Victoria A. Hart -- April 2002 -- Disneyland
April 5-7, 2002
This is the first of my many trip diaries which I have been brave enough to share with others outside the boundaries of immediate family and friends. Having found MousePlanet last year, I have emailed questions, etc. but have never been bold enough to share our trips. Please feel free after you read this to email me about style and content. Thanks.
This short weekend trip (April 5-7) to the Disneyland Resort (DLR) was my idea. We live in Las Vegas, Nevada, so it's about a 4 1/2 hour drive. Ben's middle school band was invited to participate in the annual Anaheim Heritage Festival, so he traveled with them on Friday and Saturday. I wanted to be there to hear them play, so we went too. The awards are given out at Disneyland (DL) in the evening, on the day of the festival (Saturday).
There are so many close, inexpensive, off-site hotels/motels, that I cannot justify staying in one of the Disney hotels. I got a great rate on the internet at the Ramada Inn Limited North, $133 for two nights. Nothing special, but clean. Free continental breakfast, free parking, and free shuttle to DLR. We've stayed at better and at worse.
Joe is a MSGT in the Air Force Reserves, so he bought special military tickets. Two-day park hoppers for $59 each - - perfect!
Friday, April 5:
Ben needed to be at school by 4:30 a.m. The band would be spending the day at Magic Mountain, so they wanted to get an early start. We dropped him off, then headed towards Anaheim. Stopped in Barstow, California for breakfast at IHOP. Changed drivers and got to the motel at about 9:30 a.m. Although it was too early to get into our room, we checked in so that when we get back this afternoon, we'll just pick-up the keys. This allowed us to park the car and ride the shuttle. Caught the 10:05 a.m. shuttle. We were dressed for warmer weather; it was slightly overcast, with highs in the mid '70s. We knew we could change later.
This became Elizabeth's trip. She had Mom and Dad all to herself. Joe and I have been to DLR and WDW so many times that it is not important that we ride everything - our commando days are over. So, we gave her the choice. She chose DL first. We picked a short line; security is pretty lame. They take a little stick and poke around in your bag. I only carry a small fanny pack for essentials, so it's quick. Immediately went to Indiana Jones for Fastpass. The wait was 60 minutes for stand-by. Next, rode Haunted Mansion. No wait. The rehab is great; the outside looks brand new. Next, Joe wanted to ride the canoes, so we did that. No wait. This "attraction" really needs some updating and rehab. Then on to Elizabeth's favorite, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. It was a 30 minute wait, so we did. Snacked on popcorn while waiting. I love this roller coaster...I could ride it a million times and never tire of it. Still had plenty of time before Indiana Jones, so decided to ride It's a Small World. This ride was closed in October when we were there, so Elizabeth and I really wanted to go. The line was huge. Advice: There's a point where the line splits, left-to-right. Take the RIGHT. We, unfortunately, took the left. The left has handicapped boarding. The right line moved three times faster. By the time we finished, it was time to head back towards Adventureland. Shared a churro (yum!) on the way. Took the infamous Jungle Cruise; our pilot was very monotone, so much of the humor was lost. This is another attraction that could use some updating. Next was Indiana Jones - - the standby wait was now at 90 minutes. We were on in less than 10. Elizabeth is getting much braver; last year she hated this ride, and now it's "let's go again!"
Although the morning sounds rushed, it was not. Considering how crowded it was, our wait times were very minimal. We all felt relaxed and were really enjoying the day. Picked up a Fastpass at Pirates of the Caribbean (what a huge line!). Joe found a bench near the Pirates gift shop, while I stood in line for New England Clam Chowder in a bread bowl at the Royal Street Veranda (under the Disney Gallery). This was one of the longest lines all weekend! We enjoyed our soup, and spent about 35-40 minutes people watching. My mother always used to say "it takes all kinds to make a world", and boy, was she right ;-) Elizabeth didn't want soup (although she shared ours) so we got some fresh fruit near the Enchanted Tiki Room...since the show was just about to start, in we went. I love the DL original version. [The "under new management" version at MK in WDW is disappointing (to put it kindly).] I did notice that there are several flowers and a couple of totem poles which weren't singing...time for a rehab? After, as we were heading back towards Pirates, Tarzan came running through the crowd (from his tree house). Elizabeth is always on the lookout for characters, however, this weekend she decided to skip getting autographs and focus on rides. Wouldn't you know - Tarzan is one of the few autographs she doesn't have. Oh well, next time.
Pirates is Joe's favorite ride, both at DL and MK, so we always ride it at least once. Fun as always! At this point in the day, Elizabeth asked to head over to Disney's California Adventure (DCA). We enjoy DCA using the park hopping technique. Some of the rides are fun, so it's more like a bonus with the hopper. I cannot imagine paying the full price and spending the entire day there! There's a photographer on the prowl right outside of the Bur-r-r-Bank Ice Cream shop, so we posed for a picture. All the fastpasses for Soarin' over California were gone for the day (approx. 3:30 p.m.) because the ride had been closed down earlier. The standby line was 120 minutes long! We decided to ride it tomorrow. Took a quick ride (no line) on the Golden Zephyr.
Tired people are no fun, so we decided to take a break. We caught the next shuttle back to our motel, grabbed our room key, emptied the car, and laid down for about 90 minutes.
After our much needed rest, a change into warmer clothes, and a quick dinner at the Carrow's next door, we were on the 7:05 p.m. shuttle back to DCA.
Next, we rode the Orange Stinger - twice (no line). This is Elizabeth's second favorite ride in DCA (Mulholland Madness is #1). Mulholland was shut down and California Screamin's line was too long, so we waited 30 minutes for a sliding gondola on the Sun Wheel. Disney's Electrical Parade was just starting as our ride finished, so we found a spot along the rope near the Orange Stinger (where the parade ends). This parade is so much fun! It brings back great memories for me...sigh! Elizabeth saw the WDW version with me in 2000, but we had a much better spot at DCA. As we were leaving (since the park was closing) we could see the DL "Believe" fireworks. Ooooh...aaaah! We poked around in the Greetings from California! Store and checked out our picture from earlier. Thumbs down on that one. I'm planning to save all my shopping for Sunday at the World of Disney store so I can use my Disney Club discount. We hopped to DL, but the crowds on Main Street were too thick for me. Decided the fudge was too expensive (and the lines were too long), so we caught the evening shuttle and headed back for a good night's sleep.
Saturday, April 6:
Up early for the continental breakfast, included with our stay. Pretty typical fare. The better part of the morning was spent at the Anaheim Heritage Festival. After, dropped Joe and Elizabeth off at DCA (they'll get Fastpasses for Soarin') while I go meet Ben at his hotel for the luggage swap. Met up with them at 11:30 for a quick lunch at the McDonald's across the street. They rode Mulholland Madness and the Orange Stinger. Back to DCA and used our Fastpasses on Soarin'. Why would anyone stand in a 90 minute line? This ride is a superb ride - - worthy of the Disney name. When we were done, we immediately got Fastpasses for it again!
Oh my gosh! It's Super Soap Weekend! It's the cast of "All My Children"! Joe just shook his head...I've been watching that soap since I was in high school...too many years ago. But, the lines were just too long for me. So, I simply made sure to "see" whoever was there at the time so I could report back to my AMC friends. (FYI: David, Vanessa, Adam/Stuart, and Liza...too cool.) My two sidekicks went to ride Grizzly River Run. It was too cold to get wet, so I skipped it. And, they got wet. A couple of quick pictures with Minnie Mouse (we were the last in line), then hopped to DL.
Took the DL railroad to Toontown. We got off just in time (2 p.m.) for the show "Mickey's Detective School". Strictly for kids. Elizabeth enjoyed it, and we were in the front row. Personally, I was glad to sit for 30 minutes.
The lines in Toontown were ridiculously long for what's there. Elizabeth whipped through Chip & Dale's treehouse, then we moved on. Decided to wait in the 45 minute line for the Mattahorn. I wish this attraction had FP. As we were waiting, a group of pre-teen girls asked the girl in front of us in line for her autograph. She was very polite and posed for pictures. I didn't have a clue who she was...Elizabeth (always shy) said under her breathe "I'll tell you later...be quiet." Turns out she was one of the Disney Channel's Movie Surfers. The Mattahorn broke down for about 10 minutes, after we'd been waiting for 30. We decided to stay in line and actually got on the ride after a total of 50 minutes of waiting. This was Elizabeth's first ride on this roller coaster. She did okay, but didn't ask to ride it again (not like Big Thunder).
They have combined the Tinker Bell shop and the Princess shop together (in Fantasyland). We always hit this shop. I bought Elizabeth a $4 tiara...too easy. We were starting to get hungry, and it was time for our second ride on Soarin' in DCA.
If you haven't figured it out yet, we are PARK HOPPERS. Back-and-forth, forth-and-back. We do it in WDW too. We're not commandos, we just know what we enjoy. Although it sounds like we're wasting valuable time, it actually is a good time for talking, regrouping, and general down-time. I highly recommend it.
Our second ride on Soarin' was great...we asked to wait for front row, and didn't even have to! I like not seeing everybody's feet hanging above me ;-) Next stop, First Aid for some generic advil. FYI: it's behind the Tortilla Factory. We did the bread tour (because we never had). The little taste of sourdough reminded us that it was time to eat. But wait! There's Sullie and Mike (Monsters, Inc.) finishing their little show. The line starts where? Elizabeth was third in line. Sullie & the Princess...he bowed to her and kissed her hand (remember the tiara?) and posed for a couple of pictures. Even though she likes to remind me that she's almost 10, she's still just a little girl who loves the characters best of all. Kudos to Sullie, whoever you are...it was a little bit of Disney Magic. Stopped to check out the pictures with Minnie. Elizabeth's was great, so I bought the postcard package.
Naples, in Downtown Disney, was our destination for dinner. Hint: ask to be seated upstairs, the difference in price is only a couple of dollars per entrée. The wait difference is greater: 45 minutes for the Pizzeria, no wait for upstairs. And what a delicious meal, with great service. Happy tummies were now ready for more DL. But wait! The Build-a-Bear shop is open (they were still building it last October). Now, it's not like we don't have one in Vegas (where we've been too many times)...but, in we go. Luckily, purchases were avoided until tomorrow.
It was close to parade time, so got FP for Big Thunder later. Elizabeth wanted a set of those glow stick mouse ears, but pink not green. So Joe went off looking for those while Elizabeth and I headed to Fantasyland. We rode Snow White, the Tea Cups, and Alice in Wonderland all within 30 minutes. While on Alice, just as we were heading inside, Elizabeth yelled to Belle (on a float in the parade). Belle turned, waved, and blew a kiss. As you can probably guess, Belle is now her "second" favorite (Cinderella will always be #1).
Joe met us just as we exited Alice. No luck with glowing ears, so we headed back to ride Big Thunder. It is even more terrific at night! The awards ceremony for the Anaheim Heritage Festival is scheduled for after the fireworks in the old Hunchback theater. We realized we hadn't been to Tomorrowland at all, so popped over and walked onto Star Tours. I agree with others...this really needs updating. After, we moved towards the castle and ended up about 10 ft. from the rope for the fireworks. Beautiful spot for a beautiful show. Went back for the awards show, signed Ben out, and caught the last shuttle of the day back to the motel.
Sunday, April 7:
We were all exhausted, so we slept in this morning. (It was also the first day of daylight savings time.) A quick continental breakfast in the room and checked-out. We parked at Downtown Disney. (NOTE: The stores do NOT validate, only the restaurants and the movies.) Ben bought legos in the Lego Store. Elizabeth bought clothes for her bears at Build-a-Bear. Joe and I went wild at the World of Disney (I love that Disney Club discount!) A nice leisurely lunch at the RainForest Café (a tradition). We sat near the elephants on the second floor. (10% off with Internet coupon and Disney Club card).
It was a great weekend! Joe tells me the military is running another special -- $99 per night, Sunday-Thursday at the Disney hotels and the same two-day hopper passes. Hmmm...
And WDW reservations already made for April 2003...
Victoria A. Hart