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Heather Robison -- June 2002 -- Disneyland


JUNE 22, 2002

Cast:

  • Me, Heather (29) - many, many, many trips
  • Jen (28/9?), best college bud and current bridesmaid - lots of trips!

Transportation:

I flew southwest from Oakland - LAX, on an Internet special and paid $130 RT. They were also offering friends fly free at that rate, but I could not find anyone to go with me!

Accommodations:

Best thing about having gone to college in So. Cal - lots of friends in the area! Jen has a condo in Stanton, which is about 10 minutes away from DL!

The planning....

This trip was a long time in coming. After 7 1/2 years together, my fiancé finally proposed on Christmas, 2001! Well, Jen being my best college bud was the natural choice for a bridesmaid - being that she has been there for me through lots of good and bad days! So, when it came time to plan my bachelorette party, I had two choices: Vegas or DL.

My maid of honor, Susan, lives in North Carolina, raising, training and competing her horses in equestrian events. Due to her busy competition schedule and distance from the rest of us, she asked Jen if she wouldn't mind taking the reigns (no pun intended) and planning the bachelorette weekend.

In an odd turn of events, not one single person in either my family or bridal party could make the weekend (lot of babies being born!), so Jen and I decided to do the weekend very casual. As I said, I went to Long Beach State, so we had a lot of friends in the area! So, what started as a bachelorette weekend, became a college reunion!

The day begins...

After running a few errands in the morning, Jen and I hopped into her big red truck and sped away towards Disneyland! I was so excited - I hadn't been to Disneyland in at least 2 years - the last time, with Jen, in fact! California Adventure was just being built and parking was out in the middle of nowhere - it felt like we had parked in a big dirt lot!

Not this time! We approached the exit of the freeway and all I could say was, "Whoa! It looks like a mini-WDW!" After making our way into the big parking warehouse (that's what it feels like) and parking in Mickey, we were on our way. We immediately got on a parking tram (our luck would be like this all day!) and were at the gates in no time!

Inside the park, Jen and I purveyed the map. What to do, where to go? It was so nice to be "home," most of me just wanted to sit on Main Street all day and stare! Speaking of staring - I could not get over how small the castle was! After 3 trips to WDW over the past 4 years, I was used to seeing WDW's castle. Sadly, I must admit, I found myself repeating, "In WDW..." all day long. DL was my childhood - I guess WDW has become my adulthood!

After a few minutes of gawking, we decided to get going. We both agreed that we really wanted to do all the mountains, and the remaining E-rides. The park was packed - we could tell just by site - so we went into it thinking we wouldn't get much done. We each picked 2 rides we really had to do and then decided we would try and hit the rest as we had time. This turned out to be perfect as we just went on whatever we felt like when we felt like it and didn't feel like we were missing anything!

First up, Adventureland. It was packed. The lines here have always been horrendous. It seems like they tried to fit ride lines into spaces that were always meant to be walkways. The result is the, even without intending to do so, the entire crowd is both in line and walking at the same time - which creates a huge traffic jam at the main line entrance as people just trying to get by try to get out of line. Oy! Anyway, our first stop was to get a fast pass for Indy. This is usually my first ride, but the line seemed ridiculous and the fast pass was for only 40 minutes away!

Fast passes squared away, we decided to head towards Big Thunder and see if we could fit a ride in. On our way by, however, we noticed that the Pirates of the Caribbean had almost no wait! A funny thing happened in line - the CM asked one guy "how many in your party" "35." I know it was kind of smart, but the CM took it as funny, and the rest of the crowd started laughing as well - and then we all were pretending to be a part of this guy's family. The CM at the door was great! He was talking like a pirate to all the little kids - until he made one little boy cry. Then he tried to explain how he was a Mickey pirate and that, instead of being mean, they protect Mickey. It was really nice. Also while in line, Jen notice a little boy with blue gel in his hair and got in a nice conversation with his mom about where to get said gel. Jen's favorite color is blue, so she was happy!

The ride itself was great! I guess it had just opened up from rehab. You could tell it was recently cleaned up - new paint, better audio. The second drop and the "He Knows Too Much" cave - are now almost pitch black! I actually got spooked for a moment! Not only that, but they have fixed the fog machine in the "Fire at Will" section - it is very authentic (I know fog - native San Franciscan!). I was very excited to see the condition of the ride after hearing all the reports of decay.

After our turns as Buccaneers, we still had a few moments to kill until our fast passes were ready so, we did what felt natural - we shopped! Jen wanted to check out the Lilo and Stitch stuff. She is a very gifted artist and loves Disney, so she is always interested in their new characters. From the reactions of the little kids we saw to the Stitch dolls, this movie should be a hit!

Finding nothing to spend money on (well, not true - but with a wedding coming up... money's scarce!) - we headed over to Indy. I heard a distress call from an audio animatronic Harrison Ford doll and I knew he was waiting for me to rescue him! (What exactly would be the male version of damsel in distress?). Jen and I handed over our fast passes and walked past the 2-hour line (outside the ride) directly into the ride vehicle - well, with about a three-minute wait. Gosh, I love fast pass!

Two rides of our list down, and what to do? Get another fast pass, of course, but for what? We decided to head over towards the other side of the park. Splash Mountain was down and no one knew when it would be back up, and we both wanted to save Haunted Mansion and Big Thunder for the evening... Looking at the map, we realized that Matterhorn did not have fast pass, so we ran over and got a fast pass for Space Mountain and then grabbed a spot in line for Matterhorn to kill the time.

The Matterhorn was just as great as I always remembered it! A quick slide down the icy slopes! Ahhh. My one frustration with the ride - what a tease. It is boiling hot in that line - no shade at all - and all the water - I just wanted to dive right in!

Space Mountain was calling to us at this point, but I convinced Jen to wait a few moments so we could grab an Autopia fast pass before we went in. For those of you who don't know, you can only hold one fast pass at a time - however, if your fast pass window has opened, or, if two hours have elapsed since you received that fast pass, you can grab another one! After getting the Autopia fast pass, we headed over for our ride through deep space.

Space Mountain was a blast! It seemed to me that they have made the ride much darker and faster - of course, I have not been on it in over two years, so that is probably one of the reasons... ;) A nice thing happened in the line - when we got up to the point where the fast pass and standby lines intersect, we overheard a cast member explaining fast pass to one family. The CM was very polite and very well informed - he even knew where most of the FP ticket booths were! The family seemed really happy with his explanation. I just thought it was nice that the CM was explaining it so well and that these people would probably benefit greatly since they seemed to be unaware of its existence or how it worked.

After Space Mountain, we had about 40 minutes to go until our Autopia fast pass, so we decided that lunch was in order. We headed over to the Space Port (? I forget the name - but the place right next to Space Mountain, with the stage) for burgers and fries. Not to keep comparing DL to WDW, but the topping bar would have completely made the difference here! Not only did they not have toppings, but they didn't even have relish or onions, or...(Sigh). I really just wanted some cheese sauce for the fries! ;)

After lunch, we ran over to ride Autopia. I hadn't been on it since they changed the cars and track over. I must admit, I do miss the old cars, but the new track is quite nice. It seems like they've spruced it up a bit. However, the fast pass line was pointless. The standby line met up with the fast pass line only about 2 minutes into the line. It probably would have been quicker to just eliminate fast pass and just have 2 standby queues.

At this point, we were getting tired and it was very hot. Neither of us had been smart enough to remember to put on sunscreen that morning, so we were also feeling a little burned. Since Jen lived so close, we decided to shop our way out of the park and head to her house for a little siesta. I was looking for wedding stuff - the didn't have much that they didn't also have in the Disney Store (and most of that I had already purchased! ;0), so I didn't end up spending much. I did, however, find a perfect wedding gift for my fiancé. I won't tell about it here in case he reads this report (so curious to find out about what happened on the bachelorette weekend!).

After World of Disney, we headed back to the tram. One thing to note - if you are returning later, you should be sure to keep your parking pass, your ticket and to get your hand stamped at the gate. You will not have to pay again for parking if you show the original ticket. They will issue you a new ticket that shows that your reentered the parking lot, however.

After our 2-hour siesta - with a much needed Popsicle and rest on the couch, we were back to the park about 7. A parade was just about to start and, not wanting to get caught in the traffic, we decided to head up to the train. The train arrived shortly, and we quickly decided to get off at New Orleans Square and head over to Splash Mountain. While in line, Jen was telling me that the kids in her class (she teaches) voted the train as the scariest ride in DL! Funny, huh? Space Mountain - piece of cake - but those fake dinosaurs behind Plexiglas ten feet away are scary! Gotta love kids! ;)

Once we got off the train, however, we noticed that there was no line for Haunted Mansion. This ride is a must for me. My brother and the Haunted Mansion were born on the same day - so, if I didn't go on it, it would be like going to my brother's neighborhood and not stopping in to see him! That would do no good! We had the best group of people on this ride - in the stretching room, everyone seemed to know the words and were chanting along! It was great fun, and we all laughed because everyone started simultaneously and even did the sound effects!

The ride itself was fantastic! They have really cleaned this ride up - it looks fabulous. The only thing I noticed that needed work was the foyer carpet - it looked dirty and torn. However, I was totally impressed with how much work they did on the inside! I felt like I was riding the ride for the first time again! Jen and I kept pointing to things that I am sure have been there forever saying, "Is that new?" At one point, the ride stopped to let a disabled person on the ride, and we happened to be right next to a popping out corpse! Jen and I did not remember it being there and when it popped out, we both jumped! It was great!

After the ride, we decided it was finally our turn for my favorite ride - Splash Mountain. However, we noticed something really disturbing on our way over there - people were staring at the top of the hill and pointing! Turns out, a boat was stuck at the top of the flume! To top it all off, these poor people kept having the flash of the camera go off in their face - I think they thought the boat would go at that time, because they kept cheering when the flash would go off. Eventually, however, the boat did plummet and the people got wet... ;)

Walking towards the entrance to get into line, we noted a 2 1/2 hour wait posted. No thanks. I will be riding the Splash in WDW in just 70 some-odd days! We also noted a deceptively short wait to meet and greet with Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore and Tigger! My favorite! (Tigger). Jen encouraged me to wait, so we got into line and waited and waited and waited. Well, the line was short, but it moved slower than the parking lot emptied at closing! However, the character's interaction with the children and each other was fabulous. I have never seen better character interaction. They seemed to sense each child's comfort level and really made the time with each child seem special and not just a cattle call. There were many smiles all around. After about 1/2 an hour and having only moved three spots in line, however, I was ready to go. Jen went off to try and get us fast passes for Splash, while I waited to see if the line would go any faster. It didn't.

Jen returned, all smiles, no fast pass. It turns out that, while there were no fast passes left, a kind CM told her that if she was willing to ride by herself, all she had to do was tell the CM at the exit that she wanted to ride as a single. We saw one CM who gave us two "single rider" passes and then headed up the exit! At this point, the line posted a 3 1/2 hour wait! We were on in five minutes! I had a really nice family in my boat who had waited, so I explained the concept to them! Ahh.. What a great ride! This is my favorite! That view before you plunge is awesome!

At this point, all we had left on our list of "must-do's" was Fantasmic and Big Thunder. At this point, however, we were also starved. We decided to try and find something to eat and to take it somewhere to watch Fantasmic. We never made it to the eating spots. While trying to get out of the crowd, we stumbled into the Disney Gallery and browsed. Does anyone else wish they'd win the lottery so just once they could afford something here? (Sigh).

After the gallery, Fantasmic was just about to start, so we grabbed a spot at the edge of the crowd, near the Pirates of the Caribbean store. This was a fine viewing spot since we had both seen the show before and didn't feel the need to be sandwiched into a crowd! However, the only complaint (well, not really a complaint) I would have is that the parents who put their kids on their shoulders were such a distraction. Not that they shouldn't be able to see, but the parents were just clue less. One parent put one kid up right in front of someone, so then that person had to put their child up - and so on. They kept jockeying for position, too. So, once I found a spot where I could see, I kept having to move because the parents would just move around without even a glance backwards to make sure they weren't blocking someone else's view. I guess I expected some courtesy!

After the show, we decided to hang back a little and wait for the crowd to disperse somewhat by browsing in the shops. Unfortunately, hardly any of the shops back here were open! So, we bit the bullet and hopped into the crowd - making it as far as the Stage Door Café for dinner. I was craving a hot dog (would have been much better with the topping bar, but still pretty good...) and Jen wanted fries. It was kind of cool - the cashiers had taken a bet and were taking a poll to see what the crowd's favorite ride overall was. So, they were polling all of the customers. I was astonished to see that I was the first to suggest Splash. They all laughed, however, when I told them that my dad's favorite ride was the canoes!

Afterwards, we found some seating in a roped off area to watch the fireworks. Here is the only real complaint I have with all of DL! The sound track that they have incorporated for the fireworks has got to go! It was horrible syrup sap! It sounded like Barney meets New Zoo Review! It was totally detracting - I can't even remember anything about the song, other than I put my hands over my ears to make the horrible sounds stop! The fireworks, however, were totally cool. Completely made a Disney night - even a Mickey-shaped firework! Cool, cool, way cool.

At last, it was finally time for Big Thunder. Here was where we encountered our least favorite children of the whole night. We must admit, it seemed as if DL had become a baby-sitter for many families as we saw lots of unaccompanied children running around. Not that we minded - most of them were very well behaved, and, DL is FOR kids (and kids at heart). However, these kids were just awful! Not only were they bumping and pushing in line, but they disrespected the CM at the top of the line (he told them to go into certain queues, and they just looked at him and then each took a whole queue for themselves!), and they were really loud and obnoxious. But, to take the cake, they had the middle finger out through the whole ride, yelled obscenities - it was bad. There were little kids on the ride, too! Now, I'm not a prude, but there is a time and a place... The funniest part was when we came to the end and the kids yelled, "I can't believe we wasted our F-ing time waiting in line for that!" Well, the couple seated behind us totally started making fun of them - "Yeah, that five minute line was awful. How come I can't be first in every line whenever I want?" That sort of thing.

At this point, it was getting late, but we thought we would try and squeeze one more ride in. Alas, it was not to be - Space Mountain, our choice, had a 75 minute wait and they were no longer allowing people in line. We had thought about Fantasyland, but, at 10:30, the lines were still going strong for those rides, as well. Oh well.... WDW, September 6, here I come!

As for the bachelorette party - it was perfect. I got to spend one last day as a kid, with a good friend. What a great way to truly enter adulthood. And, we can joke about how I spent my bachelorette party with the Chippendale (or is that Chip and Dale?).

Heather Robison

HRobison@longlevit.com


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