Janice O'Hanley -- June 2003 – Disneyland (Offsite)
Disneyland/California Adventure (Super Soap Weekend) - Friday, May 30th thru Tuesday, June 3rd
Cast of Characters
(Disclosure: About half of this trip report contains details of a soap opera event. So if you are not interested in reading about that part of my report, you may want to skip through most of Saturday and part of Sunday. Sorry but this is one of the reasons for taking this trip. I will try to put a notation (ss) when I am talking more about the soap stars)
Friday, May 30, 2003
This trip was not planned way in advance like I usually do. I really wasn’t sure if I was able to go but after talking and rethinking about it, I decided that I could swing a long weekend. I hate to pass up a trip that includes two of my favorite things (Disney and soaps). The other girls were going out two days before me (at the time I only had a few days of personal time coming to me. Little did I know that I wouldn’t even have a job by the time the trip came, but my tickets were already bought and paid for so I couldn’t change my flights without a penalty). I flew out of Providence on an early flight (6:00 am) and had a stop over in Chicago for about an hour. I ended up landing at John Wayne Int’l Airport in Orange County around 10:30 am PST. After finding my way out to the pick-up area, Kathy and the girls picked me up in the SUV that was rented.
We were in a hotel that is almost directly across from Disneyland. As much as I love staying on Disney property, this was perfect for what we needed. We headed to the hotel so that I could drop off my suitcase and change into something cooler. Once that was done we took a drive to find the Company D store that was located nearby. This was my chance to treat my friends with some good discounted Disney items. They were only allowed into the store because they were with me and I had my ID. Once we were in the store they could buy anything that they wanted. We spent about 30-40 mins. in here and I ended up buying a sweatshirt, two long sleeve T-shirts, another short sleeve top and a fleece jacket. Kathy and Carolyn also did some “damage” here and came out “happy campers”. We wanted to come back once again before we went home but that didn’t work out.
After going back to the hotel to drop off our purchases we headed over to Disneyland. This walk took all of about 5 mins. I love the feel of walking up to the turnstiles and entering the park. Even though this park is smaller in size compared to the Magic Kingdom in WDW, it still doesn’t seem small in the magic. I love walking down this main street just the same. Our first stop was going to the Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye ride. The girls had already done this the other night but I had to do this first thing. I just wish that I could bring this attraction back to Orlando with me. It is one of the best rides Disney has to offer, a very close second to Tower of Terror. This ride did not disappoint me and I came off of it exhilarated. We then decided to go to the Haunted Mansion. I do prefer the look of the HM in WDW to DL’s version but the ride itself is still just as good. I love it when the cast members are in “full character”, that really makes the ride. We headed over to California Adventure to check things out for the weekend activities. This was our day to do the rides together here. We rode Soarin’ over California first and walked right on. I thoroughly enjoy this ride. (ss) We walked back through the Sunshine Plaza and heard about the SoapNet event that was about to start for OLTL. We decided to head in that direction and then we saw our first soap star. Nathaniel Marston (Al from OLTL) was heading towards the talk show area and we were able to get our photos taken with him. He is much taller than he appears on t.v. and very pleasant. We then walked to the talk show and saw that there were plenty of seats. Kathy and Maggie opted out of seeing the show because they are not big OLTL fans and they didn’t want to sit in the sun for too long. So Carolyn and I went to the seating area and ended up sitting for way too long before the show even started. They seemed to be putting it off until they were able to get a full audience since this was going to be shown on SoapNet. We decided to leave after 40 mins. Glad we did even though I wouldn’t have minded watching the show. Oh well, you just can’t do everything. (end ss) We called Kathy and met up with her near California Screamin’. They had already gone on this coaster so they waited for Carolyn and I to ride it. I love this coaster! Very smooth and fast. After this we went over to Grizzly River Rapids and rode that hoping not to get too wet. This was my first time going on this ride and it was a lot of fun. We only got a little wet and we dried off pretty quickly due to the hot sun. We decided to leave the park and head back to the hotel to change for our dinner reservations.
It was almost time for our priority seating at Goofy’s Kitchen at the Disneyland Hotel. This was my first time eating here and I was very anxious. This was going to be our only sit down meal for this trip so I was going to thoroughly enjoy this, characters interaction and all. I was able to get my discount for this dinner and it almost ended up being the price for one of us. The girls were treating me tonight because of the discounts that I got for them at the Company D store. They are so nice! Goofy was near the center of the restaurant playing with the kids and getting ready to do their little dance. We saw Pluto having his picture taken with a family near the entrance. We were seated near a window and quite close to the buffet area. The characters in attendance tonight were: Goofy (of course), Pluto, Chip and Dale, Minnie, Jasmine, and Aladdin. We made sure that we had plenty on our plates to consume (the Prime Rib is delicious), including dessert. I kind of went overboard on the dessert because I felt that I needed to have at least a taste of everything that was offered. My eyes were definitely bigger than my stomach! We left there about an hour later very satisfied. As we were heading back through Downtown Disney we decided to head back to the hotel for a light jacket. I knew that I wanted to go back to the park and that the evenings in Anaheim tend to get a bit chilly into the night. When we went back we headed and rode these couple of rides: Big Thunder Mountain (which is best at night) and the Matterhorn (we had a hard time getting to this due to the parade that was going on at that time). Carolyn is big on pin buying so we headed to Star Traders in Tomorrowland and we chatted with the cast members for a while so she could decide what she wanted to buy. Tinkerbell pins were the main focus for both Carolyn and Kathy. Thank goodness I’ve run the course already in pin buying. I only trade occasionally with cast members for fun. We then headed back to the hotel to call it a night. I was quite tired after my long day and we needed to get up early to get ready for our first day at California Adventure and SSW.
Saturday - May 31, 2003
I don’t remember what time we got up but it was early enough for all of us to get in the shower and be ready for 9:30 am., a half-hour before park opening. We didn’t feel that we needed to be there any earlier. The line was going to be long no matter what. Once we went through security we went our separate ways to whoever line we wanted first. Today was the only day that I was planning on going to see the soap stars because my Uncle Joe and Aunt Grace were coming up tomorrow to tour the park with me. They were coming from their home in San Diego and I wanted to spend the day with them. Uncle Joe and I are thrill ride lovers and he hadn’t been to Calif. Adventure yet. I was dying to take him on California Screamin’. I also couldn’t wait to get both of them on Soarin’ over California. It should be fun.
(ss) Back to today. I was heading for Elizabeth Hendrickson’s line (Maggie from AMC), which was directly ahead of me. I didn’t get a chance to meet her at last year’s AMC Luncheon so I wanted to make sure that I did this time around. I was about 15th in line, which wasn’t too bad. It shouldn’t take too long to meet her and then I could head on to my next star. Liz was really cute and personable and she signed my 8 x 10 picture that I had of her. After I left her line and was heading up to Robin Strasser’s (Dorian from OLTL) autograph area on the Boardwalk across from California Screamin’, a girl was calling out to me. She wanted to get my name and city/state because whomever she worked for took my picture and maybe they were going to use it in a soap magazine or something. Nothing came up of it from what I can see but at least I could have been featured somewhere…no such luck! I was a little early for Robin’s signing so I waited along the boardwalk chitchatting with another fan and who should walk by but Kathy Brier (Marcie on OLTL) and then Ilene Kristen (Roxy from OLTL). I took a few quick snap shots of them and then before I knew it Robin was at her podium. The line moved fairly quickly and I was soon speaking with Robin. I had a vintage black & while 8 x 10 photo of her to be signed and gave her my silver sharpie to use and she was very impressed that I was so well prepared. She got a kick out of the photo and I enjoyed talking to her for the few minutes that I was allowed. She was one of the stars that I was determined to meet and now I was heading to the next important star on my list. I headed down towards Grizzly River Rapids to see a “true movie star” - Phil Carey who plays Asa on OLTL. This icon has been in several movies including Mr. Roberts and one of my all time favorites - Calamity Jane. As a matter of fact I brought with me from home my copy of this video for him to sign. The sun was starting to get quite hot now and this park does not have many shady spots. I waited for about 20 mins. for Phil to come out, good thing I was only about 6th in line, I didn’t want to melt before noontime. When it was my turn to meet Phil, I told him that I was thrilled to meet him and that I wanted him to sign my video from one of my favorite movies. He was pleased that I brought with me this video and signed his name happily. Well, 3 down and 2 of them were my top two choices. Yeah!
Now I knew that my friends were in Max Alexander’s (Carlos from AMC) line because I was with them before heading over to Phil’s line. I was actually 10th in line for Max but thought I could get Phil’s autograph first. Well it worked out perfectly because when I went back to Max’s line I was able to get back into my spot in line because my name was on the cast member’s list. I thought for sure I was going to miss and lose my place but it worked out after all. Well Max couldn’t be nicer. He truly was enjoying meeting all the fans and treated each one with extra special attention. He’s very sexy and personable and I’m so glad that I didn’t miss the opportunity to meet him. Kathy, Maggie and Carolyn all agreed with me and it seems that Maggie was a little smitten with him. J Max scored big points with all the fans at this event! Next I was heading towards Melissa Archer’s (Natalie from OLTL) line. This line had the most shade in the whole park. I was standing next to a very nice young man and we had a pleasant conversation until our turn to see Melissa. I had met Melissa about a year and a half ago at charity event in Massachusetts and she had older pics of herself to be signed. This time I had a beautiful 8 x 10 for her to autograph. She is so cute and bubbly and I enjoyed meeting her again. At this time I headed back towards the Grizzly River area and decided to stand in Timothy J. Stickney’s (R.J. from OLTL) line. The line seemed quite short so I didn’t think that I would be there for too long. I was about 15th or so in line and this line seemed to be moving very slowly. I saw Carolyn having her chance to meet him and she was with him for so long. I know that she can be very chatty so after she finished meeting him I called her over and asked her what she could have been talking to him for so long about? She said that it wasn’t her prolonging the conversation that he was the chatty one and he just took his time with each fan. After a little while I saw that she was so right about him. He really seemed to enjoy talking with everyone and was not about to rush his fans. Well what should have taken me about 20 mins. took me close to 45 mins. I will say that he was very nice and easy to talk to and I enjoyed meeting him very much.
I continued walking down the hill thru Grizzly River and past the entrance to the Grand Californian (the deluxe hotel on site). This is where the soap stars are staying. As I was walking past I saw Bruce Michael Hall (Joey from OLTL) heading out and I asked him if I could take a picture with him. He seemed very accommodating but his cast member guide told me to follow us to his next autograph session and to wait in his line. She said that he was running late. Since I didn’t get upset about her answer she must have thought about what she said and changed her mind and let me have my picture taken with him. He was very sweet and a nice looking guy. I was able to speak with him for a minute while walking in the same direction. I know that some of the cast members get pretty protective of the stars so I wasn’t going to argue with her but it all worked out in the end.
I was starving by this time so I headed over to the Hollywood Studios section and saw Kathy, Maggie and Carolyn there. We ended up eating from the Award Wieners counter service. I got the chilidog with fries that I enjoyed so much from last summer when I was with my daughter. We all sat in a shaded area and discussed what we’ve done and whom we’ve seen so far today. Even though it was really hot, everyone was having a great time. I’m glad we found time to touch base with each other. Now it was back to our agenda’s and it seems that I was heading for more OLTL stars. Kathy doesn’t watch this show so we didn’t end up in too many of the same lines. Carolyn and I did take off towards Bree Williamson’s (Jessica from OLTL) line but we were kind of early so I sat in the line and Carolyn took off to get more pictures and said she would be back. I just chilled for awhile and relaxed by sitting down on the boardwalk area. Before I knew it, it was time for Bree to come. I didn’t have anything for her to sign so I was going to just have her autograph the SSW pics that they were giving out. What a cutie she is! I asked her about the origin of her first name and she said that her parents named her after Sabrina from Charlie’s Angels. They just shortened it to be unique. After I had my visit with her I waited around for Carolyn to see her. We then headed down to Kathy Brier’s line. It wasn’t too long of a wait and when I got to her she signed the SSW pic for me and I told her that I am enjoying her character now and that “Marcie” has grown on me. She admitted that the character was annoying at first but is glad that “Marcie” has more depth to her. I also told her that I love her pairing with Nathaniel Marston. Well I was done for the day with meeting stars because it was getting close to the end of their day and any more lines that were still around were already cut off. At this time I decided to go see the last scheduled Talk Show with Linda Dano (Rae from OLTL). I got there a little late and had to stand way in the back so I couldn’t see very well. This was an AMC show, so appearing on stage with Linda was: Rebecca Budig (Greenlee), Alicia Minshew (Kendall), Susan Lucci (Erica), Max Alexander (Carlos), Marc Menard (Boyd), William de Vry (Michael), Eden Riegel (Bianca) and Walt Willey (Jackson). The show was very entertaining and had lots of Q & A. While I was there, Carolyn was in Alicia’s line waiting for her to finish with the show. I ended up waiting around for her to finish meeting Alicia again and then we head out of the park and back to the hotel to meet up with Kathy and Maggie. (end ss)
We decided to go to a nearby restaurant for dinner and then head over to Disneyland for the evening. The restaurant was just like a Denny’s. It was very family oriented and had a nice variety to choose from. One of their specialties was their homemade pies. The girls had already tried out this item earlier on the trip. For some reason I wasn’t all that hungry and my stomach felt a little upset so I didn’t order much to eat. As we were sitting in our booth, a guy walked in and sat in another booth that was across the room behind me. I didn’t see him but Kathy couldn’t keep her eyes off of him. He seemed to be wearing a tall “Cat in the Hat” type of hat that was green and yellow stripes. That’s all Kathy needed to start giggling. I had to turn around and take a glimpse of him. Well that got me going and we couldn’t stop. He seemed to be taking a real long time looking at the menu and we assumed that he was a regular because no one else in the restaurant including the waitress seemed to even get a chuckle out of him. By this time I had enough and I paid my portion of the bill and headed back to the room. Like I said before my stomach was acting up and the giggling was not helping. I needed to rest a bit. By the time the girls came back I was feeling much better.
The plan was to head back over to Disneyland but Kathy and Carolyn bowed out. So Maggie and I headed out around 7:00 PM. We changed into jeans and brought a jacket knowing that it would be cooleronce the sun went down. Tonight the park was open until 11:00 PM and it seemed busy enough to keep the park hopping. One of our main objectives tonight was Big Thunder Mountain, Indiana Jones and Pirates. Today was the first day that Pirates of the Caribbean was open since it was it went into rehab at the beginning of May. We knew that there might be a long line but this ride is much loved by both Maggie and me. First thing we did was get a fast pass for BTM. It was for 9:30 PM. We headed into one of the shops in Frontierland. We only looked in there for a few minutes. (ss) As we were heading out I saw a “plaid-vested” cast member walking by. Knowing that this meant that a celebrity may be near I focused my eyes (it was just starting to get dark) and saw some of the soap stars. Well then a parade of them were passing us and all of them headed right on to the Mark Twain paddleboat for a private party cruise around the Rivers of America. We watched at a slight distance to see who was boarding and stayed until the boat was underway. (end ss)
We headed straight to POTC and really didn’t have too long of a wait. I do love this version better than WDW’s. Much more detail and it has extra scenes and an extra little drop. I noticed a Hidden Mickey on the right hand side fort wall when you enter the scene with the ships firing the cannons. I had never heard of this HM before so I was quite excited to have found it. I hope I get a confirmation on this just to make sure that I wasn’t seeing things. We then headed over to Splash Mountain. I hoped to get a seat in the back of the boats and also hoped that the splash wouldn’t be too bad due to the evening hours. Well that turned out to be the case and we enjoyed the ride coming off only slightly wet.
By this time our fast pass window was just about ready. (ss) We walked back over toward BTM and as we headed in that direction, the Mark Twain was docking in. So of course we had to hang around and watch the stars disembark. It was fun to see who was with whom and let our minds put two and two together about some of the stars “significant other”. I had a feeling that some of the stars would be going on rides (by way of the “back door” entrance) and I was right. Maggie and I used our fast passes and zipped right along the line and got on to the next available train. Well if we had been just a little bit quicker we would have been on the same train as some of the AMC stars (Marc Menard and Wil de Vry). Oh well, no big deal, the ride was just as enjoyable. (end ss) This is the only roller coaster ride that I will ride with “no hands”. I’m chicken on every other coaster. Go figure!
After BTM we headed over to Adventureland. Maggie wanted to look for something for her dad in one of the shops in this area. We spent about a half-hour here and then decided to do one more trip on Indiana Jones and then call it a night and go back to the hotel. We decided to ride this as single-riders and got thru the attraction a lot quicker. It was a blast as usual! We then headed out of the park and walked the short distance to our hotel. When we got back Kathy and Carolyn were just about ready to hop in bed but we did however tell them about out soap sightings tonight. Time for bed now, tomorrow is another busy day.
Sunday - June 1, 2003
We all woke up pretty early. Everyone but me was outside having a smoke when all of a sudden they called me outside to see something or someone. Across the way in another part of the hotel we were staying at was the same guy we saw last night with the hat. This hat was red, white and blue still in the same tall shape. We couldn’t believe we saw him again. We did get a little chuckle out of this. The girls were going to a special breakfast with the stars and I was heading to Disneyland for about an hour and then over to California Adventure to spend the day with my aunt and uncle. This will be my relatives first time at this park even though they only live 2 hrs away. It will be a little hard to see the soap stars all around the park and not want to get into their lines for autographs and photos but at least I will be with two fun people and riding some great rides.
I got myself going and decided to eat some breakfast at the park. I told the girls that I would see them later in the day and headed down and across the street to the park entrance. I wanted to do Indiana Jones, the Matterhorn, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Big Thunder Mountain, a few Fantasyland rides, and Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin in Toontown. I headed to Indiana Jones first off so that I could get there before the line got crowded. Then I headed towards Fantasyland doing Peter Pan’s Flight and Snow White’s Scary Adventures. I was now hungry so I headed over to Club Buzz for breakfast. I had the french toast sticks and enjoyed them very much.
I headed over towards Toontown and unfortunately found out that it will not be open until 10:00 AM. Well that’s a shame because I will be already next door with my aunt and uncle by that time. I decided to ride Star Tours for old time’s sake and then did the rest of the rides on my list. Good thing I was here when the park opened. It was getting close to the time to meet them so I headed quickly back to the hotel and they were already there waiting for me. We then headed back over and got in line and waited for the gates to open. Once thru the turnstiles we headed over to the Hollywood Backlot area and got fast passes for the Aladdin Spectacular Show and for the noontime Who Wants to be a Millionaire show. With those fast passes safely put away, they wanted to try out Soarin’ over California. My aunt has a bad back so she can’t go on many thrill rides but I knew that this attraction would be fine for her and I was excited for them to try it. Being first thing on our schedule, it wasn’t too crowded in line and a lot of the guests in the park were there for the soap stars. We got in the first row, which is the best for this ride and they really didn’t know what to expect. I explained a little of the concept and they were prepared for it. Well they loved it! I think it was there favorite ride in the whole park. It is a very relaxing and surreal experience and definitely worth waiting in line for if you have to.
Next up we walked up thru the Grizzly River section. Even though we didn’t go on the raft ride they were anxious to ride it with their grandsons in a few weeks when they come to visit. They also saw the trail area for kids to play in, so that will also be on the list of things to see and do at that time. We headed along towards Paradise Pier and the “carnival” rides, as some people refer to them. Well it was time to go on the coaster and my uncle was excited. He loves roller coasters almost as much as I do (we also share a love for chocolate too). So my aunt stood by the area where you watch the coaster take off and we got in line and after a short wait, we were in our seats and ready for blast off! This is one of my top three coasters, mainly because of the speed at take off and the smooth fast ride throughout the attraction, including the giant loop in the middle. I think that my uncle agrees with me on this being a great coaster. The take-off takes your breath away and it is very exhilarating! Once again it did not disappoint and we hope to be back in line at least one more time before leaving the park for the day.
At this time we walked over to the Orange Stinger, which is one of those swing rides. Knowing that this might be all right for my aunt to ride, we all found a swing to sit in. This ride is refreshing, especially during a hot day.
Well it was just about time for our fast pass for Millionaire, so we headed back towards the front of the park knowing that we would come back to this area afterwards. When we arrived at Millionaire we were lead right in and had decent seats. Since the soap stars were around they changed the set-up a little and had the stars sit in the hot seat and answer the questions to try and win prizes for the guest who ended up in the number one position. This show’s stars were Robert Woods (Bo from OLTL) and his son Tanner, who is about 12 years old. (I believe that Phil Carey bowed out of the show, so Tanner took his place). I got on the board at the beginning of the game but went downhill from then on. My uncle and aunt did o.k. but all in all they just had fun playing. As much as I like the soap stars, I’d much prefer playing the original way and seeing guests win their chance to sit in the hot seat. Well I’ll be going to WDW in September and October, so I’ll go to the show a few times during those trips.
After the show we walked back over towards Paradise Pier. We were hungry by this time so along the way we tried to figure out what was appealing to all of us. Back over by the boardwalk games area we decided on chicken strips and fries from the counter service window. We each got our own style of dipping sauce and chowed down. I would say that this meal hit the spot and we were satisfied.
We walked further along the area and came across Mullholland Madness. This is a “wild mouse” type of ride and my uncle wanted to ride this one. This is another of my favorites of this park and we went right into line and didn’t have to wait too long, surprisingly. I just wish that this ride was a little longer, it is over before you know it. We then walked back towards the coaster but decided to ride the Sun Wheel, which my aunt could ride. We stood in line for the motion cage and got in the next available one with an oriental father and his daughter. The girl was so scared every time the cage moved that she would scream. It was fun to watch because each time she got a little braver and finally by the time the ride was over she was enjoying it. Not sure if they went on again or not. Next ride for us was the Mailboomer. This was going to be a first for me too. We waited a little longer that normal because they only had one set of seats working at this time. This ride really takes off like a rocket, only you are on the outside of it. We both loved it and my aunt really got a kick out of seeing us ride it. After this we were going to try and ride the coaster again but decided to head over to Bug’s Land and go to It’s Tough To Be A Bug. I was anxious for them to experience this and knew that it would be fun. Needless to say, they loved it and couldn’t wait to bring the kids to this show but mostly to bring my cousin Stephanie (their daughter) because she is skittish about bugs. They love to play tricks on each other. Wish I could be there with them.
Now onto the Aladdin show. We had to be there a half-hour before the start of the show and line up. We had a little bit of time so we went into the Animation Building and sat for the short show about animation starring Mushu and a cast member. I enjoyed this and it is very interesting. I wish we had time to go into the Sorcerer’s Workshop, which has a lot of neat things to do, but we had to make the show. I hope that when they go in a few weeks, that they take time to visit this.
We didn’t have to wait too long in the outside queue and were seated in the air-conditioned auditorium shortly thereafter. It was nice to sit for a while in a cool comfortable chair. After a few minutes, the show started and since this was a first for me, I was excited to see what everyone was talking about. This show has gotten rave reviews, so now it was my turn to view it. Well I wasn’t disappointed. The costumes and the performers were top notch and I love the “flying carpet” effect. This was a well-done stage performance and I believe that my aunt and uncle agreed with me. I’m glad I got to see it.
After the show, it was getting to be the time that my relatives wanted to leave and get on the road. We said our good-byes and I hoped that I would be out again next year for this same event. If so, I will try and make it a longer trip so that I can go down and visit with them in San Diego.
(ss) After they left, I just walked around the park and noticed that the stars were starting to wind down their stay at DCA. I was able to watch a little of the talk show with OLTL stars and then decided that I only had time for one more event. I went over to the Golden Dreams auditorium and got in line for the last showing of Walt Willey’s show. It was a chance for some lucky guest to win an “audition” opposite a soap star. This show’s soap star was Marc Menard (Boyd from AMC). This was quite entertaining and the three ladies chosen to compete against each other did very good and made us laugh. Marc sure looked good up on stage, especially when he took off his shirt! Walt was his usual comedic self and a good host. The show ended around 6:45 PM and I left the park and headed back to the hotel to meet up with the girls for the rest of the evening. (end ss)
When I got back to the room, we all sat around and talked about our day. It seems that the girls did a good job of acquiring more photos and autographs. They had a secret weapon. Kathy had a very sunburned leg and was having a hard time walking so she decided to rent a motorized wheelchair for the day. This was the best thing that she could have done. It helped her move around so much better and she was able to secure spots in each line for the star for Carolyn and Maggie so that once they got there she would drive off to the next star’s line. This ensured them front of the line spots and short waits in line.
They ended getting just about every star that came that weekend. If my relatives hadn’t showed up, you can bet that I would have partaken in this little system. Hopefully next year Kathy will decide to do this again. She doesn’t really care about getting autographs as much as we do. She just likes to take photos of the stars the most. So, as you can imagine, I was a little jealous of how their day went. Well you can’t do everything and I wouldn’t have traded time with my relatives for anything really, so I was happy with what I got the day before for autographs and pics.
For dinner, we went to a Denny’s that was located directly across from the entrance to the parks. Dinner was good. I actually can’t remember what we did in the evening. I assume we went back over to Disneyland for awhile and did the usual favorite rides and checked out some pins at Pin Traders. By the way, Space Mountain was down for rehab, a long rehab. It will be down until Spring of 2005, which is the 50th Anniversary for Disneyland. So we were disappointed that we couldn’t ride it but there was nothing that we could do about that. I will just have to wait until my next trip to WDW to ride the same attraction. After hanging around the park for a while, we walked back to the room and got ready for bed. Tomorrow was our trip to Universal and we had a few errands to do in the morning first. Another long day ahead for us, but I don’t mind, I’m on vacation!
Monday - June 2, 2003
We didn’t have to get up as early as the previous two mornings. We weren’t planning on heading to Universal until late morning. Since we had dropped off rolls of film at the local drug store, we had to pick them up and also stop over at California Adventure to check out the photos that the cast members took of us with the soap stars. Today was the last day that we could do this. For breakfast, I just went downstairs where a continental breakfast was set up. The other girls got something from the next door McDonald’s.
As we were walking over to DCA, there is a bus stop near the crosswalk to the park entrance. Who should be standing waiting for the bus, but the guy with the hat! Funny how we keep on seeing him around. When entering DCA, we went directly to the “Greetings from California” souvenir shop to check out our photos and see if we wanted to purchase any. We were there a little longer than I expected, it was so hard to pick and choose our pics (especially with four of us doing this). About 45 mins. later, we headed back to the hotel and got into our rental and headed towards Los Angeles and Universal. Kathy was driving because she has driven around this area before and Maggie has always been her co-pilot. It took a little over an hour to get there, so it was about 12:15 PM when we arrived. I hadn’t been there since my kids were in grade school so it looked completely different to me. We didn’t look around too much in City Walk but I bet it is hopping at nighttime. Lot’s of stores and restaurants. I had already bought my pass so we went directly into the park. This park is very colorful but it still didn’t impress me as much as Disney. I don’t care for the set up as much and it just doesn’t seem to have all that much to offer compared to Disney or the Universal in Orlando. So I’m glad that we only stayed for a half day, a lot the attractions are either too kiddie-like or more of a show than a ride. The first thing we did was go down the escalators (yes that plural because you have to go down at least 4 escalators just to get to the bottom level and the park is only two levels high). We headed to the Jurassic Park attraction and since I had already been on the one in Orlando, I already knew what to expect. This is a fun ride and you do get wet, no matter where you sit. I tried to sit in the back middle of the boat and I didn’t get to wet. At least it was a hot day and we would dry off quickly. Well once we got off we decided to go right on again since there was basically no wait at all. If you do have to wait some to get on this ride, I would still recommend it, it is worth it. Next up we just walked around the lower level to see what was offered. There was the Backdraft attraction but Kathy and Maggie had done this the last time there were here and said that it was too hot of an attraction to do on such a hot day as this. We looked around a little in the shops (including one with a section devoted to I Love Lucy) then headed back up the escalators. At the top we went directly into the Back to the Future ride. I have also done this in Orlando and think that it was the best attraction at the Universal - The Movies Park. I was anxious to ride it this time and it did not disappoint me. Just a warning, this ride does take a long time to board. Not sure exactly why, but it is also worth the wait. After leaving this attraction we decided to get something to eat at the open-air food court. There isn’t too much to choose from in my opinion but I ended up just getting a giant pretzel w/cheese. We were just sitting at our table eating and discussing our day so far when all of a sudden - guess whom I saw? Walking right past us was the man with the Cat in the Hat from our hotel. I guess he must have gotten on the bus when we past him by earlier in the day, but who knew that he would be coming to Universal the same day as us? I was wondering if I was seeing things? We felt kind of bad for him because he seemed to be a lonely guy just doing his own thing. It just seemed very funny to have seen this man almost everywhere we have gone.
Now it was time for the Backlot Tour. We went down one set of escalators and walked onto a tram. This tour is one of the only things that I remember some of from when I came here years ago. The tour takes you through the studio area, and sets where they have shot years of movie scenes. You get to see the Bates Motel and the house on the hill with “momma” sitting at the window. You also get to see Jaws and King Kong. It is a very enjoyable tour and you really get to see and learn a lot.
Next up we traveled towards the newest attraction which is Shrek 4-D. Carolyn and I were the only two who knew who Shrek was and since it was the only show that I really wanted to see, Kathy and Maggie agreed to it. Well this is a well-done 4-D show. To make it 4-D, they have the chairs that you sit in move and react to what is playing on the screen. Much to Kathy and Maggie’s surprise, they thoroughly enjoyed this show and I’m sure would do it again if given the opportunity.
We were just about ready to leave. We wanted to get going because we didn’t want to drive through too much rush hour traffic (in Los Angeles it’s hard to avoid rush hour traffic). Also we wanted to get back and have enough time to visit Disneyland one last time since we were leaving to go home in the morning. We stopped in a candy shop and Kathy and I both got candy apples (I haven’t had one of these since I was a kid). Then we walked towards the entrance and along the way we spotted Frankenstein, Beetle Juice and The Mummy walking around interacting with the guests in the park. As we were walking out of the park, Spiderman spotted us and called me over for a photo with him. We each did this and it was a lot of fun. We then walked back thru City Walk and back to the car and onto the highway.
We got back to the hotel around 6:00 PM. Well Disneyland was closing early tonight, see the “park enthusiast” that I am had to head right over and do what I could do before closing. I told the girls that I would meet up with them later in Downtown Disney. So off I went, and just guess where my first stop was? Indiana Jones, of course! I got into the single rider line and went thru in about 15 mins. Thank goodness for single rider queues. Off to do Big Thunder Mountain and then onto Pirates with 20 mins left before the park closed. When I got out of Pirates I ran to Indiana Jones again and got in line. The single rider line was closed down so I got into the regular queue with a few minutes to spare before closing. I love the rule that Disney has saying that if you are in a line for a ride when the park closes, you can still ride your last ride. Once this was done, I reluctantly exited the park for the last time this trip. Hopefully I will be back again next year.
Now onto Downtown Disney for some last minute shopping and a bite to eat. I headed directly to the big World of Disney and was looking for a couple of tops that I had seen in other shops on site. After making a decision on which ones I was going to buy, I then went onto some pin buying and some key chains for friends’ back home (particularly for my fellow cast members). I went over to the registers near the pin trading section and was standing in line when Kathy and Carolyn spot me. This worked out good so that I wouldn’t have to try and track them down later. After our purchases were completed we met Maggie outside sitting on a bench, people watching. I wanted a slice of pizza from Naples Ristorante Pizzeria take-out window. This was on my list of things to do. I thoroughly enjoyed this pizza and one slice was big enough to satisfy me for my dinner. Time to head back to the hotel and get my suitcase organized. My flight in the morning was for 10:30 AM. Kathy would drive me in and then come back to checkout and drive Carolyn, Maggie and herself in time for their flights. Our little trip was ending and it always puts a damper on our spirits. We talked about the next time we would see each other, which would be in August on the weekend of the 9th and 10th. This will be for the All My Children Fan Luncheon held in NYC. We are looking forward to that. I guess it’s off to bed now, morning will be here before you know it.
My flights went without any problems and I arrived home on schedule. My son met me in the airport baggage area and before I knew it I was home, a little tired but glad that I went and had so much fun. My next Disney trip will be from August 31st thru September 7th, to WDW but staying offsite this time. I hope to report back sometime shortly after that. Thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope you enjoyed it.Janice O'Hanley