Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Happiest Birthday on Earth

Shayna turns 16 today and what better place to celebrate than the happiest place on earth? Disneyland is her favorite place so over the long Nevada Day weekend we took her there.

We go to Disneyland about every other year so to make this trip unique we stayed at one of the Disney hotels adjacent to California Adventure called the Paradise Pier. To enter the park you just cross the street and go through another Disney hotel the Grand Californian. We originally booked a double bed room without a view of the park because that was all they had left. When we checked in they asked us if we were celebrating anything special so we said yes and they said they were going to see if they could make some magic happen. They ended up upgrading us to a family suite with a view of the park!

On our first night we hear a knock at the door and were greeted with this plate of treats.

The view from our suite was pretty amazing too especially at night. Having been born in California I am partial to the California Adventure park. It is much smaller than Disneyland and much less crowded. One morning when we woke up the fog rolled in and we could not even see the park. Madison walked up to the window, breathed on it and tried to clear it like it was a fogged up mirror it was pretty cute.

Since it was near Halloween they dress up the parks with a Halloween theme and call it "Halloweentime".

We have been to the parks at Halloween before and never seen so many decorations. The entrance to Disneyland just beyond the gates which normally has flowers was transformed with pumpkins. All of the orange in the Mikey were mini pumpkins.

Here are the girls on Main Street in Disneyland by the big Mikey-o-Lantern.

The Pirates of the Caribbean ride was updated since we were last there. They have added Capt. Jack Sparrow in the mix which is pretty cool. Here are the girls on the ride.

Here is the newly renovated submarine ride. They have transformed it into a Finding Nemo adventure. The line for this ride was well over an hour as with any new ride at Disney. Since we had one day with an early admission to the park we used it to get on this ride first thing in the morning. We still stood in line for an hour.

I don't know if you can tell how incredibly small this ride is on the inside from this picture but picture a floating coffin. Did I mention that I am very claustrophobic? Once you get in this tiny cabin you are sitting facing your own porthole. The porthole is maybe a foot in front of your face and on the other side of that is a concrete wall. Much like flying on a plane, you sit there for quite a bit of time before the ride starts to move. At least it felt like an eternity. Once the ride gets moving and you can see more than 12" beyond your face, it is not so bad. The ride has some pretty cool effects but I will never see them again, I was incredibly close to a full blown panic attack and had a stomach ache and was dizzy for quite some time after getting off the ride.

To help us celebrate Shayna's birthday Grandma Alice and Aunt Trace flew down and joined us on Friday afternoon. You can see her and Madison here on the coaster in Toontown they are right in front of the lady in the green sweatshirt. After this ride Grandma and Aunt Trace took Shayna to eat lunch at the restaurant inside the Pirates ride as a special treat for her birthday while Brent and I took Madison to New Orleans Square to have clam chowder and veggie gumbo in sourdough bread bowls.

Aunt Sharon and Uncle Vic live in Huntington Beach which is just a short drive to Anaheim. They came to our hotel and met us for dinner on Saturday night. The restaurant was a disappointment and the service was not up to the Disney standards. It was still a nice treat to see them and share a meal.

They did however make a special desert for Shayna for her birthday that was pretty cool. They also had some really nice napkins and chop stick holders which may or may not have made it into someone's purse and back to our hotel room.

We upgraded our room to the next level so that we had access to a special room that served a continental breakfast, snacks throughout the day, and an evening wine and cheese reception. I really enjoyed the wine and cheese demonstrated by this picture.

After our dinner with Aunt Sharon and Uncle Vic we headed back to the park for some more fun. Disney after dark is pretty cool and they have fireworks too.

Next to the Thunder mountain Railroad they had a little Day of the Dead area with free face painting and the skeleton mariachi band.

The trip was a huge success and the drive was smooth sailing. I think it will be a birthday Shayna will never forget.

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