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Old 05-16-2008, 09:55 PM   #1
Sleepless Knight
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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.

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.

Prologue:

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.

Last edited by Sleepless Knight; 04-07-2013 at 03:25 PM.
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Old 05-16-2008, 10:42 PM   #2
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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.)
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Old 05-17-2008, 01:02 AM   #3
Sleepless Knight
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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.
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Old 05-17-2008, 12:01 PM   #4
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Your pictures have me even more excited about our upcoming December trip!
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Old 05-19-2008, 03:55 PM   #5
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Great photos and so well written, I'm dying to go at Christmastime!
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Old 05-28-2008, 08:24 PM   #6
Sleepless Knight
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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. . .
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Old 05-29-2008, 09:40 PM   #7
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Great trip report! 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!
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Old 05-29-2008, 11:58 PM   #8
Sleepless Knight
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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.
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Old 05-30-2008, 04:46 PM   #9
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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.

Michele
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Old 06-02-2008, 06:24 PM   #10
Sleepless Knight
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Thanks. The road to true love is currently paved with obstacles, but hey, it's supposed to be that way, right?

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

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Old 06-02-2008, 06:24 PM   #11
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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.



Toys!!



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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Old 06-10-2008, 01:07 AM   #12
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sleepless knight-
I really enjoyed your trip report!

I was there the week before Thanksgiving and you're right, a weekday in December would be much better.
It was so crowded i just wanted to get out of there. And that's pretty bad for the biggest Disney geek ever to want to go to the airport early.

was the X Wing fighter in the Star Tours queue?
My boys are Star Wars fans and I don't recall seeing that.

Hope you find your Jedi Princess!
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Old 06-10-2008, 01:20 AM   #13
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The X-Wing is actually over in the arcade. As you're in the standby line for Space Mountain, when you get up to the side of the building, look through the windows and you'll see the X-Wing through the windows. When I got off, I went into the arcade and went to the back of the building. Look up and there it is.

When the PeopleMover was still around they had stormtroopers standing guard near Star Tours. And a few years ago, they had Darth Vader standing over the portal between Star Tours gift shop and the main Star Trader.

In terms of finding my Jedi Princess, I did find her an ID badge this past Saturday night. Star Traders had these Jedi Training Academy badges and one actually said Princess on it. Considering the photoshop alterations I've done depicting Sleeping Beauty with a lightsaber, I bought this badge. When the time comes, it will match my Jedi Council Member badge.

The first installment of my February trip report is now up.
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Old 06-10-2008, 01:30 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sleepless Knight View Post
The X-Wing is actually over in the arcade. As you're in the standby line for Space Mountain, when you get up to the side of the building, look through the windows and you'll see the X-Wing through the windows. When I got off, I went into the arcade and went to the back of the building. Look up and there it is.

When the PeopleMover was still around they had stormtroopers standing guard near Star Tours. And a few years ago, they had Darth Vader standing over the portal between Star Tours gift shop and the main Star Trader.

In terms of finding my Jedi Princess, I did find her an ID badge this past Saturday night. Star Traders had these Jedi Training Academy badges and one actually said Princess on it. Considering the photoshop alterations I've done depicting Sleeping Beauty with a lightsaber, I bought this badge. When the time comes, it will match my Jedi Council Member badge.

The first installment of my February trip report is now up.
Thanks, I will definitely make sure the boys get a look at that. Even if I have to spend a fortune in the arcade which I usually avoid if possible.
They are obsessed with playing Lego Star Wars on the Wii and can't wait to fight Darth Vader and Darth Maul. Last Sept and Nov they chickened out, but this time they are ready. They've been watching it on You Tube and have a strategy.
Did they have the Build Your Own Lightsaber in December?
I just read about it but wasn't sure when it started.
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Old 06-10-2008, 01:37 AM   #15
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I don't think they had the BYO lightsaber station in December. I wanted to take a closer look at it myself, but it was really crowded. I have some of the prop replica lightsabers with light up hilt and sound effects, so the BYO is a curiousity for me. I'm thinking you may be able to "bypass" the arcade games to get to the X-wing.
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