The Big Kahuna Family's Welcome Home **Updated 6/6** COMPLETE!
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We started loading the car at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday morning and were soon on our way. It was fun driving in the desert and we were sailing down the road, sipping our coffee, and starting to get hungry. I asked Rich where the breakfast cookies were and he said, “Oops, I think we forgot to pack them—guess we really didn’t want to eat those.” LOL. We stopped off at Burger King in Baker—a place I had car problems before so it was a bit nerve wracking getting off the road and stopping in Baker. But, alas, no problems this time. We each got a croissant breakfast sandwich and were back on the road.
As we drove past Ghost Town Road, I pointed out the sign to Calico and we made note that we should go see Calico again. I hadn’t done that in years and this was something we could do on a day trip. It was a glorious feeling to turn south at Barstow—our first milestone—and head for Victorville. I had heard a lot about how much it had changed but it seems to have changed for the better, IMHO.
I started seeing more familiar landmarks and we stopped for gas in Norco. Oh boy, now there’s a story. Years ago my mother threatened to move us from our beach city to Norco and I cried all night. She changed her mind then but later moved us all the way to Oregon. Maybe I should have settled for Norco. LOL. Norco had changed but it still retained its cowboy feeling. The good news was we found gas for less than $4 per gallon.
We were soon on our way and the traffic was picking up a bit. I recognized signs that I hadn’t thought about since I was a kid hanging out with my grandmother—street signs such as “Jurupa” and “Limonite.” We couldn’t decide between taking the Riverside Freeway or the Pomona Freeway and we decided on the Riverside. We decided to try the Pomona Freeway on the way back. I remember when the Pomona Freeway didn’t even exist and we had to take Harbor Blvd. right past Disneyland to drive from our beach city home to my grandmother’s house in Pomona. My how things have changed.
But not much longer and we were exiting on Ball Road, turning left onto Disneyland Drive and noticing the brand-new Downtown Disney entrance for the first time—it felt like we were approaching Disney World. It was so exciting and felt great to be back home.
Thanks for the encouragement, everybody! The trip getting there is probably the most boring part of any report so I'll just dive in and post another segment.
Saturday, May 17, Part 2: The Arrival
We parked the car in the self-park parking garage and headed over to the Registration Desk around 12 noon. Imagine our surprise when the CM said, “Welcome. You’re the Big Kahuna Family of the Day.” We were being upgraded to the Big Kahuna Suite, we were each given a lei, several Mickey balloons, and the CM took our picture in front of the Surfer Dude Goofy, which we could pick up later at the desk when it was ready. Woo hoo!
She then asked, “Is this anybody’s birthday?” and because this was an early birthday celebration, I said, “Yes, it’s mine.” She asked my name and then she proceeded to give me a personalized “Happy Birthday” pin with my name on it.
Well, by now, we were feeling really special. We couldn’t wait to see the suite and we were hoping this meant it would be ready right then–-or why else would they be bestowing such an honor right now? Well, it was not ready yet (slight disappointment here), but we were given a number to call to check when it would be ready.
Anaheim was having a heatwave and when California has a heatwave, it is not pleasant. In fact, it starts to get humid and, coming in from the dry desert of Las Vegas, we were feeling like we were back in Florida. How ironic that we would decide to celebrate my birthday in May instead of July to avoid the heat. LOL.
So how to kill some time before our room would be ready? Downtown Disney for lunch? Disneyland Park to activate our Annual Passes? What about our luggage and what about my purse? I didn't want to walk around Disneyland and go through bag check with my purse. So we checked in our bags with the valet desk, grabbed our IDs, held on tightly to our AP vouchers, and headed for Downtown Disney.
Saturday, May 17, Part 3: Lunch at Rainforest Cafe
We had no intention of eating at Rainforest Café (we have one in Las Vegas and we went many times at WDW) but it was the first place we saw and it beckoned us as we were getting quite warm. But we love Rainforest and the idea of sitting inside surrounded by waterfalls and slurping a frosty beverage was irresistible. Besides, we had no idea where the other restaurants were and we would have plenty of time to try those. But we did have a bit of a feeling of Déjà vu, as if we were back home in Las Vegas and not Disney. Hopefully, when we go to RF at home, we’ll then be reminded of Disney.
Here’s what we ordered:
(R) Tropical Toucan - A blend of Bacardi rum, banana liqueur, orange and pineapple nectar with grenadine syrup. (K) Margarilla - The Rainforest Cafe house specialty frozen orange Margarita featuring Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila and orange sherbet.
We tasted both drinks and Rich thought my Margarilla tasted like a creamsicle with Tequila. Next time he’ll probably get one of those. It was delish! The Tropical Toucan was a bit on the sweet side.
(R&K)Chimi Cha Chas - Light, crisp wonton skin embraces roasted chicken breast, sweet corn, onions, black beans, fresh lime, roasted red peppers and our four cheese blend. Served with fresh pico de gallo and sour cream.
Rainforest Pita Quesadillas - A new twist on an old favorite! Grilled chicken, roasted peppers, caramelized onions and melted cheese on grilled pita bread. Served with fresh pico de gallo and sour cream.
Rainforest portions are quite large so we shared two appetizers and we still couldn’t eat it all.
PrincessSharon, this pic is for you!
Tropical Toucan (L) and Margarilla (R)
Everything was yummy and the drinks were refreshing.
We called the special number to check on our room but no “Big Kahuna Suite” for us yet. So we decided to brave the heat and march on to the Annual Passport Center inside the bank on Main Street in Disneyland.