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Old 05-14-2000, 09:38 PM   #1
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VonDrake Meets Disneyland: Friday May 5th and Saturday May 6th

Cast: Rajah (writer, as a child frequent Disneyland visitor, been to DL 3 times in the past 2 years or so) and VonDrake (first visit ever to Disneyland, unsure how he'll like it after having just seen Disneyworld)
Dates: For Trip: 5-5-00 through 5-7-00 for VonDrake, 5-5-00 through 5-12-00 for Rajah
For this post: 5-5-00 through 5-6-00

"What's the best way to get from LAX to the Harbor Blvd Hotels at night?"

This is a question I posted on several places, as I was very concerned about transportation options to the Castle Inn and Suites after our plane arrived around 10pm. We'd decided on the Super Shuttle, and then discovered the answer: Friends!! One of my best friends who now lives in LA contacted me the day we left and asked if we needed a ride from the airport. Since we hadn't made reservations yet with Super Shuttle (you don't need them to go anywhere *from* the airport, just to get back), we gladly accepted their offer.

The rest of Friday (5-5-00) was spent anxiously waiting for time to go and making sure everything was done. When finally it was time to leave, I returned to the apartment to drop off my car and met up with my parents who gave me a ride to the airport. VonDrake was driving straight from work. Turns out, it was a good thing my parents dropped me off because VonDrake (who has almost no experience with airports) had a hard time finding a place to park and my dad ran to the rescue while my mom and I checked in. Thanks to their help, disaster was avoided and VonDrake and I were able to be in the first group of boarders on our Southwest flight.

The flight itself was pretty good. Even though we had a twenty minute delay both out of Houston and out of Phoenix, we ended up landing roughly on time and were walking out of the gate just as my friend and her fiance showed up, so the timing worked out very well. Well, we proceeded to the baggage claim then out to their car, and I got to demonstrate just how poorly my sense of direction is when it comes to LA. It was a good thing we were with her fiance, who was the only one in the group who has driven to Disneyland before, because I was so turned around that when we were driving *past* Disneyland (it was on the right), I made a comment that our hotel should be on the right and the park on the left. Yes, Disneyland is that obvious when you know to look for it :]

Well, we checked into the Castle Inn and Suites with no problem (even though I had been picturing the wrong hotel the entire time), found our rooms, then hopped over to Denny's for a quick bite to eat before we crashed for the night.

My opinion on Castle Inn and Suites? I won't stay there again unless it's the closest hotel with an opening (which was the only reason we stayed there this time). While the room was primarily clean, it was old enough that no amount of cleaning could make some things look any better. There were no bugs that we saw, but the beds were very uncomfortable (and yet I slept better there than I did in the really comfortable ones at the Disneyland Hotel later in the trip, go figure) and the rooms were rather noisy. Decent, but doesn't get a very high rating from me.

Saturday, 5-6-00

We considered getting up to try to get Fantasmic Dessert Buffet tickets, but when we checked the times we discovered that we'd have to get there as early as *4:30* in the morning to get the tickets, and we decided there was no way it was worth getting up that early. As it was, we set the alarm for about 6:00 so we could go to early entry, but I was awake around 5:30. The second I saw VonDrake show signs of life, I started whispering the names of attractions that were open for Early Entry. Finally, he got up just to shut me up, even though he wanted to sleep in [img]/infopop/emoticons\icon_wink.gif[/img]

One funny side note: I normally don't talk in my sleep (to my knowledge) but apparently I was so excited about being at Disneyland, I started mumbling the lyrics to the Tiki Room in the middle of the night when I was fast asleep. VonDrake couldn't believe what he was hearing. I just laughed when he told me about it the next morning.

Finally, after taking much longer than was necessary (I was very impatient, I must admit...I wanted to get to the park NOW! [img]/infopop/emoticons\icon_wink.gif[/img] ) we started off for the park and Early Entry. We arrived around 6:50 in the morning, even 20 minutes after the gates had opened for early entry, and the park was practically deserted!

In not even an hour's time, we were able to see Peter Pan's Flight (which inside we agreed was even better than the WDW version), Mr. Toad's Wild Ride (which VonDrake thought was great, not *quite* Pooh but still great), Dumbo (the first time I remember going on it, although I'm sure I did as a child), Pinnochio and Snow White (both of which were much better than I remembered), Alice, and the Fantasyland side of the Matterhorn. By the time we got off the Matterhorn, it was time to line up at the Adventurland rope (7:45), and they actually had everyone stand in a real *line* instead of one huge chaotic clump of people. By the time the rope dropped, the line for Adventureland circled back to Main Street if not beyond.

We went straight from the rope on past Indy and around to the Blue Bayou, where we were some of the first to get reservations for lunch and dinner. Then we started to cut back through New Orleans Square (I *love* NOS, Frontierland, and the Rivers very first thing in the morning when almost no one's around) to try for Indy again. As we passed Pirates, we noticed there was no one in line, so we backtracked and decided to continue a tradition (if one time before counts as a tradition?) of riding Pirates with our own boat. No one in the boat in front of us, no one in the boat behind us, and no one on our boat but the two of us. We love seeing Pirates that way [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img]

VonDrake was completely blown away by Disneyland's Pirates! He couldn't understand how DL's pirates could be even better than WDW's, until he saw it in person. Now he and I agree -- WDW is missing half the story. It's like riding the Cliff's Notes version of Pirates, and the entire story is at Disneyland. I just smiled at him and directed him on toward Indy.

We checked with the CM at the entrance to see what the wait was and found a 20 minute wait. So we started down the queue then got just a few steps in when VonDrake pointed out that if we didn't get breakfast *now*, there's no way we'd be hungry for lunch at 11:30. So we decided to risk a longer wait on Indy and grab something to eat.

It was just a hop, skip, and jump over to River Belle Terrace where we ordered two Steamboat breakfasts. Yuuuuummmmm. Three of the most delicious pancakes I've ever had, scrambled eggs, and bacon made for more breakfast than I could eat. We even got to see a very talented CM flipping the Mickey Pancakes. I wonder how often he gets applauded for that tricky task? At least 3 times while we were in line.

After breakfast, we hopped back over to Indy and still only had a 25 minute wait. I had fun showing VonDrake the details in that queue, but I think they put the spike room on an automatic drop now instead of activated by the pole. As we went through, we got the Fountain of Youth passage, and I didn't discover until later that VonDrake didn't realize there were two other passages to choose from. Oh well, two more things for him to see the next trip, and he was still quite impressed by the ride. I, as usual, loved it and finally got to see how they did one of the effects.

After Indy, we climbed through Tarzan's Treehouse, which we both thought was cute. I'm not too sure which I liked better: Tarzan or the original Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, but I do think they did a very good job with the Tarzan remake. At least when they replaced the classic, they replaced it with something that was just as good.

After Tarzan, we started wandering aimlessly and found ourselves outside the Tiki Room. Well, here's a good chance to see it, so we hopped through the turnstiles just as the Tiki Gods started their spiels. We missed Maui (I think -- the water god), but VonDrake was able to see the rest of them. Then we got to go in and VonDrake finally got to see what the Tiki Room is *supposed* to be (even if it does still need a rehab badly....it's still a lot better IMO than WDW's version).

After the Tiki Room (which VonDrake really enjoyed), we wandered over to Tomorrowland and finally found Space Mountain. The standby wait was somewhere around an hour and the fastpass return time was too close to our lunch reservations for comfort, so we skipped it right now and basically wandered aimlessly around Tomorrowland while I tried to figure out where we were. I'm quite familiar with just about every trail in Disneyland, but Tomorrowland was never my favorite place and so I was finding it easy to get *lost* there.

We found ourselves out of Tomorrowland and in front of Small World before we decided to ride anything. Since VonDrake hadn't ever seen Small World (it was under rehab when we were at WDW earlier this year), we decided to hop in line and take a ride. Our timing was great: we got to see the clock chime twice on that ride. First at 10:45 just as we were getting into our boat, and then again at 11 as we were getting out. Such a cute ride, and something you definitely have to do at least once on a trip -- it's part of the Disney tradition! [img]/infopop/emoticons\icon_wink.gif[/img]

I forget what we did between 11 and 11:20, I think we just wandered back to and around New Orleans Square until we could check in, but when 11:20 rolled around we were in the Blue Bayou waiting area awaiting our turn to be called. We had signed up early enough in the morning that we got a spot on the water, which was great for VonDrake's first time to the Bayou.

VonDrake ordered the cajun style Calamari and then we split both a Monte Cristo and an oreo cheesecake. The Cristo was as delicious as I remember, but the cheesecake...YUM!! That was the BEST cheesecake I've ever, ever had. Wow! It's a good thing we don't live closer, or I'd run over to the park for nothing more than a piece of that cheesecake! Even splitting the Monte Cristo and the cheesecake, we were both quite full so decided to try a light and easy ride next.

Haunted Mansion it is! There was a bit of a wait, but they didn't have the entire queue opened up. I want to say we waited about 15 minutes before we were in the stretching room and on our way. Such a fun ride! Unfortunately, we ended up with a Doom Buggy that had a sound system that was barely functioning, so I was glad he'd seen the Haunted Mansion at WDW before. We should have gone around again and tried for a new Doom Buggy, but we didn't -- I discovered later in the trip that apparently I've been having bad luck with the Doom Buggies lately because on my last trips, I had Buggies with bad sound just like on this round. Of course, the remainder of the trip every time I went on HM I had a Doom Buggy that worked perfectly. Oh well.

Once we got off Haunted Mansion, we decided to take a ride around the Rivers. The Columbia was at the dock and I didn't remember ever being on the Columbia (another one I'm sure I've done as a child but don't remember) and I found that very fascinating. It was neat, and I especially liked the museum below decks. I wanted to ride on it again later in the trip, but it was down for refurb.

After the Columbia, it was on to Toon Town. BOY was that place crowded! We looked at the line to Roger Rabbit, which stretched most of the way back to the bridge, and headed straight for fastpass. As it was, we had about an hour and a half to kill after getting our Fastpasses, so we fought the crowds in Toon Town just long enough to show VonDrake "see, isn't this neat", and then we both wanted a place to sit down that was out of the sun. Since nothing could be found in Toon Town itself, we headed back out and decided to take a ride on the train. As we were waiting in line, we heard one of the shows of Animazement finishing up and thought that sounded neat.

Full circuit on the train was fun, especially seeing VonDrake's reaction to the Grand Canyon and Primeval World panoramas. The T-Rex fight was covered up for refurb, but the rest was open to see. When we returned to the Toon Town station, we hit the line for Animazement just as they were seating people. I wasn't sure what to expect with this show... I'd heard mostly poor reviews on it, but it had sounded good and was a place to sit down in the shade so we gave it a try.

We thought it was an excellent show! Very creative! I especially enjoyed the slip-ups in the Aladdin sequence (planned, I won't say more so I don't ruin it for those who haven't seen it, but those who have should know what I'm talking about) and the transitions between the scenes were really cute. I wish I'd had a chance to see that again, but it was only showing on the weekend and we only had enough time to see it once.

By the time Animazement was over, we both felt a lot better. Sitting down for about an hour really helped rejuvenate us, so it was on to Roger Rabbit and our Fastpass time. VonDrake wasn't sure what to expect with this one, so we both had a lot of fun on it. I don't know if I like how Fast Pass is set up on that, though. The entire standby line is outside and both standby and fastpass people end up walking very quickly through the inner queue. I actually think I liked it better when you had to wait in line -- then you had enough time to see a lot of the jokes that you miss with the new setup.

After Roger and a brief look around Toon Town, we returned to New Orleans Square for our dinner ressies. We were still a little early, so we went upstairs and looked around the Disney Gallery until it was time to go check in. VonDrake has now joined the "I wish there was a Yesterland Themepark" club after seeing some of the descriptions and drawings scattered around the gallery. Unfortunately, we both missed the back room with the Space Mountain model (I found it later in the trip), so I'll have to show that to him next time.

Then it was already dinner time (4:30) back at the Blue Bayou again. This time, I ordered the salmon while VonDrake had the crab cakes. I thought the salmon was really good, and I think I'll have to withdraw my membership from the "I don't like salmon" club -- between all the good salmon I had at WDW, my mom's excellent salmon, and then the good salmon I had at Disneyland, I'm coming to like it.

Dinner was over a little faster than I expected, and then it was on to Thunder Mountain, which VonDrake thinks he likes better at Land than at World. It's a tough call, but Land's is my favorite by a very slim margin. I also got to experience the "goat effect" for the first time -- for those of you unfamiliar with this wild effect, it's quite simple. When you go around the curve with the goat chewing on the dynamite, keep watching the goat for as long as you can. For some reason, it makes that particular curve a lot wilder!

After Thunder Mountain, we decided on Country Bear Playhouse and we happened to walk in just as the last show of the evening was about to start -- perfect timing. We even got a good spot for me to be able to take a few pictures. VonDrake enjoyed that better than I did. I always enjoy the Country Bears, but I never have enjoyed the Country Bear Vacation Hoe-down nearly as much as I enjoy the original Country Bear Jamboree. The "new" show is still good, but it's not nearly as good as the original IMO. But I'm glad VonDrake was able to see it -- I didn't realize that he almost decided to skip it because I kept saying it wasn't as good as the original.

After Country Bears, we weren't really too sure what to do so we just started wandering. I think we were somewhat heading either to Main Street for some shopping or to Tomorrowland, but mostly we were just wandering. We ended up at Coke Corner and I heard someone on the piano, so I wanted to stop by to see who it was. This was something I've always wanted to do but never had the time to do -- just sit and listen to the piano player.

Well, when I got close enough to see it was Rod himself at the keys, I told Michael we were going to sit here until we figured out what we wanted to do next. I've long wanted to just stand and watch the master at the keys, but this was the first opportunity I'd ever had. I figured we'd just sit there for a few minutes then move on.

That was around 6:30pm.

By the time the parade started at 8:15, we were still sitting there. Rod and Alan are just *amazing* at that piano!! We ended up getting both CDs from the music shop down the street.

Since we were sitting at the Corner when the parade started, we decided to go ahead and stay where we were, so we got to see the parade from Coke Corner. For just the floats, this was a good spot. But we could barely see any of the characters on the ground or the guests dancing with them. Plus, we happened to have the seat right in the traffic flow for those trying to cut through Coke Corner, and there were two little monkeys (boys) who were determined to climb to the top of the light pole in front of us despite attempts to get them to stay down. We thought the music was beautiful, and I'm so glad we were able to hear the new music and not the old. I think I would have complained about the old music as well!

After the parade, we let some of the crowd die down before we started down Main Street looking through the shops. Neither of us was too awake, I guess, because we didn't end up getting anything until we reached the music shop. There we picked up the CD for Rod and Alan (I'd run to the music shop earlier for Rod's CD) and I got some piano music for Tarzan, Lion King, and Lion King 2. I haven't played much piano in a *long* time, but I've been wanting to get back into it and figured those were good soundtracks to start with.

We didn't have long to shop before we had to stake out our places for the fireworks. We ended up in the place that had been highly recommended to us -- right on Main Street just right of center, between Coke Corner and the Photo shop.


What a fireworks show!! BEAUTIFUL! That I think is the BEST fireworks show I've ever seen, even topping any other Disney fireworks shows. Now this is *just* fireworks -- I still like Fantasmic, MSEP, and Tapestry better, but Believe tops Fantasy and Reflections IMO!! Really neat, and I *want that music*! [img]/infopop/emoticons\icon_wink.gif[/img] I loved the Topsy Turvy, Very Merry Unbirthday, and the sequence leading into the 'darkest dreams' part (just before Tarzan and Hellfire). Oh, and the shooting stars and that FANTASTIC Tinkerbell effect!

One cute tie-in to Disneyworld was the little girl waiting for the fireworks to start who was standing next to us. Some of you may recall from my WDW report the little boy who had his hands clamped over his ears at least 10 minutes before the fireworks even started and no matter what his parents, VonDrake, or I could say, he wouldn't believe us that the fireworks weren't going to start for several minutes. This little girl was doing the same.

And one thing we found kinda interesting -- neither of us thought these fireworks were as loud as the ones at World. Anyone have any idea why?

The *second* the fireworks were over, we were streaming our way through the crowds trying to find seating for the second Fantasmic. Oh, one side note -- the first Fantasmic was declared *full*, *no more room* around 7:30 or so -- may have been a little later, but by the time the parade started, they were already announcing no more room for Fantasmic.

So we cut through the crowds and tried for the Adventureland route -- only to be told Adventureland was an exit-only. Okay, over to Frontierland.... again, an exit only. Ahh, but on the second half of the Frontierland entrance, *there's* an enter only! Okay, so we'll cut down easily... to be blocked off by benches and CMs and told to walk the other way.... around, around, all the way to Big Thunder Mountain, then back past the Columbia and Mark Twain dock, and only *then* do we start looking for places to stand.

I found a place right in front of the River Belle with a decent view, but it wasn't that great so I left VonDrake standing there while I checked with a CM to see if standing on the bridge over Pirates was still allowed. It was and there was even some room still available, so I grabbed VonDrake again and we fought our way through crowds, vender carts, and strollers (geez, people, those are things to carry your kids in, not RAMMING BLOCKS! I swear by this time of night almost everyone with a stroller was *ramming* the crowd trying to get through. Not just trying to maneuver through but deliberately *ramming* people in front of them. I'd never seen that before at a Disney park, though I'd heard about it.) But we made it up on the bridge and found a good spot where VonDrake could see clearly and I could see pretty well. Then we just settled in to wait.

And wait.

And wait.

Ahh, but it was worth the wait. I still love Disneyland's Fantasmic better than WDW's (even though WDW's is great as well), but VonDrake's not too sure which he likes better and is leaning toward World. I think having to stand at an angle for over an hour after having been in the park since 6:50 that morning made a big impact on his impressions of Fantasmic, though. He *really* wanted to sit down to watch it like you can do at World.

Once Fantasmic was over, we made our way to Thunder Mountain for another ride. Then we cut around through Fantasyland on our way over to Jungle Cruise (another of those we really wanted to do at night) and stopped briefly at Coke Corner once more. Yay! Rod and Alan were both there, so we were able to get both our CDs autographed! I was happy as we made our way to the Jungle Cruise and got on as the last two on our boat.

We ended up on the 11:45 ride (park closed at 12) and I must say going on Jungle Cruise after dark just before the park closes is the best time to ride. Jungle Dave (our guide) did an excellent job and was able to throw in several new jokes and take us backward a time or two (like to see O2H -- not only the back side of water, but water backwards, or to see a neat lighting effect on the head trader).

After Jungle Cruise, we considered riding Indy one more time -- after all, we still had 10 minutes until park closing. But having been at the park since 6:50 am and running on only about 5 hours of sleep, compounded with the fact that it was nearly 2am our time, we decided to just return to the hotel for the night.

All in all, I think we had a very productive day! Despite the HUGE crowds (and I guess some of you regulars are going to tell us that wasn't *huge*, it was just big?), we were able to see *almost* all of Disneyland in one day and we never had to wait more than 25 minutes for any attraction. We didn't stop to see any characters, although we saw several running around, we only got to see the mountain climbers (normal and Mickey/Goofy) from a distance, and didn't get to see anything in Tomorrowland, but otherwise we saw pretty much the entire park.

Rajah and VonDrake's Honeymoon
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Old 05-15-2000, 11:42 AM   #2
Mary Jo
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Re: VonDrake Meets Disneyland: Friday May 5th and Saturday May 6th

<font color = navy>Rajah,
What a great report! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, and, of course, enjoyed both of your responses to everything.

Thank you very much for sharing.</font>

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Old 05-15-2000, 04:22 PM   #3
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Re: VonDrake Meets Disneyland: Friday May 5th and Saturday May 6th

WOW! I'm exhausted just from reading this, LOL! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif[/img] Sounds like you guys had a terrific day; I especially loved that you were spouting "in the tiki tiki tiki tiki tiki room" in your SLEEP, Rajah -- that's so hilarious! [img]/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif[/img]

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Old 05-16-2000, 12:46 AM   #4
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Re: VonDrake Meets Disneyland: Friday May 5th and Saturday May 6th

sounds like the both of you had a great time, anyways, just came back from the wdw pirates and it is revamped and is very similar to dl...

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Old 06-16-2000, 08:24 AM   #5
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Excellent report.....

I've never been to Disneyland(WDW, DLP), and after that report I so want to go!!!!!! An excellent read!
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Old 02-28-2001, 04:27 PM   #6
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I know I 'm reading these out of order. What a wonderful day you had. Thanks for posting!
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