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Robin Goble/Larry Wilmot -- October 2005 -- Disneyland (GCH)


  • Robin – 42 – Trip Report Writer, Hostess, Bringer of Butterfingers
  • Larry - 46 - Trip Report god, Weary Traveler, Stayer in Parks After Hours


I know this is going to come as a quite a shock, so please feel free to sit down if you’d like, but I’m not going to have a History or a Planning section as such! Yes, for the second trip report in a row, Robin “Planning is My Life” Goble is not going to bore you with all the details that went into the making of this trip. That’s not to say I didn’t plan this trip. On the contrary, quite a bit of planning went into it, unlike the last trip I took to a Disney Park. The last trip was to Disneyland Paris in July as a guest of the infamous Larry Wilmot and, as such, there wasn’t much planning to do since I left most of the details in Larry’s (motto: Planning is for Wimps—What’s a motto? Nothing, what’s a-motto with you?) hands.

I guess maybe some of that no planning, happy-go-lucky (bleeding heart liberal!) Wilmot attitude is rubbing off on me, the uber-planning, live-by-my-lists, conservative accountant. Luckily, you, dear reader, get to benefit from this since you don’t have to wade through a section the size of “War and Peace” of me debating which hotel we should stay at or what type of pass we should buy (not that there’s anything wrong with that—I still love the very detailed trip reports ala Sheri Niklewski, Brian Bennett, Mark Fendrick and Sue Holland et al). Also, cutting out the planning section hasn’t made me any less glib or led me to leave out any of the excruciating details on the other portions, so I apologize for that in advance.

Anyway, to make a long story even longer, since Larry was such a nice host when I visited Disneyland Paris, I thought I should repay the favor by playing hostess while he visited Disneyland California.

Since this is Larry’s first time at Disneyland (and since I’ve already voiced my opinions about the rides on previous trip reports), I’m going to leave most of the commentary on the rides to him, so you can get a fresh perspective on the parks. Yes, I’ll generously volunteer to be the dull, detail provider and let Larry provide the flash and color. Sit back and watch a master at work

Well Robin Goble that’s a mighty big build up, Trip Report god indeed. Though I am pleased yet again to have the opportunity to invade your Trip Report in order to give one or two of my little observations from over the pond. This was indeed my first visit to Disneyland, and much anticipated it was too. Thanks also to my erstwhile host Robin for accommodating me in the luxury of the Grand Californian Hotel, and conchy level too. Believe my dear reader, there is no kinder and more generous host than Ms Goble.

Robin has given me permission to insert my little comment-ettes into her tome, and, so you know it’s me, you have two choices. You can look if it makes sense or if it’s drivel, if it’s the former then it’s the stuff Robin wrote and if it’s tripe then I wrote it. But, to make it even easier, then, I’ll put my stuff in Italics. Cheers Larry (LWW – William in case you are wondering.)

Monday, October 17, 2005

“It’s a wonder there’s not a Starbucks in here.”
(The average pair of jeans weighs approximately 2 pounds.)

I was on the phone with Larry until around 11:00 the night before, finalizing our meeting arrangements, so I didn’t get finished packing until 1:00am. Not being much of one to sleep very well the night before a Disney vacation, I was up at 4:00 and at the airport by 5:30. Okay, here was my first “first” of the trip: being first in line to check in at the airport before they were even open.

Hey RG, you had it cushy, I had to drive all the way from Monterey, which ain’t much closer than San Francisco. And it was piddling it down, and I couldn’t see much on the drive down, though I did notice a lot of pumpkin farms, and I hit the sprawl of LA, did you know that the place is almost sixty miles of traffic jam. (I wasn’t a big LA fan, but I did like California and especially San Francisco). – LWW.

Luckily, they opened at 5:30 so I didn’t have to wait very long. I had already printed my boarding pass online, but I did need to check my bag. Apparently the airlines are stepping up the enforcement of their rules and cracking down on the weight limits on baggage, because the ticket agent informed me that my bag weighed more than their limit of 50 pounds per bag. Yes, horror or horrors, the bag was a whopping Fifty-ONE pounds! Why I should be drawn and quartered. Hanged at dawn. Run through with a rusty sword. Apparently I could have checked two bags that were 50 pounds each, for a total of 100 pounds of luggage, but try to check one bag at 51 pounds, and you’re asking for trouble, mister.

The ticket agent gave me the option of paying the $50 overweight baggage fee (as if!), or trying to remove a few items from my suitcase. She helpfully suggested that the average pair of jeans weighs around 2 pounds. Of course, the average pair of jeans that I had packed was on the very bottom of the bag, but, hey, anything to comply with the airline’s policies.

So, there I am at 5:30 in the morning, on the floor at the airport, unpacking my suitcase and transferring my jeans to my carry-on bag. As it so happens, the suitcase nazi, um, I mean, ticket agent, was correct about the weight of jeans and my suitcase now weighed in at 49.5 pounds. Thank goodness. I could just see myself having to wear several outfits at one time, just to get the bag at the correct weight.

I did have a large bag of snack sized Butterfingers in my suitcase that I considered eating--solely for the purpose of getting my bag under weight of course. I mean, that’s just the kind of person I am--sacrificing for the better good. Volunteering to make me overweight just so my suitcase could be underweight. The Butterfingers were to give to Larry however, for him to take back to Scotland as a gift to some of his staff at work (Its a nice custom they have in the UK--taking back something small from your holiday as a gift for the people you work with. Larry says you usually bring back some kind of sweet or snack that you can’t get in your own country, thus the Butterfingers, which were a request from his staff.), so I hated to cause a strike among Larry’s workers by denying them their candy!

This is a message for Anne Duncan, You have probably noticed, that I’m a bit cheap getting my friend to buy the chocolate for me, sorry about that, next time I go away, I’ll buy something myself. - LWW

One nice thing about flying so early in the morning is that your airplane is already ready and waiting at the gate for the first flight of the day. The early-morning route is apparently the “let’s-see-how-many-stops-we-can-make-on-one-flight” route, as I had three 45-minute legs of the trip--barely enough time to get your thimble full of coke drank and your two pretzels eaten. Actually, that’s the bad thing about an early morning flight (at least in my case). While your plane might not have had time to be behind schedule yet, all they offer you to drink is coffee or orange juice. So, not being a huge fan of coffee or orange juice, I generally had to wait until I was at an airport to get any sort of refreshment.
But, enough about airports and flights--this is supposed to be a Disney trip report, so lets get on to the good stuff....the shuttle from the airport. No? Well, to make a long story even longer, I’ll just summarize and say that my flight landed a bit early (10:15) at Los Angeles, I got my 49.5 pound bag, and went outside to pick up the Super Shuttle to Anaheim (approximately $15 one-way). There was one waiting as I walked up so I was quickly on my way.

As luck would have it, the Grand Californian was our first stop (woohoo!), so I was at the hotel at 11:30. A Cast Member (CM) came out to greet me and took me to the front desk to get me checked in. The rooms weren’t ready yet, but the CM took my cell phone number so he could call me when there were. I wasn’t expecting Larry until around 4:00, so I left my bags (yes, even the one that weighed 49.5 pounds--not that I’m bitter about that or anything) with Bell Services, and headed to the hotel entrance to California Adventure.

As I went through the gate into California Adventure, the CM gave me a scratch ticket for a chance to win a new Honda (they were giving the chance to win one each day in October). Sadly, I never won one, although Larry later remarked that the cars they were giving away didn’t even have alloy wheels, so it was hardly worth our trouble to scratch the card! I’m sure if I knew or cared about alloy wheels (It’s a boy thing Robin, Girls are more interested in the vanity mirrors etc.), I’d be appalled.

Yes and so you should be. I couldn’t believe how cheap a prize it was, steel wheels with nasty little plastic covers, and you have to pay taxes on prizes in America. In Britain they are tax-free. But as Robin is an accountant, I guess had we won the prize, she could have figured out our tax liability, and perhaps, figured out a way to reduce it enough to be able to buy some alloy wheels. Anyway, the bad news is we didn’t actually win one, so I guess it wasn’t a major problem solving either the wheels or the tax liability. I kinda knew that we wouldn’t win one, so each morning when we were given the scratch cards, I didn’t bother rubbing the whole scratchy bit off, I just headed for the spot where the “Try” in “Try Again” was, in order to minimize effort. And I always scratched it by a litter bin, to save the bother of having to find one later, because I’m a very ecological kinda guy. (Sign Kyoto George, you know you want to.) – LWW.

The first order of the day was to get Fast Passes for Soarin’ Over California. It was a gamble as to whether or not Larry would get here in time for us to use them, but I got some just in case. It was starting to sprinkle as I walked to the entrance of California Adventure to leave the park and cross over the esplanade to the Magic Kingdom. I got my hand stamped on the way out and the CM told me that I had beautiful eyes. He asked if I was a local and I told him that no, I was from Texas. He questioned that it wasn’t my first time at Disneyland though and when I told him no, he said “welcome back.”

I actually had an ulterior motive for crossing from California Adventure to the Magic Kingdom. I wanted to see if the brick I had purchased for the esplanade had been installed yet. The literature that came with the purchase of our brick gave the location as section C36 and included a map of where that was located. I didn’t have any trouble finding the right area. Unfortunately, while section C35 and section C37 had been installed, section C36 was not yet in place (This seems like a really good place to make a joke about a C-Section, but, alas, I can’t think of one!). Oh well, I guess that just means that I’ll have to come back and check on the brick later.

I’ve got this theory that Robin rang the Brick People up and begged them to put the brick in the last section to be laid, so that she could keep coming back every month or so, just to check that if it’s been put down. I’ve seen the design of the brick, and it looks really nice. There is also a signed certificate from Roy Disney, which I must admit is lovely, but its also funny given that he was running savedisney.com 10 minutes ago, and has now rejoined the team and is now “back on message”. Still, I’m looking forward to seeing the brick too; I’m kinda looking forward to it a lot as it happens. – LWW.

While I was waiting in line to enter the Magic Kingdom, I overhead a girl remark that it was a wonder that they didn’t have a Starbucks in the Magic Kingdom. Gosh, as rapid and intensive as their expansion is, it’s a wonder we don’t all have a Starbucks in our bedrooms! Have I mentioned my big gripe with Starbucks? No? Well pull up a chair and let me step up on my soapbox for a moment. I’m sure you’re aware (Unless you’ve just been skimming this report and not really committing it to memory like a good trip report reader--why I can quote vast sections of trip reports. Well, okay, I can quote sections of my own trip reports, but, I can also quote from Larry’s as well, being a rather big fan of his. So there.). (Thanks Robin, I’m a great big beautiful fan of your TR’s too.)

Anyway, like I was saying, I’m sure you’re aware, seeing as how I ranted on about it earlier in the report, that I’m not really a coffee person. However, I don’t let this stop me from associating with people who drink coffee (being a rather open-minded, yet Republican, sort of person). So, if I’m out with a coffee-drinking person and they want to get a cup of coffee at Starbucks, then that’s fine with me except for the fact that Starbucks doesn’t serve soft drinks, so I’m out of luck for anything to drink. They could at least be a little bit more understanding and acknowledge the fact that not everyone who goes there wants to drink coffee. I mean, would it kill them to have a diet coke or two on hand? Of course, if their coffee is $4 bucks a cup (which makes you wonder why people are mad about paying $3 for a gallon of gas, when they’re paying $64 per gallon for coffee), I don’t even want to know how much they’d charge for a coke. (I guess if they ever put one in Disneyland, they could re-name it “Big Bucks” – L.)

Even taking the time to ponder the Starbucks comment, I was inside the Magic Kingdom and on Main Street in just a matter of minutes. A relatively new tradition with me is to stop and get my fortune told by Esmerelda (a coin-operated fortune telling machine) so I did that before going to Indiana Jones.

Indiana Jones was a walk-on, and I enjoyed the quick ride. There’s no cell phone reception inside the queuing area though (no hate emails please, I had it on vibrate, not on ring) and, since I was expecting a call from Larry telling me what time he expected to arrive, I decided against doing any more rides for now.

I walked back to the hotel through California Adventure and went up to the concierge lounge for get something for lunch. Today they had cranberry-orange Mickey scones. Yes, the very scones that my family lost all semblance of dignity over when we first discovered them last December. I mean, how can you be expected to keep your emotions in check when faced with a Mickey-shaped fresh buttery baked good? Luckily, this time they were old hat to me, so I was able to not shriek with delight every time I saw them (at least not externally, though I was still highly amused on the inside!) So, I tried those (very good) and had some fruit and tea sandwiches as well. I got a bottle of water to take with me and I went down to the lobby to sit in front of the fire for a while.

Between the warmth of the fire and the comfort of the rocking chair, I got very sleepy. Not wanting to be caught snoring in the lobby, I decided to get up and call home to let my mom know that I arrived safely. While I was on the phone to Mom, I missed a call from Larry. He left a message saying that he expected to get to the hotel by 3:30 or 4:00.

Since I had a little time I decided to go to Downtown Disney and look around in the World of Disney store. It was still sprinkling a little so I was on the lookout for a rain jacket. I had brought a coat with me, but not anything waterproof (including an umbrella--you’d think I’d learn by now!). I had seen a jacket I liked in the Acorn Gift Shop in the Grand Californian and I didn’t really find anything that I liked better at World of Disney.

While I was shopping, the CM that had checked me in at the Grand Californian called my cell phone and told me that my room was ready. I hurried back to get my luggage and get settled in. I was in a room on the 5th floor, which surprised me since the 6th floor is generally the concierge rooms. I asked the CM about that and he said that the hotel was so full this week that they were having to put some of the concierge guests on the 5th floor (the ones that had a theme park view room booked). All those guests still had access to the lounge however.

The room was very conveniently located right by a staircase that led to the 6th floor. The key that he had given to me at check-in didn’t open the door, so I ran up the stairs to the concierge desk where they gave me a new room key. The room had a great view of the Paradise Pier area of California Adventure. It was especially nice at night when the rides were all lit up. In fact, for only the second time in my life (the first time being when I stayed at the Animal Kingdom Lodge at WDW and liked to be able to wake up in the middle of the night and see what animals were out on the savannah), I left the curtains open at night so I could see the view.

I unpacked most of my things, got some ice, and went back to the lounge for a diet coke and some more water. I spent the next little while updating my trip report notes until Larry arrived around 4:45. This was his first trip to Disneyland and the Grand Californian so we had a look around the hotel and caught up on the events of each other’s day. However, the call of the theme parks soon took effect and we went downstairs to go to California Adventure through the hotel’s entrance.

I was very impressed with the Grand Californian, I guess I had originally imagined it as being like the Grand Flo at WDW, but it is actually like Wilderness Lodge and Animal Kingdom Lodge, you can tell that it’s the same architect. The lobbies are big features of these hotels; all have vast square seating areas with high ceilings, and rooms around the walls on each side. The woods are dark, and light comes from both external and internal features. Somehow the dark wood and the space seem to contradict each other, and it makes for an edgy feel, a kind of excitement. (Good Grief Wilmot, what have you been reading, Architecture Monthly???) – LWW.

The CM at the entrance gate to DCA gave Larry his scratch card for his chance to win a Honda and explained the contest to us in great detail (and when I say great detail I mean we might as well have gotten an attorney to read the official rules and regulations to us--and perhaps even “War and Peace”-- and explain the legal implications of each point.) We were anxious to set foot in our first Disney Park of the trip so we were a bit impatient for the CM to finish his speech about the giveaway. The CM was very thorough and we couldn’t help but laugh as he went over the rules with us and how we could enter online for a second chance drawing all the while Larry and I were inching farther and farther away from him, trying to make a break into the park.

Funnily enough I skipped the online game, I mean had it had decent wheels, I may have bothered but it didn’t seem worth it. – LWW.

The Fast Passes I had gotten for Soarin’ Over California had already expired (probably during the hour that we listened to the rules of the Honda giveaway!), but since it was already 5:30 and the park closed at 6:00, there wasn’t much of a wait for the ride. I always enjoy listening to Patrick Warburton give the safety spiel in the pre-show. He always amuses me with his mix of seriousness and smugness (not that I’d be attracted to anyone who was smug, mind you).

OK it looks like Robin has given me the job of talking about the rides this TR as she has commented on them in previous Trip Reports to Disneyland Resort. For those of you guys who have not read a Larry TR before, welcome. I’ve never been to Disneyland before, but I’ve been known to kick my heels around Walt Disney World, which is in Florida for those of you who have been an underground bunker for the past thirty years. I used to write Trip Reports after most of my trips, and I said I would retire, but Robin lets me put the odd comment, and I try to keep them fairly odd, just to keep the old brain-cells ticking over, So thanks for that Robin. Anyway to longstanding Robin and Larry TR readers, welcome, thanks for reading this far, and thanks for joining us on our little five days together in California. What will I hope be the first trip of many to the resort.

As usual I’m rambling on about myself, and not telling you guys, the readers, what you actually want to read about, Soaring – or “Soarin’”, as my Texas friend types, (You know I’m not sure which they use in it’s name, I hope that Disney put in the “G”. We British like to have our proper grammar you know. Stiff upper lip and all that. Well, however you spell it, it’s a great ride. I’m not really sure what I expected. I think, I imagined, it would be small hang glider mock-ups, which hovered over a back projection floor, kinda like the boats on Peter Pan, and I wasn’t totally wrong. Though the hang gliders are Big, with I’m guessing a hundred riders each “flight”. You sit in three rows, and when Patrick and his gang, have done the strapping in duties, - and Robin is right, (she tells me she is always right and I try not to doubt it.) Patrick is very smug (though in a kinda cute way) indeed. I’m so glad I’m not like that (smug that is, I don’t mind being cute!!), - you wooosh up into the air, very fast, and suddenly below you, is California. You fly through seven or eight scenes set throughout the day, and it’s a fantastic ride, I doubt anyone doesn’t enjoy this. In many ways, it’s a massive update on Circle-vision; the content is not dissimilar to the Canada, China or Paris Films in Epcot. But the ride machinery is pretty neat, I can tell you. The good news for those of you for whom California is hard to get to, compared with Florida, and that might include most of the Brits, the ride has just opened in Epcot in the Land Pavilion. (Mind you they Killed Food Rocks to do it, and that’s a shame.) –LWW.

Once we were finished with Soarin’ it was time for DCA to close so we walked through the park to the front entrance and across to the Magic Kingdom (stopping to check out the non-alloy wheels on the Honda’s).

One of the great things about Disneyland, is its compactness. Its layout is very very similar to that of Disneyland Paris, with the two parks, facing each other, and the hotels and downtown Disney within walking distance. The downtown Disney area is way better than the one in Paris, but not as extensive as the one in WDW. There are street performers, who were all of a, shall we say, Interesting Quality. But for those of you who like to go home with a lot less bucks than you set off with, you won’t find it too hard to find some shopping opportunities so that you can help Mr. Bush, keep the GDP of the US ticking over. (Though most of the dollars actually go to keeping the GDP of China ticking over.)

The good news is if you figure out how to get to the resort from the airport,

  • Shuttle bus.
  • Making friends with the guy sat in the seat next to you on the plane from Idaho who has hired a car,
  • Waiting for Disney to extend the Monorail to LAX.
  • Walking- OK that’s a very very last resort--

You don’t need a car at all. In fact it ain’t going to go and move its Korean Butt from the car park once. So I wouldn’t bother if I was you. –LWW

The 3:00 parade at the Magic Kingdom must have started at 6:00 tonight, because it was in full swing when we entered the park. We cut down the west side of Main Street and headed into Tomorrowland where we found Buzz Lightyear to be a walk-on.

While Larry and I both finished with our scores at level 3, my score was a tad bit higher than Larry’s. I’d tell you that it was almost double his, but I’m not supposed to be smug. (Can I just say that I had only been in California for 10 days at that point, so I’m convinced that Jet Lag was still a factor.- Buzz is very similar to the one in Florida, but you can take your pistol out of your holster and wave it about a bit, - gosh that sounds so un-Disney. - LWW)

Space Mountain had a long queue and was out of Fast Passes, so we went into Fantasyland next to see if we could find any rides with short wait times. The queue for Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride didn’t look too bad so we rode on that (a first for Larry, of course, and I hadn’t ridden it in a very long time). Larry mentioned that it had lots of “wild ride” and not much “Mr. Toad.”

This is one of the two regrets that I have about the first Trip I made to Walt Disney World in 1998. I never went on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and I’m not actually sure why, I guess, it just looked a bit “do it later”, every time I walked by, and later just never arrived. By the time I came again in 1999, it had been closed down, and of course I wanted to go on it then, you know, what you can’t have you want. So it was really nice to be able to ride it at long last, and I quite liked it, it was very a frantic kinda speedy whizzy about kinda ride, and as previous reported, I thought it was more “wild ride” than “Mr. Toad.” I liked it.

In case the eagle eyed of you are wondering. “What was the other regret that you had?” I can tell you that it was deciding to sleep on the back seat of the car, when we rode Journey into Your Imagination. In my defense I was rather tired, and I needed a petite napp-ette, and it seemed a fine ride to do it on, to me at the time. Is it my fault that they close the blinking ride down a few weeks later, for several rehabs leaving all the “Walt Disney Will Die and Turn in his Cryonic Grave if you alter a thing Brigade” foaming at the mouth? No- exactly!!! – LWW.

The rest of the rides in Fantasyland seemed crowded so we went to Adventureland next for a ride on Indiana Jones (Friends! I celebrate your safe return!). Next, we went to New Orleans square and went on the Holiday Haunted Mansion. Larry had never seen Nightmare Before Christmas until this summer when I made him watch it so he’d have some idea of what the Haunted Mansion makeover was about. He actually did make it through the whole movie but we were distracted and talked through the middle of it, so I’m not really sure how much of the plot Larry got. He seemed to recognize the major characters however so he must not have done too badly.

These are two great rides folks, I was mega impressed with them. First of All, Indy, WOW that’s a mean ride you have there Mr. Walt. For those of you familiar with Walt Disney World, and not Disneyland, then you would find yourself feeling, like you had done this ride before, and that’s because it shares it’s DNA with Countdown to Extinction, (Dinosaur – I don’t like calling it that. OK I know that makes me a Dinosaur too but hey, I can foam with the best of them.) The ride system is exactly the same, and I understand that the track layout is too. The great thing is that most of the ride area is lit, so you can see how the track is laid out, its way too dark in Florida to do that on CTX, for example I never knew there was a figure of eight loop, with a bridge and a tunnel that allows that. The effects are very good too, with much more of the track being used for effects, I particularly liked the lighting effect which shows the scarab beetles in the car’s headlights, (A touch of the Spiderman ride at Islands of Adventure in that I thought) And all the lava and fire stuff is great too. Probably a bit scary for very younger kids. The only bit I thought could he better are the animatronics of Harrison Ford, which make him look like Ellen at Ellen’s Energy Ride in Epcot. Gosh and you know how Bad she looks.

Now on to the Haunted Mansion, WOW that’s a make over and a half. This is not a half hearted, stick up a few beanies from the Tim Burton Movie, no way. This is an amazing transformation. Just about every element of the whole ride is NBC’ed. And it adds a fun element to what is already one of the nicest bits of Disney Magic. The Haunted Mansion took the fairground tradition of the “Ghost Train” and made it into a staple of the Magic Kingdom Parks, and this Christmas Make-over, really does take that even further. It’s a great blend. Robin kindly explained the plot of the movie to me, because although we had watched it, most of the storyline had evaded me for some reason. I liked this ride though, even if Jack is a bit scary. And very thin, the boy needs to eat more. -LWW

When I had checked in to the hotel this morning, the CM said that we were very lucky to have arrived today because it was the only night this week that they were having the special Remember...Dreams Come True Fireworks show (brought to you by Honda). The fireworks were scheduled for 8:00, so about 7:45 we found a spot on Main Street to watch them from.

The fireworks were really incredible and we were both very glad that we got to see them. They started out similar to the Wishes fireworks show that they have at WDW and at Disneyland Paris but then they added a tribute to many of the attractions (Pirates, Indiana Jones, Star Tours, Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, the Tiki Room, etc.) playing the music from the ride while the fireworks went off. They also shot off fireworks from all around the park, effectively surrounding you in light and fireworks.

Tinkerbelle’s flight was a lot longer than it normally is, though we got rather amused at poor Tinkerbelle being dangled around the castle’s spires with all the fireworks going off around her (I say “her,” but Larry swears that she’s really some bloke!). She (he?) is up there so long that it almost seems like someone’s forgotten to reel her in.

Also, I don’t know how much Honda is paying to join the ranks of Disney sponsors but they seem to be getting their money’s worth as their name was mentioned several times in conjunction with the fireworks announcements.

I would concur with Robin, I loved the fireworks, and I particularly liked the fact that they were set up so that everyone would enjoy them, they are after all Disney Fireworks, you would have to be a Black Hearted Bad Person Type, not to. But there were rewards in there for “aficionados” of the parks. It was great fun, guessing which ride would be tributed next, and working out in the first couple of bars of music, which ride the segment was for. That’s one of the things that Disney does so well, remembering their own history. You can see that in lots of the rides, little tributes to previous rides in the same space or little mentions of long lost films or Disney People, I guess the biggest example is the windows on all the Main Street USA’s right down to the use of Tom Morrow in Innoventions. (First used in From the Earth to the Moon, in Tommorrowland. If I’m not very much mistaken.) Gosh this has so got to be my most cerebral report yet, I hope that regular readers are impressed, It think, it may have something to do with me stopping reading the Daily Mirror and swapping for the Guardian instead. – LWW.

After the fireworks were over the Magic Kingdom was closed for the evening so Larry and I made our way out of the park and into Downtown Disney. We were hungry so we stopped off at the counter service Napolini and picked up a calzone for Larry and a piece of pizza for me to take back to the hotel with us.

Back at the Grand Californian we took our food to the lounge where we found the bedtime stories for the children was just finishing up. We got some drinks and found a table in an out of the way spot to have our dinner at. They have a computer in the lounge now that you can use to check email and browse the internet so after we finished our food from Napolini, we got some dessert (Larry being just about as big a fan of the Mickey Macaroons as my mom was in December--well, okay, no one could be that big a fan!) and took turns looking at our email while we ate.

After we finished with the computer it was late and we were tired after our respective long days, so we went to bed. I don’t think I even updated my trip report notes until the next day!

Nice Day Robin Thanks. – Larry.

Tuesday October 18, 2005

The first full day at Disney can only mean one thing—up early and hit the ground running! We went to the concierge lounge at 7:45 for breakfast then went downstairs and walked through Downtown Disney to be at the Magic Kingdom at 8:30 for early entry.

Hey there folks, good morning to you all, thanks to a Generous Grant from the Robin Foundation, we were staying conchy level, and the great news is, Free/Included breakfasts, and you know what the breakfasts are quite nice, much nicer than the breakfasts at the Holiday Inn Express, and I quite like them too.. They do the usual continental breakfast style, but they have nice touches like interesting fruit plates, so it’s easy to have a nice but health breakfast. If they did Fry Ups, I wouldn’t be able to resist them, so I’m rather glad they don’t. -LWW

The first order of the day was to ride the Matterhorn Bobsleds but, no cars running on the track and a CM stationed outside the ride telling guests that the ride was down forced us to change our plans. We headed to Space Mountain next, but it was down as well. Okay, another small change of plans.

Yes, I think that we instigated, the We want to go on a Roller Coaster, but they aren’t going to let us Plan B.- (You know, I really don’t know what it is about Plan B’s but I never like them!!) -LWW

We walked through Fantasyland (which was very crowded this morning) – Yes they were all walking around the park as they couldn’t get on any flipping rides, as they were all shut. – Not that I’m bitter or anything. – L - and over to Adventureland to check on Indiana Jones and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (BTMRR), both of which weren’t included in early entry. Well, nothing like a nice early morning walk through the park! We went back to Fantasyland, this time going through the castle, and straight on to It’s a Small World (IASW). See there, Mr. Wilmot, the ride is good for some things anyway.

Have you considered Robin, that this is some kind of Disney Mind Washing Plot, you know…….. You arrive at the park, all ready to go and do some thrill riding on the Roller Coasters, and you have your ticket in your hand, to snap up those early fastpasses. The next news is, all the coasters are shut. Just about the whole place is down, so you are forced to go and Ride IASW….. So what happens then, your thoughts for the day, are obliterated from your mind, completely wiped out as “THAT SONG” invades your brain, and suddenly, Disney has you……….. You have an uncontrollable urge to buy small toys from the Disney Stores……………… Even cokes at $3 sound reasonable……….. And worst of all………. You actually want to have your photo taken with Lilo and Stitch. – LWW.

In doing my job as an objective trip report writer, I feel that it’s my duty, as disheartening as it might be sometimes, to report all aspects of my trip. So, it’s with deep sadness that I’m forced to tell you that Larry, while we were on IASW (a simple, innocent ride celebrating the youthfulness and hopefulness of children the world over, a pure and wholesome experience for family members of all ages, the last bastion of all that is good and kind in the world), made an obscene gesture. Yes, it’s true. Let the avalanche of emails begin. He had some flimsy excuse about the gesture not being directed at the innocent and blameless children, but I’ll leave the explaining of his heinous actions to him.

OK I have to admit, I may have been slightly rude about the French, and it might have had something to do with us whipping their garlic smelling butts, by beating them to the Olympics which they rather arrogantly assumed they would get. Part of the problem was their rather idiotic President, who, and I’m not making this up, said the night before the voting. “The English Food is the worst in Europe, well apart from that of Finland”. Oh well done Jacque, that got the Scandinavians voting for you in droves……. LWW.

Once we were through with IASW (and had entered a settlement for legal fees and therapy for the traumatized children who were on the boat with us!), we decided to go over to California Adventure. The line at the main entrance was already very long and it wasn’t quite 9:30 so they weren’t letting anyone in yet (the park officially opens at 10:00, but they generally open the gates 30 minutes early and usually have Soarin’ Over California open at that time), so we went back through Downtown Disney and to the Grand Californian entrance, which only had a couple of people waiting (plus, it’s closer to Soarin’).

We were let in the park at 9:30 and we went straight to Soarin’ Over California. This morning we got to be on the front row and Larry agreed that it helps the experience when you don’t have to look at the dangling legs of the people above you. Not only were we in the first row, but we were the first two people in the first row, so we got to be “team leaders,” (and when I say “team leaders” I mean “the first people in line”), as well. Patrick Warburton was very proud! After the ride we got Fast Passes for later (a return time of 10:35 – 11:35) and then walked to the Tower of Terror, which we rode twice with no waiting. I still don’t think it’s quite as good a ride as the one at WDW, and I miss garden area, but some of the effects are very nice.

Ah the Tower of Terror, now anyone who reads my Trip Reports with any regularity, will know that I prize atmosphere over almost anything at Disney when I’m rating rides, and the Tower of Terror at WDW was and remains my favorite “attraction” not only in the “World” but in the World as well. So it was with great anticipation that I approached the Hollywood version of the Hollywood Tower Hotel. And sadly looking at the exterior visuals it rather disappoints, first of all. Who ever stayed in a hotel that was the shape of a Hammer Headed Shark??? What’s all those overhangs about??? And secondly as Robin so rightly mentions above, there are no gardens, and it’s the spooky gardens that set the tone for the whole ride, your senses tighten as you approach the door to the hotel through the winding dilapidated pathway, with it’s almost maze like quality. The doorway is shielded by a disused water feature and two right angle turns, you don’t quite know what to expect, long before you face the actual “drop” you are on edge. In California, you walk in through the front door. It just isn’t the same psychologically.

Inside things start to rapidly improve, the lobby of the hotel is similar, perhaps slightly fresher, not that freshness is that helpful in context. And sadly little touches are missing, but it’s still very good. The “library” is very similar and the Rod Sterling film much the same. However, one good thing is the newness of the ride, I found the cast members to be really into the role, I think, they have gotten a little tired in WDW, so it was nice to have such enthusiastic bell hops. I found myself harking back to five or six years ago at WDW when, there was the great spooky bell hop who looked just like John Cleese.

The boiler room is where you start to notice the changes. There are two loading areas, upstairs and downstairs, and there are three shafts, so that capacity is probably fifty percent greater than in Florida, no bad thing at all. The internal ride layout is different, you go almost immediately into the shaft, and you don’t have the shaft to shaft movement that you get in Orlando. Also there are one or two nice touches in the experiences, for example I liked the mirror shattering scene better in LA than in the Original. They also don’t seem to have the different drop patterns that you get on the other coast.

All in all it’s a great ride, and anyone who hasn’t ridden the first version, is going to have a fantastic time, for those who have you will find it interesting, but is it better than its older brother, sadly no. – LWW.

I have to mention at this point that we quickly became very familiar with the location of the majority of the restrooms in the Disney parks. A couple of years ago during a visit to the doctor, Larry found out that he was borderline diabetic and the doctor recommended cutting sugar out of his diet in the hopes of lowering Larry’s blood sugar levels. This approach had worked fairly well for the past two years.

We didn’t put two and two together at the time but his borderline diabetes had become full-fledged diabetes and so Larry was drinking water at a much higher rate than normal (drinking like a fish, I believe the expression goes!) and, subsequently, having to make use of the facilities far more frequently than usual. We thought maybe he just had some kind of urinary tract infection at the time but a visit to the doctor once he was back home confirmed that he was, indeed, diabetic. Luckily, medication and a few changes in his diet seem to be controlling things now.

(I like to think of it as a promotion, I was finding that some people didn’t think that I was a proper diabetic I mean what kind of diagnosis is glucose intolerant, and I’m sure one or two folk were looking down at me, and now that I’ve been upgraded to the real thing, you know, I can hold my head with pride in the knowledge that I’m tackling this slight disability with the respect that it deserves and I can live my life once again fully in polite society. – LWW.)

So, all of this “too much information” is just so I can tell you about one of Larry’s more endearing qualities--he doesn’t like to use the hand dryers in the restrooms, and he absolutely won’t use one of those towel dispensers that just re-circulates the same old wet germy cloth towel over and over again. I quickly learned to spot him as I waited outside the restrooms for him because he was the man that always came out shaking his hands dry by his sides! At least I can take comfort in the knowledge that he really does wash his hands every time he goes to the restroom.

On our way back up the Hollywood Backlot area, we stopped in the Disney Animation building so I could show Larry their cinema set up and so we could go through the Sorcerer’s Workshop and see what Disney character Larry would be.

In Beast’s library, they have a little quiz you can take to find out which Disney character you’re most like. There’s one pivotal question that they ask that determines whether you’re a good character or a villain. When Larry took the test the first time, answering each question truthfully, his character was Jiminy Cricket—always honest and letting his conscience be his guide (though I bet he never flipped off a boat load of children in It’s a Small World!). When he took the test again, but answered the good/evil question where it would assign him a villain, he was Shere Khan from Jungle Book.

Next, we went to Ursula’s, where we did a little voice work, both singing (Hakuna Matata) and acting (a scene from Beauty and the Beast and, yes, Larry was nice and let me be the voice of Belle while he assumed the role of the Beast). Let me just say that we should probably both keep our day jobs and not pursue careers in the entertainment business. Unless, of course, we decide to become comedians, as our efforts were highly amusing.

I’d probably better confirm that neither of us is going to win American Idol without significant investment in singing lessons, but I have considered being a comedian before, I had a boss in Elgin who will remain nameless, Sally Chisholm, and once after a meeting I said to her, Sally I’m going to quit Social Work, and become a stand up comedian, and she said. “Oh Larry, do you think, anyone will notice the difference?” - L.

It was time for our Fast Passes for Soarin’, so we went there next and got another nice ride in the first row. (The back row is for wimps –L)

It was getting nearer to lunch time by now and we were both getting a little bit hungry so we decided to go over to the Pacific Wharf area and see if we could take the Mission Tortilla Factory tour, thereby acquiring a tortilla or two to tide us over till tea time (how’s that for some fancy alliteration?!) Our efforts were squelched however, because they weren’t doing the tour. Larry was very disappointed since he was determined to show me that he can be just as “Texan” as I am and can eat tortillas with the best of them. (Hey I’m keen on Tex/Mex Food, after all, it’s the only nosh in the world, when if the waiter brings you the wrong order, all you have to do is fold it differently and POOF there you go, what you asked for in the first place. – L)

We continued on to the Paradise Pier area where we saw that California Screamin’ was up and running. It had been closed due to an accident earlier this summer. There had been rumors of the ride opening back up soon because Disney had been testing the ride for several weeks, using big water bottles in the seats to simulate the weight of actual guests, so we were glad to see it was open. (Hey Robin, I think you have misunderstood this procedure, it’s a new fangled machine that the Coke Company uses to turn Mineral Water into Sparkling Water. Put in a bit of CO2 and mix it up on Screaming.-L) The standby line was just 10 minutes so we got in line thinking that it was probably good fortune that we hadn’t had that tortilla yet!

After our roller coaster ride, we went to the Sun Wheel where we queued up to get the slippy cars (yes, I think that’s actually their technical name!), and then took a quick ride on Mulholland Madness (the mousetrap-style coaster), which was a first for me. While we were waiting in line for Mulholland Madness we watched a lively older woman (she had to be in her 70’s) get on the ride. When her car came back to the unloading area, she had quite a bit of trouble getting out of the low seat and a CM had to help her, but good for her for being so dauntless and willing to try the rides.

I really like the Paradise Pier area of DCA, I’m not sure why. It’s probably the least “Walt” part of the whole show, but it’s kinda fun in a visit the seaside nostalgic kinda way, non of the rides are terribly exciting or innovative (with the possible exception of the slippy cars), but the whole thing adds up to a nice time. – L.

It was definitely lunch time by now so we went back to the Pacific Wharf Café where I had the chicken and apple salad with a diet coke and Larry had a turkey sandwich and a coffee. We got a 10% discount for my annual pass and had a nice lunch feeding the birds bits of bread from the bread bowl that my salad was served in. While we ate we decided on our next plan of action which was to pick up Fast Passes for Soarin’ in case we wanted to ride it again a bit later in the afternoon, and then to ride Grizzly River Run (GRR), get soaked, and go back to the hotel to rest and change into dry clothes.

The events transpired pretty much as planned. I assured Larry that he wouldn’t be too uncomfortable on GRR because I’m always the designated “really wet” person. Actually, I think we were both equally wet, but it wasn’t too bad of a soaking. We went back to the hotel and stopped in the lounge for a coke and some water and then went to dry off a bit. I spent some time updating my trip report notes and Larry took a little nap-ette. He did mention again that he’s certain that Tinkerbelle is a bloke.

The Bear Run thingy is cool, its just like the Kali River Rapids at AK, except for the message bit, and the length this is much more like it, but the best thing is, it’s next to my hotel, so who cares if I get soaked. Good Planning Walt old Chap- Good Planning. - LWW

After we were all updated and rested, we decided to attempt a ride on the Matterhorn again. We walked west through Downtown Disney to the Monorail station so we could take a ride into Tomorrowland. The queue for the Matterhorn wasn’t bad at all so we rode that and then got Fast Passes for Space Mountain.

I was looking forward to the Matterhorn, for two reasons, firstly because it’s one significant difference with the Magic Kingdom, and it was great having a new coaster to do, and secondly because of it’s place in History, - The first steel roller coaster in the world. And it didn’t disappoint, I thought it was a fun little coaster, I liked the yeti thing, and it had a bit of zippiness about it. It’s just a shame that we didn’t get a second go on it. – I’ll have to be back for that one. – L.

Larry had mentioned wanting to see the Golden Horseshoe Stage Show so we went there next to catch the 4:15 performance. The place was almost full but we managed to get a couple of chairs at a table where another couple was sitting. This was my first time to ever see this show and I was very pleasantly surprised at how funny it was. Larry said that it was different from the shows he’s seen at WDW, but he enjoyed it too.

I’m so glad that they have kept this at DL. There was one in Florida, and it was one of my very favorite places to go for lunch there. Then a couple of years ago, they dumped it for a kids show with Goofy, and lost a great show. They used to have a singing cowboy, a magician and dancing girls, sadly you don’t get that at Disneyland, but you do get a nice group of singing cowboys, who do a fun comedy routine, and it’s a great place to go and eat and have a break. I recommend it. Next time you are there, put on your Stetson, and cowboy boots, saddle up to a table and say, Hey Larry the Cowboy from the Highlands sent me. – L.

Since we were close by and we had a few minutes before our Fast Passes for Space Mountain kicked in, we rode Pirates of the Caribbean (PoTC). As we floated by on the ride, I got to show Larry the Blue Bayou restaurant where we would be having dinner Wednesday. He was glad that he could be on the receiving end of the comment, “Don’t eat the lobster!” on Wednesday as well as being the giving end tonight. Okay, he doesn’t really yell that as we go by, but he threatened to. (Yes, it’s a good job I don’t actually drink alcohol, or I might. –L)

In July when we rode the Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland Paris, I commented that the Paris version of Pirates, while being better than the WDW version, still wasn’t quite as good as the Disneyland California version in my opinion, though it was very close. After our ride, Larry remarked that he did think the sequencing of the scenes was better and made more sense in the Disneyland California Pirates (in Paris, the jail scene with the pirates trying to get the key out of the dog’s mouth is at the very first of the ride).

Robin, do you think that people might think that we are nerds when we compare the intricacies of three versions of the Pirates of the Caribbean in three different Magic Kingdoms? Or do you think they will have pity for us, thinking that we have only done three, and there is a fourth, in Japan that we haven’t made it to yet, so they set up a Yen Saving Fund for us to help us out, so that we can complete our life’s work for humanity??? No? Shame. – L.

It was now time for our Space Mountain Fast Passes, so we crossed over to Tomorrowland (Mr. Morrow, paging Mr. Tom Morrow—I really miss the Tomorrowland Transit Authority!) and took a ride on the newly refurbished Space Mountain. They’ve made the ride much smoother and darker now, which was nice.

Yes I liked Space Mountain too, it is very similar apart from the Cars, which are side by side rather than sitty behind each other. It’s a nice coaster, and much kinder on the head neck and ears than the Paris version of the same name. Which is some kind of French revenge on the rest of the world. Just because the European Union has banned capital punishment across the member states, so now the French can’t lob people’s heads off using Madame Guillotine, they invented the Gaul-ist Coaster to do much the same thing. – Did I mention the Olympics yet???? Oh yes sorry. – L.

Larry and I were ready for dinner by now, so we went back to Main Street to get some hot dogs at the Refreshment Corner. (Larry said that he didn’t care what they called it at Disneyland, it should always be Casey’s Corner.)

While we waited in line to place our order, Larry kept the woman in front of us amused by playing up his Yorkshire (well, he says its Yorkshire, I tend to think of it more as “Yorkish” (or maybe “Scottshire”) since I think he’s picked up a bit of a Scottish tinge from all of his years living in Scotland) accent and reciting which American Presidents were on our currency. Sadly, though he was strong on the one-, five-, and ten-dollar bills, he faltered after that and then completely disgraced himself by not knowing that Benjamin Franklin had never been President. Tsk tsk. It looks like someone needs to get a subscription to the USA Today. – (I’m more of a Lubbock Avalanche Journal kinda guy Robin. -:L)

Actually, Larry accused me of turning him into an American since he said “chips” instead of “crisps” and he couldn’t remember if I said “to-MAY-toe” and he said “to-MAH-toe” (we both say “po-TAY-toe”—I think anyone who says “po-TAH-toe” is just about the most affected person ever!) or vice versa. Shhhh. Don’t tell Larry but, since I’ve been hanging around with him, I’ve been known to call tennis shoes “trainers,” and say “kip” instead of “nap.”

After dinner (or “tea,” as Larry would say), we took a turn on the wildest ride in the wilderness, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I always like to ride Big Thunder after dark.

There is a great BTMRR at DL, and it’s so true that it feels much faster after dark, the best time to ride them is during the fireworks, which is, as youngsters are wont to say – Way Cool. –L.

Splash Mountain was next. While we waited in the queue, listening to the music from Song of the South, Larry admitted that, in the past, he and his boys had a hard time deciphering the lyrics to “How Do You Do?” Not being from the South of Scotland, much less the South of the good ol’ USA, he had never heard the expression “as sure as you’re born,” so, instead of “pretty good, sure as you’re born,” he thought they were saying, “pretty good, show us your balls!” Coming from Scotland, home of the world famous St. Andrews golf course, I’m sure this is some sort of common expression over there referring, of course, to the showing of your *golf* balls. I mean, that was what immediately came to *my* mind. Honest.

I would cut him some slack seeing as how he’d never heard the expression “as sure as you’re born,” except for the fact that he thought the lyrics of Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog” were “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog, CROCKING all the time,” instead of the correct “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog, crying all the time!” I don’t think I even want to know what he thought “crocking” all the time entailed! Why I don’t think one could “crock” for very long at all, much less “all the time.”

(Kiss, Kiss, Kiss – Peep Sounds, Grrrrrrrr Crock Crock Crock…. L. )

We were in the first two seats of the log and Larry, being the ever-gallant gentleman, offered to take the front seat so I wouldn’t get as wet. Of course, he did borrow my jacket to put across him to block some of the spray. Sadly, the water spray wasn’t our problem this evening—it was the water that poured in over the sides of the log! We were all drenched from the waist down and pretty soppy from the waist up. I don’t think that I’ve ever gotten that wet on Splash before. (No we were definitely PWT, and it was rather uncomfortable at the time, if I remember rightly. – L)

That pretty much put an end to our riding for the evening, as the thought of a brisk ride in the cold night air when we were wet didn’t sound too appealing to Larry or me. We walked back to the hotel with the idea of getting some hot chocolate from the lounge.

Back at the hotel, I called home to talk to my mom for a while. Even though DCA had closed at 6:00 tonight, the rides in the Paradise Pier section were all running and you could hear the music playing as well. We decided that they must have rented out the park for a private party (although Larry later deduced that it was one of the nights for their Not So Scary Halloween parties). Larry commented that this was the best view he had ever had from a hotel window. (Though the view from the AKL is pretty neat too. – L)

We had some hot chocolate and a few snacks from the lounge and I was in bed by 10:30.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

“Excuse me. Could you please tell us where the restrooms are?”

This morning at 6:00 I noticed that they were running the Sun Wheel and the Maliboomer at California Adventure. I suppose they were doing their routine maintenance tests.

Every night with the turndown service, the housekeeping CM’s leave a schedule of the next day’s activities at the Grand Californian. Larry had noticed that one of the activities for today was an early morning Fitness Walk in California Adventure before the park was opened to the public. He thought it sounded like fun and he asked if I’d be interested in doing it with him. I thought it sounded neat too so we decided to give it a try.

Yup it sounded fun to me. I guess I was more attracted to the prospect of being in the park alone, rather than “Power Walking” but for anything fun there is a price to be paid. - LWW

The activity sheet said to meet at the Eureka Springs Health Club at 7:25, so we got breakfast in the lounge at 7:00 (I had half a breakfast, didn’t want to be sluggish on the walk –L) and then went downstairs to find the Health Club. We were following the signs out the south doors of the hotel when we met a woman in a jogging suit headed the other way. She asked us if we were looking for the Fitness Walk and, when we said “yes,” she told us we needed to meet at the hotel entrance to California Adventure.

I was slightly alarmed at her outfit, the whole thing reeked of Mrs. Fitness, “I do five miles before breakfast and then I go and train.” My outfit was more Mr. “I go for a bit of a walk in the park occasionally”. I was comforted in the belief that Robin has a working knowledge of CPR and other life saving techniques. - LWW

At the entrance to DCA we found CM’s Dave and Brian (or the Abbott and Costello of the Grand Californian, as Larry liked to call them). They explained a little bit about what to expect on the walk while we (there were 5 guests including Larry and me) signed a waiver relieving Disney of any responsibility whatsoever. (Oh right that’s good, Disney. Drag me from bed early, to go on a “Powerwalk” around the Park, and when I have a heart attack, it’s my fault!!!!-L.)

Dave and Brian explained that we would be walking approximately 2 miles. They reminded us that the parks at Disney have workers in them 24 hours a day so we’d have to be aware of the maintenance crews, watching for vehicles, hoses across the walkways, etc.

After everyone had signed in, Brian called security to come and let us in the park, and we were on our way. Larry and I walked with Brian a little ahead of the other group, which was led by Dave. Sure enough, there was quite a bit of work going on: trees and shrubs being pruned, walkways and benches being hosed off, lights being checked, etc. Apparently they finished their tests of the rides earlier however as none of them were running.

Brian said that he and Dave were kind of like the “cruise directors” for the hotel and that they arranged or supervised all the activities at the Grand Californian. Brian had come to Disneyland from Florida where he had been working at WDW.

We had a very enjoyable walk with Brian, talking about writing trip reports and Mouseplanet, and Disney in general. We walked at a brisk pace, covering the entire park and even doubling back to a few areas. Our route took us from the Grand Californian entrance south past the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, around Paradise Pier, past the Pacific Wharf area, through A Bug’s Land and back out to the Sunshine Plaza, down the Hollywood Pictures Backlot and around past the Tower of Terror. Here we circled back through the Aladdin holding area, back out of the Backlot, through the Bay Area and back around the Grizzly River Run (via a back path that I hadn’t ever noticed or been on before), through Condor Flats, around the Sunshine Plaza and then back through the Flats to the Grand California entrance! Whew!

One of the cutest areas was the new-ish A Bug’s Land/ Flik’s Fun Fair area. Not having any small children, we had skipped this area when I was here with my family in December 2004. The design of the area was a very cute, larger-than-life, bug’s eye view complete with popsicle stick benches, a Kleenex box bathroom, cereal box entrance, juice box ride vehicles, and clover plants for shade. Even if you don’t have little kids, you should go and look around, because the theming is really well done.

As we went past Paradise Bay (the lake in the Paradise Pier area), Brian told us that Disney designed the Bay to be deep enough that it can hold its own water and all the water from Grizzly River Run which is drained each night so the path can be checked. That’s a lot of water to move (and just about as much water as poor Larry was drinking every day!).

You know what shocked me, was that the cynic in me always thought that it was people who looked after the parks, but I was so wrong. Honestly, no one is a bigger doubter than me, and so you can trust me. It was amazing. There was this big guy, who looked all mean, a security guard, and he was walking around with Pluto as a guard dog. Now I know that Pluto needs a walk n’all, but you would think that they would get a more scary one for the security detail.Then there were the seven dwarfs. They were polishing brass door handles on the buildings and shops, well they were apart from Grumpy who was kinda shirking a little and moaning under his breath, and well as for Dopey, he was just flirting with Snow White, who was I think supposed to be bringing in Princess Costumes from a big Truck on Condor Flats to one of the shops, but she didn’t seem to be making much progress to me.

I had to laugh at Captain Hook, who was mowing the lawn, with one of those ride on machines, and a disabled sticker in the window, he was looking a bit grumpy too, probably because Mr. Smee was out on the lake fishing in his boat, I guess it was his day off and that left the gardening section short handed, (Sorry Captain Hook that’s a cruel joke!)

Minnie was nowhere to be seen, but Mickey was lauding it up with all the other suits, he had a big walkie-talkie and a nice tie on. He seemed to be in charge of preparations for a big private party later on, he was getting Donald and Daisy to put out some nice tables and chairs ready for a wedding or something. Gosh wouldn’t it be nice to marry at a Disney Park. The cutest bit was watching Dumbo walk up to the lake and draw a trunk full of water and then hop and skip, over to the flower beds and then water the Roses. - LWW

Back at the gate, Dave called security again and they came and let us back out of the park. Brian said that they held the walks every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I enjoyed the walk very much and would definitely do it again (and did, as it turns out).

We were done with the walk around 8:00 so we went back through the hotel and through Downtown Disney to the Magic Kingdom. There was no early entry this morning, so we found a bench at the west entrance of the esplanade and sat and talked till around 8:45. They began letting guests in at 8:30 so we let the bulk of the crowd go through before we walked over to the gates and walked through.

Once inside we headed over to the Disneyland: The First 50 Magical Years exhibit. They had lots of interesting models inside the building, including a replica of the Space Mountain track. We didn’t have a whole lot of time to look around as there was a film starting in just a few minutes, so we went inside the theater to watch that.

The film was hosted by Steve Martin (and Donald Duck) and it showed lots of the early rides that are no longer at Disneyland. It was neat seeing attractions that I remembered from my childhood (and some that were waaaaaaaaay before my time!).

After the film, we went to Adventureland and got Fast Passes for Indiana Jones for later and then hopped in the stand by line and rode with almost no wait. Well, except for the mile hike through the queue.

Next, we went to the Haunted Mansion and took another ride. Every year for the Holiday Haunted Mansion makeover, they come up with a new gingerbread creation for the large table in the ballroom. This year the gingerbread house is the man-eating wreath. They also do a smaller gingerbread “house” which they put on display at the French Market in New Orleans square (and when I say “smaller” I mean “still ridiculously huge.”). This year it is a very impressive Jack Skellington statue.

Since we were close to Critter Country after we finished the HM, we made our way to Winnie the Pooh (Larry has a thing about Pooh!) and rode that. I had heard that as a nod to the Country Bear Jamboree, which the Winnie the Pooh ride replaced, they put the heads of some of the characters from the Country Bear Jamboree in the last room of the ride. Apparently you have to look behind your car (excuse me, I mean “beehive”) to see them. Alas, we weren’t able to spot them. It took me several rides through the Winnie the Pooh ride at WDW before I spotted the picture of Mr. Toad handing over the deed to the building, so maybe I just need to ride it again and keep looking. Not an easy task what with Larry’s aversion to Pooh. You gotta be sad to lose the Country Bear Jamboree, I mean where else can you get such quality entertainment, moose heads on the wall and everything. I mean, you gotta like that southern entertainment. - L

It was now about 10:30 and Larry was in need of some coffee (and was being very brave about not having any yet this morning), so we went into the River Belle Terrace for some breakfast for Larry (okay, I might have managed to eat a cinnamon roll). Larry picked up the food while I ran to BTMRR to pick up some Fast Passes. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the FP machine turned on, so I got us another one for Indiana Jones instead then went back to the restaurant. (Actually I like the breakfasts in there, you can get the normal American stuff, pancakes, sausages and strangled eggs, MMMMM, My kind of food. – L. )

After (second) breakfast, we rode Big Thunder and then walked through Fantasyland to Toontown to ride the Roger Rabbit Cartoon Spin (something I had never done). This was probably our longest wait of the trip--I’ll bet we were in the queue for 20 minutes or so.

Now, maybe I didn’t understand the ride because I’ve never seen the movie or maybe we were just spinning too fast for me to pick up on the plot, but this ride seemed very disjointed to me. I’m not saying the ride wasn’t fun--goodness knows I was laughing hard enough (or maybe I was just giddy from all the spinning), but all the scenery was just a blur to me and I had a hard time getting anything out of the ride except for snatches of some dark alleyways and something about turpentine.

I think the turpentine bit was about the bad guys, dunno who they are though, who were going to obliterate the cartoon characters by dissolving the acetate film with the turpentine mixture. I mean how can you say Disney isn’t educational when they run basic chemistry classes on the rides? - LWW

After we stopped spinning, we went back to Tomorrowland to board the monorail. While we were on the monorail platform we looked through the construction barriers (they had peep-holes) at the work they’re doing on the old Submarine ride. It looks like the new Finding Nemo attraction is going to utilize the old tracks.

I took a photo of Robin, with her head stuck through the observation hole in the construction wall. And it looks like she has been mounted by the Duke of Sutherland and put on the wall of his death museum in Golspie, next to the Giraffe heads and the Dik Diks. – LWW (Yes, except that in my picture I’m smiling—the dead giraffe and the dik diks, not so much! -- RG)

We took the monorail to Downtown Disney and walked back to the Grand Californian. We went to the lounge for a pseudo-lunch/snack and then headed to DCA to try and get in to see the 2:00 production of Aladdin, stopping to get a Fast Pass for Soarin’ Over California on the way.

We got to the Hyperion at 1:45 and all the preferred seating was full. In fact, it looked like the whole theater was going to be full but a CM said we could wait in the overflow line to see if they had any seats left over, so that’s what we did. Larry admired my line pushing ability but I really don’t see how me raising my hand and saying “party of two” (well, perhaps I was a bit more aggressive than that) to get in to the theater is any different than him jumping up and down and waving his arms around wildly to get picked to be a Beet or a Stunt Show participant. And, hey, it got us in to the show. Granted, we were up in the highest balcony, but we didn’t have to wait in line for an hour either. (That’s true, but I was rather alarmed at the oxygen masks in the seat arms.-L.)

The show was over at 3:00 and we decided to take a quick ride on the Tower of Terror while we were so close.

On the way back up the Backlot, we stopped in the Animation Building and went to see Turtle Talk with Crush. Dude! The show was very cute and it was neat to see the ways he interacted with the audience. (It was awesome Dude-ette, totally Crazy Man..)

Next, we stopped to use our Soarin’ Fast Passes, once again riding on the front row. I really like the music from the ride and we stopped in the gift shop across from the ride to see if they had the music on CD. We weren’t able to find the music, but Larry bought a Soarin’ Over California pin with my name on it for me. Is he amazing, or what? (Awww thanks R. – L.)

We went back to the hotel around 4:30 in order to rest a bit and for me to update my trip report notes.

Larry went to the lounge around 5:30 to pick up some drinks for us. Tonight we had reservations at the Blue Bayou for 7:00 so we got ready for dinner (looking very sharp, I might add, with Larry in dress slacks (I think she means a nice pair of trousers –L) and shirt and me in a dress and heels) and left for the Magic Kingdom at 6:30.

The park was pretty crowded with people waiting for the parade to start at 7:00, but we made it through the crowd and to the Blue Bayou by 6:45. We were seated just a few minutes after 7:00.

For an appetizer, we shared the andouille sausage stuffed mushrooms (very tasty). Larry had the Roast Prime Rib (sans the horseradish sauce) with the clam chowder to start while I had the creole salmon fillet with the vegetable gumbo. Larry tried my gumbo and liked it better than his chowder but, even though I sincerely offered it, wouldn’t take mine. Is he a nice date or what? (I try my best Robin, I try my best.)

We had a very nice meal watching the Pirates of the Caribbean boats float by. We were both way too full for dessert although we saw the dessert tray on the way out and they all looked delicious. We finished our meal around 8:15 and stepped out of the restaurant and into the park which had closed at 8:00 tonight.

Now you may recall that it was Larry’s idea to do the Fitness Walk in DCA this morning because he though it would be neat to get into the park before the official opening time. Well tonight was when I realized that this was an ongoing thing with Larry--being somewhere he wasn’t supposed to be after hours. I’m not sure if this is some kind of residual latent tendency from a trouble youth or some manifestation of a rebellion against authority (more likely, it’s just an attempt to break away from that stiff upper lip, uptight British mold!), but when we left the Blue Bayou, Larry suggested that we have a walk around the park “until they throw us out.”

Actually, I don’t think Disney ever “throws you out.” I think they just politely, albeit strongly, suggest that its closing time and you should leave. However, since it was such a nice evening and we were both very full from dinner, a walk around a quiet Magic Kingdom sounded ideal.

We left the Blue Bayou and New Orleans Square and walked through Critter Country all the way to the dead end at the gift shop after the Winnie the Pooh ride. We found that a good strategy for looking innocent when wandering around the more remote areas of the park when we met CM’s was to inquire of them about the nearest location of a restroom. Also, given Larry’s present condition with his diabetes and his kidneys, it was timely and useful to know! Yup that’s true, I think I’m pretty cognizant with pretty much all of the WC’s in the Disneyland Resort – L.

We doubled back through Critter Country and walked along the edge of the Rivers of America into Frontierland. From there, we took the back path around Big Thunder Mountain, past Big Thunder Ranch and into Fantasyland. We walked through the castle into the hub of Main Street and were going back up the path alongside the castle that leads to Snow White’s grotto when we met a Security Cast Member with her patrol dog/hell beast coming the opposite way! (This one sure wasn’t Pluto.!-L) We decided that we had probably stayed in the outskirt areas long enough if they were finishing their security sweeps, so I showed the Snow White and the Seven Dwarf statues to Larry (and told him the story of how the carvings were a gift from Italy but how they had made Snow White and the Dwarves all the same height so Disney put Snow White higher than the dwarves and used forced perspective to create the illusion that she was taller), and we started back toward the hub again.

I have to admit that Robin is right, I do have a bit of thing about being in the parks after/before hours, but that’s when they are at there nicest, How can you enjoy them when you can’t see anything for all the people. There is so much detail in the parks, a story in every window frame, every doorway and every flowerbed. Honestly I would suggest that everyone should hang around at least once during each trip. You will thank me for the suggestion when you have done it, I promise. LWW

On the way towards Main Street, a nice Cast Member asked if we wanted our picture made in front of the castle and we said yes. We continued down Main Street, which still had quite a few shoppers, and walked back to the hotel.

We got back to the GC at 9:00 and, given our tiredness level from our early morning Fitness Walk and our late night security breech stroll, had a few desserts from the lounge and then called it a night around 10:00.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

“That’s a nice picture of the doobrie on the whatsit.”

I woke up at 6:00 this morning and spent some time updating my trip report notes and watching the lights at Paradise Pier. The plan for today was to be at the hotel entrance to California Adventure at 9:10 to see about getting on Soarin’ Over California early (yes, more time in the park before official opening).

When my family and I were here in December of last year, we stumbled into a little-known perk of staying in the Grand Californian. One morning, some of my family and I had gone to the Magic Kingdom (because it opened earlier than California Adventure) to do a few rides. We were supposed to meet up with the rest of the family at Soarin’ Over California once California Adventure opened up.

We finished our rides at the Magic Kingdom and crossed over to DCA. We were waiting in line for them to open the gates at DCA when the rest of the family called my cell phone to tell me that they had already gotten to ride on Soarin’ before the park even opened up.

As it happens, they had shown up early at the hotel entrance to DCA because they didn’t know how long it would take them to get to Soarin’ to meet us. At the entrance, there was a CM and about half a dozen other guests. When they walked up, the CM asked if they were here for the Soarin’ Over California Tour. My brother-in-law paused for a moment and then said, “Yes. Yes, we are!”

The CM checked their hotel keys to be sure they were guests at the GC and then led them and the rest of the guests into DCA. It seems that each morning Disney has a little preview of Soarin’ Over California that it allows guests of the GC to take (my sister Paula says that the tour has been extended to guests at any of the Disneyland hotels now however, as they were at Disneyland in November of this year and they stayed at the Disneyland Hotel but were allowed on the tour). The tour is not advertised at all and relies solely on word-of-mouth. The CM said sometimes they’ll have only a handful of guests and some mornings they’ll have as many as 20. They don’t like to have more than 20-25 on any given morning.

On the tour, a CM leads the group into Condor Flats, tells a little about the history of the park, points out some neat facts about the area and then takes the group onto Soarin’ for the first ride of the morning. The tour finishes up right at 9:30 when the park is opened to the public.

So, that’s why Larry and I came to be at the hotel entrance to DCA around 9:00. While we waited for someone to show up, I walked down to White Water Snacks and got a coffee for Larry and a diet coke for me. (Can’t face the parks without caffeine, though you can tell which one of us comes from the cold climate, (Scotland) and which one comes from the hot region (Texas) by our choice on how to administer the drug. – L.)

A bit after 9:00, Dave one of the CM’s from the Fitness Walk yesterday showed up. I asked him about the sneak peak of Soarin’ and he said that yes, he would take us into the park.

Larry and I were the only ones for the tour today, so we followed Dave to the gate, went through the security check, ran our tickets through the turnstiles, and went into the park. Since it was just us two, we didn’t really have the official version of the tour but rather talked to Dave about Disney in general as we walked to Soarin’ Over California and through the queuing area.

The CM’s working at Soarin’ this morning were very nice and teased us about our private showing of the ride. Dave took us down to the pre-show area and took his leave. After viewing Patrick Warburton’s pre-show Larry and I, feeling very much like VIP’s, were led inside and got to sit in the middle section, front row, directly in the middle with the entire ride to ourselves. Now that’s what I call service. (If I remember rightly I told them that I was Mike Eisner’s brother, and that’s how we got to ride alone on Soarin – L)

After our private ride we decided that some breakfast was in order. The only places in that park that were open just had pastries so we went back to the Grand Californian (first handstamps of the day according to the CM’s working the gate!) and went to White Water Snacks for something a bit more substantial.

I had a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit and another diet coke while Larry had a breakfast burrito (see, I’m going to make a Texan out of him yet). (Yup I’m trying hard on the southern food. My favorite so far are quesadillas, I like the chicken and ham ones they knock up at the All Star Movies at WDW, which is as good as any reason to go back to WDW if you ask me. Not asking? Shame. – L. )

After breakfast, we went back to DCA and headed to the Paradise Pier and California Screamin’. As we went around Paradise Bay, Larry took out his camera and said, “That’s a nice picture of the doobrie on the whatsit.” Huh? Could you be more vague? Whipping out my English to American dictionary (and noticing what he took I picture of), I was able to deduce that the correct translation of that sentence was “That’s a nice picture of the reflection of the Sun Wheel on the lake.” I was also able to answer him properly by saying, “Blimey, just pop ‘round the gorn and scumbles.”

There was very little line this morning for California Screamin’. We asked if we could ride in the very front seats and only had to wait for the next coaster in order to do so.

Next, we decided it was time to check out the Maliboomer. Yes, the ride with the puke guards (okay, they’re actually scream guards so you can’t hear the screams all over the city of Anaheim, but it sounds so much more effective if they’re called puke guards). This ride is kind of like the Tower of Terror, only outdoors. Its one of those rides where they pull you rapidly up a tower and then drop you down again, and I had never ridden it before. After a moment of really questioning my sanity when they took the breaks off the ride and allowed our seats to float free right before we shot the tower, this ride was not bad at all. The initial take-off and the first drop was breath taking, but after that the ride was actually quite gentle as it dropped us back down to the ground.

Actually if I’m being brutally honest, this is a bit of a disappointment, I quite like these whizzy uppy and downie rides, but this is a bit well how can I put it……… vertically challenged. Now the best one of these I’ve been on is Dr Doom’s Fearfall at Islands of Adventure at Universal in Orlando, that must be almost twice the height of this one, and certainly puts a stride in your step after you have been on it. And the puke guards do distract from it. Though interestingly enough my new dentist seems to wear her own personal version of the puke guard when she is filling teeth – good grief they will be washing their hands and cleaning the instruments next!!!!! – L.

Our next ride was the Sun Wheel, only this time we rode in one of the non-slippy gondolas because they go higher than the slippy ones. Quite a bit higher as it happens. – L.

We finished walking around the Paradise Pier area and made our way to the Golden Dreams attraction. It was about 10:50 and a CM informed us that the doors wouldn’t be opening until 11:00, so we backtracked a bit and took a quick ride on the Golden Zephyr (though why they call it the Golden Zephyr when its obviously silver is beyond me). The Golden Zephyr is a old fashioned fairground attraction, and is a carousel, with five or six, large gondolas in the shape of silver (not gold as Robin rightly points out) rockets, it doesn’t do anything very exciting, but I wanted to go on it, because they have one at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, and it kinda made me nostalgic for my childhood in the 60s, and how we always went to the pleasure beaches at Morecambe and Blackpool. Dunno why we always went to Lancashire when there is perfectly good places in Yorkshire to go to like Scarborough and Filey. – L.

We made it back to Golden Dreams just in time to be let into the theater. This show is like American Adventure-lite in that it’s only about the history of California instead of America. It even has the same teary montage of famous people at the end of the show only they’re all Californians. The really terrifying thing about the attraction was the huge statues of Whoopi Goldberg. Whoopi narrates the film and on either side of the screen there are these big statues of her (dressed as the “spirit” of California). Now these statues would be frightening enough even if they just stood there, however, the truly disturbing thing about them is that Whoopi’s face is projected onto the face of the statues, giving the impression that the statue has come to life. The eyes blink, the lips move and, considering the fact that--and I don’t think I’ll be surprising anyone by saying this--I doubt if Whoopi has ever won any beauty contests (I mean, she’s funny and all, but I don’t really think of her as attractive), the whole effect is really, really unsettling.

Since we were so close, we decided to go back to the hotel and have a light lunch from the lounge. I went to the room while Larry went to the lounge for some drinks. By the time Larry came to the room I wasn’t feeling very good and asked if he cared if I lay down for a while. I was freezing cold so I got into bed and slept while Larry had some of the food from the lounge and then napped a while too.

After an hour or so, I was feeling worse and had to rush into the bathroom and throw up--ick! (I truly think it was a bad reaction from those Whoopi statues--okay, maybe not, but they were very disturbing.) I got back in bed and slept some more while Larry very patiently watched over me and rubbed my back for me and slept some as well. Though I was seriously wondering if I should slip out to Paradise Pier and see if I could borrow one of those puke guards, it may have come in handy. – L.

Around 5:00 (yes, I slept for 4 hours--that’s what I do when I’m sick: sleep!) Larry went back to the lounge and got some water for me because I woke up very thirsty and dehydrated. I drank a bottle of the water and immediately threw up again. This time, however, I felt a bit better afterwards and asked Larry if he was ready to go do something since he had been so patient to wait in the room with me. He was worried that I would overdo and get sick again but I assured him that I felt a little bit better and that I thought the fresh air would do me good. Granted, I did really want a ride on Space Mountain or the Tower of Terror, but I thought a nice walk might clear my head and make me feel better.

So, I got up and got cleaned up a bit and Larry and I slowly walked through Downtown Disney to the monorail station with the plan of taking a round-trip ride to Tomorrowland and back. It seemed like a simple enough plan at the time but here’s where we ran into the only snippy Cast Member of the trip.

When we arrived at the Tomorrowland, a CM said that we would need to get off the monorail. We explained that we were just riding it around back to Downtown Disney but the CM said that they were putting this particular monorail out of service, so they were clearing out all the passengers. Not a problem. Larry and I got off the monorail and began to exit the platform. However, we then noticed that they were letting passengers back on the monorail to go to Downtown Disney. Huh?

We started back towards the monorail but were met by a CM who said that we would have to exit the platform, come back in through the Tomorrowland entrance and wait to board the next monorail. We politely explained that we had just been on that monorail and had intended to ride it round-trip back to Downtown Disney. The CM said that he couldn’t let us back on because they had to leave some spaces empty so they would have room to pick up some passengers at Downtown Disney. Okay, let’s try this again. We explained that they would still be able to pick up passengers at Downtown Disney because that’s where we were getting off, but the monorail Nazi was not to be moved. Larry and I shrugged our shoulders and exited the platform, re-entered the station, and waited for the next monorail.

Luckily, it was only a matter of minutes before the next monorail came so we hopped aboard. We watched a woman and her little boy (probably around 3 years old) and her baby daughter (9 months—we asked) come onto the platform. The woman had her daughter in a stroller and she stopped to take her baby out and was about to fold up the stroller and bring it on the monorail with her. A very nice CM was there to help her and, when the mother told the CM that she was just riding the monorail “round-trip” and that she would be coming right back, he told her that she could just leave the stroller here with him and pick it up when she got back. Larry and I exchanged looks that said “why couldn’t we have gotten *that* CM!

We talked to the woman and her little boy on the ride to Downtown Disney. The little boy never would tell us his name so Larry called him “Eric” the whole time, much to the child’s amusement.

When we arrived at Downtown Disney, Larry and I got off the monorail. We had almost exited the area when we heard a CM telling the woman that she was going to have to get off the monorail here, exit the station, come back through the entrance, and wait for the next monorail. What’s wrong with these people?

Larry went back and explained to the CM that the woman had been told by another Cast Member that it was okay to ride the monorail round-trip, but his arguments didn’t do any good. So, they made this poor woman and her two children, who had left their stroller in the Magic Kingdom, get off the monorail. Can anyone explain the logic in this system to me? I mean, if they have an actual reason for being so anti-round-trip, I’d be happy to hear it.

I have a theory about this, due to the anti discrimination laws of California, Disney is forced to hire not only nice, kind, helpful people to staff its parks and resort but also has to hire Meemos. I think there is a 2% quota, so that accounts for why very rarely you come across nasty horrid yukky CM’s. However, if you go to guest services and say, I spotted a MEEMO working on X ride, they give you a Mickey sticker and a voucher for an Ice Cream as compensation. – LWW.

From the monorail station, Larry and I walked to the Disneyland Hotel to have a look around. We looked through their gift shop and around the main lobby and then we wound up having a nice little self-guided tour of their convention area (Did I mention that Larry likes to look around places that he doesn’t belong? Yes? Okay, sorry.) I like gate crashing medical conferences best because the drug companies always have nice tables full of give-aways…. Just a tip. – L Next, we walked from the Disneyland Hotel to the Paradise Pier Hotel via several parking lots and back roads for a quick tour of it as well.

After looking around there for a while, we went back to Downtown Disney by going through the Grand Californian. Larry was worried that I might have a relapse and offered to call it a night when we got to the Grand Californian but I assured him that I was feeling better and was enjoying the nice evening. I wanted to pick up a few big candles from Illuminations (their Dulce de Leche candles are wonderful) so we went there to look around. Larry bought the candles for me as a little impromptu housewarming gift since I had just moved into a new apartment the week before. Is he a doll, or what?

I also need to pick up another present for my nephew, Michael, whose birthday was this coming Saturday, so we went to the Lego store next where I found the requisite items.

I didn’t want to test the limits of my stomach with anything heavy due to the earlier events of the day but I hadn’t had anything to eat since breakfast and ice cream sounded good to me so we stopped at Haagen Das. I got a dish of strawberry ice cream and Larry got a chocolate shake. (Gosh it’s no wonder I became a diabetic this trip if I was eating chocolate shakes as main meals – L.) We ate our treats as we walked to Disneyland.

It was 8:45 when we arrived at the gates and the park was scheduled to close at 9:00. (I think Larry was gearing up for another evening of avoiding Disney security. Should I be worried about his criminal tendencies?) We walked to Tomorrowland where we found that Buzz Lightyear was a walk-on. Since Larry was such a patient and kind man and such a good nurse to me today, I won’t even mention the fact that my score was again more than double his. (I can’t remember but I may have deliberately done badly as part of my nurse Robin back to health plan. – L.)

After Buzz Lightyear, we wandered around behind Autopia and the train station. We found a partially secluded bench under the monorail track and we sat there for a while watching the park empty of its guests. Larry was in heaven. We went virtually unnoticed for a long time after the park closed. I honestly think we could have stayed there longer without being asked to leave. By 9:25 we saw a Security CM making her sweep (though she didn’t notice or say anything to us) and, since we had broken the previous night’s record for staying late in a park, we decided to start making our way out of the park.

I understand why Larry likes to stay in the parks after-hours. It’s very peaceful without so many people around and you notice more little details than you do when the park is busy and crowded. We walked through Fantasyland and looked at all the different weather vanes on top of the buildings (Mr. Toad, Snow White, Peter Pan, etc.), which was something I had never noticed before. I pointed out to Larry the Evil Queen that appears in the window above Snow White’s Scary Adventure.

I’ve read several trip reports that talk about staying after-hours in Epcot and seeing them burn off the extra propane in the big globe that is used for Illuminations. Larry and I decided that was something we needed to try next time we’re at WDW.

We left the park and walked back through Downtown Disney to the hotel, making it back right at 10:00 with just barely enough time to duck into the lounge and pick up something to drink.

Friday, October 21, 2005

“I hate to be smug, but…”

Larry and I had been dubious about my ability to go on the Fitness walk this morning, given my trouble the day before, but I must have just had some kind of 24 hour bug because I woke up at 6:50 feeling okay. (Fit as a flea, as it turned out, it was me who struggled to keep up today, I was much better at power walking two days before, and when we did the stretching I almost fell over and had to lean on a dustbin, sorry Trash Can!!! – L.

Larry stopped by the lounge to pick up some water for us to take with us and we were downstairs by 7:25. There was a bit larger crowd today—probably 12 people or so. Dave and Brian were both leading the walk again today. Dave had mentioned yesterday that Brian might not be able to make the walk on Friday because he had classes some mornings. They had us do some stretches this morning before we started and we went on a bit different route today (which you will be glad to hear I’m not going to re-create for you).

While we were stretching, Dave mentioned that the Grand Californian was the first Disney hotel that was built inside a theme park. Larry pointed out to Brian and I (in his most non-smug way, of course) that Dave wasn’t entirely accurate. The Disneyland Hotel in Disneyland Paris is actually the entrance to Disneyland Paris and many of its rooms look out over Main Street. Brian was excited to have something to correct Dave about and said he’d be sure to give Dave a hard time about it.

Larry also managed (again with nary a hint of smugness—Do you believe that? Yes? Well then I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn that I’d like to sell to you!) to stump Brian with some Disney trivia by asking him if he knew what Disney attraction was in a different land (e.g. Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Adventureland, etc.) in each of the five Disney parks (WDW, Disneyland, Disneyland Paris, Disney Sea Tokyo, and the new park in Hong Kong). You’ll notice that I’m not going to give the answer here because I think its good for you to have to stretch your brain a bit!

Once again, the walk was very enjoyable and I would recommend it to anyone as a nice way to start their day (and to feel better about those Mickey ice cream bars that you’re going to eat later).

After we finished the walk we said our good-byes to Dave and Brian and left to finish the sad chore of packing our things. We packed, stored our luggage with bell services and headed out to the Magic Kingdom to make the most of our last few hours. After all, I had told Larry that he was going to have to experience the original Tiki Room at least once before we left.

Once inside the park, we went to Adventureland to get Fast Passes for Indiana Jones (with a return time of 9:40-10:40). The next showing of the Tiki Room had just started so we popped into the River Belle Terrace again for some breakfast. After we’d eaten, it was time for our ride on Indiana Jones.

Our timing was still off for the Tiki Room (though we stopped and got some pineapple juice while we were there), so we went to Tomorrowland to get Fast Passes for Space Mountain (12:10 – 1:10). While we were there, Star Tours was a walk-on so we rode that as well. (Gosh you will be shocked to hear that, yet again, we didn’t make it to Endor- L.)

It was now do-or-die time for the Tiki room and, as luck would have it, a new show was just about to start as we walked up. There was no way out for poor Larry. I say “poor Larry” but did you know that he knows all the words to the Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki, Tiki Room? And I mean *all* the words—the dialogue and everything! Scary, I know. (Hey I like both shows, And yes I do know all the words, and I also know them to Carousel of Progress and to the show us your balls song! - L. )

After the Tiki Room (I do like this original version a bit better than the new one but I have to admit that I missed Iago’s joke about the Hall of Presidents!), we checked the Matterhorn, but found a long line there so we went on the Storybook Canal boats instead.

After our boat ride, we went to Innoventions to have a look around. They were just about to start a demonstration of ASIMO (brought to you by Honda!) so we went in to see that. Larry had seen a similar demonstration at Epcot the year before, so it was fitting that he get to see another one on the opposite side of the country.

I almost got to see a third demonstration at the Honda Stand at the Bike Show in Birmingham, I went down there with Kevin Rushforth – Big Disney Fan and fellow biker, though he has a sports bike so uncomfortable that my bottom was hurting on his bike, and I was only sat on it in the garage-, a week or two after I got back from LA. But we missed it by one day, but I did manage to blag a ASIMO Pen, result or what???? – L.

After the ASIMO show (brought to you by Honda), it was (sadly) time for our Space Mountain Fast Passes and then time to leave. We went back to the hotel and stopped in the lounge for a last drink to take with us. We collected our bags from bell services and valet brought Larry’s rental car around. Larry was nice enough to drive me to the airport since my plane left before his. I’d ridden with him before when I visited him in Scotland this summer so I had experienced his driving on the left side of the road (as is the custom there—silly, but the custom) quite a bit. This was my first time, however, to ride with him in America with him having to drive on the right (and when I say “right” I mean “correct!”) side of the road. I’m almost sad to report that he did an excellent job and I was neither scared by his driving on the right side of the road or by his driving in Los Angeles traffic. (Ah but what you are forgetting Robin, is I’ve done Rock and Roller Coaster about 20 times in Paris and Orlando, so I know about whizzing through the sprawl that is LA at breakneck speed.- L.)


So, that’s another trip over and in the record books and another really nice time at Disney.

October seems to be a good time to visit Disneyland. The crowds were very manageable this trip. We only had to use Fast Pass on the more popular rides and all the others were generally walk-ons. The operating hours were shortened and the fireworks/parades were on a limited schedule but we had time to fit in everything that we wanted to do (with the exception of Fantasmic!, which only ran on Saturday night).

Except for the little bit of rain we had on Monday, the weather was great the rest of the week. We were comfortable wearing trousers and shirts during the day, with a light jacket at night.

I love the Grand Californian hotel and think the convenience of it to the parks can’t be beat. I would gladly stay there every visit. Having said that, however, I like the look of the Disneyland Hotel and Paradise Pier as well. I think we’re going to try out Paradise Pier on our next trip to economize a bit, so we’ll have to get back to you on that one.

Thanks for staying with us throughout the trip report. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me. If you have any criticisms, feel free to email Larry! Until next time—Robin.

OK well it’s time to finish off now, thank you for reading Robin’s report, I hope you enjoyed It, I know I did. I think it’s my turn to write the TR next time, and Robin’s turn to comment. There is a weekend planned at Disneyland Resort for March, so I guess it will be then, and I’m sure hoping that there will be a Special TR from WDW in the summer. But all that is for another time. Thanks for reading. – Cheers Larry.

Robin Goble


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