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"How do you do it Sue?" A
co-worker asked me the other day.
I thought to myself, "Dear, you should have asked me for my fabulous Disneyland Handy Hints."
My mind wandered... I could hear the faint buzz of talking as I mentally drifted down Main Street through Adventureland and into the cozy corridors of New Orleans Square. The sweet cinnamony smell of churros permeated the air and a saxophone began to play the rich velvety notes of Don’t Get Around Much Anymore. Somewhere in the distance the clink of piano keys added the tones of Honeysuckle Rose to the melodic tapestry hanging in the air. I rounded the corner of La Mascarade d"Orleans past the Mint Julep Bar, and could just begin to make out the gates of the Haunted Mans...
Snapped back to reality...
In my little circle of the universe, I am the resident Disney fan. And everyone who knows that, usually has a question or two for me. Inevitably, the question is "What do you do there all the time?"
I suspect most people who go to Disneyland on a casual basis think of a visit to the Park in this way: Get up early to get there as soon as the Park opens (Something I avoid at all costs — getting up early, that is). Stand in long lines to purchase admission. Then, proceed to cram as many attractions (Disney speak for rides) and as many shows (now a days that translates to Fantasmic, Animazement, the parade, and Believe, There’s Magic In The Stars—AKA fireworks) as possible into one day.
Eat as necessary (food’s kind of expensive at the Magic Kingdom), drink as necessary (my gosh a bottled water costs how much???), battle the crowds who guard their little piece of Disneyland real estate for two or three hours to see Fantasmic. Join the sea of humanity in the Emporium to buy that last minute souvenir (Ladies and gentlemen, Disneyland has now ended its normal operating day. For your shopping convenience, Main Street will remain open for an additional hour).
Drag their tired behinds out to the trams (was it Simba, Timon, or that huge building that we parked the car in? Which tram way do we go?). Wait in long lines to board the tram (Only five adults per row please — Stay BEHIND the yellow line — if you haven’t found a seat on board please step back behind the yellow line and wait for the next tram). Try to find the family car (Are you sure we parked in Goofy?). Wait in lines of traffic to get on the freeway and head home.
If I did that on a regular basis, it’d probably kill me and my love of Disneyland. No, my first answer to anyone who asks the question "What do you do at Disneyland?" is usually, "Nothing." Like Seinfeld, the show about nothing, I go to Disneyland about twice a week and do, nothing. Some people play cards, some people go bowling, and some people have television shows they wouldn’t miss if their life depended on it. Me? I go to Disneyland. I meet friends, eat dinner, hang out. Sometimes I see a show. Sometimes I ride a ride. Usually, I am there for no more than three hours. An all day visit is rare. Mostly I just well, do nothing. Disneyland is a lovely place to do nothing.
My next bit of commentary to "the question" is to advise that person to read the D-I-G. "You know if you had done that, you’d know where to stand so you could see the fireworks. You’d know where to stand five minutes before Fantasmic starts and still be able to get a good spot. You’d know about Fastpass so you wouldn’t spend an hour and a half waiting in line to ride the new incarnation of the Autopia and you’d know not to go into Innoventions unless you want a good shot of air conditioning (the only reason I can see for venturing into that, ummm, attraction).
I started thinking about "the question" on a not too long ago Saturday when I was in the Park and decided I would describe a do nothing day for you, Dear Readers. Now, the Saturday in question was not really a typical day for me, and actually it happened a few weeks ago, so forgive the older references.
First of all, I was there longer than I usually am. Second, I was there during the day. And third, it was the first Saturday of the month and that meant the new character of the month pin would be available. What did this mean to me? Virtually nothing. I am resisting the urge to become a pin trader / buyer / aficionado. Being a pack rat from day one, I already have too many collections to contend with and do not need another one. My stuff has stuff.
Anyway, I’d rather gather Jack Skelingtons and cheesy monument souvenirs than pins. But my two friends are into the whole pin trading thing and they planned on getting to the park at an hour I have rarely seen to add The Donald (Duck not Trump) Pin to their burgeoning collections. They also planned on having breakfast at Riverbelle Terrace. I planned on sleeping late and foregoing breakfast entirely. It is my thought that Breakfast is always better for dinner, anyway.
What do they say about best made plans? I agreed to join my friends for breakfast. They kindly did not require my presence at 7:30 in the morning (the hour they would arrive to get the coveted Donald pin). I finally showed up around 11 AM which is about the earliest I could manage without too much shock to the system. We ordered and took our food to the outside tables overlooking the Rivers of America. Sometimes breakfast does taste good at breakfast. Scrambled eggs and Mickey Mouse pancakes were, I have to admit, yummy.
As we were enjoying our food and watching the parade of folks passing by the tables, we noticed a handsomely dressed gentleman strolling toward New Orleans Square.
Now Dear Readers, I realize some of you know exactly who I am referring to and others may be reading the above and wondering who I am talking about. Wonder no more, I am talking about Dana Daniels and his assistant, the charming and talented mind reading bird, Luigi. In the Golden Horseshoe, Dana and Luigi share the venue with Billy Hill and the Hillbillies - filling in for them on their days off.
Tina has the habit of carrying about an autograph book and getting folks who make her day special to sign it. She has all kinds of signatures, from Tony Baxter and Marc Davis to Achilles — the parking lot security guy. So of course she made a request for the signature of Dana Daniels, who happily obliged.
We laughed. He proceeded to chat a little with us, filling us in on what he’d been doing. We learned we will be able to see him and Luigi at the Golden Horseshoe once again starting July 18th (and every Tuesday and Wednesday from then on — at least until a budget cut is made). Woody’s Roundup was leaving.
Well, Dear Readers, I was absolutely thrilled with this little piece of news. Woody’s Roundup bores me. I think it’s sad to take up such a nice performance space with canned dialogue and costumed characters. If you’ve seen Woody’s Roundup once or twice, you’ve seen Woody’s Roundup and all it has to offer. With a show like Dana Daniels or Billy Hill and the Hillbillies, there is always the live element thrown in. You never know exactly what will happen and that can make for some pretty darned funny entertainment. But, if Dana Daniels is back, then that must mean... the Billies can’t be far behind.
We finished breakfast and headed out for Autopia. I still needed to experience the new version of this old favorite. Fastpass—It’s a good thing. We grabbed our fastpasses and headed out for Big Thunder Barbecue to see the Billies. My friends are very keen on the Billies at this venue. I had yet to see them here. We waited. Soon William and his brothers, Billy, Billy, and his younger brother, Billy immerged from…
"Direct from the Big Thunder Barbecue Bathrooms..."
Actually, backstage. Those Billies, they’re such kidders. The show at the BBQ was a mixture of the one the Billies did over at the Golden Horseshoe with some new stuff thrown in. They mix the old favorite, Puddle Prance (the scaled down Billy- version of River Dance), with my new favorite bit — William singing Surrey with the Fringe On Top as Elvis. It was pretty entertaining. When the set was concluded, Tina asked Billy if he and his brothers would be back at the Golden Horseshoe soon. He declined comment, but did say he wouldn’t be surprised to see his brother Billy hanging around the Golden Horseshoe in the near future.
Ladies and Gentlemen start your engines…
Did I mention that Fastpass is a good thing? Fastpass is a good thing. We went from Billy Hill and the Hillbillies to the Autopia, which had a lonnngggg, wait. Fastpass let us right in. It makes you feel special. After a very short wait in the queue, with my Autopia Drivers License in hand, I hopped in Suzy (the best car, don’t you know) and took off.
The new and improved Autopia is very nice. The cars are all real cute — love the changing color ones. There are clever little touches along the route (look for the mouse crossing and try to spot the hidden Mickey). With the combination of the Fantasyland and Tomorrowland tracks, the ride seems a bit longer. The corny jokes you can watch on the big screen whilst you wait your turn to drive are cute and all in all I’d give the new Autopia thumbs up. I love that you get an Autopia Drivers License too. Nice touch, Disneyland, thank you.
The exit of the ride funnels you right into a new Autopia Shop where the queue for the Submarines used to be. There’s some nice stuff there which had already been pictured here at the D-I-G. My favorites are the Autopia license plate frames, Autopia jacket (even though it is overpriced at $88.00), and the clever road signs (I think they should offer the "Buckle Up—It’s a Sign of Good Character" stickers too). There is even one of those spiffy color changing cars for a photo-op with your camera (free) or Disneyland’s (for a nominal fee, of course).
At this point in the day to escape crowds, we decided to go over to the hotel and see what was happening. We had heard there was an Anime Convention and I had seen some "oddly" dressed creatures in the parking lot earlier. The Monorail was experiencing difficulties, which meant we would ride the tram. Fifteen minutes later we stepped off the Lion King Tram onto hotel grounds to be rewarded with fantastic sights.
I don’t know much about Anime. Let’s be honest, I know nothing about Anime. Is Pokemon Anime? Is Sailor Moon Anime? It didn’t take any Anime knowledge to appreciate what some of these folks had conjured up though. We found a seat near the entrance to Goofy’s Kitchen and for over an hour, watched the parade unfold before us.
Everyone looked like they were having the most fantastical time. Many were in costume. A schoolgirl ensemble seemed very popular. There was a lady with a Playboy Bunny-esque get-up (she should have rethought that one). There was a guy I wanted to tackle, grab his cloak and run. He was a sort of swashbuckling vampire, I guess — all dressed in black with a gorgeous black velvet cape lined in a lovely eggplant hue of purple. There was a giant panda bear and a Valkyrie sort of person with feathery black wings on her headdress. Capes and primary colored hair seemed to be required. I admired their inventiveness and wished I knew who their characters were.
When the parade of characters subsided, we decided to leave "this happy place" to reconvene at the movies. Now Dear Readers, since that was the end of my Disneyland day, I should say to you, "And, that’s how I spend my time at Disneyland." But the movie we chose to see was a Disney movie and so Dear Readers, I shall carry on with the tale a bit further, with your permission.
At The Movies…
I would like to see Gladiator. I haven’t seen it yet. I hear it’s good. I hear Russell Crowe is pretty. We chose…
I read Jim Hill just like the rest of you do. He’s always got something fascinating to say. Dino Didn’t Soar. Clever title didn’t you think? Interesting article too. But really, the previews look so good. The CGI seems amazing. Can the movie be so horrible?
These thoughts ran through my mind as I sat through how many previews of kiddy movies? They seemed never ending. Pokemon — The Movie — didn’t they already do that? The Grinch — now that looks interesting.
Hmmm — Dinosaur starts.
An egg makes a perilous journey through air and water to land up on an island of — what are they? Monkeys? Lemurs? Furry things. Our hero, the orphaned dinosaur Aladar, is raised by the furry things. Umm, didn’t Disney do this movie last year? I think it was called Tarzan.
Five minutes later I was bored. I wanted to leave. I persevered. An hour later I checked my watch. Still time to blow this pop stand, get back to the Park and see a really good show — the Believe, There’s Magic In The Stars! Fireworks. I stuck it through to the end.
I missed fireworks.
It’s not so much that Dinosaur is a bad movie, it’s not — it’s just, well, in a word — blah. Some of the imagery is beautiful but it’s a nothing movie. There’s not much story, there’s no plot tension, and it’s hard to care about any specific character. The bad guys aren’t really bad guys, the movie just tries to make them bad guys because they don’t have a real villain. There’s no originality, it seemed like they took Tarzan and crossed it with Lion King and called it Dinosaur.
I would describe Dinosaur as mediocre and mired in banality. If you have a small child that loves dinosaurs, then maybe it’s for you, otherwise, I’d save my money if I were you and rent it when it comes out. That way you can read a Harry Potter book while you watch the thing. Then you won’t be bored.
Which brings us to the end of our program...
Thank you for coming. We hope you’ll come back and visit us again real soon.
And remember, the speed limit inside the parking lot is 14 miles per hour...
And that Dear Readers, is how I spend my days at Disneyland.
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