Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What's Old is New

It's finally happened: my baby has left for college. For the first time in eighteen years, it's just my husband and me. And wouldn't you know it -- since it'll just be the two of us, my husband's one request for our vacation this year is that it not be to Walt Disney World.

Fine. This time, we'll go to Disneyland.

Okay, technically, I did bend a little more than that. We're splitting our week between Disneyland and Los Angeles. I get some quality Mouse time, and he gets to camp out in Meltdown Comics for two days. That's a fair trade, right?

Seriously though, planning this trip has been a little weird for me. I'm a Walt Disney World veteran, and I know that resort like the back of my hand. Disneyland? Not so much. It feels quite strange to be a novice at planning any sort of a Disney vacation.

I'm sure a fair number of you find this whole topic a little nuts. The non-Disney geeks (why are we friends, again?) are sitting there thinking, "Disney World/Disneyland; what's the difference?" And most of my Disney friends are probably tearing their hair out: "We have over 42 square miles, four theme parks and two water parks; why in the heck are you flying all the way out to California?!" (P.S. I know some of you want to correct me on the square mileage, but don't forget that we sold off some land a couple of years ago for that whole Flamingo Crossings thing. Whatever happened with that, anyway?)

But I digress. Back to "Why Disneyland?" In addition to technically fulfilling my husband's request, that is. For starters, it's the perfect time for us. We have airline vouchers that need to be used by October and one less ticket than usual to purchase, so airfare that would normally be out of our budget is now ours for the taking. But who am I kidding? That's not the real reason.

This is Disneyland we're talking about. The original. The park that actually has Walt's fingerprints all over it. I'm going to dine at Steakhouse 55 in the Disneyland Hotel. I'm going to see classic attractions like Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln and the Matterhorn. Best of all, I'm going to take the Walk in Walt's Disneyland Footsteps Tour. I'm so excited about the tour that I can barely keep myself from squealing like a twelve-year-old girl every time I think of it!

Sure, there are a lot of other reasons to be juiced up. I'll get to visit some long lost friends like Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and Snow White's Scary Adventures -- favorites from my childhood that are gone forever from WDW's Magic Kingdom but can still be found at "The Happiest Place on Earth". (By the way, did you know that phrase is technically only Disneyland's tagline? Walt Disney World's is "The Most Magical Place on Earth" or "Where Dreams Come True". I don't make this stuff up, folks.)

Of course, there are a lot of totally new (to me) things, too. Haunted Mansion Holiday will be celebrating its 13th anniversary during our trip, and I am totally stoked to check that out. There are the Storybook Land Canal Boats,  the Indian Jones Adventure, and Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin just waiting for me, and let's not forget the totally revamped Disney California Adventure Park with the out-of-this-world Cars Land that everyone's buzzing about!

But as I mentioned earlier, planning this trip has me a little out of my Disney comfort zone. Some things are just strange to me. For example, dining reservations can only be made 60 days out. What's even more bizarre is that for the four nights we'll be on Disney property, I only made one dining reservation. This would be my idea of heresy at WDW. I can only assume that this is what Eddie Valiant felt like as he fell from the window without a parachute. Everyone says, however, that ADRs (Advance Dining Reservations) aren't generally necessary at Disneyland, so I'm going to trust them and (gulp) play it by ear.

Another difference: My idea of doing a Disney vacation properly is to get up at 6:30 so that I can be showered, dressed, and travel across the aforementioned 42+ square miles to be waiting at the front gates of the theme park of my choice at least a half hour before park opening. But Disneyland's parks won't be opening until 10:00 AM on the days we are there. What the heck!? And since we are staying at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel and Spa, I'll be able to practically fall out of bed and land at the front gate of either park. Considering the time zone difference and my level of excitement, I'll probably be pulling a Buzz Lightyear from the old DCA commercials and get caught trying to peer over the fence while waiting for the parks to open. Admit it; wouldn't you?