Once Upon A Christmas Dream: December 2007 Final Day & Pictures Now Up!
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, in eager anticipation of my upcoming visit to the Happiest Place on Earth, we set the wayback machine for last December, when I continued my now 4 year and counting tradition of visiing Disneyland at Christmas time. So pull up a chair, sit back and enjoy (if you're so inclined) the ramblings of a Disney geek who had very little choice in the matter of whether or not he would like Disney.
Once Upon A Christmas Dream: A Disneyland Trip Report
Starring, drumroll please, me. Exciting or insane cast, depending on your point of view. Maybe even both. Yep, I'm the only member of this ensemble. Since I recently changed my user ID here and I've posted sporadically at best over the past couple of years, allow me to introduce myself.
:chewy: Before I was even born, my mother put a Mickey Mouse poster up in my nursery. Then, when I was just over 2 years old my parents took me to Disneyland(since I already loved the Mouse) and then took me to see Star Wars. Yes, the things you expose your children to have an impact on them since here I am all these years later and I still love Disney and Star Wars. Hence, I'm a Jedi Knight seeking his Jedi Princess.
Of all the special places in Disneyland, Sleeping Beauty Castle holds special meaning for me. After years of frustration, heartbreak and difficult challenges in life, I had become rather cynical, with all of this coming to a boil in late 2003. While in Disneyland, I found myself wondering what had happened to my usual optimism, hope and faith in the future. I had become the very thing I'd always wanted to avoid being, a bitter, cynical adult. And so one night during "personal time" at the parks, I chose to stake out a great seat in front of the castle for Believe in Holiday Magic. This night, I was moved to tears. As Disney played Star of Wonder and Silent Night during Believe in Holiday Magic and launched the single firework like the star from that first Christmas morning so many years ago, I remembered what it felt like to be a child again. I remembered that God is indeed watching out for me. I felt good again. And as Disney snow fell from the skies of southern California, a tear streamed down my cheek. Somewhere up in heaven, Walt Disney was smiling. The Disney magic was very real that December 2003 night and I felt a measure of peace and healing come to my troubled heart. I felt young again. Since that fateful night, not a night at Disneyland passes when I don't remember what the Happiest Place on Earth means to me. This is especially true during Christmas.
Chapter 1: The Merriest Place on Earth
And so, our story begins here. Well technically it began in Northern California last Thursday morning when I left, but it's not very safe to take pictures while driving, so you'll just have to deal with the start of this trip report being at Walt Disney's star when you first step onto Disneyland property from Harbor Blvd.
If not for Walt, who knows what Anaheim would be today. They'd better give the man a star.
Next up , we have the famous sign. It just makes me happy to see it. I'm especially glad that they've decided to return to the classic script logo they used since July 17, 1955. The cursive Disney with the regular land just never looked right to me. But I digress. After passing under the sign, I head towards the entrance.
And almost instantly comes one of my favorite sounds in all the world. I just love how Disneyland has the classic Disney music, both from the parks and the movies playing as you walk to the security tents and across the plaza before entering either of the two parks. With such a little touch I know I'm about to enter the Happiest Place on Earth. In a matter of moments I am transported from the challenges of life to my laughing place, if you will.
I love how Walt Disney designed the entrance to Disneyland. As you buy your tickets and walk into the lobby, soon you pass under the train station and into the theater, where the curtain opens to reveal the the show before you. At Christmas time, Disneyland has a gigantic Christmas tree at the end of Main Street.
And just beyond the Christmas tree, you see the garland all down Main Street USA, but this being Disneyland, the garland is different. Oh sure, it's green and has all sorts of ornaments in it, but the wreath at the center of each garland strand is shaped like a certain famous mouse, who started the whole thing in November 1928.
And as I look down Main Street, I see myself for the first time all the splendor and wonder of Sleeping Beauty's Winter Castle. I love how the snow has settled on the spires and turrets of the castle. Yes, even in sunny(thankfully) southern California, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. A white Christmas is nothing new to me. My family lived in Utah until I was 13 and then I returned to Utah to attend Brigham Young University for college. Throw in the two years that I lived in Moscow, Russia on a church mission, and I know what a white Christmas looks like. (Let me interject here that that you've never heard Christmas music until you've heard a techno rap version of Silent Night in a Moscow McDonalds, which is probably a good thing for you if you haven't). I'm all too familiar with the icy roads, freezing, bitter cold and shoveling of the white stuff to really miss it all that much. So, I'm more than happy to admire Disney's very pretty snow covered castle without having to worry about slipping and falling right on my backside in the freezing cold.
Be sure to tune in next time as I attempt to regale you, (or perhaps bore you to sleep) with further tales of my continuing adventures in the Merriest Place on Earth.
Wow you posted this just for me believe it or not! I was just sitting here thinking.. do we REALLY want to go at Christmas or will it just be too different. I clicked over to the Trip Reports and see this! You've definately made up my mind and we will still plan our next trip for Dec. 08! Thank you for posting this! Can't wait for the rest, its off to a beautiful start! (Both the pics and your writing.)
Glad to be of help and thank you for the kind words about my writing. And to further reassure you, it is defintely worth going at Christmastime. Disneyland especially is literally a different park. You'll see some pictures of the Christmas parade later, but some of the characters also roam around Disneyland in holiday attire. Santa can be seen in beachwear in DCA as well. I'm not sure if they still do this, but in years past, you could wait in line to meet Santa Goofy in ToonTown and tell him what you want for Christmas.
And Believe in Holiday Magic is, quite simply, the 2nd best fireworks show I've ever seen. The only one that beats it out is Remember, Dreams Come True. I would rank Believe better than Illuminations, which I loved.
:goodvibes Your pictures have me even more excited about our upcoming December trip!
Great photos and so well written, I'm dying to go at Christmastime!
Sorry about the long wait. My visit for next week is up in the air, so I couldn't bear to think much about past visits. Next week is still up in the air, but I'm confident that I will be heading down sometime in June. So, with no further ado.
And now, my adventure if you want to call it that, continues.
I decide to hit Space Mountain first, and then head over for a ride on Buzz Lightyear. I even set my personal best on that ride, but that's mostly due to the fact that the ride got stuck right in front of one of the targets for me, so I just sat and fired away for a few minutes while waiting for the ride to get going again. One of the things I love about Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters is how they incorporate so much of Toy Story 2 into the queue and ride itself. I love how Buzz outlines the mission on the Etch-a-Sketch, and the little green martians are just a lot of fun. After Buzz, it was time to head over to Star Tours. What can I say about this one? It's one of my favorites, even now nearly 19 years after I first went on it. I do hope the rumors about Disney doing a new simulator for the attraction are true though.
At this point I decide that I desperately need something to eat since I haven't had a true meal since breakfast earlier in the morning. The Force is with me as I can sit down and eat during the Jedi Training Academy. Now for a Star Wars/Disney geek, this is one thing I wish they'd had when I was a padawan. Even now, I can watch this attraction at least once per visit. And it's always funny when the stromtroopers frighten unsuspecting guests. As they ran away from the powerful Jedi padawans, a startled scream could be heard from someone who didn't quite have the Force with them. Even better for me was the fact that one of the padawans chosen for Jedi Training was wearing a t-shirt of my alma mater, BYU, so that was cool. Go Cougars! If you haven't seen it, here's some pictures from the Jedi Training Academy.
These aren't the padwans you're looking for, move along.
Lord Vader, Rise. . .
Now, there are two of them!
Join me, and together we shall rule the Disney parks all over the world.
You will meet a Princess. It is your destiny. . . Did Darth Vader really just say that to me? What in the world does that mean?
Having satisfied my stomach, I decide to head over to see what the line is like for the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. Much to my amazement, it's only 30-45 minutes, so I head right back in line. One of the cast members at the back of the line asks me where I got my Sleeping Beauty pin that featured Briar Rose dancing with Prince Philip, so that was cool. The interesting thing is that it's a Disneyland pin. They made it for the M Magazine: The Magazine for Mice and Men August pin. The text on the pin says “She'll love you at once (upon a) Dream Date.” My other pin is Jedi Mickey, so it generates a few comments as well. What better than to wear pins noting my two favorite movies of all time?
And so, it's on to Nemo. I really like this ride. I love the technology used in the animation that makes it a different ride each and every time. Well done, Disney. Well done. As it's nearing 5:00, I decide to head over to It's A Small World. I want to see just what they do for the 5:00pm lighting of the attraction. For those of you who have only experienced the ride at Walt Disney World, you're really missing out, especially during Christmas when Disney decorates the show building with Christmas lights, wreaths, and even a Santa hat. The interior of the ride also gets a holiday layover complete with incorporating Jingle Bells into the well known, if sometimes exasperating song. I loved how the pirates performing in New Orleans Square last year talked about how the crazy voyage where they sang the same song over and over and over again. These same pirates were also eager to show off the treasure they had found. They even wrote a song about it that sounded a lot like Ariel's Part of Your World, but the highlight comes when the pirates pull out this glass slipper that they found over near the crazy boat ride. Pretty funny stuff. But, since this really has nothing to with lighting Small World up at night, I'll move on with the story. And they light Small World up. Nothing too special, just a little countdown and they throw the light switch. It still looks really cool though.
Ooh, pretty lights.
And with that I head over for the 5:30 snowfall. I'm eager to see Sleeping Beauty's Winter Castle in all it's wintry glory, complete with the snowfall and icicle lights. And this does not disappoint. As the snow falls and the narrator talks about the importance of believing, the LEDs on the castle begin to cascade down, dimming and brightening to give the appearance of snow. It's absolutely breathtaking. I love the icicles hanging from the castle, especially the ribbons Disney used to mask the lights. You see that's the thing I don't like about icicle lights. I just don't like how they look when they hang down with the bulbs at the end, but with the ribbon Disney has hidden that thing, so I'm quite pleased.
Sorry, my camera's not the best with night shots, but at least this one turned out.
Having geeked out over the castle, and I will note here that Prince Philip, no stranger to hard work, probably helped hang some of those lights himself, instead of having some random Duke or a bunch of dwarfs do all his dirty work for him, I decide to head over to Pirates of the Carribean. And a great voyage it is. While my mom could ride Small World all day long when her feet are tired, I could Pirates all day long, especially because repeated listening to the song does not drive me out of my mind to the point where I feel like I'm taking crazy pills here. Once after two consecutive Small World rides with my family, I feared that if I went on it 3 straight times, I would have jumped out of the boat and ran through the water screaming like a lunatic. It's much more difficult to to that on Pirates, what with Davy Jones there warning you about keeping everything inside the boat at tall times.
After voyagin' with pirates, I head over the Indiana Jones. Fortunately, the line is pretty short, so the wait isn't too bad. If your schedule is open, midweek in early to mid December is a great time to visit Disneyland since the crowds are manageable, but not insanely out of control. I've gone both the week before and the week after Christmas, and they are considerably busier than this time. Weekends are a different matter though. With that, I did something I hadn't done in years, the Jungle Cruise after dark. I did this once years ago, and it was pretty lame. Way too dark to see anything, and the skippers were armed with only flashlights, their pistols, and of course, an array of really bad puns that would make Rocky and Bullwinkle proud(which is of course the best reason to go on the Jungle Cruise). But thanks to the CM from the Walk in Walt's Footsteps Tour that I took last August, I decided to give the Jungle Cruise at night another try. And it's much better. Disney now has powerful light that illuminate the various sights along the river, and it's neat night experience now. One of the really special things bout Disney is how the park changes at night. The lights are really cool, and some of the rides take on an all new character. I'll now add Jungle Cruise to that list.
Now it's time for the wildest ride in the wilderness. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. And it's another cool nighttime experience. With the Christmas lights over by Santa's Reindeer Roundup and the brief glimpse of the spire of the castle if you look right while heading up the lift before the suicidal goat, it's quite nice. But what happened to the suicidal goat? Did he finally bite the dynamite and head off to the big railroad in the sky? I hope he's only temporarily gone, otherwise we may have to organize pickets around Big Thunder Mountain and demand the return of the goat. Bring back the goat! Bring back the goat!
With that I'm off to Splash Mountain, and there is literally no line. I'm a little surprise as it's not too cold tonight, but I also literally the only person on the flume. If I get soaked, I guess I only have myself to blame. Now, this is one of my favorite rides. I love singing along at the end of the ride. It's just tremendous fun. Fortunately, I don't get too wet, and the crowds are so non-existent, that I get to go on the ride again without even leaving my flume. How cool is that? Now, I tried to take a picture to prove to you that I was the only person on Splash Mountain, but it didn't turn out, so you'll have to take my word for it. After all, why would I lie to you? I could have gone on Splash Mountain a 3rd straight time, but as I was wetter the second time, I decided not to press my luck. I've had a slight cold in Disneyland before, and it can really put a damper on your day and tire you out, so there's no point in pressing my luck. So, with that I head back over to the castle to watch Believe in Holiday Magic. I can't wait because it's now been nearly 3 years since I last saw Disneyland's holiday fireworks. In 2005, they were showing the incomparable Remember, Dreams Come True, and last year, I missed the fireworks the first night since I was in California Adventure, and they were rained out the second night. It rained so hard that day, they nearly canceled the parade, which did go on, and when a torrential downpour hit, all the beloved characters were given shelter, the performers not playing beloved characters pulled out of the parade as the floats drove by. That's another thing I love about Disney. Those rainy conditions that day were miserable, yet the cast members went on with the show. They even gave Ariel an umbrella since she had nothing to protect her from the weather.
Tonight, though the conditions are great, and the show goes on. Believe in Holiday Magic is better than ever. While very little about the show has changed, Disneyland has incorporated more of the ideas and effects they used for Remember, Dreams Come True into the new shot. It's absolutely beautiful. I love the mix of fun Christmas music with the religious Christmas music that reminds us of what Christmas means.
Look, it's snowing in Disneyland, or at least that's what I think those specks are.
As the fireworks end, I head over to Star Tours. I have to go on this one more time tonight, and as I exit the gift shop, I decide to pick up the Disney Star Wars bobbleheads of X-Wing Mickey, Princess Leia Minnie(complete with the buns hairdo), Darth Goofy complete with mouse ear boxers, Donald Stormtrooper, and of course, Jedi Mickey. I already have the Jedi Mickey big fig, but the bobblehead is great to display at work. As it turns out, it's a good thing I decided to do this. On Saturday, the gift shop would be completely out of the Jedi Mickey bobbleheads. One thing I've learned about buying stuff at Disneyland is that if you know you want it, don't wait. It may not be there later on. I even to get me an ewok as one of the cast members that helps me played an ewok in Return of the Jedi. My little sister, an insanely huuuugggge ewok fan(yes, it's my fault :D ) is jealous. But alas, the park has now closed, so it's time for me to make the short walk back to my hotel. After once staying 20 minutes on the freeway from Disneyland, I vowed to never make that mistake again. It's just not worth it. So it's off to bed, as tomorrow is a big day. The park is open 'til midnight, so it's going to be crowded.
Will I learn what Darth Vader was talking about? Will I even manage to make it out of bed in the morning? Wait and see. . .
Thank you your thread is real fun to read. I love Disneyand in December there is nothing quite like it.
Wow I didn't know the castle looked like that at Christmas time!
That decor was brand new for 2007. In years past, they had a gigantic wreath over the entrance with garland that was really pretty, except for 2005(the 50th) when they placed garland only on account of the golden Mickey ears and then put wreaths on each individual banner along the drawbridge.
And since you're all waiting with eager anticipation, (or at least I'd like to think you are, I present the next installment in my Disneyland trip report. Enjoy, won't us.
Now, I have a challenge in life. On occasion I have bouts with insomnia. When I asked Sleeping Beauty in Disney World a couple of years ago if she had any advice for an insomniac, she laughed. Probably hadn't been asked that question before. Well, these bouts with insomnia can be very troublesome when I travel. I have a really hard time sleeping in strange beds. And on this trip, it was sadly no different. I found myself waking up around 5:00am and being unable to fall back asleep. After a very long, yet undetermined period of time I finally fall back asleep. When I finally awake after a restful sleep I discover to my surprise that it's now 9:57am, or roughly an hour and a half after I had planned on getting up. To make matters worse, the continental breakfast ended at 9:30am, so I will have to head to the parks loaded up on oreos and hershey kisses. They may not be little chocolate donuts like John Belushi used to eat, but for me on this day they'll have to be the Breakfast of Champions. Well, after a quick shower and an oh so nourishing breakfast I head to the one place where, according to Homer Simpson, no one can be found for miles around. Disney's California Adventure!
Well, while California Adventure is not quite as desolate as Homer Simpson seems to think it is, it's not a very crowded park. And this can work to your advantage. At this point in the morning, the bigggest crowd near the entrance is the group of people gathering around Mickey decorating the letter C and Goofy attempting to decorate the letter A. This is one thing I will miss about these letters when they leave the park as part of the planned refurbishment. I hope Disney finds a way to keep them. Well, since I've already taken pictures of these whimsical decorations, I skip them and head straight into the park. Nonetheless, I'll pull out pictures from Christmas trips past for your enjoyment.
One of my brothers, and both of my sisters with Mickey
Sailing through the entrance, I head right for one of my all time favorite attractions, the Hollywood Tower Hotel.
I've loved this hotel since I first visited it in 1994. I was thrilled when they opened it up at Disney's California Adventure. There's something about the elegance of this hotel. I wonder what it would have been like to see it in it's heyday. The years have not been kind to this hotel. The maintenance is slow, cobwebs are collecting in the lobby and there's only one person at the check in desk. And of course, the elevators. I wonder when the last time was those things worked right. It seems like every time I stay at the Hollywood Tower Hotel, they're always using the maintenance elevators. And for some reason I never have seen my room at this hotel. The elevators never quite take me there. For this stay, my fellow hotel guests and I had a wonderful bellhop. The hotel guests near me have never stayed at this hotel before, so they were a little antsy. I guess seeing all the cobwebs and maintenance that the hotel needs can make a guest feel that way. Our bellhop was very friendly and assured us that despite the fact that only the maintenance elevators were working, we would be in our rooms in no time. Then, something went wrong. As we sat down and buckled ourselves in, he informed us that he would need to transfer us to another elevator. I was chuckling as I'm used to things not working quite right at the Hollywood Tower Hotel, but a first time guest was so convinced by our bellhop that she asked me if they always buckled us in and then had us get in another elevator. We were taken to another elevator where the bellhop, though friendly, was not enjoying her job as much as our first bellhop this early May morning. We were buckled in without further event and proceeded to our rooms.
Or so we thought. Every time I come to the Hollywood Tower Hotel, it always seems like I've been dropped into an episode of the Twilight Zone. You know a similar thing happens to me when I go to Las Vegas, except there I get kidnapped by a crazy Klingon and taken to the 24th Century. It's a good thing that I seem to enjoy these mishaps since I keep coming back for more. And that's what I love about the Tower of Terror. They mess with your head. You never know what's going to happen next. The best part is riding with people who've never stayed at the Hollywood Tower Hotel before. They really don't know what's happening. So, I'm usually laughing as everybody screams thinking the drop has happened only to realize that this elevator is seriously out of control. It's a great ride. I love the creativity and story behind the ride. Anybody can make a drop ride, but Disney goes one step further and puts you into the Twilight Zone.
Another important part of this ride can be the bellhops. While they cannot make or break the ride like the skippers on the Jungle Cruise, they can greatly enhance the experience. Once in DCA, our bellhop was near perfect. He was tall and lanky, and wore a perpetual scowl on his face. He darkly reminded us to hold on to our loved ones, if we wanted to keep them, that is. When we returned to the lobby, he almost seemed disappointed that we had survived. That's another difference. At DCA, the bellhop who seats you will also greet you when you've dropped to the bottom. A great bellhop can make the experience even more enjoyable. And of course, just in case you haven't dropped enough after staying at the Hollywood Tower Hotel, you exit into the gift shop, where you can always shop 'til you drop. Ba dum dum. Yes, I know that's a bad pun, but remember I was raised on the bad puns of Rocky and Bullwinkle.
Now, having survived another harrowing stay at the Hollywood Tower Hotel, I decide to venture over to other parts of the park. As I walk back down towards the entrance to the backlot, I notice the tinsel decorations in Disney's version of Tinseltown. Like I said, I love the simple ways in which Disney decorates the parks for Christmas.
While a good Disney decoration, tinsel is not a proper Festivus decoration as Frank Costanza finds it distracting.
And as I turn the corner, I see a crowd gathered to meet and greet one of the coolest supers ever. Having found his supersuit, Fro-Zone is chilling with the guests at California Adventure. I wonder if Disneyland enlists his help in decorating Sleeping Beauty Castle and making it snow during the wintertime. Hmm, this gives me an idea. Maybe they should send Fro-Zone surfing down from the Matterhorn during Believe in Holiday Magic. They have Tinker Bell do it during Remember Dreams Come True, so why not let Fro-Zone use his superpowers, especially since the supers can use their powers again.
Chilling with Fro-Zone, the coolest cat in California
There's also a crowd gathered to see Snow White, but I head into the Art of Animation. And much to my happiness, the exhibits on display are really neat. For the 70th Anniversary of the one that started it all, Disney has a wonderful display up for Snow White, including some sketchbooks from the film and even some original animation cels from the film. It is so cool to see some of this artwork. I'm a Disney animation geek in addition to being a park geek, so this is good stuff. The Pixar room also contains the Toy Story zoetrope. This is really, really cool. Simply put, it's a 3-D model of different characters from Toy Story 2 on a circular device. Each pose is slightly different from the one before it, and when they turn it on, you suddenly see the characters come to life and move in three dimensions. Absolutely amazing and awesome. Walt would have loved this. He was so fascinated with technology, and would have loved to see what he helped create. While he wouldn't be happy about Disney's neglect of traditional animation, I'm convinced that he would love what Pixar is doing.
From there, I head over the Beast's library and Ursula's Grotto. I've never seen this stuff before, and it's pretty cool. I take a personality test and learn that I'm most like Cogsworth from Beauty and the Beast. I wonder who the other options were since I see some elements of that, but don't quite agree with it. From there it's on to Ursula's Grotto where the crazy old sea hag mistakes me for a merman(It's a MerMAN, a MerMAN) and steals my voice so I can sing along with Hakuna Matata(Once Upon A Dream was, sadly, not an option). From there, she inserts my voice into Beauty and the Beast, but it looks quite strange when Belle is silent. I should do this again with someone else as it's kind of cool. Frightened by my skills with a lightsaber, Ursula decides to give me my voice back and I depart the building.
And once I get outside, there he is. The one started it all. Of course, I'm talking about none other than Rizzo the Rat. Or not. It's really Mickey Mouse, and he's the one to give the credit to for my Disney fandom(or my parents who put a poster of the Mouse in my nursery even before I was born). As an infant I would cry forlornly when I threw Issy Wow and his girlfriend(not sure what I called her) from my crib. So, yes, I've always loved the Mouse. He's like a brother to me. I still get excited when I see him. He ranks as one of the view characters that I will stand in long lines to meet. You see, some people think interacting with characters is just for kids. I say these people are missing out on a lot of fun. It's fun to feel young again, and as an adult, it's enjoyable to observe how true to form the characters are. And of course, Mickey's in his Christmas beach wear, so it's a festive picture since I'm sporting Yoda Claus on my t-shirt.
Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and me?
After greeting the Mouse who started it all, I look over to see Mr. Incredible. How cool is this? I get a picture with Mickey Mouse, Fro-Zone, and now Mr. Incredible. This is awesome. I'm totally geeking out here.
It's tough to be super all the time, but as a Jedi Knight I can relate.
After getting my picture taken with superheroes and a super Mouse, I decide to wander through Off the Page. If you've seen my Disneyana collection, you know that I love Disney artwork. And I'm searching for a specific kind of Christmas decoration. Most of my Christmas décor is Disney. Yeah, like that's a surprise. You're all shocked, aren't you? Now, while you pick yourself off the floor, I'll tell that most of my of décor is Mickey themed. I have some nice Mickey Christmas plushes, but am really looking for one more thing. I would love to have some sort of Sleeping Beauty Christmas décor, but Disney hasn't made what I'm looking for yet. But as I look at the Disney animator character sketch, I get an idea. What if I had the Disney artist here sketch a picture of Sleeping Beauty, except instead of the usual blue, I'll have it done in a Christmas green. Hmm, this is an idea I'll have to consider. So with that thought in mind, I head over to Muppet Vision 3-D, where Rizzo the Rat really can be found doing his best Mickey Mouse impression.
I'm sure this is all what you want to do to me right now as you read through this trip report.
What can I say? I love Muppet Vision. With Staler and Wahldorf heckling their way through the show, it gets even better. And of course, the queue is tremendous muppet zaniness. Should the rumors prove true that they're looking to remove Muppet Vision 3-D here in California Adventure, I'll miss it tremendously.
With enough time to think about it, I decide to head back to Off the Page and order my Christmas sketch. It's going to be a few hours before it's done, so I head off to eat some lunch at Award Wieners(gotta love the marinara sausage) and sit down for a few minutes. I love soaking up the atmosphere in this part of the park. It's easily my favorite area of California Adventure. I love the blend this time of year of Christmas music and old Hollywood style music. One of the great hidden pleasures of Disney is listening to the atmosphere music while eating. It's a wonderful time to unwind just a bit and relax. Last night I enjoyed a chili dog on Main Street while listening to the pianist at Coke Corner tickle the ivories with a wonderful blend of religious Christmas music and fun holiday music.
Having enjoyed my lunch, it's off the California Screamin'. This is a great roller coaster, and it has single rider, which works great when you're by yourself. While on Screamin' I notice how the building is coming along on Toy Story Mania. I love what that show building is doing for this area of the park. It looks great. After Screamin' I head over to the Christmas tree at this park. Though not as big as Disneyland's tree, it's very pretty. I do wish they had kept the Tinker Bell snowflake tree topper from a few years ago though as it was a nice Disney touch.
Ooh, a Christmas tree with really big ornaments
I wander through San Francisco, but alas, the Preview Center is not open yet. So, it's off to Soarin' as I don't dare chance getting drenched and soaked on Grizzly River Rapids in mid-December. And it's fitting that on Soarin' as Putty(or Kronk if you prefer) guides you through the safety procedures, I learn that I will get to ride on the all elusive, always desired, yet rarely experienced front row. It's a Festivus Miracle!! And speaking of Festivus, it's coming up soon, so get your aluminum poles ready for the feats of strength(as tinsel is distracting), and prepare yourself for the airing of grievances. And during this Festivus time of year, I want you all to know I've made a donation in your name to The Human Fund. That's right folks, The Human Fund: Money for People.
Well, my sketch is still an hour or so away, and my work here in California Adventure is done, so I head to Downtown Disney. This is a cool place. On this day, Starabilias has Voldemort's actual wand from Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire on display. It's available for purchase for the one time low, low price of over $29,000. Yes, you read that right. Alas,that's way too rich for my blood, but it's cool to see. I just wish they had a lightsaber prop on display. Now, that would be beyond cool. Well, after wandering through Downtown Disney and admiring the wonderfully creative banners they have advertising Christmas at Disneyland, it's time to head back to Off the Page, and pick up my sketch. It looks wonderful. I'm very happy with it, of course, it's also too big to fit in my backpack, so I head back to my hotel(this is why you should always stay close to the parks) to drop off my picture and have a quick soda.
If the reindeer ever have problems near Disneyland, somehow I think Santa's going to be just fine.
When I arrive back in Disneyland, it's during A Christmas Fantasy, so I watch a few floats before I decide to break through the crowds and work my way to the center of the park. I love what they've done with Sleeping Beauty Castle this year. I just can't say that enough. As a side note, I also love how(at least for now) the décor on Sleeping Beauty Castle is unique to Sleeping Beauty Castle. As beautiful as the décor in Paris, Hong Kong, and Orlando is, Disneyland has wonderful daytime décor in addition to the night time enchantment. So, Disneyland wins my award for best castle decorations at Christmas time. Paris is second since they did the whole crystal castle thing first.
It's been a good day for characters, so I get this crazy idea in my head. Yes, I am insane. Somehow, I decide to venture over to the Princess Fantasy Faire. I've been mildly curious about what exactly this is, so I even decide to sit down and watch a few minutes of it. It's basically the princess version of the Jedi Training Academy, although aimed much more at little kids. So, here for your enjoyment are the only reasons why one should consider watching the Princess Fantasy Faire show. One, you have a little princess who is dying to see this thing and wants to twirl around the pole at the end with one of the princesses. Two, you have a crush on a Disney Princess. That is all. And if this second option applies to you, I still don't recommend watching it. I was able to trade for a Steamboat Willie Mickey pin, so that was good.
Now you can say you've seen the best part of the Princess Fantasy Faire.
After that, I head over to Mickey's ToonTown. The Christmas décor here is great. Very, very whimsical and very Disney. The line for Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin was over 75 minutes, so I'm going to pass. Very few rides are wort waiting over an hour for, and this is just not one of them, although it's a great ride.
After leaving ToonTown, I get a real crazy idea. I'm not sure what's gotten into me, but I decide to stand in line to meet for the princess meet and greet. Now, if you're crazy enough to do this, you had better know what you're in for. Waiting in line with no idea who you're going to meet. They swap characters out all the time, so you may not see the princess you really want to. Now, I suppose this isn't too bad if you just want to meet random heroine characters, but if you(or your kid) wants to meet a certain character, you need the right timing and probably a bit of luck. Well, when I got in line, Sleeping Beauty was one of the characters, but by the time I got near the front, she was off to help train all those knights and princesses in waiting. At this point, I left the line. I went over near Small World before having a crazy idea. Thats' right. I went to the end of the line. Don't ask me why since I am insane. So after waiting in line for even more minutes, I learn that the characters doing the meet and greet are Jasmine, Mulan, and Belle. Cast members say though that the night usually ends with Cinderella, Snow White, and Sleeping Beauty though. I guess I'm going to take my chances. I've waited too long at this point to give up on my quest. I've met Mickey, Mr. Incredible, and Fro-Zone. The day just wouldn't be complete without seeing my beloved Princess Aurora. Here goes nothing.
And so, mere people before my turn, I catch a glimpse. Something is happening. Belle has to leave so she can read stories to orphans, Mulan is off to save Hong Kong Disneyland, and Jasmine runs off with Stitch since she likes his spaceship a lot better than Aladdin's magic carpet. The Genie's not gonna be happy about Jasmine's leaving the poor guy who wished for Genie's freedom for the crazy blue space alien, but I don't care. For there she is. I've never been happier to see her in pink(even if she's supposed to be in blue).
See, I told you it was blue, Disney even gave me proof.
As my turn come I go meet Snow White. I've never met her before, and she is spot on. She even has the lilting voice of Snow White. This is one of the things I love about meeting characters as an adult. You get to see just how incredible their performance is. Kind of like the time when I asked Mary Poppins to say the super word backwards. Very fun stuff.
Someday her prince will come, but alas my heart belongs to another.
And now, the moment I've been waiting for. She is indeed most wondrous fair, gold of sunshine in her hair, lips that shame the red, red rose, she walks in springtime wherever she goes, even in the middle of December and Disney's special kind of snow. Her beauty is so rare that even her arch-nemesis waxes poetic about her beauty. As her prince, I take a bow before her. She responds with a curtsy and asks me my name. After all, we've met Once Upon a Dream.
A Jedi Knight takes the fair hand of his lovely Jedi Princess
Having found my Jedi Princess, I decide to go. I met Cinderella in Disney World a couple of years ago, and I'll let somebody else have a little bit more time with her. They'll enjoy it more anyways. Besides that, it's time to go on some rides. The line for Small World is still ridiculous, so I head over to Frontierland. Big Thunder Moutain has a short wait, and so does Pirates. I head to Haunted Mansion Holiday, but the wait time is over an hour and fastpasses are gone. I guess I'll have to come back tomorrow. With that, I decide to stand in line for an insanely long time and eat dinner. I was starving when I got in line, and it's even worse nearly 45 minutes later when I can finally order my food. Insane. Well, at least my chicken tenders and fries were warm. Seriously, I waited longer to order my dinner than I did to see Sleeping Beauty. What's up with that?
After dinner, I decide to try Fantasyland, but it's mostly closed down because of the coming fireworks. So, I head back over to Big Thunder Mountain. When it gets out, I have enough time to head over to Small World and wait just a few minutes for the fireworks. Since I saw the fireworks from the hub last night, I want to see what Small World does. As the fireworks begin, it's pretty cool. Disney projects snowflakes and other holiday images onto the facade, including great scenes from all the classic Disney Christmas cartoons. But of course, right as the show begins the Star of Wonder, Star of Light segue into Silent Night, the show abruptly stops. High winds have canceled the rest of the show. Now, while this is no fun, I've had weather conditions cancel entire shows before, and I'd much rather see at least part of the show than no show at all. As the crowd begins to head for the gates, I decide to be patient. In just a few short minutes, Small World reopens, and the wait is really short since the ride has just reopened. While in line, the facade goes all psychidelic and I begin to wonder if Small World has just done some crazy drugs or something. Oh, it's cool, but it's crazy even for Small World.
Now, onto the ride itself. It's more fun at Christmastime. The decorations are all up and I like how Disney shows each child of the world in the biggest celebration of their culture. The Chinese kids are celebrating Chinese New Year, and so on and so forth. I also love the ringing bells and all that good stuff. So, it's a festive ride, but even then, I can only take it once a day, so it's time to head off for the Matterhorn.
I love riding the Matterhorn at night. The colors are great, especially the jewel things near Harold(the original Yeti for those only familiar with Expedition: Everest's larger than life, huger than huge, and King Kong sized to boot Yeti.) I also love the brief, albeit stunning views of the park as you whiz by through the caverns of the mountain. It really says something about the greatness of this attraction since Disneyland opened it in 1959 and it's still going strong nearly 50 years later today. Now that's doing it old school as Frank and Ollie said at the end of The Incredibles. And what a great tribute by Brad Bird to put two of Walt's Nine Old Men in his film. Frank and Ollie were thrilled to provide their own voices, so that tells you what they think about Pixar animation. As Brad Bird said, he wanted to pay tribute to the men who helped make animation what it is today. Now, hopefully Disney will pay tribute to the people who made it what it is today and make movies like the kind the Nine Old Men made, both in traditional animation style and in story. But as this is supposed to be a Disneyland trip report, enough of my waxing poetic about Disney animation in 2007. Well, by this point, it's been a very long day. My feet are exhausted, my legs are shot, and my back is screaming. And tomorrow's still to come. So around 10:45, I decide to depart Disneyland and rest up for the morrow. It's my last full day in the park, so I will be staying until the very end. I can't spend my last day in Disneyland any other way.
Great trip report!:thumbsup2 I've a read a few trip reports now of people who've gone on their own and I can see where it would be a real treat to do once in awhile. Maybe once my princess is all growed up I'll treat myself to that.
And excellent blending of Star Wars and Disney!
Thanks. Star Wars and Disney are far and away my two favorite hobbies so I have some fun blending them.
Solo tripping is an interesting experience. It's really nice when you're not beholden to anybody else. If you want to meet characters, no one can look at you like you're crazy and you can usually find a CM photographer to take pictures. Likewise, you can take advantage of single rider lines. When there's only one of you, it's a bit easier to find someplace to eat even when it's crowded. Likewise, if you want to browse the shops, you can do so without taking away from another's touring time.
The bigggest drawback is that it can get lonely after a few days. On my last trip in February, I was with friends and I'd forgotten how much funner lines are when you have someone to talk to. The thing to remember is that Disney solo means you're still in Disney. There are worse places one could be. :)
When I was younger and I used to go to Disneyland with my family I used to always wander off on my own. I loved it. You have no one else to please. This year will be the first time we have gone without there being six of us. It will just be DH and I. I honestly am excited at the thought that we can do what we want when we want. Good luck with your Jedi Princess.:lovestruc
Thanks. The road to true love is currently paved with obstacles, but hey, it's supposed to be that way, right? :lmao:
In grand Russian tradition(due to the Russian Orthodox calendar being two weeks behind the Roman calendar, they celebrate Christmas on January 7 and Old New Year on January 14), I am now pleased to present the final installment of this photo trip report. And so, the final day has arrived. Having succeeded in setting my alarm this time, I'm able to enjoy the continental breakfast offered by my hotel, complete with Raspberry Lemonade. Now that's a great way to start off your morning.
After breakfast, I head off to Disneyland to enjoy the final day before my annual pass expires. The final day is always bittersweet, and on this morning I decide to hit Fantasyland early. There are two very good times to visit Fantasyland, early in the morning before the kiddies hit the parks and late at night after the kiddies leave the park. Seeing a reasonable wait for Peter Pan, I hop on it first so I don't have to worry about riding it later tonight. Even late at night, Pan's wait can still be around half an hour. That's not a bad wait for Peter Pan's flight, but this wait is shorter and that means I won't have to wait long tonight when it's the end of a long 2 and a half days. And of course in line, I see someone who went to my alma mater. Since my alma mater is owned by my church, we quite often share a common religion in addition to having attended the same university. Given that our new football coach has returned the football program to lots of wins every season, we're also quite excited about the football team again. (It also makes me happy to see BYU shirts just a week before BYU plays UCLA in the Las Vegas Bowl(which for those who may care was won by BYU when UCLA's last minute field goal attempt was blocked). Very, very exciting, but that's enough about football since you'd probably rather read about Disneyland on a Disney website.
Look, it's the back of Winter Castle
So, I head over to Snow White's Scary Adventure and check the ride out. After Snow White, I head over to Pinocchio's Daring Journey. This is my second favorite dark ride in Fantasyland. I love the detail on this ride, especially all the cool little toys built by Gepetto that they show at the end of the ride shortly before Pinocchio becomes a real boy. It's a nice little Disney touch(and yet another ride that the Magic Kingdom in Florida doesn't have. After Pinocchio, I head over to ride to Space Mountain. The fastpass return is a few hours away, and the standby line is only 30 minutes, so this is a good time to get two trips on Space for the price of one. I grab a fastpass and then hop in line. I don't get another one for a few hours, but I figure that Haunted Mansion Holiday will have plenty of fastpasses available when I head over to that neck of the park. After Space, I decide to go see what Nemo is up to, and it's insane. It's not even 11:00am and Nemo is already looking at an hour and a half. As a side note, I still laugh when I hear people lament about the lines for Nemo. I've heard guests say I really want to ride the subs, but 45 minutes is too long to wait. I'll just come back later. For now, there really isn't much “later” for Nemo. Maybe things will calm down in a year or so when the newness has worn off.
It may be December, but I'm still a Star Wars geek
Look sir, droids.
Having decided that Nemo is a no go for the day, it's off to the Matterhorn and then back to Buzz and Star Tours. Now, having done most of what I wanted to do again, I decide to hop on the train and head over to New Orleans Square. As the train goes through the Grand Canyon Diorama, I note with pride the Cougars. BYU's nickname is the Cougars, and it always makes me happy to see Cougars, especially after another outstanding football season. Having arrived safely in New Orleans Square, I'm shocked to see a 10 minute wait at Haunted Mansion Holiday, or so I thought. The posted wait time may have said 10 minutes, but it was far closer to 40 minutes, which considering how crowded the park is going to be today isn't too bad.
I enjoy the Haunted Mansion Holiday. I even saw the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas because the ride made me curious. It's quite fun to see the Mansion all whimsical and wintry. Next up for me is Pirates of the Carribean. This is, simply put, my Small World. My mother loves Small World because it has a short line and a long ride. While short waits and long lines are tremendous when your feet start to get tired, I can only take so much of Small World. Pirates, though, is different. Even though the line is near the bridge nearest the old gallery entrance on the New Orleans Square side, the line moves very quickly. Now, it's off to the longest line of the day: the lunchline. Crazy, huh. I've decided to try the French Market. I'm always in search of new and reasonably priced eateries in the park, and this is today's entrant. It meets my expectations. The food is quite good, and the refills on sodas are free with your receipt. That's something that can often push me over the top in deciding where to eat. While I sit down for lunch, my timing is great as I get to hear Queenie's Dixieland group entertain and play for the guests that pass by.
Look, Disney's advertising the gift shop at the ride exit as this parrot is saying Pieces of Eight
This tree is so ginormous that the ornaments have to be huge too.
After lunch, it's back over to Space Mountain so I can use up my fastpass. As this day goes on, the crowds get larger and larger. Tonight is going to be nuts. After Space, it's on to Main Street in an attempt to find a good viewing spot for the parade, which are disappearing quickly. I head into the First 50 Years exhibit because I feel like seeing the film again, though I would much rather Disneyland bring back Mr. Lincoln to his rightful place. Since Disney is deciding that Walt means something to the company, it's time to bring back his childhood hero.
The exhibits inside the lobby are quite cool, including this scale model of what Disneyland looked like on July 17, 1955. Absolutely fascinating to see how the park has changed over the years. And for those who, like me, dream of being in Space Mountain with the lights on, they have a very interesting model tucked over in the corner. A mock up of Space Mountain's original track. The track for this is quite elaborate. At least I have an idea, which admittedly isn't much, of what Space's track looks like.
During the First 50 Years movie, I am reminded of how many big names got their start working at Disneyland. Among past employees of the Happiest Place on Earth are comedians Steve Martin, Jerry Seinfeld, former Jungle Boat Skippers Robin Williams(those must have been some wild cruises), and new President of Disney Feature Animation John Lasseter. Now I head out to Main Street for the parade starts in 15 minutes. By yourself, it's not too tough to find a seat for one, so I settle in for the parade and soon hear the music from my favorite Disney movie of last year, Enchanted.
Apparently Giselle's adjustment to our insane world is going quite well since she has her own vanity plate already
And now, the final installment.
And now for A Christmas Fantasy, complete with pictures from past year's versions of the parade as well to give you, the reader who has never been to Disneyland at Christmastime the chance to see this parade for yourself(from a certain point of view).
Ahh, look at the snowmice.
Two of Disney's most beloved dogs take in holiday spirit
Happier times for Aladdin, before Jasmine dumped him and his magic carpet for a six armed wild space alien and his spaceship. On this day, Genie was having quite the time pouring confetti on unsuspecting children
Christmastime is here, happiness and cheer. Oh wait, that's the wrong animated Christmas cartoon
You always have to keep your guard up when this float comes by. Cinderella's stepsisters hit on my little brother once. This is especially funny because when he was 8 years old he ran away from Cinderella herself at Walt Disney World
Deciding to take a break from their annual tradition of driving Pluto and Donald up the wall, Chip and Dale grace us with their presence.
The parade over, I attempt to find a Disneyland Christmas T-shirt for my mom, but Disney has completely sold out of Christmas T-shirts for adults. I wander around the park some more, including enjoying the park Christmas tree, which I happen to be near when the tree is lit at 5:00pm.
I forgot to share this pic of Mickeys' tree in ToonTown in my last report, so like the rest of this trip report it's better late than never.
And the park is getting more and more crowded. It's insane. About 6:30, I make a fateful decision. I'm gong to camp out for the fireworks. Why? Because I've found the perfect seat, with my back facing Walt and Mickey on the Partners Statue. I also really want to see Believe in Holiday Magic tonight, but I want a good seat. This is the one of the best in the house. So, I sit down and make a new friend. One thing that's fun to do when camping out for shows at Disneyland is striking up conversations with the people next to you. This lady and I have a grand old time talking about all the Disney parks and enjoying our prime seats(especially when numerous people came up wanting to snap pictures of the castle. It also helps to make friends because you can watch each others spots when someone needs to run to the restroom or make a food run. Speaking of which, I decide around 7:45pm to make a hot chocolate run. This has become one of my Disneyland Christmas traditions. I have to buy the hot chocolate(in the souvenir mug of course) and a cinnamon roll tonight since I'm kind of hungry. When I return to my seat, my friend informs me that one man attempted to take my seat, but she wouldn't let him have it. Apparently he wanted to negotiate the seat with me so he could take pics of the fireworks, but unless he was willing to offer me money, I'm not really sure he'd be able to persuade me to give up my seat. He never did come back, so I don't know what I missed out on. At one point I turn around and all I can see from down to the end of Main Street is a sea of humanity. I haven't seen the park this crowded since New Year's Eve.
Serenity Now. Insanity Later
As 9:25pm draws closer the excitement begins to mount. And then Disney proceeds to scare the living daylights out of us. Starting around 9:00pm Disneyland announces that the fireworks will soon be starting. The normal announcement airs until 9:20 when they inform us that due to high wind conditions, the fireworks may be canceled or cut short. People groan with disappointment, but I realize that's part of life. It sure does stink though since this would mark the 2nd year in a row I've had a perfect seat for the fireworks, only to have the wind conditions interfere. A few minutes later, the fateful announcement comes. I brace myself for the dreaded cancellation when the PA announcer informs us all that the fireworks are about to begin. And so the show begins. And this seat is perfect. The fireworks are centered over Sleeping Beauty Castle. There are some incredible visual effects that you have to see from front on to realize what Disney is doing. When it comes to fireworks, Disney really is the best. I've seen massive 4th of July fireworks displays, I've seen the 2002 Winter Olympics closing ceremony fireworks display, and Disneyland has easily the best I've ever seen(Epcot's Illuminations ranks as the third best show I've seen only behind Remember Dreams Come True and Believe in Holiday Magic.
And thankfully tonight, the shows airs in it's entirety. As always it's beautiful. I love how Disneyland remembers that first Christmas night with a quiet dignity befitting Jesus Christ as Silent Night plays with a single star commemorating that star over Bethlehem. It wouldn't quite work for Disneyland to have the grand finale so quiet, so after paying the proper respect, Disneyland continues with the excitement and wonder of a Disney fireworks show. Tonight, we get the entire show. People stand in awe at the spectacular finale followed by White Christmas. This part always chokes me up a little bit. It's so simple and beautiful, yet it makes for a powerful experience. There really is nothing quite like watching it snow in Disneyland, especially when you see the excitement of the little childen.
The fireworks done, I decide to wait just a few minutes to let the crowds thin out. The fireworks over, I wish my new friends a Merry Christmas and head through the castle. It's time for Fantasyland. And the crowds here are very light. First I head over to the King Arthur's Carousel. I love this one. I love how Disney plays all the classic Disney songs in the carousel style. And of course, I also love how Disneyland features artwork from Sleeping Beauty over the horses. I could ride this all day, but I'd really end up extremely dizzy, so that's not such a good idea.
Alice in Wonderland is also a nice little dark ride. The details are tremendous, and it's pretty cool how you get to ride outside for just a little bit near the end. It's also yet another ride that the Magic Kingdom doesn't even have. Too bad really. Another one of my Disneyland traditions involves yet another ride that the Magic Kingdom misses out on. Storybookland. I don't know what it is about this ride, but it's absolutely fascinating. The miniatures are so neat. And going on this at night is even better. Like Disneyland itself, Storybookland becomes a brand new ride at night(and at Christmastime). Gepetto's village is decorated for Christmas, complete with miniature lights. London Park has a tree and wreath up. When you pass by the Seven Dwarfs cottage at night, you can see the jewels and diamonds in the mine. And Disneyland has two castles, since Cinderella's Castle looks out over all of Storybookland, complete with the clock striking midnight and the pumpkin on the bridge.
For many years, Storybookland used to be my traditional last ride of the visit, but recently, I've decided to make the carousel my final ride of the trip. I ask the cast member if he can control the music and he says sort of. I'd like to hear Once Upon A Dream, and he tells me that he thinks it's coming up. He says that he'll make the cycle go extra long. And so, I get a five minute ride on King Arthur's Carousel. Once Upon A Dream does not play, but it's still pretty cool. I thank the CM for his efforts, and realize that it is now midnight. Disneyland is closed.
And so, I head out through the entrance to Sleeping Beauty Castle. I love how Disneyland plays When You Wish Upon A Star(complete with Jiminy Cricket's voice) on a continual loop in front of the castle. And so I make my final stops. Once before crossing the street to get to the Partners statue just to admire the castle. Once in front of the Partners statue to ponder for a moment about the wonderful place that all started with a little mouse. I then head down Main Street, and since it's the last night, I take a right as I exit. I stop to look at the Emporium window display featuring Walt's classic films including Sleeping Beauty.
Now that's old school
And then I stop in front of the Fire Station. And on this day, my stop in front of the Fire Station is more poignant than most. For you see, the today is December 15, the anniversary of Walt Disney's death. And as it always has been since the day Walt passed away, the light in the Fire Station apartment is on. Walt is here.
Now it's time to say goodbye to all our company. M I C
K E Y Because we like you. M O U S E
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