They say that Disneyland is the place where dreams come true. Well, Tenille and I aimed to put that claim to the test. For our one year Anniversary, we decided to drive down to Anaheim, California for our first (and hopefully not the last) trip to Disneyland. I must admit, I don’t think we could have planned a better trip. We used the getawaytoday.com website for the hotel reservations as well as the tickets, and it fit our budget quite nicely, as we were able to succumb to the thrills of spontaneity more than once.
A Modest Proposal
Before I dive into the magical adventures that took place, let me take a quick moment to highlight our hotel choice, and its location, and why I recommend it to anyone. The hotel we stayed at is several large city blocks away from the park, and the most convenient way to travel to and fro was by public transit on a shuttle. It was very nice because the shuttle was only 8 dollars a day for both of us, and when you throw in a full continental breakfast at the hotel, you find yourself not only saving money by not eating at IHOP every morning, but you also don’t have to worry about walking a mile back to your hotel that’s “right next door” to the park. The hotel offered free parking for the duration of our stay so that too was also a plus.
Driving down to Anaheim from Utah County (northern Utah for those of you who aren’t familiar with the beehive state), takes about 10-11 hours. We made the decision to split this driving time into two separate drives of 5 hours each, with a break in Mesquite, Nevada. We left Thursday night after work for Mesquite, and after gaining an hour with the change of time zones, we arrived around 10:30 PM. For those of you who are interested, we stayed at the Falcon Ridge Hotel, probably the cleanest and most affordable hotel I have ever stayed at! The next morning we drove the rest of the way to Anaheim, which wasn’t a hassle at all, and that’s where the fun began. Originally we had planned to relax a little bit once we had checked in, and then perhaps hit the beach for a sunset walk or something… but within 10 seconds of dropping our bags on the hotel floor, Tenille, who hadn’t been to Southern California for nearly 11 years, started to bounce off the walls and pleading to go to Disneyland NOW. Haha, we as you can figure out, off we went. Since our tickets were 5 day park hopper tickets (which we got for the price of 3 day park hoppers), off we went.
We arrived at the park in the mid-afternoon, where the line to pick up our park tickets was non-existent. We walked right up to the window and picked them up. Our first park? Oh… Disneyland, of course! Our first ride? Pirates of the Caribbean. As some of you know, since the trilogy has come out, the ride has gone through some major changes, and in my opinion, for the better! The ride is a lot darker now, and Tenille loved every minute of it! So much in fact, that we went on the ride 3 or 4 times during our stay.
As far as how was our overall treatment while there, I guess the best word to describe it would be “matchless.” One of the workers in a store asked us if we were celebrating anything, and when we told her it was our 1st anniversary, she went to her cash register and pulled out two buttons that said “Happy Anniversary!” She instructed us to wear these throughout our stay, which we did. I guess “Happy Anniversary” means in Disney lingo “Spoil these brats as much as you can.” And let me tell you, the Cast Members are good at doing this!! Some of the special treatment we encountered was V.I.P seating to the firework show at night, a classic photo opportunity immediately thereafter in front of the lighted castle before anyone was allowed on the bridge, and even a special moment to dance with Mickey and Minnie themselves! Not only that, but everyone congratulated us on our Anniversary wherever we went, which made us feel all fuzzy inside.
One of the best was a fun and romantic (and needless to say, pricey) lunch at the Blue Bayou, which is a restaurant quietly set aside to the first leg of the Pirates Ride. The food was wonderful, and the setting was amazing, and actually, even with the people drifting along in boats not 30 feet from our table, it was very quiet. It was definitely worth it for the occasion at hand. Another adventure we embarked on was a first for me, and it’s something I never thought I would do in my lifetime. You see, after a few days of walking in the parks, your feet tend to get sore. So what did we do? We checked in to the Mandara Spa at the Grand California Hotel for a pair of pedicures, one for Tenille, and one (gulp) for me. For those of you who know me, if you tickle my feet, you run the risk of breaking a rib or an arm, pending on which is closer. Did my feet twitch a little while the lady was “massaging” my feet? Yep. Did Tenille laugh at me more than once when I fidgeted in my seat? Yep. And did I enjoy it? Yep. Will I get another one someday? Nope. (Tenille says “yep” to that last bit, which I think is nuts.)
Aside from getting the usual shirts and paraphernalia, the highlight of this part of our Anniversary was a small shop behind Aurora’s Castle called “Heraldry”. It was here that we looked up the history of our family names, Holyoak and Irwin. We also found the Brazen of Arms for each name, which we had printed with the date of our marriage. The funny thing about the Irwin Brazen of Arms is that it has oak leaves on its crest… So Tenille was my princess destined for me all along! (tender moment, awww!) The cool thing about the Holyoak crest was that it was basically blue and white. To my family and friends, Cougar Blue truly does run deep in our veins! Aside from that, we also printed off the history of each name, and we will frame these documents and post them in our home. Pretty neat addition, if you ask me.
Having done all that, we drove home on Tuesday, stopping for a short, yet pleasing visit with my Grandpa Winchester, who lives just outside of Mesquite. A recent widower as of February this year, he has been having a very difficult time, and looks forward anxiously to the day that he and his late wife Judy, my grandmother, will be reunited. However, it was a joy to hear that he is now attending Sacrament Meeting as often as his work schedule will permit, especially since he has been inactive for at least 10 years. He is a great man, and despite some of his flaws which he personally acknowledges, I will always admire him. We love him dearly, and he is in our prayers.
So there you have it! Our trip was a perfect capstone to a year that has been full of blessings and adventures. I look forward to many more in the years to come. : )
1 Year Back
3 months ago