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Old 02-13-2013, 02:00 PM   #46
WeatherbySwann
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Part 13: Go the Distance
Day 7, Part 1
Parks


2nd-to-last day! Initially this (a Sunday) was planned to be the last day in the parks, so the plan was filled with things to make it a memorable finale to our trip. When we nixed the extra Hollywood day (for the next day, Monday), I didn't want to devise an entire new touring plan, so we kept everything in tact for Sunday and figured that Monday would simply be an extra day of leisurely strolling without any specific agenda.

Sunday was also the day we'd use our Magic Morning. I know the tip given is to use MM on your first day so that you will not have to wake up early later on in your trip (after you've been walking around all week), but in this case I wanted to save Fantasyland for last (to have something to really look forward to with excitement), but also knew that the best time to hit all the Fantasyland rides is during MM, and so... we were indeed tired, but, eh, we're in Disney so who really cares.

It had been really empty on our first Disneyland day, but MM was even emptier than that. Hardly anyone in sight anywhere!


And so we walk through Sleeping Beauty Castle and into Fantasyland. I knew it was different from Florida in that DL feels like a storybook setting with architecture that matches each ride's setting rather than FL that has the castle/tent design on the rides (until New Fantasyland). So I knew it would be different, but like many things over the course of the trip, I did not expect how much I would completely love it. Fantasyland is magical, but not in an extravagant, magnificent, "WOAH!" way - but a subtle, comforting, "Ahhhh" way. It is classic, classic, CLASSIC Disney.

Everything had no line (and by everything, I mean... everything). We counted 8 rides in the first hour: Peter Pan, Pinocchio, Snow White, Mr. Toad, Dumbo, Alice in Wonderland, Mad Tea Party, and Matterhorn - and by 8:00 we were boarding Nemo, so while I can't say we completed 9 rides, we had gone through 9 lines (if you'd even call them that!).

Overall Fantasyland dark rides rating:
We went on all the Fantasyland dark rides so quickly that unfortunately that means they all sort of run together in my head and I can't remember distinct opinions about what I liked or didn't like about each one. There are a few thoughts, though, so here's a lightning round of impressions:
Peter Pan - Same as WDW, but always fun
Snow White - Glad I could still ride it since it's closed in WDW now, but I'm always scared to death that I'm going to break down in there... don't know why, but I just am. It's the one ride that I think I would be most freaked out in if it ever got stuck.
Mr. Toad - Don't remember much sadly, but so, so glad I got to ride it after hearing about it for so many years. A real piece of Disney history. Mr. Toad was my grandfather's favorite as a child.
Pinocchio - All I remember is the very end... Gepetto's house is possibly the coolest scene in any Disney dark ride ever of all time. So cool.
Alice in Wonderland - Don't remember much other than of course the story...

So while we got in and out of lines like nobody's business, the result is, as you can see, everything blurring together in my memory. There's always YouTube, of course, but still. If I did it over again, I would break Fantasyland up a little bit.


Still before 8:00, we headed to the Matterhorn. I was really excited for this one. REALLY excited. However, I was sadly disappointed. It was really a letdown. It would be a great ride, but it's just so bumpy, to the point of not being able to enjoy yourself because you're being tossed around every which way. I understand it was built in 1959, but you'd think they'd make it smooth at some point over the years. This especially surprised me since it had just opened in June from a multi-month refurbishment. I really wanted to like it, but... I just didn't.
Overall Matterhorn rating:

And then it was onto Nemo! Here's something I now wish I rode twice. It's a very simple, basic ride that you have to accept for what it is--a vintage ride system telling a new story, but with minimal thrill factor by today's standards--and I guess I didn't realize just how vintage it was. Knowing now that it doesn't get as intense as I thought it would, I could ride again and enjoy it for what it is, but the whole time I was waiting for something else to happen. Very cool to ride in a Disney submarine, though, I will say that. Especially considering Florida's is long gone and I've heard so many stories about it.
Overall Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage rating: but


Next, it was Space Mountain time! A note about Tomorrowland in general first: it's kind of awful. The attractions themselves are excellent, but they seem like a random hodgepodge trying to tell too many different versions of a "space" story without having any common ground. It wouldn't solve everything, but something that would help (and that does wonders for WDW) is the PeopleMover. The way the PeopleMover provides a round-trip tour above and within Tomorrowland is the thread of the area. It’s what gives real purpose to everything else. Without the PeopleMover, Tomorrowland’s other rides are still fun, but they are nothing more than just that—rides. With the PeopleMover, though, Tomorrowland is a genuine intergalactic community in which all of these fantastic experiences reside. This story is of course supported by architecture and many other details throughout the land, but it’s really succinctly defined by the PeopleMover’s insight. It’s something that really shines in WDW and is particularly noticed and missed in its absence at Disneyland’s Tomorrowland. I really like Tomorrowland in WDW but was not a fan of DL's. It always seemed confusing to navigate, too, even in the early morning with minimal crowds. (Especially the area surrounding Matterhorn/Pixie Hollow/Jedi Training... every time we had to cross those waters.)

Anyway. Oh, yeah. Space Mountain! I didn't expect there to be much of a difference, but I really enjoyed it. I wouldn't say I like WDW or DL's version better than the other, but I like different things a lot about both. WDW seems to have more fun dips while DL has more of a wind-in-your-face sensation and zippy turns. And Michael Giacchino's soundtrack is awesome. So much fun.
Overall Space Mountain rating:

We got FastPasses for Star Tours and then headed to Small World. Great ride, of course, a real Disney classic. I was indifferent about the use of characters in each scene... didn't detract from anything for me, but I don't see them as vital to the attraction, either. It keeps your eyes peeled, though, so you pay closer attention to more of the details. The edge that WDW has over DL is larger space. In DL's Small World, each room seemed too narrow and short, whereas in WDW the rooms and waterways are more spacious and immersive.
Overall Small World rating:

Next: Toontown! My family loves the vintage Disney animated shorts of the '30s (the 1934 short Camping Out is my favorite piece of Disney animation ever), so the idea of Toontown has always been appealing to us. Admittedly there was not too much to see in WDW's Toontown, but for us it was more about the loss of the toony atmosphere and aesthetic becoming extinct than the content of the land itself back when it closed a few years ago. So needless to say, with DL's Toontown being so much bigger than WDW's was, I was very excited to explore. It was more open than I expected - I pictured more nooks and crannies, but it was still great to be there.


A quick rundown of Toontown:
Roger Rabbit:
Much too fast-paced. I knew the overall story of the ride beforehand and I was still confused. I love Who Framed Roger Rabbit, but the ride was all over the place.

Houses:
The details are so fun in all of them. Chip & Dale's and Goofy's were sort of anticlimactic, but I realize they're tailored to the younger set.

The random corner with the random building with all the toon offices and such:
Brilliant. Absolutely awesome. A lot to take in and find. We even stumbled upon Goofy pretending to be locked in the jail, but he got out by the time I had my camera ready. Not sure if I've mentioned it yet or not, but I really like the way characters can just walk from place to place throughout DL. They can't really do that in WDW in most places because of the large demand for pictures and autographs, but the small magical moments with characters we saw throughout DL were really neat.

Goofy walked over to his house, and we met him there. Minnie was on her porch and Mickey was just inside his house (not in the Movie Barn yet), but we passed for them since we knew we'd have breakfast with them tomorrow.


I love Toontown.

At this point, we didn't really have much of a touring plan for the rest of the morning because honestly I did not expect how much we would accomplish in such a short amount of time. We were done with all of Fantasyland, half of Tomorrowland, and all of Toontown. I don't know the exact time it was, but since Mickey was still on his porch and not in the Movie Barn yet, it was relatively early. No later than 10:00 I'd say. This led to rest of the morning sort of scrambling around the whole park without much strategic migration. Not to say we didn't have fun (we did!), but it was a lot of on-the-spot decisions, getting out of attractions and saying, "Uh... I guess let's go to [insert attraction] now since we haven't done it yet!" It made for a lot of backtracking, but it was still a fun morning.

The first item after Toontown was Star Tours. I haven't ridden the first version of it at DHS in years, so to be honest I really couldn't tell a huge difference (though I know there is!). The rebel spy thing was not as played out as I thought it would be... we weren't sitting near the guy chosen in our ship, and if I hadn't known they choose someone on each ship, I wouldn't have even known it was a Guest. I like Star Tours, but I never really got into Star Wars, so the ride doesn't do much for me, but I do understand the intrigue.
Overall Star Tours rating:

Then we decided it was Dole Whip time! That is something the DIS turned us onto many years ago and we have not gone a Disney trip without one since. While we enjoying our Dole Whips in Adventureland, a PhotoPass Cast Member approached us and said that she really liked my pirate mouse ears, and asked if I would mind making a pirate pose to use for that night's showing of Magic, Memories, & You. I'm not typically a goofy pose type of guy, but I couldn't say no, right? So she took the picture and sure enough, we saw it later during the show.

It was around lunch time and we didn't have anything else on our to-do list before our mid-day hotel break, and knew we wouldn't want to search for food once we had gotten back to the hotel. So, even though we had just had Dole Whips, lunch was next (again, poor planning on my part, but oh well!). We decided on Pinocchio Village Haus for the sole reason that we've eaten there in Florida and have a fun time saying the name back at home lol. On our way to Fantasyland, we see Mary Poppins and Bert tucked back in Casey's Corner at the same place musical chairs happens. I've met Mary before but I've never seen her with Bert, so we hopped in line. Both were very personable, and asked me where I would be attending "university."

Onto the Pinocchio Village Haus! (See, I told you it was fun to say.) I got a pizza or something I think. At this point Fantasyland was much more crowded and decidedly not as magical as it had been earlier that morning when the number of people inhabiting it had been in the 1-digit range (...practically).

We moseyed on back to the HoJo for nap time. We would be back later that evening. We didn't know it then, but the best was yet to come.
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Old 02-13-2013, 02:09 PM   #47
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I love your title, and had to go read about your experience on that darling wheel of death. If I ever ride it again, you can be sure I will pop half a Dramamine before or something. Only Disney ride I've ever felt really sick on, including the tea cups!
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Old 03-05-2013, 01:35 PM   #48
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I'm loving your report. I'm not a fan of the wheel of death either, once is enough for me. I love coasters and the tower and things like that, though. Can't wait to see how it ends.
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Old 03-05-2013, 02:14 PM   #49
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Thank you! Lol... we had no idea.
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Old 03-14-2013, 10:06 PM   #50
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Part 14: Part of Your World
Day 7, Part 2
Parks


I will try to have the rest of this completed by this weekend (keyword try... we'll see how that goes lol).

So after our nap, we returned to DLR for (tear) our final night in the parks. My grandfather decided to stay at the HoJo again, but he missed a great night! Like the previous night at DCA, everything just sort of worked. We were at a slow pace, but still got a lot done. However, unlike last night, there was a lot that played to luck as opposed to good touring strategy.

I had already sort said my mental goodbyes to California Adventure on the way out last night, not expecting to go back for the rest of the trip. On our walk to DLR, though, my grandmother asked if it would be easy to stop in real quick to ride the trolley. We had tried several times before, but were never able to snag a seat. At first I hesitated, but then figured... hey, why not! One of the nice things about DLR vs WDW: you can make a spur-of-the-moment park change and it doesn't make a huge different in your touring plan. We entered DCA (nice to see you again, Buena Vista Street!), and easily got a seat on the trolley, which we rode all the way to Tower of Terror. Definitely not a headliner attraction, but we had been talking about riding it the whole trip and I'm glad we made the extra trip into DCA one last time.


After that we went to the Esplanade ticket booths to add one more day to my ticket. Tomorrow was originally planned to be a Hollywood day, but we saw so much on the Adventures by Disney tour that we decided if we went back, we'd just be doing a lot of backtracking. So, my grandparents would go to Little Saigon per the suggestion of one of their friends back home, and I would have the day to myself in Disneyland. I had never been in a Disney park all by myself for a whole day, so I was looking forward to it. To our surprise, the extra day was a lot less than we expected... around $15 or something like that. Especially for only 1 person, $15 for a whole day in Disneyland is just about as good of a bargain as they come. I had to turn in my Lightning McQueen park hopper in exchange for the newer one which I was a little bummed about, but it was all good.


Upon entering Disneyland, we returned to our favorite spot, Jolly Holiday Bakery, for another caprese sandwich. So good!! Love that place.

The agenda was pretty loose for the night - the only must-do's were Fantasmic and the Storybook Land boats. Initially we were going to watch Fantasmic twice--the first time near Critter Country so we could see some of the "backstage" stuff and get waves from the characters, and the second time from a regular view. We ended up bagging this and only seeing it once (the later showing to avoid crowds), but I kind of wish we had seen the backstage view now. Oh, well.


About Storybook Land... wow. I really only wanted to do this mark it off the list but WOAH! One of my favorite attractions in all of DLR. Almost like a Fantasyland version of the People Mover. Riding it at night was awesome, especially with the sparkling lights near the Aladdin section. It's such a simple ride, but boy is it a winner.
Overall Storybook Land rating:

Fantasyland as a whole is just brilliant after dark.


As we exited Storybook Land, I noticed that Magic, Memories, & You was going on over at Small World. I suddenly remembered about the PhotoPass photographer from earlier who had taken a picture of me in my pirate mouse ears and said it had a good chance of being in the show. No more had I verbally expressed this to my grandmother did the POTC music start and there the picture was!

Next we rode Casey Jr... not really sure why as it is pretty much the same thing as Storybook Land only in a train and not a boat. The line was longer than we thought and we ended up squished like sardines into one of the animal cages. Not very pleasant, but I can say I've ridden it. It might have been cooler if we hadn't just been on Storybook Land.
Overall Casey Jr rating:

I rode Big Thunder by myself with a FastPass next - awesome! So much fun, and even better in the dark.

The early Fantasmic showing was just finished at this point, and the fireworks were just about to start, which made it a bit precarious to try to stake out a spot for the 2nd Fantasmic show just yet. It was hard to tell if people had just seen Fantasmic and would leave after the fireworks, or had just gotten their spot for both the fireworks and the 2nd Fantasmic. Rather than get uber stressed, we found a random spot in Frontierland, waited until the fireworks were over, and then tried to stake out a Fantasmic spot (that worked out much better).

Despite the many, many threads I had read here on the DIS about Fantasmic, when it came to actually choosing a spot right then and there I became a deer in the headlights and completely forgot all sense of Disney knowledge. I should have gone to the area in the daytime, made note of the spot (I forget now where the super thread says the best spot is), and then come back to it later. Since I had no point of reference, it was difficult to know where the best place was in the dark. However... I thought it through and figured we couldn't go wrong by standing JUST behind the sitting section. Boom! Perfect view. Everyone in front of you is sitting down, but you're still allowed to stand. It was just near the Tom Sawyer dock. Here are some graphics I put together of where we were:




The top hat marks the spot!

It can also be noted that there was absolutely no one around us for a long time, even though the sitting section was filling up quickly. It was the 2nd show, but still... the area we were in didn't get full until probably 10-15 minutes before showtime.

The CM standing in that area seemed to be concerned that we weren't getting the best view with the spots that were still open elsewhere, saying that we would be off-center. We didn't really mind, though, and would rather stay put where we were than gain a headache trying to find a better place. Besides, we were used to the amphitheater seating of Florida's Fantasmic. This was not off-center for us!! Our "bad" seat at DL would be considered prime viewing at DHS.

The show itself: Disney magic at its best. No real surprises since I was familiar with the soundtrack and the DHS version anyway, but that didn't take away from enjoying it. Just wonderful. And the Peter Pan scene makes so much more sense than the random Pocahontas scene in Florida lol. That pirate ship sequence is very well done!
Overall Fantasmic rating:

It was during Fantasmic that the reality of leaving started to settle in. You know that feeling... your final night of vacation, watching the fireworks or parade or Fantasmic or what have you, and it just hits you: it's almost over. BUT another thing hits you at the exact same time: Disney holds a very special place in the hearts of a lot of people, and while you may be leaving... in this still moment, you're here, with your family, in your favorite place in the world making memories that you will never forget. That's what Disney is all about.

So yeah. Obviously we passed through Frontierland and walked down Main Street on our way to the exit after Fantasmic, though I have no recollection of the walk. I just remember being in Town Square, standing just before the train station, and looking toward Sleeping Beauty Castle, illuminated in pink hues. My grandmother said something like, "Time to enjoy one last look," as she would not be back tomorrow like I would. It was then that I knew and appreciated that she "got it," that Disneyness that so many of you (I'm sure if you're reading this) appreciate. We stood there for a few more moments and soaked it all in.


We were just getting ready to leave the park, and then I notice in the corner of Town Square... Mickey and Minnie. MICKEY AND MINNIE. As in, together. At 11:00 at night. "Oh, look, Mickey and Minnie are over there." Honestly I wouldn't have said anything else about it after that, as I knew it was late, we had to get up early, and we'd see both characters at breakfast the next morning. But my grandmother can tell when I'm not quite speaking up for myself, and responded by simply asking, "Would you like to meet them?" I really did. It's not every day you find Mickey and Minnie both meeting together at the same time, let alone so late at night AND after such an incredible evening of Disney magic. But... "I guess we ought to get back." She knew better. "Are you sure?" "Well..." "Come on, let's see them!" And she led the way over.

And I'm so glad we did. I complimented Mickey on his great job in Fantasmic, to which he actually did a few of the hand motions he does at the beginning of the show. Then Minnie noticed my graduation button and jumped up and down clapping to congratulate me. It's silly, but looking back it really felt like THE Mickey and Minnie. Especially with Minnie's graduation moment, it dawned on me how much these two characters really do mean to me, how I have quite literally grown up with them.

I'm not quite sure how you top that. In fact, afterward I almost was apprehensive about returning tomorrow because I knew that in no way would I be able to do better than what had just happened. Somehow I managed But in all seriousness, though, there are sometimes those special Disney moments that you really can't properly describe in words because any written description just doesn't do it justice. That's how that evening was. Serene... incredible... magical.
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Old 05-25-2013, 11:04 AM   #51
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I absolutely loved your trip report. I am planning our first trip to DL next summer, and just loved reading all about your trip and memories. My son is 11 and I think and and hope that he will have the love and appreciation of all that is Disney when he is graduating from college too. I'm trying to bring him up right.

Thanks for sharing your trip with us. It made me all the more excited to get there!!
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Old 05-27-2013, 10:57 PM   #52
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Thanks. I know you will have a great time.

I still have 1 more day that I never got around to reporting on, I'll try to get to writing about it soon.
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