Friday, March 17
This was our last day on vacation so we were determined to pack in everything that we hadn’t done yet. Our day started bright and early at DL Park once again. When we walked in the park the DL fire engine was sitting there empty and seemed to be waiting just for us, so we hurried over to it. This small moment was one of the highlights of the trip, for everyone I think. We were sitting in the original DL fire engine, designed by Bob Gurr and driven by Walt himself! My sister and I had been telling my dad the story of how the fire engine had come to exist in DL just the day before. The driver gave my sister and me stickers as honorary members of the DL fire department and asked us where we were from. He was really great and super friendly. As we rode down Main Street (all smiles!), the driver told us about how Walt would often take that very vehicle out and ride it through the park before it opened each day. He also told us the last known picture of Walt that was taken in DL was of him in the fire engine. I loved hearing all of the stories…I wouldn’t have minded riding in back and forth down Main Street all morning! But of course we got off when we reached Sleeping Beauty Castle and continued on our way. It was a great start to the morning.
We were heading straight back for Toontown, but got distracted by Fantasyland on the way. Sister spotted Snow White’s Scary Adventures with no wait and wanted to do it, since she won’t have the chance to see it in WDW anymore. Unfortunately as soon as we were about to board into our cars, the ride broke. Oh well. Had to exit, so we walked over to Mr. Toad again, since Nate hadn’t been with us the first time we rode.
We continued towards Toontown when we got of Mr. Toad. Did the Roger Rabbit ride first, which is actually pretty long. Good theming in the queue and the ride. Checked out Goofy’s house, Donald’s boat-- I was looking for the rope that you can swing on inside of it like it used to have in WDW, but it wasn’t there. My mom has a picture of me hangin’ from it from all of our WDW trips. Minus the rope, the theming of the boat was a lot more detailed than the old boat that was in WDW. Next we climbed through Chip n Dale’s tree house which was cute. We noticed that all of the characters had come out to meet in front of each of their houses at this point, so we headed back to Mickey’s house to get a picture with the Big Cheese. I really liked the meet and greets set-up this way…I mean it only makes sense that Mickey n Minnie would be inside their houses waitin’ to see their guests, right?! Mickey’s wait was short and we were inside his front door for a picture with him in no time. It was also nice that he met just inside the front door, because that meant that the rest of the house behind him was empty. So after we met Mickey, we got to walk through his house once more & this time we were the only people in it! Pretty cool considering Mickey and Minnie’s houses are always an area of really bad congestion…makes photo opportunities much easier when they are empty. When you are done walking through Mickey’s house, you enter his garage and then his dressing room (which is where he does his meet & greets in the afternoon as crowds get heavier). We were done in Toontown after that so we headed out. I noticed the Toontown Trolley parked, but you could tell that is hasn’t been used in quite some time because of all of the leafy build-up/rustiness around the bottom of it where it runs on the track. Anyone know why this is?? And even if they aren’t going to use it…it is still something that Disney needs to clean up.
Hope you don't mind a lot of Toontown pics!
Mickey was ready and waitin' for us!
We did It’s a Small World next. Very similar to the WDW version, but it felt shorter and you load the attraction outside. Oh yeah, and the façade on the front of the building is amazing…so detailed and pretty. Although I did notice that it was starting to look worn and dirty, time for a refurb. I imagine it is difficult trying to keep that white clean. I enjoyed the Disney character dolls that were inside, although I know a lot of people aren’t fans. I thought the dolls were done up really well and didn’t look out of place. I thought it was fun to spot them (we spotted Cinderella, Lilo & Stitch, Peter Pan, Aladdin & Jasmine, and Ariel & Flounder to name a few). I understand how it would bother some people to change up a classic attraction like that though. I thought that the very end scene with all of the countries together is done up a bit better in WDW, but other than that, very similar.
We went for one last ride on SM next and then walked back down Main Street because we knew we wanted to do Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln before we left. We had some time before the next show, so we explored the Opera House, which had some really great pieces of Disney history in it and a lot of models. I love looking at that kind of stuff. Finally we went into the theater for the show, which is set-up very much like the Hall of Presidents where we watched a video first and then were introduced to Abe Lincoln. I think Disney did a great job with putting together the videos for both this show and HoP, as they are really easy to follow and pay attention to, while still filled with lots of interesting information and American history. Even though we all know that Abe (and the presidents in HoP) isn’t real, there is still something so captivating and impressive about watching him stand before you and speak. My family all really like the show, and knowing that Walt’s Lincoln AA meant so much to him made it even better. As we exited, my sister wanted to go back into the Opera House to explore some more, but Nate and I went out onto Main Street to watch the Disneyland marching band, which had just come out. I have always wished that the WDW marching band still existed even though I never had the chance to see it, so I totally enjoyed watching the DL marching band. I got to see the WDW marching band at Destination D last year and it really made me wish that I had the chance to know the “old” WDW that so many people remember.
My sister and I have wanted to see the Rag Time piano player forever!
Next it was time for lunch. We wandered through Adventureland and New Orleans Square and ended up in Critter Country at the Hungry Bear Restaurant to eat. Just a typical burger, chicken nugget, and fries type place. Good food but nothing spectacular. The fries were sweet potato fries, which we noticed on the menus of a few different places. I hate sweet potatoes, but the fries weren’t bad (although I still prefer regular ones). I think everyone pretty much chose some type of burger for lunch. This is also where I had some misfortune on the trip. I had been carrying around a little drawstring backpack with ALL of my stuff in it during the trip and apparently left it hanging on my chair at the Hungry Bear, although I didn’t come to notice until about an hour later. It had my Disney Dooney, wallet with all of my IDs/credit & debit cards, camera, medicine, autograph book, souvenir T shirt I had just bought, everything in it. Ugh.
So after lunch my dad headed back to the room for a nap while the rest of us headed over to Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island. We LOVED TSI. Not as big as WDW’s but so much fun…we spent a good chunk of time over there. There were so many more nooks and crannies to wriggle through and get lost in…any child’s dream. We all acted like little kids as we went through the caves, climbed the tree house, and explored the island. It definitely has more of a Pirates of the Caribbean theme though than a Tom Sawyer feel; I didn’t know the pirate theming had flooded the island that heavily. It flowed nicely though and I’m sure it has a lot of appeal to today’s crowd…we all really like it. Although if DL were my “home” park, I probably would’ve been upset to see Tom Sawyer go. It was also interesting how we were able to walk around the area that serves as the stage for Fantasmic at night. We noticed the X’s on the ground that marked the center of the stage.
We got excited when we discovered the fort area of the island ‘cause we always like to go there in WDW, but we peeked through the fence and then realized guests can’t go in, it is actually a cast break area. Does anyone know if it used to be open to the public or if it has always been a cast area with a fort façade? Kind of a shame if it used to be a public area and isn’t any longer. When we were finally done on the island and reached the mainland was when I noticed that I didn’t have my bag. We went back to the Hungry Bear, but nothing had been turned in, so I frantically headed towards guest relations. They had nothing either, but told me to check with lost and found and file a report, so that’s what we did next. I was confident that it would get turned in…I had turned in a phone, ticket, and camera all on separate occasions during our time in DL and was sure somebody would turn in the bag if they found it. Turns out I was wrong and after calling Lost and Found a few times since our return home, my bag was never turned in. I don’t care about most of the stuff that was in there, it can all be replaced; however, I am upset that my Dooney and autograph book are gone. I know that the Dooney wristlet can also be replaced, but definitely a pain since they aren’t cheap. I am most upset about the autograph book (yes, kind of silly, I know) but it has been an ongoing Disney souvenir for me that I got on a WDW trip from when I was really young. Take it with me every trip and add a few more characters, it was finally just about full…it was more of a sentimental item with a lot of memories rather than actually dying to get Snow White or someone’s autograph. Oh well, guess I will have to start over.
On the stage for Fantasmic
Anyway, back to the trip. We headed back to the hotel after our stop at lost and found ‘cause I was feeling bummed and needed to call the bank to get my cards cancelled right away. We hung out in there for a bit, then my mom & sister went to DTD while Nate and I stayed in the room with my dad. Decided after a bit that it wasn’t doing me any good to spend my last day in DL in the hotel room so I went and met my mom at Wetzel’s Pretzels in DTD for a snack. I already knew I wanted an almond crunch pretzel (SO good) and a fresh squeezed lemonade. With my spirits brightened, mom & I then met sister and Nate at the monorail station in DTD and headed back to DL. Who doesn’t love a monorail ride when they’re a bit upset? The DL monorail is unique from WDW’s in that it provides a lot of views of backstage…not necessarily cool backstage views; actually some were kind of ugly. You can also see the cast entrance building sitting right behind the Tomorrowland area from the monorail. I also saw Goofy walking around backstage on this particular monorail ride, which was definitely weird…not too sure how I felt about that. We got into DL just before the 4:00 parade and headed to get seats just across from Small World. I was worried we wouldn’t be able to find a seat since we were showing up so close to parade time (about 5 minutes before it started), but the area was surprisingly vacant…not hard to find a front row spot at all.
I LOVED the Soundsational Parade. I thought it beats MK’s afternoon parade by far. The music was very catchy, but the costumes were really, really well-themed and put together. They were so unique. I wish I had more photos to share of the dancer’s costumes, but my mom videotaped most of the show instead of taking pictures and I obviously didn’t have my newly-lost camera on me. The parade featured Mic n Min, Aladdin & friends, Ariel, Mary Poppins & Bert, Donald with his other 2 caballeros (I enjoyed this part), a princess float with all the princesses, and more. I would love to watch it again…it was very upbeat, you couldn’t help but dance along and smile. Even though DL doesn’t feature I night time parade with all of the nice lights anymore, their afternoon parade is still really great.
After the parade my dad was ready to come back to the park so we told him to meet us at BTMRR. We took the path from Fantasyland to Frontierland to get there, which was flooded with characters. Lilo, Stitch, all the Brers, the Country Bears, the Beast, Brother Bear characters, Jesse, Woody, and even more! There were hardly any guests around so we had a great few minutes being surrounded by characters and I was of course kicking myself at this point for having just lost my autograph book. It reminded me of how the characters roamed the parks a lot more freely a long time ago…no super long lines for a picture…they were just kind of free and on their own. The character attendant said it was a very rare occurrence for all these characters to be out and that a lot of them were very hard to come by most of the time. It was a fun few minutes and we snatched a picture with our favorite Country Bears, Wendell and Liverlips. We kind of have an ongoing family history with them that stems from my first Disney trip, so we were shocked when they were out and waiting for us! Fun memories. We stopped in the Big Thunder ranch after that for a few minutes and checked that out. We also found a hidden Mickey in there and were happy to see the “happiest Turkeys on earth,” who we talk about every Thanksgiving.
I have never ever, ever liked goats...I was sure one was going to eat my mom at the petting zoo when I was little & have been traumatized ever since, lol...you can kind of see in this pic I'm not too thrilled with finding them in DL.
It was over to BTMRR after that for one last ride. Loved it once again and were still thrilled with the very different experience it provides. It was over to DCA next to catch the Aladdin stage show. Stopped for smoothies on the way. My sister and I have been looking forward to this show forever, since we first heard about it. Surprisingly I wasn’t that impressed, but I will say the genie is very talented. They threw in a lot of jokes about a lot of modern day celebrities…the genie even made fun of Snooki at one point which seemed very “unDisney” to me. Yes, some of the jokes were humorous, I just kind of thought it was weird that they were part of the show. I also swear that I’ve seen clips of Aladdin and Jasmine riding on the flying carpet during the show…which definitely never happened while we were watching it. I don’t think I’m crazy & imagining this part…so I assume it was cut out but don’t know why? Overall, not a bad show at all, just didn’t live up to the expectations that I had for it. There were some people in the theater though who seemed to love it, and I also know that Nate really enjoyed it, so I guess it just depends on your taste.
After the show, the Hollywood Backlot began its transformation into “Electronica” for the night. I read a little bit about this before we left for vacation and didn’t think it sounded like something that great. However, once we got into the park and Nate found out about it, he wanted to stay and check it out, and I’m really glad we did. We both really, really enjoyed the new Tron movie, and this part of the park kind of transforms into the movie for the night. Kind of a party atmosphere, but not super obnoxious. It sort of reminded me of the dance parties with the characters in Tomorrowland in WDW, only a lot bigger and more widespread. I’m not too into the Tomorrowland dance party, but Electronica actually was pretty cool. They had a big stage with Zeus from the movie on it doing some stuff, and it really felt like you were transported into the Zeus scene from the movie. The whole land was also cast with blue light and the grid was cast onto the ground, so that was pretty awesome. There were also cast members wearing the outfits that the programs in Tron wore who were throwing around discs (Frisbees). Disney did a good job of really making it feel like you were a part of the movie. We also got to go into Flynn’s arcade, where a lot of people were playing arcade games and we got to see the original Tron game with the secret door behind it. The Muppet’s theater was showing a 3D Tron movie for the night, so we went in and watched it. It was basically a long trailer for the movie in 3D, so nothing new or too exciting, but we liked it just ‘cause we like the movie. After Nate stopped in a store and picked out a Tron t-shirt as his souvenir for the trip, we decided we were done at DCA and headed back to DL Park.
We only had a short amount of time before the fireworks started, but we decided to try to squeeze in an attraction anyway. Sister, Nate, and I headed for Star Tours, while Mom and Dad headed for the Autopia since they are not simulator people. This was my sister’s first time on the new Star Tours and she was impressed. Nate and I also had a great time because we thought the ride version we were shown was one of the best ones we have seen yet. The queue for the ride has great theming inside also, pretty similar to WDW’s. We had a fun time and were very lucky that just as we exited the building, the fireworks started. We headed toward the hub and found the best spot we could. Not perfect, but good for showing up so late. I am a huge Wishes fan, but I loved DL’s fireworks also. They do play some of the Wishes audio with their own music thrown in. I was impressed with the visual effects on the castle also. The fireworks show was very attractions themed, in contrast to WDW’s show which is very Disney movie based. It was fun to see something new and hear music from some of my favorite attraction being timed with fireworks. Tink also flies over the skies in DL, and makes an appearance at the beginning of the show, as well as the end. She spends a good chunk of time out in the sky both times, which was pretty cool. The way she flies is very different that in WDW, almost like she hovers over certain areas for a few moments before moving on, and she flies back and forth a few times, not just one straight shot and done. I really liked the way it was done, but I will say that Sleeping Beauty’s laundry line is a lot, lot, lot more obvious than Cinderella’s. ;)
After fireworks, Nate, sis, & I walked back to Small World to get seated for the Magic, the Memories, & You. Mom & Dad had watched fireworks from a different spot than us, so my mom was coming to catch up with us, while my dad went back to the room for the night. We showed up at Small World about 30 minutes before the show, expecting a crowd to show up. Wow, we were totally wrong. Only a very small handful of people showed up to watch…no need for us to get there early at all. I don’t know if it isn’t well-known or what? Strange. Even the CM working IaSW didn’t know what time the show started when we asked, because we were beginning to wonder if we showed up at the wrong time. Totally different than WDW’s show that had people getting seats for it way in advance. Despite the lack of people, the show was still fantastic. I’m a huge fan of it and hope Disney keeps it around in both parks for a long time. I will say I enjoy it more on Cinderella Castle, but it was good to see it on Small World too.
Afterwards we decided we needed to eat because we had skipped dinner. Only problem was that it was now about 10 pm and we couldn’t find any restaurants still open. We ended up at a small little place across from the Fantasmic seating in front of the Rivers of America in Frontierland. It was super busy from all people trying to grab a snack before Fantasmic started. We were lucky enough to snag a table to eat at where we had a view of Fantasmic…I was super happy about this since Nate had missed out on it the first time. I told everyone I’d wait in line for the food while they sat and watched the show. Oh my goodness, the wait was TERRIBLE. Fantasmic had ended before we got our food! I tried to stay patient because I used to work a food cart right across from prime viewing for Illuminations in Epcot and I know how crazy crowds get at show time and how chaotic it can be to keep up. However, the wait we had was totally uncalled for. My mom ended up coming back to see what the heck was taking so long…when she asked, the CMs didn’t really say anything at all, but instead handed her a free funnel cake. Okay…? But can we please just have our dinner…? Oy. Finally got it and ate quickly to make the most of our little remaining park time.
I went into the Frontierland Mercantile after we ate to rebuy my souvenir shirt that had been in my bag that was lost earlier in the day. The CM ringing me up was super nice and we started talking…she commented about how she liked my pick of the Dole Whip shirt and I mentioned that it was my second time of the day buying the same shirt. She asked why and when I told her she asked if I could wait a few minutes while she ran to the back of the store. After a few minutes of talking to her leader, they both returned and told me that while Disney merchandise is not usually replaced by Disney, they wanted me to take my new Dole Whip shirt, free of charge. I so appreciated this!!! Didn’t expect it and made me so happy that I had a bit of good luck even after losing my bag in the park. A big thank you to my cashier Michelle and her leader Ben for being great CMs and making the magic for me!!
It was pretty chilly out that night, but I was adamant about riding Splash Mountain, ‘cause it’s my absolute favorite ride and we hadn’t done it yet! So we headed over to Splash and got into the non-existent line. Mom and sis were excited because they love Splash too, Nate wasn’t very thrilled because he didn’t wanna get wet in the cold, but didn’t wanna sit out either. We watched as people exited, and no one looked wet at all, so we were really happy about that. Of course it ended up being a different story for us. We all ended up SOAKED, especially my sister. Every piece of clothing on us down to our now squishy tennis shoes. Would have normally been annoying since we were freezing, but we were all laughing too hard to care. It was late, we were overtired, and everything was just funny at that point. Splash was very strange to us…it felt so disjointed, like the story was not at all as well told here as it is in WDW. I’m not even sure if I would’ve understood it as thoroughly if I hadn’t ridden WDW’s version before this. It was just put together strangely, in all of our opinions. And if I remember correctly, it totally skipped out on the Laughin’ Place scene. You sit really low down in the logs and the seats aren’t padded very well, so the log rides kind of rough, and you definitely feel every bump you cross over or hit. I imagine it may bother some people who have back issues. It also made the drops scarier…every move the log made just seemed really exaggerated…so on that note it was very fun. I definitely prefer WDW’s version though…by far.
Unfortunately after Splash, it was time for DL to close for the night and for all of us to say goodbye—so sad. I looked back at the castle as we walked down Main Street, just as I always do on my last day. Tried to soak it all in and was so thankful we got to have such a great time and so many new experiences in the past few days. We truly did have a magical time and will definitely return some day. It was such a pleasure to be in “Walt’s park”. Loved every second.
And of course I had to stop in Guest Relations and fill out a fantastic service card for my new friends Ben and Michelle as we left! A big thank-you to them once again!
We headed out early the next morning, about 6 am, to begin our long journey home. Never a fun day, but thankful for the experience and all our new memories.
I would also like to comment about our length of time there. I have heard people comment that DL is a one day park and DCA is a half day park. I TOTALLY disagree. We were there for 3.5 days total, and while we did get to see almost everything that we wanted, I felt that we easily could have used another day or two. I usually like to go back and do rides over, BTMRR, Space Mountain, and Mr. Toad were the only rides we repeated the entire trip. There was a decent handful I wish I could’ve done over again. I also would’ve liked to take a ride on the Rivers of America and hit a few other small things we missed in both parks. We did not do the parks commando-style, maybe if we had I could’ve squeezed everything in completely, but that is not how we wanted to spend our vacation. Nicer to go a little slower and take it all in. I never even checked out all of DTD. So, IMO, a good 4 or even 5 days could be spent at DL (I know that there are a lot of people who are going to disagree with this, but to each, their own).
So I think that wraps it up! If you have any questions, feel free to ask! Hope you enjoyed reading and are now possibly considering your own DL vacation—it is definitely worth it!
Those and the one or two that used to appear in the water. One was real, one was the giant fake one. But there was a gal who WAS the mermaid when I was young. Not sure if that was a special deal for Military weekends, or a once in a while deal, but I sure miss that entire attraction. My dad took photos of the ones on the rocks, I am still trying to get the box of family photos from my childhood from my dad's wench.
This might explain where the flying carpet went, and why:
Video of actors:
Great trip report, I hope you didn't rush through the museum it is supposed to be fantastic for us Walt Disney fans. My daughter gave me a membership in the museum and I hope to actually get there sometime, lol. Looking forward to more of your trip report.
Thanks Amanda. Great report!
We hope to get back to DLR relatively soon for a bit longer than just the one day we did in June of '10.
Although we packed in a lot, there was so much more we wanted to do!