I was ill equipped to deal with the culture shock of the “other” Disney, especially on little sleep and with my mother’s negative voice in my ear so when we got off I-5 and started driving down Disney Way (the exact same route I’d take with the 1/2 marathon on Sunday) I was not prepared for what I saw… Which was nothing. Where was the big sign like at Disney World? The colorful road signs? Why did California Adventure look so damn sloppy from the outside?! We drove down Harbor past Katella (I became acquainted with these streets thanks to the run) and arrived at the Sheraton Park. (There’s more than one Sheraton in Anaheim.)
The hotel itself was nothing overly fancy, it was nice and compared to some of the places around it included a tall tower for guest rooms. We checked in where I was give this nice little number at the front desk. My sister and her boyfriend sent it to wish me luck on my run (from the Disney florists). She said she picked it because it had water in it and she figured I’d need that. The snacks came in a Mickey lunchbox that I fully intend to use at my new job no matter the look of horror and shame my mother gave me when I announced this.
The front desk clerk asked if we were here for Disneyland. Before I could say yes, my mother cut me off and said, “Well, SHE is, but I’m not. I didn’t want to be here!” This was grating on my nerves since I paying the bill the moment she said that… Ah hem. Anyway, we got room 829 and headed out of the lobby past a small-ish gift store (all the hotel gift shops in Anaheim love Hello Kitty, by the way) and convenience store, past the pool and into the building.
Our room was really nice. I have to give the Sheraton credit for excellent mattresses, pillows and sheets and the most awesome shower. It wasn’t huge, but it was big enough for two people and included a balcony with a table and chairs. It was clean in the bathroom which is of course of the utmost importance. After about two minutes of looking around the room, five minutes of my mother making sure it got all the requisite news channels she would need to stay in contact with what was going on, and another 10 minutes for her to tell me how she can’t imagine why anyone would want to live in California, I went ahead and sat out on the balcony for a little bit. Now, I don’t know if it was just jetlag or being tired generally or what but I was feeling pretty down right sh%^^yabout now. I am a Walt Disney World person… I’m used to getting on the Magical Express at the Airport and then that’s it, it’s Disney from now until I get off the Magical Express again at the airport. This was a nice room but it wasn’t a THEME.
And then the view greeted me…. WTF. This left me thinking distinctly un-Disney thoughts.That was just downright sloppy and cheap looking from the outside. It’s the new Cars Land addition and it looks terrible from the outside. I won’t lie to you, I was starting to feel down and depressed at this point. This was not at all what I had in mind. So I’m spiraling down a rabbit hole that it’s going to be really tough to get out of when I finally just ask my mom if she wants to go get something eat because I’m starving. Never one to turn down a meal, we head out to walk to Downtown Disney and Naples, the West Coast version of Via Napoli in Epcot. We were walking around California Adventure so I could hear the music and noise from Paradise Pier but I wasn’t in the park. I could see the Disneyland Hotel, Paradise Pier, and Grand Californian but it… *insert super whiny voice here* it wasn’t like Disney World!
It was hot and there’s not much in the way of shade so the crankiness is escalating. I’m starting to get a bad headache, blurry vision, and the feeling like I’m about to fall over when we finally find what I am now thinking is a pathetic excuse for a Downtown Disney and the restaurant. I really like Via Napoli in Epcot even though I won’t eat there off the dining plan and I also enjoy Naples 45 which is the restaurant’s original New York City incarnation. I ordered a small Caesar salad and Garganelli–penne with peas and a cream sauce, my mom got the pizza and we split everything. It was quite tasty and as usual I enjoyed it.
I started feeling a little better and dropped my mom off in the smoking section to go into World of Disney after telling her I’d pick her back up when I was done. Okay, things were starting to feel a little bit more familiar and Disney-like. My sister had me go around and photograph the Halloween merchandise for her and some other things while she decided what she wanted me to bring back. I opted not to get anything just yet since I knew I’d get my Disney visa discount and I’d rather wait and see what was available in the parks. So after my reconnaissance mission I headed back out to pick up my mom from what became like a form of daycare and found she had made friends with some smokers from New Jersey. As we walked away she said, “Yeah, you know, I don’t know what the hell they’re doing out here, I think they’re nuts but they were nice.”
We started back to the hotel, this time passing between Disneyland and California Adventure which are across a walkway from each other. It’s easy to park hop, that’s certainly true, but it also meant to walk between them meant going through bag check. This would not be the first time I had to listen to my mother lament the undue hardship placed upon her by having to wait 1 minute in this line. Oh god…
Anyway, I was starting to perk up because here it was! Disney! This one block. Ok, I’ll take it. so we passed through and my mother, who had been here once before with my father in 1980, kept asking where the parking lot went. (She ran out then, as well…)
It was hot and sunny so we headed back to the room, showered, and sat out on the balcony. Our view afforded us a great place to watch the lights come on in Paradise Pier. In fact, we could actually hear the clanking of California Screamin’ and the people on it screaming. The Matterhorn but not the castle was also clearly visible. I resolved to watch the fireworks from the balcony that night before going to bed. My mom went in early to yell at the television and converse with the people at the Republic National Convention while I waited for night time to fall… I have to say, Paradise Pier is gorgeous at night. You can see the Golden Zephyr, the Ferris Wheel, World of Color… I could even hear some of it. I waited around for the Disneyland fireworks but forgot all about my camera. I heard them go off loud and clear and watched before turning in. Things were turning around and getting better. Friday I would go to the expo, get the discount park tickets, and even have a character breakfast at the Grand Californian to get me in the Disney mood. I passed out around 10 to TLC’s four weddings…