I have a milestone birthday coming up on the 25th of this month. If there is anyone who dislikes being the center of attention, it is me. So the thought of a big birthday party sounded awful. But Mark wanted to do something for my 70th. When we were in Disneyland in August, we started inquiring about a VIP tour. We had heard they were fantastic. You have your own tour guide for seven hours, they have a list of the rides you most want to go on, and then escort you to the front of the line. In addition, you get reserved seating for the afternoon parade (if you have gone to Disneyland and noticed people sitting in chairs while you wait for hours on the curb, they are probably part of a VIP tour), as well as the fireworks, and a dinner reservation at the restaurant of your choice.
The night before our tour, Aaron showed me the t-shirts that we would all be wearing the next day, made by a sister of a co-worker.
The next morning we met our tour guide, Kerianne, right outside the entrance to Disneyland and she presented me with the birthday button and we all got a VIP pin.
Just the day before, Disneyland and California Adventure had opened with all the Christmas decorations in place. Disney definitely knows how to decorate. And I'll mention right here that there will be so.many.photos--I want to relive these two days.
Our first stop was by the large Christmas tree at the beginning of Main Street. I love our t-shirts!
Ella went on the Little Mermaid while the rest of us headed for the Incredicoaster. I hate going upside down but, having ridden it twice in the past, I decided I could handle it again. Kerianne went on this ride with us.
Next up was Midway Mania, always fun for everyone.
While we were on the Cars ride, Ella and Christa rode something else.
Next up was Mission Breakout, Guardians of the Galaxy. Ever heard of it? Think of a giant elevator. You go up two or so floors, then quickly drop three floors, up again, drop again. Over and over. Years ago, when it was called Tower of Terror, I swore I would never ride it again. In March, with Levi, I had told him I would be brave and ride it with him, but chickened out. He went on it over and over. This time I decided I would ride it. After all, I have never heard reports of anyone dying and figured I could handle five or so minutes.
I kept my eyes shut the entire time. Weirdly, I think because of that, it was hard to tell whether I was going up or down. But I made it. Kerianne rode this with us too. See us all in the back row? Mark doesn't do "motion" rides so he and Ella hung out together.
We headed back to Disneyland for the midafternoon parade, stopping for a photo op.
We found our reserved seats, and there was time for a few of us to ride Big Thunder Mountain (my favorite ride in Disneyland) before the parade started.
Sadly, our time with Kerianne was over, but we had really done a lot, and she was a fantastic tour guide.
After the parade, we headed to Autopia.
My favorite goofball.
We also rode the Monorail. Then we headed back to California Adventure for dinner at the Lamplight Lounge. I first noticed this restaurant when we celebrated Levi's birthday in March. It's down on the water and so beautiful at night with the lights reflecting in the water. That's the restaurant in left part of the photo.
We were told in March that reservations need to be made at least two months in advance. Mark had started planning this in August so we were quite confident that we would have a table. I was anticipating having a view of the water. But as we were escorted to our table, we walked past all the water-view tables, through some hallways, to a room with this door. You had to turn the wheel until all three lightbulbs lit up in order to open the door.
It opened to a small private dining room, which we later found out was called The Office. We also found out it is extremely difficult to get seated in this secret room. People request reservations at least 12 months in advance, with no guarantees. We have no clue how we were chosen, but it turned out to be very quiet and relaxing.
The boys had fun with the board games.
There was a lot of original art by Pixar artists on the wall.
This framed collection of coasters had my favorite, a coaster which said "actual Incredicoaster."
Aaron opened another door, which revealed our own private deck.
The food was fabulous, and included a couple of items that were only available in The Office. It was so nice and relaxing, and just what we needed after an action-packed day.
Back to Disneyland for the fireworks. Disneyland is so gorgeous at night. We took some photos while we waited for the fireworks.
Mickey Mouse fireworks...
In true Disney fashion, it "snows" at the end of the fireworks display.
We headed back to the Monorail, passing Small World lit up for night.
Aaron, Christa and the three older kids had planned to stay til midnight, but it had been a long day, so we all headed back to the hotel to get a few hours of sleep.
The end to a magical day.