I think it was 2008 - Mrs. DisneylandTraveler and I made the trip down to Disneyland the week before Thanksgiving. I think it may have been one of our best trips ever. We love November at Disneyland - after the decorations go up but before the holiday crowds arrive. And maybe we have been lucky, the November weather at Disneyland for our trips that time of year has been very cooperative with warm days and cool nights, just as it should be. Anyway, we usually made our November trips with other family members but in 2008, it was just me and Mrs. DLT. It was perfect, we arrived on a Sunday afternoon, checked into our hotel, and headed over to Disneyland just before 3:00pm. We walked in right before the start of A Christmas Fantasy Parade and we were able to grap a great spot on the upper level of the train station. Could there be a better way to kick off your holiday season than to see A Christmas Fantasy Parade right when entering the park?
The whole trip was great that way and even though it was before Thanksgiving, everything was filled with the holiday spirit and so were we. I don't even remember us having the usual knock-down-drag-out argument over something stupid like we do on most of our Disneyland trips. The Christmas spirit abounded in so many ways that week.
We had such a good time that when we returned home, settled back, and took a look around at the situation we decided we had the time, the opportunity, and the finances to go back in December as well. We had annual passes, a very great rate was available from one of our favorite places to stay, and everything just seemed to point to going back and continuing our Disney Christmas journey. And so we did - we went back around mid-December before the start of Christmas week.
But we made one fatal error in our Disneyland Christmas Spirit thinking. In November, we went down early, with no real expectations, and the magic of Disneyland at Christmas just overtook in wondrous ways. When we went down a few weeks later in December, we carried the ill-advised plan of "why don't we do our Christmas shopping while down at Disneyland?". Most everyone is our family is some kind of Disney nut so picking up some gifts should be no problem, right? Here is my cautionary tale.
Disneyland is a great way to enhance the Christmas experience and if you let its magical arms wrap around you and carry you way Christmas nirvana. If you walk in there with a list of names, and a Christmas budget, and trudge from store to store looking at everything from top to bottom and checking price tags on everything, a lot of that magic is taken away by the shear commercialism of it all. It became a little unsettling for me. Not that we didn't have a good time but the fact that one of the reasons I was there was to shop, took away a bit from my Christmas Spirit.
Did I also mention that the weather from the November trip a few week earlier and December trip took a 180 degree turn and turned rainy, cold, and miserable? Well, we could put up with that to a certain extent but its holding up some item in a store and debating for 10 minutes as to whether this would be a good gift for so and so proved be the trips downing moments.
As it turned out, everyone loved their gifts. Mrs DLT and I had got so frustrated that at the end of the trip we ended up getting all kid's toys on our list at the now defunct Engine-Ears-Toys in DCA in about 30 minutes after spending hours on previous days trying to pick out the elusive perfect gift but it all worked out in the end. One of my new rules for Disneyland at Christmas is if you see something someone may like on a trip through a store - get it but do not make the purpose of a trip to Disneyland to Christmas shop - you'll be sorry. I was.