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View Full Version : Brian & Barbara Bennett - September 1995



Trip Reports
10-16-2005, 06:07 PM
* Time of Year: Fall
* Travel Method: Plane, Rental Car
* Resort: Offsite
* Accommodations
* Ages Represented in Group: Adult
* Disneyland Experience Represented in Group: Infrequent
* Comments: Disneyland again, in September of 1995. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Anaheim Center again on this trip. This is a much longer report than the ones of the previous trips.

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Pre-Disneyland Details

Going to Disneyland this time was a side trip tacked onto business trip. Barbara and I flew from Saginaw, Michigan's Tri-City airport at about 7:30am on Sunday, the 17th. When we arrived at Detroit Metro, we had our usual walk from the "C" concourse to the "F" concourse to change planes. We stopped for a moment at the Cinnabon's pastry shop in the main shopping area of the terminal. If you've never had one, a Cinnabon is a fabulous pastry slathered with a butter frosting. Barb calls it a "cinnamon roll", but it's much more than that...it's a reason to fly to Detroit in itself. With a large, cold white milk it is just fantastic. After our stop, we continued on to the plane which flew us to LAX.

We landed in California about 11:30 am, Pacific time. We got our rental car (National, so I can use the points toward my Northwest frequent flyer mileage), and drove up to Santa Barbara for the first part of our trip. My company sent me to a technical class in Santa Barbara which lasted until Wednesday afternoon. One highlight of the Santa Barbara stay: We went to watch a Women's Volleyball match between UC Santa Barbara and Loyola Marymount. Barb and I enjoy volleyball alot so it was fun to watch number 17 and number 20 in the nation duke it out. The match went five games, Loyola won 15-13 in the fifth game. (THIS IS BARB NOW. FROM HERE ON OUT, MY ADDITIONAL COMMENTS WILL BE IN ALL CAPS. ANYWAY, I JUST WANTED TO POINT OUT THAT I COACH VOLLEYBALL, AND LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THE SPORT, SO THIS STOP WAS ALMOST AS MUCH OF A HIGHLIGHT AS DISNEYLAND ITSELF. CAN I SAY THAT TO ALL YOU DISNEY FANS?)

Disneyland Passes

One of my greatest concerns about the trip was how to handle the passes to Disneyland. On previous trips, I had always purchased the tickets in advance at a Disney store in Santa Barbara, but I had heard about special passes that you could only buy at your hotel near the park. However, EdwardV2, a fellow AOL Disney nut, had warned me that those passes (called "Flex Passes") were available only if you made prior arrangements with your hotel. I called our hotel (the Holiday Inn At the Park) three times before we left for California, and each time I was told "you don't need advance arrangements, and we're sure there will be plenty of passes available..." I could only wonder. Anyway, I figured that in the worst case, Barb and I could go over to the Disneyland hotel and pick up a couple of two day passes if we had to.

Wednesday - The Hotel

Well, class finished at noon on Wednesday, so I ran back to the hotel, picked up Barb and we headed to Anaheim. We got to the hotel at about 2:45pm. I highly recommend the Holiday Inn at the Park. This hotel is not to be confused with the Holiday Inn Maingate which we didn't like at all. The Holiday Inn at the Park is located at the south west corner of Ball and Harbor. It's not within walking distance to the park (yes, I know that Steven Wright says that "everywhere is within walking distance if you have the time"...but I don't like to take that much time), but it does offer a courtesy shuttle. Anyway, we got to the hotel, checked in, and -- surprise, surprise -- got our flex passes without a problem. We carried our luggage up to the room and walked back to the lobby just in time to miss the 3:00 shuttle bus. Unperplexed, we hopped into our rental car, and drove the short drive to Disneyland.

We got to the parking lot, almost parked in an employe area (I say it was poorly marked, Barb says I didn't pay attention) (IT'S ME AGAIN, I SIMPLY COULDN'T IGNORE THIS ONE. I MEAN HOW CAN YOU MISS A HUGE SIGN THAT CLEARLY SAYS "DISNEY EMPLOYEE PARKING ONLY.... ALL OTHERS KEEP OUT. " I GUESS IT WAS JUST THAT ANXIOUS FEVER THAT ATTACKS BRIAN WHEN HE GETS ANY WHERE WITHIN A FEW HUNDRED FEET OF A DISNEY PARK.), then left the car and strolled to the gate. We entered the Magic Kingdom, strolled down main street and turned into Adventureland...guess where we were heading? Yep, to the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. Unfortunately, Mara was having some downtime...we hoped, just temporarily. We walked on past the treehouse and walked to the Pirates. We had a rather long wait, I thought, probably about fifteen minutes or so (I SAY 7 OR 8 MINUTES), but the Bucs were as entertaining as ever. We saw, for the first time, the hidden Mickey on the ship sail behind the pirate captain and marveled at the filthy foot of the pirate sitting on the bridge. His toes just seem to ooze muck.

After the pirates, we went on to Splash Mountain. The wait was pretty long, at least a half hour. We noticed that the ride moved very, very fast. It seemed much faster than Splash in the Magic Kingdom in Florida, but maybe it was our imagination. (We compared it to the Florida version when we went to WDW in November. We were definately right. Disneyland's version was much, much faster.) As we left Splash, I noticed that my sunglasses were missing. Ahhhhhh.....who knows how long it would take to find it on those boats. Well, I went back and a castmember asked me to check the photo that they take to see if I could get the boat number. While Barb waited at the unload area, I checked, and it seemed that the boat number was 26. The castmembers checked every boat, and sure enough, the sunglasses were in the back end of boat number 26. They were in fine shape, which was a relief, since I had just bought them before the trip. (ALSO SINCE THEY WERE EXPENSIVE PRESCRIPTION SUNGLASSES WHICH HAD NO INSURANCE.) As we walked back toward New Orleans Square, we decided to head over to Big Thunder Mountain. When we got in front of the Pirates, though, we decided to take another chance on Indy. We were in luck!....Indy had just re-opened. After a brief (22 minute) wait, we rode Disney's newest E-ticket.

The Temple of the Forbidden Eye has been well described by many people on AOL and at the Mouse House, so I won't repeat the obvious here. We thoroughly enjoyed the trip. The Queue area is great, but we didn't even have enough time to decode any Maraglyphics...the line was just moving too fast. We finally made it to the load area, got into our transport, and got buckled in. The trip was wild, but alot of fun. The rat room wasn't working (I assumed that that was the rat room because of the rat sounds), but everything else seemed to be fine. We were really startled when the 50 ton boulder came crashing toward us....we never anticipated how we'd escape that one.

After Indy, we changed our plans and headed for Fantasyland. We walked through the Sleeping Beauty diorama...it brought back memories of trips when I was a kid....then headed for the Matterhorn. It looks really strange with the holes filled in. The ride seemed alot darker than before, and the new sleds are nice...but for the most part, it's still the same old ride.

After the last ride, we headed to the Plaza Inn to catch a bite, but since it was getting late (it was about 5:50pm or so and the park closed at 6:00pm) the restaurant wasn't seating any longer. We tried the Carnation Ice Cream restaurant on main street, but they weren't seating there either. Oh well, we left the park, found the car, and left for the night.

We still hadn't eaten dinner, and we were both pretty hungry, so we decided to drive down to Buena Park to eat at Knott's Berry Farm chicken restaurant. Barb just loves the creamy chicken soup they serve, so we make a point to go to Knott's every trip. This time, Barb traded her salad course for a second bowl of soup. Then, after having chicken and mashed potatoes, Barb traded in her desert for yet another bowl. The waitress seemed to understand the pattern, so she brought out two bowls. Barb loved it!...I was worried about rest room stops on the way back to Anaheim. We found out that the soup is actually made at the steakhouse restaurant, so we'll have to make a point of going there sometime to see if we can track down the recipe. So far (three years and four trips later) we haven't had any luck. By the way, I had the boysenberry pie for desert...and had boysenberry punch to drink. Both were excellent.

Thursday

On Thursday morning, we got up early to take advantage of our magic morning early entry into the park. We arrived a bit early for the bus, so we had to wait about twenty minutes, but we were walking down main street soon after arriving at Disneyland. We saw that Indy was one of the few rides that were available during the early morning, so we headed there first. The line started at the entrance to Adventureland, but it moved quickly. We were being jostled on the troop transport within twenty minutes or so. As soon as we finished, we went back to the end of the line and did it again. The second time, the wait was no more than fifteen minutes. As we were walking back from the last ride, it finally dawned on me why we had so far to walk....we had to literally walk out to the parking lot and back every time we rode. I felt stupid that it took so long to figure out, but I eventually got it...

After our second Indy ride of the day, we rode the Pirates of the Caribbean again. No wait this time at all. By the time we exited from the Pirates, the early morning time was over, and we decided to walk over to Big Thunder...we hadn't gotten around to ride it on the previous afternoon. As we crossed frontier land, we noticed an incredible queue forming. We got in line, but asked what the line was for....Indy we were told....sayanara, we said....feeling bad for the poor souls that had at least a ninety minute wait in front of them. Amazing...we rode Indy three times for about half of the wait time than those folks would wait for one trip. We certainly were fortunate.

We got in line at Big Thunder, the wait was about twenty minutes or so...and the ride was as fun as ever. I just wish that Disney would figure out how to make the "falling rocks" in the final ascent fall at something close to normal speed. They mosey on down so slowly that I forget that an earthquake is going on....it's like Monday night football...everything is in super slow-mo....

After Big Thunder, we walked around the mountain to Fantasyland, and took in Toad Hall's wild ride. After that, we walked back down main street to catch lunch at the Carnation Ice Cream restaurant. This is an excellent place for lunch, if you've never eaten here before. Unfortunately, we arrived before they started seating for lunch (we were trying to beat the crowd, you know). We ended up shopping for a few minutes in the jewelry store....they are selling made-to-order art watches now....pretty cool, but steep -- at $200-500 dollars depending on options. Barb also found some earnings she liked. We strolled back to Carnation and sat down for lunch...we both ordered the cheeseburger with bacon....and fries. Excellent, but the official ketchup of Disneyland and WDW is less than the best. Barb is a connoisseur of fine ketchup and she says that Heinz is the best. We always get Hunts at the Disneyparks....oh well, we survived.

Following lunch, we walked to Sleeping Beauty's castle to catch the 40th Birthday Celebration. It was short, sweet, and to the point. (THAT'S BRIAN'S NOT SO SUBTLE HINT ABOUT HOW DULL IT WAS. I WAS THE ONE THAT WAS INTERESTED TO SEE WHAT WAS GOING ON. ANYWAY, ONE COOL THING HAPPENED WHILE WE WERE WAITING FOR IT. A CM CAME UP TO US AND ASKED IF WE'D MIND FILLING OUT A RESEARCH SURVEY THEY WERE DOING. SINCE WE WERE WAITING ANYWAY, WE SAID WE'D BE GLAD TO. SHE ASKED ALL KINDS OF QUESTIONS ABOUT THE PARK RIDES, SPONSORS, ETC. I THINK THERE WERE 7 OR 8 PAGES OR SO. WHEN WE WERE FINISHED, SHE GAVE US A $5 DISNEY DOLLAR BILL FOR HELPING OUT. CONVENIENT, SINCE ONE OF THE PAIRS OF EARRINGS I HAD FOUND WAS EXACTLY $5.00.) Then we walked over to Tomorrowland to watch the Magic Kingdom Kabaret...a short stage show about the 40th. It was a nice break, and a fun show....By this time it was getting to be about 1:00pm....so we decided to head back to the hotel for a siesta. On the way back through Tomorrowland, we caught Star Tours....the line was only about fifteen minutes...but the CMs were asleep at the controls....the guy that was supposed to pre-order us for loading was totally inept. We made the next simulator, but (to borrow a phrase) just by the hair of our chinny-chin-chin.

As we exited the park, we stopped by the jewelry store and grabbed the earrings Barb had liked. We ended up with two pair...one, a relatively simple Mickey design in gold...the second, an articulated Mickey....as Barb moves her head, Mickey shimmies....it's really a sight! (BUT A NEAT ONE!) I also picked up a large Disneyland mug that matches a couple of mugs I bought at WDW last Fall. Last, when Barb wasn't looking, I picked up a copy of a new gardening book that she had been admiring. As we left the park, and sat down at the bus stop area to wait for our coach back to the hotel, I gave her the book....she is such a sweetheart...she appreciates little things like that so much, it makes me wish I had alot more money to buy her things (I'm sure she'll agree when she reads this). (YES, THAT WOULD BE NICE, BUT WHEN A YOU'RE LUCKY ENOUGH TO SNAG A GUY LIKE BRIAN, ANYTHING ELSE IS JUST ICING FOR THE CAKE. ...BACK TO DISNEYLAND BEFORE YOU GUYS START THROWING UP!)

After a quick dip in the pool, and a too-short nap, we got up to do some other things around town....To top off the evening, we went over to the Disneyland Hotel for dinner. We didn't arrive until just before 10:00pm, but we were there early enough to have dinner at Stromboli's, a new restaurant next to Granville's Steakhouse. Stromboli's was excellent. The service was good, and the food was great!. Prices were very reasonable, too...less than $35 for both of us, as I recall. For dinner I had a mesquite smoked chicken dish, while Barb -- the pizza connoisseur -- had a calzoni, a stuffed pizza thing. It was kind of like a pizza omelet in shape, with the crust outside and the sauce, cheese, and pepperoni and mushrooms inside. Whatever it was, she declared it good (a nine on a ten point pizza scale, in fact). Desert (I had a piece of tiramisu, an excellent choice since I'm a coffee nut) was great too, but Barb passed in favor of comfort.

Friday

Friday morning was a late start morning for us. Disneyland wouldn't open until 10:00am anyway, so we didn't have to be down at the lobby to catch the bus until 9:25 or so. After the quick bus trip, we waited with the others in the multitude to enter the park. It took about fifteen minutes just to get through the turnstiles and main street was really crowded, too. We strolled down the street, and ducked into the right side of shops at the Clothiers to bide our time. We looked at alot of the merchandise, and Barb found a display of "Precious Moments" figurines that she collects.

Finally, the park opened and we walked (pretty much by ourselves) through the castle to Fantasyland. We immediately jumped on Peter Pan (zero wait). The ride is a favorite of mine, but I like the Florida version better. London looks more realistic, and I like the sword fighting scene between Pan and Hook much better. After that ride, we walked over to Pinnochio. No luck...it wouldn't open until 11:00am. Well, we walked over to Alice. No luck there either....11:00am again. We decided to go back to Toon Town to catch the Car Toon Spin. Nope...not open until 11:00am. Well, Small World was open, so we rode that. I think the version in Disneyland is much longer than the one at WDW. Maybe I'm wrong, but it just seems that way. After Small World, we went over to the Submarine Voyage...I wanted to catch it because I don't know if it will still be here next time...the one in Florida is already history, so I'm told...so it was a sentimental journey. After the Sub ride, we caught Alice and Pinnochio. I like both, but they don't match up to Peter Pan, in my opinion.

After Pinnochio, we went to the Plaza Inn for lunch. As I was paying for the meal, the check-out CM asked if we had any discount cards...I told her I was a Vacation Club member (no dice)....and a Magic Kingdom Club member (worth 10% savings) -- I felt like an idiot...I had failed to use my MKC card at Stromboli's and the Carnation Ice Cream Restaurant on the previous day...I wouldn't make that mistake again...and it was a good reminder for our four-adult trip coming up in November. The meal was very good. I had a club "handwich", I think they call them....it was excellent whatever it was called. Barb had the English pot roast, also delicious. It's just so nice to be able to slow down and relax during a busy time at the park. I'm really glad we learned that lesson.

After lunch, we went over to catch the jungle cruise...one of Barb's all time favorites. Our captain was dull, boring, and monotonous....I hope they improve the banter and the delivery of some of these guys. (PERHAPS THE FACT THAT THEY'RE NOW ALLOWING WOMEN TO BE GUIDES ON THE CRUISE WILL HELP.) During the ride I was reminded of the anecdote of Walt Disney and his son-in-law improving the ride during the 60's. It's in Bob Thomas's biography of Walt if you're interested. Anyway, I hope they fix it again.

After the cruise, we walked over and spent some time in the Disney Gallery. It's always fun to look around at the art of the Disney folks. I wish I had that talent. We also spent some time in the New Orleans Square shops...The "One-of-a-Kind" shop had a lovely curio cabinet...but overpriced at $5,500. Maybe we'll buy a Sauder one someday....

After New Orleans, it was over to main street to stroll the shops a bit before leaving the park. By this time it was about 1:30pm or so...time for our afternoon break. We have plans to go to the Disneyland hotel tonight to eat at Goofy's Kitchen. I'm looking forward to it.

(WE DID FINALLY MAKE IT TO GOOFY'S, AFTER RESETTING THE ALARM CLOCK TWICE. WE DISCOVERED WHEN WE GOT THERE AT ABOUT 7:15, HOW MUCH THOSE EXTRA FEW MINUTES OF SLEEP HURT US. THE PARK CLOSED AT 6, SO BY 7:15 THE LINE TO EVEN PUT YOUR NAME IN WAS HUGE. AFTER ABOUT 5 MINUTES THERE OR SO, WE FINALLY WERE GIVEN A PAGER AND TOLD THAT IT WOULD BE ABOUT 45 - 50 MINUTES. THEY WERE NOT KIDDING. ABOUT 48 MINUTES LATER, WE WERE SEATED. GOOFY'S HAS ONE BIG BUFFET - VERY GOOD. IT WAS ALSO VERY EXPENSIVE - ABOUT $18 PER ADULT. ON THE WHOLE, THOUGH THE FOOD WAS EXCELLENT, I WOULD SAY ADULTS DINING ALONE WOULD DO MUCH BETTER AT STROMBOLI'S OR GRANVILLE'S FOR THE MONEY. HOWEVER, ANYONE TRAVELING WITH CHILDREN WOULD DO WELL TO EAT AT GOOFY'S. AT LEAST 8 OR 9 DIFFERENT CHARACTERS WERE STROLLING THE TABLES, HUGGING, SIGNING AUTOGRAPHS, AND GENERALLY "GOOFING" OFF. THE KIDS AROUND US WERE ALL IN THEIR GLORY!!!! MEEKO HUGGED ME - BRIAN TOLD HIM TO WATCH IT, AND PLUTO ACCOSTED BRIAN WITH HIS BIG RED TONGUE. WE ALSO SAW POCOHANTAS, GOOFY, MICKEY, MINNIE, CHIP, DALE, AND A FEW OTHERS. DEFINITELY A MUST DO WITH SMALL KIDS.) I agree with Barb's assessment. Goofy's was good food, but the wait was too long. However, with kids (or a Disney nut like me) the wait is well worth it.

Saturday - Fantasmic Buffet

Saturday was to be the last day we had in Anaheim. We decided to drive ourselves to the park in the morning so we wouldn't be beholden to the courtesy bus schedule. We got up early and made it to the park by 8:15 or so. They didn't open up the turnstiles until 8:30, so we cooled our heels for a bit. We worked our way right, so we would be as close as possible to the reservation center when the gates opened.

At 8:32 or so, we were walking under the train station and into main street. Surprise, surprise...the reservation center wasn't operating. Barb suggested that we go over to city hall to find out the scoop....turns out that we had to make our reservations at the place we wanted reservations for....

Well, we spent some more time waiting for the rope to drop at the end of main street....we conspired with some fellow queue members to trip the next person that tried to work his/her way past us....like there was alot of room somewhere up front. Anyway, the rope dropped, everyone else ran to Frontierland to get in line for Indy, while Barb and I split up. She went to the Blue Bayou to make dinner reservations, I went to the Gallery to make Fantasmic reservations. I was lucky, we were number seven and eight for the 10:30 show....only fifteen are available. I wanted to be in the last show, and it turned out that a third show was added later....but at the time, the 10:30pm show was it. When I finished paying my $60 for the desert/seat scandal, I went to join Barb in front of the Bayou. She was just about at the front of the line when I got there, motioning furiously for me to run up....I loped to her side and she explained that dinner reservations might be a problem...apparently 6:00pm-8:30pm was already taken. Well, when it was our turn, we found that for only two people there was plenty of space available. We made reservations for 6:00pm, and were told to be there early to request the water-side seating we wanted (thanks for the tip, EdwardV2).

After making our reservations, we walked over to the haunted mansion. I wanted to get a fresh idea of what it was like in Disneyland to compare it to WDW. I think they're virtually identical...we'll see. After the stretch room (I think the California version stretches down....any contrary opinions?) we moseyed around in the first hallway with the paintings and 3-D sculptures. When we finally made it to the doom buggy load area, we were made to wait for the next group..."we can't let small parties go through the haunted mansion alone, can we?" I figured it was an attempt to avoid vandalism or something.

After that, we headed over to catch Big Thunder. No luck, the ride was down. So we went to catch Snow White's adventures. Same thing....wouldn't be open until 10:00am. Finally, we decided to go to Storybook Land. We caught the boat ride and suffered through yet another monotonous boat ride spiel. Sometimes I wish I was a CM on some of these rides....or better yet, the supervisor of these CMs. I KNOW I can do better then these folks, and I don't work for the company...yet (resume is, of course, on file).

After the boat ride, we went back to Snow White and caught that one. I'm looking forward to seeing the WDW version to see how they compare. We were amazed at the abrupt ending of the Snow White ride. They sure could have used an extra thirty feet of track to show Snow White sleeping, and the Prince showing up to make out with her. The "and they lived happily ever after" that appeared right after the witch was shown on the mountain with the dwarfs was just too quick.

After Snow White, we checked the line at the Matterhorn, and decided to skip it....we were really spoiled and 45-90 minute waits just weren't in our vocabulary. Instead, we headed down main street for lunch at the Carnation Ice Cream place one last time. As usual, it was excellent. Barb had the burger again, while I opted for the "opera premiere"....a ham and cheese concoction in a pastry crust....excellent.

After lunch, we headed back to our hotel for the obligatory siesta...we knew we had a long evening in front of us yet.

We expected Saturday evening, our last in the park, to be a very special one. We weren't disappointed. We woke up from our afternoon nap and got cleaned up for the evening, then walked down to the car. It was about 4:45 when we arrived at the park. Our first stop, since were right there, was The Walt Disney Story and Great Moments with Mister Lincoln. Both were excellent as usual. EdwardV2 asked if the music for Mister Lincoln was borrowed from The American Adventure or vice versa...this is just my opinion, for what it's worth, but I think the music moved from WDW to Disneyland. I have two reasons for this opinion: First, I have a pretty good ear for music...and I can remember music very well and I don't remember having heard it in California before. Second, I have a CD of the Official Album of Disneyland and WDW and "Golden Dream" is listed as being from the American Adventure only.

After Great Moments, we walked over the Blue Bayou to make our reservation time. We had to be early, we were told, to request a water-side table. We got to the restaurant about twenty minutes before our reservation time and the girl told us to come back in five more minutes (I still don't understand that one). Well, we strolled the shops of New Orleans Square for five minutes (We had done them thoroughly already on this trip) then returned to our hostess. When she told us it would be 20-25 minutes before a water-side table would be available, Barb and I agreed to wait. Well, the Disney magic failed us on this one. When we had waited over a half hour, I asked the reservation CM to check on it for us...she mumbled that she'd look into it, but never came back to give me a status update. We ended up waiting close to a total of 50 minutes and still our name had not been called. Finally, I got up, walked past the queue area right into the restaurant to talk to the hostess (I didn't have confidence with the reservation staff anymore)...my greatest fear was that our reservation had been lost or something. Well, as I walked up to the hostess to ask about our reservation, she had our card on her clipboard and was walking to pick us up....I got Barb and we went to sit down.

We sat at a four-person table, facing the water over to the far right-hand side of the restaurant, away from most of the hustle and bustle. It was perfect! We both had the Prime Rib, but I struggled with the decision...they had a Cajun Sirloin special that sounded great, too. The food, as usual, was very good. Most important, though, was the atmosphere. The restaurant is always a lovely place to sit and dine, but with the table on the water it was exceptionally so. We declined on desert, since we knew that we'd be having desert later that evening.

After dinner, we fought the crowds as we walked clockwise around the river to the Country Bear Jamboree. Barb loves the show...plus I had heard that it had been changed somewhat....must have been the WDW version, because what we saw was the same old show. Fun, entertaining....but the same old show.

We had thought about taking the train over to Tomorrowland for our next stop, but the line at the Frontierland train station was incredible!...We really are spoiled about the lines...well, we walked out to the hub and across to Tomorrowland to catch American Journeys. I knew it was a lovely show, and I can't see it in Florida anywhere (at least not that I know of) so we did at Disneyland. It's another old favorite.

Next, we headed over for one last ride on the Matterhorn. WRONG....the line circumnavigated the mountain...another line I refused to wait in. We walked through Fantasyland, but all the attractions there had similar lines. Instead, we walked through the castle and just sat down in one of the alcoves that are built-into the castle's drawbridge approach. That has to be one of the loveliest spots in the park...the Snow White grotto off to the left, the Carnation Plaza (with a Big Band playing) to the right...the grand view of main street spread out in front. (I ALSO ENJOYED WATCHING TWO SWANS THAT WERE PEACEFULLY LOUNGING BY THE CASTLE.)

Well, it was getting to be 9:30, so I thought it would be good to start moving toward New Orleans Square again for Fantasmic. As it turned out, another fifteen minutes or so would have been a better choice...we had alot of out-going Fantasmic traffic exiting the area and the Indy queue was still a stumblingblock. Walking through Frontierland thirty to forty minutes after Fantasmic lets out is like being a salmon at spawning time...One funny thing...as we were negotiating the crowds as we walked parallel to the Rivers of America, a guy asked me where Pirates of the Caribbean was. After I finished choking, I pointed out the arch-bridge covered with people and suggested that he walk under that mass of humanity. I hope he made it.

Well, we actually got to the Gallery at about five minutes before 10:00pm...soon our name was called and we were ushered to the front porch. Since we had reservations #7 and #8, we were had the last two seats directly on the front rail. Great location. The desert was OK, the tirimisu was nothing like the stuff I had at Stromboli's, but we weren't really here for the desert. The view was incredible. The people moving about looked like a living mass...We enjoyed the Dixieland music played by the band on the raft...and I really enjoyed watching the CM's kick supposed spectator's off of the Gallery stairs...I had to pay $30 for the privilege...I'm glad they didn't give it away for free, too.

Fantasmic is breathtaking. The special effects, fireworks, flame effects, choreography...everything was working to perfection that night. The perspective of seeing the show from up above made it seem alot more distant, more unreal....but we enjoyed the unobstructed view immensely. It was interesting, too, to see the crowd during the show....everyone was spellbound...motion stopped around the river during the show. I had expected pedestrian traffic to continue to some extent (like it does around the promenade during IllumiNations) but it didn't. Except for the rare bird, EVERYONE stopped to watch Mickey defeat the bad guys. Amazing.

After the show, we waited for a little while, then walked downstairs to leave the park. We made our way through Adventureland (they really have to rework the Indy queue somehow....). I suggested one last ride on the jungle cruise...Barb quickly agreed since it's one of her favorites. The night-time show was much better than the one earlier in our trip. The boat jockey's were all up on something, maybe the fumes from their boats...regardless, they were a riot. One of them was sporting an inflated turtle ring around his torso. He was singing "rubber turtle, you're the one...you make bath time lots of fun..." well, you get the idea. After we got into our boat, the skipper asked my wife to move all the way forward...he likes forward ladies, he said. After leaving the dock, we slowly rode toward the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. When we got there, the CM asked a guest in the exit area of the Temple if he had any Grey Poupon. The rest of the trip was pretty typical, but the guy showed promise...I hope he rubs off on the others.

Then it was out to the hub. I bemoaned the fact that I never had tried the Dole whip that Mike Scopa swears by....I definitely will try it in November.

The melancholy part of every trip is the last stroll down main street. It is so symbolic of the end of the fantasy. The castle, and all of it's promise of fun, imagination, and magic is behind you....in front (as they like to say on the Jungle Cruise) lies the Southern California freeways. A sobering thought. I'm so glad that Barb and I will be going down to WDW in just a month and a half. It made it alot less tragic for me to leave knowing that I'll have the chance to enjoy Disney again in just a few weeks.

Epilogue

Well, the rest of the trip was typically boring stuff. We had a nightmare getting back home on our friendly neighborhood airline, but we made it eventually. Regardless, I hope you enjoyed reading this lengthy epistle. I apologize for being so verbose, but that's just me, I guess. Anyway, I'd appreciate any comments that any reader might have. Feel free to e-mail or message me. I'd especially like hearing of new ideas and strategies for seeing the Disneyparks.

(I HAVE ONE LAST COMMENT, TOO. ON THIS TRIP IT SEEMED THAT THERE WERE DISNEY CHARACTERS EVERYWHERE - MUCH MORE SO THAN ON ANY PREVIOUS TRIPS BOTH TO DL AND WDW. IT WAS GREAT FOR EVERYONE, BOTH WITH KIDS AND WITHOUT. FOR THOSE OF US TRAVELING WITHOUT CHILDREN IT WAS THAT MANY MORE PEOPLE NOT WHERE WE WERE TRYING TO BE. FOR THOSE WITH KIDS, THOUGH, IT WAS MAKING THEIR TRIP. IT IS ALWAYS FUN TO WATCH THE LITTLE ONES CROWD AROUND THEIR FAVORITE CHARACTERS!!)

One last parting comment: If you were wondering why we never rode Space Mountain, it was because it was down for rehab. Also, the teacups (not a favorite of either of us soft-stomachs) and the WED Peoplemover were down for the trip. Someday (hopefully in November) I'm gonna ride Dumbo...really, I am.

Major discoveries:

* Flex passes, purchased at our hotel, provided us with unlimited access to Disneyland for five (5) days from the first use. Since we only had four days (including just a couple of hours on the day we arrived) this was very convienient.
* Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye was a great ride, but not worth a 90 minute or more wait. Fortunately for us, we caught it three times for a much shorter wait than that. For all the hype, I was disappointed with the ride, but only because of the advanced billing. Taken on it's own merit, the attraction is fantastic...and the atmosphere of the queue area really makes you ready for the ride itself.
* Fantasmic from the Disney Gallery was very, very expensive...but fun. I don't know if we'll do it again at that cost, but I'm glad we did it this time.
* Stromboli's at the Disneyland Hotel is an excellent restaurant. Also, I learned to love a traditional Italian desert, tirimisu, there. Tirimisu is a cake and whipped cream desert with a strong coffee flavor. I love it!
* Goofy's Kitchen, also at the Disneyland Hotel, was good too. It's a buffet restaurant with alot of kids and characters running around. Not a place for a quiet meal. Our mistake was going over just after the park closed. The place was over run, we are supposing, by people that just left the MK. The wait wasn't fun, but the restaurant itself was very good.

Brian Bennett