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Old 08-27-2012, 04:34 PM   #16
nrichards
Earning My Ears
 
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Thank you everyone for the extremely kind words! I'm about to get started writing about day 2 - our first full day and by far the busiest of the trip.
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Old 08-27-2012, 06:52 PM   #17
nrichards
Earning My Ears
 
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August 9, 2012: Day 2, Part One - A Truly Magic Morning

As we stumbled into our room at around 9:45 on our first night, exhausted and needing sleep, I reiterated to my family how important it was for our plans to get to the parks by 7 to take full advantage of the Magic Morning we had available to us with our park hopper tickets. i knew we'd still get another chance at it on Saturday if Thursday didn't work out, but I knew that it would be much more difficult to get up that early after three full days. So Steph had me set my alarm for 4:45, and we grimly faced sleep in the face of the thunderous booms of the fireworks overhead and the excited laughter of the swimming pool right below us. I forced myself to stay awake for a few minutes more to take a quick recap/inventory of our day: I wasn't sure if I was going to try to write a trip report, but I did know I'd want to be able to remember our trip either way.

No sooner did I lay my head down than my phone started making an ungodly amount of noise, signaling us that it was indeed time to start the day anew. I start work at 6:00 am, so getting up this early isn't usually too difficult for me, but ds and dgf are another story. They groggily, though enthusiastically, forced themselves awake however.

Our plan was to eat a quick breakfast at the cafe in the hotel lobby, but they didn't open until 6:30 meaning we wouldn't even leave the hotel until around 7, making it to the park around 7:30. That was unacceptable to us. Our second plan was to hit the Denny's on the way to the park, but we weren't able to get out of the hotel until around 6:30, so we had to make another adjustment. So, back to McDonald's we went. The Toy Story parking lot wasn't open yet, so we decided to walk. It was still early in the trip and we had lots of energy to spare. We ended up making it to Main Street only a couple of minutes after 7. Success! Stephanie was getting a little worried, since there were quite a few people heading in at the same time we were, but I had to remind her that there were just as many people coming in when we came yesterday, but with the benefit of nobody actually being in the parks yet.

It was our understanding, from my research, that it was best to do Peter Pan as early as possible, so we headed there first. The line was only about 5 or 10 minutes long at that point, and we could see the line only growing longer as we waited. By the time we exited, they had already extended the queue to the outside switchbacks.

I can definitely see why this is one of the most popular rides in Fantasyland. I'm continually amazed at how much Disney is able to do with so little. The simple act of moving the track from the floor to the ceiling really makes the illusion that you're flying. The miniaturized cityscape of London is fantastically done. And it was so much fun looking down at Neverland as well. Stephanie says that they had changed a couple of things since she had last been on it, sometime in the mid 80's. But she couldn't put her finger on quite what. The only thing that I thought detracted from the ride was the fact that you could see the pirate ship that departed before you right as you circle Neverland. It was incongruous only because all of the other rides we'd been on before did such a terrific job of avoiding that.

Up next on our early morning stroll through Fantasyland was Dumbo. There was no line, we just had to wait for the ride to come to a complete stop. While we were waiting, Stephanie and I debated the name of the mouse. She said Templeton, which I knew was the rat from Charlotte's Web. I said...well I can't remember what I said, but it was wrong nonetheless. Probably Benjamin or something like that. This is one of those instances where my smartphone has changed my life. We have conversations like this all the time, and I just don't feel right until I have conclusive evidence. So, yeah, I looked it up right then and there. Timothy! How could we have forgotten?

Dumbo wasn't my favorite ride, partly because I ended up alone in my elephant and felt silly being a grown man riding a flying elephant. I was impressed, though, with how with just a little Disney magic, a simple carnival ride is transformed into something special. I'm also grateful I wasn't subjected to a dark ride scene of Dumbo getting drunk...that scene freaked me out as a kid!

From there, we headed over to Alice in Wonderland. Which also had no line. This Magic Morning thing is awesome! I love Disney's take on the classic Victorian story. I watched Alice in Wonderland almost every day as a toddler (it was on the same video tape recorded off the Disney Channel that had my absolute favorite Disney movie, Robin Hood). It's definitely a little freaky in moments, but overall it's a Disney classic.

As for the ride, it was enjoyable, but I'm glad we didn't have to wait in line for it. As a kid, Stephanie and her sister would watch the movie and pick out their favorite flowers in the singing flower scene. Steph's was the blue one I think, and she got a kick out of seeing it on the ride. Then the outdoor section came, and we were confused. It didn't seem to really fit the rest of the ride. It's a shame, because if it were shifted just a little, it would have been over the Mad Tea Party ride and it would have fit perfectly. Then the tea party scene came at the end of the ride, out of order in terms of the story. That was another minor irritant. I will say, I was glad that this ride (and Winnie the Pooh from the day before) were relatively short. They were clearly not designed for someone as tall as I am, and had to sit rather uncomfortably with my legs spread and knees pushing into the seatback in front of me.

After we were done with Alice in Wonderland, we split up for one of the very few times this trip. I really wanted to go on the Matterhorn, partly for myself and partly to see if ds could handle it - I didn't want to throw him on another ride that he'd be unhappy on. And Stephanie and ds wanted to go on the teacups, which was a ride I refused to go on. I'm cool with a lot, but I hate spinning. The teacups at carnivals have always made me nauseous, and it usually lasted all day, so we happily split up.

After being spoiled with the lack of lines thus far, I was a little disappointed to see a fairly substantial line building up at the Matterhorn. Truthfully, though, it was really no more than a 10 or 15 minute line, and since I was a single rider, got to move ahead of the entire last switchback. This is another ride that's definitely not designed with tall people in mind. The idea is to get your legs into the pit in front of you, but there's no way mine were going to fit. So I spent the whole ride with my knees being pushed into my chest. Except for that, the ride was really really cool. I love the fact that no matter where you go at Disneyland, you feel completely immersed in your surroundings. I did decide, though, that you went a bit too fast and the yeti scenes were probably a little too intense for ds. As soon as I got back, ds tried to convince me he could handle it, but I told him to wait a little bit later and see if he still felt the same way. Maybe if he were able to sit next to one of us, I'd have felt differently, but since he'd have to be in his own seat, I just don't think it'd have been a good idea.

I got off the ride, and found that ds and dgf had thought I would be much longer than I was, so they had ridden the teacups (which they both loved, and ds tried to convince me to go on so I could spin them faster) and Mr. Toad while I was waiting.

At this point, it was just now 8:00 and the park was starting to open the rides that weren't open during Magic Morning. Stephanie decided she needed coffee, so we headed around the Matterhorn to Tomorrowland. She grabbed some coffee at the Tomorrowland Terrace while I went around the corner to get some Star Tours fast passes. While Steph sat and drank her coffee, ds and I noticed that there was no line for Buzz Lightyear, so we went and rode it one more time. I didn't do as well as last time, even with a working blaster. DS beat his score, I think, though.

As we were getting out, we noticed that Star Tours was also a walk-on. So, of course we had to walk on, saving our fast passes for later today. I guess it shouldn't have been too surprising, given that the park had really just opened, but we had walked past 45 minute-plus lines the day before.

As for the ride itself? It's the one that I think all three of us described as our favorite of the trip. It's really cool how every ride is different. Even Stephanie, who doesn't get the whole Star Wars thing, had a blast on the ride. It's the ride I was most looking forward to taking ds on, since Star Wars is by far his favorite movie. I loved the queue area, though I didn't get to pay too much attention to it this time, since we walked through it without resistance. Again, Disney's able to take something pretty common - a motion simulator - and turn it into an unforgettable experience.

By this point, we really had given up on follwing our Ridemax plans, except as a general guide as to which areas would be busy at what times. Next on the plan, though, was to hit Small World, which we decided would probably be a good idea, so that the song would have time to leave our brain before it turned to mush. Once again, there was no line. We were getting downright spoiled.

Stephanie was definitely apprehensive about riding Small World - the song is so repetetive! She enjoyed it more than she thought she would, though. It's not nearly as repetetive, since it's done in so many different languages. DS really enjoyed looking for all the different Disney characters. I was impressed with how they added them in in such a classy manner. I've never seen the original, obviously, but I thought it was well done.

At this point, it was almost 9:00 and Toon Town was just about to open. We were going to head there next, but first I wanted to go get a fast pass for Splash Mountain. That maybe wasn't the best decision, since it was literally at the other end of the park. I walked with purpose there, but ended up taking the train back. All told, it took about 20 minutes, which felt like too much time to waste at this early hour when lines were short. But oh well, c'est la vie.

We were going to do Roger Rabbit first, but it was down at the moment, so we headed to Mickey's House. The line here was pretty short, with just a few people lined up along the side of the house. We met Mickey, complimented him on his fantastic house, and set about exploring. It really is just what I'd imagine Mickey's house to look like, and all the little nods to his classic cartoons are really neat. It's also much, much bigger than it looks like from the outside.



When we got out, Stephanie lamented the fact that we didn't have a little girl so she had no excuse to visit Minnie's house as well.

We headed over to Gadget's Go Coaster, which I thought was neat since Rescue Rangers was one of my favorite cartoons as an elementary school-aged kid. DS was not happy even on this really tame roller coaster. By this point, I figured we'd do Splash Mountain, but any other thrill rides would probably not be in the picture.

By this time, Roger Rabbit was back up. I was so confused going through the queue area, I thought I was going the wrong way or in circles or something - it was soooo long! And there was nobody in line, so there was nobody to follow. This was a really well done dark ride, even if there was spinning. Have I mentioned I don't like spinning? DS was still upset about Gadget's Go Coaster asked the cast member monitoring the queue if it was a fast ride, and he responded "Well, it goes about 3 miles an hour" and told him to watch as the ride got started. He then asked ds if it looked ok, to which ds responded excitedly "Oh sure!" I love Roger Rabbit...it's one of my favorite movies, and it took me years to realize Bob Hoskins was British. I felt like I was in a noir film spun on its head. But oh the spinning!

By this time, we were about ToonTown-ed out. So we went to use our Splash Mountain fast passes. DS asked if it was a fast ride. I said no, but there was a big drop. He then asked if he had to ride it again if he didn't like it. I told him of course not. I thought he was being awesome trying rides at least once, even if he thought he might not like them. Well, he really didn't like Splash Mountain. After the last drop, he just asked me if it was over over and over again. Stephanie got (fake) mad at me because I said there was one big drop, and thought that the little drop at the beginning was what I was talking about. I've been on log flume rides before and always rather enjoyed them, but this one was definitely a larger drop than I was used to.

So, after traumatizing the kid twice in one day, I figured it was time for a treat. So over to California Adventure for the first time we went, for Steph to get her Starbucks and ds and I to find some ice cream.
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Old 08-27-2012, 10:59 PM   #18
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Loving the TR so far! It's cool to hear about the parks from a first timers perspective
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Old 08-27-2012, 11:11 PM   #19
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Rookie or not, your TR is great. I'm looking forward to more. You remind me a bit of one of my nephews, and for some reason he does the arm in the air picture pose quite a bit as well! Makes me laugh.
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Old 08-28-2012, 01:27 PM   #20
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Great Trip Report. I am heading there for 2 days in October before a cruise! I love reading this!
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Old 08-28-2012, 08:55 PM   #21
nrichards
Earning My Ears
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theworldneedscolor View Post
Loving the TR so far! It's cool to hear about the parks from a first timers perspective
I'm loving doing it! I have to admit, I'm a little sad that there'll never be another first time. I had so much fun exploring and discovering, the next time there won't be as much discovering (although there's definitely stuff we didn't do!).

Quote:
Originally Posted by auntiegem View Post
Rookie or not, your TR is great. I'm looking forward to more. You remind me a bit of one of my nephews, and for some reason he does the arm in the air picture pose quite a bit as well! Makes me laugh.
Thank you so much for your kind words. It's so much more involved than I thought it would be before I started it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldeelox9 View Post
Great Trip Report. I am heading there for 2 days in October before a cruise! I love reading this!
I'll bet Southern California in the fall is amazing. It was great in August, but so very hot! Have fun on your cruise!
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Old 08-28-2012, 11:32 PM   #22
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August 9, 2012: Day 2, Part Two - A California Adventure at California Adventure

We were ready to head out to California Adventure, but we still had the matter of the Star Tours fast passes in my wallet. We decided we should take advantage of them before we headed over. After about 10 minutes or so, Darth Vader was informing everyone of my status as a rebel spy - a fact that my family was shocked (shocked!) by. I personally had no idea Darth Vader knew about me, but C-3P0 piloted me to safety.

As soon as we headed over to California Adventure, Stephanie simply had to seek out the Starbucks coffee at the Fiddler, Fife and Practical cafe. Once there, she waited in what was easily the longest line of the day...probably 20 minutes. Meanwhille, ds and I went next door to Clarabelle's to get some ice cream. DS wanted an ice cream cone, and I opted for a hand-dipped ice cream bar, but when I ordered, the cast member started asking if I was sure I didn't want a sundae in a souvenir trolley. All I was thinking was "Really? Disney's going for the hard sell now?" But then she finished her sentence, saying it was free because we were guests of the hour! I felt really awful thinking such bad thoughts. So that was neat...I still got my ice cream bar, and ds got a souvenir sundae and they added a bottle of water and a large Sprite onto the order for me. All told, the two ice creams and two drinks would have been almost 30 bucks. We sat at the bar in the window to wait for Steph and watched Chip and Dale cavort with park guests in the courtyard outside. It was bizarre: I'm not used to being singled out - it just doesn't happen to me, and here it had happened twice in an hour.

From here, we really had no plan at all - we weren't even really planning on going to California Adventure until the next day, but we had a large chunk of time to kill before our afternoon/evening plans at Disneyland. So we turned left off of Buena Vista Street and started to explore Hollywoodland. We wandered through the animation building, but were really confused by it - it wasn't at all obvious what we were supposed to do there, so we watched the zoetrope for a couple minutes and headed out. I have to say, the giant backdrop at the end of the street was one of the absolute coolest looking things in either park, and I really wished I had gotten a picture of it. We had a seat in the courtyard where the Mad T Party takes place in the evening, and enjoyed the quiet of the area while we finished our beverages.

The last Disney movie we had watched before we left for our trip was Monsters Inc., so we were of course going to partake of the dark ride at some point on the trip. Plus, at some point we had decided it was our quest to go on every dark ride Disneyland had to offer. We were in the area - in fact, right in front of it, so away we went! Monster's Inc. is really the perfect movie to make a dark ride for. There are so many iconic scenes that translate so well to the technology, like the door room scene. Plus, monsters make for great animatronics, since their fur and scales do a great job of hiding joints and whatnot. There are so many great little touches, especially in the queue area that make it really feel like you're at a monster transit station. Like the vending machines with bags of Sugar, Salt and Fat.

From there, we headed across the way to check out the Muppets 3d extravaganza, or whatever the heck it's called. I'm in love with the Muppets, and I don't really care who knows it. I thought the new movie was just absolutely a love letter to Jim Henson. So I, of course, insisted on seeing this show at some point. Unfortunately, at this point in the day, sitting in a cool air conditioned theatre wasn't such a great idea and I started to fall asleep (just a little bit). And I don't really remember a lot. I do remember Bean Bunny showing up in a balcony. That made the show feel a little dated in my mind, as Bean Bunny just hasn't been a focal point of the Muppets in many years (yeah, I follow them that closely). Having Sweetums run through the theatre was a blast, though, and all the corny jokes were very much in the Muppets spirit.

We then meandered through the park, not really sure where we were going to head next. We ended up at the back end of the park in Paradise Pier. This part of the park is a little infuriating to me: I absolutely love the theming of the Victorian boardwalk amusement park, but the World of Color viewing area bisecting it in two makes it so hard to get around in. It just makes it feel like two very separate areas.

As we got there, we noticed that Little Mermaid was basically a walk-on, as most of the Omnimover style rides had been for the duration of our trip. We of course had to give it a try. Stephanie loves the movie, and ds and I figured we'd have to do at least a couple of "girly" things for her sake. I have some mixed feelings about this one - the songs are among the catchiest of all the Disney movies, and the "Under the Sea" section is so lively and colorful, it's a lot of fun to ride through. And the seagull is pretty funny. But the Ariel animatronics look cheap. They look like robots with a layer of skin slapped on - you can see it really obviously around her mouth when she sings and her belly button when she's dancing. The rest of the animatronics are class act, though. It was also unusual to see so much of Ariel - all the other dark rides had very few instances of the actual protagonists.

After a few rides, it was time for a break - this time for lunch. We were near Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta, so we got...surprisingly, pizza and pasta. I also got another Mickey Pretzel. I'm a sucker for a soft pretzel - it's my go to ballpark snack.

As we were eating, the Pixar Parade started, effectively blocking us in. It was fun to stop and watch the parade, though. DS definitely enjoyed watching it - quite a few Pixar movies number among his favorites. In fact, his first favorite movie as a baby was Finding Nemo.




Once it passed, we went across the bridge to check out the far side of Paradise Pier. The Midway Games immediately attracted ds's attention. Of course - the one thing that costs money to do. But what the heck, we were on vacation. I do remember as a kid loving the carnival games, so I do understand why ds wanted to do them. I found it weird that they were in Disneyland, though. Anyway, Stephanie had been planning on buying a stuffed Dumbo on our trip, but I managed to win her one. Yes, I am that chivalrous. DS had won a stuffed Timothy Mouse, but a kid about his age didn't want the Dumbo that he had won so they traded and I had to find a way to fit two Dumbos into our luggage.

Everything else on the pier had wait times that were too long for our tastes - 45 minutes for Toy Story, half hour for the ferris wheel. I don't think we checked California Screamin', because we didn't want to go on it, or the carousel, because we didn't notice it.

It was getting pretty late in the afternoon, and we figured we should head back to the hotel for a little while to recoup our energy for the evening. We decided to take a bit of a detour through Carsland just to check it out. It's really a nicely done area, but it's just so packed with people it's too hard to enjoy it at all. We did see Mater motoring about, doing what he does. The back of Carsland empties into a Bug's Land, so we ended up going through it too. We were pretty tired, so we hurried through it, but I do remember it being cute and remarking that it reminded me of being at the zoo. Stephanie doesn't remember it at all, and swears that we never even set foot in the area.

On the way out, Pluto was hanging around and taking some pictures in the courtyard. There were only a couple of people waiting, so we figured now's as good a time as any - up until this point, we had only had a chance to meet a couple of characters. Unfortunately, our camera's battery had died, so we only got pictures on our phones.

I really like the costumes the characters wear on Buena Vista street. Very dapper.

Oh, and the Newsies show was playing *again* - seriously, every time we walked past where the trolley stopped, it was playing. We saw parts of it at least four times that day.

So off to the hotel we went. As ds and Stephanie went off to the room, I headed down the street to Carl's Jr. It took all the energy I had - we had been doing so much walking by this point! But I really wanted some. It sounds silly, but Carl's Jr. is probably my favorite fast food place, probably just because there aren't any near me.

I got back to the hotel, ready to sit for the rest of the night. But I couldn't - we had more to do in the evening at Disneyland!
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Old 08-29-2012, 12:05 AM   #23
auntiegem
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Rebel spy and free stuff? That's great!
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Old 08-29-2012, 01:44 AM   #24
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Excellent trip report. Sounds like you had a blast!!!
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Old 08-29-2012, 12:21 PM   #25
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More More!!! Great update!!
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February 1982 - Off Site; June 1995 - Offsite; February 1998 - AllStar Music; February 2000 - Disney Magic; January 2002 - Carribean Beach Resort & Disney Wonder; January 2004 - Port Orleans Riverside & Disney Wonder; January 2006 - Pop Century; February 2007 - Pop Century; November 2008 - Disney Wonder Wedding & Animal Kingdom Lodge; November 2009 - All Star Movies, Treehouse Villas & Disney Wonder; December 2009 - All Star Music ; January 2011 - POFQ, BLT & Disney Magic Cruise;
September 2011, AKL & B2B - Disney Dream & Wilderness Lodge; January 2012 - Boardwalk; October 2012 - Grand Californian at Disneyland; October 2012 - Disney Wonder to Hawaii; October 2012 - Candy Cane Inn at Disneyland; February 2013 - BLT & Disney Dream & Beach Club Resort; May 2013 - Animal Kingdom Lodge; September 2013 - Polynesian & Fantasy; October 2013 - Art of Animation; December 2013 - Old Key West
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Old 08-29-2012, 09:37 PM   #26
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I'm loving your report so far! So lucky that you were the guest of the hour
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Old 08-31-2012, 10:05 PM   #27
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August 9, 2012: Day 2, Part Three: An Evening of Adventure

We found ourselves having a hard time making our way out of our hotel room; it had been a long day! But we needed dinner, and we needed to get back to Disneyland! First things first, we headed to the lobby and ate at the cafe attached to the hotel. It wasn't our first choice, but kids ate free and it was by far the closest place. Hotel restaurants are always hit or miss; unless it's a top tier hotel, it's usually a step down from places like Denny's. This one really was no exception, but the server there was really quite nice.

By the time we got to Disneyland, time was slipping away. I'm not sure exactly when we got back, but it had to have been after 6, since the parade was over. So we were ready to jump right into some excitement! Our plan for the evening was mostly to hit some of the favorites of the previous day and a half - we were planning on doing some new rides, but they seemed to be quieter in the mornings so we would have to try to get to them later.

Up first, I had gotten fast passes for Indiana Jones much earlier in the day. I wasn't sure if we were going to go on it, but I didn't want to be without any fast passes. Since we already had them, we figured we should put them to use. Even with the fast passes, this queue seems to take a really long time. It's one of the nicest queue areas in the park, though, so I didn't mind too much. Except when I kept getting stopped on the stairs. It makes me a little nervous - I can be a klutz, and can only imagine the carnage that would ensue should I fall down the stairs onto dozens of people.

The ride was maybe better the second time - we knew what to expect, movement wise, so it was easier to pay attention to what was going on outside the jeep. DS handled it better too - his eyes were open for most of the ride, but he was hanging on for dear life. It was this time on the ride that I finally noticed the boulder. I assumed there had to be a boulder on an Indy ride, but didn't see it on the first ride through. The projection was just really dark and hard to see, plus I was looking up at Indiana Jones trying to get into the jeep for the most part.

Next, we headed next door for a nice relaxing Jungle Cruise. The waiting time was posted at 20 minutes, which seemed like too long to wait for this ride, or any ride for that matter. But this was one of the rides that I had put on my "must do" list, and the line didn't look like a 20 minute wait. Plus, it was just reaching dusk and it sounded like a fun ride to do as twilight approached. As soon as we got into the line, I realized our error - the queue snakes upstairs and then back down. We couldn't see that from the street level. Oh well.

The ride itself was a lot of fun - our skipper was throwing out terrible jokes left and right. Most of the boat didn't seem to get them, or weren't willing to play along. So the skipper ended up picking on us quite a bit - he asked if anyone liked zebras, and I nodded (yeah, I like zebras). Right as we came up to a pride of lions uh, hanging out with a zebra. And then lamenting the difficulty of carving such a creature (I mean, it's light meat then dark meat then light meat then dark meat...). When we came up to the man-eating piranhas, Stephanie whispered to me that she was glad she was safe - half a beat before the skipper made a joke along the same lines.

As we waited to disembark, he asked if anyone was from out of town, and we were the only ones to respond in the affirmative. I said yes when he asked if we took a plane, and then he wanted to know if we gave it back. It occurred to us then that most of our boat was made up of foreign tourists, and may not have understood that the jokes were supposed to be terrible. But wonderfully terrible, they were.

We had already decided to head around the corner and check out a couple of other favorites - Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion. This time, both rides were a little bit busier than the night before, but not a lot. Pirates was a maybe - maybe 10 minute wait. And it was just as cool as the night before. Last time, we were in the front of the boat and got more wet than expected. This time around, we were in the back and stayed nice and dry. DS loves the drops in this ride, which I found surprising. They're much smaller than the large drop on Splash Mountain of course, but probably about on par with the smaller drops on that ride. And one of them is in the pitch black. Even I was a little bit scared the first time I went on the ride.

On Haunted Mansion, ds wanted us to pick our favorite ghosts. Unfortunately, I can't remember which one he said was his favorite, and apparently neither can he. I just asked him, but he can't remember what he said. Stephanie's favorites were the dancing ghosts, and I said I liked the part where all the ghosts are rushing from the ground to the ceiling, mostly because I like the song that plays during that part.

Between the two rides, we spent a little bit of time exploring New Orleans Square. I got a souvenir Pirates of the Caribbean pressed penny. I don't really collect pressed pennies, but I still find myself getting them far more often than a grown man should.

I think I've said before that I'm really impressed with the theming of every part of Disneyland, but New Orleans Square really is a cut above, I think - even the shops feel like classic New Orleans. I've never been to New Orleans, but it really is how I feel the French Square would look in an idealized world.

We walked past the throngs of people waiting around for Fantasmic, which was about to start. We thought about staying to see it, but the only spot to stand was really far away and kind of behind a tree. Instead, we just walked from New Orleans Square to Fantasyland, by way of Frontierland. We were able to see a little bit of Fantasmic this way, but not very much and not very well. DS was excited to see Sorcerer Mickey, though.

Our plan was to go to Fantasyland to catch the only dark ride we hadn't been on yet - Snow White. Unfortunately, it and basically everything else in Fantasyland was closed. We were tired and frustrated at this point, so we headed toward the exit. We wanted to get up early to catch some of the busier/more popular rides at California Adventure - Friday was originally going to be our main DCA day, after all.

This was by far our most "successful" day, if success means riding as many rides as possible. The rest of the trip, we still did lots but definitely had a bit less pep in our step. You'll hear about that soon enough, though!
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Old 09-04-2012, 07:08 PM   #28
nrichards
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August 10, 2012: Day 3, Part One: Well, Now What?

Alright, back to work!

On Friday, we once again awoke before the sun. We simply found it easier to get to the things we wanted to get done if we got to the parks as they opened. We once again popped into the cafe downstairs, this time for breakfast. As the night before, it wasn't fantastic but at least it was close and convenient and not particularly expensive. This morning, we opted to take the ART from the hotel to the parks - the Toy Story lot wasn't open yet, and walking just didn't seem like a good option this time around.

The plan for the morning was to head to California Adventure first, and do anything we didn't the day before. The big question was whether or not to even bother trying to get to the Cars Land rides. We had discussed it as a family, and even though we wanted to check them out - especially Radiator Springs Racers, we decided that if it meant waiting in extensive lines, it wouldn't be worth it. After all, Cars Land is brand new to most of you, but all of both parks are brand new to us, so we figured the best bet would be to hit as much as possible, but if the opportunity presented itself, we'd try to go on the new rides.

With that in mind, we headed into DCA a couple of minutes past 8. I noticed a display of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit merchandise at the gas station at the front of the park, and had to stop for a second to take a look. I love the history of American popular culture, and so I find the story of Oswald particularly interesting. I started to talk to ds about him, and he became fascinated, peppering me with questions throughout the day - "so did Oswald really come before Mickey?" "Is Oswald upset with Mickey because he should be more famous?" That sort of thing.

As we walked down Buena Vista Street, we took a gander at the fast pass line for Radiator Springs. It was, as has been described by park-goers all summer, absurdly long. We didn't even see the end of it, just the length that ran around the Carthay Circle. Naturally, we skipped that line and made our way to another ride we had seen crazy long lines for the day before - Toy Story Midway Mania.

Instead of the 45+ minute lines we encountered the day before, we were treated to a line of maybe 15 minutes at the most. I've got to say, all three of us became pretty enamored of this ride. It's like a more elaborate version of the Buzz Lightyear ride next door, but all of the charming little touches they add to it make it just that much more appealing. I loved the Victorian atmosphere, and especially the little room that you walk through at the end, showing the midway mania game set up in someone's living room. As with most of these shooting-based rides, I beat the rest of my family. I just can't help myself, I guess! I also got the high score of the car. I don't remember what my score was, but I seem to remember getting a beaver. But I could be wrong.

When we got off, we were right next to King Triton's carousel with no line, so we figured we had to ride it. Stephanie really wanted to ride a sea horse. I had been eyeing the otters - they're freaking adorable - but somehow ended up on a seal instead. DS was acting weird and just wanted to sit on the bench. I don't know what the deal was, but for some reason he just really didn't want to ride it right then. It's cute that it's all sea themed, but the location next to the bathrooms kind of leaves something to be desired. Even though it's near several very popular rides, it just seems like it's in its own little no man's land.

We figured we were done in Paradise Pier for a little while, and Steph got a coffee from an espresso stand right on the other side of the Pier. She of course needed to drink it, and I thought I wanted to try Soarin' Over California. This was another ride I wasn't too sure about with ds, so I wanted to preview it first. As we were headed to that side of the park, we walked past the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. We figured it'd be a good idea to let ds blow off some steam while Steph could sip her coffee, so in they went as I headed to Condor Flats. I walked right past the World of Color fast pass machine, and since I wasn't sure if we would go or not that night, I got some fast passes just in case.

As I got to Soarin', there was no line outside but the sign indicated that the stand-by queue started over by the fast pass machine, so over there I went, only to encounter a dead end. I made my way back to the entrance, and headed right in. I figured Patrick Warburton would've been able to find some acting work after Seinfeld - I didn't think he'd have to stoop to becoming a flight attendant. I'm not hugely afraid of heights, but I will admit it was a bit frightening at first, being suspended in air like that. Once I got over it, though, it was really cool soaring over, well, California. Some of the footage was clearly pretty old though and not shot in Imax format, so it was real grainy and kind of took away from the realism. But so many of the scenes were amazing - like flying right over the whitewater rafters and the fireworks at the end. Again, leave it to Disney to take something as simple as a nature film and turn it into an experience!

I made my way back over to the Grizzly Peak area, only to discover ds had gotten all of his wilderness explorer badges and had a blast! This was our first time in this part of the park, and I really loved the scenery of it. I'm a huge fan of our national park system, and between the Redwood National Forest and Yosemite, California has two of the most amazing parcels of land in the west and this area of California Adventure recreates them so lovingly.

Somehow, we ended up near Paradise Pier once again, sitting on a bench looking at the Little Mermaid ride. As we sat, we noticed that no line was forming there at all, so since we were there, why not do it again? DS put up a small protest, but I reminded him that it was everyone's vacation so everyone needs to make the occasional concession for the sake of the group.

Once we got off, California Adventure was starting to get a bit on the busy side, so we headed across the esplanade to get some Disneyland favorites in. Our first order of business, since I promised ds after the Little Mermaid issue, was to get fast passes for everyone's favorite from the day before: Star Tours.

DS and Stephanie had been itching to get back on the tea cups since the day before, so they hopped in the non-existent line while I held up the railing waiting for them. Yes, I still refused to go on them. I tried to get some pictures of them, but they were just moving too darn fast for my poor phone to keep up with.

Since we were in Fantasyland, we decided now would be the perfect time to go on the only dark ride that we hadn't been on yet - Snow White. There was a very minimal line that we immediately got into. The scenes in Snow White are really well done - very colorful, and the effects are really quite good. But it's a weird little ride. Steph pointed out that Snow White appears only once. And I was a little perturbed at the ending - the last scene shows the dwarfs cowering in terror as the queen towers over them, and then a scroll shows "And They Lived Happily Ever After." I fail to see how that's possible, given the queen's clear upper hand. Unless maybe the queen is the one that lived happily ever after?

When we got off, there was no line at Peter Pan, with a cast member holding court at the entrance to the queue. He explained that it was down, but they expected to start loading again in about 10 minutes. We figured this would be our best shot at getting on the ride again this trip, so we headed into the line. It was a little less than ten minutes before they started loading again, and another 5 or 6 minutes for us to get to the front of the line. Stephanie was very happy - she wasn't sure if we'd get to go on one of her favorite rides again this trip. Sometimes, a ride breakdown can work in your favor I guess!

It wasn't quite time to use our fast passes, so we headed over to Buzz Lightyear first. There was a small line, but nothing too terrible - better than the first time we went on it, to be sure. Stephanie was going to try to make use of the spinning functionality of the car this time, but she completely forgot about it.

The Star Tours line ended up being a somewhat long wait, which was ok because it gave us a chance to listen to the droid checking the luggage for a little while. I was impressed that it didn't once repeat itself in the 5 or 10 minutes we were standing there. It was also pretty funny. We got to see a couple of new scenes in the actual ride - Boba Fett attacked us, and we hung out on the ice planet Hoth.

After the ride, it was close enough to lunch time, and we went to the food place I had been interested in trying ever since I heard of it - Bengal Barbecue in Adventureland. I got the bacon wrapped asparagus - the two most amazing foods, combined in one and put on a stick. What's not to love? And it was everything I had hoped for, to be sure. I see people on-line divided on whether or not it's a good value, but for my money 4 bucks won't go any farther in the park. Stephanie got the chicken in Polynesian sauce, which she assured me was also terrific. We didn't eat at very many places in the park, but Bengal Barbecue was definitely the best park food we had.

After a quick break to eat, we were in the area of another favorite - Pirates of the Caribbean. How could we not? This time, it was during the day though, and lines were a little longer. Still not too terrible, but longer than we were used to. It also, I must admit, was the first time I realized that the first scene - with the guy in the cabin and the Blue Bayou - was simulated night time. I was a little embarrassed to admit that fact, I'm afraid.

We decided that the last two days we had been getting back to the parks a little late after our breaks, so we decided to take today's break a bit earlier so we could make it back to the parks at an earlier hour.
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Old 09-04-2012, 10:10 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nrichards View Post

Cute! --

I started to talk to ds about him, and he became fascinated, peppering me with questions throughout the day - "so did Oswald really come before Mickey?" "Is Oswald upset with Mickey because he should be more famous?" That sort of thing.

Funny! --

Re Snow White -- And I was a little perturbed at the ending - the last scene shows the dwarfs cowering in terror as the queen towers over them, and then a scroll shows "And They Lived Happily Ever After." I fail to see how that's possible, given the queen's clear upper hand. Unless maybe the queen is the one that lived happily ever after?


Funny, again --

Re Pirates of the Caribbean -- It also, I must admit, was the first time I realized that the first scene - with the guy in the cabin and the Blue Bayou - was simulated night time. I was a little embarrassed to admit that fact, I'm afraid.
Thanks for another installment.
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Old 09-09-2012, 01:06 PM   #30
nrichards
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August 10, 2012: Day 3, Part Two: Good Times, Great Moments

I apologize for the tardiness of this next installment; sometimes real life just gets in the way!

We made it back to the park right as the parade was ending, as we have tended to do many times this trip - we always seemed to catch the very end of the parade with Peter Pan and Mary Poppins; I'm still not sure who else is there in the parade. This time, though, we were there for the first of the two parades.



Our first order of business was to do one of the things I had insisted we do at some point: Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. We absolutely enjoyed (ok, I was enjoying) all of the exhibits in the lobby. The miniature capitol building is amazing, as are all of the little pieces of Disneyland history. I especially loved seeing all of the old ticket books. It's so weird to think that they used to charge for rides - the appeal of Disneyland has always been, for my entire lifetime, the fact that you pay just one price for admission. I remembered my mom talking about using ticket books when she had gone as a kid, and it was cool to see them in person.



Stephanie and ds were getting a bit impatient for the show to start - it did seem to take an excessively long time. I think that the Voices of Liberty pre-show has made the wait time between shows longer. Maybe not, I have no real first hand experience obviously. It made for one of the longest waits of the trip - something like a half hour. It wasn't as bad as waiting in line, though, since it was more like wandering about a museum. I spent some time playing with this computer kiosk that had various Disney art prints for sale. I was enamored of the vintage looking ride posters that were displayed as you entered the park. I absolutely love those old travel advertising posters. We have one for Las Vegas hanging in our living room. I didn't buy any of the ride posters, but I have been thinking about getting one ever since. Maybe this one:



Or this one:



Anyway, after watching the Steve Martin video and reminding me we hadn't gotten into the magic shop yet, we were finally ushered into the theatre. The Voices of Liberty were really quite good - I have no musical ability at all, but I can definitely recognize their talent. Then Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln started. I don't think I realized that there would be a video before hand, and I was getting nervous that ds would be getting antsy. It was a lot of sitting and not much activity for much longer than I had thought. But he did amazing - he sat and watched, rapt. I think he knew a little bit about President Lincoln from school, but I don't know how much. The animatronics were of course classic Disney. I mean, he stands up! How cool is that? And the words he speaks are just so meaningful and moving. Anyone with even a passing interest in American history should see the show. It's practically a part of American history in and of itself. Even the usher was really cool - you could tell he felt like it was an honor to introduce and run this show.

So after lots of sitting, we knew it was time for rides! We headed over to Fantasyland, by way of Tomorrowland - we wanted to check out the Astro Orbiter line to see how bad it was. It looked pretty long, so we skipped it and headed over to Fantasyland. DS wanted to go on Dumbo, and who were we to say no? The line was kind of long, but not terrible. Maybe 15 minutes.

I was ok with not being a grown man alone in an elephant again, and didn't want to take up a seat that a kid could be in, so I opted out and got a frozen lemonade from the stand that's there on the way to the back side of Frontierland. I seem to remember it being amazing, but it's hard to mess up frozen lemonade.

I watched from the railing as Stephanie and ds boarded their elephant. They were confused by the feather they were given and then immediately had taken away. From what I could tell, it was so that nobody tried to ride it twice in a row - you had to have a feather to ride. They didn't do that when we rode the first time, but there was no line, so there was no need. Stop me if I'm completely wrong, though.

As they had fun going up and down in circles, I tried to take their picture and failed spectacularly. We don't own particularly amazing digital cameras, and my phone is actually a better camera. But the time it takes from clicking to the shutter actually engaging is agonizingly slow. So this is the result:


DS also wanted to ride the teacups yet again. And once again, we walked down there and there was no line. DS and Steph rode the teacups four times this trip, and there was never a line. Amazing! I obviously sat out again, content to sip my lemonade (by this point, after ten minutes it was no longer frozen).

It was getting mighty close to dinner time at this point, and there was a whole section of the resort we hadn't even gone to: Downtown Disney. So we headed over to the Monorail for a quick trip. We live in Seattle, so we've ridden the monorail many times. But DS for some reason decided that this was the ride he was going to freak out about. We assured him that it was in no way a thrill ride, and in fact was simply a mode of transportation. Bizarre; he'd been on a monorail at least 3 or 4 times.


We got off the monorail, and right there is a ginormous Lego Store. Thanks, Disney. We were trying to get some food, but we had to stop and check out the Lego store. If there's one thing ds loves, it's legos. He is, after all, an 8 year old boy. We also took several pictures of the amazing lego sculptures. There's a really cute one of Stephanie and I recreating Beauty and the Beast, but she won't let me post it. She's embarrassed. Eh, I'm gonna do it anyway.



So after lego-ing for a bit, we found a directory to try and find an at least somewhat inexpensive dinner option. We opted for the Tangaroa Terrace at Disneyland Hotel, and sat out by the pool. OK, above the pool. The fish and chips there were really, really good. Except they were sweet potato fries, which I like but can never eat very many of. Probably a good thing.

We wanted to go on the Mickey Fun Wheel as the sun was setting - we thought it would be a really cool view. So we tried to head over to California Adventure. We had heard about the entrance to the park at the Grand Californian, so we headed over there. But we didn't know that it was only for hotel guests, so they wouldn't let us through.

So we took the long jaunt back through the hotel and Downtown Disney and the esplanade to get to the other side of the place we were about ten minutes before. By the time we got to the ferris wheel, though, the sun had already set and they were closing it down until after World of Color. By this point, we were getting seriously frustrated with rides closing in the evening. This was the third night in a row that they were closing rides as we got to them.

So we had about an hour to kill before World of Color. There were already a very large number of people waiting for the show, but we weren't willing to wait around for that long. I had heard that occasionally the wait time for Mater's Junkyard Jamboree isn't terrible. So we decided to check out the neon of Cars Land.



When we got there, the wait was about 40 minutes, which is just way too long for us. So we just took some pictures and wandered about. It was very crowded, there, though, so we couldn't do much. As we were about to leave, we caught a glimpse of Lightning McQueen and his entourage. He drove right past us, but there were a number of people already waiting to get pictures with him.



We headed back towards World of Color. The Little Mermaid across the street was a walk-on, so we figured: why not? That marks the second time this day and third time on the trip for the ride. Mostly because it was there, and there wasn't a line. When we got out of our clam, there was about ten minutes left before the World of Color show, so we headed into the viewing area.

It was packed, and we were stuck at the very back next to a pole. When the show started, ds could barely see because of the pole, and people were holding up their cameras and ipads right in front of us. And then the people behind us kept taking flash-lit photos. We were all tired and grumpy, and when that happens people start to irritate us. We couldn't enjoy the show at all, and after about ten minutes we decided it wasn't worth it and headed out. It's too bad, because the show is similar to the fountain shows at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, which always make me happy when I watch them.

On the way out, I had to get another pressed penny at the candy shop. I had done some research to find the penny I wanted before we left the hotel - this one had the seal of the "Radiator Springs Chamber of Commerce" on one side, and Disney California Adventure stamped on the obverse. It was, to put it bluntly, too cute.

As we walked back from the parking lot to our hotel room, we watched the fireworks over head. As we had done the two nights before as well. It was a shame we couldn't watch them in their entirety, but we were all getting tired too early. I guess we could have chosen to get up later, but then we wouldn't get as many rides done.
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