View Full Version : L. Williamson - May 1996

Trip Reports
10-16-2005, 06:09 PM
* Time of Year: Spring
* Travel Method: Unknown
* Resort: Offsite
* Accommodations
* Ages Represented in Group: Elementary, Teen, Adult
* Disneyland Experience Represented in Group: Infrequent
* Comments: L Williamson took her two Godchildren (ages 13 and 9) to Disneyland in May. Besides describing the trip, this report includes some useful hints and tips at the end.


Just got back Wednesday night May 22nd from our trip to Disneyland. I took my two eldest Godchildren (ages 13 and 9) and we stayed in Anaheim for 5 days/4 nights. Spent portions of 4 days at Disneyland. We had two "open late" evenings (Saturday and Sunday until midnight) and one "Magic Morning" early admission. We used the 5-day flex passes. Purchased through AAA, rather than through the hotel, they cost the same as the hotel package passes ($59 for adults, $44 for 11 and under) but included free parking at Disneyland. We stayed at a "one star" motel about a mile south of the park, which had a pool and small refrigerators in the rooms (VERY handy!).

On the weekend, we arrived at Disneyland mid or late afternoon, and stayed until closing. All rides were open except the Storybookland Canal Boats and the Casey Jr. Circus Trains. (I had heard (read here, I think) that the Submarines, Small World, the Jungle Cruise, and Captain EO would all be closed, but they were all open.) We had almost no problem with lines - dashed from ride to ride during the parade and went on Splash Mountain during the early Fantasmic show. We watched the later Fantasmic show, then from 11:00 PMish to midnight Saturday night we did almost everything in Fantasyland (that land is a ghost town that late) - walked on to Dumbo with no line at all, walked right in to Mr. Toad's Wild ride, Pinocchio, Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, and the Teacups. (Peter Pan and Mr. Toad the favorite of these.) Then dashed over to Space Mountain just 5 minutes before closing and were on almost immediately. Sunday night late we did Space Mountain again (8 minute wait), Thunder Mountain Railroad (10 minute wait - and the ride is much scarier at night), Indiana Jones (only 25 minutes - during that afternoon the line had extended all the way back to Main Street), Pirates, and the Haunted House (walked right on both) as well as watching the later parade and popping in to any other ride we happened to pass by that had no line. (The Jungle Cruise and the Submarine Voyage are both a kick at night.) During the more crowded afternoon times we did Star Tours, CircleVision, ToyStory Funhouse, the Penny Arcade (a favorite of these kids - we went back every day!), the Disneyland Railroad (Main street station - unlike the others - almost never had a line), Captain EO, and anything else we happened by that had a short line or no line. In general, our Disneyland time on the weekend was totally satisfying.

In contrast, our "magic morning" early entrance day (Tuesday - we went to Knotts on Monday) was a disappointment. We went to bed early the night before and got up at 6 AM, arriving at the Park about 7:15 AM (the early open started at 7:30). Waited in line to get in the parking lot (only one booth open), then stood in line waiting to get in for another 20 minutes before we were even up to the gate. Once in, we found that very few rides were open - and the only one that the kids were interested in was Indiana Jones (Splash Mountain and Space Mountain were both closed). We stood in line for Indiana Jones with what felt like nearly all of the other magic morning folks - in a longer line than we'd dealt with on Sunday. Took 40 minutes to get on the ride. By the time we got out, there were 20 minutes left of the pre-opening time. We went and hopped on the Matterhorn (12 minutes) then got in line for Splash Mountain at 9am. However, we didn't get to ride Splash Mountain because just as we approached the front of the line, the ride was closed "for at least 45 minutes" due to mechanical difficulties. ARGHH! By this time we all felt pretty frustrated at how little we were able to do given the amount of sleep we'd given up and the amount of hurrying we'd had to do. The kids, functioning on not enough sleep, were getting pretty darn cranky and I wasn't doing much better. Once the Park officially opened at 9, the Indiana Jones line was much shorter than it had been when we stood in it, but everything else filled up almost immediately and there seemed to be no attractions without long lines. We did Circle Vision again ("Wonders of China" - a different show than shown in the afternoon), and the Country Bear Playhouse, and Small World. And we went to Tom Sawyer Island. But the canoes were not operating (VERY disappointed 13-year-old), there were no Pocahontas shows (I know, I know, it's not that great, but the 9-year old wanted to see it), the Sailing Ship Columbia was not running, and everything else had long lines. We wandered over to Toon Town (the only land we'd not been to yet) and stood in a 45 minute line for Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin. Though the line area inside the building is fairly interesting, the kids' assessment was that the ride was roughly equivalent to Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, and while fun, certainly not worth a 45 minute wait. (I'm sure the Disney people wouldn't be thrilled about that comparison.) And they felt deceived by the design of the queue area, which made it look like we were only 2 U-turns away from boarding, when in fact we left the boarding room and maneuvered through a lot of twists and turns before returning to the boarding room. Nothing else in Toon Town appealed to them enough to be worth waiting in line for. So by early afternoon we all decided we'd had enough of Disneyland. We did our shopping for family presents (the shops, at least, were not crowded!) and then returned to the motel to swim and hang out. We didn't return to the park (which was closing early - 9 PM) that day at all. The last day (Wednesday) we spent just 2 hours in the Park in the early afternoon, on our way to the airport (having spent the morning at the beach). We went on the Matterhorn, Space Mountain, and Thunder Mountain. We'd have liked to do Splash Mountain again, but it was the longest line in the park and they decided to go for quantity (3 rides in the 2 hours) rather than quality (Splash Mountain was a favorite). (Actually, I think the 9-year old would have preferred to wait for Splash Mountain, but her older brother would have none of this waiting in long lines and also refused to go off and do rides on his own.)

In future (when I take their two younger siblings in a few years), we'll go during times the Park is open late (and all the parades and shows are happening), arrive in the afternoon and stay until closing, and not bother with the Magic Morning at all (unless they are excited about the Character Breakfast). [Of course, they may foil this plan by turning into morning people rather than the night owls their older siblings are.] It would also be helpful to go with another adult - to give me a break, but also to more easily accommodate the varied preferences of 2 different kids (as well as my own wishes!). Having the rental car was definitely worth it, as was paying a little extra to get a refrigerator in the room. And chunks of 3 days was really long enough to spend in Disneyland, even for first-timers. (Especially first-timers who are away from their family!) I won't try to make it a longer trip next time.

And an aside - I originally didn't plan to rent a car, but the cost of the shuttle from LAX to Anaheim for the 3 of us would have been nearly the same, round-trip, as three days of rental charges. Given that, I went ahead and rented a car from LAX. That worked out very well for us - it meant no hassling children to hurry up to meet the schedule of the irregular shuttle from our motel to Disneyland, and it meant we could stay late without taking a taxi back. And the kids loved riding the parking lot tram. (We got a "subcompact" from Avis, using my AAA discount - it was a four-door, and had air conditioning. Nice car.) Also, having a car meant we had easy transportation to Knotts and to the beach, and to go to the grocery store and out to eat. Parking at Disneyland was free with our AAA Flex passes. I'll rent a car next time, too. If we'd flown directly into John Wayne airport, the advantage to having a car would have been less, but perhaps still worth it (we couldn't use the closer airport because two of our tickets were special free coupons that were only good to LAX).

It was a good trip, I'm glad we went, and despite the intense commercialism (and our frustrations!) I still really like Disneyland. I hope this post will be useful to others in trip planning. Have fun!

L. Williamson