I’ve made some brief posts about this trip on Google+ and Facebook (same post, copied manually or automatically from one to the other), but this is a bit longer report.
Originally, the family had planed to go to Arizona this weekend largely to see Tara’s Grandmother who was still recovering from her hip fracture in December. However, a couple of weeks ago, she developed an infection (the medical people seem to recognize the term Tara keeps using for the type, which sounds like “c-diff” to me), and she passed away last Sunday. Since Tara’s parents are back in Illinois dealing with funeral arrangements, we had no reason to return to Arizona. Last Sunday Tara found and we purchased the Southern California spring 2-day discount tickets to Disneyland, and made reservations to stay at the fairly newly refurbished Motel 6 in the Anaheim Resort area.
So, Friday I took the afternoon off. After lunch with a couple of my coworkers, I headed down to the SDSU area to pick up my niece who was again house and pet sitting (and taking care of some friends’ cats for them/us). After that, I finished packing. After Tara retrieved The Kid from school and got packed, we got on the road – albiet later than I’d have hoped – about 4:30.
With the late start, we had rush hour traffic pretty much the whole way up. However, the only real incident was that when I went to get into the moving HOV lane from the nearly stopped leftmost normal lane, a driver already in the HOV lane took offense to me signaling and entering his lane – and sped up to try to cut me off then proceeded to tailgate me with his brights on for several miles – up until Tara was about ready to dial 911 and report a dangerous driver. He finally dimmed his lights and backed off, but when I got out of the HOV lane (needlessly as it turned out), The Kid reported that he flipped me off as he sped past. Mind you, he couldn’t have gone any faster than I was since I was driving with the below-limit traffic in the HOV lane.
We arrived in Anaheim hungry, so we looked for someplace to eat before checking in. We found the IHOP almost directly across from the shuttle bus entrance to the resort itself, and had a good dinner. Alas, the dinner cost more than the same food would have at an IHOP further from the parks. We then checked in, and found the Motel 6 very basic and clean, but much more pleasant than the last discount place we stayed near Disneyland. We’ll probably stay there again – even if we were a bit annoyed at the fact that nearly everyone else in the hotel seemed to want to smoke just outside of their rooms. At least the smoke and smoke smell didn’t get into our room.
Saturday we got moving a bit slower than would have been optimal, but we got moving. We headed out quickly to Subway for breakfast, but ended up three or four doors down in the same strip mall where we got equivalent fare for an equivalent price from a independent smoothy shop. Actually, since they had hot beverages, at least I got a chai tea I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.
We then headed back to the hotel. I ran and got the passes for the Anaheim Resort Transit while Tara and The Kid finished getting ready. We then went down and caught a bus – actually a handicap transit that had extra room and arrived earlier. We then headed into the park. It took a while to get in because we got some bad directions for resolving our failed e-ticket purchase (the file arrived corrupted and wouldn’t print). As it turns out any ticket window could have fixed this, but we waited in line at guest relations (or was it guest services).
We then headed into Disneyland. Our first stop was the Fast Pass distribution for Star Tours. We briefly discussed the fact that the return time was already after 6:00pm, but decided we could stay that late. We then debated for a while before deciding to wait in the line for Space Mountain – which was estimated to be about 65 minutes. We actually ended up waiting 75 to 90 minutes, in part because of a 10-15 minute break down in the ride. Tara and I enjoyed Space Mountain thoroughly. The Kid showed every sign of enjoying it, but spent the rest of the day complaining about how horrible it was – using terms that neither of his parents could relate to the experience of Space Mountain.
We next headed over to consider The Indiana Jones Adventure, but the Fast Pass return time was well after 7:00.
We rode around the Rivers of America so Tara could sit for a while. Since we were all sitting on, or in my case leaning near, the life vest locker, we couldn’t see around too well. But we did see some of what was going on either side. Near the Native American village, Tara pointed out that the horse wasn’t a statue, concluding that it was anamatronic when she saw the tail twitch. However, when I looked I realized quickly we were both wrong – it was a live horse (unless Disney Imagineerring has created an anamatronic horse that can walk around.
We then pulled Fast Passes for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which The Kid didn’t protest, and left that corner of the park to wander through Fantasyland. We stopped briefly in the shop in the castle (I don’t remember which princess’s castle is in which park) that does heraldry based exclusively on name, and also sells decent replica weapons. We looked a bit at the two Middle Earth swords (Sting and Andúril), and talked with the shop keeper a bit – including telling her about the SCA poetry competition I once attended where two different poems dealt with “A Stag Rampent upon a Losange Orr” (a Deer Crossing sign).
We then headed towards Toon Town, which we’ve never managed to wander into on any of our previous visits. The Kid and I wandered around a bit while Tara rested, and picked up some more or less healthy snacks (fruit for me, a pickle for The Kid and humas for Tara).
We then headed back to ride Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, which The Kid enjoyed even if Tara and I weren’t quite as impressed. While the intensity is similar, as far as we’re concerned, to Space Mountain, the old railroad effect makes it a much less smooth ride. It didn’t help that The Kid had pulled the shared lap bar down into Tara’s legs quite hard either.
After the Railroad, we grabbed dinner at the nearby mexican place, and headed over towards Tomorrowland to wait for our Star Tours Fast Passes to become active. The improved Star Tours was a blast – we visited the planet of the Wookies, and the city planet capital on our tour. Star Tours now has between 9 and 54 different possible combinations (a Cast Member said 54, but some friends mentioned 3 first stops and 3 second stops which my math skills says is 9 total).
After Star Tours we worked our way around the parade block and out of the park. Once on the main plaza, I decided I’d rather return to the park than spend the evening in the hotel room working on the Hugo Voting design.
So I headed back in. Deciding that getting past the parade would be easier if I took the train, I quickly boarded the train at Main Street for New Orleans Square. From there, I headed into Adventureland to check on the standby queue for Indiana Jones. It was running about 70 minutes, so I doubled back into New Orleans Square and joined the 35 minute queue for The Haunted Mansion.
Since this was now my second time on The Haunted Mansion, I found myself enjoying it while also admiring the tricks used – especially given when the ride was first designed. I was slightly annoyed with the ride stopping three times – which I think is done to assist in loading and unloading passengers who require assistance.
I then headed back towards Adventureland, where it appeared that the Indiana Jones queue was down to 35 minutes, so I joined it. Actually the wait was closer to an hour, but wasn’t too bad. (Either at that point, or earlier, I could have pulled a Fast Pass if I wanted to stay until nearly Midnight.) Once in the building, I was able to admire the attention to detail by looking at things such as the fall traps in one room held up with bamboo structures, wedges or both. Later, while watching the safety video I looked up at the character narrating, Sellah, and said to myself “Professor Arthuro, or maybe Gimley with a beard trim.”
After Indiana Jones, I was pretty much ready to leave. But the exit from Adventureland was plugged with the post-fireworks traffic jam. However, I was able to squeeze around to go into The Enchanted Tiki Room for an enjoyable diversion, after which the crowds had abated and I was easily able to work my way out, find my bus and head back to the hotel.
On Sunday we had a bit more leisure on getting going, but decided we’d find someplace in Downtown Disney for breakfast. We ended up at The La Brea Bakery for a good, but pricy, breakfast. After breakfast, we stopped at the big Disney store where we were able to get the security tag off a shirt I bought almost 3 years ago.
We entered California Adventure a bit after opening, and I took our tickets and headed towards Grizzly River Rapids to pull Fast Passes that provided reserved seating for The World of Color that evening. After Tara and The Kid caught up, I took Tara’s ticket and mine and pulled Fast Passes for California Screaming. While waiting to use those passes, we poked around that corner of the park before I took The Kid to Goofy’s Sky School (formerly Mulholland Madness), but it was closed. He decided to ride The Silly Symphony Swings – which would have separated me from my breakfast – while I waited.
Tara and I then rode California Screaming – by far my favorite roller coaster, and probably my favorite ride.
Over the course of the day, we managed to ride the Monsters’ Inc. ride again, catch the 45 minute adaptation of Aladin, ride on Soar’n Over California, eat, and do some shopping – including getting The Kid a Tron themed shirt, and me a Tron themed jacket. Tara and I also got to ride The Tower of Terror – another ride The Kid has convinced himself is too scary.
We spent some time in Flynn’s arcade playing classic games – while Tara and I played classics, The Kid played one of the two games that were fictional games created for the movie. We also spent a while outside where they created a Tron themed dance club. While waiting to get some drinks I measured the sound pressure at the drinks truck – a fair ways from the dance floor – as over 100 dB. If I recall correctly, that exceeds the level where OSHA requirements should mandate hearing protection.
We ended the day by watching The World of Color – which is a pretty good light and water show. I’d have preferred a bit less Pirates of the Caribbean (since I’ve never been that interested in the movies, and am less interested in them given their place in the excessive popularity of pirates these days). On the other hand, I was glad to see and hear a brief scene from the classic The Old Mill.
When we got done, I was hungry – my late lunch meal hadn’t been all that heavy, and I didn’t get cocoa when the rest of the family did. So I headed out to Jack in the Box for some dinner, and then doubled back to Von’s to get some stuff for breakfast – Fage yogurt, Kashi cereal bars plus some Coke Zero for the road.
This morning, we got a relaxed start, but got packed up and out of the room early. We headed over to Downtown Disney where we discovered if we’d walked a few steps further we could have spent less time and money for breakfast. For reference, next time we know to go get oatmeal or wraps from Jamba Juice and hot drinks from the Pete’s Coffe menu at Hagan Daas (we had the oatmeal and wraps, but got our drinks at Jamba Juice where they aren’t as good). We then did a bit of browsing – including The Kid and I checking out a store I decided was “Build a Bear Workshop for Boys.”
We then left the Disney area and spent some time browsing a big comic and collectables shop not too far away. Our route home was dictated by a side trip to a Ruby’s restaurant in Irvine so Tara and I could try their new “Tripple Dark Chocolate” shake – which didn’t quite qualify as the Kisses on top weren’t dark chocolate. We got home in reasonable time – probably because of the holiday, given that we left Irvine about quarter to 4.
On the way back, Tara and I discussed plans. We’d like to go back once Cars Land and Buena Vista Avenue are completed early this summer (if plans hold). After debating other times, Tara and I are now considering going in early August by ourselves – The Kid will be in Rockford until mid-August – to celebrate our anniversary which falls on a Sunday this year.