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Janice O'Hanley -- August 2002 -- Disneyland


August 25th thought August 28th 2002

This trip has been a long time coming. Luckily I have relatives that live in San Diego, so I was determined to get out there this year to visit them and to revisit Disneyland (haven't been in about 6 or 7 years) and looking forward to exploring the new park - California Adventure. My DD (Michelle - 24 yrs) and I were planning this since the beginning of the year and the trip finally arrived. First I want to thank Party Teacher for answering my emails and sending out sample guide maps of both parks. It helped with the anticipation of the upcoming event.

Just a quick paragraph about surrounding events of our trip. We left Providence on Saturday - August 24th at 7 am flying on Southwest, getting there early enough for the boarding procedure. We flew to Phoenix and then transferred to another plane within the hour for the quick last leg of the flight to San Diego, arriving at 1:ten pm PST. My aunt and uncle met us at the airport and took us back to their house for a few hours before my DD and I borrowed my aunt's silver Sebring convertible for the drive up to Los Angeles. (Yes my aunt offered the use of her car to me to save me money on a rental; it was a very nice and generous surprise). We were going to L.A. for a soap opera event for that evening and the next day. After it was over around 3 pm on Sunday, we drove down to the Disneyland Resort and to our home for the next couple of days - Paradise Pier Hotel. After our stay at Paradise Pier, we will be driving back down to San Diego for the rest of the week, (leaving on Labor Day for home) visiting with my relatives and doing local sight seeing stuff like Sea World and the San Diego Zoo. Our flight back was leaving at ten:30 am PST, stopping at El Paso, Houston, Nashville and then finally landing in Providence at ten pm EST. We couldn't get off the plane at all during the trip because each stop was for only 20 -25 minutes each. This made for a very long flight home. Thank goodness my son came and picked us up at T. F. Green Airport/Providence and drove us back home to Massachusetts.

Now back to the main portion of this report.

Park Day 1 - Sunday evening

We arrived at the Paradise Pier Hotel at around 4 pm that Sunday. We planned on self-parking and found that to be a very easy task. We found a parking spot in the parking garage on the next level and after we unloaded the car we only had to wheel our luggage down the ramp to the ground level and to the back entrance to the hotel. This hotel is quite cheery and I was impressed with it. The room was normally $199.00 a night but do to a special going on, I got it for $135.00 a night with an outdoor pool view. I was happy with that! I didn't plan on being in the room all that much anyway.

Originally we had planned on going for 3 days (2 days at Disneyland and 1 day at Disney's California Adventure). I got these tickets through Disney.com. Three day park hoppers at kid's prices for a total of $90.00 each adult. Not bad I thought, since I don't get in free at Disneyland like I do at WDW, I was pleased with this price.

Thirty days out I called for my reservations. We got reservations for the Blue Bayou for lunch on Monday, Breakfast with Minnie and Friends on Tuesday, Soap Opera Bistro for lunch on Tuesday, Practically Perfect Tea with Mary Poppins for Wednesday and I wanted the Fantasmic Balcony Seating for either Monday or Tuesday night. Well Fantasmic was not showing during the weeknights for our dates and it would only be on the Sunday night the 25th while we were there. After contemplating for a few weeks I decided to call for Fantasmic and buy an extra one-day hopper for the Sunday evening when we got to the park. I couldn't get the balcony but did get the premier seating (this was situated directly in front of the show along the Rivers of America with comfortable chairs to sit on and a boxed dessert with lots of chocolates and fruits in it) The cost for the premier seating was $49.00 per person. I thought it was worth it just so that I didn't have to sit on the cement ground for the whole show.

Back to checking in at the hotel. Everything went smoothly and we ended up getting room number 629. I think that this hotel is themed just enough to make you feel like you are in Disney. We quickly changed into comfortable "park touring" clothes including our sneakers and a light jacket for the evening.

We went directly downstairs and out the back entrance and walked over past the Disneyland Hotel about a block to Downtown Disney. As we rounded the corner of Downtown Disney we saw the ESPN Zone, the Rainforest Café and across from the RC was a huge inflatable Stitch. I started taking pics much to my DD embarrassment. She hates me taking pictures of everything but enjoys seeing the results once we get home.

We saw the monorail but decided to pass it by and continue walking. Walked past Ralph Brennan's Jazz Club and the House of Blues and a few more clubs and restaurants, past a Haagen Daz Ice Cream store (a must for my DD cause she has a weakness for the Bailey's flavored ice cream) and other shops. Saw the enormous World of Disney and then we came to the entranceway of both parks. I couldn't wait to get my Fantasmic tickets and to buy my one-day hoppers. I went to guest relations, got my tickets and hoppers and we headed over to California Adventure for a couple of hours to get the feel of this new park.

I usually don't like to listen to the movie critics when they say that a movie isn't that good because more than half the time, I like the movie. So I was trying to be very open-minded about California Adventure and I'm glad I was. I really liked this park. Yes it isn't as Disneylike as you would expect it to be but all in all, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I love the big letters spelling out California at the entryway to the park. When you walk in you feel the excitement and the colors are wonderful. The first few things that catch your eyes are the Golden Gate Bridge with the monorail riding along it and then further along the giant Golden Sun with the dancing waterfall. It was fun to watch the water go back and forth doing it's routine.

Well, no doubt one of the main things that my daughter and I wanted to go do was the Animation Building. So we headed into the Hollywood Backlot area taking in the whole atmosphere. We are both movie and TV buffs and felt right at home walking down the street. The Soap Opera Bistro caught my eye right away and I took a quick glimpse inside, knowing that we would be eating lunch there on Tuesday. We then went directly into the Animation Building and were quite pleased with how it was set up. I love all of the big screens all over the main room that show you clips of the most popular Disney animated movies. You can't help but sing right along with each song that you hear.

Off to our left we saw a cast member calling people over to come in and see a show. So we headed over and it was a very cute demonstration of the art of animation with Mushu interacting with the cast member. This was about a 15-minute show. When you leave the small auditorium, you enter an area where they have glass cases of characters showing each one how they were first created in drawings up until the finish product of the sculpture ready to be incorporated into a Disney feature. It was very interesting, but we didn't stay there too long because we were dying to go into the Sorcerer's Workshop. There was a little bit of a line but the cast member let in a group of 15 or so every few minutes. The line moved along fairly quickly and before you know it, we were in!

There are three different areas to this attraction. The first one didn't really appeal to us that much. It had a little workshop that you could make your own drawing of a cartoon and sees it project on a simple turning wheel. We skipped this and as we were leaving this area we did see the "magic mirror" from Snow White with the queen appearing in the mirror. The next room is what we were waiting for and so it seems, was everyone else. You enter the library of the Beast from Beauty and the Beast. Directly across from the entrance is a fireplace with a portrait of the Prince. A rose under a glass dome sits on the mantle. As time goes by every five to ten minutes or so the room will start to get darker and it is almost like there is a thunderstorm going on outside. The portrait then suddenly changes and giant claw markings are scratched across it. The Prince's face almost has a scared or shocked look on it. The rose on the mantel starts to drop its petals. Along the sides of this room are about 8 chairs with the magical book that will tell you which character you are similar to. This room tends to get crowded and you may have to wait awhile to get a chance to sit at a chair but it is worth the wait. When you get your chance, Lumiere talks to you with the help from Cogsworth. To start the activity, you have to touch the book. He asks you to sit still and look at the mirror up above the book and then he takes your picture. You get to see the results and decide if you like the way it came out or not. After you are satisfied, you are to answer a group of questions and then Lumiere tells you which character you are like. My DD was Mulan the first time around and I was Tinkerbell. Since it was so crowded and others wanted to try, we left this room and vowed to come back later in our trip to try again.

Then onto the next area which brings you into a cave like room. There are about 6 different TV screens set up and Ursula wants to interact with your voice. She asks you if you prefer to act or sing. Then she gives you four movies to choose from and a scene from that movie is shown with the words printed down below on the screen. You get to practice first then it is your turn to say or sing the words yourself. I did the acting part with Belle talking to the Beast. I did ok. My DD is a great singer and of course that is what she picked but the movies for her to choose from weren't really to her liking and she reluctantly sang a line or two from "Bare Necessities" from The Jungle Book and she didn't feel that she did a decent job with it. She was disappointed and so was I. Hopefully if we ever get a chance to come back out to Disneyland, they will give you more options and she can really show her stuff.

Well that was it for the workshop. Out we go and onto the area where they were showing the movie of Walt for the ten0 years celebration. Since I missed the movie last fall in WDW, I wanted to go see it. It was only going to be showing here in Disneyland for a week or two more and then they were putting in something else. I wonder why the ten0 years is celebrated so minimal here in Anaheim. I talked to a lot of the cast members and they are sort of bitter about it because WDW has so much more for the event. I know that WDW even has borrowed Walt's first office with everything in it from Disneyland, which is usually displayed in the "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln" building. I do understand why they feel this way because after all, this is where it all started.

We looked thorough a gift shop solely related to the animated Disney movies. We were getting hungry and decided to give the "Award Wieners in a Supporting Roll" counter service a chance. They had a great deal which consisted of a hot dog covered in chili, shoestring french fries and a medium drink. I'm not much of a chili lover but this was a really good hot dog and I enjoyed it very much. It was getting close to 7:30 pm and we wanted to head over to Disneyland and find the area where the Fantasmic Premier Seating would be. We knew that we would be back to Disney's California Adventure all day on Tuesday, so we headed out of the park and a short walk across the way towards the turnstiles.

We walked through the turnstiles and saw the famous Mickey face consisting of thousands of flowers. This is a beautiful sight! Under the railroad station and onto Main Street. You all know the feeling! It's like being home again! We would love to take some time and explore or hit a ride but decided to make sure we knew where to go for our special show seating. It was going on 8 pm and the show started at 9 pm but I knew that you had to check in first. We headed over to New Orleans Square and along the river. People we already lining up and sitting down getting their spots for the show. I asked a couple of cast members where we should go and they pointed us in the correct direction. We finally found the right location and they told us to come back at 8:30 pm for checking in but they did take our names down and checked out our tickets.

Now we had time to explore and the first thing I needed to do was find the Indiana Jones ride. This was my #1 priority for this park. I have heard so much about it and from what I've heard this is just about the best ride Disney has to offer. We headed in the direction of Adventureland and since it was Fantasmic seating time for most of the crowd, the ride was just about a walk on. Woo Hoo! How lucky can you get! The queue is quite long and if we had to wait in the stand by line during a hot day, I would consider myself completely crazy. But I don't have to worry about that tonight! Also it was starting to get dark and that seems to make the ride even more intriguing. Let me just say that the ride did not disappoint either of us. It is very similar to the Dinosaur ride in Animal Kingdom but ten times better! Themeing is top notch and you better hold on because you go for quite a ride through the temple. The audio- animatronic Harrison Ford is very lifelike and if it isn't him doing the voice than they got someone that sounds just like him.

I sure wish they would put this ride down in MGM in Orlando. The Indiana Jones Stunt Show is getting real old and they sure could use this attraction down there.

Right next door to Indy was the Jungle Cruise. Now my DD is not a big fan of this ride but I convinced her to go on it with me for two reasons. First of all it was a walk on and second because it was dark and the ride is always better at this time. We had a great cast member driving and narrating the boat. He made us laugh quite a lot and even my DD had an enjoyable time.

We had enough time to take a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean. The wait time was ten minutes but really a walk-on. This is another ride that I was anxious to go on because I've been told how much better it was in Disneyland than in WDW. This seemed to ring true also; I love the fact that there are two drops instead of one at the beginning of the ride. The pirate ship scene seemed even more real due to the fact that it was really "foggy" which made the atmosphere seem more authentic. It is a little bit longer too because they have a scene or two additional to what Pirates has in Orlando. I knew that this wasn't going to be my only trip on this ride this visit.

It was now time to go claim our reserved seats. We were able to go to our seats and the spot was just about perfect for viewing. A few minutes later they brought us our dessert boxes and offered us unlimited beverages including hot chocolate. The show was just superb and worth every penny for the tickets we bought. We were then allowed to stay for the 9:35 pm showing of "Believe" the fireworks show and for Tinkerbell's flight. This was also a good spot for this. So if you are planning on seeing Fantasmic, I would highly recommend getting tickets for either the balcony seating (outside of the Disney Gallery over the Pirates of the Caribbean ride) or the Premier Seating that we had. This show is slightly better than the one at WDW in my opinion.

So far, Disneyland has three points in its favor over WDW in my opinion. One is Indiana Jones ride, second is Pirates and third is Fantasmic.

Our next venture was going to be the Haunted Mansion since it was so close by. Well if I hadn't seen pictures online before going, I wouldn't have known that this big white building with columns in the front was indeed the Haunted Mansion. It didn't look scary or eerie even in the dark. Here's a point for WDW. The Haunted Mansion in Magic Kingdom is so much spookier and gives you the feeling that it's haunted on the outside compared to Disneyland's Haunted Mansion. Onto the ride, once you enter the mansion the creepy feeling starts to set in. I do have a point for DL's Haunted Mansion, in the stretching room before the doors open to head for the doom buggies, if you look up after the thunder/lightning occurs, you will see a "dead" body hanging from the rafters. I don't remember seeing this in WDW.

The rest of the ride is pretty much the same, a few differences here and there. I did see the Hidden Mickey on the table in the party scene and also it looked like the Hidden Donald in the high back chair near the long hallway. It looks more like Donald at WDW but I saw a striking resemblance. So points wise, this ride was even with a point each to DL and WDW. We had time for one last ride before the park was closing for the night and we were getting a bit tired too.

We headed over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. The stand-by line was for only ten minutes, so even though it wasn't a walk on, it only took about the ten minutes that was posted. Now everyone knows that this ride is better at night, but once again I have to say that DL's BTMR is even better than WDW's. Could this be because I haven't ridden it in so long and it just seems that way to me? I could be imagining this feeling but my DD mentioned the same thing before I did. Don't get me wrong, I still love WDW's versions of all the same rides but I do sense that more was put into the DL attractions. Just my opinion!

After exiting this ride we headed out of the park knowing full well that we would be coming right back first thing in the morning for an all-day and night excursion. We enjoyed walking back through Downtown Disney and over to our hotel entering once again through the back entrance. Once in the room, I checked off all the things that we had done so far from a list that I comprised before going on this trip. It was now about 11:30 pm and we were exhausted. I called the desk to leave a Mickey wake up call for 6:30 am, so that we could be at the park for 8:00 am opening and then settled in for the night.

Park Day 2 - Monday

I woke up a few minutes before Mickey had a chance to call. I think that my body clock protects me from over sleeping (at home and on vacation). I jumped in the shower first so that DD can sleep in a little longer. We headed out of the room about 7:45 am and decided to eat breakfast at the park today, which would be Disneyland.

We took the usual route through Downtown Disney and entered the park a little after 8:00 am. The Mad Hatter was there trying to get a few kids to march with him to the marching band that was playing in the entryway before you go under the railway station.

Our first mission of this day was to go over to Tomorrowland and ride Space Mountain. This early in the morning there was no wait at all and we love the way the seating for the ride is in DL, side by side in one seat instead of one behind the other. Once again this ride seems a lot faster and more thrilling than the one in WDW. Both my DD and I felt this way. So that's two points for DL. After we got off Space Mountain we remembered how hungry we were and thought about going back to Main Street to the bakery but then decided to eat at the counter service for Club Buzz. We both had the egg and cheese croissant with breakfast potatoes, bacon and some strawberries. This quick breakfast was quite good and satisfying.

Next on our mission was going to be the Matterhorn. Now I do remember seeing this attraction years ago but really can't remember riding it. Maybe because the kids were too young and it was probably way to crowded. At this time of the morning the line for the ride wasn't too bad at all. It maybe took us about ten to fifteen minutes before we were in our toboggan. This ride is a DL classic and we enjoyed it very much. Just wish that we had more time during our stay to ride it again.

We walked past the Tea Cups but passed on that because it was basically the same as WDW's. Now we approached Alice in Wonderland. This was on my list of rides to do that DL had and WDW didn't. We got into our vehicle and went into the land of wonder. I love all of the colors and I couldn't resist taking pictures hoping that they would come out despite the zigzagging that you do throughout this ride. All in all my pictures came out quite good, if I do say so myself.

Next up was Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. I never got a chance to ride this in WDW, so this was a given on our ride list. It was cute but since everything is just large cardboard cut outs, I decided not to take pictures in this ride. I just enjoyed it for what it was worth. On to Pinocchio's Daring Journey, another non-WDW ride. Like Alice in Wonderland, this was also very colorful and I took a few photos along the way.

We headed over towards New Orleans Square to check in for our 11:30 am reservations for Blue Bayou. The entrance to this restaurant is not very big and you do have to look down a few side streets til you find it. We were a little early so we hung around near the back entrance of the Mint Julep Bar and just people watched for a few minutes. You could hear from above on the second floor landing of one of the buildings the gypsy music and it seemed very authentic. Made us feel like we were in New Orleans. We then headed back to the restaurant and waited for our name to be called. If you have a reservations for 11:30 am (the first reservations of the day) you will see that a number of other guests are there also. This is when you can get the "waterview" table if you are among the first half dozen or so groups. We ended up sitting in the next row over from the water's edge and actually it was just perfect for us. I'd rather not be eating my meal when people from the Pirates ride are floating by trying to get our attention. We could see the boats perfectly well from our table. I ended up getting the Monte Cristo Sandwich and my DD ordered the Crab Cakes. The Monte Christo is too much for one person! I tried to eat as much of it as I could but really didn't want to make myself uncomfortable. My DD enjoyed the crab cakes but said that she's had better. We didn't feel up to dessert. Although we loved the atmosphere and our server was excellent, we probably wouldn't go back to this restaurant again. It was way to pricey for what we got and enjoyed.

We wanted to head towards Splash Mountain while it was warm out so that if we got too wet, we would dry off pretty fast. There was only about a 20 minute wait in stand-by so that was the line we went in. When it was our turn to sit in the log, we were in the back. I was hoping that this was a good sign so that we wouldn't get too wet. This ride is quite enjoyable with all of the Song of the South characters telling their story with song. At one point, unexpectedly, we were going around a corner near one of the Brer Rabbit scenes and the water splashed up over the canoe and got us pretty wet and we hadn't even gotten to the drop yet. Down the drop we went and it really wasn't all that bad. When we left the ride, we were a bit wet but not too uncomfortable and knew that we would dry off shortly.

We headed onto the train and decided to ride this over to Toontown. I was anxious to see this compared to WDW's version because I also heard that it was much better and it also had Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin ride. This was on my list of "must do's" also. When you walk into Toontown right away you are amazed by the size, color and imagination of this fictional town. I was very impressed with how detailed every inch of it was. We will have to give this area more points for sure.

We headed directly over to Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin. We had about a 20 minute wait, which was fine because we got to take in the whole town and watch the trolley go up and down the avenue. Roger Rabbit's Spin ride was a lot of fun with plenty to see. I would have loved to have taken pictures in here but the car was spinning too much and going way to fast. We then walked into the souvenir shop and made some purchases. We walked up the avenue to quickly look at Mickey and Minnie's house and took a walk up and down Chip and Dale's Tree house. Anyone with little ones could probably spend a whole day alone in this part of Disneyland.

I believe at this time we headed back over to Tomorrowland to do Star Tours. I wanted to go through this attraction mainly for old time's sake. I remember distinctly visiting this ride for the first time when we were here years ago. It was when they had the attraction Captain EO with Michael Jackson running right next door to it. Star Tours is something that I always go on at WDW's MGM Studios so this ride is all that I expect it to be but we did get to sit in the back row this time and I do believe that the ride is much more effective from that point of view. We came out of the attraction enjoying it very much.

Next I wanted to at least go into Innoventions. This is located in a building that moves around similar to Carousel of Progress. You are told to stand in a particular spot and watch the TV monitor with a robot named Tom Morrow telling you what to expect inside. Then a door opens and you enter to a world of on hands attractions, each one pertaining to a different category (entertainment, home, transportation, etc.).

We spent only about thirty minutes here and then headed out because we wanted something sweet and I figured this would be a good time to try a Dole Whip. This is something new for both of us and I really didn't know anything about it until just recently when I was reading in the web site and so many people were raving about it. The line was a little long but we were determined to purchase one of these special treats. Finally it was our turn and we each got a small dish because we didn't know what to expect. I like pineapple but it usually isn't one of my first choices of fruits. This soft serve version was very tasty and refreshing on a very warm day. My DD liked it too but probably wouldn't go out of her way to order one again. All in all, I'm glad I purchased one and will do so again the next time I go to Adventureland at WDW.

At this point, it was time for the parade. Now I like to see the parades at least once, my DD is not much of a fan of them, even though she did enjoy the "Share a Dream Parade" in the Magic Kingdom down in Orlando last fall. She agreed to watch the parade with me, especially since it gave her a chance to sit down on the curb. We were located on the inner circle curb directly facing the Emporium. Almost all of the floats were gold looking and there were a number of characters in this parade that you hardly see. This parade started out with the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio. Also included were all four princesses on one float (Cinderella, Belle, Aurora, and Snow White), Simba, Tarzan, Ariel, the Seven Dwarfs, Roger Rabbit, Flik, and of course the Fab 4. I'm sure there were others but this is all that comes to mind. It was a very enjoyable parade and I'm glad we took the time to watch it.

Around this time my DD wanted to go back to the room and take a short nap. Now I usually don't do this (I'm the commando touring type) but we had been going pretty much non-stop since leaving our home in Boston, so this also sounded like a good idea to me. We got to the room around 5:00 pm and napped until around 6:30 pm. I could have slept a lot longer but didn't want to waste anymore park time, so we changed into jeans and a lightweight jacket and headed back to Disneyland.

We were quite hungry by now so we decided to try the little counter service across from Indy that served skewers of chicken and beef. This hit the spot and was a very inexpensive tasty meal. We sat along the Rivers of America eating and watched many people take spots for the Fantasmic show. Eventually they got the idea that there was no show tonight and went on their merry way. After eating we went back over to Indy and since the wait was ten minutes (can you believe it?) we walked right on again. Love this ride!

After coming out we went across the way to another Adventureland themed shop and I bought my DS an Indiana Jones shirt. My DD tried on the famous Indy hat and would have loved to have bought it but figured that she wouldn't wear it much, especially for the money that it would cost. We looked around more shops in Frontierland and picked up a few more souvenirs for friends and about this time we decided to call it a night. After, of course, heading into the World of Disney store in Downtown Disney.

It is very hard to just walk by this store. There is so much to check out and my DD was looking for a pair of Tigger slippers that were her size. I was also looking for a leather Mickey wallet but in all the stores that we shopped in these 3 1/2 days, there wasn't one to be found. Darn it! My DD did eventually find her size in the slippers but it wasn't until Wednesday that she found it in a shop in Frontierland. They must have gotten more sizes because her size wasn't there when we looked on Monday.

After World of Disney, we continued walking back to the hotel and a much needed good night's sleep. I called for a Mickey wake-up call for 6:00 am because we had a reservations for Minnie & Friends Buffet Breakfast for 7:30 am. This would be our only character meal and we wanted to get an early start with breakfast so that we could get to California Adventure when it opened.

Park Day 3 - Tuesday

As stated in the above paragraph, I got up at 6:00 am and we were both ready to head downstairs to the PCH Grill for our character breakfast at 7:25 am. This restaurant is very colorful and airy. We were seated near the windows facing the front of the hotel. Our server was very attentive and made us feel right at home.

The buffet had all of the usual breakfast items including Mickey waffles. Of course, Minnie was in attendance and made the rounds making sure she saw each one of the kids as they came to their tables. Daisy Duck and Max (Goofy's son) were also in attendance. My DD and I got some good photos with each one.

During our meal, Minnie organized a Limbo dance and also sang Happy Birthday to a few special kids. It was a very enjoyable and delicious way to start out our day.

It was just about 9:00 am but since we found out that California Adventure didn't open until ten:00 am, we had an hour to kill. I wanted to explore the other hotels, so we headed over to the Disneyland Hotel. This consists of three tower buildings. We headed more towards the one with Goofy's Kitchen, the Neverland pool and Hook's Pointe. We walked through a few shops and just took in the whole resort, taking photos as we walked along.

We then headed down through Downtown Disney and straight to California Adventure. After going through the turnstiles, we headed straight to Soarin' over California. We had about a five minute wait outside the attraction and then another ten minute wait inside. As luck would have it we go to stand in the 1st row, which everyone says is the best because you don't see the other rider's feet hanging over. This ride is everything that everyone says it is. Simply great! I wish it were longer because it is so relaxing. You do smell the oranges when you fly over the groves and you feel a cool breeze gliding over so much of the beautiful scenery. The ending is so neat flying over Disneyland. I knew that I wanted to do this ride again before leaving the resort.

We walked by an area set up with an airplane and Minnie dressed in an aviator uniform. The line to see Minnie was fairly long but I did get a quick photo of her in this outfit. We continued walking along and then came to the Campgrounds (sorry I can't remember the actual name). We decided to pass on this, especially since it seemed more geared to kids and people who like to hike, etc.

Next we came to Grizzly River Run Rapids. This looked like fun but neither of us was into getting wet at this time. We've been on this type of ride before and it always seems that I get the wettest; I just wasn't up for that. I took a few pics and then we opted to travel on. Now we were heading into the far end of the park.

We came to Golden Dreams but the first show wasn't until 11:40 am, we had about a half hour until then so we decided to just wander around the area and check it all out. We walked over to the Paradise Pier and just decided to ride a few of the attractions before heading back to the show. I definitely wanted to do Mulholland Madness. The line wasn't bad at all, only about ten minutes and I knew from reading other reviews that this stand-by time would become a lot longer as the day went on. I remember a very similar ride like this at a now defunct amusement park near where I live. It was called The Wild Mouse. So this was familiar to me but my DD had never ridden anything like this before. We both loved it! Only thing is that it was too short of a ride. We probably should have gotten in line again or gotten a Fastpass, because later on it was next to impossible to ride again without a very long wait. We also rode the Orange Stinger, which is a big group of swings. This is very relaxing also and will cool you down when you are here during the warmer weather. Right near the Orange Stinger was a little stage set up for Lilo to make an appearance and across the way from her was Stitch. I got my pics of both of them to add to my character photos from previous Disney trips.

Now we backtracked to Golden Dreams. We entered the auditorium and sat in the cool air conditioning. There is a giant movie screen with a statue of a goddess or something on either side of the screen. Right before the movie starts the statues faces come to life as Whoopi Goldberg. It is pretty cool how this is done. Whoopi talks to the audience and explains what the movie is all about. The movie is very informative and we both enjoyed it a lot.

After heading out of this show we headed back to Paradise Pier. We were now ready for California Screamin'. The line for this wasn't too long either; maybe about ten minutes, so in no time we were in the coaster anticipating the upcoming ride. I love roller coasters, so I was very anxious to ride this one and I wasn't disappointed. This coaster really starts you out along the water's edge. You seem to wait forever, with your heart pounding, just anticipating the initial take-off. Then all of a sudden you zoom up the first hill into the tube from 0 to 60 or so. The music is piped into your car and the ride is a non-stop thrill all the way. You do go around the giant Mickey head as one of your loops. I think that the ride is just long enough to enjoy the rush. Your adrenaline is pumping during and after this great coaster. If you love roller coasters, I would highly recommend this one. It is in my top three of all time favorites.

Well we needed a little quite time and it was almost time for our reservations at Soap Opera Bistro, so we headed back towards the front of the park and into Hollywood Backlot again. We had originally requested "Luke's Place" from the General Hospital set but they said that it wasn't open at that time so we ended up at "Kelly's Diner", another set from General Hospital. I was quite impressed with the way they had duplicated the sets for all the four ABC soaps. We sat down just as the cast members were playing out a scene. Before I knew it I was part of the scene and ended up playing a lady attorney for about 30 seconds. They seem to do these skits impromptu; they just pick out guests randomly and include them in the scene. It was a lot a fun and a nice way to start off our "soap lunch". DD and I ended up ordering the same thing, barbecued chicken pizza with a salad. They were big enough to probably split and we wish we did. For dessert we did split a crème brule. This was the first time either of us have had this for dessert and we loved it. I can't wait to order it again the next time it's on the menu. Before we left, I had to take photos of each of the different sets for my photo album.

Next we planned on going to the 3:00 pm showing of "Blast" at the Hyperion Theater. I had heard so much about this Tony Award winning show from on the website that I was dying to see it. I am so glad that I made the effort! This show is amazing and really is worth seeing. My DD was a little apprehensive about going to this show but once it started, she was so glad that we went. If you ever get the chance to see it (hopefully it will come on tour throughout the country), go see it. I know I will pay to see it again.

After the show we got a Fastpass for "Who Wants to be a Millionaire - Play It!" We then we on the Muppets 3-D show, always a fun attraction! We still had time before our Fastpass came into effect so we went into the shops at the front of the park. I bought a few pins of attractions that I didn't have already, plus a few other souvenirs. We headed back to Millionaire and to our surprise the line was enormous and everyone had Fastpasses. We could have stood in stand by and gotten in just as fast. Everyone did get a seat. We ended up around the 5th row from the top. Now both my DD and I have made it in the top ten quite a few times. Actually the last time we did this in November, my DD ended up being in the number 1 spot at the end of the game. If there were more time, she would have been in the "hot seat". Oh well, it was not meant to be and this time was the same. We both made it to the list the first go round but then goofed up on a question each time afterwards and dropped out of the top ten. It was fun anyways. Even if I did make it to the hot seat, I wouldn't have been able to play because I am a cast member. Rules say that we have to bow out. Guess I will never get my chance unless I'm no longer working for the company and I hope that never happens for a long time!

We then headed out of the Hollywood Backlot area and worked back towards the area where It's Tough to be a Bug is located. Since there isn't a Tree of Life, the way to approach this attraction seems like you go underground. The show is a little bit different but mostly the same as at Animal Kingdom. A little unusual thing happened while in the show. Something caught my eye from the right side and lo and behold it was Princess Dot. She came in with her cast member and sat down in the audience about midway on the right hand side. I was watching her and saw her react to a lot of what happens during the show. I was so hoping to get a chance to meet her and take a photo of her but right before the show ended she got up and left the auditorium and disappeared. I don't understand why she didn't stick around for the kids to see her? Oh well, that's the way things go sometimes.

We were getting a little hungry again so since we hadn't been to the Pacific Wharf area yet we decided to select our meals from here. This area is mostly just counter service shops with a variety of food choices. We ended up each getting a cheese broccoli soup in a bread bowl with large drinks. This was a good choice for us since it was starting to cool down due to the sun starting to set.

All day my DD was talking about going to the AMC theaters to go see the movie "Blue Crush". I had no desire to see this movie or to waste my park time going to something I could do at home, so here is where we decided to part ways for the evening. First off we did head out the special exit for Paradise Pier resort guests from inside the park and we got to the room in a very quick time. I changed into jeans and a jacket with cap and she did the same. We went our separate ways (she went towards Downtown Disney and I went back the same way as I came through the special gate for our hotel to California Adventure). This would be my very first time going solo in a Disney park and I was excited and up for it!

Before heading into California Adventure, I took a stroll over to the Grand Californian hotel and took a few photos while giving myself a tour. This hotel reminds me of a combination of the Grand Floridian and the Animal Kingdom Lodge. A little too dark for my liking but if I had a chance to stay here for a very big discount, I'm sure I would. Next-door was the private entrance to Disney's California Adventure, so I walked the path and I came into the Paradise Pier area and couldn't decide what to do first.

The Jellyfish ride was directly in front of me and it looked so colorful with no line at all, so that was my choice. This ride is for those who like things mild. It was very short and sweet and I probably would never do it again but I enjoyed it just the same. Next-door was the Golden Zephyr, with not much of a line either. I got into one of the rockets and flew around for a few minutes. Another mild but enjoyable ride.

I decided to head back to the Hollywood Backlot area because I wanted to do the Animation Building again and also get ready for the Electrical Light Parade. Believe it or not, I've never seen this before and I wanted to try and take pictures of it, crossing my fingers that they would come out. I quickly went through the Animation Building (mainly the Sorcerer's Workshop) but this section was still quite crowded, especially in the two rooms with the interactive games (Beast's Library and Ursula's cave). So I never got to try the games again that night.

I came right back out and got a great spot for the parade. This parade is very cute and colorful. I hoped that my camera would do it justice (btw, my pics came out pretty good, I was pleased). This parade is just long enough and had just enough floats in it so that it was overdone.

At the end of the parade I decided to go do Soarin' over California again in the single riders line. This is a good idea as long as you are not rushed for time. You can go into the building right away and are sent to a special line for singles. Then it is a waiting game. Those who were stand-by for a long time get to go in ahead of you and if by chance there are a few extra spots then they will let that many singles go onto the ride. I waited for about thirty minutes before I was able to get my chance. I can understand why it is done this way. I wasn't pressed for time so it didn't matter to me, just a little anxious to do the ride again. I ended up on the back row but that was fine since I had been on the ride before. I sat next to another single rider. A gentleman who worked for the park in various locations, most recently in the Millionaire show. We chatted about working for Disney and passed the time away talking about this and that. I do enjoy meeting new people who have the same interests as I do.

After the ride I decided to go back over to Disneyland and see if I could get the chance to catch Tinkerbell flying on camera. I knew of the perfect spot to zoom in on her and as the fireworks were going off I kept my camera focused on the top of the Matterhorn. I don't think that I could have gotten a better location or any closer. Well the time had come and there she was. She took off and I snap my picture hoping to take another one quickly enough but my camera doesn't work that fast. I thought for sure that I did get it. But when my pictures were developed I was disappointed! It must not have come out at all because I didn't see anything that could have even resembled this photo in my group of pictures. :( Oh well, I tried. Maybe I will get another opportunity someday with a better camera. I gave it my best shot!

I still had way over an hour left before park closing so I thought I would do as many rides as I could as a single rider. My first mission was Indiana Jones again. By this time people were starting to head out of the park with their kids so there was no line at the beginning of the entrance to the ride. I got my singles pass and headed down the long path into the temple. I didn't know where I was supposed to go but there was another kid in front of me with a singles pass so I followed him. We headed towards an elevator for the handicap and got in with a girl in a wheelchair to go up a floor. This brought us to another area where we went into another elevator and went down a floor. After we got out of the elevator we were at the loading dock for the vehicles. Whenever there was an empty seat, we were able to fill in that spot. This procedure didn't take as long as at Soarin' over California. Before I knew it, I was in the jeep and off to save Indiana Jones. This was my third time on this ride so far, and loving every minute of it.

Now I headed towards the Pirates of the Caribbean. This wait time was next to nothing. Before I knew it, I was on board a boat and floating into pirate territory. I ended up sitting all by myself in the front row of the boat. I was dying to take pictures but I know that this is one of the rides that it is forbidden.

After exiting this attraction, I headed over towards the Haunted Mansion. You do get an eerie feeling when entering this "home". There were only a few other guests in the waiting room, but once we were in the stretching room, last minute guests came and filled the room up. I sure wish I could come here during the Halloween season and see how they decorate this attraction. If only I lived close enough to a Disney park. Oh well, maybe someday my dream will come true and I will retire nearby either Orlando or Anaheim and work part time in one of them. You never know!!

Back to reality - I had time for one more ride so I headed over quickly to the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I walked swiftly through the queue and made it into my seat on the train as one of the last guests to arrive. I decided for the first time in my roller coaster riding days that I would not hold on. I bravely held both my arms up all the way through the ride and I loved it! Of course this is a mild coaster in comparison to others but to me this was an accomplishment.

My solo tour night was coming to an end. I exited the ride and headed through the park towards the entrance turnstiles. I took the trek through Downtown Disney and walked the rest of the way to my hotel. I then decided to check out and pay my bill at this time. The front desk was quiet due to the hour and it didn't take too long to settle up for my visit. When I got in the room my DD was already sound asleep, so I got ready for bed and made my last wake up call for Mickey for 6:30 am and drifted off to a much needed sleep.

Park Day 4 - Wednesday

Today is our last day at Disney. :( I plan on savoring every minute because I don't know when I will be able to come back to California, especially Disneyland. We planned on eating a quick breakfast in the park this morning. We got up at the planned time and after getting ready, quickly looked around the room to make sure we packed everything. We headed downstairs towards the parking garage to put our luggage in the trunk. We were allowed to keep the car in the garage until midnight since we had paid through this day.

We took our last walk towards Downtown Disney and made it to Disneyland for a little after 8:00 am. We had made reservations for the "Walk in Walt's Footsteps" tour, but that didn't begin until 9:45 am, so we walked a little ways down Main Street and decided on eating at the Blue Ribbon Bakery for our morning meal. We each choose some kind of pastry with milk (I got a cinnamon stick and DD got a cinnamon bun). This was just enough to hold us over until lunchtime.

We headed back over to the "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln" attraction. You could spend a good amount of time here just looking over all of the memorabilia about Abraham Lincoln and Walt Disney. They have behind glass the original office of Walt Disney with almost everything that was in it. You will see photos of his daughters and awards on the tables. Also the piano that the Sherman Brothers wrote the songs from Mary Poppins. Very cool nostalgic items. I guess next to this was also the first office of Walt's but that is being lent to WDW for the ten0 years celebration.

We are later instructed to pick up a set of earphones and put them on so that we can use them when we go into the theater for the Abraham Lincoln movie. This movie is very informational and with the earphones they make it seem like you are actually there and hearing and feeling a lot of sounds (this is also used in the Drew Carey Sounds Dangerous attraction in MGM Studios/WDW). This is worth seeing and highly recommended.

After we left here we continued down Main Street and headed over into Tomorrowland. As we were passing by the Astro-Orbiter, coming from backstage was Beauty and the Beast heading toward the area for autographs. I took a quick photo and we headed on towards Space Mountain for one last ride on it of our trip. Just like the two previous time, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

It was now time for our tour, so back down Main Street we went and located the tour group gathering in front of City Hall. This tour is quite interesting and definitely worth the $16.00 fee (50% off with the Disney Club). It lasts about two and a half hours but lunch is not included. (Since this was going to run into our reservations for Mary Poppins Practically Perfect Tea, we knew we would have to skip this event. Maybe next time we come. It will be on my list of things to do for sure.)

You do not go backstage on this tour at all but you do learn an awful lot of information about how Walt started his career and Disneyland and where he had his apartments in the park. We went over to the Abraham Lincoln attraction (little did I know it was on the tour, I might have postponed my earlier visit) and after this we went down to the Partners statue and Snow White's greeting area where you see statues of Snow White and the Dwarfs. We walked through Tomorrowland and Fantasyland, discussing all of the original attractions such as Small World and the now extinct submarine ride. Then we headed over to Frontierland and New Orleans Square.

While in New Orleans Square we headed upstairs over Pirates to the Disney Gallery. At this time the Disney Gallery was showing the 100 Mickeys painting exhibit. This Gallery used to be Walt and Lillian's apartment. Their home away from home. They would entertain here and it is adequate enough to live here quite comfortably. This is where we ended our tour so after I bought a t-shirt with the 100 Mickeys on it we headed downstairs and decided that we were starved! Where to eat was a difficult decision. We didn't want to spend too much and we didn't want to repeat something that we already had.

After looking around and reading menus we ended up in Tomorrowland and ate at the Toy Story Pizza Planet counter service. We each had spaghetti and a drink. The amount of spaghetti was huge and it filled us up.

Across from Space Mountain, I noticed a shop dedicated to collectable pins. I am a pin collector (trying to slow down and only buying a few once in a while), so I was interested in looking through the store out of curiosity at least. We started looking around and after a few minutes a cast member came up to us and we started chatting about pins. We enjoyed our chat and then headed back towards the castle.

Well I'm glad we went this way because on one of the lanes next to the castle was a princess autograph line. To our delight it was Sleeping Beauty and Prince Philip! Now besides seeing Sleeping Beauty in the parade the other night, neither my DD nor myself have ever seen her before. Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't believe she ever appears in WDW. If she is there at all, she is hard to find. Well we both had to get our pictures taken with her and her prince. She was a perfect Sleeping Beauty and her prince was quite handsome and they interacted with the kids with ease, especially since they were wearing very heavy velvet attire in quite warm weather. I'm a big Belle fan and my DD loves Cinderella, but to see Sleeping Beauty made our trip very special.

We had to have another special treat before leaving Disneyland so we headed over to the Mint Julep Bar and we both got one. What a perfect way to cool off. This is a great beverage and I hope that WDW has it somewhere in their parks, but if I remember correctly, they do not.

We took our drinks and got on the train and decided to ride around the whole park. This was very relaxing and I wanted to see the Dinorama/Grand Canyon display. The dinosaurs seemed very realistic and once again up to Disney standards.

Time to hit our favorite rides for the last time before leaving Anaheim. First off was Indiana Jones. This would be my fifth time and my DD's third time. I hope that some day in the near future we will be able to come back if not just for this ride. It is so worth it. (WDW, are you listening? Bring this ride down to Orlando!)

We did take a quick trip through Tarzan's Tree house. My legs could have done with out all that climbing! Then onto Pirates (third time for me) and Haunted Mansion (fourth time for me). One last ride on the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (third time for me).

We said good-bye to this park and headed across to California Adventure. Our plan was to go back to these attractions - Soarin' Over California, California Screamin', Animation Building's Sorcerer's Workshop, and maybe a few more. We headed over to Soarin' and we were lucky enough to only have to wait for about fifteen minutes. Hopefully one of the countries in Epcot will get this type of ride implemented.

We now wanted to make sure that we got one more ride on California Screamin'. So on to Paradise Pier. We headed directly to the roller coaster and the wait for this ride was very minimal. Maybe because it was a week- night and most of the locals come on the weekends, not sure? We were excited about the ride this time more than nervous or anxious because we knew what to expect. The anticipation of wondering when exactly the coaster will take off is exciting. Once we took off, the ride did not disappoint us one bit. It is so exhilarating! After getting off, we hoped that we would be able to do it one more time before leaving the park.

But first we wanted to go on the Sun Wheel. We made sure that we got in the line for the moving cars. It didn't take too long to get on the ride and we were with a father and daughter. They had been on the ride a few times already and liked it a lot. I did enjoy this ride but thought that it took way to long to load and then you only go around maybe twice before they start unloading you. If it weren't for the motion car that we were in, I would say that this ride is quite lame. We enjoyed the view and would have loved to stay on it longer but that is not the case for this attraction.

While on the Sun Wheel my DD noticed that California Screamin' was not going. We watched for a long time and saw no evidence of it operating. Now that was only about ten to fifteen minutes since we had been on. Curiosity got the better of me and so after we got off the Sun Wheel we headed back to the roller coaster, asking questions. Seems that they were having technical difficulties and weren't sure when the coaster would be up and running again. My DD and I felt quite lucky to have been able to ride it again and to have not been on it when it broke down. Oh well, I guess we won't get a third chance to ride, at least not until the next time we visit. That will be some time from now.

We walked through the Paradise Pier area again and played an arcade game, didn't want to waste too much money on that. We wanted to go on Mulholland Madness again but the line was way too long and the Fastpasses were for a lot later than we were going to be there for.

There was still one more thing that we wanted to do before leaving the park and Disney. We headed back to the Animation Building in the Hollywood Backlot and went straight for the Sorcerer's Workshop. Crossing our fingers that it wouldn't be too crowded, we went directly to the Beast's Library. Every chair was taken but there were no lines, so we picked a chair to stand behind and waited our turn. I went first and this time Lumiere told me that I was like the character "Lady" of Lady and the Tramp. DD turn was next and she ended up being like Ariel. She was pleased with that and laughed at me because I was predicted to be either a fairy or a dog, while she was selected as two female characters. Oh well, it was fun anyway. This time around we did switch a few answers to some of the questions (not straying too far from what we would honestly answer), so that's how we got different characters this time.

It was getting close to our departure time and we still wanted to visit the World of Disney once more. So we reluctantly headed out of the park and towards Downtown Disney then straight to the store. We just wanted to pick up a few extra souvenirs for co-workers, so once we did that we didn't stay too much longer. We had just about seen everything there was to see in the store by now and it was only torture being in the store and not being able to buy anything else. I have the same problem at work in the store. I really have to have willpower and try not to buy too much or else I would be spending my whole paycheck. LOL!

Well we finally made our final trek out of Downtown Disney and back to the hotel parking garage. Once we got to the car it was about 7:30 pm and we knew it would take us about another hour and a half to get back to my uncle's place. I was tired now and couldn't wait to get settled again. Around 9:00 pm we drove into my uncle's driveway and dragged our luggage into the house. At this point we knew we needed a day's rest before going to anymore tourist attractions.

All in all it was a well-planned Disney trip and we succeeded in accomplishing almost everything on our list. I hope you enjoyed my long trip report and weren't too bored. I had a fun time reliving our adventure and can't wait for the next trip to the "Land of the Mouse" no matter what coast we go to.

Janice O'Hanley

ohanley@attbi.com


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