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Old 08-17-2008, 09:17 PM   #1
SusanEllen
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Yet Another Happiest Place on Earth Report Disneyland--Day Five, Part 1 June 13th

[I like surprises and this day was full of them—most of them good and considering it was Friday the 13th that must mean we were double lucky. The first surprise was an extraordinarily good one that began at 6AM, two hours before our alarm clock was supposed to wake us.]

We had shopped the Emporium for an hour after park closing last night and by the time we were back in the room and ready for bed it was well past 2AM. I reset the alarm for 8 giving us as much time as possible before we’d have to hop up to begin a long day at Disneyland that would start with park opening at 9AM and go through the 10:30PM performance of Fantasmic—and if we were tough enough, we’d stay on to midnight and park closing again. We had to be at the gate at the opening time in order to get to the back of the park as quickly as possible for Mickey’s Toontown Morning Madness where we were going to be sworn in as Honorary Citizens—and we weren’t about to miss our chance to be Toons for a day no matter how little sleep we'd get in order to be there for the ceremony. It felt like I’d only just closed my eyes when the alarm went off. At least, I thought it was the alarm until I reached for the clock to discover that it was as quiet as could be—and it was straight up 6AM. What?!!!? Jolted a little wider awake I now realized that the noise that woke me was coming from outside, on the street fourteen stories below. I could tell now that it was voices I heard and lots of them. They were yelling. Chanting and yelling. Sharon was awake by this time, too. Thinking it would stop soon and we could go back to sleep, neither of us got up to see who was causing the racket. When it didn’t let up we had a brief, sleep fogged discussion about who would be rude enough to make so much noise at this time of the morning and we came to the conclusion that this might be a group of high spirited high school seniors who were just leaving DCA after Grad Night Explosion and were having one last hurrah before saying goodbye to each other and their childhood. We’d heard from an Emporium CM that last night was a Grad Night (she told us she was stuck working in the store all night until 6 this morning, poor dear) and that Disneyland and DCA were remaining open until 6AM as a special ticketed event for graduating high school seniors. But after a few minutes, when the chanting didn’t stop and we noticed that every few beats the word “NO!” could be clearly understood, we realized this probably wasn’t a spontaneous pep rally after all. We got up and pulled back the curtain to see about fifty people dressed in various Disney costumes and uniforms (no two the same) marching in a large oval pattern in front of our hotel, some holding signs and all chanting.



It was obvious to us now that this was a picket line of Cast Members expressing their displeasure with the Company in a way that the Company couldn’t ignore. [You will not see this sort of thing at WDW as Florida Cast Members are not unionized.] Also obvious to us was the fact that we weren’t going to be able to get back to sleep with all that noise, so with barely four hours of rest we were up for the day. Oddly we weren’t upset about it, I suppose because we were both so excited about today’s plans that we just looked at the early wake up as bonus time. We talked about how smart we were to have cancelled our booking at Steakhouse 55 for this evening. Until that change we had four major things with fixed times on the schedule for today—Mickey’s Toontown Morning Madness, our Mandara Spa appointment, Steakhouse 55 for dinner, and the Fantasmic Dessert Buffet. After several jam packed days in a row in the parks we had realized that our Friday, especially the afternoon and evening, were a little overbooked and we had one awfully inflexible schedule on our hands. Missing Steakhouse 55 seemed a shame, though, because neither of us had ever been there and the CM who had recommended it when I was making plans for this trip was definite that this newly refurbished and redecorated restaurant was the place not to miss. But we resigned ourselves to the fact that this would have to be something on our list for the next trip. We chatted on. The marching CMs chanted on. Time moved on. We decided to go ahead and get ready to leave for the day and that’s when it finally dawned on me, that if this picket line continued and if there were another at the back door of the hotel, it would mean that the only way we’d get to Disneyland would be by crossing a picket line. I had a brief moment of panic as crossing a picket line is not within my politics. Sharon had the good idea to call the front desk and ask what was happening now in the hopes of finding out what would be happening in the next hour. She was told that indeed this demonstration was due to a contract negotiation impasse between the CMs union and the Disney Company and then she was asked if we were inconvenienced in any way because of the picketing. Quick thinker that she is and always one for the direct approach, Sharon said, “Well, a little. We didn’t plan to get up at 6. Will we be getting free stuff?” Yes, indeed. If we would stop at the Guest Services desk we could pick up our vouchers for breakfast at any of the resort hotels—the PCH Grill here at Paradise Pier or Storyteller’s Café at the Grand Californian or—wait for it—Steakhouse 55 at the Disneyland Hotel! Fate and organized labor had seen to it that we weren’t going to miss Steakhouse 55 after all. And we weren’t going to have to forfeit a big chunk of time later in our busy day to eat there. And Disney was paying for it! The picketers picketed from 6AM to 8AM (a planned demonstration rather than a strike, thank goodness), then left, I suppose to go to work doing what they do every day to make our vacations happy ones, and we were free to leave our hotel and head for the Disneyland Hotel with clear consciences and breakfast vouchers.

We had both read about Steakhouse 55, so knew that until the recent refurb it was Granville’s Steak House—named for Bonita Granville the movie star wife of the builder and original owner of the hotel and friend of Walt’s, Jack Wrather. Thirty years after it was built the Disney Company bought the Disneyland Hotel (in 1988) in anticipation of Disneyland’s expansion from theme park to resort. The 2004 restaurant re-do paid homage to the Granville/Wrather era even as it added a major amount of Walt to the theming. The primary decorations are gorgeous black and white photos of Hollywood elite from the 1930s, 40s and 50s, many with Walt in the picture, too.






In this photo Walt is flanked by two Oklahomans--you recognize Sharon on the right, of course, and that's Will Rogers to the left of Walt.

Steakhouse 55 would be a lovely place for dinner, very elegant, very intimate. It’s a far fancier eatery for breakfast then I’m used to—that’s not a complaint. Our server was of Napa Rose caliber, friendly but very professional. The dining room was only sparsely populated, though I know there were many breakfast eaters in the hotel that morning. We must have passed two hundred of them milling about the lobby waiting to be seated at a character breakfast in Goofy’s Kitchen. Very noisy out there. Very quiet in here. This was a deluxe way to start the day and I could get used to it. The food was excellent—the bacon, superb. [If you just read that and thought “American bacon!! Superb? I don’t think so!” I would understand that response. I, too, have eaten at IHOP and Denny’s. To be fair to those two fine restaurant chains, most restaurant bacon in the US comes to the table either limp and translucent or burned all to hell. (Can I say that on DIS?) As you know, American bacon has lots of fat, which is what makes it so tasty when it’s done right, but also is what makes cooking it right so tricky. It’s a labor of love (and a little dangerous) to stand close to frying bacon, the kind of thing your grandmother would do for you. I think that’s what drives many of us to keep ordering it, the hope that this time the cook will care like Grandma—and this time the cook did! I really wish I’d asked to meet the Steakhouse 55 fry cook. I would have gently shaken his burned and blistered hand. That bacon was a culinary high point of a vacation that was filled with remarkable food.]

Out the door of the Disneyland Hotel and onto the walkway through Downtown Disney, we were at the gates of Disneyland in mere minutes arriving just before the park opened. As soon as we were allowed in we hurried up Main Street, around the Hub, through the Castle, to the back of Fantasyland, stopping at the gate of Toontown just long enough to hand over our Morning Madness vouchers, then straight on in not stopping until we reached City Hall. There we found a little patio table and chairs where we sat waiting for the citizenship ceremony. [Mickey’s Toontown Morning Madness is a vacation package perk, so in theory only Disney hotel guests can attend this event. It occurs three times a week at park opening, which is actually an hour earlier than Toontown’s regularly scheduled opening. There were a lot of people crowded around the porch of City Hall waiting for Mayor Mickey’s appearance, but not nearly so many people as would be walking around here when the gate opened for all other guests in about an hour.] Our wait wasn’t long. With much pomposity and flair, the Master of Ceremonies introduced his Honor Mayor Mickey who stepped up to the railing accompanied by Minnie. I’m not sure what her official capacity was, but then we never do know exactly what Minnie’s status is, do we? Mickey delivered his proclamation and then asked us the official questions of citizenship to which we all loudly answered, “I do!” He declared us all Toons for the Day and welcomed us into the Toontown community. This inspiring ceremony was followed by much energetic dancing, singing, and flag waving.













Our first ride was Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin. This ride is so much fun. The queue is so rich in detail taken right out of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?that by the time you reach the loading area you feel like you’re in a cartoon. I’m sure I read somewhere that the Imagineers took a teacup from the Mad Tea Party and put it on the track of Pinocchio’s Daring Journey when they were working out how to do Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin. When you ride it you’ll know that story is true. You’ll be sitting in a cute little yellow cartoon taxi as you ride through scenes from the movie but if you turn the steering wheel you’ll be spinning like a teacup even as you’re moving along the track.




A tiny photo borrowed from Google Images.


This one's for Kevin. (He loves the Weasels.)



Next a quick ride on Gadget’s Go Coaster. It's fun and fast and just about the size of Goofy’s Barnstormer in Magic Kingdom. We walked through Toontown, our town today, where we saw some of our famous neighbors out among the new citizenry.







We left just as the Morning Madness hour ended and made a beeline to the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage in the resurrected submarine lagoon in Tomorrowland (situated just across the walkway from the Matterhorn that’s in Fantasyland). The newest E-ticket ride, it was inevitable that Nemo would have the longest queue every day we’ve been in the park as lots of guests have been willing to stand in line for a first ride on the submarines. Though the Nemo Voyage was going to be a first for us this actually wasn’t going to be our first ride on these submarines. I’d ridden in one of them 48 years ago when my Mother took my sister Sally and me on the most spectacular vacation of our childhood—to Disneyland when I was thirteen years old and Disneyland was only five! Sharon also had ridden the submarines as a child, but neither of us as adults had seen the lagoon open and the submarines operating. Nemo was on our Must Do list and we’d simply been waiting for the best opportunity to ride it. This morning we considered the pertinent factors on our march to the lagoon: 1) Disneyland had already been open for an hour during which time we knew the Nemo queue would have been steadily growing, but also knew that the line was not likely to be shorter at any time before the end of the park day. 2) Fast Pass wasn’t available to us for this ride. 3) The posted time when we arrived at the entrance to the zigzag was only 55 minutes, the shortest time we’d seen so far. 4) The morning air was still pleasantly cool and neither of us had even a hint of “park feet” this early in the day. Adding it all together we decided to join the line as it seemed this was going to be our best bet (But then, we didn’t know what Fate had in store for us on Sunday). Much of the zigzag was covered by huge umbrellas and having that little bit of shade made the wait in full morning sun more comfortable. Within a very few minutes we were no longer at the end of the line—so many people quickly filled the zigzag that the number of waiting guests doubled and we found ourselves in the middle of a very long line. We snapped photos and talked about what we’d been doing and were going to be doing and then a voice behind us said, “Excuse me. You seem to know your way around here. Would you help us?” We turned to meet a beautiful young woman and handsome young man. They told us that they were in Anaheim for a conference that had finished the day before and on a whim decided to change their travel plans and stay over one more day to visit Disneyland when while getting to know to each other they discovered that neither of them had ever been to Disneyland. They had come to the park that day with no preparation, no plan, and no idea what they should do to make the most of their one day. Their question was: Would we help them? The real question was: Could anyone stop us?! For the next 45 minutes Sharon and I told them everything we knew about Disneyland and gave them a list of things we thought were too good to miss with an explanation of what each ride and attraction was so that they could choose what sounded like most fun to them. They seemed genuinely interested in what we were saying and paid such close attention that when they asked questions we could see that they were forming a plan for the rest of their day. No wonder these two had been sent to represent their companies—once they realized they’d come to a place that was no ordinary amusement park they were doing research on the fly to come up with a plan so as not to waste an unexpected opportunity. The four of us climbed down into our submarine and went on the hunt for Nemo. When we climbed back into the daylight we wished each other well and went our separate ways.






Fairly sure that much of the seascape is from the original submarine ride. The projection of Nemo and Friends is similar to that at WDW, however there's more of the story presented here.





Over to Space Mountain where we found a line longer than we were willing to endure so we picked up Fast Passes. The return wasn’t until mid-afternoon at the time we’d be at the Mandara Spa, so we pocketed the FPs to use when we returned this evening for Fantasmic. We only had to stand a few minutes in line to do Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters. Exiting the ride, we strolled though the Little Green Men Store Command (gift shop) and crossed the walkway to Star Tours. The wait wasn’t too long and we were on and off in short order. It seemed like a good time for a shopping break, so out of Tomorrowland and back to Main Street we went, stopping at an ice cream cart for Sharon to get an ice cream sandwich and me to get a Mickey bar.

Shopping today had a purpose--no random meandering this day. We were on our way to Disney Clothiers. I’d promised to pick up three long sleeved dress shirts (light blue in color with a small Mickey appliqué on the pocket) for my friend Sandy who wanted them for her husband. Matthew is a great Disney fan and though he is obliged to wear a suit and tie to work every day, Mickey is always under his jacket, next to his heart. Unfortunately, since the Disney Stores only carry resort wear for adults these days, the only place Matthew can find new dress shirts for his wardrobe is on Main Street in Disneyland or Magic Kingdom , so when it’s between Disney trips for them Sandy asks friends who are going to pick up what needs replacing. Since our shopping list was so specific, it didn’t take long to complete our task and we walked out of the store discussing the dilemma we suddenly had. If I have to face a dilemma this is the kind I prefer—what do with a bit of extra time at Disneyland?! We had about an hour and a half before we needed to be at the spa. It didn’t seem to be quite enough time to park hop to DCA and do much and still have time to get back to the hotel to clean up a bit before the spa. On the other hand, it seemed like entirely too much time to squander at the hotel just getting ready for the spa appointment.

Part 2 continues immediately. . .

http://www.disboards.com/showthread.php?t=1923702

Last edited by SusanEllen; 06-22-2014 at 09:41 PM. Reason: Left off link to next segment of trip report
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Old 08-18-2008, 06:48 AM   #2
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I was reading about the protest on the Disneyland board a couple of days ago, glad to hear that Disney compensated you for the disruption and I guess in the end it all worked out great with the delicious breakfast I'm weird and love the US bacon, especially when it's applewood smoked. I like my bacon burnt to a crisp and never have it at home so it's a vacation treat
I'll make a point to get to the Nemo subs early, a definite must do for me! So kind of you and Sharon to help that couple, I think it's the little random acts of kindness from guests that add to the Disney magic.. I remember last year at WDW Steve lost a pin back and a woman near us asked if he'd like one of their spares. Just shows how memorable a small gesture can be
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Old 08-18-2008, 12:26 PM   #3
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Great first part of the day Susan.

We opted to do Nemo at the other end of the day, just after the fireworks where we found a line about the same length as yours. Although we didn't have to worry about the sun there was a rock concert going on just across the way from the queue line, which didn't impress Dad too much!
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Old 08-18-2008, 03:23 PM   #4
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Great
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Old 08-20-2008, 02:56 AM   #5
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Good morning's work I say Susan.

Shame that the hotel doesn't supply hot tar and feathers, as from the height of your room you could've imposed some medieval type punishment on those troublesome CM's who ruined your sleep!

That having been said, getting a free breakfast at the Steakhouse is a good conclusion - nothing like a nice steak first thing in the morning I say. Or, as someone else once said "Live you life so that whenever you lose, you are ahead".
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Old 08-20-2008, 03:14 AM   #6
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Wierd start to the day but it turned out so well
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Old 08-20-2008, 10:09 AM   #7
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Free breakfast? What a great start to the day! Very sensible to queue for the Nemo ride before you had park feet, we did it in the afternoon and I could hardly stand!

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Old 08-22-2008, 02:53 PM   #8
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Not the best start to the day Susan, however great day overall, lovely to see the next parts of your trip reports
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Old 09-14-2008, 03:43 PM   #9
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love reading your reports. Sounds like you have had such a great start so far especially breakfast



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Old 09-15-2008, 08:51 AM   #10
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Steakhouse 55 looks like just my kind of thing. Your Toontown photos really evoke the carnival atmosphere, but I'm afraid I would have had to skip that rather than forfeit a steak for dinner.

In what way does the Nemo Voyage differ from its predecessor? The photos look pretty similar to ones we took on the 20,000 Leagues ride way back when.
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Old 09-15-2008, 09:55 AM   #11
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The Nemo submarines ARE the 20,000 League submarines and they use the original track. The difference is the Nemo storyline and lots of projected characters ala the few at the end of the Nemo ride in EPCOT.

Toon Town Madness isn't what scuttled the Steakhouse 55 dinner. It was actually the race from the spa to dinner to Fantasmic that decided that dinner's demise. And you know, Debbie, I live in cattle country where the average steak joint can rival the best California has to offer. You ought to come test that statement for yourself sometime, you hear?
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Old 09-15-2008, 11:09 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SusanEllen View Post
You ought to come test that statement for yourself sometime, you hear?
You know I will.
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Old 09-15-2008, 11:17 AM   #13
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What a great day so far despite being woken up so early

Your photos are lovely
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Old 10-21-2008, 09:08 AM   #14
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I'm glad you received some recompense for the early disruption Susan! Always pays to ask
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