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My 28th Birthday… the Disney way!

After 4 nights in beautiful Santa Monica, I got up really early on my birthday, Thursday February 12th, to head to Anaheim. With only one day in Disneyland, I wanted to get there as early as possible to see as much as I could with the little time I had.

It’s not an easy trek, but with some research I found that the best way to go was to take a cab to LAX airport, then hop on the Disneyland Express (I kid you not!) to get dropped off at my hotel the Grand Californian! So I crawled out of bed at 6 am, got to LAX by 7, hopped on the Express at 7:30 and was in Anaheim faster than you could say Bippity, Boppity, Boo!!

And, lucky me, my room was ready and I could check in right away! Now how ’bout THAT Disney magic! They sent me to my room with balloons, a birthday button, and an autographed picture of the Disney princesses… and who says you have to grow up?

My hotel was very lodge-like, with a lot of Frank Lloyd Wright influence. Beautiful stained glass doors, little dimmer-switched lanterns on the beds. And it was so perfectly located, about 1 minute walking from Downtown Disney, with shops and restaurants galore, and about 5 minutes from the entrance to the actual parks. With only one day and limited time, it was great being so close.

A couple random Disneyland thoughts, since I am a Disney World girl through and through:

  • Park was smaller, but made running around really easy. Not sure how I would feel if I was there for a few days… it may get a little boring because it’s so easy to see everything in one day.
  • Haunted Mansion was a real mansion that you walked around (in line) and it was so pretty. Like a real southern mansion. I know that the one in Disney World is a real mansion too, but this one just felt more exposed and like it really could have been someone’s house. Otherwise the ride was the same.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean was really cool- with a whole different beginning of the ride, with a little boat ride through a New Orleans Bayou. They made it really cool by putting a restaurant in the Bayou part- really dark and prettily lit with candles. I think they had a little more space with that one. Otherwise the ride was the same.
  • Instead of the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse, they had Tarzan’s treehouse. It was pretty much the same, but they had a cute inside joke… at the end of the walk through the treehouse they have a little camp set up with a radio. It’s playing the music from the Swiss Family Robinson movie. I had a nice smile at that.
  • The castle is Sleeping Beauty’s castle, not Cinderella’s, and they have a little walkthrough with cool pictures (or holograms or something) that tells the story. It ws really neat being able to walk through the secret passage of the castle.
  • They had 2 Disneyland-only rides- the Matterhorn Bobsleds (fun!) and the Indiana Jones Adventure. Indy was fun, but I had it built up so much more in my head. You ride in a car and it’s really jerky and stuttery- like the Dinosaurs ride. Fun, but could have been better.
  • It was awesome getting to see the lantern that is always lit in Walt’s apartment, above the fire station. To imagine that he walked where I walked was just a really cool feeling, especially knowing that he never saw Disney World complete.

I got an incredible surprise (or 2!) from my very dear friends. A Mickey balloon and Pirate cake from Meagan and a Princess cake and chocolate covered strawberries from my Travel Channel friends. If you could have seen my face when the man with the cart said that those goodies were for me! What a great feeling to have such amazing friends. (And everything was delicious, too!!)

And if that wasn’t enough, I went to a fantastic dinner at Napa Rose, the award winning restaurant at the hotel under the close direction of head Chef Andrew Sutton. I was fortunate to be able to spend the evening under his attentive culinary care at the Chef’s Counter. The smartest move that I made that night was to answer “Sure!” to his question of “You don’t have to order… We could just cook for you if you want… and, do you want the wine accompaniment?” Everything was so good.

Great company, great food (6 courses, 4 glasses of wine- they just kept coming! And the homemade bread – 4 kinds!- was nothing short of amazing.) The chef, waitress Wendy and the lovely couple who quickly befriended me all offered to sing Happy Birthday, but I didn’t want the extra attention. For me, the night was great the way it was (only I could have used my own personal entourage of boyfriend, friends and parentals to make it truly perfect). But they took it one step further and discounted my entire meal over 50%. What a great ending to a pretty darn awesome birthday.

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