Vacation in October | Disney Celebration

I love my mother-daughter trips and who doesn’t love a trip to Disney? Earlier in the summer, my daughter and I discussed options for a vacation getaway to celebrate her milestone birthday in mid-October. Our starting point would be Phoenix, Arizona considering that’s where she lives and where Al and I spend our winters.

Disneyland Star Wars Galaxy's Edge the Millenium Falcon
Disneyland – Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Phoenix, AZ is conveniently located

Our choices were many … from scenic tourist towns, to national parks, and everything in-between. Ashton and I always have a great time setting off on one of our adventures, and since this was her 30th birthday (Oh my gosh, when and how did that happen? Seriously, am I old enough to have a thirty-year-old daughter 😏), we definitely wanted to do something special and fun. One of our best vacation trips to date was our camping adventure to Zion National Park and we haven’t been able to top that trip … just yet anyway, but she and I still have a lot more traveling to do together.

After several lengthy discussions, Ashton finally decided she wanted to go to Disneyland in California to celebrate her birthday. 1. She wanted to visit it while it was all decked out in Halloween decor throughout the month of October, and 2. She wanted to visit Disney’s newest attraction; Star Wars – Galaxy’s Edge.

Disneyland Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

What is Galaxy’s Edge all about?

This is an excerpt from the official Disneyland website …

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will feature 2 signature attractions—Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, opening January 2020.

At Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, Guests will climb into the cockpit of “the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy” for their own Star Wars adventures.

disney play app at Star Wars Galaxy's Edge
Ashton had fun with the Disney Play App

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge takes Guests to the planet Batuu, a destination along the galaxy’s Outer Rim on the frontier of Wild Space. Batuu is home to Black Spire Outpost, an infamous port for smugglers, traders, and adventurers who wish to avoid any unnecessary entanglements with the First Order.

Soon after you arrive, the Play Disney Parks app will transform into your Star Wars: Datapad! From translating galactic languages and hacking into droids to unscrambling transmission and scanning objects for precious cargo, it’s an interactive adventure that will enhance your Star Wars story… and guide you deeper and deeper into this all-new land!

My daughter became very engaged with the Disney Play app, keeping us in Galaxy’s Edge longer than we intended. The app adds a whole new experience for guests that gamers will love. Me? I didn’t care about the app, but I loved being immersed in what felt like another country or another realm.

Millennium Falcon at Galaxy’s Edge

Anyone who enjoys gaming is going to absolutely love the Millennium Falcon ride. It’s an interactive motion machine ride on a smuggling mission. There are Six players per ship; 2 pilots, 2 gunners, 2 engineers. The pilot on the right is in charge of the booster and up and down movement of the Millennium Falcon. The pilot on the left is responsible for the left and right movement. Gunners shoot threats while the engineers pick up supplies. At the end of the mission, guests are given a score.

Ashton and I were pilots both times we rode the ride, and then she was an engineer when she rode again midday as a single rider. I’m not a gamer and thus didn’t perform my duties very well. I was the pilot on the left and responsible for the left and right actions. I also had to hit another button from time to time which I don’t remember what its purpose was. I do remember us crashing into a lot of things that didn’t bode well for us to collect points. (hangs head with embarrassment 😔)

According to my daughter, I repeatedly said, “Oh sh*t” … a lot. Oops, sorry to the mom and her ten-year-old boy playing engineers at the rear of the aircraft. The two gunners behind me (middle-aged guys) were laughing. I guess I was really engaged in the ride and my actions not only entertained my daughter but the other guests as well. Glad I could make Ashton laugh on her birthday! Did I already mention, gaming is not my thang?

Disneyland Millennium Falcon Star Wars Galaxy's Edge

Tips: We rode Millennium Falcon first thing in the morning and again later that night, right before fireworks, and stood in line less than 30 minutes each time. During the middle of the day, lines were as long as 2 hours. During that time, my daughter stood in the line for a ‘single’ player and again waited less than 30 minutes. For those wanting to bypass the long lines, think about riding as a ‘single-player’, BUT do note, you will NOT be riding with your friends. Since each ride requires 6 guests, for those odd-numbered parties, individuals are then pulled from the ‘single guest line’ to fill the aircraft.

Build your own Lightsaber or Droid

Got any extra money burning a hole in your pocket? Think about building your own Lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop or a less expensive option would be building your own astromech droid unit at the Droid Depot. We all need those useful items around our homes, don’t we? Since Ashton and I didn’t have any extra dollars to spend or the extra space to store those items, we took a pass on building a Lightsaber or Droid and opted to purchase a few T-shirts and Mickey Mouse ears instead … ya know, useful stuff! Mickey Mouse ears with Maleficent horns anyone?

Chewbacca at Disneyland

My daughter and I had a wonderful time hanging around Galaxy’s Edge. In true Disney fashion, you are transported to another realm … another land. The architecture and details are amazing and every cast member, including the cleaning crew and shop cashiers, remained “in character”.

Worth noting: Galaxy’s Edge has an actual water bottle filling station which was very convenient but also entertaining. We loved filling our water bottles here.

If you decide to interact with the Play Disney app, I highly recommend you bring along an external battery to charge your phone because the play app will use up a lot of battery power and finding an outlet in the park is not easy. If you do find an outlet, it’ll already be in use. The so-called ‘charging station’ noted on the Disney map is actually a vending machine with an external power battery for $30.

shopping in Disneyland
Of course, we had to do a little shopping.

Disney in October

Moving onto the rest of Disneyland, my daughter fell in love with the decor. She loves Halloween and considering her birthday is in October, that shouldn’t come as a surprise. I have to agree, Disneyland was rather festive decked out with pumpkins and non-gory Halloween decorations. I’m not a fan of the gory Halloween stuff, so this was right up my alley. After all, what’s not to love about Disney characters carved out of pumpkins? (Or rather, simulated pumpkins 😏)

 

Disney California Adventures

On day two of our mother-daughter weekend vacation getaway, we visited Disney’s California Adventures. This was my first time ever visiting Disneyland in California. I’ve always gone to Disney World in Florida. I would compare CA Adventures to Disney World’s MGM Studio’s. We spent an entire day in the park, but depending on crowds, I’d say a full day in this park probably isn’t necessary.

Mexican Hat
Mexican Hat

The thing that I enjoyed the most about this park was the landscapes that Disney replicated. Around every corner, I immediately knew the actual location that California Adventures was emulating. Been there, done that, and even bought the T-shirt! (Y’all know, I struggle with a T-shirt addiction 🤗). It reiterated to me, how fortunate Al and I are to have visited so many beautiful places over these past seven years of RVing.

Once again, Disney does not disappoint when it comes to the details. I have so much respect and admiration for all the folks working behind the scenes at Disney … from the creative vision to the impeccable craftsmanship … you really do feel transported. And the cast members working with the public day in and day out are incredible people. Not one employee throughout our whole Disney vacation seemed like they were having a bad day. Whatever they get paid, it’s not enough. Truly talented and amazing people!

Favorite rides

  • eating a large chocolate chip cookie at CA adventuresMillennium Falcon – Galaxy’s Edge. Note – Star Tours in Tomorrowland is somewhat similar but not interactive.
  • Splash Mountain – Critter Country. Always entertaining and scream-worthy at the end.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean – OK, who doesn’t love this ride?
  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Matterhorn Bobsleds– I’ve always loved roller-coasters, but as I’ve gotten older, they don’t seem to agree with me like they used to. I still enjoyed Big Thunder and Matterhorn but Space Mountain made me dizzy. Ashton loved all three coasters, but the Incredicoaster made her a little dizzy… I took a pass on that one!
  • Radiator Springs Racers – CA Adventures Cars Land. Of course, we loved riding in a sports car and then racing against another sports car among the scenic red rocks of the desert southwest. What’s not to like?
  • Soarin’ Around the World– CA Adventures Grizzly Peak. This was my favorite ride of the weekend. This ride simulates an airborne hang-gliding flight over the wonders of the world. You’ll fly over polar bears in icy Greenland, swoop past sailboats on Australia’s Sydney Harbour, weave between elephants marching toward Mount Kilimanjaro, and more. The additions of wind and various scents wafting in the air like grasses and jasmine make this ride a unique experience.
  • Grizzly River Run – CA Adventures. I really enjoyed this part of the park and how it emulated Yellowstone National Park. We didn’t actually ride this attraction due to not wanting to get wet, but Ashton has ridden it in the past and loved it. I enjoyed watching the ride and next time I’ll bring a rain poncho and give it a go.
Grizzly River Run Disneyland California
Grizzly River Run

Where and what we ate while on our Disney vacation?

First off, we each brought a small lightweight daypack filled with our water bottles and snacks so we could keep the dining out to a minimum. I highly recommend doing this considering food and drinks can get rather expensive throughout the parks.

  • tips for a holiday visit to Disneyland what to eat and where to stayDowntown Disney – Tortilla Jo’s. We enjoyed a couple of margarita’s and an order of Fajitas once we arrived in Anaheim after the long drive from Phoenix. The food and drinks were average.
  • Disneyland – Galactic Grill in Tomorrowland. The specialty burger was excellent, but the fried chicken sandwich was just ok.
  • CA Adventures – Lucky Fortune Cookery; For lunch, I ordered the Szechuan Chicken and my daughter ordered the Beef Bulgogi Wrap. Both our meals were excellent and we would definitely eat here again.
  • But our favorite meal of the whole trip was from the Boudin Bakery. Their Clam Chowder Soup in a sourdough bread bowl was amazing! Although this dairy-free gal could only sample a small amount from my daughter’s bowl, she and I agreed it was some of the best clam chowder we’ve ever tasted, and of course, the bread was excellent. You can even tour the bakery and learn all about San Francisco sourdough bread while you’re there.
  • Treats; Sprinkle’s cupcake, large chocolate chip cookie, and Cake Pops were all just ok, BUT the absolute best thing was the nondairy lemon soft-serve in a cup from the Adorable Snowman Frosted Treats. Seriously, don’t pass this up!

Where we stayed.

Since my daughter has visited Disneyland numerous times, she and her friends like to stay at the Anaheim Majestic Garden Hotel. It’s close to the park, reasonably priced (most of the time), and offers a shuttle to and from Disney which is super convenient. We enjoyed our stay and it worked for our needs.

Celebrating a birthday at Disney's California Adventures

Conclusion:

Ashton and I had a fabulous mother-daughter October vacation weekend celebrating her milestone thirtieth birthday. Although I enjoyed visiting Disneyland in CA, I’ll admit, I’m still partial to Disney World in FL. With that said, when you look at the distance and the convenience for us to be able to drive to Disneyland from Phoenix in less than six hours versus the distance and cost for us to get to Orlando, I have a feeling a repeat visit to Disneyland won’t be too far in our future.

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43 thoughts on “Vacation in October | Disney Celebration

    1. Be sure and visit on a weekday. You can do Disneyland and CA Adventures in one day if you plan and know which rides are a priority. Also use the fastpass for those popular rides. Knowing you once will be enough 😆. I know how much you enjoy crowds … not!

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  1. Fun! So neat you and your daughter… or is she your sister, get to enjoy these vacations together!
    I have not been to Disney Land and last time for Disney World was 17 years ago. The Star Wars looks cool.

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    1. I still prefer Disney World over Disneyland, but since Disneyland is more compact and smaller, it can be seen in one day. I think you and sweet man would enjoy a visit. Star Wars; Galaxy’s Edge was super cool and we really felt like we were on another planet.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What FUN and the ADVENTURES the two of you get up to!!! I can say my wish came true a few years back to go to Disneyland in October and we loved how the park was decorated too. I still have the Mickey Mouse ornament that I purchased. My favorite was the Haunted Mansion. Since moving to Florida have not been to Disney World as of yet – maybe one day.

    P.S. Today is Mickey’s Birthday!!!

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    1. Oh my gosh, I love Disney World. You really must visit, but remember, it’s soooo much larger than Disneyland that it takes multiple days to explore. October was a great month to visit Disneyland. Loved the decor, but December is also a good time. I used to go to Disney World the first week in December when the park was slow and beautifully decorated for the holidays. Happy birthday, Mickey! (I did not know that) 😃

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  3. So much new stuff in Disneyland! It looks like and sounds like the mother-daughter team was having yet another fun adventure, in Disneyland no less.
    Happy Birthday, Ashton, my you have grown to be a young lady and as vivacious as the mom.

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    1. Awe, thank you ML. She and I do have a ton of fun together. She and I have a growing travel list of places we hope to go to. My adventures with her are totally different than my experiences with Al.

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  4. Love, love your special mother/daughter vacation for Ashton’s big birthday. Such unforgettable memories were made. You both look so happy. We spent Jessica’s big birthday in NYC. We always love visiting the Big Apple and finding new adventures. Of course that was eight years ago!! You think 30 is old, wait til your children are 38 and 41!!! I can’t possibly be THAT old!!

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    1. My daughter really wants to visit NYC. I used to visit the city regularly when I was in the airline industry and don’t have much desire to return, but may rethink that and visit with her one day. We always have a good time together regardless of where we go. And you and I both know how special those times are with our daughters.
      Thank goodness, I stopped having birthdays once the kids graduated from college 😁😆😎

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  5. Such a fun post to read, Ingrid, I haven’t been to Disneyland since the early 2000s! You and your daughter look like you’re having a blast! I don’t think smart phones were smart when I went, I imagine the tech is quite extensive. Thanks for the insightful post!

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    1. Galaxy’s Edge is all about the latest tech and interaction which my daughter loved. It’s not my cup of tea (age thing? 😏), but I loved the overall experience. It was also super fun for me visiting CA Adventures and immediately recognizing the sites Disney was emulating considering I’ve seen the real deal.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Hmm, “E ticket”. For some reason that sounds familiar … perhaps during the 80’s? There’s been so many changes over the years, and now with technology, it is so vastly different. Disney sure does know how to take us to another land.

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    1. Yes, you know how special those times spent with our daughters are and now you have that next generation for memory making. How special. My daughter is still working hard on me for a European get away which I’m resisting. Can I take the RV? 🤣

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  6. How fun, Ingrid,
    It looks like a great mom-daughter time spend together. Not been to Disneyland, but with our new location in FL we are hoping take advantage of Disneyworld more in the future.

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    1. You’ll definitely have to visit Disney World … it’s huge. So, you’ll either need to plan a few days to really take it all in. Enjoy your winter in FL. I look forward to following along.

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    1. Agree! Splash Mtn is always a favorite … so whimsical, and at the other end of the spectrum is Soaring over the World. Both rides are awesome but in very different ways. Ok, I’m ready to go back for more – our trip was too short! 😃

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  7. This is awesome! We’re gonna be in central Florida in January and are planning on visiting the Galaxy’s Edge at Disney World. Rest assured, I will be just like you – crashing our spacecraft into every possible object! I am NOT a gamer, while Kevin, undoubtedly will do a great job at whatever role he’s assigned. Oh well! To be honest, I’m more excited about Tower of Terror anyway. 🙂 Anyway, looks like you guys had a great time. Thanks for the insider information about what to expect. We’re lookin forward to it!

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    1. We loved just hanging around Galaxy’s Edge and my daughter really enjoyed the Play Disney app, but FYI, it’s a battery zapper. You’ll need to let me know what you think. I love Disney World. Have fun on ‘Tower of Terror/Guardians of the Galaxy’. I rode it once, never again! I’ll stick to roller coasters 😆

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  8. What a great way to celebrate your daughter’s birthday! You’ll both have great memories for many years to come. I laughed when I read about your experience as a pilot on the ride. Many years ago we had fun on a Star Wars ride at Hollywood Studios in Orlando but being a pilot sounds like so much more fun!

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    1. We did have a wonderful memory making time and look forward to returning. I’m still partial to Disney World though. Although the interactive ride was fun it was also a little stressful for this NON gaming gal. I think I’ll stick to the rides where all I have to do is sit back and enjoy 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually we’re stuck on the prairie in our snug little home. Hubby dearest had a vey minor stroke this past June from which has has recovered but we can’t get health insurance this winter. We have to stay in Canada. Maybe next winter.

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