A Baby Groot-tastic Day!

So I had looked over the Extra Magic Hours for the timeframe we were there and there was an option for Cali Adventure on this day and Disneyland the next day. Roxy was fine with missing both and the kiddos wanted to sleep in and get the extra time at Disneyland. So I had set out my clothes set out in the bathroom and got up and quietly got dressed while the rest of the room snoozed.

Off to the breakfast buffet and then down and outside the Desert Palms for the walk to the parks. I think I had said it before, but it takes about 10 minutes at a regular pace, a bit less for my long-legged self when I’m not pacing with the fam.

Security was a breeze, as was entrance to the park. By 7:45am I was past the circle and heading down to the rope as one of the first guests in the park. On the way a Cast Member said to another CM “look, its Santa Groot!” This was to continue throughout the day :rotfl::santa:

I had a nice chat with a couple of the CMs in their Guardians Garb

And took in the view down empty streets

Say “hello” to my fellow early risers – there’s even another Baby Groot shirt in the group!

At 7:57am they let the rope drop and we followed the CMs down the lane

Around the corner and on to our destination!

A couple of youngsters fast-walked ahead of me as we reached the entrance, but I knew I’d still be in one of the first elevators of the day

Our host’s visage greeted us at the door

I quickly said hello to some familiar faces – Cosmo look forlorn

“I’ve got no strings to hold me down…”

And contemplated trying to take a drink from this goblet

Is the foggy purple one in the top right of the frame the one that has Figment?

At 7:59am I was near the door eyeing all of the implements of destruction

The CMs were good – we were in the Collector’s Office at 8am sharp!

So many unique items to view

The whole process had me on the ride and ready to roll at 8:07am!

While in the Collector’s office I had checked the wait time and decided to hold off on FastPasses and just circle back around. This turned out to be a good call as I took a pic of these goodies at 8:13am

This time in the office I took the time to make the FP for a 3rd trip – then off to the elevator. And you’ll notice a big difference from my first ride to this one. I had grown a few inches!

A young couple had given me a tip to push out my stomach when fastening the belt – it was still safe and held me, but allowed some “lift” off of my seat during the free fall segments.

The ride was spectacular and I couldn’t wait to try it again. Now the line was really starting to build up, but I breezed right in via the FP line. I gave some thanks to the Collector for helping this epic ride and theming come to life

And admired his cool mask collection

Once back in the office I made sure to stand in a different spot and managed a pic of this Hydra weapon

I then wound my way thru the line and found that I had the same CM loading my elevator for the 3rd time in a row giving me props for my ride stamina – big smiles!

One more ride with me flying high!

And once outside – I took a moment for a musical interlude with some bad Brandy lipsync!

I hope you all enjoyed my musical interlude! As I walked back up to the area where rope drop was I came back across David, one of Disney’s Finest. So many Great CMs at the parks here!

I make my way back to the hub and couldn’t help getting another selfie with the Man and his Mouse

Around this time Jinx texted me and said he was up and was heading down to breakfast. I asked him which park he wanted to hit and since we had done a full day at CA yesterday he was wanting some more Disneyland fun. That worked for me so I told him to text me when he left the hotel and I’d meet him in front of the Mickey head/Main Street Train Station.

To kill time I took a ride on Soarin’ and then continued the loop around Grizzly Peak

Geyser time!

That’s a big bear!

Brave early morning patrons off on their watery adventure

You can almost hear it roar!

Can’t go past the mill without a pic – the sky was just stunning!

And I loved their little Mickey Head Christmas Tree

At 9:30am I got the text and 15 minutes later we were two baby Groots – complete with red hats!

After snapping the pic I jumped on MaxPass and got us hooked up with immediate FPs to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad! 15 minutes later we were at the loading platform and I took a moment to snap a pic of one of the markers they have there

We sat down and Jinx took off his hat – I decided to live dangerously and just pulled my Santa Mickey hat firmly onto my head and off we went!

Click to enjoy our Riotous Ride thru Big Thunder Mountain!

As you can see from the video we had an great time. Out next adventure was to be a classic – time to join our Pirate Brethren!

It was still early so all was quiet in the Blue Bayou

Things did not go well for these buccaneers

Davy Jones had some choice words

And Barbossa let the fortress know that he meant business

That poor waterlogged mayor

Jack apparently needs a new wardrobe

The Classic Redhead – huzzah for the larboard side

Enjoying their spoils

He keeps good company

That dog isn’t budging!

He’s quite the shot!

Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me!

Ye ole map of Tortuga greets us on the way out

Cheers from your valiant seafaring pair!

We were enjoying out time and needed to keep the “E-Ticket” mojo going, so we decided our next stop would be at the Nightmare Before Christmas’ed Haunted Mansion!

We stopped for a quick shot of Jinx with the “Not Brigham Young’s” hearse!

I love the detailing they put in to the NBC makeover including the Jack Skellington tie-ribbons

Same thing inside the foyer

And I have to include at least a couple of stretching room shots, right?

Since I did a bunch of shots on our last time thru I’ll just share this one in the séance room with a side view of Leota while Scary Teddy makes mischief on the back of the chair

We finished our tour of the happy haunts and I asked Jinx what he wanted to do next. I was very happy to hear he wanted to take a trip to the Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island! This is a favorite of mine form childhood and although it has had a major facelift since then it is still a magical place of exploration. And one that Jinx had been very much looking forward to experiencing with me.

We waited our turn and soon were on the barge crossing the Rivers of America. And as an aside, this great pic of Jinx marks the 500th picture in our Disneytastic journey!

We wound our way thru the trails and came across the bone cages from Dead Man’s Chest. We could use a little help here!

After that Jinx went to work on the capstan (had to look that up) to bring the treasure chest and an unexpected greedy former pirate

We walked on and in the distance I heard a train whistle

We climbed upward around the pirate ship stern

As we progressed southward we could hear the occasional screams from some voyagers escaping Brer Fox and Brer Bear

At that point we got a text from Roxy and PumpkinGirl, they had and made their way into the park . We told them where we were and said we could meet them in New Orleans Square. They decided to take a quick trip on the railroad while we worked our way back to the mainland

We wound our way back around the trails, saying a quick ‘hello’ to the Mark Twain as we went

We kept texting and had decided to meet at the queue for Pirates of the Caribbean. Their short journey came to an end and PumpkinGirl got a quick pic with the conductor

Meanwhile we chugged back across the river saying farewell to Tom’s island

At this point we were taking different paths to the same destination and both ran into cool characters. Roxy and PumpkinGirl caught Jack just as he was ducking back stage

At the same time we were on the other side of the Café Orleans and ran into Dr. Facilier – he was a kick, Jinx loved him!

We said our farewells to the “good doctor” and the family was reunited in the PotC queue. Huzzah for two Groots becoming four!

We sailed the 7 seas on PotC as a family and survived! But we had built up a mighty hunger in doing so! Where to eat? Well I’ll have you know I had this one lined out.

We would have a meal and watch the show at the Golden Horseshoe! This was a big one for me. On my first trip to Disneyland as a tender lad of 7 during our Bicentennial year of 1976 I had 4 memories that stuck. One was riding the Skyway thru the Matterhorn.

Two was the Bicentennial Parade

Photo courtesy of yesterland.com

Third was the Main Street Electrical Parade

And last was watching Slue Foot Slue’s Golden Horseshoe Revue in the Golden Horseshoe Saloon. This stuck with me so well that a few years ago I started looking for information on Facebook and saw that there was no page for it! So I made one myself!

It started out as a page for the Revue itself but Facebook actually recognized the hits it was getting and converted it to the official page for the Golden Horseshoe itself. And I am proud to have Don Payne come on board as a fellow Admin – he understudied for Disney Legend Wally Boag and took over for him in his role in the Revue.

Here’s Don hard at work with Betty Taylor AKA “Sue”

And the legend himself, Wally Boag with Betty

Extra bit of trivia, Wally was born up our way in Portland, Oregon. We have been thanked by fans and by family members of the original Revue actors for putting it together and keeping it running – here it is if you want to take a look:


So you might guess it was a big deal to be standing here again.

The show is still a lot of fun, but is a much abbreviated version of the original Revue. We got some grub and settled in

The show even came to us while we were eating! The place serves standard table service offerings. But it is reasonably priced, hot, and filling.

After a good meal I went up to the stage and Roxy snapped a couple of pics for me

And then got a shot of me next to the “Originals” in the Revue’s Hall of Fame – Wally Boag as Pecos Bill, Fulton Burley as The Irish Tenor, and Betty Taylor as Slue Foot Sue

One last shot of the place before we headed out

Before we ate we had set up an appointment for a caricature to be done of the kiddos – the timing worked well for us to head there and get it done

While we waited we again rain into the Doctor, who was ready with his trademark pose

Meanwhile progress was being made

I kept getting more Santa references from passer-bys

Big Smiles! And isn’t Roxy’s Mickey Head necklace cool?

It took about 30 minutes for the finished product, but it was worth it – Baby Groots and all!

While we were waiting I had of course been busy on MaxPass and scored another ride on Haunted Mansion – whoohoo!

Good doggie

I love the animated portraits as you head towards the ride loading area with Zero flitting thru them

PumpkinGirl got a good shot of the Hatbox Ghost

They all look so happy

The trumpets blare

Roxy was with PumpkinGirl for this ride so she took a pic of her as we rode

We came out of the Haunted Mansion and upon looking for our next bit of fun realized we hadn’t been to Toontown yet! I looked on MaxPass and secured FPs for Roger Rabbit and we headed to the New Orleans Square Train Station. Upon arriving I was happy to again see the Lilly Belle!

While we waited for the next train to arrive I scoped out the French Market and contemplated beignets but the line was too long to risk it before our transportation arrived. Loved that the Skellington bows extended to the sign though

Our train arrived and I was happy to see that it was one of the outward-facing ones to get some good snaps thru Frontierland/Rivers of America

The Indian Chief welcomed us

Everything looks so serene at the trappers cabin

They did such a magnificent job with the makeover thru here

I couldn’t get a good shot of the Shaman, but did get a decent shot of the Indian Village thru the trees

The foxes yipped at us as we went by

The sky and scenery was very majestic

We arrived at Toontown and had a few minutes before our FPs kicked in so took in the AWESOME Christmas decorations they had up in the town

Our time had come and we headed into the queue and off on our “spin”. I was cautious about this one as it didn’t want it jerking my neck back out of whack. PumkinGirl and Roxy got in one car and Jinx and I in the one behind them. PumpkinGirl managed to catch a couple of pics of the two of us.

On that last one you can see how my arm was resting on the side of the car. It turns out I didn’t need to worry about my neck, it was a quick twisting turn that got me. My arm had stuck to the ride vehicle and the turn basically yanked the skin on my inner bicep and left me with a very colorful bruise. Lesson learned with that one!

Meanwhile PumpkinGirl managed a shot of Jessica, who she had still been obsessing over and was still collecting pins for

Soon enough Roger was showing us the door

We checked out the Five and Dime for more pins

…and the Post Office to check our mail

We did a little more wandering around before heading out and on to It’s A Small World

Beautiful Holiday touches here too

Hello from the Fam!

And then we were welcomed to the holiday fun!

Epic tree!

So colorful!

I want him in my front yard for Christmas!

Very cool

Good words to live by

Our voyage complete I have to say I loved the makeover and the change in the music they have for the Holidays. So glad we took the time to ride it.

Now we had to decide what to do next. We hadn’t done much with Characters this time around but there was one specific one that the kiddos had to get. And I had one thing I personally wanted to do and had missed the previous day.

It was mid-afternoon on a sunny and non-smoggy day at DLR as we clamored out of our It’s a Small World boat. The kiddos had been looking into characters for a change instead of rides on the Disneyland App. We’re not huge on characters as the kids are older and we don’t want to spend 30 minutes plus in line to get a pic. But there are exceptions!

In this case the kids wanted to find a certain free-roaming troublemaker. That’s right, they wanted their Peter Pan fix! We found him causing mischief near the Circus Train and Jinx made a beeline for him. The first thing Pan noticed was a necklace Jinx was wearing. He may have been the only one to actually read it during our trip. To Roxy’s chagrin it said “Don’t be an A******” 

As you can see he made some fun of that and they both had a big laugh

Jinx finally gave an “oh well”

Pose time!

Next up was PumpkinGirl. Pan really liked her hat and hair!

They had a good conversation too

Look at those guns!

Pose time for them – big laughs!

…and big smiles!

That put the kiddos on a character kick so we took a look in the app and found that Moana was out in Adventureland. It was a bit of a wait but we got to be the last family to meet her for that timeframe so she took her time with us.

After some good banter we did the classic pose

Once we came out of that it was time to split up. I had done the logistics to make the Flag Retreat this time, even knowing I had some crowd obstacles to overcome. While I undertook that endeavor the rest of the fam was going to hit Indiana Jones again!

No pictures for their experience but I went on a real adventure! I was winding my way down Main Street at the same time as the Christmas Parade. Cue the reindeer!

They were of course “pulling” Santa down the lane


I made my way across the street to the flag pole area. While waiting for the ceremony to begin I snapped this grand Christmas picture of the tree with the lamp post and poinsettias

Soon enough the ceremony began

Presentation of the flag

It was a wonderful ceremony with a good crowd of onlookers. I was proud to have witnessed it.

When it was over I meandered back up the street and as I got closer to the hub I started to hear the unmistakable tones of the piano and laughter. Lo and behold between the Refreshment Corner and Jolly Holiday I came across Michael banging out some ragtime tunes!

Michael was joined by the Mayor of Madness – the Hatter!

…and he wasn’t alone. Tweedle-Dee and Dum were along for the ride, playing musical chairs with some kids.

After the game one of them said “Hi”

…and pointed out my Santa hat, which he liked very much!

Afterwards I got a great selfie with the Hatter himself!

While all that fun was going on, the rest of the fam had done FastPasses for Indiana Jones and had looped back around for stand-by so I had some time to kill.

It was now fully dusk and I was at the hub and the balloons were punctuating the landscape.

The wreaths being back was so awesome, they really added that extra touch of holiday magic

I couldn’t resist a panorama of it

I stopped by to pay my respects to “Mr. Disney”

I kept walking towards the hub and had to get another balloon shot, this time with the castle in the background

As I made it to the hub I came across this festive ensemble. If anyone knows their name I would love to have a proper reference

I caught a bit of video of them with some happy girls AND A HAPPY DUCK dancing to Walkin’ in a Winter Wonderland!

They finished their song and I turned and captured Walt trying to grab the tip of the Astro Orbiter

One must always get a front on shot of the Partners statue with the castle in the background

I contemplated braving Fantasyland but decided against it

Instead I decided to head to Adventureland by way of the Royal Theater where Rapunzel and “The Smoulder” were holding court

No interest in a solo meet & greet I wound my way thru Frontierland and on to Adventureland. Where was I heading? Well I needed some grub and the fam had eaten some Bengal BBQ in between rides so I did the same, getting a chicken skewer and a veg skewer. Afterwards I wanted to stay close to the entrance to Indiana Jones so I decided to climb!

I got to one of the landings and looked back towards Frontierland – birds were flocking around big time

The last of the light was fading from the sky as I captured a shot of the flag above PoTC and the Dream Suite

It still looked pretty bright upwards into the tree

Further up I could see Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and see the Mark Twain thru the trees along with the construction crane for Star Wars Land

I turned around and came across this fearsome creature!

More fearsome than him was the step down that I didn’t see right after him and jarred my leg – ouch! I recovered and got a text from Jinx, they were done and Jinx wanted to come up and join me. Roxy and PumpkinGirl were on their way to get some beignets. We came across surrogate mommy and child

On down the tree we found Jane doing her hair

I gotta say Tarzan we being a bit stalker-ish – lol

Looking in that mirror above Jane he was looking REALLY stalker-ish!

We all met up and enjoyed beignets while walking back toward the hub. It was fully dark now and truly magical

One overexposed shot really taking in the light

As we walked I took a quick peek back at the now lit castle

Full darkness found us coming up on the tree with Christmas cheer popping up all around us as they prepared for the Christmas Party

It was time for that wonderful event, it was SNOW TIME! Bear with the video, the snow effect and music kicks in about 1/3 of the way in.

We exited Disneyland but were not ready to end our night yet so off to CA we went! And if we were going to CA we were going to hit Guardians of the Galaxy!

Once inside we had to get a family shot in front of The Collector’s portrait

The ride was a blast with “Hit Me with your Best Shot” as our song. I don’t know what happened with the ride pic, it somehow got lost in the shuffle :confused3

Upon exiting we really wanted to get some more shots in our Groot shirts. We headed towards the photo op area with Santa and his sleigh with the city skyline adjacent to the Hyperion. As we walked up we saw that Cap was out for a meet & greet. Huzzah for spontaneous character opportunities!

In front of us in line was this miniature bombshell femme fatale repping HYDRA. I didn’t want to be nosy but had to snap at least one photo of her with Cap!

She was a cool cucumber …and we were our geeky selves

Kids first for some conversation …Thor and Loki came up

Which segued into this handshake! Roxy was complaining to Cap that Thor’s handshake was a bit light and demonstrated for Cap

Cap of course had to show off ‘proper’ handshakes

He does have a winning smile!

No idea what he was talking about at this point but we were having a good time

Pose time!!!

After that we went back over to the PP spot and got some grand family shots

Once we finished that we were back taking advantage of MaxPass and another ride on GotG! Hello my mossy friend

SO AWESOME to make the connection with this painting after having seen Thor Ragnarok!!!

So many sharp pointy things!

Look, he’s waving – Hi Rocket!!!

This time I was really primed and got a solid shot of his hand going for Star Lord’s Walkman!

We stuck around in the room to get some quality prop pics. Omelet anyone?

Bonus points for anyone who can name the framed item at the top of this picture …or at least what movie it’s from

We finally moved on and made our way thru the queue and ended up with what was obviously (between us and the other occupants of the front row) the best GotG ride pic taken that night!

We made our way out and saw that the park was heading towards shut down and we were pretty spent. I had to get a good marquee shot as we walked

We turned to make our way out and said our farewell to the park and to the last trolley of the night

So we finished another day closing a park. We were all tired but feeling good and that we were getting a good balance of fun without overdoing it too much. We headed back to the hotel and went thru the standard shower rotation and bedtime rigmarole.

We started talking about tomorrow, which was set to be our last day in the parks, our water ride morning, and most importantly the pinnacle of the trip – PumpkinGirl’s 21st B-Day Dapper Do & Imbibation Ambulation AKA Adult Beverage Walkabout!

I won’t hold you in suspense on outcomes here. You are all in store for LOTS of smiles, LOTS of laughs, LOTS of fun and many, many special moments. With little debate of our 8 Disney park trips this was our single best Disney day ever. I’m going thru the pictures now and can’t wait to share them and the story of the day.

Day 4 Ride Count:

– Guardians of the Galaxy – 5 times (can you tell we like that one?)
– Soarin’ – 1 time
– Big Thunder Mountain – 1 time
– Pirates of the Caribbean – 2 times
– Haunted Mansion – 2 times
– Tom Sawyer Island/Pirate’s Lair walkabout
– Disneyland Railroad – 2 rides
– Roger Rabbit – 1 time
– It’s A Small World – 1 time

Characters Met:

– Peter Pan
– Moana
– Mad Hatter
– Tweedle Dee & Dum
– Captain America

Shows/Events Seen:

– The Laughing Stock Co. at the Golden Horseshoe
– Christmas Parade
– Flag Ceremony (finally!)
– Michael’s Ragtime Piano
– 6 Piece Band at the Hub (still don’t know their name)
– Snow on Main Street USA