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#Disneyland60th : We Were Dazzled!

Yesterday did not go as anticipated, but the result was magical!  

Photo:  The castle at Disneyland, with Walt Disney's face projected on it

I had planned to take youngest daughter to Disneyland.  When we go to Disneyland, I like to leave early in the morning, so that we can arrive at the park at opening, when the crowds are still light. Let's just say that not everyone appreciates such an early start.  By the time we finally got on the road yesterday, I was mentally fighting to refrain from grumbling at the late start.  At one point, youngest daughter said, "Everything happens for a reason, Mom." I thought some snarky retort, but bit my tongue.  

Traffic was light, and we arrived at the security check at the park at 10:48 a.m.  I know the exact time, because that is the time that is stored on my phone as the time I texted the word, "Fowler" to CASTLE to enter the Disneyland Diamond Days Sweepstakes.  At 11:18 I received a phone call and text, informing me that I was a potential winner of a daily prize!  I could not believe it!  After answering a few questions--Was I currently in the park?  Does anyone in my household work for Disney? etc. etc.)-- I was told I was the winner of a 7-hour, VIP personalized tour.  At 12:30, I was to report to the Chamber of Commerce to meet up with my guide. I also would receive Disney dining dollars, and a prime viewing spot to one of the evening performances.  Wow!  

Photo:  youngest daughter, me, and Ricardo, our VIP tour guide
 At the appointed time (actually a few minutes early, because I WON and was too excited to wait another minute), we met Ricardo, our tour guide extraordinaire.  He asked us what we wanted to do during our day.  He told us that he could get us on all the fastpass attractions, plus a few others.  He volunteered to make dining reservations for us.  We told him we would follow his suggestions, and gladly accepted the help with reservations.  

We started our tour with riding Soarin' Over the World.  While I will miss Soarin' Over California, Soarin' Over the World is spectacular!  It almost made me wish I had school-age kids again, because it would be fun to design a social-studies unit around the places highlighted on the ride.  

Other rides we went on in California Adventure included Grizzly River Rapids (Ricardo waited for us while we rode; apparently cast members are not allowed on it), Toy Story Mania, Radiator Springs Racers, and Tower of Terror.  As we walked around and rode the rides, Ricardo shared his knowledge about all things Disney.  I thought I was fairly up on park tidbits of information, but I learned so much!

Did you know:

  • The mountains on Radiator Springs are designed to look like the tail fins of cars from various decades?
  • The Tower of Terror lobby contains an original Shirley Temple doll and a 1st edition Wizard of Oz book?
  • Mr. Limpet shows up in The Little Mermaid?
  • The Constance character in the Haunted Mansion is also in Pirates of the Caribbean?
  • The mine shafts on Big Thunder Mt. Railroad display horseshoes, and the last shaft's horseshoe is hanging upside-down, indicating that our luck has run out?
  • One of the skeletons in Indiana Jones is wearing a Mickey ears hat?
  • The London traffic in Peter Pan is made by painting a bicycle chain?
I could go on and on.  Ricardo really made the day interesting, as he pointed out things I had never noticed before.  One thing I really appreciate about Disneyland is that there are so many details that no matter how many times you have gone, there is always something new to see.  

Once we finished riding the rides in California Adventure, we crossed over to Disneyland.  We were able to ride Space Mountain, the Matterhorn, Small World, Roger Rabbit, Big Thunder Mountain, Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean, Winnie the Pooh, and Haunted Mansion.  We could have done others, had they been operating at the time.  We also passed on some of the rides for one reason or another.  The point is, this was a fully customizable tour, and Ricardo did everything he could to make our day pleasant and memorable.

One thing he was able to do was get us reservations to dine at the Carthay Circle restaurant.  I had only eaten there once before, and youngest daughter had never stepped inside.  It is an upscale, fancy restaurant, where nary a chicken finger nor french fry can be found on the menu.  If you are looking for a culinary delight (and don't mind spending top dollar), this is the place to dine.  Because my prize included dining dollars, I decided to put them toward a meal here.  

The menu is top-notch.  I started with the escarole salad, then had the artichoke crepes, and finished with a Meyer lemon tart. Youngest daughter had beef barbacoa and, for dessert, a dulce de leche marshmallow turnover.  We split side orders of mashed potatoes and green beans.  I remembered to take a photo of the salad, but then got caught up in the experience and forgot to take any more photos. (And, to be truthful, I only remembered to take a photo of the salad after I had already started eating it!)

Photo:  Carthay Circle Escarole Salad

After dinner, we met back up with Ricardo and went on a couple more rides.  Then it was sadly time to say goodbye.  He told us where to find our seats for the parade (I chose the earliest of the evening choices, since I still needed to drive home), and we thanked him for a wonderful day.  Later, after we were seated and ready to watch the show, who should show up but Ricardo?! He just wanted to make sure we had been able to find our place.  Talk about going above and beyond!

We had a great vantage point for the parade and, had they not been canceled due to wind, we would have had a great view of the fireworks.  

Photo: Opening float in the Paint the Night Electrical Parade

Nothing could have put a damper on the day, though, not even my daughter reminding me that had we not arrived late at Disneyland, we probably would not have won the VIP Dazzle Tour prize package.  What a magical day! 

Have you ever had an unexpected surprise?  

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Thanks for fun times, and memories made.

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  1. THAT IS SO EXCITING!!!!!!! The perfect prize for you to win. Those guides are the best. When we went to Disney back in October, Bryan hired one for us. We are now spoiled rotten and don't ever want to go without a guide again. :)

    1. I understand your sentiment! It was so nice on a hot day to not have to wait in lines, and I learned so much, too!

  2. Ohhh WOW! What incredible fun :D It sounds like you had an absolutely marvellous time, and how lovely to be able to take your daughter to eat somewhere she'd never been before :)


    1. It was incredibly good luck! We had a great time!

  3. Congratulations on your prize and for having a magical day with your daughter.

  4. You lucky duck! So awesome! ♥

  5. How cool. Perfect for you!

  6. How cool. Perfect for you!

  7. That is so cool and it is perfectly deserving since you go there so often! I didn't realize they cancel the fireworks due to the winds sometimes. Guess I just never paid attention. We hear them almost every night. Wish we could see them!

  8. THIS IS SO AWESOME! You were the perfect guest to win, since you are such a loyal Disneyland patron! I'm going to guess Disney doesn't want their cast members getting soaked on Grizzly River Rapids! Peter Pan is still my very favorite ride at any Disney park. Do they still have Mr. Toad's Wild Ride? Second favorite.


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