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Old 09-15-2008, 02:52 AM   #1
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Yet Another Happiest Place on Earth Report Disneyland--Day Seven, June 15th, 2008

Index for Days 1-6

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
Day Six, June 14th

[As always must happen, the last day of vacation arrived. I didn’t have expectations of doing much in the few hours that I knew would fly by before the shuttle picked us up to take us to the airport. I thought at best we would have an hour or so in one of the parks, just a quick trip to get a little use out of the last day on our passes, but I was wrong. We rode an astonishing number of rides that had not yet been ridden this trip and explored a section of Disneyland that I’d never seen on any trip—and we did it all in a park day that only lasted for us until noon. Disneyland called it a Magic Morning. It was well named.]

We’d had a week of long days filled with almost more fun than two people could handle, but we knew there was still more fun to be had and agreed that our remaining time shouldn’t be wasted on sleeping and that we could rest once we were back home. To say that Sharon was a willing co-conspirator this entire trip doesn’t do her justice. She was simply unstoppable and in fact, is the one who suggested the ambitious plan for our last day. She was formulating it as we wearily walked back to the hotel last night at the end of the extraordinarily crowded Father’s Day Saturday that had proved so unproductive. Sunday was a Magic Morning and Disneyland opened at 7. Sharon suggested that we have everything packed before going to bed; that we set the alarm for a time early enough to allow us to be dressed, out the door, and at bell services desk to drop off our bags by 6:30. Amazingly, we managed this. Sharon grabbed a coffee from the coffee shop in the lobby and we were out the door. After years (and years) of visiting Disney parks without ever arriving before a gate opened, here I was once again this trip standing in the early morning waiting for the chance to be one of the first of the day to walk along Main Street. As crowded as Disneyland had been the day before we weren’t sure what to expect and were pleasantly surprised to find rides weren’t full and lines were short if they existed at all. There were obviously fewer people here—lots fewer. Apparently the families celebrating Father’s Day had all come yesterday. Perhaps more would be here later, after Church or letting Dad sleep in a bit, but for now the park was relatively empty—an unexpected turn of events for a weekend.

Sharon and I stepped through the Castle to find we had Fantasyland nearly to ourselves.

Realizing this would be our best opportunity to get on Nemo without a long wait, we headed straight to the submarine lagoon (on the border between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland) where we walked right up to the loading dock and were seated in our submarine—total wait time=two minutes.

Across the walkway we went to Matterhorn where again we walked on.

We moved from ride to ride in Fantasyland with no need to backtrack or adjust the plan because of a long standby line. We walked on Alice in Wonderland, the tea cups at the Mad Tea Party, and the boats of Storybook Land. Peter Pan did make us wait for three or four minutes, but Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and Snow White’s Scary Adventure let us amble along the queues and hop on.

That's Matterhorn in the background--another example of how close things are in this cozy little park.

We finished our run through Fantasyland with a ride on King Arthur’s Carrousel. Having the luxury of time afforded us because there was no long line of merry-go-round riders waiting for us to move a little faster, we were able to take several photos of the special carrousel horse Jingles pointed out to us by our guide during the Walt’s Footsteps tour.

Jingles, the carrousel's lead horse (and reportedly most popular horse), was "goldenized" for Disneyland's 50th anniversary. Just this past April Jingles was dedicated in Julie Andrews' honor for her service as honorary ambassador of the 50th celebration. You can see her initials and a golden silhouette of her Mary Poppins character on the saddle.

We hadn’t been in the park for two hours yet and we’d ridden Nemo and eight Fantasyland rides all of which usually have long (or very long) standby lines and not one of which has Fast Pass. Sharon pronounced this Disneyland at the crack of dawn foray “The best way to go!!!” and I agreed and suddenly with everything going our way again the frustrating disappointments of yesterday were lifted from us replaced by a comforting feeling that, though we were approaching our final hours of this fabulous trip, once again all was right with the world.

Through the Castle, skirting the Hub, we made a beeline for Indiana Jones. The standby line showed 10 minutes, a remarkably short wait time worthy of being photographed.

We moved quickly through the maze that is the gorgeous Indy queue and would have been in our jeep in less than 10 minutes, except for a break down which caused a short delay. Even so we were loaded and bouncing through our adventure in far less time than usual. Getting on and off rides and getting from place to place was so easy in this uncrowded Disneyland. We’d certainly had fun throughout the busy week, but this morning without the need to maneuver through densely packed park crowds or to be at a tour start point or the door of a restaurant at an assigned time, we moseyed from Land to Land choosing whatever rides caught our fancy and had a great time. It was--and here's a word I don't often associate with a Disney trip--relaxing. Without being surrounded by the collective energy of thousands of guests bustling about with their own frantic agendas, we could relax and enjoy this place in a way so different from the usual experience, we could feel the difference.

Sharon has fond memories of chasing around Tom Sawyer Island with her brother and cousins on many trips here when they were little kids. It had been years since she’d been on the island and I’d never been there. We headed for the loading dock for the river barges, stopping just long enough to pick up a proper park breakfast of popcorn and churros. Actually, Sharon had her popcorn in hand and had wandered down to the dock while I was still in the churro line. Here’s a way to illustrate just how laid back the morning was: When Sharon declined the CM’s offer to help her board the barge because he was ready to cast off, she thanked him but said she was waiting for me to arrive from my churro mission and we’d catch the next barge. That’s okay, he said. We can wait for her—and they did! The other guests on the barge (there were just four) were apparently in relaxed mode, too, and even though I was the cause for a delay, they greeted me pleasantly as I boarded.

The island has had a little makeover in recent times—things have not so much been changed as renamed. Though called Tom Sawyer Island from its beginning I don’t think there was ever any Disney connection to the character Tom Sawyer (except possibly Walt’s appreciation of Tom’s adventurous spirit) until the Disney live action movie Tom and Huck that came out in the mid ‘90’s, forty years after the first explorer set foot on the island. Following the success of the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy the island was renamed Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island and now honors a curious combination of Disney movie characters. The caves and paths that Sharon remembers from her childhood are as they always were except for the new signage.

We covered the island locating the things that Sharon remembered so well. We managed to make it through the cave maze but not without me bumping my head very hard when I stood up in an area where the ceiling clearance was just short of 5 feet and 1inch!

We covered the entire island, tried to peek through the gates of the CM only bit that is no doubt the storage place for the Fantasmic props, and stood on the stage just where Mickey stands during Fantasmic. It was interesting and slightly disorienting to view New Orleans Square, the Haunted Mansion, and Splash Mountain from an entirely new perspective.

Sharon said there was one thing on the island that she remembered that she most definitely wouldn't do again--the pontoon bridge. When she was a little girl she had been lured out onto the bridge by her brother and cousins and then found herself stuck in the middle afraid to move for fear the swaying bridge would dump her in the water--but she thought I should try it! The crossing took less courage than posting this photo Sharon snapped of me bent over clutching the hand ropes. Not the most flattering angle for a photo!

On another nearly empty barge we were carried back to the mainland and here’s when we hit a snag in an otherwise idyllic morning. We tried to see the Indiana Jones interactive show that’s being staged this summer in the old Aladdin’s Oasis dinner theater between the Adventureland gate and the Jungle Cruise. We’d been in line for a few minutes when two CMs came out to tell us that the small theater was full and we should come back twenty minutes before the next performance to insure getting in. Doing some quick math we decided that we had just exactly enough time to find brunch/lunch, to make it back for the next show (including that 20 minutes), to watch the show, and get back to the Paradise Pier Hotel in time (just!) for the shuttle taking us to the airport. So, off we moved at the fastest clip all morning to the Carnation Café on Main Street only a few minutes away. Unfortunately, other guests had decided this was the time to stop for a meal, too, and the thirty minute wait time looked likely to be accurate. So, off we tromped deeper into the park hoping that the crowd that was just starting to swell as midday approached hadn’t moved too far beyond Main Street yet. But they had. The line out the door of the River Belle Terrace in Frontierland was even more discouraging than the one we’d seen at Carnation Café. Backtracking through Adventureland to size up our possibilities of getting in the next Indy show we managed to talk some sense into ourselves. We’d finally fallen prey to “last minute panic” and were no longer able to deny that our time in Disneyland was just about over for this trip. So we turned away from the Indiana Jones show queue, heading toward Main Street.

Our revamped plan was to return to the hotel a little earlier than we’d thought we would originally and have a quick lunch at the hotel’s grill or the coffee shop. This plan gave us a little more time to spend in Disneyland so we decided to end this trip as we’d begun it, shopping on Main Street. Being mindful that whatever we bought now would have to be stuffed into already bulging luggage didn’t seem to slow us down much and we collected several large shopping bags between us. Out the gate, through DTD and one last time through the Grand Californian lobby, we arrived at the hotel with just enough time to collect our suitcases and repack them while waiting for the coffee shop to make our salads—and be ready for the shuttle that picked us up right on time.

Our driver was talkative and friendly. He was working on Father’s Day because he had five kids to support. He asked us about our vacation, our work, and our politics. When he realized that he was going to be dropping us off at different terminal buildings and that I had a departure time two hours after Sharon’s he devised a plan for us that involved me checking my bags, then leaving my terminal and working my way to Sharon’s then returning to my building after her plane took off. He gave me detailed instructions for getting from one building to the other. He was so earnest and enthusiastic about helping us and seemed uneasy at the thought of us waiting for our planes by ourselves, that I didn’t have the heart to tell him I have recently been regarded as somewhat of a security risk. I didn’t even want to think what would happen to me if I dropped off my luggage and then tried to leave the building!

I thanked the driver for his great advice, hugged Sharon goodbye with promises to talk soon, and wrestled my luggage through the airport doors. I was directed to join a rather full zigzag and smiled that this seemed an altogether appropriate way to end a Disney vacation. Directly ahead of me there was a little family, a dad, mom, and two pre-teen daughters. We chatted companionably as our line moved along, then switched back when we came to the turn in the rope-lined lane. Now moving in the opposite direction we began to pass a new group of people and a woman in that lane looked at me and said, “I think I can guess where you’ve been!” [ I should explain that I was wearing an ankle length dress that was covered with dozens of smiling Mickey faces, Mickey earrings, and Mickey watch. The fabric of my purse was a Mickey print. Also hanging from my arm was a large black tote bag decorated with Mickey icons and I was dragging along behind me my Mickey and Minnie luggage with Mickey icon luggage tags dangling.] “I’ll bet you can,” I said. A friendly exchange like that between people caught in an airport security line isn’t all that surprising, however this woman continued with an unexpected enthusiasm. “How long were you there?” she asked. I told her I’d spent a week at Disneyland and then for some reason (Okay--the reason is I talk too much!) I went on to tell her that I used to make an annual Disneyland pilgrimage with my late husband, but that it had been three years since I’d been back. Because I’d been away so long I made this an exclusively Disneyland trip and that we had stayed at the Resort the entire week. Then she became really animated and said, “Oh, and there’ve been so many new things since you were there last!” I told her how I’d ridden the submarines 48 years ago and what fun it was to ride them again this trip. Now she was bouncing with glee as she said, “You know, they’re the same submarines?!” Then all of us in the line shuffled forward a few steps and she moved east while I moved west and the gentleman behind me picked up the conversation with her. The woman next in line who was obviously traveling with the lady I’d been speaking to smiled and said something to me in a quiet voice. I leaned toward her and said, “Sorry, I have a little trouble hearing sometimes.” She leaned in and cutting her eyes toward her companion she told me, “She’s the assistant to the Vice President of Disneyland.” Oh my word! I think I made her day.

Once clear of this initial zigzag it was on to the check your luggage step and then the walk through the screener with your shoes off where I was treated to another extended search and pat down in a little glass room where I could watch all the other less threatening passengers file by on their way to their gates. This time one of the guards attached a holographic sticker to the back of my boarding pass and sternly advised me not to lose that sticker or I wouldn’t be allowed on the plane. It was at that point I knew for sure it would be a very bad idea indeed to try to leave this building in a quest to find Sharon’s terminal. So with as much dignity as I could muster I stepped out of the glass security search cubicle and walked the long hallways, turning as the signs indicated, until I reached my gate, the last gate on the concourse. Because we’d timed the shuttle for Sharon’s flight, even with the extra zigzag and my special security screening, I arrived at the gate nearly three hours early. I’ve never seen such an empty airport. It’s a good thing I wasn’t up to something evil because for the next couple of hours I was totally alone, the ONLY person in this end of the terminal.

I used the time to catch my breath, reorganize my carry-on bag, and think about the incredible week just past. I started the decompression process necessary when moving from the world designed by Disney to the other world, the one back home. I had the "lounge" to myself until about 45 minutes before the flight when people began to drift in and fill some of the chairs around me. Boarding began on time. Once again it was a forty (or so) passenger jet. My seat was 1A, the very first seat in the small jet, a single seat directly across the aisle from the galley. No first class seating on this jet, but first class leg room for me here in the front--and an upclose view of the business of flying. I heard the conversation of the pilots until the cockpit door closed just before take-off. They were only about 8 feet away. 1A was at the same time--a solo/aisle/window seat. The view of Southern California in the late afternoon summer sun was spectacular. We seemed to be flying closer than usual to the earth or maybe it was just that there was no cloud cover to block the view of the densely built areas (marked by endless suburbs, highways, and greenery) that immediately gave way to the desert just beyond the urban sprawl. Normally on a flight I would watch the ground for awhile and then when we climbed above the clouds I would open my book and read the rest of the way home, but this time we kept the ground in sight and I never opened my book for the entire three hour flight. I watched the terrain change as we flew across the California, Arizona, and New Mexico deserts, fascinated by my bird's eye view of the river valleys that were green slashes in the red earth and the buff colored sand. I couldn't believe how enormous and how long the cracks in the earth were that I knew were marked as canyons and arroyos and gulchs on maps for people traveling on the ground. As we traveled east we moved through three time zones leaving a beautiful California day behind us as we hurtled toward an Oklahoma night. Somewhere over the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma the earth turned green below us just about the time the sky began to darken. The last half hour of the flight was through a clear night sky. This was the last ride of the vacation and taking nothing away from Disney, it was one of the best. The lights of the Tulsa skyline welcomed me home.

It was our pleasure to share our trip with you. Sharon and Susan

Last edited by SusanEllen; 10-22-2008 at 10:46 PM.
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Old 09-15-2008, 03:07 AM   #2
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Excellent report Susan.
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Old 09-15-2008, 06:05 AM   #3
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A lovely last day and great conclusion to your trip
Me , OH , DD age 2 , DD due September 2014
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Old 09-15-2008, 07:56 AM   #4
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Thanks very much for your excellent report Susan. It brought back many happy memories of our time spent with you in Disneyland.

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Old 09-15-2008, 10:04 AM   #5
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What a lovely last day Susan and I love your description of your amazing flight home.

I've really enjoyed reading your report and I'm so pleased Sharon knows how to have as much fun as you do.

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Old 09-15-2008, 11:15 AM   #6
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Nursing Louis for a couple of hours has enabled me to read your final three reports. Congratulations on a thrilling series and even more congratulations on completing the task - I know it turned out to be a tad more onerous than you'd anticipated. I loved the story of your encounter with the VP's assistant!

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Old 09-15-2008, 11:40 AM   #7
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A great last day Susan (and more great pics too). Thanks for sharing your fab reports with us, I've really enjoyed reading them
Mandy xx

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Old 09-15-2008, 01:47 PM   #8
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Excellent ending, Susan! Thanks so much for taking us along!

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Old 09-15-2008, 02:48 PM   #9
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Great reports Susan. I can't believe you practically walked on to Finding Nemo!

I currently live in London until I have enough DVC points to stay at Animal Kingdom Villas every day of the year

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Old 09-19-2008, 11:24 AM   #10
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Brilliant report as always Susan, Thank you so much for sharing it with us

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Old 09-19-2008, 03:03 PM   #11
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Sharon and Susan what a wonderful report - Thank you.
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Old 09-28-2008, 05:32 PM   #12
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so pleased that you managed to squeeze in that extra special ending to your vacation.

Thank you for sharing with us. I have so enjoyed reading all about your great trip.

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Old 10-21-2008, 10:09 AM   #13
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Aww.. the last day. Always a time of mixed emotions.. however, you adopted the Jones Creed:

We’d had a week of long days filled with almost more fun than two people could handle, but we knew there was still more fun to be had and agreed that our remaining time shouldn’t be wasted on sleeping and that we could rest once we were back home.
.. and managed to do a creditable amount of activities in the morning - I hope this made up for the frustrations of yesterday!

A lovely set of reports Susan.. your enthusiasm is infectious and I enjoyed sharing the week with you and Sharon!

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Old 10-27-2008, 05:36 AM   #14
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A great last day to end a fantastic week for you both

Thanks for sharing your report Susan, I've loved every minute of it

The only problem now is that I have no more to look forward too lol

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Thank you O' great Tag Fairy - You have made this Proud Redhead a very happy bunny!!
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Old 11-01-2008, 10:03 AM   #15
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Just read your whole TR, thanks for the handy links, and it was fantastic. I've never been to DL and can't get over how small the Castle is and how rides are in the "wrong" places

How lovely that you got to spend your trip with such a great friend
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