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Old 01-23-2006, 03:09 AM   #1
Vexorg
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Keeping the Magic to Myself (My Trip Report, background and Day 1)

I got back from a long weekend at Disneyland about a week ago, and thought I'd put together a trip report here.

Background:
This is my second trip to Disneyland, but the last one was nearly 20 years ago, and I was nine years old at the time. I was only there for one day, and there were several ride closures, and a relatively early park closing time. There were a number of rides I never got to (some of which have subsequently been replaced,) and for the most part, my memories of the first trip are rather vague. There may have been a few changes here and there (little things like a new ride here, a new land here, a new theme park over there...) and maybe if I watched carefully I might notice some of them. The whole trip was planned on relatively short notice (I had found out only a couple of weeks ago that I had been given a certificate good for round trip airfare to anywhere in the US that was due to expire at the end of the month. A trip down to LA for a taping of The Price is Right had already been discussed previously, but the impending expiration of the travel certificate is what prompted this trip at this time of year.

The plan:
I would be flying early in the morning to John Wayne Airport via San Francisco, arriving on the ground at roughly 11:00. Since I was arriving a day ahead of the others, I was booked for one night at the Anabella hotel on Katella next to the Convention Center. The first day, I would be on my own. On Saturday, the others (my Mom and two of my aunts) would be flying down from Seattle as well, and my Grandma and one of her friends would be driving up from the Tuscon area to meet us there sometime in the afternoon. We would all be staying at Paradise Pier for two nights (My Mom and one of my aunts both work in the travel industry, and were able to get a really good travel agents deal for this. This also means that they are experienced travelers) Sunday would also be spent at the parks, and on Monday we would be checking out early and heading up to Hollywood to attend a taping of The Price is Right at CBS Television City, then taking early evening flights back to Seattle out of LAX.

Preparation / packing:
Since I was only going for a long (well, 4 day) weekend, I decided that a carry-on bag would probably be sufficient. I went mostly with warm weather clothing, but also had some jeans on hand as well (high temperatures were expected to reach the high fifties and low sixties for those days.) I hadn't originally planned on taking my good North Face jacket (I thought it might be too much,) but ended up wearing it to the airport where it found its way into my bag. I was glad I had it, because it got cold in the evenings. I did end up with a bit of a space crunch, and might have been better off with a larger bag, although I would have had to check it (as is, this one was pushing it a bit for being a carry-on, although it did fit in the overhead compartment.)

In addition to this bag, I also had with me my Wi-fi capable PocketPC (which accompanies me on pretty much every trip I take) and Nintendo DS to kill time on the plane ride. I thought about taking my notebook computer with me, but ended up not doing so (Since the Disney hotels have Internet access in the rooms and Wi-fi in the lobbies, I'll consider taking it next time, especially if I end up staying longer.)

Day 1: Friday, January 13th, 2006 (What could possibly go wrong?)
Following a relatively sleepless night, I had to get up at 4:00 to be at the airport for a 6:30 flight to San Francisco. The plane ride to SFO was relatively uneventful, although it took a little longer than expected. This did did cause a little bit of concern about making my connecting flight, but I did so with about fifteen minutes to spare. Once I got to John Wayne Airport, I hopped on a SuperShuttle (note that they do require reservations from this airport, which I had made the night before) and took about a half hour ride over to the Anabella Hotel, where I dropped off my bags. Asking the person at the front desk what the quickest way to the gate was, I was told to catch a tram in the Lion King lot. Following this advice, I headed in that direction. This lot is where I met my first character: Scuttle, and about a hundred of his closest friends. Other than the seagulls, the parking lot was empty. Pausing for a moment to try to set them straight on the whole Dinglehopper bit, I ended up walking all the way to the park entrance. It's not a terribly long walk, but I'm trying not to do too much walking on the first day. I've got three days, so I'm not in any particular hurry. It was about Noon by the time I reached the entrance.

After arriving at the gate and picking up my pass from the guest service window (I had purchased it in advance through Expedia when I booked the hotel.) I asked the CM at the ticket window what I should ride first, and was suggested to go ride Soarin' over California. I did so, and found that the ride was a walk-on (I went in the single rider line, but it really wasn't necessary to do so.) Having not seen anything like this before, this was incredible. I considered going right back and riding again, but figured there would be plenty of time for it later on, and headed further into DCA. I next rode Mulholland Madness (again in the single rider line) and met someone from the area in the seat next to me. We had a nice little casual conversation as the ride zipped around the track, as the girls in the row in front of us screamed their lungs out. Not a bad ride, but not much of a thrill factor to it. Following this, I rode the Orange Stinger (mostly because I couldn't figure out exactly what the giant orange in all the pictures was supposed to be for) and wandered through the Paradise Pier area. I decided to head over toward Disneyland, but did stop by the Tortilla factory along the way for a quick snack (no wonder all the rides were walk-ons, everyone was waiting in line at the Cocina Cucamonga!)

After this, I crossed over to Disneyland, where the first thing I did was to stop in the opera house, mainly to see the Space Mountain track model which I had read about in a MousePlanet article, but also stayed for the movie. I noted the apartment (and the light in the window) over the fire station, then it was about this time that I realized that not only had I been awake for close to 36 hours straight, but that I also hadn't eaten anything of substance that day, so I stopped at the Refreshment Corner and got a footlong chili-cheese dog and a Coke. Next I went toward Fantasyland, and got in line for the Peter Pan ride (this one always seems to have a line for some reason. It is a little dated, but is still my favorite of the Fantasyland rides.) I then headed north toward It's a Smal World (which was closed, somehow I'll live with the disappointment) and into Toontown. I got in line and rode Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin, after which I think I wandered around in a daze for about 10 minutes or so (you might say that one's a tad disorienting...) I then walked through Mickey's house, but found that there doesn't seem to be any way out except through the end Mickey is at. Somehow, I ended up in some other family's Mickey pictures (I guess this means that I'll just have to be the one they don't like to talk about much.) I then took hopped aboard the rail and took the short trip over to Tomorrowland.

After getting here, I went to Autopia (short wait)and found that it was actually kind of boring. This is one of the rides that was closed when I went to Disneyland the last time, so I rode it mostly out of curiosity. By the way is it a bad sign when they call you aside on the way out and put a big "SUSPENDED" stamp on your Autopia license? Maybe they wouldn't have so many problems with the whole one car length thing if they did that to misbehaving drivers. After this, I went over to Space Mountain to get a Fastpass (this ended up being the only ride we ever used fastpasses on during the whole three days, lines were generally short enough to make them unnecessary), which gave me about firty-five minutes before time to return. I used this time to head over toward New Orleans Square and ride Pirates of the Caribbean (pretty much as I remember it from the first time I came) and the Haunted Mansion Holiday (which is quite an impressive transformation, butI do have to admit that I don't remember what Haunted Mansion normally looks like well enough to really compare the two.) I then returned to Space Mountain, and found this one to be quite impressive as well (although again, I didn't ride this on my first visit, so I can't really do a before and after comparison.) After this, I went over to Astro Blasters and found that it had broken down. At this point, I decided to head back to the hotel to check into my room, and did so, via Downtown Disney (I did manage to get lost trying to find my way through the Grand Californian's lobby though.) I went to my room, looked through the room service menu and decided that I was going to have to head back out to find any decent food.

After chilling out for a little bit, I headed back over to DTD (and managed to get lost in the GCH lobby again) and got a Mexicone from the Tortilla Jo's Taqueria (not bad, but nothing special.) From there, I took the Monorail back into the park, and head back toward Adventureland, where I got a Dole Whip for dessert (pretty good stuff.) After this, I went and rode Haunted Mansion again (this time there was about a 15 minute wait) and at this point, I decide that I could really use to find a restroom. After wandering in the wrong direction for a bit (and somehow ending up on the Winnie the Pooh ride, don't ask) I go toward the path from Frontierland to Fantasyland, wandering pretty much aimlessly in the dark, passing at least three restrooms along the way (but not being able to see well enough to notice this.) By the time I actually find one, I'm back at Space Mountain again. Maybe it would have been a good idea to take a look at this part of the park back when there was sill light... I head over to Astro Blasters again, but by this time the line is too long, so I head over to Main Street and find a place to hang out for a while waiting for the fireworks. The 50th anniversary show is really quite impressive, especially when you don't know what to expect. After the fireworks, the park was going to be closing in less than an hour. I probably could have gotten another ride in at this point, but was getting a little worn out, so I ended up hopping one of the ART shuttles back to the hotel. This is about the time when things started going awry, as I got back to my room and sat on the end of the bed, which somehow caused the bedframe to break. I called the front desk, and as a result got transferred to the next room over (fortunately, I hadn't unpacked my stuff.) The next room over wasn't much better, as the shower seems to have been plumbed by a three year old. The drain was slow, the showerhead wasn't working correctly, and the faucet seemed to be incorrectly installed. Since I was only there for one night, I could live with it. The Anabella seems to be a nice enough hotel (and actually looks very good) but these problems, combined with some other issues I had, would lead me to not recommend it. Too many things in the room that should just work didn't. As I said, I was there for one night though. Had I decided to spend all three nights there, it probably would have more of a problem than it was.

Next: The Soggiest Place on Earth (Where we rain on your parade!)

Last edited by Vexorg; 02-13-2006 at 02:43 AM.
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Old 02-07-2006, 11:28 PM   #2
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Well, I usually wait to comment until I've read a few days worth...........but In this case would love to hear about the rest of your trip! People especially will want to know your parties opinions on Paradise Pier.
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Old 02-08-2006, 04:23 PM   #3
Vexorg
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I'll try to get at least day 2 written by the end of this week (it's a good thing I took notes...)
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Old 02-08-2006, 07:02 PM   #4
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Just curious...how long is the flight from SFO(S.F.) to John Wayne airport?
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Old 02-08-2006, 07:25 PM   #5
Vexorg
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I was on a commuter flight (United Express\SkyWest) and I think it took about an hour and a half, give or take 10 minutes or so.
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Old 02-13-2006, 02:44 AM   #6
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I just posted Day 2 here (see the link on the first post for it.)
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