Heading Home and Final Thoughts

After our late night of fireworks and Rainforest fun we slept in as long as we could. Our flight didn’t leave LAX until after 1pm so we got up around 9am. We had lots of goodies left over in the fridge/cabinet from Vons so we had a little mini-feast while we slowly started packing.

Roxy was nice enough to give me a neck rub (while Bean hammed it up)

Kyra meanwhile was avoiding packing by playing her iPod Touch

I was going downstairs and got some coffee for us and stopped to take some last pics of our great view

As I strolled around I took in some more of the great Disney art they have on display throughout the hotel

We drank our coffee and finished packing everything and made the ‘long walk’ out of the hotel. We placed our bags at the ME pickup spot and then the kids went over to say “goodbye” to Mickey

Bean looked comfy

All too soon our bus came around the bend

The bus was very sparsely occupied so we spread out and settled in. The kids were still pretty tired and either hibernated

Or were lost in their thoughts like Kris

He took a pic of me – and me and Bean

And then snapped one of Roxy

The camera was put away and we were dropped off back at LAX. The trip back was uneventful with all of us snoozing off and on. We returned to a cloudy day in Oregon, retrieved out luggage and loaded up the rig. In a bit over a half hour we were home and braced to deal with the post-Disney blues – Wheeee!

Ye Ole Belated Final Thoughts

I sit here with rusty mental gears turning. Almost 14 months since returning from the land where Jack Skellington hosted dreamlike showers of light and sound. Where evil characters arched eyebrows at screaming (and giggling) children.

Where in the course of a week we battled both parents being beset by an evil flu bug sent by Oogie Boogie himself. Where adventures were had and yours truly lived the life of a pirate on the streets of California Adventure.

I look back on those five days at once a very full 5 days and yet gone in a flash. I easily fall into the same space that many of us seem to, the awakening of past Disney dreams and the hope of more dreams to come. It is amazing how much a place, a seemingly simple place phrased by some as merely an “amusement park” can have such a hold on my mind and my heart.

It has good rides, it has good food, and it has good people. All this is true. But more than that it has a feeling, a feeling of promise, of hope, and a feeling of home in a way you never thought you could define “home”.

Already fading is the fact that I started the trip with that bad flu bug that was going around at the time and that we had to do an emergency landing in SAC due to some guy passing out on the plane. Still clear is the Magic Express bus rolling up with the castle and the familiar Disneyland lettering spelled out on the side.

Getting there was a quick blur and check-in was a breeze. The room and its spectacular view was pretty fantastic and I remember not caring that I was sick. Going into the park made me realize how very cool it was to finally be in a Disney park during a holiday season.

The decorations were very cool and the air just seemed to carry a little extra magic. There was a bit of sadness that the trains were only operational that day, but riding around the park one and a half times helped ease that pain 😉

The NBC theming on the Haunted Mansion was stellar and Roxy getting to meet one of her “Cake Heroes” (Reva and Mike from Merci Beaucoup Cakes who are on one of those wedding cake shows) was a nice bonus at PoTC. I remember how cool it was to finally take in the Tiki Room again even though my body’s batteries were almost completely drained by the flu bug. The rest of the evening was just a blur, no real memories – just the pictures to look back on to see where we went. Disney at night was truly a dreamland for me that first night.

I slept through the entire second day so I can only say that the rest of the fam had a great time at CA. The third day I was back on my feet and off to early entry to Toontown with the kids. It was great seeing all of the classic characters in their “natural habitat”.

The day had some rain and I had to go pick up our Vons order, but it ended with a bang at Goofy’s Kitchen. Comparing it to the only other character meal we’ve ever done, Cinderella’s Royal Table at MK at WDW, I’d say we didn’t see quite as many characters but it was a much more fun and interactive experience.

Day 4 I was feeling even better but the bug had fully transferred to Roxy, who took her turn sleeping through the day. The kids and I had a blast hitting every Fantasyland ride followed by another go at the Nightmare Before Christmas Haunted Mansion, Splash, and Indiana Jones. Then I finally got my crack at CA, waiting through the LOOONNNGGG line for Toy Story Mania. Lots of fun, but it could sooooo use a FP line!

Good rides there lead up to going back to DLH for our presto-change-o into our costumes for Mickey’s Trick or Treat Party! That was such a great time, just having fun and interacting with the other costumed guests. And I was so happy that Roxy was able to come down and join us despite still feeling under the weather.

I would love nothing more than to be able to go to Mickey’s party every year, it was such a fun experience. And I must admit I loved walking around and seeing the reactions of the younger kids when they saw us striding along in our pirate gear!

Day 5 dawned early for me. Everyone else slept while I quietly headed down and had my own magic morning of taking pictures of everything and just absorbing all the little details that we never seemed to have time for before. One day Roxy and I will come down for a few days by ourselves and the plan is that I’ll have every morning to explore and then we’ll meet for lunch and enjoy the parks together for the afternoon/evening. Some day.

The rest of the day had a mix of kids coming in and out and ended with us FINALLY taking in the Halloween fireworks. It is such an amazing show, we kicked ourselves for not seeing it more while we were there.

But that is the way of it isn’t it? No matter how much time you have, how much you see, there is always more that could have been. But it fuels us to go back doesn’t it? We slept hard that night and spent the morning packing and all too soon we were back on the ME bus to LAX. The trip back took place at light speed and we were home and unpacking.

I look now at the Mickey Band Director bobble head on my desk and smile about all of these fragmented memories. The ones that stick out the most are the smiles and echoes of laughter from the girls. The rest is colors and textures and thoughts of that happy place. A place that isn’t quite home and might not be as special if we could go all the time – but a place that holds a piece of me and will always be a home away from home.

I didn’t pay attention to specific ride counts but I know we rode every ride we wanted multiple times (other than the train) and in general the ride waits were never too bad. I also didn’t pay as much attention to the food, especially since we at as much as possible in the room to save a little dough for the big meals like Goofy’s.

I know we will be back as often as we can, and that going around a holiday such as Halloween or Christmas will be on my mind