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Victoria Kahler -- June 2003 – Disneyland (PPH)


The Cast

  • Victoria: Report writer, TV and Film Buff, age 27
  • Mae: Sister, Disney Store Cast Member, Orlando Bloom Fan, age 38

Introduction
Mae and I had just vacationed at the Disneyland Resort (DLR) in April with our parents, and before that at Christmas in 2002, but we were quickly in need of a Disney fix. With my birthday in June, that seemed like a great excuse to hit the road to Anaheim.

We decided on the weekend of June 28th but soon found out that that was the date of the “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” movie premiere. At first, we were hesitant. A few websites posted articles about the chaos the premiere would cause at the parks. Also, Disneyland would have really strange hours: 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

We were certain that even with the hubbub at Disneyland, we could still have a great time. We would go over to Disney’s California Adventure (DCA), which we enjoy, or spend time at the pool if Disneyland became unbearably crowded or frenzied. We made reservations for the three nights at the Paradise Pier Hotel, using Mae’s Cast Member (CM) discount. In the end, everything worked to our advantage, and it was a wonderful trip. The day of the premiere was truly unforgettable.

Friday, June 27, 2003

The day before we left for Anaheim, it was very hot in Northern California, where we are from. I had the day off and was supposed to rest up for the drive, but I just could not sleep on that muggy morning. Mae had to work and got home about 4:30 p.m. We realized we had to get some sleep if we were going to drive to DLR in the wee hours of the morning. So, I went to bed at 5 and Mae at 6 that evening.

We both were up and ready to go at 11 p.m. It took some time to pack my car. Both of us are avid pin traders, so our pin bags alone took some time. We had to figure out what pins were our “traders.” We also have a few Disney hats and shirts (and other *mousellaneous* attire) that we always bring. By midnight, we were all set.

Saturday, June 28, 2003

First, we made a quick stop at In and Out Burger. Both of us were surprised at the crowds this fast food restaurant can amass even in the middle of the night.

I drove first while Mae tried to snooze; later, she said she didn’t sleep a wink. As we drove, we played “Name that Smell.” It is amazing how many fields and orchards there are along Interstate 5. In the night, the various fruits and vegetables give off all kinds of aromas, some good and some not-so-good. I would say, “Well, that’s definitely Brussel sprouts” or Mae would say, “Oh, Victoria, strawberries!” It was, er, interesting.

Mae drove when we reached Tejon Ranch. The sun began to rise about that time, and we were impressed by the quick time we were making. Usually a drive to Anaheim takes us 7 hours. On that day, we made it to the Paradise Pier Hotel by 6 a.m., 1 to 1 ½ hours ahead of schedule. Okay, we drove a li’l bit fast.

Disneyland

We checked in, of course our room was not yet ready at this early hour, so we got our tickets (5-day park hoppers for the price of 3 days) and headed over to the Monorail. At the entrance, we were given buttons to commemorate the “Pirates” World Premiere. Hooray, a free button! It was the beginning of a great day.

Disneyland was practically empty that morning. No need for Fastpass (FP)! We walked onto the Matterhorn, the Teacups, Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, Peter Pan’s Flight, Casey Junior, and Autopia in quick succession. Neither Mae nor I had been on most of these rides in quite some time; usually the lines are too long for us. The Teacups were a blast. Mae and I were spinning so fast, a little girl called out to us, “You guys are crazy!” When the ride stopped, the world kept spinning, and I walked off with wobbly legs. We got our second freebie of the day while in the Autopia queue. The driver licenses that Mae and I got were both winners; we redeemed them for Chevron Autopia cars.

Paradise Pier Hotel

After those six rides in a row, I checked my watch, shocked to find that it was now only 8:30 in the morning and time to head back to the Hotel for Breakfast with Minnie and Friends. Mae was so happy to be there that, when we were seated, she got a bit choked up.

The breakfast was good. There was plenty of variety: pancakes, waffles, French toast, eggs, bacon, sausage, and all the usual breakfast buffet fare. Minnie, Daisy, Max (Goofy’s son), and Pluto stopped by our table.

I asked Pluto the burning question: “Is Goofy a dog?” He nodded yes and pulled on his ears. I guess long, droopy ears are the defining characteristic of Disney dogs. We pointed out that Goofy is a bit different. Pluto nodded again, pulling on his tail and gesturing that he had no clothes on. I’m not sure what he meant by that, but it was nice to have a “conversation” with him.

Company D

After breakfast, we got back in the car to drive to Company D (Company D is a store where CMs can shop for Disney merchandise that is 50% to 90% off. It is a mile or two away from DLR. CMs show their IDs at the front door and at the registers. They are allowed to bring friends and family members with them). We spent about an hour there. A couple of CMs wore trading lanyards, so of course we had to trade with them. We didn’t spend as much money as on past visits since much of the merchandise was familiar from before. The CMs said that new supply would be in on Monday; we planned to come back.

Disney’s California Adventure

Returning to the Hotel, the CM at the front desk said that our room was still not ready. That was fine; we asked about the private entrance into DCA and strolled through the Paradise Walk to get into that park. The entrance is directly across the street from the Paradise Pier Hotel and leads right into the Paradise Pier section of DCA.

We walked through a few shops of DCA, looking for CMs to trade with. One CM told us about special lanyard pins. These pins cannot be bought in the parks, hotels, or Downtown Disney; they can only be obtained by trading for them with a CM. I think that by the end of our vacation, Mae had gotten all (Tinker Bell, MMOUSE license plate, Pooh and Tigger, and Jasmine) but two (Chip and Dale).

Disneyland

Reentering Disneyland, we finally got a look at Main Street. A red carpet was laid from one end of the street to the other. The carpet was roped off so that Disneyland guests couldn’t walk on it, instead using the sidewalks. A CM was vacuuming while others were setting up lights and microphones. Huge posters advertising “Pirates” were all over the place.

Mae asked a CM about the red carpet. The CM said that the celebrities would walk the red carpet path all the way to Frontierland where they would enter the premiere’s seating area in New Orleans Square. Mae sighed—too bad Disneyland closed at 6 p.m. she was thinking; it would have been great to see the stars of the film (little did she know . . . ).

In Tomorrowland, a pin trading board had been set up. Each person was timed and allowed two minutes to trade from the board, which had a better selection than lanyards. It was also fun to be able to chat with fellow pin traders and see their collections.

At last, our room was ready at 1:30. We quickly took our stuff up to the cutely decorated room, grabbed a camera to take pictures of the red carpet set up and premiere bleachers, and returned to Disneyland.

We were in no hurry to go on rides. Both of us enjoy just being in Disneyland, especially on that day. There was a lot going on in preparation for the movie showing. Mae took pictures as radio stations, television shows, and photographers set up their equipment all along Main Street. We saw crowds gathering at the sidelines too. Teenage girls held “I love you, Orlando!” signs. I began to wonder if park guests would be able to stay and see the celebrities enter (if only I had read the day’s guide map!).

We had a late lunch/early dinner at the Pizza Port in Tomorrowland. Chicken Fusilli and pizza, yum!

From Tomorrowland’s station, we boarded the Railroad to leave the park at the main gate. Since the west side of Disneyland closed at 4 p.m., we were going to head over to DCA. I then suggested we ride the Railroad around the park and see if we could get a sneak peak at the premiere activities. At the New Orleans Square Station, the train stopped, though no one could disembark. Mae took pictures of the food and seating preparations going on.

We debarked at Toontown to walk down Main Street once more, just to see what was going on. Sure enough, even more crowds had gathered on the sidewalks and, sure enough, Disneyland (or at least Main Street, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland) would be open after 6 p.m! Mae and I debated staying in the park, hoping to get a glimpse of Johnny Depp or Orlando Bloom. Mae didn’t say so at the time, but she was *dying* to see Orlando. However, Main Street was packed with people. Where would we stand? Would we be able to see anyone? How long would we have to stand there and wait for the stars to arrive?

About halfway down Main Street, in front of the Blue Ribbon Bakery, we noticed a big empty area. Right near there, “Access Hollywood,” “E! News Daily,” and “Entertainment Tonight” had set up their lights and mics to interview the celebrities. I said, “Hey, that’s Patrick Stinson! He’s on E!” It was strange recognizing someone from TV. Near to him was Charlie Maher, the runner up from the “The Bachelorette.” Mae asked, “Can we stand here? Why is it empty?” I didn’t know; the area was near three of the top entertainment shows and all the stars were bound to pass by, if not stop for a moment and be interviewed. We ducked under the rope and were not told to leave. In fact we were joined by a small crowd of fellow onlookers soon after.

Soon after, actors and actresses from television shows and movies and some musicians began arriving. I had a lot of fun naming them. The group we were with kept looking at me when someone passed by. My trivia geekiness (and subscription to the magazine Entertainment Weekly) was finally paying off! Here’s who we were able to see and, for the most part, get pictures of. . .

Oded Fehr, Cloris Leachman, Eric Idle, Travis Barker, Mark Hoppus, Tony Kanal, Wes Scantlin, Rebecca Romjin Stamos, John Stamos, David Hasselhoff, Teri Hatcher, Cuba Gooding Jr., Jon Voight, Gary Busey, Danny Bonaduce, Alexa Vega, Daryl Sabara, Raven, Chris MacDonald, Rachel Hunter, Jon Cryer, Darryl Hannah (dressed as a pirate!), Scott Bakula, William Fichtner, Mark Paul Gosseslor, Raquel Welch, Jane Seymour, David Moscow, Constance Marie, John Steines, Jonathan Lipnicki, Drew Carey, Lea Thompson, Michelle Kwan, Corbin Bernsen, Shannon Elizabeth, and Cynthia Harriss.

The best pictures were of the stars of “Pirates.” Each of them stopped at “Access Hollywood” and “E! News Daily.” Our spot was a prime celebrity viewing location! Hee. Mae got photos of Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Isaac C. Singleton Jr., and Jack Davenport and Jerry Bruckheimer, the producer, and Gore Verbinski, the director.

The teenaged girls across the street, the ones with the signs, were crying, literally crying, when Orlando Bloom came by. He went over to them and signed autographs. I must admit I griped about that a little. I guess we should have turned on the waterworks. I’m surprised Mae didn’t. She kept yelling, “Orlando, you are so fine!” Thank goodness, there was a lot of commotion so she didn’t draw attention to us.

When all the stars had passed, the crowds began to disperse, and we walked back to our Hotel. Though by this time we had been awake for twenty hours, we were filled with energy. The atmosphere was great. As people were exiting Disneyland, CMs were ready to give free admission to anyone who wanted to spend the rest of the evening at DCA, which closed at midnight. Most people seemed pretty happy with that. We felt happy and lucky that we had been able to witness some of the premiere’s events. Mae kept going on and on: “Orlando is my number one! I can’t wait to tell everyone at work about this, Victoria!”

Paradise Pier Hotel

Back in our room, Mae called her husband and our niece to tell them all about the evening, talking a mile a minute. When she got off the phone, we looked out our window. Our room had a fabulous view of DCA. All lit up at night, it was a great sight to see. That night however, we were craning our necks to see the screen set up on Tom Sawyer Island. We could see it, or at least the top 15% of it.

We decided to try to get a better view, so we went to the top floor and looked out from the smoking balcony. Two CMs had gotten the same idea. So, the four of us stared at the top of the screen and the masts of the Columbia that was parked in front of it.

At 9:30, the Columbia moved out of the way and the movie began. We could not make out what was happening on the screen. “Is that a man in a hat?” “I think that is a ship or another man . . . in a hat?” “That is either the sun or the moon.” Okay, so we did not get to see the movie that night. Right then, Mae and I kind of regretted not getting tickets to see it, but it was a bit expensive.

We returned to our room and watched the extra Electrical Parade at 10:30 p.m. A special channel on the television played the Parade’s music just as it came into view. That was a cool perk of staying in a Disney Hotel. By 11, we had been up for 24 hours straight. It was without a doubt time to sleep!

Sunday, June 29, 2003

Disneyland

We woke at 7:30 and were in Disneyland via the Monorail by 9 a.m. Our first destination was the Winnie the Pooh ride. It was closed at that time, so we wandered through a few shops.

In New Orleans Square, we stopped at Pieces of Eight, the pirate-themed shop. On our last trip, I had bought this huge, very fake-looking ring. I think it was $4. I had worn it the rest of the trip and sometimes wear it at home. It is truly a monstrosity and makes me laugh whenever I put it on. The one I had was yellow (topaz?) and the one I bought today was blue (sapphire). It’s like a terrible Heart-of-the-Ocean wannabe. Mae bought a fuchsia (amethyst, I guess) ring, and we wore them for the rest of our stay in Anaheim. The rings are huge attention-getters. We got all sorts of comments; most of the comments were ambiguous: “My, what a ring!” or “That ring is really something else.” We wondered what people really thought of them.

On our way through Frontierland, we met up with a glum-acting Brer Bear. Mae asked for his autograph for her collection. He nodded slowly and signed--very little interaction from this character.

We then saw Esmeralda near the Partners statue. She looked lovely. Her autograph is probably the coolest that Mae has gotten. She chatted with Mae a bit; I think she commented on her “amethyst” ring too.

By this time, we were hungry for breakfast. Unfortunately, we are not really into breakfast foods all the time. They are okay every now and then. So, we headed to the Village Haus in Fantasyland, which was closed. All the restaurants that were open in the park only had breakfast available. We decided to wait it out for 11 a.m. when the lunch restaurants opened. With some time to kill, we went to see Mr. Lincoln. The CM there informed us that Journey to Gettysburg would not be showing until 1 o’clock that afternoon.

Disney’s California Adventure

DCA has some great lunch offerings, so we park-hopped over there. We went to Soarin’ over California. It was beautiful as ever. The film was a bit dirty at the beginning, however.

Finally, it was 11 and we could eat. The Taste Pilot’s Grill had opened. I had heard great things about their gourmet burgers. We were not disappointed; the food was good and the price was similar to the Red Robin chain restaurant’s prices. Mae ordered for us, asking for the Bleu cheeseburger and a chili-cheeseburger. The CM corrected her when he read back the order to verify it: “One Wild Bleu Yonder Burger and an Alpha Bravo Chili Burger.” He must take his job very seriously. Hee.

Company D

When we finished eating, Mae said that her feet had been killing her all morning. I remembered seeing a shoe store near Company D. She found a cute and comfy pair of Nikes at Shoe City. Obviously, we had to stop by Company D again to trade pins and check for new merchandise. Nothing had changed from the day before, but we still managed to spend a few dollars. The CMs told us about another store at the Team Disney Anaheim building behind Disneyland. Only CMs can enter that store, but we thought it might be a good idea for Mae to check it out when it was open during the week.

Paradise Pier Hotel

Back at the Hotel, both of us were still tired from the long and exciting day before. We took a few hours off from the parks to enjoy the pool and hot tub. These are located on the third floor of the Hotel with some nice landscaping surrounding the area. Being a Disney Hotel, there was a good number of kids in the pool, though not too many. A lifeguard was on duty at this time as well.

Disney’s California Adventure

Refreshed, we took the Paradise Walk to DCA. The park was much less crowded than Disneyland. We pretty much walked onto the Orange Stinger, the Maliboomer, King Triton’s Carousel, and California Screamin’. It seems that these rides, since they are not geared towards the toddler set, are not as popular. Plus, I know that many people are philosophically against this area. Is Paradise Pier something Walt would have wanted? Maybe, probably, not. Anyway, we enjoy the rides, especially California Screamin’. I highly encourage sitting in the front; the view is great. Mae and I love looking straight at the ground when the coaster speeds downhill.

Mae felt a bit queasy after the fast and dizzying rides. We opted for a few tamer ones and found ourselves in Flik’s Fun Fair. I felt a bit strange on Tuck and Roll’s Drive ‘em Buggies and Flik’s Flyers. We were the only adults without children. Tuck and Roll is the slowest bumper car ride I have ever been on. Flik’s Flyers was nice; the sound effects are a big part of the ride. I wondered, as I sat there, why Tuck and Roll’s ride had a huge lap bar and the Flyers had a flimsy plastic belt. Hmm . . .

Paradise Pier Hotel

For dinner, we had a Priority Seating at Yamabuki. The PS was not necessary since the restaurant was not at all crowded. Mae and I shared our dinner of teriyaki steak, rice, miso soup, tempura shrimp and vegetables, salad, and a variety of sashimi.

Though everything was delicious, the portions were quite small, so the price was a little steep. I love Japanese food, but I’m not sure I’d return to eat here. Also, several of the items on the menu were vague. Descriptions like “Chef’s choice” and “Sushi selection of the day” were frustrating; it’s hard to order when I don’t know what I’m getting.

Downtown Disney

After eating, we were going to take the Monorail into Disneyland, but discovered that one of the trains was broken down. We walked around Downtown Disney for a while. Neither of us had been in the Rainforest Café, so we checked out their gift shop. I had read about the shop’s great selection in another trip report, yet was still surprised to see how much the store carried. It’s a good-sized store with a lot of cool souvenirs; however, we did not find a Downtown Disney nor a Rain Forest Café pin for our collection.

By this time, Downtown Disney was extremely crowded. The World of Disney store was full of shoppers and in disarray. We were taken aback by how many people were there on a Sunday evening. I told Mae that I was sure most of the people were locals just enjoying the Disney atmosphere because most tourists wear the lanyards that they get free with their vacation packages; Walt Disney Travel Company really knows how to brand their guests! Hardly a lanyard was in sight that evening.

Disneyland

Upon our return to Disneyland, we again tried to see Mr. Lincoln. The attraction was open, but it was freezing in the lobby/Walt Disney Story area. We zipped on our sweatshirts and still found ourselves turning into Popsicles. Mae asked the CM why it was so cold and was told that the CMs liked it that way because of the heavy costumes they wore. Are they made of wool? We told him we were leaving and would come back when it was hot to escape the heat.

After a quick walk through the Pioneer Mercantile, we tried to get to New Orleans Square, but the path was blocked by the previous day’s premiere seating. Only access to Pirates of the Caribbean (the ride) was allowed. So, we went on that. Throughout the ride, Mae and I kept commenting on things we had never noticed before on the ride. We wondered aloud if showpieces had recently been changed. The lady in the row ahead of us kept nodding. She said a lot of things seemed new to her as well. Either some things had been changed/replaced or the ride just has so many details, we always see “new” aspects of the show. Imagineering can be really cool.

Instead of New Orleans Square, we moseyed over to Adventureland to ride Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. The standby line was too long, and we picked up FPs.

Tarzan’s Treehouse was not crowded (unlike the rest of Adventureland). I had forgotten how many steps there are to climb, but remembered how much I used to love the Swiss Family Robinson’s Treehouse. It seems there was more to look at when the Treehouse belonged to the Robinsons. Tarzan and Jane’s place is a little sparse in comparison.

As it was nearing 9:30 p.m., Mae and I decided to watch the fireworks. I love this show. After Fantasmic, the Believe soundtrack is my favorite of the park’s shows to listen to. We stood right in front of Sleeping Beauty Castle. All I can say is thank goodness that the volume was turned up high because it drowned out my sister’s and my singing. I know some people find the lyrics sappy; in fact, our niece often teases us (“They are full of false hopes,” she says). Disney does have quite a few songs about the power of dreams: Just One Dream, Golden Dreams, Share a Dream Come True . . . . (“I can’t tell them apart,” our niece also says. Well, I can).

After the fireworks, the mass of people on Main Street began to make their way to other destinations. Rather than struggle through the horde, we stood there for a few minutes. Five CM custodians promptly arrived to sweep up the street. Mae and I often notice the quick clean-up process that Disney has after shows. Another time, after a rainfall, street sweepers came out just as the rain stopped falling to swab the water into storm drains. Impressive.

With the Indy FP time still minutes away, we took a Jungle Cruise. This is something I had never before done at night. The Cruise was a lot of fun. The river guide’s jokes were mostly unfamiliar, corny, but still laughable. Also, a few of the jokes could only have been heard at night (like about the two blue moons), so it was a fresh way to experience an older attraction.

We used our FPs for Indiana Jones. Recently, I read an article on Imagineering in Disney Magazine. There, an Imagineer revealed that the scene in which the car moves backward to escape the giant boulder rolling toward it is a complete illusion. The car is stationary, and the room actually moves, kind of like a car wash. During this part of the ride, I had to remind Mae of this fact. Also, I was still in astonishment myself, exclaiming, “The room is moving! The room is moving! Not us!” Wow.

After that, we hopped on the Monorail for a good night’s sleep at our Hotel.

Monday, June 30, 2003

Disneyland

We woke up early in order to get to at least a couple of popular rides before the lines grew too long. First thing, we went to Winnie the Pooh and Haunted Mansion. I, as usual, had great fun singing about Heffalumps and Woozles and then Grim Grinning Ghosts. Music is such a huge part of the Disney experience. It’s no wonder rides at places like Great America are found lacking.

On our way over to DCA, we stopped, just out of curiosity, at the Annual Passport Processing Center on Main Street. The CM explained the differences between the Deluxe and Premium Passports. The Premium was too pricey, but the Deluxe seemed like a good deal. She explained that we would only need to pay the difference between our current 5-day passes and the new Passports. Then we asked about Mae’s CM discount. After that, we were convinced and upgraded to Annual Passports for only $26 each. With a full year to use the passports (and only a few blackout dates to consider), we knew we’d more than get our money’s worth. The CM took our photos, telling us we’d be “goofy girls” for the next year. Both of us looked at each other confused. Did we look that funny in our pictures? When we saw the Passports, we laughed. Goofy’s face is on them. “We are Goofy girls, Victoria,” Mae said.

Disney’s California Adventure

The Disney Animation Building is one of the great places in DCA. The first time I visited it, in 2001, there were long lines for every section. Today, the building was practically empty; CMs were encouraging us to visit their attractions: “Drawn to Animation will begin in just a minute.” We have already seen the shows and declined. We spent a few minutes in the huge lobby area watching the giant screens change images. It was amazing. However, I fear that the lack of drawing people in means that this building will soon be redone, just like my old fave, Soap Opera Bistro.

Mae and I went to Ursula’s Grotto to try our talents as characters in Disney scenes. The speaking scenes went okay, but as for the singing scenes. . . . Let’s just say my sister and I have “such *interesting* voices!”

Hungry, we thought about where to eat. It was the old breakfast-food problem. I remembered a place at the Grand Californian Hotel, Whitewater Snacks, which I had read about in a trip report. It was perfect. At 10:30 a.m. we were able to order a chicken sandwich and a French dip. I thought the au jus was delicious; I’ve never had one like it, but Mae said it turned her stomach. There really is no accounting for taste.

After lunch we headed back into DCA to check out a part of the park we had previously passed, the Redwood Challenge Trail. We checked with a CM before entering to make sure that adults were welcome to climb, crawl, and slide around the place; he said yes. The only part of the area that we could not use was the rope-slider thingy. Barring that, we explored the Trail. If Disney designed parks (maybe they do in Disney-owned Celebration, Florida?), they’d do a fantastic job. However, the rope bridges were truly daunting. “Someone could break an ankle walking on this!” Mae said. So true.

Company D

Supposedly, new stock day was Monday at Company D. There were a few new things. The CMs there were beginning to get to know us. We also checked out the Team Center at the Team Disney Anaheim building. Actually, Mae did as I sat in the car waiting for her. She returned with news that the store was small and mostly had the same things as Company D. She did pick up a couple of cast-exclusive buttons and a figurine.

Disneyland

Returning to Disneyland, the sunny day had grown hot. There was one perfect place to cool off: Journey to Gettysburg with Mr. Lincoln. We had not seen this show since the refurbishment and were astounded. It is so different and exceedingly well done! From the moment we put on our headphones, we were impressed. Mae kept going on about how comfortable they fit. We took our seats in the darkened showroom and listened to the story of Private John Cunningham. The sound effects were disconcerting and all encompassing. I, and many others, actually glanced around when the sounds of feet on wooden floorboards came on. The sounds of scissors and bees were spine tingling. I had to pull the headphones away from my ears for a couple of seconds. Then Mr. Lincoln spoke and, when he was done, sat down. How do they do that? I guess my only mild criticism was that the technological wonder might downplay the emotional impact of the story. Overall, I enjoyed the show and highly recommend it.

Still warm outside, we headed over to New Orleans Square’s Mint Julep Bar for the eponymous Mint Juleps. Ah, refreshing.

We then took a look at the Pirates of the Caribbean movie and ride exhibition at the Disney Gallery. All kinds of items and drawings were on display. I must say, I was getting psyched to see the movie with all the hoopla around me. While I watched the promos on the televisions in one room, Mae was sharing (bragging about) our experience two days before on the sidelines of the red carpet. A lady and her daughter were happy to listen. They were from Canada and said that everything they had read had indicated that Disneyland would close at 6 p.m., with no opportunity to see any celebrities. On the drive from Canada, they had taken their time. The daughter complained that if they had only arrived one hour earlier, they could have been there too. Mae then offered to email the pictures she had taken. They accepted, and in thanks gave Mae one of the commemorative menus they had received at Blue Bayou. Everyone was happy with the trade. Mae sent the pictures to them the day we returned home.

After that, Mae and I went into a shop on Main Street. A CM at the candy counter noticed the menu, which started another conversation about the red carpet. The CM encouraged us to relate our good comments to City Hall. She said that it was rumored that the World Premiere was a test for Disneyland to see how well the park could stage such a huge event, and financing for the Fiftieth Anniversary rested on how well things were managed. We said, why not? and marched right over to City Hall. I filled out the comment card to let them know what a fun experience we had had on Saturday.

Following a bit of trading at the pin board, it was time for dinner. The French Market beckoned to us. Both Mae and I ordered the deep-fried chicken with beans and rice. With salad, rolls, and Mint Juleps, I think the price was a bit over $20, a good deal.

With Splash Mountain’s FP machine not working and a 150-minute wait time, we decided to try to visit the laughing place on Tuesday. Instead, we ambled around Innoventions. Neither of us are big fans of this building. I hope that it is revamped way before the Disney Animation building in DCA. The Disney trivia game we played was confusing—and not because we didn’t know the answers, we did. We also tried Disney’s version of the Dance Revolution arcade game, which was not only confusing but also tiring.

We ended the day at Disneyland with a cruise on it’s a small world. In someone’s trip report (I wish I remember whose), I read their theory that the big room at the end, with all the children dressed in white, is kind of like Disney Heaven. Unfortunately, only certain children from previous parts of the ride make it to Heaven. We kept our eyes out for a few, noting that the French can-can dancers and the Italian gondolier make it to the end. The Heaven theory adds a whole new dimension to the ride if you keep it in mind.

On our way out the main gates, a survey taker approached us. I am always game for a survey. We gladly answered the CM’s questions. Only one question got low marks from us, the one about parades and shows. She asked why, and I told her that Mickey’s Detective School and the Parade of the Stars have been running far too long. Disneyland needs some new offerings. “I must agree with you,” she said, “But I’ve heard that the new parade that is being developed for the Fiftieth Anniversary is going to be great. It will feature every Disney character. From Steamboat Willy and the Three Little Pigs to Nemo.” Mae said that that gave her chills. We hope that parade is truly great.

Paradise Pier Hotel

At 9:30, we found ourselves watching the Believe fireworks from the hot tub at the Hotel. Several families were there too; at least a dozen people were in it, making the experience less than relaxing. Mae and I went down to the Hotel bar. She had a margarita and I had an apple-tini. A great way to cap off the night, pun intended.

Tuesday July 1, 2003

Disneyland

After loading up the car with our belongings and new purchases (BIG thanks to the bell hops who assisted us), we entered Disneyland. The CM at the gate was in a cheerful mood and high-fived us on our way in. An excellent way to begin our last day.

We headed straight for Splash Mountain to pick up FPs; the machine was working today. We then had a small breakfast of muffins, chocolate chip and blueberry, at the Blue Ribbon Bakery.

Mae and I meandered around the park, making a final stop at the pin board when it opened at 10 a.m. We went into Toontown to check out the line for Gadget’s Go Coaster, a kiddie ride neither of us has been on since we always are without kids. The line was a tad long for such a short ride, so we just stared at it for a bit and again said, “Next time.”

Our Fastpass time arrived and we went on Splash Mountain. For the ride photo, we proudly showed off our rings from Pieces of Eight, but didn’t end up buying the picture. It’s just not the same when you’re in a log with three screaming strangers.

I love the Bengal Barbecue; so does Mae. It was our last must-do for the trip. We had a light snack of delectable bacon-wrapped asparagus and Bengal beef skewers. I wish that they would serve these in a sit-down restaurant, on a bed of rice would be great!

Finally, at noon, it was time to leave so that we could get home before dark and rest up for the next day of normalcy. Well, we have our memories . . . and our Annual Passports. ‘Til next time!

Victoria Kahler

vakahler@hotmail.com


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