Our Annual Disney Excursion

We’re back from our almost-annual trip to Disneyland. I say ‘almost’ because last year we went to Disney World instead. As usual we went down with our friends Lisa and Michel, and met up with other friends Yvonne and Wender down there. On the drive down we all text messaged with Debbi’s sister Janine, who was working that evening, and we alternated with her coming up with movie titles for each letter of the alphabet. There are more movies that start with Q and X than you might think!

We usually stay at a hotel in walking distance of the main gate, and this time we stayed at the Candy Cane Inn, which was a little weird in that it had mechanical key-cards on the doors, rather than the usual programmable mag-strip ones. I don’t think I’ve stayed at a hotel which didn’t have mag-strip key cards in a decade or so; I wonder why they haven’t upgraded?

Our alarm went off at 5:30 am on Sunday morning so we could eat breakfast and get to the park at 8 when the gates opened. Yes, I know, it’s practically inhuman. 🙂

The weather on Sunday was great, warm although not actually sunny. We zipped through the Indiana Jones ride and then went over to Space Mountain. There we were fortunate to end up in the “handicapped car”, in which they let us go through twice. Space Mountain is one of the better roller coasters I’ve been on, so this was a treat. We also went on the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, which was okay, although it’s no roller coaster.

Over at California Adventure we played the new attraction, Toy Story Midway Mania, which is a lot of fun as you get to shoot all sorts of things in a virtual arcade and rack up points. It’s very well conceived and implemented, and naturally the lines were quite long. No Fastpass, alas. But we did Fastpass California Screamin’, which we rode 3 or 4 times during our two days there.

A temporary ‘mini-attraction’, Walt Disney Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar, describes the changes in store for California Adventure. They’re basically removing the northern California decor from the park (such as the Golden Gate Bridge) and adding more southern California elements, plus more character bits (a big Mickey head on the ferris wheel). This is rather disappointing, especially since I enjoy the park for the rides rather than the character bits. On the other hand, they’re adding some new attractions, including a large area named Cars Land, which apparently will expand the park considerably, probably by consuming another parking lot. The key ride looks like it will resemble Test Track, which was the coolest ride at Epcot in Disney World.

Wender and Yvonne left after dinner as they were only staying for one day and had to drive home, but we stayed into the evening and for the fireworks. But a sign that we’re all getting older is that we were running out of gas by 10 (can’t imagine why – we’d only been running around on our feet for 14 hours) and decided to head to sleep before the park closed.

Since we called it an early night on Sunday, I was game for getting up at oh-god-thirty again on Monday to go to the park; usually I sleep in a couple more hours on our second day. When we stopped to take pictures of ourselves in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle, we met a Disneyland employee who was pin trading and seemed to be there to greet visitors and tell them interesting trivia about the park.

We walked through the restored castle – it closed before my first trip to the park several years ago – and ran into him again outside. He told us about the Matterhorn ride: Apparently it consists of three individual structures (the ride tracks, the mountain, and the old central tower for the Skyway, and there’s a basketball half-court inside the structure. Wacky! Then he took us to the front of the line so we could go on the ride. Debbi and Lisa were talking about how we were having all kinds of good luck on this trip.

The day was full of rides as usual, plus an excursion to get beignets in Downtown Disney. We had a bit of bad luck when I wanted to ride the Disneyland Railroad, but it was held up by the parade going on. It go an all-clear to go once, but just as it was moving a couple and their small children decided to get off, and the conductor had to stop the train, and they missed their window. Bummer! (And geez, what were those nincompoops thinking rushing off like that?) But we did eventually get to ride it.

Sadly, Disneyland closed at 6 on Monday for the employees’ cast party, and although we went over to California Adventure, it was pretty crowded and we only went on a couple of rides. Then we were rather indecisive about where to get dinner, but ended up at the House of Blues, where we were fortunate that there was a shorter-than-advertised wait.

Tuesday we pulled everything together and drove back to the bay area. Debbi remarked that we’re always much less chatty on the drive back than the drive down; I think it’s because we’re all tired from being on our feet most of the weekend. At least, that’s my excuse!

But it was a good trip. Debbi really loves Disneyland, and although I don’t need as much Disney as she’s up for, I enjoy going once in a while.

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