The Cute Boy, he does this thing where he listens to me. It's pretty awesome. I always say that I prefer experiences to stuff. Stuff has to be stored and experiences just enrich my memories without a lot of dusting. So, after hearing me say that someday I'd like to stay at the Grand Californian at Disneyland, Erik made my birthday present a 2-night stay.
We picked the weekend of July 10th, planned to take Monday off work, and headed down Saturday morning. Alex and Sherman met us there Saturday evening. We checked into the Grand Californian. The attention to detail is something that kept us in awe throughout the stay. As we checked in, we were told we were upgraded for free to a DCA park view room. Aw shucks! We had a view of the lagoon with the new World of Color show. Since this had been my birthday present, someone along the way had noted that in the reservation, so before we could leave the front desk, out came balloons and buttons emblazoned with my name and Happy Birthday. The park is on a campaign to "Celebrate!" all the reasons that folks have decided to be there, so this was right up their alley. Mind you, my birthday was in May, but since this was my birthday *present* and it seemed to make everyone happy to celebrate as such, I played along. Every cast member I passed from the lowliest janitor to Goofy in the park wished me a happy birthday. At first I was a bit mortified, but over time, I got used to it and cheerfully thanked everyone for their good wishes.
Heading up to the room, the first thing we noticed was how wonderfully responsive the elevators were. You press the button, and within a few seconds, the doors open. After too much time standing for multiple minutes waiting for an elevator at gaming cons, this was like a breath of fresh air. Our room was gorgeous. The carpet was specially made and included hidden Mickeys. It was also sooooo quiet. We opened the balcony slider and were suddenly overwhelmed with the sounds of the park. I closed it again. And opened it again. Utterly amazing sound-proofing. We changed into swimsuits and robes hung neatly in the closet and headed down to the pool. Four pools, two hot tubs, and an awesome curvy water slide. After a 30 minute soak in the hot tubs, we headed back upstairs.
Alex and Sherman arrived soon after and we met them and led them back to the room. We watched a bit of World of Color from the balcony and then headed out to dinner at Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen. I'd always meant to get around to eating there, but never had. We got some soups, some Andouille grits, beef medallions, and a filet muffelletta and shared. They brought birthday beignets for dessert and promised that they didn't sing! We retired to start the morning early, eligible for Magic Morning an hour before park opening.
Magic Morning is still the best thing ever. We rode Space Mountain twice in an hour, hit Peter Pan with a 5 minute line, ran on to tea cups with no wait at all (where Sherman and Alex got a fastest teacup victory from the cast member!), hit Astro Blasters, had breakfast at the Carnation Cafe, and still were able to get a fast pass for Splash Mountain before it warmed up enough to make that sound like a good idea. So, we walked on to Indy with a 10-15 minute wait, toured Pirates and the Haunted Mansion, wandered through New Orleans Square, ran around Tom Sawyer's Island, and finally headed to Splash Mountain where we got more than ordinarily soaked. While dripping, poor Sherman wringing his shirt out repeatedly, we decided that what the heck, we should do the canoes. More splashing ensued as we raced past the boat that left before us, easily beating them back to the dock.
After that we eventually toddled over to DCA. I'd ordered picnic lunches
online with reserved spots for World of Color. I figured we'd eat them for lunch and grab something for dinner. The lunch was awesome - tasty salmon for Sherman, antipasti for Alex, yummy fried chicken for Erik and I, plus it comes with a free reusable tote bag and the reserved spots for WoC. We ate under the vines, enjoying the lovely summer afternoon. Then we popped into the Blue Sky Studio to look at the upcoming plans for the parks, and bumped into Kevin and Leslie Patterson. I had that perfect moment of standing there staring at someone, knowing that you know them, but it's so far out of context that you just can't quite wrap your brain around it. Then I realized it was them, and hugs and greetings went all around. We chatted a bit about Disneyland, architecture, and our parade victory. Back on our way to Midway Madness and the Silly Symphony Swings and finally Grizzly River Rapids, where it was my turn to get totally totally soaked. I think the only thing left dry on me was most of my right sleeve. But, this was all in the plan! We toddled back to the room, stripped down, and headed to the pool to try out the slide. Wheeeeeee!
Back in the park after a hot shower and a fresh set of clothes for World of Color, Erik said, "This is our first new thing together at Disneyland! This will be special." I agreed. We funneled into our spots, then ran to grab food. We chatted with a mom and her two girls, one of whom is hoping to pursue Med School at Stanford. Before the show, they have a nice pre-show with giant puppets and a sing-a-long. Then the show kicked off and it was pretty. It's more of a series of vignettes rather than a cohesive story, but the transitions were elegantly done and the water and lights were beautiful and vibrant. The show ended and we said our farewells to Hunter, Dylan, and their mom. I was busy planning what next and chatting about the cool parts of the show. Erik said, "I like doing new things with you." I concurred. He asked if I wanted to do more new things together. I said yes. He said, "How about getting married?" And he was onto one knee with a beautiful 1920's vintage ring in hand. Alex and Sherman were in on the game and caught a great photo:
I said, "Yes, but only if you marry me right back!" There was hugging and kissing and smooching and Alex whipped out a pair of new buttons that said "Happily Ever After." The birthday button went away and a little flustered and a whole lot of happy, we headed out to see what Glow Fest was all about. This was perhaps the oddest thing I've ever seen at Disneyland - a Disneyland sponsored rave.
complete with go-go dancers
and heat screens to dance in front of.
So, we celebrated by dancing til nearly closing, then headed into the Animation Studios to enjoy the lobby and chat with Crush (who called on Sha-nar-nar Sherman, but was thoroughly puzzled by the concept of waltzing).
We wandered back to the hotel, a lovely ending to a thoroughly perfect day.
The next day was the usual day at Disneyland, but far more crowded and warmer than the day before. With our "Just Engaged" buttons, we got a lot of congratulations from around the park. We made the day of Amber at the tortilla factory who thought it was the sweetest story she'd heard in a long time. She even recognized us when we popped in again the next day. At 4, we had to send Alex and Sherman on their way back to reality, but we had decided to stay another day ourselves, so we took a moment to check in to the HoJo (since there was no room to stay another night where we were). Just before that, we took one last ride on Space Mountain and used the photo system to take a cute engagement photo.
We opted to have dinner at the Napa Rose
for the first time. It was divine. Lobster-stuffed squash blossoms, duck breast with chanterelles and cherries stuffed with goat cheese, skillet roasted rib-eye with blistered tomatoes, onions, and roasted garlic, and creme brulee with lime-soaked raspberries and passion fruit sauce for dessert. Two hours later, we headed back to the park to see Fantasmic. Meanwhile, a package had come for me. After Fantasmic and after fireworks, I turned to Erik and offered him a tungsten carbide ring with blue carbon fiber and said, "Will you help me keep the magic alive, even when we've done it all before?" He said yes. Hand in hand, we headed over to ride Space Mountain and Astro Blasters, then went to DCA to catch Tower of Terror before calling it a night.
In the morning, we wandered around DCA one last time before heading back to the real world. We finished reading The Lightening Thief just after getting home and happy kitties none the worse for wear and a beautiful hydrangea on the patio from Christyn and Brian (who had popped in to check on kitties when we decided to stay an extra day). We closed the evening lounging on the sofa, me catching up on email and Erik telling his guild the story. Ah, geek love.
Here's to our new adventure together!