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Community Discussion
Topic: Baloos Trip report including some pictures

Sun 3/9/2008 9:11a
Hi folks,

We are now back and boy did we have an amazing time. Thank you to everyone that spoilt us rotten with either a meet, a phone call, surprises galore, and to those that were unable to meet (hope you feel better Deb, edisyoda we will return to San Diego, and Lisann we totally understand), we will not let another 6 years elapse before we return. We had a blast!

Still jettlagging like mad, I will try to report. The plan so far is a summary, some detail, some pics, and then see where we go from there.

The short of my story - we always loved LPers from afar, and now having met, we feel so much closer. LP is like ohana! oh, and ya, while I still have some reservations about WDI's direction of travel for my tastes as a life long Disney fan (toons and age group based attractions, you know who you are), I am still totally besotted with my beloved DL!!!! The awesomeness of the place still captures my heart.

We also took in lot's of California's other splendors, but it is likely we will continue to live in the UK. But we hope to return often.
Sun 3/9/2008 9:15a
We had a fantastic time. Though I am still concerned about the toon direction of travel, the DL we visited is the DL I fell in love with when I was my daughter's age. The fireworks and parades were 1st rate, the cast members were fantastic (my 4 year old Mikey went up on the tender of the train, other cast members played with us, we just happened on characters without lining up, the park was clean and well maintained, there was live music everywhere). It was wonderful.

The Grand was still excellent, clean, well maintained, great service, including free coffee brought to me in the business suite while I checked in on line.

And as for dining, we had some great meals - notably Steakhouse 55 (excellent fillet mignon and a great wine list - nice flourless chocolate cake), Blue Bayou has really improved and a waterside table helped, and Tortilla Jo's was excellent also. We also dined at Plaza Gardens, Goofy's Kitchen and Storytellers which were all quite good. We were really surprised by the quality of Rancho de Zocalo - for counter service it was excellent, and having real plates and utensils was fab after the paper and plastic experiences in WDW and DLP.

We thought the new additions - Subs redo, HM upgrade, ToT, Monsters Inc, the 50th exhibit, Turtle Talk, Jedi Academy were all very good (Mikey got to fight both Darth Vader and Darth Maul in the same show which was awesome as we are both big Star Wars fans). My only concerns were the dumbing down of the farm at DCA and the fort at Tom Sawyer Island.

One bad thing did happen however. We had an LP meet at Aladdin (fantastic show, my fav non Broadway/West End Disney show now). We were the 3rd group of people in line. Mufrsmom was holding my son, and I was ahead of them. As they were going up the stairs a group cut in front of them and they fell, and then as I tried to help them up, we got trampled on, literaly ( Murfsmom is still on crutches with facial and rib injuries nearly a week later). There was no cast control or support. My wife went to find a cast member to tell them what happened, but they did nothing until after the show. Thankfully Mikey was alright, but murfsmom was strapped up and put into a wheelchair. A manager came down (as well as a lead) and I had a conversation about crowd control risk assessments and litigation impacts/responsibilities. Tom (the suit) seemed to listen and said he would make the necessary changes (I am asking all LPers to be diligent and see that they do).

But other than that incident (and another sad situation for som new found friends), we had a fantastic time. Found some great merchandise that would not be available elsewhere (a tomorrowland Hawaiian shirt, a Main Street Station hand painted watch and of course the necessary embroidered ears)! Although there was a national cheer competition going on, it did not adversely affect the park except for large crowds on the weekend (that combined with 2fers and last free weekend for APers without blackout) led to 45 min waits for Monsters Inc and Casey Jr. But not a problem (it did not feel uncomfortable as WDW, but then again I think the climate impacts there too).

And the LP community, wow!!! We met no less than 42 people this trip and had a wonderful time with them all. So, I am a born again DL fan, but I will still hold my due diligence and raise flags of concern where warranted. I think for my sanity, I will steer clear of WDW for a little while until I hear of improvements, and channel my energy into my home state of California.

Also, the rest of the trip was cool. We stayed in SF for 5 days (managed to get some nice tailored suits and have some great meals at the Fairmont, Top of the Mark, Stamford Court, Chinese, Mexican and Seafood), rented a Cadillac and went to Monterey via San Juan Batista, then off to Santa Barbara with a stop for dinner at Madonna Inn in San Louis Obispo for old time sake, then we stayed at the wonderful Marriott Vacation Club Newport Beach - fabulous resort that reasserts my faith that timeshare works for some - 1600 sq foot 2 bdrm suite with ocean views, full kitchen, fire pit for making smores, great pools and great service. While we were there we managed to see the baby pandas at SD Zoo, pay our respects to Shamu, play with Lego in Carlsbad, shop at Fashion Island, and experience a sub par chicken dinner at Knott's Berry Farm - chicken, biscuits and boysenberry pie/punch were great as always, but the potatoes were watery and the corn was canned.

We were quite impressed with the Cheesecake Factory at Newport Beach however. The food was a very good quality at a great value. And we had to break down and eat at A&W's. Taco Bell, Del Taco and Carl's Jr, as well as some 50's drive-in's while we were in the area.

We found that if we ate upscale, the food and service were excellent, and great value. If we went to where the masses were going, the food was very salty, fatty and too much.

So meals of memory and places we would dine again - Top of the Mark, Cheesecake Factory, Steakhouse 55 and the Blue Bayou.

We have been saving to go to HKDL and TDL, but after these last 3 weeks, I cannot wait to return to the original DL! What a dilemma???!!!

Sun 3/9/2008 9:21a
SF LP Meet on Presidents' Day

Here are some pics for your enjoyment (about 43):
Sun 3/9/2008 9:28a
As you may have read in the meet threads, we all had such a fantastic time. It was wonderful to meet people that we have become close to over the years, and we had such a blast. Everyone was so awesome. Met at Ghiradelli's, rode the cable car, lunch at a 50's style diner, back to Fisherman's Wharf, Musee Mechanique and then sundaes at Ghiradelli Square (in honor of the Kennessaws).

We had a fab time.
Sun 3/9/2008 9:28a
As you may have read in the meet threads, we all had such a fantastic time. It was wonderful to meet people that we have become close to over the years, and we had such a blast. Everyone was so awesome. Met at Ghiradelli's, rode the cable car, lunch at a 50's style diner, back to Fisherman's Wharf, Musee Mechanique and then sundaes at Ghiradelli Square (in honor of the Kennessaws).

We had a fab time.
Sun 3/9/2008 10:41a
Here are some more pictures of our days in San Francisco between the 16th and 19th Feb.
Sun 3/9/2008 10:56a
Link in post 6 doen't work...

Sun 3/9/2008 11:10a
Hmmm, worked for me. Please try this one:
Sun 3/9/2008 11:46a
The following 2 days were a roadtrip. We set off from the Stamford Court after picking up the Caddy, and drove around the city for a bit. After seeing the Buffalo at Golden Gate Park we drove down Highway 1 to Half Moon Bay, stopped off for a doughnut breakfast, and then it was over to the 101. We made a pit stop at San Juan Batista, part of the old west, and always one of my favorite missions. It was then on the Monterey.

When we checked in, they had upgraded us to an Ocean View room, and there was a jar of gummy bears and balloons for the kids. I am so glad we bought with Marriott Vacation Club as we got our digs in SF and Monterey as a free joining gift. Not to mention huge discounts on our car rentals and tickets to attractions.

Although we liked these nice hotels, I do prefer the MVCI villas as you will see in our Newport Beach section.

We had a walk around fisherman's wharf and Monterey State Historic park, with a little Taco Bell action for Dinner (well it had been a few years).

the next morning the heavens opened up. After a stout breakfast, it was off to the aquarium. We enjoyed it, but there are better in Europe. The high points were sitting under the waves, Sarah had never seen an octopus up close, and we love the Jelly Fish exhibit. I found Cannery row to be a real tourist trap, and will not likely venture this way again, but we did have fun.

The next day Mikey got a little roadsick, but was better in the evening. We stopped off in San Louis Obispo to have dinner at the Madonna Inn. There are a lot of family memories here, and I really enjoyed taking Mikey to the bathroom so he could use the waterfall urinal!!!!

Food was forgettable, but the pie was pretty good. After dinner, a drive on to Santa Barbara, drop the car off with the valet and off to bed.
Sun 3/9/2008 11:52a
Then next day we walked about 3 miles around Santa Barbara, bought the coolest outfits for the kids (Mikey now has a doves/peace sign button up and Jessie a Japanese design dress). Then it was up to the Mission. We enjoyed looking around the Mission and comparing with Spain which some of the guests seemed to get a kick out of talking to us about it.

We then drove down to the Newport Beach Marriott Vacation Club (land that Disney owned before with the intention of building a DVC on the site). We hit some nasty traffic after the Getty and we had to make a potty break. So we drove down Sunset past Bel Air and Beverly Hills and stopped at a McDs for a rest. My god, how big are the drinks and burgers here? Wow.

We finally got to the resort, and once agin were thankful of buying into MVCI.

All times are Pacific Time (US)

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