Wednesday, July 2, 2014

ain't no freebie like a disney freebie

considering the crazy popularity of the disneyland meet-ups - and duh, free entry, snacks, and swag - i was really amazed that i managed to snag a spot in their summer BBQ meetup.  i somehow caught a glimpse of the tweet announcing that registration was open literally six minutes after it was posted, clicked on the link, filled out the RSVP form and was rewarded with this:


i went back to enter the teen too, so she could bring a friend and take advantage of the free ticket to the park, but by the time i hit "enter," registration was at max capacity.  it's insane how quickly it fills up.

the teen and i were really excited for a chance to go to disneyland and be able to enjoy all of the rides that the bean typically refuses to go on.  she's no daredevil and has pretty much no interest in anything remotely resembling a roller coaster.  but she was excited for some one-on-one time with her daddy, who decided to take her up to big bear for an overnight getaway.  everyone was happy.

we arrived at check-in not long after it opened up.


inside that vintage-y disneyland envelope (i seem to recall receiving packets of ride tickets in similar envelopes back in the day, but i could be wrong) was a whole lotta fun stuff - a fast pass to ride the recently renovated big thunder mountain railroad, day passes for disneyland, raffle tickets, and vouchers for a party favor.  sweet.


this wristband gave us access to all of the day's adventures.


when it was time to go in, we played "follow the leader" and went through a side gate at the entrance in a single-ish file line.


then it was up main street:


into frontierland and all the way back to big thunder ranch:


finally.  let's get this party started.


dropped our raffle tickets off here:


and joined the line for the BBQ buffet.


as we waited, i was dying in the humidity.  i'm pretty sure it was as high as the temperature, which made for one sweaty me.  at least we were entertained by the live music and close-up magician.


food!  we've been fed before at meet-ups, but never an all-out meal like this one.  it was fantastic.


do you spy a hidden mickey in the fruit punch?  


i snuck a peek at the prizes for the raffle.  there were some pretty nice gift baskets there, plus some sort of captain america framed something or other.


there were games to play:


character artists who were amazing - name a character, they could draw it.  in minutes.





we sat down for the caricature artists, too.



there was a third set of artists present who were doing personalized fairytale character pictures.


and airbrushed temporary tattoos, too.


we couldn't leave without saying hello to a couple of friends:


and a thank-you to our host, disney parks social media director erin glover.  she's such a sweetheart.


and on our way out, we traded our vouchers for a parting gift.



we managed to use our fastpass for big thunder without ruining our sketches, and then we decided to head out and rent a locker to put them in for the rest of the day.  it just so happened to be parade time, and we managed to catch the new "frozen" pre-show.  what up, anna and elsa.  how you doin'?




now, since we're annual passholders, we really didn't need those day passes to disneyland.  and a closer look told us that they expired that very day.  bah!  seemed like such a waste, huh?  but then we realized something - while we didn't need them for entry to the park, we COULD use them to obtain extra fastpasses for our favorite rides.  we're crafty like that.

so we scurried around between both parks before stopping for a pick-me-up at the starbucks in california adventure.  as we sipped our coffees, we watched the pixar parade and laid out our passes to plan out the rest of the evening.  i was pretty impressed at how the times all lined up so perfectly.


except that as we began our adventure with the first ride, i realized that the lineup was a little too perfect.  like, we barely had enough time to get through the line, ride the ride, and then hightail it over to the next thing.  plus we had our VIP meet-and-greet with captain america to throw into the mix, right in the middle of it all.  i wondered if we'd be able to get it all in, but the teen was feeling optimistic.  and energetic, it seemed.  i was dying, while she was like the freaking energizer bunny over there.

i hadn't been on splash mountain in YEARS.  so long, in fact, that i didn't remember anything about the ride aside from what always looks like a big ass scary drop into the disney abyss.  the teen laughed at me as i clutched the oh shit handles in a death grip and asked her repeatedly if the drop was coming up.


the captain america thing was really funny.  i've never seen the movie(s), read any comics, nothing.  i know zilch about this dude.  this helped, though - a basic timeline of the story of captain america:


when it was our turn, we were greeted by the man himself.  he was completely in character and introduced himself to us with a smile and a handshake.  also, he was super cute.  heh.  although he did make us strike this cheesy ass pose:


when we finally got out of there, it was 7:55.  the timeslot for the indiana jones ride we had up next was from 7:00-8:00...and if you know anything about the layout at disneyland, you'll realize that this meant that we had to get through two of the most crowded areas in the joint.  ugh.  even with the 5-minute grace period that cast members will typically allow you, this gave us a really small window of time to get there.  and wouldn't you know it, the clock at the fastpass return entrance said exactly 8:05 as we got there.

we got off the ride at 8:15.  this gave us 25 minutes to get out of disneyland, into california adventure and over to the tower of terror.  i don't know why i was being so pessimistic about all of this while the teen was the exact opposite - especially since it's usually the other way around.  maybe it was my throbbing, aching feet in those super-cute-but-not-really-meant-for-walking-all-day-in-chucks.  i dunno.  in any case, i followed her as she scurried through the crowds of people towards the park exit, across the esplanade, and through the turnstile that led into california adventure.  and of course, we reached the fastpass entrance to tower of terror just in time.

earlier, we'd seen tweets from other parkgoers that one of the guys on general hospital had been spotted in the parks (jason thompson, aka "patrick drake," for the two people who might care).  since a picture had been posted, we knew what he was wearing and so kept an eye out for him as we sashayed from one attraction to the next.  and as we stood in the fastpass line for tower of terror, something caught my eye and i poked the teen about a dozen times while muttering "ohmygodohmygodohmygodthereheisthereheislookthereheis!"  alas, this was the best shot she could snag, since i was too discombobulated to grab my phone in time.


oh, well.  we consoled ourselves with a great screaming session on the ride.



our final perk of the day was a guaranteed spot in a reserved section of main street for the fireworks show.


honestly, this just never gets old.


it was almost 10:00 by then, and we were starving.  but a lot of the sit-down restaurants were closed for the night, so we settled for a quick grab-and-go dinner from the jolly holiday bakery.  the ham and cheese quiche was pretty tasty, i've gotta say.


the lemon bar was VERY tart, and the teen liked it more than i did.


by the time we got outta there, it was 11:00.  i can't even tell you the last time i'd gone to disneyland for that many hours in one day.  with the bean, we're usually good for about 5-6 hours before pooping out and heading home.  but since it was a rare one-on-one visit with my firstborn, we took full advantage and rode everything her sister always balks at.  it was such a great time, and guess what?  we managed to snag spots in the next disneyland meet-up in a couple of weeks.

i better start planning a cute outfit around some super comfy shoes now.

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