Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Disneyland Resort: Christmas 2003 (Friday)

Last day - sigh. I hate the last day of a vacation, and none quite so much as the last day behind the Mouse Curtain. (There's a certain "the world is extra far away" quality about Disney - which they cultivate, as it's part of the appeal of the Disney experience.)

We loaded up the minivan & drove over to park in the Garage of Infinite Size (they call it the Mickey & Friends Parking Structure) - seriously, Disney has built a parking structure that has such mass that, when full of tourist vehicles, evidences enough gravitational pull to affect the tides at the Port of Los Angeles. (Don't believe me? Check the following picture from Google Sightseeing - the giant rectangle to the NW of Disneyland is the parking structure! It is, according to a couple of places I referenced, the largest parking structure in the world.)

Side note: if this thing is called Mickey & Friends, I'm assuming that Timon & Pumbaa did something shady to get their names assigned to the two overflow lots - Timon, which is pretty close to California Adventure, may have simply forgot to RSVP for the 50th birthday celebration. Pumbaa, OTOH, possibly questioned Minnie's parentage... it's over a mile away from the parks and they don't have tram service. Trust me - if they want to park you in Pumbaa, you should NOT be going to Disneyland that day.

One short tram ride later, we were on our way to our final day in the parks... it's a little weird, of course, to ride along the berm as it goes by the Haunted Mansion, Pirates & Indiana Jones show buildings. (They don't look like rides on their exterior, but that's where you go after you drop down the elevator in the Mansion or go down the falls in Pirates... or walk 10+ miles through the maze that is the line for Indiana Jones.) And when I say "weird", I mean "funny weird", as in "that's the area I walked through when I got kicked out of Disneyland many moons ago."

It's A Small World: One final ride through the Doll's House for all of us... we managed to average one trip per day, which may seem like a lot for those of you who want to "borrow" a weapon from the Frontierland Arcade & start taking pot-shots at the singing "kids of the world" dolls, but it's actually a lot of fun to watch a child enjoy it. (In fact, that's a major theme of this trip - I'm a huge Disney parks fan, but there's nothing like watching your son laughing & playing & enjoying himself in a world you already enjoy.

Matterhorn Bobsleds: When we wandered by the Matterhorn, I realized that the line for the bobsleds was tiny. (For those of you who know Disneyland, it didn't even extend 1/2 way through the Alpine hut at the bottom of the mountain.) Shari & Braeden went to ride Small World again while I managed to make a round trip run through the line, up the mountain, down the mountain & back to them BEFORE they could get through their ride. (Important Matterhorn tip: the Submarine/Tomorrowland side feels faster than the Fantasyland side... but the Fantasyland side has more "outside" views. Ride 'em both!)

Man, I love the Matterhorn... it was the first rollercoaster I ever rode - and I remember riding it with my dad. That was "back in the day" when the interior of the mountain was open. You could see the bobsleds going in & out of the tunnels, as well as the Skyway cars going through. (The new enclosed lift pull is cool, but not as scary.)

Enchanted Tiki Room: More than any other attraction at Disneyland, this one is a trip down Nostalgia Lane for me. What I mean is that I don't really go to enjoy it in the here & now, but instead to enjoy the time-travel back 35+ years to when I enjoyed it as a kid. Braeden was OK with it - he really liked the singing & drumming totems - but compared to many of the newer rides, this one is kind of pale. (At least they left the Disneyland version in it's original form - don't get me started on how badly they screwed up the one at WDW by having Iago & Zazu take over the show.)

As you see from the picture above, Braeden's favorite part of the Tiki Room was the fountain in the outside waiting area.

Heimlich's Chew Chew Train: We then trekked back into California Adventure to ride Heimlich for the 10th & 11th time. (Seriously - I kept count.) It's funnier the first few times you ride it.

And with that, we bid adieu to the parks - Braeden was finally worn out enough to be cool with getting something to eat & driving 4 hours back to Fresno.

Downtown Disney: Disney's answer to your local shopping mall is probably the least interesting part of the resort, particularly to those of who have small children. (Well, there is the Lego Store, but I'd go in there even if I didn't have kids.) We ate at the House of Blues (which has pretty good food, though the food we ate at the House of Blues in New Orleans some years back was much better).

And even with five posts worth of stuff, somehow I missed two other rides that I know we "did" - so I'm adding them here:

Pirates of the Carribean: Braeden was nervous about this - what with the talking skull above the door & the darkness - but Shari & I pushed on, not remembering just how scary the caves full of skeletons could be. Brilliant parents, that's us. He toughed it out - but for a couple of years was pretty clear that he wouldn't be riding that again. Recently, he's talked about fondly remembering the classic "dog with jailhouse key" scene and thinks it might be OK to try again.

Alice in Wonderland: One of the "lightest" of the dark rides - there's no real story and nothing terribly menacing in the ride... Braeden tolerated it (I like it - but it's one of those "if nobody's in line" kind of rides. If you have to wait more than 4-5 minutes to ride it, you're wasting your time.)

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