when i got home from my early KITK shift, i went right into "packing" mode so that we could pile in the car and get going on the teen's birthday weekend celebration. they'd already picked up her friend rock-ell, who was coming along for the fun, and they were just waiting on me. oy.
i flew around the apartment in a frenzy, throwing things in a bag and hoping i wasn't forgetting anything. since the teen's actual birthday wasn't for a few days, i didn't have to worry about packing her presents - just the stuff the bean and i needed for an overnight stay. i got our shit together and we hit the freeway, arriving at our hotel somewhere around noon:
i love this place. the hub and i got to stay here before it opened to the public, way back when, and the teen celebrated her 13th here with a bunch of friends too. it reminds me a little of another happy time in our lives - when we got engaged at the lodge at torrey pines, in la jolla. ah, the memories.
the girls made a beeline for the big TV in a corner, surrounded by mini rocking chairs.
they got bored with it pretty quickly and decided to color pictures of mickey. when they were done, they put their names and room number on it, dropped it in the "magic mailbox," and then we headed upstairs to check things out.
our room for the night.
it would've been a pretty boring view, except that we had a great vantage point for the monorail, which quietly sped by every ten minutes or so.
the bean, who hadn't yet had a nap, made a beeline for the bed and laid down. "watch tv?" she said. but when we told her we were going to disneyland, she got right up. "hug mickey?"
we used our freebie tickets that we'd earned doing our "voluntEAR" work a few months ago. as the rest of us waited on main street, the hub took the bean back outside the gates to grab a rental stroller. i was amused to find her clutching a lollipop bigger than her head when they rolled back in.
and we'd timed it pretty well - as we handed the teen and rock-ell some spending money and cut 'em loose, the bean got a little face time with some of her favorite disney characters.
none of us had eaten, so we headed off to find some grub.
the hub opted for a ginormous smoked turkey leg. i didn't get to take a picture of it, but trust me - it was huge and delicious.
the ILs and i opted for the mexican restaurant, ordering tostada salads that were actually pretty darn tasty.
because the rule is that you get whatever you want at disneyland (and on your birthday too), the bean got to munch on a bag of cheetos in between licks of her lollipop.
we tried everything - a ride around the disneyland railroad, strolling through the park, etc. - but she couldn't settle down and fall asleep. finally, the hub decided to take her back to the hotel for her much-needed nap. he's not exactly a huge fan of amusement parks anyway, so it wasn't much of a sacrifice. FIL went with them, exhausted from a long week at work, and MIL and i decided to get on some rides and then caught up with the girls.
when we finally connected, we headed off to watch 1986's "captain EO." i remembered seeing it a zillion times over its 10-year run, but honestly couldn't recall anything about it. i love how disney dropped ol' MJ at the first whiff of trouble, but didn't hesitate to capitalize on his death and whip out a "tribute" with the re-run of this cheesetastic 3D movie.
afterwards, we followed the classic disney drop - where the exit from a ride or show magically takes you through a shop full of items themed around whatever you'd just experienced. the teen picked up one of those rainbow tees, but at $27 she balked and left empty-handed.
she did pause to model this birthday hat for me.
i was amused at these sandals, total knock-offs of tory burch's "miller."
we saw all sorts of interesting attire, too. i thought i had more examples, but i'm sure you can imagine.
for a beautiful saturday in may, the park was blessedly un-crowded. sure, there were still hordes of folks there, but in areas where you can hardly breathe from the crowds pushing past you, we found plenty of room to stroll through. i don't think any of us suffered a single stroller injury. and even the wait times for the ride reflected the lack of parkgoers - 40 minutes for space mountain and indiana jones? okay, sure, thanks!
and a mere 5-minute wait for the popular buzz lightyear ride? we ended up riding that shit like 3 times.
unlike my buddy insomniac, we've eaten at the blue bayou restaurant a zillion times. sadly, we were unable to secure a reservation this time around. i settled for taking a picture of it as we cruised by on the "pirates of the caribbean" ride.
instead, we settled for an early dinner at nearby cafe orleans, which offers a lot of the same food - but cheaper and in a more casual environment.
disneyland ain't the same for me if i don't get a monte cristo sandwich and a mint julep.
it was during dinner that brother wan (who'd shown up with his on-again girlfriend) shared with us his good luck - as they went through the front entrance, some dude handed him a bunch of these:
whoo-hoo! each pass was good for up to five people to waltz right on past the line and up to the front, and he had like 9 of 'em. sweet!
as the teen waxed philosophical about the captain EO sweatshirt she'd been eyeing in that store, the hub handed her some more cash and told us to go and get it. we decided to meet up at the autopia ride, where we found ourselves separated from the ILs by about fifty people. no biggie - the line moved quickly and the teen took her sister for a fun ride. autopia is super fun when you're still wishing for a driver's license and getting behind the wheel is still exciting.
we decided to try out those passes for the "finding nemo" submarine ride, and as we waited at the front of the line, the cast member who took it asked us very casually - a little too casually - where we'd obtained them. as brother wan told him the story, a slow smile spread across his face. "well, i don't know who that person was, but what i can tell you is that these passes are fake. i don't have a problem letting you on this ride, but i probably wouldn't use them any more."
WTF? people actually go to the trouble of creating fake passes? now, i love me some disney and hate waiting in line, but even i wouldn't do some crazy shit like that.
the (older) girls, brother wan and GF and i ended up separating from the rest of the group after the ride. the rest of them were tired, and the bean was pretty much done. we ran around the park, continuing to [very successfully] use those "fake" passes, riding everything we wanted to, and stayed till midnight, when the park finally closed.
we arrived back at the hotel to find that the ILs had moved from their own private room into ours, which we'd originally planned to share with the girls. the two rooms were adjoining, and as we stepped into the now-empty room, i realized why:
i'd forgotten that i'd told the reservation agent that we were celebrating a birthday - and they'd decorated the room with colorful balloons and other fun disney birthday gear for the teen. so cute! they'd also left a response from mickey to the bean - a personalized letter in response to the one she'd left for him in that "magic mailbox," along with an autographed picture of the characters.
the rooms were stupid expensive, but totally worth it. we had a blast, and it wasn't even over yet!