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WDW Lover Takes On Disneyland!
Hope it's ok, given that this is site for all things of "the World" to talk about the Land. I just found it interesting to compare the two different resorts as I was there.
Travel dates: Nov. 1 – 8 Palm Desert, CA – drove up to DL the 5th & 6th.
Cast of characters: Bart: 33, Wendy: 34, Sean: (almost) 2, D: (my stepdad) 55, Mom: 56.
Disney Resort Experience Represented in Group: Bart & Wendy: Lots of WDW exp – first trip to DL, D went once before, 45 years ago. Mom once in mid-90’s
Hi all. Let me warn you in advance I’m a writer and get wordy so this will be a long one. Hard to believe how much I can write about a one day visit, but then again, I'm Irish. I have decided to break it up into more digestable portions, but that said, you’ve been warned. If you’re up for it, please keep your hands and feet in the vehicle at all times and enjoy the ride!
Part 1: Getting there.
My parents have been members of the Marriot Vacation Club since the mid-80’s and for many years would go to Palm Desert once a year. Due my mom’s health issues (major back surgery 6 years ago and 3 (yes 3) hip replacements in the last 5 years, they hadn’t been in a long time. So they had enough points accrued that they offered to get us a room at the resort this year as well. While the prospect of a week with my crazy folks (said in love) wasn’t ideal, we really needed a vacation. And when I saw on Google maps that it was less than 2 hours to Disneyland, I said let’s do it.
We flew out of Chicago O’Hare on Sat, Nov. 1 around 4:00. Among my numerous trades, I’m a part-time DJ, karaoke emcee, and lounge lizard extraordinaire and I had worked as all three at a Halloween party for a local bar the night before. I didn’t get home til nearly 3 in the morning and was awake by 7 so I was pretty tired and cranky. Plus my wife and I were both really anxious about air travel with a 23 month old.
Check in was relatively smooth, security was a hassle but we made it through (and I didn’t even punch the guy behind us who kept huffing and rolling his eyes.) That said we won’t be flying again until Sean’s a little older and understands what’s going on and doesn’t want to run across the conveyor belt, grab other people’s luggage, etc.
I gotta say Uncle Walt was with us because the kid was an angel through both flights (had a layover in SLC.) We put on his Thomas dvd’s and he was happy and content. And D sent me a cocktail which helped me rest (although not sleep.)
I won’t bore you with details of Palm Desert except to say it was beautiful and I loved it there. I don’t golf and was unsure about spending most of a week there, but I’m now ready to move. I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed being there – the weather, the atmosphere, the laid-back vibe. Plus it sure beats Chicago in November. Plus I accidently found Shields Date Gardens, which I’d seen on Anthony Bourdain so I had to pull over and get a date milkshake, which I can now highly recommend. Though they are really rich and get chunky toward the bottom.
Our original plan was to leave Palm Desert early Thursday morning and get to DL by rope drop, spend the day at the park and then spend the night, heading back to the desert on Friday morning. We met a really cool couple from somewhere in Orange County at the pool that told us we were crazy. They said morning traffic would be god-awful and we might not get there til 10 or 11. I was concerned because I’d called DL and was told the EVC’s were first come, first serve and that we really should be there at opening. We needed one for mom. So we changed plans.
We left PD around 1:00 PM on Wendesday, had to stop at a Jack in the Box (we don’t have those out here but we still see commercials for them on the cable channels.) I’d always heard Jack had the best tacos. I’ll just say I wasn’t all that impressed. I found Del Taco much better (another chain we don’t have.) I’ve heard El Pollo Loco is the best, but I’ll have to find out another time. Maybe you locals can weigh in on the great taco debate. Managed to stop and take pics by the two giant dinosaurs from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure (I’m a nerd, what can I say?) And, as we were heading on down the desert highway I looked off to the left and saw big, bright red house in the middle of nowhere in the distance. If you driven that stretch you’ve probably noticed it just because it seems so odd. Turns out that’s my wife’s second cousin’s house. Anyway, traffic was non-existent. We made it to Anaheim in just about an hour and a half. D is a salesman in Chicago, he knows how the maneuver a highway.
We checked in at the Howard Johnson on the famous Harbor Boulevard, which came highly recommended by lots of members numerous Disney sites and is what's called a "Good Neighbor" hotel out there. Everything was smooth til we got to the room. We requested first floor rooms (for mom) and when we got to them, the folk’s room smelled really weird, like a hospital (but mom worked in a hospital for almost 30 years so I figured she could deal with it! ) We got to ours which was in kind of a corner, and the room was beautiful. Looked great, looked newly remodeled, smelled fine. But by time I’d returned with the luggage, my wife had discovered the lock on the patio door had been smashed and pried open from the outside and the door only locked by the chain, however the chain was long enough that King Kong could’ve reached his arm in and unlatched it anyway. My wife called the desk and was told they’d send maintenance. I looked at it and said “I don’t know what their going to be able to do.” The whole door really needed replacing. It just wasn’t safe. But we waited about 20 minutes and no one came. She called again and they said he’d be there any minute. Nobody came for another 20 minutes. So I called and said “listen, they won’t be able to do anything right now anyway. The thing is trashed and we just don’t want to stay in this room. We’d like to be moved.”
And to their credit, once we asked directly they did without hesitation and all was well (although the new room did kind of smell funny too – but it was clean and nice so I’m not complaining!) I was just a little surprised that the first response wasn’t “let us move you to another room” right away. But in their defense, I didn’t hear my wife’s first call and maybe she didn’t describe how bad the damage was properly. Who knows? All was taken care of and I gave them a good review (with a few comments.) But it did cost us most of the remaining sunshine and I was itching to take Sean to the splash pool with the pirate ship. We spent a brief amount of time there, as it was much cooler in Anaheim than the desert and as that sun was slipping, that water felt like ice water.
After much convincing of the parents on my part, we elected to hit Downtown Disney for dinner. I should stop right here and explain that not only does my mom have some walking issues as I mentioned and permanently requires a cane now, but Poppa D is a heavy-set man. And while he won’t admit it, he’s got some walking issues too as a result of his weight. Even though we parked in a handicapped spot, he immediately began, let’s just say “expressing concerns” about the walking. I started to sense things may take a bad turn on this adventure.
We settled on the Rainforest Café because we figure they’ve got everything and because Sean (and admittedly his daddy) loves the atmosphere of RC, even if the food is okay at best sometimes. It actually was a good meal for everyone and we had a really friendly waiter from Indiana (which is where my mom and I are originally from.) I had beef fajitas which were good and a rum drink I don’t remember the name of but it was delicious! I could have had a couple (12) more. And I got the souvenir “lightning glass” to amuse the boy. My wife and D had fish & chips which they said were good as well. I don’t like fish so I wouldn’t be a good judge, but I did swipe some of the extra cracklings from my wife’s plate which were good. Mom had a chopped salad that she said was great. Oh, and we had nachos for an app which were just “eh.” They served their purpose though. And we had a chocolate peanut butter pie desert thing that I really liked. The wife wasn’t as impressed, but for me, you mix chocolate and peanut butter and you got a home run.
After dinner I really wanted to hit the World of Disney store but discovered it was at the far opposite end of the strip. I could see D getting ornery about more walking, but mom was a trooper and she wanted to hit the little Christmas store (Department 56 I think). Well cue the magic of Disney, because we weren’t but 5 steps into the store when Poppa D went from ornery to “kid in a candy shop.” He was especially enthralled trying on the numerous crazy hats like Grumpy, Goofy, and Lightning McQueen to my son’s amusement.
I was relieved. That would keep him occupied for a while. I had a mission of my own. Mom and Wendy wandered off with the baby. I was there to find myself a shirt due to poor packing and my sloppy eating at the Rainforest Cafe, and to find my son’s first official Mickey Mouse. I found the doll first and as fate would have it, immediately. My eyes went right to it, and as soon as I saw it I knew it was the right one. My son loves silky blankets and wearing shirts with hoods for some reason. This Mickey had on a hooded 2008 sweatshirt and his shorts are silky like Sean’s blankets. Perfect!
This was very important to me that I pick it out and that it was the “right one.” A child’s first Mickey is very important. When I was little, my Grandparents went to Epcot the year it opened. All I asked for was a Mickey. I still vividly remember my Grandpa hiding it behind his back and teasing me before the big reveal. I’ll be honest with you – it was a knock-off from some roadside souvenir shop, but it didn’t matter. I’ll never forget the day he gave it to me. And I’ll never forget how big Sean smiled when he saw the one I’d found, or how he immediately reached out and took it and gave it a big hug and kissed it right on the nose. Something he’s never done that with any stuffed animal before. Best $25 spent of the whole trip.
Wendy was off on her own mission, finding Cinderella and Snow White dresses and accessories for her co-worker’s daughters. She had measurements and all. She found all right away except Snow White’s shoes (which she found at the princess store in Fantasyland the next day.) D comes over as I’m picking out my shirt because he has to show me something. He discovered the little laser crystal paperweight things where they can put a 3D image inside a block of glass. He decided he must get one made of Sean. It’s going on 8:00 at this point, which is 10 back in Chicago. It’s well past Sean’s bed time but since he’d finally adjusted to California time, he’s now in his “witching hour.” He is not going to sit still for any picture, not even for the required 3 seconds. But Poppa D doesn’t often take no for an answer. Until about 20 minutes goes by of them trying every trick in the book to get him to sit still long enough for a usable image, and Sean just laughing and squirming his little heart out. Finally, D accepted defeat and apologized to the understanding photographer who offered the (unsolicited) information that there’s another shop in the park, right outside of Pinocchio. Thanks pal. You can already imagine what happens tomorrow.
Between the four of us, we didn’t make it out of that store for much less than $400. At around the halfway back point, D needed to sit because his ankles hurt. So I offer to run ahead and get the van, but he says no. Just let him sit for a minute. So as they do that, I jumped into the Island Charters store. I expected it to be like a Tommy Bahama, but was pleasantly surprised to be wrong. It was much more. One of my best friends is a private pilot and we share a love of old aviation and especially travel art and paraphernalia from the golden days of Pan Am and flying boats. It might also come from a shared love of Mr. Jimmy Buffett. I loved that store. What I didn’t love quite so much was the clerk inside that followed me through every inch of the store, but never actually said anything. I know he was just doing his job. Either I have one of those faces, or they get hit by a lot of shoplifters. I thought about buying a book of old travel posters for the friend I mentioned but thought I could use that cash at the parks tomorrow (not too mention he still owes me money from our last jaunt to Vegas – I warned him Redbull, Vodka, and Blackjack are a bad combination!) And having a shadow was getting on my nerves anyway, so I bailed. I did pick up a card from the nice girl at the entrance and asked about their website, just in case.
We all reassembled at the exit and made it back to the HoJo. Sean got into the new Lightning McQueen pajamas Poppa D got him and snuggled up with Mickey. I watched the Disneyland info channel for a while. Not quite as enthralling as Stacey at the WDW resorts but I still enjoyed it. Even after turning the TV off, I had trouble sleeping. I guess I was the one who was too excited. Before this trip I never really even considered that I’d go to Disneyland. I just figured we’d always go to WDW. Unless somehow I happened to be in California (which as it turned out is how it happened.) As I was lying in bed I kept thinking about Walt and how this was his park. How I’d be walking the streets Walt had actually walked. Call it a pilgrimage I guess. The man’s work and legacy has meant a lot to me my entire life from hard times to happier times. So being where he made history meant a lot to me. And it probably seems silly to some, but I couldn’t wait to see that lamp in the firehouse window.
The next morning, when we all got to Mainstreet U.S.A., I pointed up at the window and the glow of that little lamp and said “Walt’s in the park.” Of course, my family looked at me like I was a mumbling fool and shrugged off the non-sequiter, but I felt very warm about it.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, we had to get to Mainstreet.
I'm so jealous already! I have made a promise to myself that if I haven't made it to Disneyland by the time I'm 40, I'm going for my 40th birthday celebration!
Sometimes all you need is a reminder that out there lies a better place... a better world... a Walt Disney World. Visited In: 1983, 1988, 1989 x2, 1991, 1992, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 (passholder), 2007 (x2 x3), 2008, 2009 (x2), 2010, 2011 (x2)
“Detail is there to make you believe in the reality of the story you’re immersed in.” - Joe Rohde
Avatar Image Used with Permission from °O°Joe
It's definitely something you need to do at least once. Gotta see where it all started, so to speak! More coming soon!
I'm enjoying the ride very much so far. It's also a dream of mine to get out to DL, it's actually slowly becoming an obsession For now though I will live vicariously through your trip report. BTW, I don't blame you for leaving that store, It's one thing to be treated like a pampered customer but another to be treated like a criminal.
Part 2: We get to the Park!
From the minute we all assembled at the van again on Thursday morning, I could tell D was not really in the greatest spirit. We all wanted to go to a little restaurant near the hotel for breakfast, Mimi’s I think. But when we got in the van, D announced “we’re going to McDonald’s.” Having learned long ago what battles are worth fighting and which aren’t, I just said fine. He was grumpy all through breakfast, and at one point I had to sternly say “do NOT say ‘the giant rat’ when we are in the park, please. It’s not funny or appropriate here.” At what point do parent and child switch roles again?
We parked at the Disney & Friends lot and were given a prime spot right by the tram thanks to mom’s handicapped pass. While I’d give anything to fix mom’s physical ailments so she could live pain free and walk without any assistance, I will say she was a living, breathing Fast Pass for us on this trip. We met up with a cast member in the lot who noticed mom’s cane right away and said go up to one of the other CM’s by the tram and they have a special van that would drive us to the gate. Awesome, right? This is what I’ve come to expect and love about Disney employees. Unfortunately, when we got up to the CM at the tram, he gave us a funny look and said “oh, um . . . we’re not running that van yet. You have to take the tram. When you get to Guest Services you can get a wheelchair or scooter.” Ok. I guess.
Sadly this is where we come to my one major complaint about DL. The service, and really just the overall attitudes we got from CM’s was not at the level we’ve gotten used to at WDW. Maybe it’s just that at WDW they set the bar so astronomically high, it just makes anything slightly less seem glaring. Or maybe it’s that WDW is a world unto itself and to be a CM there is to be part of something unusual and special, and DL is just a place to work. Anaheim is a city and to some maybe it’s just a job. I don’t know. I’m not saying we didn’t have some good encounters, because we did. But we had a couple really glaring bad ones.
I'd like to think we just had bad luck and it’s not normally like that. Sadly I've since been told by some DL regulars that is often par for the course there. Anyway, we road the tram to the gates at the end of Downtown Disney and told D to go to Guest Services which we saw off to our left to see about an EVC, and we would get the tickets. Now we’d been debating what we would do at the ticket booth. Do we get park hoppers or do we save the money and skip California Adventure? It’s more walking and there are mostly adult rides over there anyway, right?
Well, I just couldn’t imagine going home having not seen California Adventure. I would have regretted it. So I decided we’d get mom and D one day/one park tickets, and we’d get two park-hoppers for us. That way at some point we could let them just sit and rest in a cool theater or something and we’d run over to CA for a bit. We really wanted to take Sean to Playhouse Disney Live! He loves that block on Disney Channel every morning. In fact it was the primary reason we decided to get hoppers. More to come on that one.
We meet up with D who looks annoyed. He says we were misinformed (that’s not exactly how he put it). They don’t have the EVC’s at Guest Services. We have to go through the gates and then they’re off to the right. However its 9:20 and we can’t get in yet. We have to stand in line.
For those who don't know, there's a wide-open area seperating the gates of the two separate parks. We tell him and mom to find someplace to sit and we’ll stay in line. However we look around and there’s not a single bench to be seen, at least not from our vantage point. Not unless they want to sit on the bricks. Well this sets D off to ranting out loud about how he can’t believe a place like this doesn’t have benches. Don’t they realize people with disabilities come here too, yadda yadda . . .?
I have to say, as annoying as his volume was, he was kind of right. I got in line and Wendy found them a place to sit somewhere I couldn’t see off to my right toward Harbor Blvd. I don’t know if it was a bench or a ledge or a giant tortoise, but it worked. Later I learned they did find a few benches and had to ask someone if mom could sit. Note to Disneyland management, maybe a few more benches out there.
Wendy let Sean run around the big open area between the two parks as he was itching to get out of his stroller. The sugar from the syrup on his pancakes was kicking in like rocket fuel. Plus he caught sight of a Goofy statue hanging on the giant A of California Adventure’s sign that stretches across the front, which was now peppermint striped for the holidays.
Thankfully within about 15 minutes they let us all through the gates and D goes right for the EVC. I immediately saw they had plenty and we’d had nothing to worry about. We head in under the tracks to the hub while he deals with that. Guess who’s right there taking pictures. None other than the main mouse himself, and the line isn’t even that long.
“You get in line,” Wendy tells me. “I’m going to get his ears!”
Mickey was in front of the hat shop as fate would have it. She dashed in and found him a great pair of ears (red hat with Mickey’s face on the front and black ears – simple but classic) and immediately had his name embroidered on the back. I was amazed at how quick the CM's were in there. Cindy's mice didn't sew that fast! Meanwhile I’m tried to keep Sean from ripping through the straps of his stroller. He had seen Mickey at this point and was freaking out!
Now he has never seen a mascot or costumed character before, so we didn’t know what he’d do. Would he be scared? Would he cry? Heck no! He started laughing and making his shrill happy shriek and clapping his hands saying “Key! Key!” That’s all he can manage right now, but we’re getting there!
Before we got to Mickey, my folks came rolling up with the EVC. So they took our pictures and D took video. We were near the end of the line as a CM behind us was telling newcomers that Mickey had to head to Toon Town. As soon as we got our pics, a big wooden wall beside the hat shop opened and out danced Goofy, Chip, Cruella De Ville, and Burt (from Mary Poppins.) And behind them came the marching band. Goofy came over and shot a quick pic with Sean which was awesome and then they all marched on. At that point we began to follow and we stopped by the center of the square there and that’s when I saw the light in the firehouse window. The day could officially begin. We followed the small crowd (and I mean small – today would be a great day to be at Disneyland as far as crowds and lines were concerned!)
We all took obligatory pics in front of the castle and I as always took a minute at the Partners statue. It gets me every time. Then we decided to start in Adventureland, just as we do in Florida. At this point it’s hard not to be struck with probably the biggest difference of the two “Kingdoms.” At Disneyland, it’s just all so much closer together. You stand in the center of the “wheel” and Tomorrowland is literally right there to your right. You could whip a penny at the big copper planetary sign/statue thing. A pressed penny that is, thank you Lou! Adventureland and Frontierland are to your left, barely separated by a few trees. It's so much different from WDW where the "spoke-like" walk ways lead to the various lands which are much more spread apart. A benefit of buying a third of a state I suppose!
But this is not an indictment of Disneyland or a complaint. In fact, when with a young child and a physically impaired parent, the compactness is much appreciated. And to be quite honest, it just adds to the charm.
We rode the Jungle Cruise first, as there was no wait at all. It’s funny that the last time Wendy and I rode it in WDW before Sean came along, we both were kind of jaded about it and just rolled our eyes thinking it was corny. Something about seeing it for the first time through Sean’s eyes made it all brand new. I really enjoyed it all over again. I laughed at Captain Ken’s bad jokes. I got a new kick out of the old animals. And I will say the piranhas are an added touch they don’t have in Florida. I loved the ride all over again.
I had noticed as we were heading in that the wait for Indiana Jones was only 15 minutes. I really wanted to ride this as they don’t have it at WDW. This ain't a stunt show, it's a full on adventure ride and it uses the same vehicles as one of my favorite rides, Dinosaur. So when we got off the cruise, I convinced D to ride it with me. The line took more like 25 minutes due to the ride breaking down briefly.
Sidebar: Can someone tell me about that box in the queue with a rope? The sign says “Do NOT Pull the Rope.” But every yahoo that walked past it pulled the rope. Is the sign a joke? Do they expect you to pull it? Every kid (and most adults) that passed it jerked on the thing like cold coins would come showering down from the ceiling. And of course, nothing happened but a strange hissing sound. (Authors note: I have since learned, yes, you are supposed to pull it - but the sound was apparently not working. I won't spoil it though.)
I turned to D and said “It’s a real MENSA convention here today, isn’t it?” This made the lady in front of me laugh and we all got to talking. She told me we had to take Sean on the Nemo Subs because it was great but the lines would get long later. I made a mental note.
We finally got on the ride and it was fun enough, I guess. My complaint, if I may is there were so many rooms that were just pitch black. At one point we came to halt in total darkness and we all thought “ok, something’s going to happen!” And nothing did. The jeep jerked forward and off we went. I kept waiting for more to happen and nothing did. The final scene involving the famous boulder is a blast and I will say it's a similar effect to the end of Dinosaur! and Carnotauros' final appearance. In my mind I was constantly comparing Indy to Dinosaur and to The Mummy’s Revenge at Universal Studios, and it just didn’t quite measure up to either. For me. But that said, it is still really exciting.
When we came out Wendy told me that Sean had met Johnny Depp. I said yeah right. She laughed and showed me a picture of Sean with Captain Jack Sparrow. It was funny because Sean seemed as aloof and nonplussed as Capt Jack usually does. So in keeping with the spirit, we decided to give Pirates a try with the kid. Thanks to mom’s scooter we rolled right up through the exit and got our own family boat. That may have had something to do with the CM eyeballing us and calculating the max. weight capacity as well! I loved the Pirates at Disneyland.
There are a few extra scenes that WDW doesn’t have in the opening. And as you are leaving the loading area you float around a little restaurant called Blue Bayou right there on the water. I'm not describing it well at all, but it's like dining outside at night and you're watching all the boats float by. Very cool! And this was the first time I’ve seen the AA Jack Sparrow(s) and the Davy Jones projection. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that supposed to be Barbosa on the ship? I really didn’t think that robot looked much like Geoffrey Rush. I wondered if maybe he wouldn’t pose for the Imagineers or something. But I must say when I first heard of these additions a few years back I was disappointed. I thought they were ruining a timeless classic by adding such pop culture characters. Now that I’ve ridden it, I take back those misgivings. I really enjoyed them, and thought they added something new. I especially got a kick out of Jack’s final appearance on the ride. I'm assuming it's the same at WDW since my last visit was right before they reopened Pirates with the changes.
Other than the waterfalls, Sean loved Pirates too. He was wide-eyed the whole time. He wasn’t even spooked by the skeletons. He was thoroughly confused when Davy Jones disappeared and we passed through the fog because I could see he thought it was water. He scrunched up his face and held is hands out. When it just dissipated around his cupped hands, he kind of looked at me like “what the heck dad?”
So from there I figured we might as well take our chances with the Mansion. I was really happy to be there while it was still wearing its “Halloween costume.” For those who don't know, they re-theme the mansion to The Nightmare Before Christmas. And it's really cool!!! I’ve always said they should have a Nightmare Before Christmas dark ride at the parks. The Haunted Mansion Holiday is a darn good attempt. Yes in parts it seems like they just kind of slapped it together, but I really liked it. If anything, I wish there’d actually been more Jack Skellington. Sean did really well. He got on with Wendy and my mom in front of me (D decided to rest outside with a drink) and I rode alone, which is good because those doom buggies feel a little snugger than I recall the last time I rode one! The only bad moment we had was in the parlor when the track started up and the walls started moving.
The vocal track was really, really loud. Like louder than it’s ever seemed during the normal attraction at WDW. I think it was just the sheer volume, but Sean started to cry. And when Jack appeared (I won’t completely give it away) that pretty much sent him over the edge. But he’s the kind of kid who pulls it together pretty quick. He was cool again by time we reached the loading area and for the rest of the ride he was fine. I saw him a few times as our buggies would swing around, wide eyed and smiling.
The ride actually stopped momentarily right after the ballroom scene just as the buggies swung around to make the backwards descent towards the grave yard. I was staring up at the dark ceiling and floating pumpkin projections. I attempted to take video with my phone but it didn’t really come out. At that moment I kicked myself for not having the WDWRadio voicemail number to call and leave Lou a message! We were only stuck there for a few minutes tops and then on down to the graveyard which was a lot of fun. It's covered with snow and pumpkins rather than busts are singing to you as you ride by. That was the best scene of the ride. There's so much going on, I can't even describe it. It shows that if they ever did build a permanent NMBC ride, it could be really cool. Not that that’s a surprise!
After the Mansion, it was sometime between 11:30 and noon and we were all hungry. We opted for the Hungry Bear in Critter Country. It's a counter-service joint across from Splash Mountain. My wife and I had burgers which were “eh” but did their job. I’ve never been a super fan of the counter service burgers at either Disney park (and yet I continue to order them. ) As Crocodile Dundee said “you can live on it, but . . ..”
My folks each got the turkey sandwich. It looked good to me but neither of them were fans of the bread it was on. I think it was like ciabatta or some kind of herby bread. It did look a touch dry. But I figure that’s why God made mayo right?
And of course Sean had chicken fingers and fries. Which, he believes, are their own food group. And here came impulse buy # 1 of the day – Wendy came up to me in line and said “Sean needs that souvenir Woody sippy bottle.” And so there it was on the tray, another $8.99 later. Not that I couldn’t have said “no” if I really didn’t want to get it for him! Look, he’s currently an only child with a father that loves all things Disney: that’s a recipe for spoiled rotten if ever there’s been one. And I’m a big fan of souvenirs in general. It’s a disease, I know.
After lunch (oh and the funnel cake we all split – another food group in and of itself!) we headed on over to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. This one’s a favorite in the Scott household, as is the silly old bear himself. My mom and I are a little bit Native American, and I am pretty sure my spirit totem animal is a pudgy yellow bear in a red shirt. In fact, Sean’s middle name is Christopher because of two people: Saint Christopher and Christopher Robin. This one was fun and I liked the woodsy outdoor loading area. It was really a nice change of pace from waiting indoors on a beautiful day. But the ride did seem a little shorter than its Eastern counterpart. Also maybe I blinked and missed it, but I'm pretty sure the flood scene was not included on their version.
Sidebar: I felt that a number of the rides that are also at WDW were shorter at DL. Maybe my perspective was just off. I admit the older I get, the quicker time seems to go by. I also found I was a little more tense than I normally am at a Disney park, worrying about if Sean would enjoy things and if my parents were having a good time, etc. Usually when I’ve been at a park in the past I can just let go and relax and enjoy. I did enjoy, but couldn’t quite relax now that I had others to worry about, young and old. Wonder if that just means I’m all growed-up? Ok, sidebar over. Anyway, yes, Pooh is awesome.
As soon as we got off the ride, guess who was in his little picture area taking pics? Our friend Pooh himself. So we stood in line and Sean took a pic, though something across the way near Splash Mountain had apparently caught his attention because he was busy pointing and scowling instead of looking at the cameras. But I find those moments funny because I wish I could be in his head.
Oh, and then something bad happened and it made me momentarily furious. To the point of taking action, but then thinking better of it. It's one of those things we've all heard about happening, but most of us never see.
TBC . . .
Much as there's that evil side of me that wants to keep you all hanging (as I'm sure so many are desperately awaiting each installment from me!!!) I won't.
Part 3: Even the 7 Dwarves Had a Grumpy!
Brer Fox and Brer Bear were up at the top of the rise near the Splash Mountain entrance and Brer Fox came bounding down towards us and a lot of people were milling around. I was watching him amble along when out of nowhere this 20-something Abercrombie & Fitch wearin' Frat boy jerk (in dire need of some Proactive, I might add) reached out as Fox passed and slapped the top of his head. And I mean it was an audible “whack.” He then tried to keep moving like he hadn’t done it.
I mean, why? What’s the purpose? What were you proving in that moment? I literally stopped in my tracks and for a moment thought of grabbing the guy. It just really got to me.
Luckily, it got to Brer Fox as well who turned right around and grabbed the guy by the wrists. I couldn’t hear, but I’m willing to bet the CM inside broke character for a few seconds to deliver some choice words. The punk just stood there stunned and nodding his head and quaking in his board shorts. I would have totally vouched for the character had he decided to say “heck with the job” and deck the guy. But he (or she) was a pro and let go of the guy and went on with his job. Thank goodness he had a cool head (ironically his head was probably far from cool in there) because we all know such a video these days winds right up on YouTube and then Disney PR has some ‘splainin’ to do. It looked like the guy was visibly shaken and embarrassed about the encounter and being dressed down by a cartoon fox so whatever.
So after pics with Pooh and watching the near-fox-on-man-altercation, we moseyed on over to Frontierland. Mom and Wendy ducked into a shop that sold among other things Christmas ornaments and decorations. It wasn't as big nor did it share the same name as the one in DTD in Orlando. I don’t remember the name of the shop but it’s across from a shooting gallery and a Mexican restaurant.
I should briefly explain to you that in our home we have something a great Christmas tree debate. My wife believes a tree should be of uniform décor with classic white lights. I believe what says Christmas is a green tree with multicolored lights and hodge-podge of ornaments collected over a lifetime and many generations. So that’s why we have two trees.
Mine is a hot mess of colored lights and balls and Hallmark critters and Batman and whatever else you can imagine. I love it (and so does Santa so there!) It stands next to the television.
Her tree stands piously in the living room (that’s the one you don’t actually live in, right?) It is a Martha Stewart prelit special with white lights. And is covered with silver garland and white baby's breath, and one ornamental theme: Tinkerbell in her red Santa outfit. All the way to the big Tink perched at the top. And I admit, the tree looks sharp. I’m certain if an Imagineer came to our house, they’d want to buy her tree, or hire her to recreate it in the parks. It's fun and classy.
That still doesn't mean it's Christmasy!
Anyway, the shop had a section of Tinkerbell ornaments with some new additions to the line since the last time Wendy and I were in DTD-Orlando. She picked out a couple new additions for the tree and we arranged to come back later and get them. We could have shipped them but it was really costly and we already had a box of things we’d be shipping home back at the resort in Palm Desert. As my wife was filling out something, the CM saw her name and asked: “So, Wendy . . . have you found your Peter Pan yet?”
My wife, God love her, is something of a Vulcan. We discuss this often and its part of why we work, because I tend to be what you might call "emotional." She looked up at the CM with a puzzled look on her face, and almost as if on cue I butted in: “No. She found her Captain Hook . . . and she loves it!”
It got a funny rise out of the CM and most of the shop around us. Of course my wife was embarrassed, or would have been had she possessed emotions. You know, the whole Vulcan thing . . .? Never mind. It was funny.
When we got back to the P’s waiting outside with the little one, we found him sound asleep in the stroller. We decided to look for a quiet, shady spot somewhere. We found a bunch of tables just past Pixie Hollow, under the monorail track and shaded by the Matterhorn. The folks were happy to sit a spell and Wendy and I were excited to ride Matterhorn. Another brand new one for us. Once again, we got right on with zero wait time and as soon as I sat down, all I could hear was the voice of Ari Gold in my head saying “it’s Die Hard at Disneyland!” If you’re an Entourage fan, you’ll get that.
Can I just tell you I love the Matterhorn!?! It is just the definition of a fun ride to me! I hope that DL regulars aren’t jaded by it. It’s just great! I love the Yeti in there too. Sure he's a little more cartoony and far less advanced as the Yeti at AK, but he's got his own character! I spied a stuffed version in the window of the control tower down by the loading area, and wanted to get one for Sean but never got around to looking. Matterhorn is basically a relatively tame roller-coaster mostly enclosed in a fiberglass mountain. And there's a splash at the end but we didn't get wet at all. Man we just laughed the whole way around and down. Good times! I wanted to ride it again but as has been said about plans, sometimes they just don't happen.
After the ride, Sean was still snoozing so we got some cotton candy and a bottle of water and shot over to Space Mountain. My wife made a comment that it reminded her of the few trips to WDW we took together prior to little man coming into our life. She was right. Those were great days and are some of our happiest memories since getting married. Like the night we took a drinking tour "around the world" one night at Epcot. By the end of it, we'd dropped about $100 on a set of Disney drinking glasses and big glass beer stein with my name and Mickey on it! That was a funny day when UPS dropped that off a week or so later.
But admittedly the last time we went, we were sitting at Rose & Crown watching families and both kind of looked at each other and she said "you know the next time we come here, we need to have a kid with us, right?" I knew what she meant. I always tell young couples that it's a great place to vacation as a couple, despite what they think. However, it's completely different. Seeing DL through a child's eyes just enhances it all. It makes the rides you can't ride worth missing. I think it's safe to say that stands for both parks.
Man, I gotta say Space Mountain is another shared ride that I liked better at DL! The queue is more futuristic. They really put a little more thought and detail into the loading area. Looks like a movie set. Reminded me just a little of Star Tours. Also, on theirs you sit next to each other, 2 x 2 as opposed to single-file which my wife liked. I admit I still like the bobsled style better. I think it adds to the mental immersion. The ascent up the “mountain” is a little rough due to the tunnel and lights that spin around you. We both had to close our eyes (maybe the cotton candy was a bad idea!) But I’ll tell you what really put this ride at the top for me – the soundtrack being pumped into the back of your head. Once we took off there's just this dramatic music playing right into your ears. I was gone. I loved it. I didn’t want the twisting and turning and rising and falling to end. We just laughed the whole way through. Two great rides in a row! I’m definitely a fan of the Disneyland mountains!
So feeling a little guilty (not really) leaving the P’s to babysit, we went back and found they’d made a friend. My stepdad the salesman had struck up a conversation with a CM sweeping the streets and they’d been talking for fifteen minutes. I want to say his name was Ronald. He was a retired crane operator from the area. Sweet guy. Shortly after Ronald went back about his day, Sean started to stir. Once awakened, we made our way into Fantasyland. We went on their Alice in Wonderland. This is now one of my favorite dark rides. Admittedly, I’m a big fan of the movie. It's really like being immersed in the movie. The ride actually leaves the dark and circles outside for a bit and you think it’s over and then right back into the dark and the ride resumes. Afterward, mom and Wendy took Sean on the tea cups. I do NOT do teacups. I don’t do any ride that spins. Remember the tunnel on Space Mountain? Well that was pushing it. My stomach and I made that pact after a fateful trip to Kings Island in Ohio when I was young. Spinning rides are not my friend. And I don’t care that you can control the spin-factor. Not gonna do it. I don’t need the memory of hurling into a garbage can as part of my trip to Disney. They don’t make a button for that one. So I was the videographer. Even that made me a little woozy. I can ride any coaster on Earth. Dead falls don’t bother me at all. But spinning. No thank you.
After the tea cups, Grandpa D wanted to take Sean on Dumbo. It was the one ride he had previously said he wanted to take the boy on so we said by all means. It was cute to see the two of them together up in the air. I could see Sean didn’t quite know what to make of it, but it was great. During the wait, I made a quick pit stop and happened to see the other Magic Crystal whatever you call it place outside of Pinocchio. I happened to mention it offhand and as soon as D got off Dumbo, mom told him it was right around the corner. Well that turned into another half-hour of trying to get Sean to work with us. He wiggled and laughed and kept trying to grab other crystals off the nearby (way too nearby) shelf. As luck would have it the photographer managed to get off a couple good shots. D got his wish. I think at this point it was more of just a principle thing. And the shot they got happened to be while I was holding him, but the CM assures me she can remove my chin(s) from the image. The last thing I need is to see them in 3D!
So then we hit Pinocchio, Snow White, Peter Pan, and Mr. Toad in a whirlwind. Yes, they have a Pinocchio dark ride and it's great. Just what you can imagine. And they still have Mr. Toad's Wild Ride - a childhood favorite!!! Thanks to mom’s EVC key, we breezed through all four in record time, walking right in through the exits (as instructed.) However, here’s where we had a great CM experience and a crummy CM experience in the span of about 10 minutes. When we were coming off Pinocchio. A friendly CM saw D sitting on the EVC waiting for us and enjoying a sherbet push-up type deal. She thought he was one using it and said “sir, you know you can go on too, you just go through the exit and wave your key at them.”
We were walking up and explained we had ridden already and thanked her. She saw mom’s cane and continued saying “you don’t wait for anything today. You folks just walk on up through the exit and show them that key or shake your cane at them. It doesn’t matter, they’ll let you on.”
I should mention as she is saying this she reaches into her pocket and pulls out a stack of little papers of numerous color and some with scribbling on them, etc. My heart started pounding. My mind was screaming in my ears “WE’RE GONNA GET A DREAM!!!”
Wa-Wa-Wa-Waaaaaah! No such luck. She was apparently just shuffling papers in her pocket. But she was really sweet and I wish I recalled her name. So off we went toward Snow White and then Peter Pan. We popped out of PP and turned to walk right in to the exit of Mr. Toad. Well at that moment an older CM started shouting at us: “Wrong door people! You can’t go that way! Wrong door! That’s the exit!!!”
We smiled and waived the key at him. He just continued to shout at us in front of the crowd of people waiting in line. “Wrong door! Over here!!!”
I understand he was doing his job, but it was embarrassing and just the wrong tone to take. I said “my mother is disabled. This is what we were told to do.”
He got very indignant, waving some brochure at us saying “Didn’t they give you this guide? We haven’t let people in that exit for years. You’re going the wrong way! Didn’t they give you the guide?” And let me reiterate, he's barking at us.
My mom trying to keep the peace just said “maybe my husband has it.”
The CM put his hand on my mom's shoulder and said, and I’m quoting here: “well when you get off the ride, you go check with your husband and see if you got this guide, and if he does you see which rides you can go through the exits on.” This guy and his guide!
It was just really rude and uncalled for and in a different place I would not have let it go. I REALLY wish I had gotten his name. Anyway, apparently had we read the guide they put in a separate gate next to the general entrance. I wanted to say look pal, we’d much rather not need the special entrance at all. But I decided just to walk away and let him feel important. Even the dwarves had a Grumpy.
Anyway, we got on Mr. Toad and it was so much fun and helped us shrug off the encounter with the condescending old jerk from before. It's a classic that I miss at WDW.
By the way, D had the guide. . .!
So at this point it’s getting to be around 3:00. We still wanted to get over to CalAd and catch Playhouse Disney Live! as that was mainly the reason we bought hoppers in the first place. But we hadn’t ridden Nemo and still hadn’t made it to Toon Town. I really wanted to ride the Roger Rabbit ride. But after Wendy and mom hit the princess store (Once Upon a Time, I think?) where Wendy found Snow White’s shoes, we told mom and D we’d head over there for an hour or so and they could rest. I recommended Carousel of Progress as I thought sure D would find that really interesting. Plus I pointed out a movie showing on Mainstreet called “The First 50 Years" hosted by Steve Martin! I mean come on! I even wanted to see that. I threw out a half-dozen suggestions that involved sitting down and being entertained. Surely they'd take my word and check them out, right?
Off we went towards the gate, stopping briefly to pick up a new disc for the camera.
It was exciting walking in to California Adventure. I really liked the entrance for some reason. It's something new, and reminds me of the movie set the Muppets built at the end of The Muppet Movie. We make our way right for the theater and immediately see a number of CM’s out front. I recognized their red, yellow, and blue costumes from the little snippets on the Disney Channel: Behind the Ears when the show first opened. It’s about 4:00 and the next (and last) show is 4:15. Just made it, right? Wrong. They immediately cocked their heads like my wife's Boston Terrier when he's up to something and smiled sympathetically to tell us “we’re sorry, but the last show has been unexpectedly canceled.”
Wendy was crestfallen, and I was a little bummed myself, but we take it in stride. She says “that’s the only reason we even bought park hopper tickets.” Ah, but that’s where she’s actually wrong. There was another reason I bought them. There's a Monsters Inc. ride somewhere in this park and today I'm going to ride it!
Sorry about your negative encounters with some of the CM's, that can happen at any of the parks, hopefully though they are isolated incidents.
Your so lucky your son took to the costumed characters, we went to WDW when my 2 oldest daughters were very young, they were in a stroller and who comes over to them and starts making a big fuss over them....Minnie Mouse!! They freaked out. So you lucked out with your son
As far as Indiania Jones go, I really wish we had that ride, unfortunatly I guess in wasn't in the budget for WDW, all they could afford was that same rope gag and the sign telling you not to pull it DL is getting higher on my list after hearing about the Matterhorn, their holiday version of the HM, Alice in Wonderland, Space Mountain and of course the beloved Mr. Toad (I don't remember you mentioning that, did you go on?) It all sounds wonderful
You know, I did glaze over Mr. Toad a little bit. It is such an awesome ride and I haven't ridden it since the late 80's so it was so great to relive those memories.
That was the one we were getting on when the old man started harping on us.
I promise to have the next installment of the saga posted before the end of the day. I'm just tweaking a little since the original draft was geared more towards a Dineyland-heavy crowd!
P.S. I finally got around to the 100th podcast this morning and it's funny that there's something in my report coming up that's very close to a memory Lou shared.
Part 4: I Don't Know Why They Say Grown Men Don't Cry
Ever since I saw Mike and Sully’s adventure on the big screen for the first time, I asked “why isn’t there a Monster’s Inc. ride at WDW?” It’s practically made to have a ride.
And I know since our last trip to WDW they opened the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor in Orlando, but by most accounts from people I know, it’s about as good as a counter service burger.
But a ride through Monstropolis! Come on now! That’s Imagineering!!! I immediately spied it off in the distance and away we went. And this ride did not disappoint! For those who don’t know, you load into a wild looking taxi complete with a television screen with a monster news cast that a human is loose in the Monstropolis and chaos is ensuing. Think reverse Cloverfied! From there you are transported right into Mike and Sully’s world. Many of the scenes seemed right out of the flick. I was wide-eyed and smiling the whole time. Sean loved it too. He loves Sully and Boo.
I was a little worried because he'd just seen the movie for the first time a few weeks prior, and at first he was scared. He kept looking at me and then the TV and then me again, eyes as big as saucers. He’d point at the screen and say “Oh no!?!?” But the minute Boo said “Kitty”, he was into it. My son really connects with his peers on television. Like he’s also suddenly into John & Kate Plus 8. Weird.
Anyway, he was apparently well at peace with monsters by the time we got into our taxi. And since there was hardly anyone in the park, let alone that ride, we had our own car. He loved every minute. My favorite D.S.I. moment (if I may, Lou and Jeff) is when you are passing through Harryhausen’s restaurant and on the right is a table where everything’s been knocked over and there’s a bottle of (presumably) Saki spilling out in a constant stream to the floor. Weird thing to pick up on, I know, but I love little details like that. At the end there’s Roz sending you back to Orlando with a warning not to speak of what you’ve just seen! It’s great fun! If I dared to criticize, I’d say that Sully seems to change sizes throughout his various appearances. I think it was for perspective, but when he’s only a few feet away, he just looks like he shrunk. Didn’t know he could do that!
After the ride we figured we’d just sort of skulk around and check the park out. That side of the park is very much like MGM . . . sorry, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, specifically back around the backlot area. Very similar feel. We went over to A Bug’s Land because I thought sure that Sean, who is currently obsessed with any form of train (even though, spoiler alert, we never got around to riding the train in Disneyland!) would like the Heimlich’s Chew Chew Train. My lord, let me save you all the pain if you head out there. It is the slowest train I’ve ever been on. It bored both me and my almost 2 year-old out of our minds. At one point even Sean tried to get off. He looked at me like “seriously pop, can this thing go any faster???”
And he really didn’t appreciate getting sprayed as we passed through the giant watermelon. P.S. if you haven’t ridden this one, you get sprayed when you pass through the giant watermelon.
However we did brave Flick’s Flyers and Sean loved it. You sit in these various boxes (Chinese food containers, animal cracker boxes, etc.) with makeshift “balloons” attached such as you’d expect to see Flick design in the world of A Bug’s Life. Then you’re lifted into the air and circle around. My wife and I were a little woozy by the end of course. Flying around in circles comes dangerously close to spinning. Remember: spinning bad!!! But it is somewhat pleasant and you get a decent view, if you’re eyes are open.
So afterwards we weren’t real sure what to do. I hated to just turn around and head back to DL. But we’d accepted we weren’t going to be able to ride Tower of Terror, or Soarin’ (which we both love but resigned ourselves to “not this trip), or Grizzly River Rapids (which is essentially the same as Kali River Rapids but around a big mountain with a bear’s head at the top) – not with Sean anyway. Wendy asked me if I wanted to go on ToT myself but I said no. It didn’t feel right to go without her. Altogether ladies: “Awwww!”
The heavens must have heard our concern because as we were standing on the bridge to head towards the Paradise Pier area (a boardwalk carnival/midway area where you see the big roller coaster with Mickey’s head on it), they announced that we were a mere 15 minutes away from the Pixar Play Parade!
Now I’m not a parade enthusiast by any stretch. In fact the only place I’ll tolerate a parade is at a Disney park, and that’s usually under protest. But for my wife this news was manna from the clouds. There weren’t many people lined up yet. I had the notion to run over to Toy Story Mania! since I could see it in the distance and didn't see throngs of people lined up. I figured if there was ever a day when it would be quick to get on it, this was it. But as I started pushing the stroller in that direction (Wendy had ducked into a Little Mermaid themed restaurant to ask a question about places to eat in the other park) it occurred to me that you need to wear 3D glasses on Toy Story, and Sean does not wear glasses of any kind. He will immediately rip them off. And it just seems like maybe it's just not the right ride for right now. So I turned around and headed back to meet Wendy.
We still had some time and she was concerned that Sean was hungry so we headed down into the Pacific Wharf area and she ducked into the bakery with him for a snack. I happened to spy my own snack just across the courtyard. The Karl Strauss Beer Truck! Yeah buddy! I admit to not being a real beer man. I like a good beer now and then, but I’m usually a bourbon or rum drinker, depending on the season. My first beer was something seasonal I guess. It was a 3-letter abbreviation of some kind. I wasn’t a fan. It was very sharp and biting. It wasn’t awful – I finished it! But on the second go ‘round I went with a nice red, and it was delicious! For $7 bucks a beer, I wasn’t going to experiment too much.
As I waited at an outdoor table sipping on a cold beer in a beautiful California evening as the sun was slowly slipping away, it was just one of those moments. You know, the kind where for a fleeting second in time, all is well with the world. This was the first of two moments I would have on this trip. I pulled out my phone and updated my status on Facebook with some gloating message about what I was doing. I guess I shouldn't gloat too much since I'm 33 and have a Facebook page!
Wendy and Sean appeared and he had a little snack pack with fruit, cheese (I think), and some juice and she’d gotten some kind of pastry. She asked if I wanted some of it but I figured baked goods and beer wasn’t a great combo on the pallet. We slowly made our way back up to the main thoroughfare where they had the streets roped off. I heard a CM saying this was a perfect spot as the parade was going to pass right by there before making its final turn. So we just stopped where we were and leaned against a big concrete planter ledge waiting for the show to begin. I wish I could pinpoint the exact spot for any of you who may be making the trip. Just know if you’re between the walkway that heads down into the Wharf and the bridge that leads over the Pier, you’re in a good spot.
Within a few minutes the lights on the buildings came on and music began to play from the speakers behind us and I heard the voice of Mike Wazowski and the revving of an engine. At first, just like at the Mansion, Sean was freaked out by the cacophony of noise and began to cry. Until I pointed down the street towards the life size Lightning McQueen driving right towards us. He couldn’t believe his eyes. To be honest, neither could I. It was awesome. Just a couple yards behind him, Mike and Sully were pulling up on a giant bass drum. We have video of the whole parade but I don’t remember the exact order after that. I just remember Sean smiling with wide-eyed wonder and clapping his hands and waiving at the pretty girls who danced along side the floats. I caught myself waiving at one particular Space Ranger-ette myself (didn’t get busted though, thank God!)
Sean particularly reacted to the Ratatouille float. He loved the big furry characters for some reason, even though he’s never seen that movie yet. I think their fur reminded him of Murphy, our big fat furry cat at home. He loves to hug Murphy every morning when we go downstairs. The cat is thrilled about it, let me tell you. He was mad enough when we brought a puppy home. Imagine when we brought the kid! Anyway, something about that float really tickled him.
And then, something happened. I guess I was just really overcome by how much fun he was having, and we were having watching him watch it all. And maybe it was just being there. That’s when moment # 2 happened. All big tough guys (like myself – ha!) please stop reading now. It was at the moment the Bug’s Life float came down, and everyone around us was just clapping and waving, including Sean. And the moment just sort of flooded over me. That ol’ Disney magic I guess you could say. Without warning, my eyes just welled up with tears – the good kind, you know? I heard a voice in my head say “this is one of those moments you’ve always dreamt of, sharing all this with him. Just live in the moment for once and enjoy it.”
And I did. I looked away from the parade and cast my eyes skyward (I’m a lapsed everything, but I’m trying) and just said “Thank You.” Thank you God, thank you Universe, thank you, Uncle Walt.
And then I looked around to make sure nobody saw me starting to cry, of course! All clear. Phew! I think Flick noticed but he was cool about it. It's a guy thing, even ants get it.
Anyway, you can call the guys back in now. That parade was just amazing. I mean, who doesn’t love Pixar? But even aside from that, just production value, even the catchy (slightly annoying) tune which was in my head for a week. They really hit this one out of the park, so to speak. The best Disney parade or any parade I’ve ever experienced. Even better than the one at WDW a few years ago where they were all in the big plastic balls! I even liked it more than the Spectromagic which, til that day, was my favorite. Of course I had more invested in this one, emotionally so maybe I’m biased.
After the parade we figured we better get back across the way to Disneyland and meet up with the folks. I called D on his cell and he said they were sitting in the square right across from the firehouse. When we got to them I asked D what they’d done while we were gone. He said they rode the train from the other side of the park and then he sat there on that bench and mom shopped. We were gone for over an hour and a half, rode 3 rides and saw a parade (one of us finished an undisclosed number of pints) and he sat on a bench! Oh well. You can lead a horse to water right? It just kind of bummed me out because I knew he hadn’t really wanted to come to DL in the first place – he’d have much rather been on a golf course in Palm Springs. But I’d hoped I’d be able to get him into the spirit or something. Again I say, oh well. But in their favor, they did hold us a primo spot for the next parade!
Finale: Jerry Lee Has Seen Niagra Falls!
We still had an hour til it began so Wendy and I shot over to the shop in Frontierland to get her ornaments with Sean. The plan was we’d catch the train over there so Sean could get a “choo choo” ride and ride back to Mainstreet in time to catch the parade. On the way over, I really wanted a barbequed turkey leg. Haven’t had a Disney BBQ turkey leg in 3 years man, and by the end of the day I’m jonesing! I like getting back in touch with my primeval roots, tearing large chunks meat from bone with my canines! Apologies to my vegetarian friends, of course. I told Wendy to go on ahead and Sean & I stopped at the cart where I’d seen them earlier. Unfortunately, just like at Playhouse Disney, I got the head **** as the girl informed me she was sold out! Wha-wha-what???
All she had left was chimichangas. So I figured, why not? It was not bad. Although the filling was like molten lava, but it wasn’t bad. Pushing a stroller with a chimi in one hand and a Coke Zero in the other is no easy feat, by the way. Sean and I sat on the stoop outside the shop and shared the chimi while Wendy picked up her stuff (and of course miraculously found a few more things!)
She came out and saw him eating and figured he’s probably hungry again. She wanted to go over to the fruit stand in Adventureland by the Jungle Cruise and get him some fruit and juice. So that kind of made us forget about the train. We figured, like the Playhouse Disney show, he didn’t know what he was missing anyway. There’s always next time, either here or in Orlando.
We made it back to the bench where my folks were waiting. D was getting really cranky because he was hungry but because he’s a picky eater (go figure) he didn’t want anything he’d seen in the park (don’t ask – like I said, you just learn what battles are worth fighting.) I took Sean for a walk because he’d really found his second wind and wanted to move. We made our way to a souvenir stand and I showed him one of the Buzz Lightyear twirly-light up things. Which of course he immediately wanted. But at $13 bucks, I decided he’d be just as happy with the $5 light up Mickey light saber deal instead. Which he was, and still loves when I play around with it with him to this day. We’ve had to change the batteries about 4 times in 2 months. We started goofing around and laughing and pretty much making a spectacle of ourselves. Suddenly we heard the music start and saw the lights light up. So I scooped him up and we made our way back to the bench just in time to hear the shriek . . . I mean voice of Miley Cyrus. It was the new Bolt float coming around. The rest of the parade was no where to be seen yet. Then I happened to catch that second voice on the song. I can’t believe it. They roped John Travolta into singing a duet! Vincent Vega is singing with Hannah Montana. Cue the horsemen, the apocalypse is upon us!
Just kidding. I have to admit I kind of dig the song, for what it is. And I am excited to see Bolt (don't know if we'll make it to the theater - we haven't done the first movie experience with Sean yet - don't think he's there yet.) P.s. since writing this, no we didn’t see Bolt. But I'll definitely buy the Dvd. That said, you should all go see it if it’s still in theaters near you because my Disney stock is almost back to where I bought it!!!
Besides, no matter how cool he was in Pulp Fiction, Travolta is still the guy that sang Summer Nights – an atrocity I, as a DJ just can not get past. So singing with Miley seems par for the course.
It seemed like another good 10 minutes before the actual parade came our way. Luckily the wife had found someplace that sold chili in a bread bowl. It was good stuff too. I would highly recommend it when the sun goes down and it cools off out there, if I only knew where she got it. I’ll have to ask her. It had to be somewhere on Mainstreet. That was one complaint I had with DL’s Mainstreet, there were a few things I missed. The most glaring was the one staple of any Magic Kingdom trip for us, there on the right hand corner. That’s the Mainstreet Confectionary. No, it doesn’t help the waistline, but man oh man do I love me some peanut butter fudge. And my wife is a big fan of the carrot cake cookie. If there was an equivalent candy shop in DL, I missed it. We both commented how odd it was not to see it there on the corner.
Finally the parade began and Wendy and Sean and mom made their way right to the curb for the whole thing. It was a perfectly acceptable Disney parade with all the princesses and classic characters. I have to confess I was now jaded by the incredible parade we’d seen a short while earlier. Of course, when Mickey shows up, you can’t help but get excited. He is THE MOUSE after all. And it was about to be his birthday so mad props to Mickey! That’s what the kids say these days!
The parade came and went. Had a mini-episode with D because he’d insisted we have our picture taken by a CM with the castle in the background and when he went to preview it, he felt they were all “too orange.” I have since looked online and they're not too orange at all. In fact I edited it down to a great pic of just Sean and I and I'll be putting it on my desk at work as soon as it arrives.
Apparently he also had a slight run-in with a CM because he was standing somewhere he wasn’t supposed to. Allegedly they threatened to have him removed from the park. I wasn't there, but might have to take the CM's side on that one. Whatever.
It had been a long day for young and old alike, and it was time to go. We headed back out to the tram with only a little aggravation. Mom’s the one with a disability and she never complained once all day. She was a trooper and I think had a really good day. D, well, I’m glad he was there . . . but next time we’ll leave him on the back nine in Palm Springs!
Little meltdowns and dramas aside, it was great day. There’s an old story I love that when Jerry Lee Lewis was at the top of his career, while travelling through upstate New York in a tour bus his tired band was bugging him to stop and let them take a break and see Niagra Falls. Finally he relented and told the bus driver to pull over at the falls. The bus door opened and Jerry Lee leaned out of the door, looked at Niagra Falls, got back in the bus and told the driver to get back on the road. He turned to the band and with a characteristic flip of that blonde mop said: “Jerry Lee has seen Niagra Falls!”
Well the Scotts have seen Disneyland. And I think our day was much better and more eventful than that poor band. We loaded back into our rented Chevy Uplander and headed back to Palm Desert. I sat in the very back of the van, watching my son who should have been asleep stare out the window into the night clutching Mickey and his silky blanket. I wistfully recounted the day in my head (working on my trip report!) Sure, we missed a lot of things. Never got on Nemo. Never got to Toon Town nor did we ride the Storybook Gardens boat ride. But it’s ok. I really don’t feel like I missed anything. They are just must-do’s the next time we get to California.
I once thought I’d never get to see Disneyland. Now I can say with all certainty that Jerry Lee will see Disneyland again!
This morning, as I was waiting for the coffee to brew at 5:45 AM so I could get ready for work (and a snowy Saturday, thank you very much) I began listening to an archived WDW Radio Show from March when Lou & Co. discussed their trip to Disneyland.
I almost felt like a plagiarist by how closely Lou and I felt about certain things and experiences and DL.
Although, at the risk of being banned from the board, I must express my vehement disagreement (ok, let's face it . . . I'm not vehement about much of anything) with all of them on their review of Indiana Jones. Not that they enjoyed it so much . . . but to say it's better than Dinosaur!?!? Sacrilege!!!
I am glad after listening to learn that Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin actually very much involves spinning . . . and therefore I am happy and grateful to have missed it!!!
Boys and girls, let me just say that while I would likely never plan a week's vacation to visit Disneyland, I highly recommend you go. Plan a long weekend, three or four days, and go. I would stay at a Disney hotel if possible, esepcially as with one or two, you can step right out into Downtown Disney or DCA. But they are considerably more expensive than the Harbor strip motels. I would recommend the Howard Johnson Anaheim as well, or any of the Good Neigbor motels. You know the HoJo is ok since while we were there, we stumbled across a DL CM meeting in one of their conference rooms. Just check the locks before you unpack!
Disneyland is only a few steps above a Six Flags, when compared to Walt Disney World, but it is fun and more importantly, it is our history!
I think it can easily be summed up in the words of Tony Baxter (I think) who said "Disneyland is charming, whereas Disney World is spectacular!"
And for the record, ignore the naysayers. California Adventure is cool, and a lot of fun!
Hope you all hung in there and I didn't drone on too long. Thanks for sharing the memories with me! It's great to find another home and another extended Disney family here on the Disney World Trivia forums! And a special thanks the "Father of the Feast", Lou Mongello for providing us this forum as well as our weekly Disney fix. Since discovering the podcast, I've checked out a few others around the web, and the WDW Radio Show is the best! To paraphrase: The rest are charming, but the WDW RS is SPECTACULAR!