We stayed at the Grand Californian for the kickoff weekend of the Food & Wine Festival in April and returned to the Grand Californian for the Finale – mostly because we had booked the Taste event, which is the culmination of everything that has gone on before during the festival. It’s similar to the Party for the Senses at Walt Disney World – more on that in Part 2.
But pulling up to the Grand Californian is like coming home – this was the first time in our new Kona Blue Mustang. BTW, we were concerned how the 4-hour drive would feel in the Mustang, but it was fabulous. What it lacks in luxury, it more than makes up for in fun and fit – it feels like you and the car are one.
On our last trip, we booked a standard room and were upgraded to a pool view on one side, just off the lobby with a fabulous mezzanine view. We were serenaded to sleep each night to piano music. This time we also booked a standard room and while we weren’t upgraded (holiday weekend), we were pleasantly surprised to be overlooking the courtyard with tall pine trees and the monorail swooshing by just outside our balcony. In some ways, it was the best view yet, and we found it to be so relaxing.
Here are some of the highlights of the trip (in no particular order):
- Our fabulous room at the Grand Californian
- Lunch and drink service out by the pool – perfect pool day!
- Alturas Peruvian Band/David Wayne music in Downtown Disney
- Glotini and Ecotini FABs in the Hearthstone Lounge
- Pirates of the Caribbean – the BEST!
- Haunted Mansion – we so miss the new WDW update, but this is fun, too!
- Train from Main Street to New Orleans Square
- Tribute to Captain EO – seemed rather dated but still fun to see again
- Winnie the Pooh – in the old Country Bears Location – made us hungry for cake and, what do you know, there was a cupcake shop right outside and we each had one – yum, yum!!
- Lunch at Hungry Bear overlooking the canoes – haven’t eaten here in years
- Dinner at Rancho del Zacolo – a “must” on every trip
- Lunch at Cocina Cucamonga – carne asada/chicken tamale combo
- Day One Disneyland Exhibit
- Soft serve ice cream at Catch a Flave next to the Coppertone billboard
- Chatting with WDW fans while in line for Taste – fun to offer Disneyland tips
- Taste – Food & Wine Party Extravaganza – details in Part 2 written by Rich
- Celebrity sightings
- Huntington Beach – lunch at Fish City Tacos – drive down PCH to Dana Point, including Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, and a drive through Laguna Hills
- Househunting in Huntington Harbor – could so live there.
One of the most interesting new attractions for us was called “Day One Disneyland” – where the Bank of America/Annual Passholder office used to be – right next to the newly-returned “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln.”
We bought a replica of an original ticket book – each ticket shows describes each A, B, C, D, E ride. Way COOL!! Check out pics of the Gallery over on Mice Chat.
On one of our trips last year as we drove down Katella to stop and fill up the tank at our usual gas station before entering the freeway, I glanced out the window and said sadly, “Either we move here or we stop coming here–I can’t keep leaving.” Leaving this time was the hardest ever – I didn’t want to go back to Vegas. But it was good to see our home again and our kitties. We are blessed with the best pet sitter we’ve ever had and we know our kitties are well cared for.
But we can be just as swayed to embrace the Florida lifestyle, too, should an opportunity present itself. We’re just as undecided as ever about what we’d choose – Orange County, CA or Orange County, FL – Disneyland or Disney World – Huntington Beach or Cocoa Beach. We love them all!