DL area! :)
     
    ErinF and ArielSRL like this.
  9. big kid at heart

    big kid at heart Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2016
    Messages:
    3
    I am so glad you added the link to this TR from your last one, otherwise I might not have found the first one. The 2016 trip was wonderful to read. It made me smile so much while reading it. Your children in those costumes looked fantastic. I am so glad your MIL will get to experience seeing them this trip and can't wait to read more:jumping1: Thank you for sharing your adventures!
     
    Jfsag123 likes this.
  10. Jaina

    Jaina Actually, my name is Sara. It's a long, VMK story.

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    1,312
    What an adventure! Your kids will have great memories of sliding down the dunes on "that one time when we drove through Texas for a few days..." Haha. :) We used to drive from Iowa to Arizona and back a couple times a year when my kids were tiny, so the idea of road trips make me twitch just a little bit. ;-) They're more the age of your kids now, and I know they'd do much better. Following along to see how your trip goes! I'm trying to stay motivated to finish my trip report from November... You WDW'ers seem better at making trip reports happen than we do for some reason. :)
     
    Jfsag123 likes this.
  11. Mousefan mom

    Mousefan mom Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    May 21, 2015
    Messages:
    186
    Joining in, we are exactly like you describe...huge fans of WDW, but have been toying with going to "Walt's park" for years. I can't wait to see the rest! We are considering doing this very road trip next summer!
     
    Jfsag123 likes this.
  12. Jfsag123

    Jfsag123 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    1,679
    Aw, thanks for reading the 2016 one! Glad you enjoyed it. I loved that trip so much. Thanks for joining in!

    My kids are already begging to go back and slide down those dunes some more! They've just about talked my dad into taking them down there again within the next couple of summers, so they may get their wish.

    Iowa to Arizona is quite a trip! My kids are pretty used to road trips at this point, as we drive to WDW as well and also to visit family in Mississippi, but this was by far the longest they've ever dealt with.

    I tend to work on trip reports when I'm procrastinating on other life responsibilities, so maybe WDW people are just bigger procrastinators? ;) I'll have to jump over and check out your report! I would imagine there are some holidays decorations up in November.

    Welcome! I hope reading about our road trip experience doesn't talk you out of your trip. ;) Just kidding, we had a wonderful time, though it was quite a whirlwind. Thanks for following along!
     
  13. deannaf87

    deannaf87 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2012
    Messages:
    519
    This trip report looks fun!!! Where do you live in TX? I'm contemplating making the Route 66 drive from DFW to Disneyland maybe next summer.
     
    Jfsag123 likes this.
  14. StarWarsMomofGirls!

    StarWarsMomofGirls! DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2015
    Messages:
    1,816
    I am joining in! can't wait to hear all about the trip! The Sand Sledding sound fun, hot but fun!
     
    Jfsag123 likes this.
  15. Khokhonutt

    Khokhonutt DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Messages:
    847
    Joining in. As you know from our trip report, we flew through Texas on I40, with a couple of stops for RT66 attractions. I much prefer the I40 crossing to the I20 to I10 crossing we did when I helped drive my son out to Arizona. Although I did like the 80mph speed limit on the western part of that drive. Driving all the way across Texas was a bucket list item for me, but I'll stick to I40 from now on if for no other reason that to avoid Dallas traffic.

    We're WDW vet, first time DLR folks as well, so I'll enjoy seeing your take on your visit.
     
    Jfsag123 likes this.
  16. Jfsag123

    Jfsag123 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    1,679
    We're from Dallas as well! We did Route 66 for the drive back and I-20/I-10 for the drive there so we could see different things each way. I would say the trip is definitely worth it!

    Welcome! So much hot fun! lol

    Ha! No avoiding Dallas traffic for me, as I'm from Dallas! I-20/10 is a more direct route for us, but I really enjoyed doing Route 66 as well. As I mentioned above, we did 10 on the way to CA and 40 on the way back. We love our high speed limits in TX! It's 85 in some places.

    I'm enjoying getting to see other WDW vets' take on DLR as well! However, I know we have a bit of a difference from reading your report, in that we're those WDW people who really like FP+. I didn't think we would when it first came out, but we've really taken to it. I'm sure that impacted the way in which we experienced DLR. Thanks for joining in!
     
  17. Jfsag123

    Jfsag123 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    1,679
    Day 1, June 14, part 2: Whites City/Bat Flight

    After crossing the New Mexico border we were already almost at our destination – Whites City, NM! I’d never heard of it either, but I discovered it poking around. Our plans for the next morning were to see Carlsbad Caverns, but I’d heard they do a bat flight program in the evening that we wanted to see. However, Carlsbad, NM, is actually a little distance away from the Caverns. Whites City, on the other hand, is right down the road about 7 miles away. It is tiny and kitschy and fabulous. It has exactly one motel – the Rodeway Inn.

    [​IMG]

    It looked a bit…worn on the outside. However, I’d read that the rooms had been recently redone. They were decent and HUGE.

    [​IMG]

    We scarfed our La Nortena food that had been smelling so good in the car the whole way (delicious!), then headed to explore Whites City. It’s pretty much just the intersection where the motel is located, so it wasn’t difficult.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    It was sort of a Western/alien/general tackiness theme and we loved it.

    Especially this girl.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    They had an arcade – woohoo! Rees and the kids played Pac-Man.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Those butts are seats. Niiiice.

    [​IMG]
    I dubbed him my new boyfriend. #meant2B

    [​IMG]
    The kids show off their souvenirs.

    [​IMG]
    The view across the street.

    [​IMG]

    The kids swam for a bit, then it was time to head out to the bat flight at Carlsbad Caverns.

    [​IMG]

    The road into the park. Took my breath away.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I have no photos from the bat flight, as photography isn’t allowed. Neither is talking. A ranger comes out and talks about the history and characteristics of the bats and the caverns and then eventually, they just start emerging from the mouth of the cave. They come out in a kind of swirl that almost looks like black smoke (reminiscent of LOST, one of my favs) and they just keep coming – thousands of them. The ranger said that the highest count they’d gotten was over 600,000. I was creeped out by the thought of going at first, but the kids really wanted to and I’m glad we did, as it was amazing to see.

    We headed back to our little motel and turned in for the night to be ready to descend into the mouth of the cave we’d just finished staring at the following morning.
     
  18. Jfsag123

    Jfsag123 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    1,679
    Day 2, June 15: Carlsbad Caverns/Guadalupe Mountains

    We were up bright and early the next morning. Love that time change. We grabbed some breakfast, checked out, and headed back out to the caverns. It was actually so early that we knew the park wouldn’t even be open yet, so we stopped at one of the exhibit trails along the road. This one led to a cave used by Native Americans.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    There is a deer in this picture, I promise. Bonus points to you if you can find it.

    [​IMG]

    We got to the visitor’s center at 8:00am when it opened, but the caverns don’t open until 8:30. We took that time to look around the exhibits and pick up junior ranger booklets for the kids. Spoiler alert: They ended up getting really into the junior ranger thing over the course of the trip.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    At 8:30 we headed out to the cavern entrance. They have an elevator you can take down into the caves, which is how most people get in. We, however, are a little crazier, so we decided to hike in from the natural entrance, which descends steeply about 800ft. However, it’s all paved and (dimly) lit, so we’re not that crazy.

    Here’s the bat flight amphitheater:

    [​IMG]

    And here’s the hole at the bottom of it from which the bats emerge:

    [​IMG]

    Ready to go in!

    [​IMG]

    Here’s a view of the birds flying around outside from just inside the cave.

    [​IMG]

    And one of the entrance from down in the cave a little before we lost natural light.

    [​IMG]

    WARNING: Here come a bunch of cave pictures.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I took this one because I’m immature:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We eventually emerged back into the day. Cora LOVED it. Alex liked it after it was over, but he was kind of scared in the actual cave and the steep descent was hard for him. DH and I were thrilled to have gotten to see it, as neither of us had ever been. The kids collected their junior ranger badges and we hit the road again.

    [​IMG]

    Pretty soon we were seeing this sign:

    [​IMG]

    Yep. We had to cross back in to get where we were going.

    Guadalupe Mountains National Park is just about 40 minutes away from Carlsbad Caverns National Park. I had no idea this park even existed. The kids saw the signs on the road for it and, seeing the opportunity for another junior ranger badge, begged to stop. So we did.

    [​IMG]

    We checked out the visitor’s center and found that they actually sold junior ranger vests here, so the kids each bought one and promptly put them on. We went on a short hike, which was all I could handle, as my calves were killing me from the hike down into the caverns.

    [​IMG]

    Mountain selfie!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    We got back in the car and drove for what seemed like forever until we hit our destination for the evening – Tucson, AZ! We got cleaned up and collapsed into bed so we could be ready for the following day.

    P.S. I swear we will eventually get to Disneyland!
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2017
  19. StarWarsMomofGirls!

    StarWarsMomofGirls! DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2015
    Messages:
    1,816
    I have to admit,the Bat thing REALLY creeps me out. But I am sure it was amazing.
     
    Jfsag123 likes this.
  20. Jfsag123

    Jfsag123 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    1,679
    It did me too! I was scared they'd be flying over our heads, but thankfully they go in the opposite direction. And something I didn't include in the post above from the next day when we hiked into the caverns is that you actually pass by the part of the cave where all the bats are sleeping and they have a sign telling you that it's just in front of you. It's pitch black, so we couldn't see anything, but the thought that the thousands of bats I'd seen the night before were sleeping just yards away was the creepiest part of all to me.
     
    StarWarsMomofGirls! likes this.
  21. Khokhonutt

    Khokhonutt DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    Messages:
    847
    Great trip! I laughed at the butt seats. I've got a picture of me in one.

    This is in Deadwood, SD. I rode my motorcycle out there for the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally last year.
    [​IMG]

    Still not pulling off demure... :)
     

Share This Page