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Jody Hamilton -- July 2005 -- Disneyland (Offsite)


Who

  • Jody, Age 50, Disneyland Commando and report author
  • Matt, Age 48, Husband and team player
  • Makelle, Age 12 Niece

Pre Trip Planning:

We planned on attending a family reunion in Laguna Beach Sunday-Wednesday, July 24-27. We decided to tack on a quick visit to Disneyland for Thursday and Friday. I looked into the Disneyland Hotel and it was a staggering $250 a night!! Since we were only going to be there one night and really not spend any significant awake hours in the room, we opted for the Fairfield Inn. A more reasonable $110, before taxes, and conveniently located – within easy walking distance. We had a direct flight on Alaska from Spokane to LAX. I prefer to fly into Orange County, but the direct flight was to0 good to pass up. We rented a car from Budget which we used to get to Laguna Beach up to Anaheim and then back to LAX. I bought two day park hopper passes on line through Disney and saved a whopping $3.00 per pass!!!

I am devoted “Unofficial Guide to Disneyland” reader. The last time I had been to DL was in March of 2003, so I bought a the 2005 Guide and read it the week before we left. Also, we have never been to Disneyland in the summer, so I was bracing myself for the crowds.

Day One, Thursday, July 28

We drove up from Laguna Beach so it was an early wake up call. We entered the Park from Harbor Blvd, paid for parking and then were handed directions to the Mickey and Friends Parking Garage. We were in line with tickets in hand by 7:35. (Per the Unofficial Guide!!). I was a little disconcerted to see that a couple lines had “Early Entrance” on them and some people were being let in. I never figured that out and on Friday there were no Early Entries. Weird??

Anyway, we got in and went straight to Space Mountain. By the time we got there the Stand By line was 50 minutes, so we got fast passes. Matt had managed to catch an upper respiratory thing at the reunion and was felling pretty puny. So, just Makelle and I road Star Tours, which she declared to be “lame”. It does need some updating or something.

We then went over to Indiana Jones. The Stand By Line was only 25 minutes so we got in. I don’t think we every stopped walking though and were on the ride before we knew it. We then walked over the Splash Mountain. The Stand By Line was 70 minutes and for some reason the Fast Pass Dispensers were all covered up and not in use. We decided that we would ride Splash Mountain first thing in Friday morning. We went to the Haunted Mansion and then walked over to Thunder Mountain Railroad. We rode Standby which wasn’t to bad. The fast pass return time was short and by then we were passed our Space Mountain window. So, we got a fast pass for TMRR. It was about 10:30 by now and getting warm. We stopped for pretzels and cold pop and sat in the shade outside the Golden Horseshoe. While Matt and Makelle enjoyed their refreshments, our fast past window opened up again, so I went and got IJ fast passes. We then went on Pirates. The line was fairly short, but immediately got shorter for us since then opened up a new queue line right when we got there. Sweet!! We then did Tarzan’s Tree house, which Makelle once again declared to be “lame”.

We then used our TMRR fast pass to ride that coaster again. Also, our IJ fast pass window opened up so we rode that as well. We then wandered over to Tomorrowland. We got a fast pass for Autotopia and then went and used our fast pass for Space Mountain. Both Matt and Makelle loved that ride, but it is just to rough and jerky for me. We then went back to Autotopia. It was SO hot and the fumes were nasty. Matt was really feeling bad so he begged out of riding. Of course, Makelle loved it and wanted to ride again. But, being the DL Commando, I said no.

We then walked over to California Adventure. It was about 1:30 and we got a fast pass for GRR with a return time of 5:40. We then all had lunch at the Corn Dog Castle. Love those $6.00 Corn Dogs. Finding a place in the shade to eat was kind of tricky. We ended up in the McDonald’s outside seating and got to listen to the recording on Mulholland Madness which directs each passenger (in a way to happy voice) to “Lift up the Safety Bar and exit to your right. Thanks!!” about 200 times.

We noticed while we were eating that the California Screaming Roller Coaster was not running. We walked over to that side of Paradise Pier, stopping first to ride Malibu Boomer. By the time we got off that attraction, California Screaming was conducting test runs. The cast members at the front of the line were saying that they had no idea when the coaster would be up and running. Makelle wanted to wait, so we stood around for about 10 minutes and then, all of a sudden, a cast member was walking the crowd slowly up the queue line. We were loaded into the second car. Sweet!!

Makelle want to ride Mulholland Madness so we got fast passes and then went to “It’s Tough to be a Bug”. It was nice to sit down in the cool theater. We loved the show. We then poked around some of the shops. The fast pass window for MM was fairly short, so back to Paradise Pier we went. I really don’t do well on these kind of rides, so Matt and Makelle road it. Makelle loved it, so we put her back in line by herself with my fast pass.

By now, lines for anything we wanted to ride were fairly long and fast passes were gone or for late in the day. We were basically killing time waiting for our GRR fast pass to open up (5:40). We walked over to GRR and it said it had a stand by line of 45 minutes. I suggested we get in it and by the time we got to ride, it would almost be time for our fast pass. We could get really soaked and head to the hotel. Good plan, except that the stand by line only took about 20 minutes. We did get wet, but not soaked. Matt was really struggling with his head cold and the heat, so we went to the Storytellers Café to sit down, cool off and eat an early dinner. It was just okay. After that, we went back and rode GRR again. We took the Tram back to the parking garage. We were about in the second car and the flumes from the Tram almost did me in. (Reminded me of Autotopia!!).

Once we got checked in to the Fairfield Inn, Matt went to the gift shop and bought an assortment of drugs and went straight to bed. Makelle and I changed into our swimsuits and went to the pool for about an hour. Makelle was talking with another girl in the hot tub who asked her if we had been at Disneyland. The girl asked how many rides Makelle had been on and she responded “Not very many.” What!!! I counted up and Makelle had been on 16 rides that day. I thought that was pretty good.

Makelle and I made our way back to the room. Matt woke up to say good night and we were all in bed by 9:30!!

Day Two, Friday, July 28.

Another early morning. (The Unofficial Guidebook says: Early, Early, Early!!). We were up, packed and checking out before 7:00. We stopped at the McDonalds right next door. We really lucked out because the lines were short when we got in, but then the place really filled up. (It was one of the most disorganized McDonalds I have ever been in.) We ate our Egg McMuffins and then strolled the short walk to the park gates, getting there about 7:30. There was some confusion as to which gates would be opened but as a result, Makelle was the first person in the park from our line. Pursuant to the plan, we made our way over to Splash Mountain only to be greeted by folks walking back from that direction. Although we could hear logs coming down the final drop, the attraction was not open for business. Bummers!! We then went over to the Matterhorn and rode that twice in a row. We then went on Indiana Jones again with little wait. We took Makelle on the Jungle Cruise which had no line. It wasn’t as funny as some cruises I’ve been on. There were some differences I thought from the last time we had been. (I didn’t remember the piranhas.) We walked through Fantasyland and rode Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride which Makelle liked (but remember, Star Tours was lame. Go Figure!!). She wanted to ride it again, but DL Commando vetoed that idea. We then made our way to Toontown and rode Roger Rabbit. By now, it was 9:45, so we made our way back to California Adventure. I sent Matt and Makelle to Soaring over California (I’ve been on that before, they hadn’t), while I stood over by the rope to the Hollywood Backlot. At 10:00 they walked the rope over to the Tower of Terror. I was the first person in line for fast passes. I then went back to Soaring, hooked back up with Matt and Makelle and we stood in the stand by line and road that again.

We then went over to California Screaming and got a fast pass. The line was short so we got in the stand by line. We then went to the Hollywood Backlot and used our Fast pass for Tower of Terror. However, there was hardly a line, so we quickly rode it again. We then cooled off by watching the 3D Muffet Movie. The 3D glasses made both Matt and Makelle a little queasy. We stopped for a frozen banana and Mickey Ice Cream bar for Matt and Makelle. They took a while to eat since they were frozen solid. Once those were disposed of, we used our last fast pass to ride California Screaming again.

Makelle want to have her portrait done which we decided to wait until we were leaving to do. So Matt and I cooled our heals for about 45 minutes while Makelle was sketched. It really didn’t look anything like her which is to bad since it was really the only souvenir she had asked for. We then walked through the Grand Californian to Downtown Disney. I really wanted to have lunch at Rain Forest (it was about 2:00), but there was a 25 minute wait. So we went over to ESPN Zone and got seated right away. Makelle ordered the Pasta Marinara off the children’s menu and pronounced it the best meal she had had on vacation.

We then decided to bust a move and go back to the hotel, get the car and go to the airport. One small problem. The security line at the other end of Downtown Disney was HUGE. It was a little frustrating since we were not going back into the Parks, we were just needing to get across the Plaza. Matt commented that the security was a joke since they are not really searching anything and yet at same time they are instilling a false sense of security.

We finally got through the line and back to the hotel. We headed to LAX and with only one tense moment between driver (Matt) and navigator (Me), we were at the Budget Rental Car Return with plenty of time to spare.

The return flight home was on time and uneventful. Just the way I like it.

Overview.

Usually, when we take nieces/nephews to Disneyland, we have at least two full days. Basically, we had a day and one half and the “Dumbo Do or Die” approach almost did me in. (I caught Matt’s cold and we both could barely move on Saturday.) I much prefer a slower pace and the option of going to the hotel in the afternoon for a bit of a respite. Between the heat and the crowds, I’m sure we won’t be returning in the summer for quite some time.

Jody Hamilton

mattandjody@comcast.net


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