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Old 05-29-2008, 10:20 PM   #1
stopher1

Wall to wall creeps, and hot and cold running chills! Shh...listen
I have plenty of hill left to climb thank you very much
 
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Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Indiana + AKV, SSR, VGC & Aulani (wishing to be able to ADD VWL to the mix too)
Posts: 14,412

stopher1's SOLO Adventures: DL May '08 - Pt. 1 of 2

I have been enjoying trips to DL and WDW on a solo basis – in conjunction with work trips, for many years, but I have never written a trip report – so bear with me as I share some experiences from last week… JUST A WARNING THOUGH>>> It's LONG. I've chronicled a lot of what I experienced, and then put together a photo log as well. This is just the first day of a two day trip. I'll post the rest later.

Day 1 photos part 1

Day 1 photos part 2


I left Indiana for California on Saturday evening, May 17, arriving in Santa Ana at about 9 pm, stepping off the plane to feel the heat that graced Southern California for several days prior to my arrival. It was about 85 or 90 degrees still, after a day well above 95. I got my rental car, and headed straight down to San Clemente where I was staying for a couple of nights. My father in law has a beachfront condo on one of the bluffs overlooking the ocean a little north of the pier, that each of his kids and their families can use as needed. I love staying there. The view is remarkable, yes, but it’s just such a peaceful place. Waking up to the fresh, ocean air is always a delight. I love being a member of DVC - but I must say that the lack of points, transfer fees, or anything else like that at this particular home away from home definitely is quite sweet!

Living in the Eastern time zone, naturally I my body’s clock was still on Eastern time, so I woke up early that Sunday morning, May 18. I went out onto the patio and sat enjoying the fresh early morning air. After a while, I got ready for the day and then got in the car to drive to my favorite donut shop, got a donut and milk, and headed down to the pier. I was to meet my brother there for breakfast. As I waited for his arrival, I enjoyed watching the early morning surfers attempting to catch some good waves. They weren’t breaking too well, and most of the surfers were disappointed, but I certainly wasn’t. It was great fun just to watch them try over and over again. There were others on the pier as well…some trying their luck with rod and reel, and others simply out for their morning run or walk. After breakfast, and not being able to persuade my brother to join me at Disneyland – I headed back to the condo for another hour or two before heading up the 5 to the “Happiest Place on Earth.”

As I drove, I opted to have lunch before arriving at the park, since I would certainly spend less off-site than on. I grabbed a quick bite in a drive-thru, and then made my way to the resort. I ended up on the 5th level of the Mickey & Friends parking structure – the Donald level, and I was parked in section 2F. It was about 1 pm when I arrived, and there was a steady stream of cars arriving behind me. I made my way over to the large escalators to get down to the tram over to the park. Despite the crowd, I was able to get on the first tram as I walked up, by heading straight for the back of the tram instead of stopping at the first few lines – and we were soon on our way over to the entrance plaza.

I disembarked the tram and decided not to follow the herd heading down the ramp towards the security check-point, but rather took the steps (also at the back of the tram), passing the entrance to World of Disney – and then walked briskly ending up in front of most of the folks that were on the front of the tram! Naturally there was a line at the security check-point and I had to wait. Oh how I wish DL would install a line specifically for “guests without bags” like they have at WDW. I’ve written about this 3 different times now – but so far that complaint has fallen on deaf ears at DL. Oh well – perhaps someday they’ll see what a time saver this could be!

I proceeded to head over to the entrance gate for Disneyland – oh how I love having an AP, and not having to stop and buy a ticket! I got in line behind about 4 other people, down near gate number 20, and was in the park in just a couple of moments. I was accosted by one of those smiling survey takers, and answered her questions as quickly as possible. Then I headed to the left, straight for my favorite tunnel into the park. As I walked, I passed Princess Aurora and Cinderella, happily taking photos with guests, and giving autographs. Soon enough I was passing under my favorite sign – “Here you leave today, and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.”

I came upon Town Square, looking just as beautiful as the last time I saw it (March). It was homey, and felt so good to be there. In front of the restrooms by City Hall was Baloo, waving and giving autographs. I also saw Minnie over by the Opera House, and Goofy was dancing on the steps up to the train station (he was gone before I could get a picture though). I stood for a couple of moments drinking it all in – making more memories for those times when I have to be away (sadly most of the time now). I marveled at how it doesn’t really matter how long it is in between visits – but I always feel so comfortable there. Perhaps it has to do with my growing up years playing in that playground so many times each year with family and friends…or perhaps it was the years that I worked there as a Cast Member…or perhaps it was all those trips with my dear wife in our days before children when we’d go just for dinner several times a week (since we lived just 10 minutes away)…or all the fun trips after my eldest was born introducing him to the magic (aka indoctrinating - ha ha)… I’m not exactly sure what it is – but it’s real.

I began to move up Main Street at a nice slow pace, taking in the various upper floor window tributes – as well as enjoying the vibrant colors of the various shop facades. I’m so thrilled that in Disneyland the Main Street Cinema still shows those wonderful old Mickey Mouse cartoons in glorious black and white – so I stepped inside to enjoy a few moments of laughs with my favorite mouse. As I started back on my journey, I stepped inside the Market House, where I’ve always enjoyed listening in to the old time phone conversation, which I did once more. I was tempted to play checkers, but being by myself – wasn’t quite able to do that this time around.

I stepped back out onto Main Street, and headed north towards the first, and in my opinion, most lovely of the Disney castles – Sleeping Beauty Castle. There are so many wonderful ways to view the castle – from a far, as well as close up. In addition to getting my picture taken in front of the castle, I took time to wander around from west to east looking at and enjoying the many wonderful details that have been added to the castle through the years. I Aurora’s forest friend gargolyes that serve as water drains…I also love the beautiful rose gardens and swans that call the moat home. On the east side is that charming and lovely statue garden – Snow White’s Grotto. The wishing well is nice, but it’s the statues that I love the most.

Moving west, I left the castle area, and found my way to the entrance to Frontierland. Crossing the bridge of the stockade, I found myself in that old-time wilderness settlement. Straight ahead is the landing for the Mark Twain Riverboat, to the left, various shops with their accompanying wooden sidewalk, and to my right were so many people enjoying the shooting gallery – something I enjoyed greatly as a kid, but haven’t done since. I tried my hand at it once again – and found it to be great fun. After leaving the shooting gallery behind, I saw the towering spires of Big Thunder Mountain ( I love that ride!). Not being in a hurry to actually jump on any rides – but rather to enjoy the surroundings, I decided I’d turn left and walk down along the banks of the Rivers of America. I love the busy-ness of the river at Disneyland. Today both the Mark Twain and sailing ship Columbia were plying the waters – as well as the rafts to the island, and the canoes (if only the old Mike Fink Keelboats were still operational).

To my left were the wonderful facades of the Golden Horseshoe, River Belle Terrace and Pirates as I made my way into New Orleans Square. NOS has always been my favorite land at Disneyland. I love the romanticized realism of it – those winding streets, the lacy ironwork, and the remarkable attention to detail throughout. Plus my all-time favorite attraction is found in NOS – which was the first thing I chose to do that day…The Haunted Mansion. Someday I hope to get to Disneyland Paris to see for myself how that version of the mansion plays out (seeing it in books and hearing the soundtrack help, but that just isn’t the same). While I do enjoy the Walt Disney World version (and would probably enjoy the Tokyo version as well, since it’s an exact copy of Florida – there’s just something down right special and wonderful about this ORIGINAL version. I love the architectural style of the exterior; I love the grounds; I love the wicker furniture gracing the upstairs porch; I love the mausoleum walls at the back of the queue; I love the fact that you enter the house from the actual front porch instead of a doorway underneath the house; I love the chandelier inside the foyer; I love the fact that the stretching room is an actual elevator taking the guests down underground to get them underneath the berm and the railroad tracks…done out of necessity yes – but such a charming reality that wasn’t needed in WDW…but very, very cool in my mind. I love the endless hallway; the séance circle and the grand ballroom. I also love the fact that the organ in DL’s mansion was the actual organ prop used by Captain Nemo in that classic film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The other mansions have the organ too, but they are duplicates cast from the original. I also love the fact that when the doom buggies leave the attic to descend down to the graveyard – the WDW version matches the DL version exactly – even though the exterior styles are so very different. DL’s southern plantation style house certainly doesn’t match WDW’s Hudson River Valley Dutch style – yet the imagineers left the plantation style window gables as they were instead of modifying them to match the different exterior style. Very cool, in my mind.

I enjoyed riding through so much, that upon exiting I decided to go a second time – but after that, I decided to move on back around the river. The Mark Twain was just passing the Mansion, so I knew that the Columbia would be coming in to port very soon; which was my cue to high-tail it around the river bend and board the ship. While I love riding the riverboats – I can do that on my next trip to WDW – but I can only sail on the Columbia at DL. I liked being able to get down below decks to see the re-created crews’ quarters, galley, and captain’s cabin as well. As we passed beyond the old settler’s cabin (sad that it no longer burns – I wish they would fix that, but oh well) – it was fun to hear the “first mate” shoot the cannon, and later to see the railroad passing off to the west along the banks of the river. Soon we were rounding the bend passing the Indian Village, and coming up on the old waterfall, left over from the old Nature’s Wonderland train. Our journey was just about complete, as we approached the Frontierland landing once again. I was impressed with the crowd level. Even though the Southern California resident 2fer deal was still allowing people entry into one of the two parks (last date to use it was Memorial Day, I think) – the crowds weren’t that bad. I think the heat was keeping some people away, more than anything else.

I disembarked the ship, and wandered back through Frontierland. I grabbed a Fastpass for Big Thunder Mountain and then took some photos of the gorgeous bouganvillas found throughout the land (I love bouganvilla – especially the red and purple varieties – and miss having them in my yard. We had such a beautiful covered fence when we lived in Orange, CA – but they just don’t grow in central Indiana – just one of the disappointing realities of different climates)… anyway, I went in to the Pin Traders shop in Frontierland to find Stitch pins for my boys, and an Alice in Wonderland pin for my daughter (her new favorite film – watches it daily!). I like to get them a new pin anytime I’m in a location with a “real” Disney atmosphere – Anaheim, Orlando or even New York City for World of Disney (run of the mill Disney Stores in malls across the country don’t count)! All three of them have grown their pin collections over the past 3 years or so on each family trip to FL or CA – and have such fun trading. My sons love Stitch, and my daughter loves princesses and any other character that she gets “in to” at the time.

Upon leaving the pin shop, I headed back out on to Main Street. I was headed for the Gibson Girl to get some ice cream. The line in GG was not terribly short, but it kept moving since they had all 3 registers working, and multiple people behind the coolers making the cones and sundaes. It was a very efficient, well oiled machine of service on Sunday. I was out of line with my sundae in less than 15 minutes. I took my ice cream, and headed to the end of the street to sit on the patio at Carefree Corner. The ragtime pianist was there, and I was able to enjoy people watching. While I was there, a wedding party showed up – though it wasn’t after the wedding. The bride and groom each had an appropriate pair of Mickey ears – hers in white with a veil, and his on a black top hat. Their various attendants were there with them – each with matching mousears embroidered with Bridesmaid or Groomsman on it. I don’t know if they were there in a group before the wedding, or for some reason were there together as part of the honeymoon – but it was fun to think back to my own honeymoon with my dear wife at Walt Disney World. The pianist incorporated a portion of the wedding march into his Disneyfied ragtime piece.

As I finished my ice cream, the Parade of Dreams was about to begin. I didn’t want to sit around watching it, but I did want to see the Prince Caspian pre-parade portion. It wasn’t much – just Caspian on horseback with a couple of attendants – but since it was just two days after the 2nd Chronicles of Narnia film had opened – I was happy to see it as part of the parade. I’m still looking forward to seeing the new film – I meant to do so while in CA, but decided to wait until I could take my boys.

Following my ice cream break, I rounded the corner from Main Street into Adventureland – deciding it was time to see the one and only, original version of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room! I just love those singing birds…my family can’t stand it – so I reveled in it that sunny, Sunday afternoon. I am still so thrilled to see near capacity crowds two years after that wonderful rehab that brought new life into this 45 year old show. The waiting area looks wonderful, and the thatch on the roof is still looking really good. On Sunday, however, I was disappointed to see the fire torches on the attraction sign not burning – but thankfully the other fire torches around the Adventureland sign and around the sides of the Tiki Room building were burning brightly. The show did not disappoint – and I stayed right until the very end…unlike one couple who decided to leave right as the lightening struck after the tikis chanted when “the gods have been angered by all the celebrating” – ugh, the sunlight streaming in from the exit door certainly takes away from the illusion of the sudden rainstorm . (I am still so mad at the folks at WDW for ruining the show there – thankfully I can still enjoy it in Anaheim).

Departing the Tiki Room, I crossed through the stockade gate back into Frontierland headed for Big Thunder Mountain since I was now within my Fastpass window. What a fun ride that is. I’ve always enjoyed it, from the very first summer it opened back in 1979. I remember those 2 years of construction when much of Frontierland was behind construction walls. As a kid I was sad to see the Mine Train being removed – but I was sure excited when BTMRR opened up! And it didn’t disappoint once again. Careening through those buttes at what seems like top speed sure is fun. I love the details all around – but mostly I love how such an awesome attraction was tucked into such a small space – but the level of theming was not compromised. Since my days as a Cast Member I’ve always enjoyed turning my head at specific moments to see the backstage areas where I used to work…as well as the landing tower where Tinker Bell comes in each night the fireworks are on the schedule.

Following Big Thunder, I took the trail around the mountain into Fantasyland. This is another rich detail about DL that I think is just awesome. The Big Thunder Ranch was a fun attraction originally, and it’s sad to now be a shadow of its’ former self, but it’s still an enjoyable spot within the park. The trail is shaded and meanders through the “back woods” – but is such an important walkway for moving traffic. I do wish they had never shuttered the BTR BBQ restaurant (I have fond memories of working there, too), but it is what it is, isn’t it? The ribs were so delicious… oh well.

Fantasyland is so charming. I enjoyed wandering around just taking pictures of the various dark ride facades. Knowing that I’d be back the next day, I didn’t find it necessary to venture on any of the attractions just yet. I wish the imagineers would bring some of the rich detail of the DL’s Fantasyland to WDW – but alas that still hasn’t happened. It was a joy when DL got Village Haus like WDW, but an even bigger joy when the circus tent like facades went away back in ’83. I love watching Dumbo fly in both parks – but it just seems so much better at DL watching him fly over a moat with dancing water fountains. I love the Toad Hall façade, Pinocchio’s facade and the Peter Pan façade – but my absolute favorite is Snow White’s castle-like façade, and watching for the Queen to appear. She’s so meancing – I just love it! I felt like a little kid again, almost giggling each time I saw her. I seriously stood there trying to get her picture, and watching her open and close those curtains at least 5 times. I didn’t time it, but I think it was a couple of minutes in between each time she opened and closed those drapes. Maybe less, in fact it probably was less – but it sure felt like forever before she’d reappear.

I walked through the castle, across that wonderful drawbridge, and then turned left headed for Tomorrowland. I was now on a quest to try and get some photos of the Monorail for a pal who was really hoping to be able to see the new Mark VII red train (or Old Band-Aid as he calls it – since the WDW cars tend to smell like an old band-aid! Ha ha ha). I wasn’t fortunate to see that beautiful new red train that particular day – just the ghastly existing, Year of a Million Dreams emblazoned one that so needs to be replaced. I honestly didn’t think they’d be doing daytime testing of the new one on a Sunday afternoon, but had to check anyway. I proceeded to Space Mountain to check out the standby vs. FastPass wait/return times – and decided I’d wait until tomorrow, and then went into the Star Trader shop to see the new Build a Lightsaber display. It’s not as big as the one at Once Upon a Toy at WDW’s Downtown Disney (oh do I love that store and WISH they’d bring it to DL too) – but it was neat to see every station occupied by anxious little padawans wanting their own lightsabers.

Upon exiting the Star Trader the Jedi Training Academy show was beginning at the Tomorrowland Terrace. I really love that stage, I really like this show and I’m so very glad that they put the two together. I’ve seen it at DL numerous times now, but have yet to see it in FL. I know that the show began in the Star Wars Weekends at Disney-MGM (sorry, I don’t like the DHS moniker), but it just seems to work so well with that awesome, hydraulic stage. (We’ll see it in person in FL this October – and I’m anxious to see how that new permanent stage they built in FL works out). I stood around and watched most of the show, but not all of it… I was afterall, supposed to be looking for the monorail!

Leaving the JTA show, I proceeded around the Submarine lagoon, and got in line for the Matterhorn. It wasn’t very long, so I thought, why not? I love that bobsled! I’ve always preferred the left side (sub side), and once again enjoyed that thrilling ride down those icy slopes. That Abominable Snowman might not have the coolness and size of DAK’s Yeti – but you just can’t beat that wonderful growl and those beaming red eyes!

Storybook Land was next. I don’t ride this one very often simply because it’s a relatively low capacity ride that usually has such a long line, but the line was just quite sparce. I just love going through the mouth of Monstro like Pinocchio. I probably haven’t been on it for about a decade, or when my eldest child was about 2. I know it’s been a long time, since neither of my younger children have ever been on it – Casey Jr. Circus Train yes, but not Storybook Land. I tried to get as many pictures as I could. I love those miniature scenes, and have always been fascinated by the landscaping tricks employed to keep the plants and trees so small. This is a set-up I’d love to have in my backyard – if that were somehow possible. My daughter is so into Alice in Wonderland right now, that I just reveled in seeing the English countryside scene, with the White Rabbit’s hole, too! I was fascinated to see too, how Mr. Toad‘s prime real estate at the head of one island for the placement of Toad Hall had been displaced by the palace of Agrabah…but was very pleased to at least see that it wasn’t removed entirely, just simply relocated further down the river. I was also pleased to see the addition of Prince Eric’s castle – but was not happy to hear that they’ve given over NeverNever Land to become King Triton’s kingdom and Ariel’s childhood home. I missed hearing that the behind the waterfall to the left was NeverNever Land – “because we Never Never take you there.” It was always such a clever way to disguise the boat storage area, and I think it worked much better … but then I also think the ride worked much better with just female guides driving those boats. Call me sexist if you want, but I just don’t believe guys should be driving those little boats. Oh well, whatever. Some people call it progress, I just call it PC gone amuk.

From Storybook Land I took a quick whirl around the tea table (again, I prefer DL’s Mad Tea Party to WDW’s) – there’s just something about those dangling Chinese lanterns. The covered structure over WDW’s version just seems to diminish something for me. I do like the giant tea pot there with the popping up Door Mouse – but something about it being in the middle ruins the entire experience for me… for whatever reason, the illusion of almost running into other teacups just works so much better at DL, since there’s nothing in the center of the main turntable (like at WDW).

I then proceeded up the Small World plaza (sad to see the tarps covering the façade of the “Happiest Cruise that Ever Sailed” – but glad to know that it’s getting an extensive, much needed refurbishment…I’m withholding actual judgement of the rumored additions until after I actually see them – but at first blush I DON’T LIKE THEM). I passed beyond the tarp covered golden spires, and under the train berm into Mickey’s ToonTown. This land is one that I just don’t really like to do very often, simply because it is too crowded typically – but on this particular Sunday afternoon, it wasn’t all that bad. The queue for Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin called for a 30 min. Standby time – so I opted not to spend the time in line. But it was nice to get some photos of the land that I don’t spend much time in. I know we’ll probably end up there this coming July, since both of my boys like both RRCTS and Gadget’s Coaster. Oh well, and my daughter will want to see Minnie’s house (she’s only seen Minnie’s east coast house before…but not the west coast one!)

Leaving ToonTown, I took advantage of the fact that IASW is closed, and so relatively quiet throughout the Small World/Parade Corridor – so I was able to call home to say goodnight to my kids (and actually be able to hear them! Cell phones are a wonderful thing, but sometimes in noisy places like Disneyland – it’s just plain hard to hear, what with the laughter, screams, and general noise of other guests all around you). I sat by the old Motor Boat Cruise, and even though I missed the kinetics of that boring little ride in action, I certainly enjoyed looking at the beauty of the banks surrounding that old waterway. The landscaping has done nothing but improve through the years since it closed. I loved looking at all of the colors in those lovely flowerbeds. Sometimes it’s just so enjoyable to wander around and soak up all that wonderful landscaping. Through the years, Disneyland has definitely become such a wonderful botanic garden. I love looking around just to get new ideas for my own yard for small scale projects. We do have one official Disneyland Rose bush in our garden, thanks to Jackson & Perkins – perhaps it’s time to get some more.

After speaking with my children, I made my way back down through Fantasyland. I took a tumble with Alice through that rabbit hole, and enjoyed meeting up with some of her wacky friends – the Cheshire Cat and Mad Hatter are my favorites – which are yours? And there’s just something so indescribably fun about leaving those cards and the Queen behind in that little caterpillar vehicle, and bursting out onto the windy path that will bring you back down to the ground level (I love how Walt’s insistent desire of plusing the show made the folks back in the day build this ride above Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride in that back corner of Fantasyland – and it’s so funny how the heat from Mr. Toad’s trip to “hell” below you can be felt in that one part of the ride!).

Now it was time to find some dinner. I considered for a moment going to Redd Rocket’s in TL – but I decided I didn’t want pasta for dinner. I strolled over to the Plaza Inn, even going inside – but the menu has changed so much through the years, that it just didn’t strike my fancy (PI used to be my favorite place in the park, but no more). I decided I wanted to try something on the west side…so I headed through Frontierland. I went into the Golden Horseshoe to check out the menu, but it really was no different from the neighboring Stage Door Café (especially since they just use a pass-thru window to serve up the meals inside TGH – and I didn’t want chicken fingers). It was nice to be inside once again – the last time I was in there was for a company Christmas party for my previous employer, and before that was the final performance of the actual Golden Horseshoe Revue… I sure do miss those cancan dancers, and the wonderful show that it was. Funny, I was in a performance several years back at WDW that was the next to last day of their show, too. Blue Bayou sounded wonderful, and would have accommodated me even without a Priority Seating time (too expensive), Café Orleans seemed appealing, but I finally decided on the French Market. I hadn’t eaten there in years, and those wonderful Mint Juleps played on my emotions. I remember days gone by going to the Mint Julep bar and getting one, along with those wonderful fritters, to boot… mmmmmmmm. Just the thought of them now is making me hungry! I had a wonderful meal of fried chicken and mashed potatoes, with an enormous (way too big) garden salad. I couldn’t finish it all. The Disney parks (just like most restaurants in America) could certainly do us all a favor by cutting their portions and prices! It’s sad to see how much food gets wasted at sit down restaurants everywhere. I didn’t NEED, nor did I eat all 3 pieces of chicken – nor did I finish that heaping portion of potatoes, or the entire salad… it was all good, but I just couldn’t eat it all. I would have been much happier with a 1/3 less food, and even $2 less of a charge for the meal.

Following dinner, it was time to phone my wife. By now the kids were in bed, and she could actually talk. I don’t know about other folks when they travel, but phoning to say goodnight to the kids in my house is never a good time to actually receive and maintain my wife’s attention for a phone conversation – so I always call twice…once for the kids, and once for my wife. We had a nice conversation while I sat near the pineapple fountain in NOS outside the train station, and next door to my beloved Mansion. I was able to describe for her a lot of the action that I was seeing, as well as the beautiful colors of spring at Disneyland. We always enjoyed being there together – but her allergies just drove her nuts each spring…so needless to say, she wasn’t entirely sad to not be there. There’s just nothing like a complainer in the bunch at a Disney park (whether it’s for allergies, heat, humidity, extremely long lines, or whatever). Growing up in So. Cal – I never actually any problem with allergies, until I moved to the Midwest. Then I started to suffer from allergies, but not in the spring when things were blooming – rather in the fall when things were changing and dying out. Go figure, I had allergies on this trip to DL. My nose was driving me crazy – but being by myself, who could I complain to? The next guy in line – no way, they’d think I was a loon…so I just kept it to myself, until I was on the phone with my wife. She finally had some satisfaction in my understanding what she endured all those years of DL in the spring! Ha. It was about 7pm when I phoned her – and people were already staking out there spots along the Rivers of America for Fantasmic (at 8:30). As much as I wanted to see the show, there was no way I was going to sit there that long. I’ve done other solo trips in the past, and been able to watch it just fine from the patio of the River Belle Terrace without all the waiting, so I figured if I’d watch it tonight, that’s what I’d do again.

Pirates was up next. The line was nothing as it had been when I passed by it about 5 hours earlier. Earlier in the day the “from this point” sign said the wait was 35 minutes – now it was 5 minutes. Even though this is the ultimate people eating attraction, I was definitely glad I waited. Someday I’d sure like to see and experience the Paris version – the queue and show building is supposed to be remarkable (along with the reversal of the storyline as well) – but hands down, I DEFINITELY prefer this original version to WDW’s POTC. 8 minutes in Orlando – 16 in Anaheim. The damp, musty smells – the darkness of “night” as you approach Lafitte’s Landing, the diners across the way on that Chinese lantern lit plantation patio of the Blue Bayou, the fireflies flitting about, the alligators in the water, the old guy sitting on his porch smokin’ his corn cob pipe… such atmosphere! So much better, IMO, than El Castillo in FL. I love the fact that you meander through the bayou for a while, before plunging over the first drop as the skull gives you warnings about what’s ahead. Two drops, and down into those wonderful caverns. Marc Davis’ wonderful tableaux play out with the various skeletons doing their pirate worst…that wonderful captain’s quarters, and the treasure cave! Adding the chest of Aztec gold from the original POTC film was a cool tie-in as well. The Davy Jones projection works better (I don’t know about it technically – it just really seems to “play” better in the DL caverns than in FL). Then out into the battle scene. I love the Wicked Wench. I know that there are those folks out there that want the ship changed to be the Black Pearl – but I’m glad that hasn’t happened yet, if ever. The cannon fire sure works a lot better now (I got wet several times!), and could feel the “cannon balls” flying over my head. The town scenes have always been favorites of mine. The experience is just so rich – so full of quality and quantity… they just don’t build things like this one anymore, and that’s a shame. I will say, however, that I do prefer the last Jack Sparrow addition better than the DL one – at the end, the WDW treasure room scene just works better than the one that was contrived at DL. It just seems very strained at DL, and a bit more natural at WDW. I don’t know – 3 figures of Jack Sparrow seems a bit much to me – but perhaps that’s just me.

Upon exiting Pirates, I wandered back through those wonderful, richly detailed, highly themed streets of NOS. I ended up back at the NOS Train Station, and watched as a train rolled into the station. I’d read previously about the semaphore that sits at the station – and the fact that it will descend from its’ normally raised position when a train is approaching and wanted to see it for myself… sure enough just as the announcement was being made… “Your attention please…”, the arm moved. I felt like a little kid, all excited and happy to watch real working railroad stuff come to life – and then here came the train into the station. I stood around long enough to watch the engineers blow off the steam, and then add water from the tower into the belly of the beast, and then after the conductor’s “all aboard” – watched as the train pulled out of the station and into the caverns behind the Haunted Mansion. Finally it was time to move on, but since I was right there – another journey into the Mansion was called for. That beautiful old house – someday it would be cool to build a house like that one!

At this point, it was about 8 o’clock, and I was getting tired. I knew that I wanted to say for the fireworks at 9:30 – but that would be about it. I was still on eastern time, and am unfortunately no longer a spring chicken. I headed over the bridge in front of Pirates, into Adventureland. I briefly considered Tarzan’s Treehouse, but decided against it. I never have cared for this treehouse incarnation, and didn’t feel it was worth it to climb all those steps. I passed beyond Indiana Jones & the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. The standby wait was still too long – so I figured I’d wait until the next day.

At the hub I turned right, and ended up going into the Main Street shops. I enjoyed looking around but didn’t buy anything that day. My camera battery was running out, so I wasn’t able to capture anything from the upcoming fireworks show if I took more pictures – but upon my exit into Town Square – there was Minnie – and I just had to get a picture with her (I’ve tried to do this at least once or twice a year every year, since I first kissed Minnie in front of my wife on our honeymoon while onboard the Empress Lilly at WDW for a character breakfast). I really wanted to stay to watch the fireworks, but they were till more than 45 minutes away. I was tired, and still had a 35 minute drive back to my “hotel” in San Clemente. I decided it was time to bid my beloved Disneyland adieu for the night, and head out. Upon leaving the park, I headed back over for the tram to get me back to Mickey & Friends, but thought, why not – and ducked into World of Disney for a few minutes. I looked around and around. I like the flow of this WOD store better than WDW’s, but ultimately really like the one in New York City best of all. I found a few things that I’d like to think about further the next day, and then decided it was time to leave. Upon leaving the store, I chose an exit nearest the back of the trams, and took the stairs slowly…my legs were giving out, and each step was getting harder to make as I slowed the pace. I was dreading getting OFF of the tram back at the parking garage! The tram ride was uneventful, but once again that gross diesel smell wafted backwards – especially as we went under the Disneyland Drive overpass and into the garage for a moment before turning out to the drop-off plaza. That long escalator ride awaited, and then of course – the long walk back to the car. By the time I had reached my car’s row – the fireworks had begun. I missed out on all of the best parts of the show by not being in or around the hub – but I got to see lots of the really big, high in the sky shells go off. I thought back fondly to those years living in Orange when we could see and hear the fireworks nightly. It was certainly a different experience standing there watching the explosions from the 5th floor of the parking garage – but it was still nice to see some of the beautiful colors. I didn’t stand there very long – too many car alarms were going off, and the echoing sounds were too much to bear. I quickly got into my vehicle, and headed out, back to the 5 and my southward drive “home” for the night.

Part 2 will be posted soon... I got the photos uploaded, but I haven't finished writing the report... a busy work schedule and three kids keep my days filled!

UPDATE: Here's part 2... stopher1's SOLO DL Trip_May 18 & 19 - Part 2 of 2
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Last edited by stopher1; 06-11-2010 at 11:10 PM.
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Old 05-30-2008, 12:35 AM   #2
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Hi, I followed you over from the Disney Dadsclub. We will be going in Oct.


When are you going back to DL?
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Old 05-30-2008, 06:46 AM   #3
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Wall to wall creeps, and hot and cold running chills! Shh...listen
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We're headed out the third week of July for a family trip, and we'll be staying at my FIL's condo for the beginning of our trip, and then at the DL Hotel for our DL days.
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My 13,000th Post My 12,000th Post My 10,000th Post

DISNEYLAND: Way too many to possibly count! I grew up 30 mins. from DL. Former CM. AP holder for 20 yrs. Premier Pass AP. All 3 DL Resorts and numerous off-site hotels.
WDW: 58 trips on & off-site, including DVC, Deluxe, Moderate & Value - in 18 different WDW resorts & numerous off-site resorts. AP holder for 5 yrs. Premier Pass AP holder.
AULANI: 1 so far. More to come though, & definitely looking forward to returning!
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Old 05-30-2008, 07:49 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by stopher1 View Post
We're headed out the third week of July for a family trip, and we'll be staying at my FIL's condo for the beginning of our trip, and then at the DL Hotel for our DL days.


Good times....have fun...it must be nice to get to be there so often...I need to work with you....lol
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Old 05-30-2008, 08:30 PM   #5
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JUST A WARNING THOUGH>>> It's LONG.
Holy burn the keyboard up Batman...great stuff...I couldn't sleep last nite and finally have finished!

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Part 2 will be posted soon... I got the photos uploaded, but I haven't finished writing the report... a busy work schedule and three kids keep my days filled!
no wonder it took two weeks to get part one done...I'll look for part two at Christmas!
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Old 05-30-2008, 09:01 PM   #6
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Great TR! I live in Orange--what part did you live in?

It is cool to hear the fireworks at night . .. .
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Old 05-30-2008, 09:12 PM   #7
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Holy burn the keyboard up Batman...great stuff...I couldn't sleep last nite and finally have finished!



no wonder it took two weeks to get part one done...I'll look for part two at Christmas!
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Old 05-30-2008, 10:27 PM   #8
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Hey weve got our flights and car rental booked tonight for last week of Oct.

Its officail Im going to DisneyLand
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Old 05-30-2008, 10:37 PM   #9
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Wall to wall creeps, and hot and cold running chills! Shh...listen
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Holy burn the keyboard up Batman...great stuff...I couldn't sleep last nite and finally have finished!



no wonder it took two weeks to get part one done...I'll look for part two at Christmas!
Yeah well...
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SOLO Adventures: WDW Jun '10 / Triple Whammy WDW Family Trip-Jan'10 / SOLO Adventures: DL Nov/Dec'09 / Father/Sons Adventure May'09
My 13,000th Post My 12,000th Post My 10,000th Post

DISNEYLAND: Way too many to possibly count! I grew up 30 mins. from DL. Former CM. AP holder for 20 yrs. Premier Pass AP. All 3 DL Resorts and numerous off-site hotels.
WDW: 58 trips on & off-site, including DVC, Deluxe, Moderate & Value - in 18 different WDW resorts & numerous off-site resorts. AP holder for 5 yrs. Premier Pass AP holder.
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Old 05-30-2008, 10:37 PM   #10
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Wall to wall creeps, and hot and cold running chills! Shh...listen
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Hey weve got our flights and car rental booked tonight for last week of Oct.

Its officail Im going to DisneyLand
Woo hoo!
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SOLO Adventures: WDW Jun '10 / Triple Whammy WDW Family Trip-Jan'10 / SOLO Adventures: DL Nov/Dec'09 / Father/Sons Adventure May'09
My 13,000th Post My 12,000th Post My 10,000th Post

DISNEYLAND: Way too many to possibly count! I grew up 30 mins. from DL. Former CM. AP holder for 20 yrs. Premier Pass AP. All 3 DL Resorts and numerous off-site hotels.
WDW: 58 trips on & off-site, including DVC, Deluxe, Moderate & Value - in 18 different WDW resorts & numerous off-site resorts. AP holder for 5 yrs. Premier Pass AP holder.
AULANI: 1 so far. More to come though, & definitely looking forward to returning!
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Old 05-30-2008, 10:38 PM   #11
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Great TR! I live in Orange--what part did you live in?

It is cool to hear the fireworks at night . .. .
We used to live near the traffic circle on Chapman - well, we didn't live on Chapman, but near there
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SOLO Adventures: WDW Jun '10 / Triple Whammy WDW Family Trip-Jan'10 / SOLO Adventures: DL Nov/Dec'09 / Father/Sons Adventure May'09
My 13,000th Post My 12,000th Post My 10,000th Post

DISNEYLAND: Way too many to possibly count! I grew up 30 mins. from DL. Former CM. AP holder for 20 yrs. Premier Pass AP. All 3 DL Resorts and numerous off-site hotels.
WDW: 58 trips on & off-site, including DVC, Deluxe, Moderate & Value - in 18 different WDW resorts & numerous off-site resorts. AP holder for 5 yrs. Premier Pass AP holder.
AULANI: 1 so far. More to come though, & definitely looking forward to returning!
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Old 05-30-2008, 10:42 PM   #12
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We used to live near the traffic circle on Chapman - well, we didn't live on Chapman, but near there
cool area--I live in East Orange--in the hills. Just off Chapman too.
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Old 05-31-2008, 01:22 PM   #13
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cool area--I live in East Orange--in the hills. Just off Chapman too.
I like that area, and wanted to move up there - but the company won out and we headed east! Oh well...
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SOLO Adventures: WDW Jun '10 / Triple Whammy WDW Family Trip-Jan'10 / SOLO Adventures: DL Nov/Dec'09 / Father/Sons Adventure May'09
My 13,000th Post My 12,000th Post My 10,000th Post

DISNEYLAND: Way too many to possibly count! I grew up 30 mins. from DL. Former CM. AP holder for 20 yrs. Premier Pass AP. All 3 DL Resorts and numerous off-site hotels.
WDW: 58 trips on & off-site, including DVC, Deluxe, Moderate & Value - in 18 different WDW resorts & numerous off-site resorts. AP holder for 5 yrs. Premier Pass AP holder.
AULANI: 1 so far. More to come though, & definitely looking forward to returning!
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Old 06-02-2008, 07:43 AM   #14
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Hey Stopher, Great detail on the report and I'm loving the pics!

I had a free afternoon during a trip to LA last year and decided to spend it exploring the Disneyland area. I walked around the Downtown Disney area and through the Disneyland Hotel.

I was surprised to see that you could walk right up to the gates of California Adventure and the Magic Kingdom. Amazing how different, yet the same, the Train Station is at DL than at WDW. I stood around in the area between the two for maybe an hour just people watching and enjoying a bit of the Very cool to see the Monorail running around the area! (Yes Chill, I know.... Old Band Aid! )

Having never been to DL before, I wanted very badly to just buy a ticket and explore but I knew better. I'm pretty sure that DW and DDs would have done bodily harm if I had. Just taking a pic of Old Band Aid with the cellphone camera and sending it home got me in enough trouble and I had to make up by making a visit to the World of Disney store.

One day we will visit for real...
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Old 06-02-2008, 08:44 AM   #15
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WOW!! Stoper you have missed your calling. You should be a travel writer. Your attention to detail is outstanding. I must admit I do not know much about DL having never been there but after reading your first day account I feel like I have been brought up to speed.

Thanks for the Old Band-Aid pics I can't wait to ride the new model!!!

I am looking forward to day two.
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