In planning and preparing for a vacation, it is a good idea to prepare to roll with the unexpected. Things do not always go as planned.
As the time approached for my youngest to return from his LDS mission to South Korea, I began dreaming of going to Disneyland with my singles - the new RM Benjamin, Joseph, Andrew, and Miriam. I tried scheduling several times but something was always wrong - like Soarin and Splash Mountain both scheduled to be closed! Soon Benjamin was married and went to Disneyland with his bride! Joseph, a true homebody, just didn't want to go. He hates packing and being in the car for hours.
Finally, Miriam, Andrew and I were set to go for a vacation the likes of which we have never had before. The plan - drive Monday (with possibly a stop at Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park on the way). Visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter on Tuesday, then go to Disneyland Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, and drive home Saturday.
Andrew arranged with his professors to be out of school this week. EXCEPT a you cannot miss it 23% of your grade exam that started at 3pm (or was it 3:30?) Anyway, instead of leaving Monday morning, we now had to leave around 5:30pm or so. That eliminated the state park stop and would get us to the hotel around midnight.
Sunday afternoon the day before departure, we were rear-ended and Gracie, my Honda CR-V, was no longer able to make the drive. Fortunately we have AAA. Gracie went to the shop and I got a rental Monday. Good thing we had already altered our plans to leave late in the day! Besides, Miriam and I had not finished packing.
Andrew feels his exam went well. So did our drive down. Andrew had to take over for me the last few hours, but he was fine with that and at that time of night the famous LA traffic had gone to bed.
We stayed at the Hilton Universal which was very nice. A little more than I am at home with but with fewer amenities that we want and had later at the Best Western. We booked for 3 people but they gave us things in 2s until we asked- like bottled water and keys. No breakfast included. The wifi was free for 3 devices only - while we each had a phone and a computer. But we were only there for the night, so it didn't matter much. I think only Andrew and I actually used our computers. And, nicely, the parking we paid for lasted until 6pm Tuesday, so we could leave the car there and take the shuttle to Universal Studios. Everyone was polite and pleasant, but not really friendly.
For those who have trouble walking, it was a very long walk from shuttle drop off through City Walk through security and the park entrance to the wheelchair and scooter rental. Miriam rented a regular wheelchair while I chose to limp along. We enjoyed the Wizarding World of Harry Potter very much. We delighted in a delicious breakfast in The Three Broomsticks (awesome place), visited most of the shops in Hogsmeade (resisting many expensive temptations), walked through the castle - very cool, but a bit too dark- and declined the ride which we heard made even the non-queasy prone sick, and rode the Hippogriff rollercoast. Fun! and as our cars pulled in, for some reason the helpers asked "Do you want to ride again?!" I thought they meant to come back again, but no, they sent us around for a second time. This was Andrew's first roller coaster. It was fun the first time, but both of us enjoyed it more the second time around.
The Universal Studios Tour was fun and exciting. From there Andrew and Miriam barely made it to the Special Effects Show. I was too slow but I didn't care as much either. I relaxed and did some people watching by a cooling station. Lots of matching-shirted groups led by a guide carrying a small flag and taking selfies. One group of red-shirted Things. Dad of Things, Uncle of Things, Things of various numbers. It seems that Asians of all ages and young women of all colors are most comfortable being photographed and taking selfies.
We admired wands of the well-known witches and wizards. With some slight difficulty resisted purchasing one. Cost was a factor and my favorite wands are from Griffindor while I am Hufflepuff. Besides, what would I really do with it?
I wanted to have the Great Feast for dinner at The Three Broomsticks, but the Feast is a platterful of food enough for 4 very hungry people – some people say it will feed 5 or 6 – roast chicken, spareribs, roast potatoes, corn on the cob, salad and veggies (maybe more?) and there were only 3 of us. Miriam had roast chicken, Andrew had a chicken salad, I had the spare rib platter which had much of the Feast foods, but not chicken, salad, or seasonal vegetables. Delicious! I particularly liked the spare ribs and corn on the cob.
We all agreed it was a great place to visit, but except for The Three Broomsticks and maybe the Universal Tour, we don't feel a big need to return soon or often. But very glad we went.
Best Western provides free wifi without restrictions and a very good buffet breakfast at Captain Kidd's restaurant. It also has an in-room microwave (which Hilton did not) as well as a small fridge (which Hilton did). Although the room was slightly smaller, it was clean and quite comfortable. Overall, I personally prefer Best Western. I think the busy, slightly harried staff was friendlier.
We had booked scooters to be delivered at 8 in the morning and picked up Saturday at noon. Before our trip, the driver texted me to say he started work at 9 and the delivery would be some time thereafter. I told him the Park opened at 10, we wanted to be there by then, and to text me when he was on the way or when he arrived. He agreed. I went to the lobby at nine and waited, not entirely patiently. At 9:30 I texted that I was getting anxious. He responded “It's there” “It's” is not a good word in this case. There is an in house scooter rental with a different company, so I had ignored the scooters next to it. Oh, ONE of them had my name (misspelled) on it. The hotel called the company and we waited for the scooter. I must say the driver was not very interested in showing us how they worked. But at last! We were going to Disneyland!! Well, California Adventure, actually. We enjoyed exploring Grizzly Peak Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. Loved it.
But while there, not more than an hour into our park experience, I noticed that my power indicator showed 1 red and 3,no 2, no 3, no 2 yellow lights instead of a lovely spectrum of 1 red, 3 yellow, and a whole bunch of greens. We called the scooter company who told us to stay in the park and do what we were doing and a new one would be brought to us. Of course, that didn't happen. The driver started calling us, telling us that of course he could not enter the ticketed area and asking us where to meet him. How would we know? It was our first time here. We worked our way out to the big plaza between security and park entrances. And waited and waited. He could not find us based on what we described near by. Andrew figured out where he was and went to get him. The scooter guy put new batteries in my scooter. It showed full power and we were off again. Not an hour later, I was out of power. I called again and they agreed to bring me another scooter. This time I really ran out of power and Andrew pushed the scooter from the far end of Cars Land to outside the entrance. Now it was after noon and we have lost half of an expensive day in Disneyland. A bit disappointing, but this time the scooter lasted the rest of the day although I was a bit nervous about it and it did run down faster than Miriam's scooter (because she weighs less?). Having scooters made a huge difference for our gimpy bodies! The rest of the day was great! until the end.
After all the upset over the scooters (I spent some time crying in the Happiest Place on Earth), we knew it was time for our first Mickey Bars. Delicious and refreshing! After hearng me talk about them since Sariah took me to Disney World three years ago, I was afraid that Andrew and Miriam would be less than impressed, but they agreed that they are very, very good ice cream bars. We looked forward to more later.
We had fun in both parks. Although at first we thought it might be kid stuff, Luigi's Rockin Roadsters was great fun. I would gladly ride again! Can't miss the classic Small World, Soaring Over the World was awesomely great (but I still miss Soaring over California which I had enjoyed at DW with Sariah).
Dinner at Goofy's Kitchen was delicious, plentiful and great fun! Pluto, Minnie, Chip, and Dale all visited our table and interacted several times. At a table near us, a couple separated their 50th anniversary. We asked Minnie how long she and Mickey have been together. She said 87 years. Then pointed to her ring-less left hand and looked sad. She is a very patient mouse. (Mickey-and-Minnie-Mouse-facts-that-will-make-you-believe-in-love-forever)
Finally it was time to use our Fast Pass for Radiator Springs Racers – which we had picked up very early in the afternoon. Great ride! We loved it. No wonder it is so popular. However when Miriam went to get up out of the car, something snapped in her leg and she could not raise herself. With some effort, Andrew and the ride worker helped her out and into a wheelchair which Andrew pushed back to our scooters. The World of Color had started by the time we got there. Andrew could see part of it, but Miriam and I could only listen to the music and see the tops of the water fountains. But there's still two more days.
Back at the hotel, we realized that Miriam was going to have trouble without aids. We were able to upgrade to a handicap accessible room so she could use the bathroom on her own. She needs help (or handicap bars) getting up, then she can stand and walk a little (per normal for her).
I don't know what we thought. I thought maybe after resting the night, she would be better. I think she knew otherwise, but one can always hope. Thursday morning instead of enjoying early park admission, we faced the big decision. Lots of tears on my part and the other two were sad, too, but we knew that plans with Miram's body are always subject to change. We pretty much felt that Miriam should be checked sooner rather than later. She doesn't think this is one, but some things get seriously worse if not seen too immediately. We have had incidents that could have killed her and leg problems that could have resulted in permanent loss of use if we hadn't gone in right away. Even if not, Miriam was not going to be able to go on rides or feel comfortable and happy sitting on a scooter waiting for us to ride all day. And we would not have fully enjoyed them either. We realized our time was up. Miriam contacted various medical and Medi-Cal people. Medi-Cal will not cover her seeing a doctor outside of her county unless it is life threatening. She got an appointment for today (Friday) and we cancelled our room, our scooters, our Saturday morning Character Breakfast. I will get partial refunds and what is not refunded will be partially covered by my credit card travel insurance.
I read on-line that one can get Mickey Bars at Downtown Disney (after Security but before ticketed entrances). So we went. But I was wrong. We could not find Mickey Bars. Miriam decided to buy us Haagan Dazs, but Andrew got his card out faster. I appreciated their treating us/me. Chocolate ice cream with dark chocolate coating. Very Good. Not a Mickey Bar, but very good. And then we headed home.
I emailed my boss. Thursday and today are now family sick leave not vacation. But I am being slow and lazy today so far. I should make good use of this time before time to go to Miriam's appointment – she will definitely need help getting out of the car. Maybe in.
I had fantasized about driving Route 66 for my 66th birthday next year. But that would take weeks and be somewhat costly. Maybe I will go back and visit Route 66 in Cars Land instead – as well as the rest California Adventure and Disneyland.
We didn't do Space Mountain or Splash Mountain or the Matterhorn or lots of other things we were looking forward to. Maybe next year. It should be partially covered by the refunds.
Universal Studios and Disneyland vacation