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View Full Version : Ed Vawter - August 1995



Trip Reports
10-16-2005, 06:06 PM
* Time of Year: Summer
* Travel Method: Unknown
* Resort: Offsite
* Accommodations
* Ages Represented in Group: Adult
* Disneyland Experience Represented in Group: Rookie
* Comments: Ed Vawter, a fellow Disney Vacation Club member and America OnLine user, wrote this report of his trip to Disneyland in August 1995. The information that Ed provided turned out to be very useful as I planned my trip to Disneyland the following month.

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EdwardV2's Disneyland Trip Aug. 11 & 12

My wife and I arrived at the Park Inn International (recommended by MckyFoto) late on August 10th, around 10:30 PM. We found out that the special 5 days for the price of 2 that includes early entry that I had heard about could only be purchased if arrangements were made in advance. Disappointed, we left an early wakeup call in order to purchase regular admission the next morning.

Before going over our daily schedule, I should add that we are both regular Disney World visitors, going at least once a year for a week for the last 5 years. Therefore, we had certain expectations based upon our previous Disney experiences. There are also many comparisons with the same rides at WDW.

Friday, August 11

We walked from our hotel down Harbor Blvd. and crossed over to the toll booths. Our hotel offered shuttle service, but by the time you wait for it to arrived and then deal with traffic, I figured we could walk there (I timed it; only took 12 min.). I had been led by Bob Sehlinger's "Unofficial Guide to Disneyland" to believe that this was a very unsafe procedure. Although it was not as convenient and easy as one would hope, it wasn't unsafe. I do think that Disney could make the situation much better by moving the walking entrance so that pedestrians don't have to cross the traffic going through the toll booths.

We arrived at Disneyland early and purchased our 2 day passes (saved 4 bucks each with our Disney Vacation Club card). We lined up at the gates and when we were admitted, Annette made reservations for dinner at the Blue Bayou while I got in line for Indiana Jones Temple of the Forbidden Eye. As I got to the hub, I heard a cast member yelling that the line for Indy would start in Frontierland!! As I entered Frontierland, it seemed that 80% of those entering the park were going to get in line. After finding the end of the line, I ended up waiting 25 minutes wandering through both Frontierland and Adventure land before even entering the real queue area. The size of the line for Indy created major traffic flow problems in several areas, especially through Adventureland (more on crowd control problems later). After another 20 minutes I finally got to ride. The ride itself is very well done, the best that I've seen Disney do. I hope to see more of this sort of technology in future rides. I had heard that there is some randomness in the ride and that each time it is different. However, due to the long line, I didn't even attempt it again. I checked several times over the next 2 days and the wait was always 90 minutes.

After Indy, I met back up with Annette and we went over to Critter Country and rode Splash Mt. (30 min. wait). Annette decided not to go on the ride once we got to the loading area, so she stepped across to the exit and I rode in the front by myself. Although it is similar to WDW's Splash Mt., I found the story line much harder to follow and not nearly as clear. The drop doesn't seem as steep or as long either.

I met Annette and we went over to the Haunted Mansion (30 min. wait). Here was the first time I found the DL version outdid the WDW version. Although I like the outside architecture (Victorian Gothic) better at WDW than at DL, the inside after the stretch at DL is much more interesting. However, I find the tombstones at WDW to be funnier. I didn't care for the pet cemetery.

We then headed back to Adventureland to ride the Jungle Cruise (20 min. wait). About the same as at WDW. I was glad to see they worked the Indy temple into the spiel though.

By this time it was about 11:30 AM and we decided to grab a bite to eat before the lunch crowds got out of hand. Since it was right across from the Jungle Cruise and I had heard good things about it, we ate at the Bengal Barbecue. I had the steak and Annette had the chicken and we split fresh vegetables and an order of bread. The meats were on a wooden skewer; the chicken was kind of sweet while the beef was quite good; very spicy. I was pleasantly surprised to find something this spicy at Disneyland.

After lunch we headed over to Pirates of the Caribbean (20 min. wait). I had heard good things about the DL version and its one of my favorite rides at the MK at WDW, so I had high expectations. It lived up to its billing!! It is much longer and much better than the WDW version. I especially like the first part where you move from the bayou to the caves. I felt this was truly the kind of place Pirates would have hung out.

We then walked through the Swiss family tree house (no wait). It's about the same as the one at WDW. Nothing really to mention.

We then boarded the sailing ship Columbia (no wait). While I enjoyed the ride, it seemed shorter than the boat ride at the MK at WDW.

By now it was 1:30 PM and with lines getting longer and the heat reaching its peak, we decided to head back to the hotel for a nap.

After a 4 h nap (remember we got in late and got up early) we walked back to DL. We stopped and caught Great Moments w/ Mr. Lincoln (no wait) Lincoln is one of my heroes along with Walt, so I had to see this attraction. We didn't have time to look through all the stuff before the show with Mr. Lincoln, so Annette and I agreed to catch it again later. Mr. Lincoln was fantastic; I loved the speech. I did notice that some of the music is also used at the American Adventure in EPCOT. I was wondering if anyone knew if this was originally at DL and transposed to EPCOT or vice versa?

It was now time for our dinner at the Blue Bayou. While waiting for our table, we ran into some folks with 2 dogs! It ended up they were being trained as guide dogs and they had them at DL to get them use to crowds of people. Boy had they come to the right place!! After a few minutes of petting the dogs, our table was ready. We had requested a waterside table and we got a table for along the railing where we could watch the folks riding pirates glide by. The menu seemed limited and the prices were somewhat high, but the atmosphere is incredible, even down to the sounds of frogs and crickets. The food was quite good (we both had the steak) although the service was a little slow (reason our waitress was about 6 months pregnant).

We had about 7 or 8 minutes after leaving the restaurant to find a place to watch the fireworks. We ended up watching from just outside Frontierland at the center hub.

From there, we headed away from the crowds along Main St. gathering for the ELP and headed back to Fantasyland. We ended up finding a place 30 minutes before the start of the ELP in the front on an outside corner of a cross walk across from the Storybook canal boats. I wanted a good place to take photos and this worked out quite well. Annette likes the older ELP much better than SpectroMagic and so I wanted to get some good shots.

After the late ELP, we managed to get a second row place for the last showing of Fantasmic at 11:45 PM. We ended up next to the loading dock for the Mark Twain. From that position, your looking at the "stage" on end, but it still wasn't bad and we only lined up 20 minutes before the show. I enjoyed the show and think its probably the best show that Disney has ever put on. I loved the use of the different water craft and the images on the screens of water spray were great. I do think though that the "screens" should have been just a little bit taller; the proportions seemed off to me. I couldn't believe that people were lining up for the 9:30 Fantasmic show at 7:30 PM. I would never waste 2 hours holding down a patch of concrete; even Fantasmic's not worth that.

After Fantasmic, we headed back to our hotel at 12:15 am

Saturday, August 12

Arrived again before the gates opened and lined up on the right side since this morning was the dash to Space Mt. for me while Annette made reservations lunch and dinner. I quickly realized that it seemed a full 50% of the crowd was heading for Indy with only a few sprinting to Space Mt. By the time I got there, the wait was only 10 min. I thought the ride itself seemed a little slower than the one at WDW, but I did immediately notice that it was darker than Space Mt. at WDW (aside: it seems the last couple of times I've ridden Space Mt. at WDW, the lights inside are brighter. It didn't use to be that way). There also seemed to be fewer drops than either of the tracks at WDW.

I then went over to the Matterhorn and rode (Annette was still making reservation for lunch at Blue Bayou and dinner at Aladdin's Oasis). Had about a 15 min. wait and noticed when I was getting in line a very distinct musty odor. I had noticed this the previous day when we had walked past and couldn't figure out where it was coming form. Once on the ride, I realized it was coming from the damp interior of the mountain. The ride was okay, but it's pretty low on my list of fun and exciting Disney thrill rides.

I then met Annette at the entrance to Star Tours (20 min. wait). This is one of my very favorite rides at WDW and the one at Disneyland is exactly the same. I did notice that there seemed to be fewer seats in each row at DL. I also missed seeing the Darth Vadar figure at the exit of the ride.

We then walked over to Alice in Wonderland (10 min. wait). The ride was okay, your typical Disney dark ride.

We started to get in line for Mr. Toad's Wild ride, but the line was over 30 min. and since I'd read it was basically the same as at WDW, we decided to move on.

Next was Peter Pan's flight (25 min. wait). Both of us really like the WDW version and so we were interested to see how this compared. The ride was similar, but the DL version seemed longer. One of our favorite DL Fantasyland rides.

From there we went across the way to Snow White's Scary Adventure (30 min. wait). The ride was enjoyable and better than the old WDW version, but not quite as good as the latest WDW version. The story line was easy to follow and we both liked the ride.

Pinocchio's Adventure was next on the list (30 min. wait). I had noticed by this point that the ride queue areas in Fantasyland at DL seemed to be a little more elaborate than the queue areas in Fantasyland at WDW. One problem at Pinnochio's was that there was no air circulation while waiting in line. The ride itself was okay, but it was getting to the point that all of these rides which are similar in nature were starting to blur together.

We next went over to It's a Small World (10 min. wait). I really liked the outside of this ride. Very elaborate and interesting; much more so than the very plain outside at WDW. I did notice that having the lines outside in the hot sun was probably not the best situation. It's about the same as the WDW version and you always leaving humming that tune the rest of the day.

By now, it was time for our lunch at the Blue Bayou. We liked it so much at dinner that we decided to try it for the lunch. Also, Annette wanted to try their Cobb salad. One of her favorite meals (and mine too) at WDW is the Cobb salads at the Brown Derby at the Studios, so she wanted to see how the Blue Bayou's compared. Although it was good, she didn't think it lived up to the ones at the Brown Derby. I had the Cajun chicken wings as an appetizer and they were great!! The wings were my favorite part of that meal. For my main entree I had the chicken sandwich. It was good and I liked the honey mustard sauce, but didn't care for the mixed vegetables. The service was quicker and even though we didn't request it this time, we again got a table right by the water. This one was even better because we could both view the water.

After lunch, we did some shopping and found some postcards along Main St. and then headed back to the hotel for a brief rest.

We went back to the park at about 5 PM and decided to take the monorail over to the Disneyland hotel. We wait in line about 20 min. The hotel complex itself is okay, but it is rather lacking in themeing. I'm use to themed hotels at WDW and this one reminder me more of your typical convention type hotel with lots of shops. We spent about 45 min. wandering around before heading back to the park.

WE decided to take the train around DL as we had heard it was better than the one at DL. WE ended up having to wait over 40 min. before we could board at the Tomorrowland station. It is better than the WDW version since you get to see the Grand Canyon diorama and the prehistoric animals, but I must say that both of these are really showing their age. We ended up riding the train for 1.5 loops and getting off in New Orleans Square for our reservations at Alladdin's Oasis in Adventureland.

They no longer have a show at Aladdin's, it just a restaurant now. The menu was limited (only 3 entrees; one chicken, one beef and one seafood) and I didn't care for the waiters & waitresses custom's. While in general the uniforms are okay, the wearing of all kinds of hats (beanies, baseball caps, etc.) just didn't fit. There was also one waiter who had a vest on with floppy disks stabled to it along with some notes about the information superhighway. What in the world does that have to do with Aladdin????

After dinner, we decided to ride Pirates again since we enjoyed it so much the first time (12 min. wait). It was at this point that I realized the unique problems that DL faces. We had 2 girls and a guy in the seat behind us. Both were local high school kids and they talked constantly through the whole ride. They paid no attention at all to what was going on around them, but merely gossiped about who was pregnant or who was sleeping with whom. I turned around and shushed them a couple of times, but they totally ignored me.

After Pirates, we went around behind Big Thunder Mt. to Fantasyland (I was avoiding the central hub since people were crowding around for the ELP). Annette wanted to do the Cinderella walk through (no wait) which surprisingly was quite good. Although I wasn't expecting much, I found I enjoyed it.

Since we hadn't been to Toon Town yet, we decided to head over that way. Unfortunately, the worst event of the entire trip was about to happen. We decided to stop at the rest rooms located across from Small World just before the entrance to Toon Town. As I was waiting for Annette, a large crowd came through the narrow walkway (~8-10 feet wide) by the rest rooms. I'm talking several hundred people. These were the folks leaving the Spirit of Pocahontas stage show. It ended up that someone had allowed the crowd waiting to go into the next show to totally block the normal walkway (20-25 feet wide)!! They were lined up 10-12 people wide!! It would have been very simple to run a rope down the walkway and divide it in half; one side for those waiting to get in the other as an exit for those leaving. Instead some cast member decided to steer the entire outgoing audience through a narrow walkway by a bathroom?!? Then to make matters even worse, the line waiting to get into the next show was so long, they blocked the narrow path where people were trying to exit. This was by far the worst crowd control I have ever witnessed at any Disney theme park!!!!!!!!!! [Note: I've been to WDW 3 times during Christmas Week and even New Years Eve and never have seen anything like this]. The people trying to get out couldn't move because of the people trying to get in and the folks trying to get in weren't about to budge because they had been waiting in line for quite some time. This whole time I only saw 1 cast member with a flashlight who was just telling people to keep moving?!? There was no where to go. She was also only talking in a normal voice and no more then a dozen or so people could hear her. To make matters even worse, a couple of packs of teenagers decided to start pushing and shoving. This just made a bad situation worse as everyone else started pushing and shoving too. Annette and I were starting to get separated so I told her we'd meet under the Toon Town sign by the underpass. This continued for about 10-20 minutes, until I finally found a nice looking family and explained to them I only wanted to cut across the line and wasn't trying to cut in. They let me through, but things on the other side weren't much better, but at least no one was pushing and shoving. The only thing that saved the situation from turning into a near disaster was the fireworks. Once they started, everyone stopped and watched them and had a chance to calm down.

Toon Town was blocked off during the fireworks. I could understand this since it was in the general area of the fallout. However, the cast members kept the crowd back for a good 15-20 minutes after the smoke had cleared!!. I still don't understand why this was the case. After about 30-40 min. of being separated, Annette and I finally found each other and we proceeded to Toon Town.

We immediately got in line for Roger Rabbits Cartoon Spin, figuring there's no line since no one was allowed in Toon Town during the fireworks. We waited about 15 minutes. The queue area here was quite enjoyable with lots to read and notice. The ride itself was very good, the best dark type ride Disney has in my opinion, although it didn't quite live up to all the hype I had heard and read. Still though a very good ride and worth about a 30-35 minute wait.

Toon Town was kind of crowded so we wandered around a bit and then headed back the Tomorrowland and rode the WEDway Peoplemover (just walked on). This ride is really showing its age. I liked it better than the old one at WDW because you got to see more and you aren't always up near buildings. However, the ride is much rougher with more bumps than the WDW version.

We then wanted to catch the CircleVision 360 movie American Adventure (4 min. wait) since this is no longer at WDW. The movie is good, but I thought I remembered there being more to it when it was down at the MK in Fl.

By now it was getting late and we decided to head out. Along the way, we went into the Disney Story to finish up the artifacts there. We ended up leaving the park at 12:15 am

General Comments:

* Overall I enjoyed our trip to Disneyland, especially Pirates, meals at the Blue Bayou and the Indian Jones ride. I did notice that DL just doesn't seem to handle crowds quite as well as MK in Fl. The flow of traffic, especially around New Orleans Square seemed awkward. Also, having only one way in and out of Critter Country creates some bottlenecks. Also the long line created by Temple of the Forbidden Eye makes Adventureland impassive without a delay caused by the queue
* My major complainant though has to do with the overall quality. First the Cast members: I'm use to WDW and the helpful friendly cast members there. The ones at DL seemed not up to my Disney expectations. Let me give some examples; in a lot of places, the CM's didn't seem to be happy at all. I noticed not so much frowning as just the absence of smiling. There also seemed to be a general lack of keeping things "neat and clean" for lack of a better term. At the Matterhorn, one CM's shirt was untucked in the back and another's suspenders were too lose and almost falling off. Then there was a CM on the Storybook Canal Boats who seemed more worried about how her hair looked than in helping passengers get aboard. On another occasion, Annette witnessed 4 Fantasmic CM's playing "piggyback"?!? They also seemed less talkative and friendly with guests, but very chatty with their fellow CM's. On a couple of occasions the CM's sounded like tape players, delivering they're speech in a dry low monotone that was barely audible. I also didn't like the CM's having various backpacks of all sizes, shapes and colors that they carried to their workstations with them. When everything else fit so well together these backpacks were just out of place; especially some of the extremely fluorescent ones.
* Speaking of out of place; I noticed the absence of the tunnels that they have at MK /WDW. I saw several CM's in costume, but in the wrong land. I also noticed more of the stuff you don't see at WDW; stocking items, moving dishes, etc. These things are taken care of by the tunnels at the MK in Fl so guests never see this.
* I notice the lack of as much music within each themed area. There just didn't seem to be the same mood.
* I also didn't care for the packs of unruly teenagers who seemed to descend on the park about 6 PM on Saturday night. They acted as if they felt DL was there own personal amusement park and had little concern for others.
* The park itself also was not as clean and spotless as WDW. There were several areas where trash had been thrown on top tents, or in enclosed areas, etc. and it looked like it had been there for some time.
* Don't misunderstand me, I enjoyed our time at DL. The 40th anniversary photos in each of the lands was interesting and some of the rides are better than at WDW. But if I had to do it over again, I wouldn't go during high season and I would avoid weekends. I enjoyed DL, but I think its definitely showing its age and exists in a different culture from WDW in Fl.

Ed Vawter