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Old 10-09-2000, 01:10 PM   #1
Shelly D.
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Sept DL trip report

Warning - this is kind of long, I got carried away!

My husband and I spent 9/16-9/24 in Southern California for vacation. I had been to CA a few times as a child, but not once in the last 11 years. My husband had never been there, so this was especially exciting for him.

We spent the first few days of our vacation traveling around other areas. I wanted to end the trip with DL because it's always kind of lame to vacation elsewhere after you've been to a Disney park. Nothing tops it so it had to be the finale! We spent a few days in Los Angeles and went to Universal Studios (which was a lot more fun than I had anticipated. I hadn't been to Universal since I can't remember when, so a lot had changed and we had a great day there). Then we moved on to San Diego, which was by far one of the most beautiful cities I've ever been to. We enjoyed the zoo, Coronado and Balboa Park. Then, the big finish: Disneyland.

I was a little hesitant about visiting DL because my husband and I have been to WDW so many times, and I was afraid we might be a little "understimulated" since I thought it would seem small. For some reason I expected it to be different - smaller, not as well maintained, not as much magic, etc. This was my fourth trip to DL, but it had been awhile since my last visit, so my childhood recollections were a little foggy. But, we were so surprised and enjoyed just about every minute of it - and can't wait to go back!

We stayed at the Candy Cane Inn after reading numerous accolades on this site. All of the wonderful things people say about the Candy Cane Inn are so true! The rooms were nicer than I expected - beautiful furnishings and bedding - and the breakfast was great, staff nice, the shuttles were on time (although after one shuttle ride we realized it was just as easy to walk), and all for an extremely reasonable price. At first I was bummed because we usually stay on property at WDW, but the DL hotel and Pacific Hotel were more $$ than we wanted to spend. But I would stay at the Candy Cane in a heartbeat. We visited the DL hotel our first evening and had dinner there, and although it looked like a fun place, I didn't feel like I was missing out on the fun.

On our first park day (Thursday, 9/22), we arrived at DL about 25 minutes before opening and realized we forgot our camcorder. Being so close to the Candy Cane, my hubby was able to jog back to the room and back just in time. After strolling down Main Street we were shocked at how much smaller Sleeping Beauty's castle is than Cinderella's at WDW. It was very beautiful, but not nearly as dramatic as you walk down Main Street. We decided to head to Indiana Jones first since neither of us had been on it before. That was the greatest ride! It was similar to Countdown to Extinction (AK), but somehow even more fun. The theming was excellent and I couldn't get over the special effects. During our two days at the park, I think we rode that about 5 times. Next we stopped by Blue Bayou and made reservations for lunch.

Blue Bayou was another great recommendation thanks to everyone on this board. It was so nice and peaceful in the restaurant and we were seated right next to the water. It was cool during our stay at DL, but I can imagine what a treat that must be during the summer time. I always wanted to eat at the restaurant in the Pirates ride as a child, but we always stuck to the less expensive fast food. I guess eating frugally got us to DL and WDW so frequently, but now that I'm a big girl, we try to splurge every now and then (at least until we have kids of our own and it's burger city!) So, it was a real treat to finally eat there. We split an order of calamari and my husband had the Monte Cristo which was excellent (it didn't sound at all appealing to me until he gave me a sample). I had the crab cakes, which certainly weren't the best crab cakes I've ever had, but the side dishes, the atmosphere and everything else were so wonderful, I easily forgave them and will eat there again next time.

The rest of the day there were moderate crowds. We were able to walk on to many of the rides and got fast passes for the bigger attractions. One thing that was kind of annoying was that the crowds there didn't seem to understand Fast Pass very well. A lot of times people gave us dirty looks or made comments like "that's not fair", "cutters" etc. when we went through the lines. The CMs just kind of ignored them, but I thought would've been a good opportunity for the CM to explain to them what FP was. But maybe that doesn't work. I didn't notice that at all at WDW and I wonder if it's because of they way it's set up at the two parks. At WDW it seemed like they had a separate line for fast pass altogether. At DL, they started out as separate lines, but then the two merged and the CMs let FP people go ahead of the other people in standby. Maybe there were so many hard feelings because you could actually "see" people cutting in front of you. But even though some people weren't pleased with it, it's definitely the way to go and we were able to ride some of the bigger rides multiple times each day thanks to it.

Speaking of bigger attractions, we LOVED the DL Space Mountain. It was so much better than the one at WDW in my opinion. I don't know if it was the soundtrack, sitting two by two, or what, but we screamed our heads off on that thing. Tons of fun. Another ride we enjoyed more than the WDW counterpart was the Pirates of the Carribbean. It seemed longer and it told a better story. It was so cool to ride the "original" rides and know that Walt left his fingerprints behind. As an aside, we were in WDW last December, and I got sick the last few days of our trip, so we spent a lot of time in our room watching the Disney Channel. There was a special on about the creation of DL, in particular the birth of the Pirates of the Caribbean and the ride's opening day. After seeing that special and hearing Walt talk about the details that were necessary to create it, we couldn't wait to go on this ride.

We also enjoyed the Rocket Rods. I've heard mixed reviews about this ride, and I certainly would have been disappointed had we waited in line very long. But I thought it was fun. Not very imaginative by Disney's standards, but it was enjoyable and a cool way to view the park (since you can't do it via sky cars any longer). I'm glad we rode it because they shut it down a couple of days later for rehab. One of the CMs told us there were too many technical difficulties so it was to be revamped. He heard that they were elevating the tracks around the corners so instead of turning on a flat track, you'd go around the curves at an angle (on your side). That reminds me of Test Track!

We stayed until close and decided to eat dinner off property later. We didn't want to waste any touring time sitting in a restaurant!

Friday, we didn't visit the parks because we got tickets for a TV taping back in Hollywood. We spent the day in Santa Monica and saw "Just Shoot Me" which was a lot of fun, but extremely long. We were hoping to go back to the park that evening after returning, but it was 11 when we got back and we were too pooped. I'm kind of relieved we weren't there. After getting back home, I read about the little boy who was critically injured on the Roger Rabbit ride. I can't imagine being in the park when something that terrible happens. It's hard enough reading the story unravel in the papers each day.

On Saturday (9/23) we went to the park bright and early because we wouldn't be spending the entire day there. We checked out that day and had reservations for our last evening in CA on the Queen Mary in Long Beach. So we rode a few of our favorite rides (Indiana!) and then went to City Hall to sign up for the Walking in Walt's Footsteps tour. The tour was interesting, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I think part of the problem was that it was long and it was hard for me to stand around for that length of time (back aches). Our tour was going on three hours (and still had two lands to cover and the gallery) when we decided to check out and go get some lunch. Our tour guide was knowledgeable and peppy, but she told so many stories of her own youth at DL and stories about her family at DL, it wasn't exactly the info we were hoping to get. I was hoping for more rumor clarification too - like is there really a basketball court in the Matterhorn? She didn't really want to get into that kind of stuff. But please don't be turned off by the tour because of my opinion. I've heard great things about it from others, and we did learn some facts that were interesting. It's just that it's hard to hold my attention at DL for longer than three hours without riding something, or at least sitting down! We broke away from the tour and had lunch at River Belle Terrace. The food was very good. We saw another couple from our tour group come in so I think they made a break for it too.

We left shortly after because the crowds were unreal! I couldn't believe how many people there were! We could hardly walk so we decided to head to the Queen Mary and enjoy it for the day, but DL was so fun we wanted to come back that evening. Especially for the fireworks. So we left the park (picked up our souveniers from guest services - isn't that the greatest) and drove about 30 minutes to the Queen Mary. We toured the QM, and had dinner on the boat (our most disappointing meal in all of CA - our waiter was slow, our food took forever, so we were a little behind schedule) and drove as fast as we could to get back to DL in time for the fireworks. We walked in with about 10 minutes to spare for the Believe fireworks show. The park was still packed solid! We both agreed we'd never been in a Disney park that was that crowded. It was nuts. The fireworks show was absolutely amazing! The best Disney fireworks I've ever seen. We were hoping a lot of people would leave once the show was over, and they did, but it was still unbearably crowded. We got a FP for Space Mountain and stood in line for the Matterhorn which moved quickly, but all the other rides had 1-2 hour waits. After Space Mountain, there was really no reason to get in line for anything else because the park would be closed by the time we got out, and that really wasn't the way I wanted to end such a great trip. So, we shopped on Main Street and stopped in the bakery for coffee and sweets and drove back to Long Beach. We weren't able to do as much as we had planned, but I think the fireworks were worth the drive back to Anaheim.

We left the next day carting our Mickey bags and carefully guarding the Mickey Mouse cookies from the bakery we were bringing home to family members. We're already tossing around the thought of heading back in the spring because we can't wait to see California Adventure. But we also wanted to go to WDW for Christmas next year, so now we've really created a dilemma for ourselves with two parks that we love! I think Downtown Disney will be great for DL because that's one of the things we missed (in comparison to WDW). It's nice to have a Disneyish place to visit after hours or during non-park days. It keeps you in the spirit. I hate eating at non-property restaurants during my Disney trips because that's back in the real world! So I think DCA and Downtown Disney will be nice additions. All in all we were extermely impressed with DL and I remembered much more from my childhood visits once we were there. Like those Storybook Canal Boats!
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Old 10-11-2000, 11:22 AM   #2
Mick
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Great report! It was very interesting to read.
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Old 10-12-2000, 04:12 PM   #3
KarenT
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Hi Shelly,
EXCELLENT! I loved the report. I'm so glad you liked DL ad I hope you'll get to do both DL and WDW this year. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_eek.gif[/img] And speaking as a San Diegan, you are welcome back here any time you like.


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Old 10-12-2000, 08:33 PM   #4
DonnaRy
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Great report! Glad you both enjoyed your trip and that you weren't disappointed with DL. I've been to WDW several times (most recently, this past February) and we visit DL once or twice a year. I've always been partial to DL over the Magic Kingdom an WDW....just seems more magical to me for some reason and the rides are better. Plus, WDW doesn't have the Matterhorn (my favorite next to Indy)!

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Old 10-14-2000, 05:34 PM   #5
GracieB
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Great report!

What a wonderful trip report--I pored over every word! Thank you for all your descriptions and the accurate depictions of all your experiences at DL.
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Old 10-21-2000, 07:57 PM   #6
Judy from Boise
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Yes there is a basketball court inside the matterhorn ! Ask Mary Jo nicely, and maybe she will post the picture for you !


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Old 10-22-2000, 05:53 PM   #7
benolathe
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BTW, I read that there is a REASON for that basketball court in the Matterhorn. Evidently, the city of Anaheim had a building height restriction that could only be surpassed for athletic facilities. So, the basketball court was built inside the "building" to qualify as an athletic facility and be built as high as it is (as Walt wanted it). Sorry, but I cannot remember my source for this info.

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Old 10-23-2000, 11:33 AM   #8
Mary Jo
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<font color=navy>Wow, Shelly~

What an excellent report! I really like how you shared your thoughts and impressions.

Very enjoyable read. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

<font face="Comic Sans MS"><font color=#FF0066>Mary Jo
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Old 10-24-2000, 10:16 AM   #9
Shelly D.
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benolathe - I had heard that story too! Must have read it on the boards somewhere.

She did tell us that they used to have "live" mermaids laying out on the rocks of the 20,000 Leagues attraction. She said they became a hazard because people (men, in particular) kept jumping in the water to get near them, and the water turned their hair green. I thought that was pretty funny.

Mary Jo - pretty please post that basketball court photo if you have it handy. I think that's really funny.
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Old 10-24-2000, 10:28 AM   #10
Mary Jo
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<font face="Comic Sans MS"><font color=#00009c>Well, Shelly, since you asked so nicely [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif[/img]

The real story of the basketball court can be found at this link:

Why the Matterhorn Has a Basketball Court

<center> </center>


Regarding the live mermaids. I remember visiting DL in the summer during the 60's and seeing those mermaids on top of the rocks in the lagoon. They used to sit up there & wave to people. (I don't remember how they got there, or if their hair was wet.) I also thought they were real at the time. [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

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Old 12-04-2000, 12:48 PM   #11
jocotter
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Loved Your Report!

I go to Disneyland every year, at least once, sometimes 2 times. I go to WDW about every 3 years. I really liked your report and don't mind the length. I totally agree about Space Mountain. I was SOOOO disappointed the first time I rode it in WDW. Thanks for the report.



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Old 12-16-2000, 02:22 PM   #12
Judy from Boise
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I'm bumping this up so our trip reports board will have trip reports !


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Old 03-02-2001, 06:19 PM   #13
Marla Hellwig
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What a wonderful tour of Southern Ca you had. I also have done the Queen Mary tour - twice in fact and also got to see the Spruce Goose (Howard Hughes wooden plane) when it was next to the QM. Thanks for posting!
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