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Old 09-01-2008, 11:48 PM   #1
SusanEllen
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Yet Another Happiest Place on Earth Report Disneyland--Day Six, June 14th

[If you’re given to rating the days of your vacation then by definition one of the days will be the worst. Our worst was the sixth day. We just couldn’t get traction to do anything—get started, get on a ride, anything! Of course, “worst” is a relative term and when the days being considered are all Disney days then the rule applies that your worst day at Disney beats most days anywhere else.}

Yesterday was an extraordinarily productive day—and another long one. It started at 6AM when we were awakened by the CMs picketing in front of the Paradise Pier Hotel and it ended sometime after midnight when we rode the Disneyland Railroad from New Orleans Square to Main Street, with me still clutching the remains of the Fantasmic dessert buffet and both of us dripping Splash Mountain river water from the last ride of the day. In between a lot had been packed—an unexpected breakfast at Steakhouse 55, Mickey’s Toon Town Morning Madness, lots of rides in both parks, a couple of relaxing blissful hours at the Mandara Spa, dinner at Wine Country Trattoria, and Fantasmic. That busy day was on the heels of the three very full days that had come before it. With no early morning tour or event today we decided we could take our time about getting ready and out the door. Ultimately I don’t think it mattered much when we got to the parks on this Saturday of Father’s Day weekend. It was inevitable that the crowds were going to be the biggest and most unrelenting of the week. Coupled with this being a holiday weekend was the fact that every Saturday and Sunday are as a rule of thumb busier at Disneyland than any day Monday through Friday. If you’ve been there or read about this as a difference from the guest counts at WDW, you already know that the California Disney parks are still regarded by tens of millions of Californians as their premium “day park” and many passholders and area residents come regularly on weekends. Then consider that the term “Disneyland Dad” entered the language a half century ago to denote the situation where a non-custodial father takes his kids to Disneyland during his precious visitation time. So the equation adds up this way:
Usual weekend crowds + Father’s Day + Disneyland Dads + Area schools finally turned out for summer break = Unbelievably dense crowds. Many of the people in these crowds were not going to be taking any breaks during the day because they’d arrived after an hour or two (or three) drive and had the same drive facing them when they left the parks at the end of the day so, by golly, they were going to stand in line for however long it took to see or do whatever was on their list. When we entered Disneyland just before 11 we immediately understood that this was going to be a day very different from the others we’d enjoyed all week. The ride wait times board showed that every corner of the park was already packed with people willing to stand in lines an hour long (or longer). It was at this point we decided that an early lunch might be a good idea and perhaps we could get in somewhere while all those people were standing in line. So off we went in the direction of the Blue Bayou.


We stopped in front of the castle long enough for a couple of Photo Pass shots, something we’d been forgetting to do since the handful of pictures taken on our first day. Guess in how many of the precious few photo taken I had my eyes closed. Matt, your guess won't count.

Though Blue Bayou has lots of sentimental connections for me, it hadn’t made it on our list of restaurants to be booked ahead of time, leaving dining there this trip a bit to chance. When we turned onto Royal Street we could see a long line whose standby time had not been listed on the board on Main Street—the one in front of the Blue Bayou. Heart in throat we approached the podium thinking there’s no way we’re getting in here any time soon. As we got closer we suddenly realized that the long line led to the door of the Club 33 not the Blue Bayou podium only a few feet apart. The Blue Bayou hostess took our names and told us that if we would wait in the area until seating began at 11:30 (only a few minutes away) we could probably get a table fairly quickly as there were usually a number of no-show PSs. We did a tiny bit of window shopping in the nearby New Orleans Square shops, but didn’t want to stray too far from the Blue Bayou podium and the kind CM we hoped would be calling our names. Standing just next to the line of thirty or so people waiting for the Club 33 door to open, Sharon couldn’t resist asking some of them if they’d be willing to let us have their reservation. Their answer (“No.” spoken with a laugh) was not a surprise. One man added that Disney did a background search on guests who were using a member’s privilege to dine at Club 33. For a second that seemed plausible—until he laughed. There were several children in the line and a couple babies being carried and we couldn’t help thinking that the Club 33 experience would surely be wasted on them. They’d probably be happier with a hot dog and a root beer (which we would gladly buy for them). How cruelly unfair Life can be sometimes! Anyway, the Blue Bayou opened a little early and by 11:30 we were seated at a table under the lanterns on that lovely Louisiana patio where it’s always dusk. We ordered crab cakes and a Monte Cristo sandwich to share (knowing that an entire sandwich is a ridiculously large amount of food for one person). Both were very good. The crab cakes were so much better than the ones I’d had last trip here with the Stringers. Perhaps it helped that these cakes were the very first of the day. We sat in the cool “night” air by the Bayou, listening to the tree frogs and cicadas, and watching the boats drift by on their way to an encounter with pirates.

What followed that lovely lunch is a blur of several frustrating hours as we tried to find a ride that had a reasonable standby line or was still issuing Fast Passes. Incredibly we did not ride a single ride that afternoon. Wasn’t it fortunate that we’d been able to do so many things on all our other days? I couldn’t help thinking what a different (and horrible) experience a trip to Disneyland would have been if we’d been here for a single day and the day had been this one! I suppose a day like this wouldn’t be quite so bad for an annual passholder who lived close by and could drop in for a few hours whenever they wanted (which apparently many Orange County/LA residents do). We finally gave up our quest for a ride and made our way to the special viewing place designated in our vacation package. We’d been directed to the Parade of Dreams launch point, the gate next to It’s a Small World. Had the giant drapes covering most of the Small World buildings (still decorated with lots of gold from the 50th anniversary) not been in place this would have been an excellent spot to take really pretty close up pictures of the parade. As it was, all of the many pictures we both took were slightly spoiled. I refer you to the gorgeous parade photos that David took and included in his Way Out West report for a look at the beautiful parade we saw that afternoon. We did have a pleasant visit with two area women, sisters-in-law, who had managed to get to Disneyland without any children in tow. One of the women had to convince the other that it was all right to come to Disneyland without kids. The reluctant lady was now a convert. She had decided that this place was great without kids. Sharon and I agreed.

Looking at how the crowd just didn’t thin at all after the parade passed we decided the only ride we were going to take that day was the monorail out of the park. We got on at the Tomorrowland station, our destination Downtown Disney.



We made a half-hearted stab at shopping but steadily worked our way back to the hotel. We had an hour or so to relax—and we actually needed that break, perhaps more than any other day so far. Surprisingly, a day not doing much (though trying very hard) was as tiring as the days we’d gotten lots done—in a way more tiring since we didn’t have the rush of energy we’d get when things were going our way.

Our one hope for salvaging this lack luster day was our planned rendezvous with my dear friend Jennifer and her boyfriend Dan who were driving from Los Angeles to have dinner with us at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney. Because of their busy schedules we were unable to get them for a day in the parks and had to settle for a dinner visit. Jenny and Dan had joined us at the Napa Rose a few years back when the Stringers were here. They were both still undergraduates at the University of Southern California back then. Now Dan is a graduate student working on his next degree and doing research in one of the USC science departments and Jennifer is in law school at Pepperdine University. (Pepperdine is in Malibu! It’s “this” close to the Pacific. Why couldn’t I have gone to school in Malibu?! Oh, yes, now I remember—lack of aptitude, grade point, and scholarship money.) Jenny and I had e-mailed about our dinner arrangements for some time before this trip and all four of us were excited about eating at Jazz Kitchen. Afraid our expectations were too high and our memories of the superior food and service of the Napa Rose so strong that Jazz Kitchen suffered by comparison. Actually, I think that even without the Napa Rose benchmark, Jazz Kitchen wouldn’t have fared well in our opinions.

[The restaurant has the look of a New Orleans’ Bourbon Street restaurant, but the architect or the builder (or somebody!) didn’t factor in the number of people to be seated in this restaurant with all its hard surfaces and nothing much to absorb sound and we were only a few steps into the interior courtyard dining room when we knew we were in for a noisy evening. We followed the hostess to the upstairs dining room which didn’t seem any quieter than the courtyard/bar area. To be generous, I should consider that perhaps the intention was to create a party atmosphere with all that noise, but such a thing didn’t suit our purpose which was to use this dinner to catch up on what everyone had been doing. We struggled to hear one another and we certainly didn’t linger long after dinner was over. And perhaps the high noise level is intentional to discourage a two hour meal and to insure quicker turning of the tables. At those prices though (less than but close enough to Napa Rose prices) we should have been allowed a more leisurely meal. In fact they would have gotten another fifty or sixty dollars out of us if we’d had stuck around for dessert. The poor dinner ambience was enough to scuttle my review of this restaurant, but I’m not stopping with that. The service was abysmal. Our server was perfunctory and displayed no interest in doing her job well or helping us. She assured us that the $25 appetizer platter could have something left off and another thing on the dish doubled to replace it. When it was delivered to the table the plate had on it exactly what was described on the menu. We might have mentioned this to her and asked for a correction, but we didn’t see her again until after our entrees were served. She really didn’t take care of us and I have to wonder now, looking at the receipt from the dinner, why I felt it was necessary to give her a 22% tip. Afraid this bad review doesn’t stop with poor ambience and poor service. The food was not the wonderful stuff indicated by the overblown descriptions on the website and the menu. Some of the food brought to us was mediocre, some was just plain awful. I have no doubt that we would have gotten better food (far better) at any T.G.I.Friday’s in the country and at a third the cost. So, if I were posting a grade card for Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney in Anaheim, California (and I guess I am) it would be: Ambience--F (failing); Service--D (not quite failing because I think waiting tables, even when it’s done badly, is very hard work); and Food—C-.]

We left the restaurant after being there barely an hour and for the first time since meeting Jenny and Dan this evening we were able to visit without shouting to be heard. We walked up and down the length of DTD in the balmy California summer night for the next two hours sharing news and telling tales. Jenny and Dan are great company, smart and witty. Sharon, meeting them for the first time this evening, liked them so much she invited them to her home for a visit. We talked with enthusiasm about our adventures this week and Jenny and Dan asked lots of questions. They were especially intrigued by the idea of a segway tour. They decided they needed to find a day in their busy schedules when they could get back here and have some of the fun Sharon and I'd been having. Finally, but too soon, they gave us hugs and left us.




We wandered into World of Disney for some serious nearly last minute gift and souvenir shopping.

The day had unfolded in ways we wouldn’t have guessed when it started. We ended up with a very short list of what had been accomplished today. On the other hand we had a fairly long list of things we had tried to do with little or no success. We had spent a young fortune on a restaurant that had disappointed us. But it was a fabulous day anyway because we had been with dear friends. And after all is said and done, your worst day at Disney beats most days anywhere else.

Day Seven here: Day Seven, June 15th



Index to this report series

Pretrip
Day One, June 9th
Day Two, June 10th
Day Two, Part 2
Day Three, June 11th
Day Four, June 12th
Day Four, Part 2
Day Five, June 13th
Day Five, Part 2

Last edited by SusanEllen; 10-18-2008 at 01:36 PM.
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Old 09-02-2008, 03:00 AM   #2
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Shame about the restaurant Susan, doesn't sound too good to me. As you said I'm sure there are a 1001 reasons why it is set up the way it is.

Reminds me a little of when we saw you last August at Raglan Rd (from the point of view of noise), and whilst the loud atmosphere there would've suited some, not too good when trying to talk.

I have a suggestion for your problems with photos, buy a pair of these...
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Old 09-02-2008, 10:04 AM   #3
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What a shame about the restaurant noise !
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Old 09-02-2008, 10:34 AM   #4
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Great picture of you and the castle. The paving is lined up perfectly with your hand and it looks like you're holding a walking stick.... unless of course that is actually a walking stick
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Old 09-02-2008, 11:16 AM   #5
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Great picture of you and the castle. The paving is lined up perfectly with your hand and it looks like you're holding a walking stick.... unless of course that is actually a walking stick
How funny! You're right. It does look like my friend Sharon is holding a walking stick. She wasn't but could have been--after nearly a week of park feet we were both treading as lightly as possible.
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Old 09-02-2008, 11:28 AM   #6
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Shame you had a less productive day, but it's always nice to catch up with old friends.

Did you manage to get a set of my photos yet from the second place I put them up on?
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Old 09-02-2008, 12:15 PM   #7
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Shame you had a less productive day, but it's always nice to catch up with old friends.

Did you manage to get a set of my photos yet from the second place I put them up on?
Yes, I did. Thank you--and shame on me for not letting you know that before this. I hope everyone interested in Disneyland reads your reports and sees those lovely pictures.
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Old 09-02-2008, 12:27 PM   #8
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Bottom line is: you're right, Susan. Despite the crowds, the noise, the service, and the food ... any day at Disney is better than most days elsewhere.
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Old 09-02-2008, 12:48 PM   #9
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Yes, I did. Thank you--and shame on me for not letting you know that before this. I hope everyone interested in Disneyland reads your reports and sees those lovely pictures.
No worries. Thanks for promoting my report through yours.
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Old 09-02-2008, 01:36 PM   #10
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sometimes days just turn out like that
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Old 09-03-2008, 04:08 AM   #11
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Shame about the poor meal and service I've heard that Disneyland doesn't handle crowds as well as WDW because of the smaller size, DLRP is very similar in that respect (also with the huge surge of locals visiting at weekends!)
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Old 09-03-2008, 06:27 AM   #12
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Shame about the poor meal and service I've heard that Disneyland doesn't handle crowds as well as WDW because of the smaller size, DLRP is very similar in that respect (also with the huge surge of locals visiting at weekends!)

Thanks for your reply, Lizzy. I always like to hear what you have to say. I don't want this reply to your reply (!) to sound like a debate, but would like to expand the discussion a bit. What happens to someone is their reality, so whatever you've heard about experiences at Disneyland and DLRP are true for those people. However, from my experience I would disagree about crowd control in Disneyland and WDW. In two dozen trips (equalling a couple of hundred days) the only time I've ever been afraid for my safety was in MK at WDW after one particular fireworks show when the crowd on Main Street got totally out of hand. There was a noticeable lack of crowd control CMs that night and the few on duty were unable to keep walkways open so the flow of traffic just disappeared into a crush of people. People, no doubt many truly worried about their children, started reacting very aggressively trying to muscle a path for themselves which caused an immediate ripple reaction in the thousands of people packed shoulder to shoulder on the streets and sidewalks. As quickly as we could we worked our way into the ice cream parlor, where it was crowded but the crowd was standing still and not heaving as it was on the street. It was that frightening that it's upsetting to think about thirteen years later. It was the kind of thing you see on TV in those soccer stadium crowd mishaps. Anyway, that happened at WDW. I can see why you might think larger space at WDW would be better for crowds than the smaller DLRP and Disneyland, but I think it depends entirely on the ratio of CMs to guests and the night that things got so scary at MK that number got out of whack.

Having said all that about crowds now, I should say the noisy crowd in my trip report was in a non-Disney restaurant in DTD.

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Old 09-03-2008, 09:58 AM   #13
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Sorry I think I was a bit unclear (re-reading my reply I definitely was!) I just meant with regard to the smaller size of DL compared to WDW rather than the CM's crowd control skills As a slight self-indulgent aside: It's exciting for me to think i'll be at DL in just over 3 weeks! I've really been enjoying the recent DL reports from you, Dana and David
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Old 09-03-2008, 10:23 AM   #14
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Lizzy, you'll almost certainly feel the size difference. As space between attractions is much smaller at Disneyland than WDW the sub-crowds (did I just make up that word?) that gather at the entrances and exits can at the busiest times almost merge so that you have to be sure you're standing in the right queue. Don't fret about it, though. Perhaps because they've had to deal with lots of people in tight spots for so long, Disneyland CMs are usually expert at keeping things under control.

Just three weeks until your trip! Better start packing.
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Old 09-06-2008, 08:48 AM   #15
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Such a shame about the dining Susan, esp after so looking forward to it, however as you said, lovely to meet up with old friends and Im glad the day ended with you having the lovely chatty catch up you wanted at DTD.
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