Disneyland 2007April 13, 2007 at 4:53 am | Posted in Travel, Travelogues | Leave a comment
Finally found the time and energy to write. I actually had slight reservations about this trip as Disneyland is just a bit too commercialized for me as I’ve grown to look beyond the surface of things as the years have past. But it is such a no-brainer vacation choice with small children, I’d almost feel like a “Communist” or something to put off or ban a trip to Disneyland, not to mention a hypocrite considering my collecting interests. There’s just something magic about it that keeps you coming back even though you know they are milking you for all the money they can.
I knew Spring Break week would be a challenge but no more so than Winter Break at Walt Disney World. Chose the Howard Johnson Hotel, same place I stayed nearly 30 years ago making the trip somewhat nostalgic. As far as I could tell, it hadn’t changed a bit except for the typical cosmetic revamp of the rooms (new carpets, new tile in the bathroom). The rooms are very basic but fairly large by today’s average hotel room standards. I picked it because 1) good view of the fireworks, 2) walking distance to Disneyland (although probably at the outer edge of walking distance for small children, about 15 min walk to the front gates.), and 3) decent pool (which we never used), oh and 4) 1/3 the price of Disney hotels. Considering we never used the pool, I might choose one of the lesser hotels directly across the street next time (unless I win the Lottery in which case we’ll be staying at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel.)
First day we did California Adventure almost to the tee of my itinerary getting there before opening. We did pretty much everything. Nolan’s favorite was the Grizzly Rapids (it was barely warm enough for it – almost 70 degrees, Jordan and I got semi-wet). Nolan was very scared of the Tower of Terror. I had to bribe him by telling him I’d buy him the Tower of Terror movie DVD if he rode it again with us. It isn’t quite as good as the one in Florida as it doesn’t go into the building, just up and down. But I’ve determined out of all my favorite Disney rides, this one is #3 behind Pirates and Haunted Mansion (Jordan’s favorite ride too at Cal Adventure.)
We had a great experience at Turtle Talk with Crush as I started talking to a wandering Disney guide who escorted us in (that’s his job, to wander around and help families out) and coincidentally both Lisa and Nolan got called on during the show. It was hilarious.
Ate lunch at the Trattoria which we knew was pretty mediocre but we had a great seat and a parade went by while we ate and didn’t have to leave the park to eat (I would find out later this was a bad mistake.) Had dinner at Catal Cafe in Downtown Disney, decent.
Unfortunately the day did not end as well as it went before. I bought a Churro and shared some with Jordan (who had eaten several Churros before) but for some reason, he had a fairly severe allergic reaction to this one (even after taking a small test bite and waiting a few minutes.) So this preempted our return trip to California Screamin (roller coaster which Jordan is just tall enough to ride.) Then later that night I got what was probably food poisoning from my lunch or dinner so I was up all night with SEVERE diarrhea, a bout of vomiting, and severe pains which totally shot the itinerary for the second day as we were suppose to be at Disneyland for the early 7 AM opening but I couldn’t get out of bed until 10 AM.
We arrived at Disneyland at about 11 AM (thanks to large quantities of Gatorade and Tylenol), ate lunch and then proceeded to accomplish virtually nothing as the park is too crowded by early afternoon. Space Mountain was temporarily closed and when we arrived at Roger Rabbit it was also temporarily closed due to technical difficulties so we gave up and went back to the Hotel. We returned at 5 PM for our dinner reservation at the Blue Bayou. While walking to the park, Walt, or someone probably looked down upon me with sympathy as a man stopped us and gave us his four Unlimited Fast Pass tickets. Yes, special Fast Passes you can use on any Fast Pass ride as many times as you wanted. That virtually saved our day as it allowed us to ride all the rides that night that I had originally planned to ride that day.
The dinner at the Blue Bayou was mediocre as expected but you are there (and paying for) the atmosphere, not the food. It was expensive even with Lisa and I only splitting a meal which I couldn’t even eat my half. We were seated furthest from the Bayou. I’ve concluded this restaurant is ONLY worth visiting if you get a seat at the waters edge. Supposedly you can get one by request but may just have to wait longer.
The “new” Space Mountain is not much different. A few more turns and rock music blasting behind your ears. Considering the wait times and how quickly the Fast Passes get used up, I’d say this ride is overrated. The kids loved it, especially Nolan as this is the fastest roller coaster he has been on in his life.
The kids are just about grown out of Toon Town and Fantasyland in my opinion (especially Toon Town, I realize no one really grows out of Fantasyland.) Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster was sort of the sleeper. It is actually a very good ride moreso than you might recall. Not a very wild roller coaster, but overall, very well done all things considered. Since we had the special unlimited line-skipping fast passes we did the Autopia cars. It was really fun with the kids driving but I’d never wait in the normal line for this ride – takes WAY too long.
Kids are funny how they love to read the map the whole time and identify all the rides we will go on. Reminds me of myself.
On a side note, I can’t believe how many people not only don’t show up to the park early but even show up and stand in huge lines just to buy tickets. What are these people thinking (or not thinking I guess is the better way to put it?) It is obvious by the crowds, quality of the park food, and ticket prices that Disneyland has no worries whatsoever about their supply/demand ratio.
As usual with previous trips, kids are obsessed with shopping and blew most their money in the first day. We do approve their buying decisions as without some control, most of the stuff would end up in the garbage before going home (especially Nolan.)
One major conclusion, DISNEYLAND IS SO MUCH MORE SPECTACULAR AT NIGHT! The fireworks show is spectacular, especially if you are in the park to hear the sound track that goes with it.
Lisa and I got our first full night of sleep the third night (Lisa didn’t sleep the second because she was worried about Jordan) and we got up early to get back to Disneyland by the 8 AM opening time so we could do all the Fantasyland rides including Peter Pan and the Matterhorn. Notes: Storybook Canal boats are not worth more than a 5 min wait. Matterhorn is VERY rough. Nolan injured his cheek a bit it is so rough. Only major rides we didn’t do in the park were Small World and Indiana Jones (Nolan too short.)
We did Pirates of the Caribbean for the second time by the kids choice of any ride to go on one last time (first time was the night before) and it was a nice end to our 2007 Disneyland experience. The subtle changes they’ve made to Pirates to better incorporate the movie are pretty neat. One thing I noticed walking around the parks is that everything and everyone has gone Pirates crazy. Pirates of the Caribbean merchandise dominates most of the stores.
We went back and checked out of the hotel at noon, had a yummy lunch at McDonalds, and then went back to California Adventure for the Aladdin musical show which ended up getting canceled due to technical difficulties. We ended the Disney experience with the Muppets 3D show which was quite entertaining, then hit the I-5 freeway at 2 PM before peak traffic and headed for Hollywood.
In retrospect, I don’t think Disneyland Resort is worth it unless you plan it well. All those people paying those prices to wait in those lines are just plain crazy to me. But that’s the power of Disney. All in all it was an enjoyable trip to Disneyland, but as usual, the kids are what makes the trip so enjoyable, even in the face of adversity. I feel like I could write a book, but I’m still low on energy. I still wouldn’t mind living in New Orleans Square off and on.