* Time of Year: Fall
* Travel Method: Plane, Rental Car
* Resort: Offsite
* Ages Represented in Group: Adult
* Disneyland Experience Represented in Group: Infrequent
* Comments: Disneyland, September of 1996. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Anaheim Center again. We spent part of five days in the parks on this trip.
I was sent to Santa Barbara on business again this Fall. Since I was going to the west coast, I also scheduled a business appointment in San Juan Cappistrano (about forty or so minutes from Anaheim) toward the end of the trip. Of course, I took Barb along with me since we had a frequent flyer pass to cover her air faire.
I do have to make one comment, because as I've read through parts of this report I've noticed my references to the fact that Barb and I are adopting our first baby (hopefully) in the next few weeks. The baby isn't yet born, it's actually due after our scheduled return from California. We've met the birthmother a couple times, and she seems to be happy that we're going to be raising the baby. We're excited to death! And we can't wait to have that little one keeping us awake at night.
Sunday, September 15, 1996
Not much to tell about today. We caught our flight out of Saginaw at 7:30am, flew to Detroit, and had our usual hour layover. We strolled over to the Cinnabon snack shop for a Cinnabon pastry (wonderful cinnamon rolls with butter frosting...mmmm) and cold milk. We had an uneventful trip to LA, got our rental car, and drove up the coast to Santa Barbara.
We kinda just hung around in the evening. All of the travel had us quite tired, and we ended up having dinner at a chain restaurant called Carrows across the street from our Holiday Inn. The dinner was very good, for the price, and we enjoyed excellent service. After dinner we pretty much just knocked off early.
Monday, September 16, 1996
Another uneventful day. Except for one little detail....this was our seventh anniversary. It's hard to remember what life was like before we got married, but I remember enough to know I like it this way better.
I spent the entire day in a training class. Very useful information, which I'll be able to put to good use at work.
When I returned to the hotel, Barb and I headed over to the local mall's Disney store to buy our Disneyland flex passes....$59 each, for five days, and one magic morning...not a bad deal. We had tried to buy our passes in Michigan before we left, but the Disneyland passes are only available through the Disney Stores West of the Mississippi river. You can buy them out East, but they are mailed to your house....with an extra fee for the privilege. We decided to wait until we got to California...no big deal.
After our foray to the mall, we had a very nice dinner at a local steakhouse called Jasper's. Barb had a New York and I had a blackened ribeye. Very good stuff...
Tuesday, September 17, 1996
Another day in class. Afterwards, Barb and I had dinner at a local Mexican restaurant called Alex's Cantina. Very good, if you visit the area. We spent most of the rest of the evening checking out the local bookstores (Santa Barbara has an excellent line-up of them) and doing some window shopping.
Wednesday, September 18, 1996
First thing on the agenda today was to finish up the last session of my class. This instructor is excellent, I'm trying to hire him to come out to Saginaw to run some classes for our lab group next Spring or Summer.
After wrapping up, I met up with Barb at the hotel to finish packing up to move Santa Barbara to Anaheim today. We got out of Santa Barbara pretty close to 12:15 or so, stopped at a Wendy's for a quick bite (unfortunately, we ate pretty late) and headed on to Anaheim.
We got settled in at the Holiday Inn Anaheim Center (aka "at the Park"). This is our traditional hotel when we stay in the Anaheim area now. It's close to Disneyland, has an hourly bus shuttle, and is a nice, clean place with a nicely landscaped pool area.
After we got moved in, we had a short nap, then drove on down to Buena Park for our traditional chicken dinner at Knott's. Someday I'm going to visit the park, too, but over the last four trips or so all we've done is had dinner. Barb particularly enjoys the chicken soup. It's a wonderful creamy recipe that we can't track down for the life of us. If anyone has a good copy recipe PLEASE let me know. I'd be knighted "super husband" if I'm ever able to figure that one out.
After dinner we strolled around the gift shops and such...then drove on back to the hotel. We briefly considered driving over to the Disneyland Hotel for awhile, but we decided to just rest this evening and hit the park in the morning.
We got a call from my Mom this evening on our cell phone. We got the phone specifically so the adoption agency can reach us if they must during the trip. Anyway, Mom's call was just to help us verify that it's working OK. Our new baby is due in just a few days, so it won't be a real surprise if we have to cut this trip short to head back home early. Just for simplicity's sake, I hope it doesn't happen...on the other hand, we're excited to death about the baby...we'll just play it as it comes.
Thursday, September 19, 1996
This was our first day in the park. We moseyed on down to the lobby at about 8:45am or so to catch the 9:00 shuttle bus to Disneyland only to find out that the first shuttle bus wasn't scheduled to leave until 9:30. We waited in the lobby until about 9:20 then walked outside to where the bus picks up. At about 9:35, I went inside to ask the bell services folks when the bus was leaving...."It's already gone," was the reply. Seeing red, I asked where we were supposed to be to catch the bus. Turns out, we were in the right place...and the bell guy inside didn't know what he was talking about. The bus hadn't left yet, it was just running late (why, I have no idea).
We arrived at the park, went through the turnstiles (no problems) and walked down Main Street. I'm amused, every trip, when I first see Main Street. The buildings are so much smaller than those in the Florida MK. Actually, Disneyland's is scaled much better, but the difference is always striking to me.
Our first attraction destination was Space Mountain. I just had to hear the soundtrack that everyone is raving about. We walked right on with virtually no wait. The ride is wild! The music makes things so much more intense...and the fact that the ride is so much more dark than the Space Mountain in Florida just adds to the ride. We also especially enjoy the fact that in Disneyland you ride side by side instead of in front of each other. It helps you to enjoy the other person's reactions as well as your own. I noticed that contained in the music is a wildly disguised verson of the first few phrases of Camille Saint-Saen's "Aquarium" from "Carnival of the Animals." Check it out music fans...By the way, this music is also used in the opening sequence of "Impressions de France" in the French Pavilion at EPCOT.
After that, we headed over to the Submarine Voyage. As long as I'm coming to Disneyland every year or so, I'm going to ride this ride...no telling when it's going to be deep-sixed (like the 20,000 Leagues attraction in Florida). The wait was lengthy. Probably a good 25 minutes or so...it seemed like there was some mechanical problem, because we waited for one particular sub for a long, long time. During our wait, I snapped a quick picture of the Matterhorn with it's scaffolding and workers swarming all about. Kinda weird looking that way. Well, the ride through liquid space was just as I remembered it. Those 1950's effects could probably be greatly improved upon in 1996...I wonder what Imagineering could do with this ride today?
After the sub ride, we walked back toward Toontown. The crowds were already building up in this area, so we strolled on back to Fantasyland and rode Alice. The ride operator, named Dan, who had been singing along with the attraction music, told us "kids" to behave, as we loaded up...Alice has some good effects...not a bad dark ride at all. By the way, we later saw Dan at the Jungle Cruise too. I thought that the CMs stuck to one land or another, I guess I was wrong.
Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was next. The kid behind me kept kicking and shoving...I hate that. Well, at least the kid's mom was trying to control him....not successfully, but at least an attempt.
After we exited Toad Hall...we strolled on down Main Street for lunch at Carnation Plaza. I figure that spending money there is the best way to show that this is a worth while place. Hopefully it will survive the changes that are planned for Main Street next year. I had the opera house premiere (ham and melted cheese with mustard in a flakey pastry). Barb had the cheeseburger (plaza platter). To top things off, I had a coffee shake and Barb and a root beer float. When Barb put her straw into her float, doing absolutely nothing wrong or odd, the thing erupted all over the table! Bob, our waiter said that the "Disneyland Volcanos" occur alot. He brought over alot of napkins so we could clean up a bit. Speaking of Bob, he's been around for a long while. In fact, he's waited on us several times before and said "good to see you folks again", when he first took our order...even though it had been about a year since our last visit. Either he has a tremendous memory or we look just like some other couple that visits regularly. Total cost for the meal was about $24.00, before the tip, but I don't remember the actual cost and I forgot to take the bill with me.
After lunch, we headed back to our hotel via our bus shuttle. The new shuttle bus waiting area is WONDERFUL compared to the old spot in the middle of the parking lot with no seating or shade. No big deal, I know, for you locals...but for those of us that take advantage of the shuttles, it's tremendous!
We jumped in the pool for awhile upon our return. I also nursed my headache in the hot tub...but unfortunately it lingered for awhile into the evening.
We headed back to the park at about 5:40pm or so. We drove and parked at the Disneyland Hotel this time, then rode the monorail over. We were surprised at the long wait for the monorail. Things seemed to be very slow with so many round-trippers from Tommorrowland.
Upon our arrival at the MK, we walked over to see the new Triton's Fountain. It's very nice to see something new in the park that adds atmosphere and not ride capacity (or plush sales capacity). Barb took a quick picture of me at the fountain...then we walked around to the hub and back into Fantasyland. We got in line for Peter Pan and waited a full half hour or so to fly to Neverland....still a great ride.
By now it was getting close to 6:45 or so, so we headed back out to the hub to stake our claim for the Electric Parade. We didn't see any open spots until we were opposite the Matterhorn, but we were shooed away from there as it was a handicapped only area. We continued walking back and ended up all the way back at It's a Small World before finding a decent place to camp out. Still, it was a nice location. We saw the parade as it began, without having to wait until it got halfway through the park. The blue fairy and the other floats were as beautiful as ever. General Electric is now the prominent sponsor. The float with Mickey and Minnie that immediately follows the Blue Fairy used to say "Disneyland Presents" and "Main Street Electrical Parade". Now it says, "General Electric" instead of "Disneyland Presents". I don't remember that from last year...either it's a new change, or I'm just befuddled. I would presume that GE will be the sponsor of Light Magic beginning next year, too.
After the parade, we headed quickly back to Toontown and rode Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin. There's alot more here, effects and so on, than I remembered from our last time on this ride a couple years ago. We just might have to check it out again this trip. We strolled around Toontown for a few minutes afterwards...then headed back toward Fantasyland. We rode It's a Small World while the line was short...I still think this version in California has it all over the one in Florida....besides the fact that it's the original, it's just better.
To end the evening, we walked back toward the monorail...saw a healthy line and so walked up Main Street to catch the tram to the DL Hotel. The tram ride was amazing...I couldn't believe how long it took to cross West Avenue. I'm surprised that no tunnel or bridge was ever built to facilitate that crossing.
We walked back to the convention center building and made it to Stromboli's for our 9:30 reservation with a minute to spare. Dinner was excellent. I had a basil chicken and pasta dish (brilliant green in color, but flavorful) and Barb had a calzone (stuffed pizza thing). Barb's calzone and my desert were the main reasons for coming back to Stromboli's. Barb declared her meal excellent...but unfortunately, they were out of the tirimisu that I'd been craving for twelve months. Well, I settled on a chocolate amaretto souffl kind of a thing...good, but not as good as the tirimisu I missed out on. We'll have to come back for that yet this trip.
Idiot that I am, I forgot about our MKC discount on this day's meals. Hopefully, I'll remember for the rest of them.
After dinner we walked back to the car and drove back to our hotel for the night.
Friday, September 20, 1996
We got started a bit earlier this morning. We caught the 8:30 bus and made it to the MK within about 10 minutes. We had a fifteen minute wait at the rope (I was surprised that they don't quote the dedication plaque during park opening now!...or maybe that's just in Florida) We followed the rest of the herd right to Frontierland and the beginning of the Indian Jones queue. Altogether we must have spent about twenty minutes or so in the line, but every single minute was a reasonably well-paced walk. When Barb and I reached the sign that states that "expectant mothers may not ride", Barb decided that she shouldn't ride. We rolled with laughter, but no one else seemed to get it.
Of course, the ride was spectacular. I don't remember it being so well done, but then again, it's been a year since I'd ridden it. Both Barb and I were impressed.
After Indy, we walked to Pirates of the Caribbean and walked right on. I love this ride in California. I wish the Florida version had been more faithful to the original. During the early part of the ride, the couple sitting next to us mentioned the restaurant (Blue Bayou) and expressed interest in eating there that day. I highly recommended that they get reservations...in fact, when we exited the ride, the reservations line rivaled the Pirates line. No kidding.
Next, we spent a few minutes looking in the shops in New Orleans Square. Barb is looking for a "baby's first Christmas" kind of ornament for some reason. I made a pit stop and picked up a copy of the map/show times schedule that I'd forgotten to get earlier. I guess several of the shops scattered throughout the park have them. I asked at the crystal store and was directed to the Christmas store there in New Orleans Square. I suppose that would be true elsewhere in the park, too.
After our brief stop in the shops, we walked over to the short queue at the Haunted Mansion. Jake, or Jerk, was a young kid in line right behind us. I pity the kid's parents. He was all over the place, rude, and otherwise an irritation. One thing I noted in the Mansion that I'd never noticed before was the piano playing a minor key version of "Here Comes the Bride" in the attic. Is that new?
After that we walked back toward Big Thunder...at least I thought so. Turns out I had the Florida and California parks mixed up. We ended up in a dead end in Critter Country. I was so embarrassed. On the other hand, we found a rather secluded spot that's probably popular with the teens on grad night. We caught a quick kiss while we were there, too.
After that, we walked back to Adventureland, and got in line for the Jungle Cruise. The line was only about twenty minutes long...thanks mostly to the fact that when the queue split into two parts at the top of the stairs everyone was on the right. Barb and I went left and passed several hundred people....no exaggeration! The cruise looks better than ever. I hadn't realized on our last trip, but they must have replaced some of the older Animatronic figures during the last rehab. The pair of bull elephants, for example, looked magnificent.
After the cruise, we went over to the Plaza Inn for lunch. Barb had the pot roast, I had the fiesta sandwich. Both were excellent. I topped it off with cheesecake. The total cost for the meal (including beverages and a 10% MKC discount) was $21.18. After lunch we shopped Main Street for a few minutes, then headed back to our bus for an early afternoon break.
We were back at the park on the 4:00pm bus. First on the agenda was to find a place to watch the Lion King Celebration. We waited about 40 minutes at a spot right in front on Snow White's Grotto. Unfortunately, we watched the parade pass by, but the celebration occurred a long way to either side of us. Very disappointing.
After the parade, we headed back for the Festival of Fools. This show is very well done, but we were in pretty poor location for some of the action. Our backs were to the staging area. We could follow most of what was going on, but some of it was lost on us due to our location.
After the show we rode Big Thunder. This was alot of fun, especially since we missed the ride last year due to a maintenance shutdown. We really love this ride. By the way, there is a brief tunnel of pitch darkness in the ride now. I don't remember that from before. Is it new? Maybe someone out there can let me know.
After Big Thunder, we strolled over to New Orleans Square to catch a bite at the French Market. I've wanted to eat there for a long time, but we've been sticking to the full-service places as much as possible. This was a meal to remind us why. It wasn't bad. The food itself was pretty good, but the crowds, messy tables, plastic ware...those things made the meal less enjoyable. It's a tradeoff...atmosphere for dollars... Anyway, Barb had a very good fruit salad and I had the Cajun chicken dish. I also had a mint julep and a piece of pecan pie. I enjoyed the chicken very much, but the mint julep was less than awe-inspiring. The pecan pie wasn't exceptional either. OK, but not excellent. We ended up paying $22.60 after our MKC discount was applied. Not bad pricing when all is considered.
After dinner we caught Big Thunder again (in the dark...excellent that way) and sauntered over to Fantasyland to do some shop strolling. At about that time Barb and I had a mutual brainstorm....
We walked back to the Toontown train station and rode the train around to the New Orleans Square station. Actually, our timing was a bit off...so we rode around again. The second time, we arrived at the station at about 8:50pm or so. We spent the next several minutes shopping the stores in the square. As soon as the 9:00 Fantasmic presentation was over, we walked toward our chosen place (immediately to the right of the middle light tower directly behind the iron railing) to stake our claim for the 10:30 show. Unfortunately, the Fantasmic folks, dressed in their yellow storm troopers outfits, wouldn't let us pass. They wanted us to head over to Pirates of the Caribbean and into Adventureland....totally contrary to our objective. When I told the nearest "suit" what I wanted to do, he gave me excellent directions to accomplish it...we ended up sitting immediately to the left of the middle light tower...frankly, as good a place as we had in mind anyway.
We waited for the show with some very nice folks with three very well behaved kids. Their youngest was three months, so we got into a discussion about taking young infants to Disney parks....should be helpful for us when we travel to WDW in a few weeks.
Fantasmic was spectacular as usual. I love the music and the precision of the presentation. Marvelous, dramatic, sensational, splendid...if you've seen it you know what I mean...if not, I'm sorry for you.
After the show we rode Splash Mountain....it really lived up to it's name. We got drenched long before the big drop. It was weird to look down at the briar patch and see nothing...it was so dark (and I've never ridden at night before).
On the way back out of the park, we noticed that Indy was running only a 20 minute line, so we jumped in...and tumble-dried our clothes a bit. The queue atmosphere in this ride is Disney's best. The only thing that rivals it at all is the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at the Studios.
After Indy, we walked back down Main Street to our bus, which was actually there waiting for us. When we got back to the hotel, I finished up this day's portion of the report...then we dropped into bed. Tomorrow will be another day!
Saturday, September 21, 1996
Today we planned a very odd schedule. Honestly, we figured that Saturday of all days would be a good one to avoid the park, so we didn't even plan to go there until the evening to catch a show and maybe some night time riding of the mountains.
We didn't get up this morning until 10:00am (a travesty for most Disney-philes -- including myself) and drove over to the Disneyland Hotel. We spent forty-five minutes or so browsing the shops, we'd been wanting to do so for several years now, then went over to Stromboli's for lunch. I ordered the fettuchini alfredo with chicken, Barb had the traditional pizza. Of the two styles (pizza vs. calzone) Barb prefers the calzone. She said that the calzone comes with extra sauce, which is good anyway. The pizza, on the other hand, didn't come with extra sauce and was on the dry side. She also said that both meals were a bit overly baked. As far as the fettuchini went, I've had much better at Tony's and Alfredo's at WDW. It was good, but much more comparable to the dish you'd be served at your local Olive Garden. For desert, I ordered the tirimisu that I'd missed at dinner a few days ago. Barb ordered the fruit cup. The tirimisu was spectacular! The expresso sauce was very strong (which I love) but smooth. Barb's fruit cup turned out to be nothing more than raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries with a yogurt dip. She LOVED it! All of her favorites in one. The total price for the meal was somewhere around $35 before the tip. I don't know exactly because I foolishly forgot to take the receipt with me.
After our meal, we strolled the rest of the stores at the hotel. We found a child's clock that was perfect...it taught the letters of the alphabet and the numerals with Mickey and Disney music. Unfortunately, we'd have to mortgage the baby to pay for it....$1800 is just a bit steep.
Another thing we did was to take an elevator to the top of the Sierra tower of the hotel. The top floor is the 11th. We got off, hoping to find a window off the hallway to look at the Magic Kingdom from above, but was disappointed to see that there are none. The concierge lobby, though, was open. I told the CM there, a guy named Danny, that we weren't even guests at the hotel, but asked if we could look out of the window for a few minutes. He said that would be fine, so we spent a good five minutes or so just gazing out the window at the sights below.
After that, we jumped back in the car and headed back to the hotel for a quick dip and an afternoon nap. Then returned to Disneyland on the 5:00pm bus.
The crowds were very thick as we entered Main Street. Clearly alot of people were already staking their claims for the upcoming Main Street Electrical Parade. (It was still more than 3 full hours away!!!) We headed directly (or at least as directly as we could given the crowds) to the Tiki Juice Bar for a sample of the much acclaimed Dole Whip. Mike Scopa, in his July 1994 trip report to WDW just raved about this concoction which is available at the Aloha Isle stand in the MK in Florida. I can take it or leave it. It was good, but I guess I built it up too much over the last two trips to DL and three trips to WDW. It just isn't worth the hype I'd given it. Barb reports that the ice that she was given was excellent.
Our next destination was the Spirit of Pocahontas stage show. There was a 5:30pm showing which we pretty much assumed we'd missed as it was already about 5:15 or so. Sure enough, when we got back to the theater, the 5:30 was already full and the queue for the 6:45 show was beginning. We elected to stick around on the theory that there probably wouldn't be a better time to catch the show anyway.
The wait in line (about 1 hour and fifteen minutes in length) seemed alot longer than it was. Barb was pressed between an iron fence and a stroller that shouldn't have been in the queue area anyway. The stroller woman kept rocking the stroller into Barb's foot, while a terrible child pushed the stroller against her from the other side. Meanwhile, the stroller woman's friend or mother or something was inching up behind to take away Barb's spot against the fence. If Barb parried the stroller, she was sure to lose ground against the encroaching ally of the stroller woman. Fortunately, Barb is much more kind and enduring than I. I would have blown up and tossed the stroller (with child if necessary) out of the queue. Angelic Barb simply put up with the rudeness.
Eventually, the wait was over and we were able to get some excellent seats slightly to the right of center and in the second tier. Except for being a bit more on center, I don't think any other seats would have been any better. The show itself was very well done. The singing of the actors and actresses, especially Pocohontas herself, was excellent. The effects were good, too, especially Grandmother Willow.
After the show, we noticed that the crowds in the park had grown significantly during our conflict with the stroller woman and the Powhatan's conflict with the English. In fact, the crowds were so huge that the back stage areas were being opened for the crowds to pass by. We entered one right between the Pocohontas stage and the Storybookland area. We walked back stage from there, through a huge corrugated steel tunnel to the opening that marks the boundary between Fantasyland and Frontierland. At that point we walked into Fantasyland to see where we might catch a bite to eat. The crowds were terrific! In fact, dodging the strollers and wide-eyed children and panic-stricken parents in the dark in Fantasyland in the "happiest place on earth" has got to be the ultimate dark ride.
We eventually made our way though the castle to the hub. We walked though the hub in at least three different directions to try to make it to the Plaza Inn where we planned to catch some dinner, but to no avail. Finally, I saw a break in the crowd, grabbed Barb's hand, and slipped into the candy shop on the west side of Main. We walked though the shops until we got to the Carnation Plaza, where we were forced to exit back to the bedlam outside. We clung as best as we could to the right, avoiding the stroller kamikazes that darted from everywhere (frankly, I don't know why those parents were willing to put their kids in danger like that....if I was there with kids, I would have done what we were about to do....get out of Dodge.)
One interesting event occurred when I tried to sneak passed a father and stroller that was sitting right in the doorway from the street into the jewelry shop. Not really a parking place, in my opinion...and he clearly had no intention of moving...as I tried to slip passed, he pulled the front of the stroller into my shin. I held my ground and got Barb through before the stroller blocked the doorway for good (I half expect to find that stroller stuck in the door tomorrow morning...)
We made it though the Emporium with only minor injuries, and slowly made our way through the multitude of humanity that that was still streaming IN to the park from under the train station. I tried to tell them, but they wouldn't listen. Honestly, I can't stress how full of people the entire magic kingdom was this evening. It simply wasn't possible to move more than a few inches forward without having to shimmy to the right or left to slip around a stroller or a person or both. As I read this portion to Barb, she commented that I didn't really capture how crowded the place was. I don't think I did either, but I don't know how else to express it. Bottom line...it was dangerous.
While we were at the bus stop, I asked a CM that was working in the area how many people were in the park today. She wasn't exactly sure, but said that estimates were already above 90,000. Apparently last Saturday had been a record and Mendy (the CM) wasn't sure that they wouldn't break the week-old record today. Neither would I.
Well, to round out our short day at Disneyland (about two hours and forty minutes) we caught the next bus to our hotel, jumped into our rental car, and drove to a nearby Baker's Square (on Harbor just a block or two south of Katella) for dinner. I had a mustard chicken dinner, Barb had chicken strips...and we each had a piece of pie. Total cost was $19.88 before the tip, not bad...even without an MKC discount.
Sunday, September 22, 1996
We chose to exercise our Magic Morning option today, so we got up early and drove over to the MK, instead of relying on the shuttle bus. We actually arrived at the parking lot before the CMs were ready to take parking fees...we waited about ten minutes or so for that. After we parked, we walked over to the turnstiles...there was a huge line at the right-most early admission turnstile and absolutely none at the other seven. We picked an empty one and were rewarded by being among the first allowed into the park at 7:30am.
We first made our way to to Indian Jones's dig. We walked right on from the beginning of the queue to the transports. As soon as we finished, we walked toward New Orleans Square to see if anything else was open this morning. The CM there said that reservations were being taken for Blue Bayou, but when we walked back there, we found that not to be the case. One point here....the reservations for the Fantasmic Desert Buffet are now being taken in this area and NOT up in the Gallery. Another tidbit...there was already a line forming for both restaurant and buffet reservations...
When we returned from our wasted trip, we rode Indy again...this time we had a short twenty minute or so wait. One of the most amazing things about this attraction, as I've said before, is the queue area. Amazing details.
After Indy, we walked across the park to catch Space Mountain. Only had about a ten minute wait for this one. I just love the guitar rendition of "Carnival of the Animals."
Next, we walked all the way back to New Orleans Square and waited in line for a few minutes to make lunch reservations at Blue Bayou. Funny, the two people that were in line for reservations when we had been there at 7:50 am were still first in line. We left and rode Indy and Space Mountain and came back...and only lost two positions in line. Not a bad trade-off. We got the very first reservations for 11:00am. Early lunch, but we figured we'd be ready for it.
We walked over to Big Thunder next. The line sign said it would be about a ten minute wait. Turned out to be more like twenty. Even so, it's a great ride. Barb noticed that the Saloon, which had been rowdy and raucous when we rode at night a few days ago was strangely silent during the day. Hmmmm...I wonder if the saloon is closed on Sunday...nah, can't be...probably just an electrical fault of some kind.
After the rode the mountain, we walked to Fantasyland and rode Pinnochio and Snow White in quick succession. I still can't believe the abrupt ending of Snow White. It's probably among the best of the dark rides, but that ending is like hitting a brick wall at 60 miles per hour.
We strolled toward the hub next, and ended up sitting down in one of the seats in the castle causeway. I went back for a walk-though the Sleeping Beauty diorama (and gave the exit turnstile a couple extra spins) then met up with Barb who had been blissfully baby watching in front of the castle.
At one point as Barb was watching the crowds go by, a guy tried to get his family lined up for a picture on the causeway. People kept walking through and he lost his cool and started swearing about his picture being blocked. He was pretty hot. Funny, I've noticed that people all over the world wait for a Japanese photographer, but not for any other brand. Flame away, if you must, but it's just an observation...
Another scene that Barb noted was of a little girl, maybe 2 1/2 years old, maybe a bit older, walking with her parents from the hub. She seemed to already be tired from getting out of bed early, driving all the way to a huge parking lot, walking from there into a line to buy tickets, then fighting huge crowds up main street...but as she walked up the causeway she saw the carousel inside the castle courtyard and her face lit up. She cried, "mommy, there's the horsey ride! the horsey ride, mommy!" Animated for the first time, she dragged her smiling parents into the gate. I'm looking forward to that kind of reaction from our kids....only four days to the due date...
We headed over to the Blue Bayou for lunch, had a short wait (our fault, since we arrived fifteen minutes early for our reservations) and had a wonderful meal. I had the blackened sirloin steak. Barb chose the prime rib. To top it off, I had chocolate mousse and Barb had raspberries. All told, with our MKC discount (worth $5.90 this time!) our bill came out to $36.04. Hefty for lunch, but an excellent meal.
After lunch we strolled though the Adventureland shops (Barb tried on some shorts) and then walked back to catch the 1:00 bus to the hotel. We plan to get the car tonight so we can leave the park whenever we want...without having to wait for the bus if we're tired.
After a little time hot tubbing (Barb) and writing this report (me) we took a nap to get reinvigorated for the evening...
We caught the 6:00 bus back to the MK and started the evening by checking out several menus. Casa Mexicana, Cafe Orleans, and the Plaza Inn were all passed over in favor of Carnation Gardens. I had the Conductor's Treat (grilled chicken dinner) and Barb had her favorite Plaza Platter. I also had a coffee malt (I love these and the coffee shakes...can't get them in the MK in Florida) and Barb had a root beer float. With our 10% MKC discount, the total bill was $20.13 before tip. I asked our waitress about the rumors of the restaurant closing. She said that the story that the CMs had been told is that only the outside area would remain as table service, and the fountain deserts would no longer be served. The inside part of the restaurant would become a cappuccino bar with no reserved tables...just come in, get coffee, and sit.
After dinner we headed back toward Adventureland and rode the jungle cruise after dark. The queue only held us up about ten minutes or so. Our skipper wasn't bad, but wasn't very creative either. Even so, we love the cruise after dark.
Following our harrowing adventures on the rivers of the world, we boldly struck out against the tide of humanity to visit the Country Bears Playhouse. We were pleasantly surprised to find that we only had about a ten minute wait there, too. I like the vacation hoe-down much better than the "new" old country bear jamboree that's running again at the Florida park. Personal opinion only.
After we'd been bearly entertained, we walked back toward Adventureland. The crowds for Fantasmic were huge, but nothing like they had been the night before. We headed toward the hub, but then jumped in the jungle cruise line again. This time our wait would have been only five minutes, but we waited a boat to avoid riding again with the same skipper. The new skipper wasn't much better, but at least was different.
After our last voyage on the Titanic (as our fearless captain called our boat), we walked back to the hub, town square, and out of the park. Getting out was a harrowing experience, but again, NOTHING like Saturday night.
We got back to our car in good order, thanks to Barb's remembrance of where we'd left it, and drove through the parking lot to West onto Ball and back to our hotel.
Monday, September 23, 1996
This morning I got up early to make a business appointment down I-5 a few miles. Things went well...then I met back up with Barb at the hotel at about 11:00am.
We drove over to the Disneyland Hotel since we missed the bus. We planned to later have a meal or buy a souvenir to get our parking validated. As we parked, the tram to the MK drove up, so we decided to catch it back rather than fight the lines at the monorail.
When we arrived at the MK, we were surprised at the crowds. The park had only been open for an hour, but there was quite a large number of people already there. Worse, there was a ten minute lineup just to get through the turnstiles.
We eventually made it through and walked directly to Casa Mexicana for lunch. It was the runner-up in our menu comparison derby the night before, so we decided to try it for lunch. I had an enchalata / taco / burrito combination, Barb had a two taco combination...and we shared chips and salsa and a piece of chocolate cake. Along with our beverages, and considering our 10% MKC discount, we paid $26.28 for the meal. We were pleasantly surprised at the quality and quantity of food. We're not Mexican food experts by any means, being mid-Westerners from Michigan, but the food was good. Certainly equal or better than Chi-Chi's or Taco Bell...
After our meal we walked over to the Mark Twain berth to catch the boat for a ride around the river. I suggested that we consider making for the pilot house, but Barb overheard another woman asking about it. We figured with strong competition we'd not really make it. Well, when the boat docked, we made our way to the top deck without any problems and I was able to get the captain's attention...he permitted us to "come on up", so we did. Just as we reached the top of the ladder in the pilot house, the other woman was asking for permission to come up. It was denied because we made it first. Maybe she didn't hurry because she didn't know we were planning on going up...or maybe she got turned around trying to make her way to the top deck...but regardless, we made it.
The trip around the river was fun. We couldn't hear the scripted dialog, but we did take several photos, rang the bell, blew the whistle, and started the dialog tape a couple of times. The fun part, though, was just taking with the captain (a guy named Mickey, belive it or not) about the park's history. It turns out that Mickey is going to WDW for the 25th in a couple weeks. We talked about the parks in Florida and some of the details at Disneyland. Alot of fun. After we finished our trip, we were presented with pilot's licenses for our trouble. Cool.
After our voyage, we made our way back to Fantasyland to catch the Storybookland boats. I guess I'm spoiled, but I really didn't want to wait in a twenty minute line for that. Next, we made our way to Tommorrowland and strolled the shops for a few minutes. It's good to do that every once in a while to remind myself why I don't shop in Tommorrowland very often...not much to see.
We walked around the corner and saw that the circlevision presentation was coming up in twelve minutes, we we sat down to wait. America the Beautiful was wonderful...very dated, of course, but wonderful. I seem to remember a different presentation last year. Not the Wonders of China, but another one. Can anyone enlighten me here?
After the show, we headed back to Frontierland to catch a front-on picture of the Mark Twain...then we left the park. We caught the tram back to the hotel to buy a paper punch that Barb wanted, got our ticket validated, and left the hotel. A word of warning here...apparently, you are only validated for one hour for every three dollars that your purchase is worth. We ended up owing a dollar. No big deal, but a drag if you tried to cheat and park there all day....ouch.
Now I must wax eloquent about my last minutes in the park. As always, it's a sad time at the end of the trip when we've had so much fun over the last few days. On the other hand, we have so much to be looking forward to. The baby's due in a few days and almost as soon as we get used to having a new member of the family, we'll be heading to Walt Disney World for vacation with my Mom and Dad (pretty smart to schedule grandparents for our first trip to WDW with the baby, huh?)
Disneyland is unique to all the world. No place has so much fun and excitement packed into so few acres while remaining so clean, comfortable, and enjoyable. Some of the rides are timeless...others are new and likely to be favorites for many years to come. From high tech rides like Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye to low tech attractions like the Storybookland boat tour...from thrills like you get on Splash Mountain to the more simple joys on It's a Small World...from the parks special little perks like Snow White's Grotto and Triton's Fountain...from the excited tourists that snap picture after picture of Sleeping Beauty's castle to the little girl that was so excited about the "horsey ride"...from the Matterhorn Sunday at Carnation Gardens to the premium prime rib at the Blue Bayou...to letting a old guy and his young, beautiful wife steer the Mark Twain...Disneyland is special. I'm glad I don't work for the Disney company. I wouldn't enjoy the magic as much as I do if I did (trying to convince myself here.)
Well, after we finished up at the Disneyland Hotel, we returned to our hotel for a dip in the pool and a quick nap.
At about 6:00 or so, we headed over to the Spaghetti Station, a restaurant just off of Ball road, across from the Anaheim Sheraton. It has seven sauce options on it's signature dish. I selected the "Sam Colt" spaghetti with meat sauce. Barb had a "cowboy pizza" with mushrooms added. I also had a root beer to drink, Barb stuck with water. Our meal cost (no MKC discount this time...too bad) was only $20.36 before tip. We probably will come back if I am fortunate enough to come back to California next year.
Tuesday, September 24, 1996
I'm glad to tell you that our entire trip back to Michigan was uneventful. We got moving in the morning and had our traditional breakfast at the IHOP on Harbor, then drove to LAX. We had an awful time finding our National car rental return, but eventually found it. The return was incredible. A National employe met us with a computer at the car, took the mileage, and provided us with a receipt immediately. Didn't have to go inside the building at all.
We rode the bus to the airport, our bags were checked at the curb, and we headed inside to get ticketed and seat assignments. Then we moseyed over to our gate to wait.
Our plane left on time, we arrived early in Detroit, had an hour or so layover...then caught our connector to Saginaw.
We drove through our local BK on the way home to get some health food, then unloaded the van, went through our mail, email and stuff...then finally went to bed...another successful Disney trip ended.
* Carnation Plaza is still alive and kicking...go there. You won't regret it.
* Carrows was very good. We'll definately go back. It's a chain place, there seemed to be several about, but we got good food and service at very good prices.
* The French Market is a decent restaurant. I didn't like the plastic utensils and styrofoam plates, but the food was good and the price was right.
* Casa Mexicana is very good. The prices were very good, and the food was excellent. Also, you don't have to deal with plastic and styrofoam...they still serve on real plates.
* The Spaghetti Station is a reasonable restaurant. Not exciting, but a nice change of pace if you're looking for something a bit different at a reasonable price.
* Going up to the 11th floor of the Siera Tower was fun. Not a guarantee that the concierge will let you into the lobby, but worth a try.