I think this might be the most picture-heavy post I’ve ever published, but in my defense it’s partly because I was going kinda Instagram-crazy this trip (I am determined to improve my iPhone photography this year) and partly because this time we bought the PhotoPass+ for the first time ever (highly recommended to actually get me in a few photos, but next time we need to remember to use it more often!). And because we kinda had two trips in one this time (we also went to tour a couple of colleges for Emily—gulp), I’ll post Part Two (San Diego and San Luis Obispo) tomorrow!
As we often do, Emily and I drove down to Anaheim by ourselves—she and I can outdo even Tom in Disneyland, so we often take a couple more days to do girly stuff before he arrives or after he leaves. This time, instead of driving down via 101, we went the fast way down 5, and we spent our first night in the Microtel at the base of the Grapevine. Tiny but very clean room, but the window was pretty!
We slept in a little bit in the morning (aiming to avoid the LA morning commute but to get there before the lunch traffic—we were only sorta successful at avoiding what seems to be more or less constant clogged freeways down there!), and arrived at Disneyland in the early afternoon. We dropped off our luggage and then went into the parks while we waited for our room to be ready. Their 60th Anniversary Diamond Celebration is gorgeous!
During our first night, my friend Alli came to meet us. We had dinner together and rode a ride or two in each park, and of course we had to look for Hidden Mickeys. Alli had heard there was one on Buena Vista in the ice cream parlor but she had her son hadn’t found it yet, so this time she asked where it was, and they not only showed us but also offered to take a photo with my phone since it was difficult for guests to see so far behind the counter. So cute—I wish they sold these little milk bottles in the stores!
On our Day 2, we weren’t great with the camera or the PhotoPass, not taking much of anything until nighttime:
The next morning, we used my knee as an excuse to sleep in. Actually, Emily went down into Downtown Disney to grab us breakfast while I slept in even a bit longer than she had, and then we just snuggled in bed in the room and watched TV, had breakfast, and did our nails. We didn’t head into the parks until that afternoon, but the morning was so decadently relaxing!
This is an iPhone pic from our third afternoon, taken on the bridge to the left of the Sleeping Beauty’s castle:
Emily wanted us to do silhouettes on this trip, so we did a double one of her and me:
Then we headed into California Adventure:
That evening Tom arrived, so we spent the whole night reveling in their 60th Anniversary Fireworks and parade, and shut down Disneyland (as we like to do, being night people as opposed to morning people!). The first photo is kinda squiggly, but at 1.7 seconds, it was the best I could do hand-held:
And playing with a slow shutter on the Teacups ride (for you photography geeks like me, this was 2 seconds at ISO 1250 and f/10—I braced the camera on the fence):
On Tom’s second day with use, we had time to enjoy the hotel pool (and slide!) after hitting rides in both parks:
That night we had dinner at the Wine Country Trattoria in order to get priority seating for the late-night World of Color. We had so few people in front of us for the show—it was spectacular (that smoke ring is made by one of the fire explosions—we saw the rings with Alli, too, on our first night there. It was so cool—reminded me of the smoke rings my father used to blow when I was a little girl with his pipe when we sat around the campfire!)!
The next morning we got our behinds out of bed to do California Adventure early entry. Maybe not a big deal for some, but we are decidedly not morning people, so for us this was a huge deal. Tom and Emily were running a bit late so I ended up going down by myself at first to grab a spot in line, and I ended up being first! If you knew us, you’d get how huge that was—LOL! (In fact, I initially wondered if we’d gotten the dates wrong and it was early-entry morning for Disneyland, instead, but I had triple-checked…). And it meant that I, Jessica Holden, got to be the first person in the park that day. (Or at least first at our gate, but I prefer to think of it as first overall. Because I am me—and normally I am not first at anything. So we got to see an empty park, ride rides with virtually no lines, etc. It was, I admit, worth that horrid moment when the alarm clock rang and I realized it was still, yes, dark outside.)
Again for the photography people: These were shot from the hip while on California Screamin’. While in line, I set my settings (24mm, ISO 6400, f/14, SS 1/1000) and lock focus on something far-ish away. When I get on the ride, I have the camera strap across my shoulder and pull the shoulder/lap bar down over me with the camera beside my thigh resting on the seat, trying to be sure the lens’s view isn’t blocked. Then during the ride, I just keep my thumb continuously pressed on the shutter button. Sometimes I don’t get any keepers, but sometimes I do!
See? Still no one in the queue behind us, on our third ride of the morning! (Notice too—no longer to be outdone by Emily—the princess crown that I now have as well, thanks to a treat of fun money from Ralph & Vicki!)
Blurry since the ride is in motion, but a common view of me, from Tom and his camera:
And this photo was one of those magical Disney moments. We didn’t know Sulley was coming, but since part B of this trip is college tours for Emily, we decided we needed a photo in front of Monsters U. And while we were playing around, Sulley showed up! So we used our PhotoPass to get an official photo with him, and then Emily also took a selfie of the four us, which honestly might be my favorite photo from the entire trip. I just adore it!
I think Cars Land might be our favorite place in the parks, which makes this photo especially meaningful:
This one is a PhotoPass pic from in front of Grizzly Peak—Em wants to use it for our Christmas cards (since last year we did not have one single photo of the three of us where we all looked reasonably OK—how sad is that?):
And then back into Disneyland:
And finally, a common sight from this trip–me sitting there while Tom and/or Em ran around shopping or getting FastPasses or handicapped passes so I could avoid some of the otherwise-necessary standing in lines (normally I’d be playing on my phone, too—how did we manage before iPhones?!?). With the passes, you still wait the same amount of time for the rides but we could at least wait while seated together outside. It helps tremendously! Em felt that a photo of me and my brace was necessary to document… But even with the passes, my Fitbit was monitoring an average of 16,000 steps a day—it is a lot of walking. My knee was pretty sore by the end of the days, but the brace helped a lot and we brought the ice machine to hook up to at night, so I managed.
I will post 2015 Southern California trip Part Two later today or tomorrow!