Manifest Destiny 2015

Disneyland: A Review

So sorry these are so late. Believe it or not, I was having too much fun at Disneyland that by the time I made it back to my computer, I was exhausted and collapsed into bed. I’ve previously mentioned that writing in hindsight is hard, which is why I try to write these things day-of, but I will do my best to recall all the wondrous details of the happiest place on earth. This one is going to be a joint entry for days 2 and 3 in Anaheim. It’s really long. You might want to sit down or get a drink or something. Comfy? Ok good.

We started our second day by taking the bus to Disneyland around 10am. The park had opened at 8 and was bustling by the time we got there. It was also already about 90 degrees outside. That’s sunny California for you. We had wanted to start the day by fastpassing Peter Pan, so Justin and I ran to the back of the park to get them. Come to find out, at Disneyland, unlike Disney World, you cannot fastpass Peter Pan. The only way on the ride is through the hour-long line. So that got scratched. From there we went to Splash Mountain to get fastpasses for that ride. Their machines were broken. The day was off to a rough start.

First we went on Pirates of the Caribbean with Auntie Stacey while Matthew and Auntie Brenda went on the Tiki Room. Pirates is a much longer ride at Disneyland. It has a longer intro where you pass through a Louisiana bayou and go down not one but two flumes! Yay for flumes. We joined up with everyone to ride the Jungle Cruise. This was one of Matthew’s favorite rides. He made sure to point out all the animals to make sure we didn’t miss any. Our skipper was funny too, he had good delivery. We also got to meet Aladdin in Adventureland. I got to hug him. Yes, I know I’m 23, I still get excited to touch Aladdin.

From this point, Mom and I went to Fantasy Faire, one of the newer attractions at Disneyland. It looks like a big pink circus tent, and inside they reenact stories from your favorite Disney Princess movies. It was definitely designed for the 4 year old girl that goes to the park dressed AS a Disney princess, so I fit right in. The show of the day was Frozen. You usually gotta wait 6 hours to get that close to Anna and Elsa. It was a cute little show, nothing crazy awesome. Especially since Anna and Elsa themselves didn’t sing, the songs were all sung by the “masters of ceremonies,” or the two flamboyant broadway rejects that hosted the show. Anna and Elsa were just there to be pretty faces.

Mom and I rejoined Matthew, Auntie Stacey and Auntie Brenda in Fantasyland to ride Small World. Small World at Disneyland is adorable, because they incorporate Disney characters in the ride. Cinderella’s in France, Peter Pan is in England, Aladdin and Jasmine are in the Middle East room, Lilo and Stitch are in Polynesia, stuff like that. Also the clock outside has a little parade of Small World statues at every quarter hour. It’s basically the cutest thing ever and I love it.

We had time to do one more thing before dinner so mom and I rode the Alice in Wonderland ride. It was a classic slow moving dark ride with all kinds of trippy images from the movie. It ended with the Merry Unbirthday Party, which was perfect, because it WAS my unbirthday. Fancy that.

Next was dinner at Blue Bayou in New Orleans Square, the restaurant that overlooked Pirates of the Caribbean. We had to wait a little while before our table was ready, but once we were inside, it was awesome. The lighting was dark to simulate an outdoor restaurant in the Louisiana Bayou lit with lanterns and candlelight. Justin Stacey and I each ordered a “Louisiana Lemonade” that was served with a light-up souvenir glow-cube. I was just happy that we got free refills on those! They gave us really delicious bread, then came the gumbo that came with our meals. I had never tried gumbo before, and I wanted to get something spicy from the cajun restaurant! It was pretty good. For my meal I got a roasted beef strip with french fried onions, au gratin potatoes and green beans. It was quite possibly the best meal I have had in a long time. Everything was so flavorful and delicious, I practically inhaled it.

When we left the restaurant, the rain was back. As we had learned yesterday, the rain causes a near halt in the theme park.  Anaheim is not used to rain, and therefore is not equipped with the best drainage system. We knew that the parade and fireworks would be cancelled again. Whomp whomp. However, we carried on and went to ride the Nemo submarine ride. Matthew was a little nervous about this ride, but we were able to get him on it. He wound up loving it. He pointed out all the fish. It got a little iffy for a few minutes while we were being bombarded by angler fish (even I thought they were a little scary,) but overall it was a hit.

Justin, Owen and I had about an hour to kill before our fastpasses for Space Mountain, so we went over to ride Thunder Mountain. We got the back row, which makes a big difference on Thunder Mountain. The ride there was almost the same as the one in Florida, the only difference is that the last hill has a dynamite explosion instead of falling rocks. It was pretty awesome.

Last we hit up Space Mountain, which my mom had not ridden yet. California Space Mountain puts Florida Space Mountain to shame. It’s a much smoother ride to start with, and the ride cars are much more comfortable. To add to that, they play space-y music in the headrests while you ride, which adds to the fun! Not to mention you can’t hear the rickety-ness of the tracks under you. It’s my favorite ride at Disneyland.

The boys and Memere went home at that point, leaving Mom, Auntie Stacey, Auntie Brenda and I to roam around Downtown Disney, the sister location of my homeland! We spent a lot of time in World of Disney, which is just as big and hectic as Florida’s. Then we got some treats at Marceline’s bakery: some Mickey rice krispie treats and a giant cookie.

I also found Tren-D’s California counterpart: Disney Vault 28. They had Harvey’s bags and Dooneys and Alex and Anis and all the “hip” Disney teen clothes a spoiled girl could ever want. We all got 60th Anniversary Alex and Ani bracelets. I even bonded with the girl that worked there, after telling her I used to work at a similar store in Florida. After telling her it was our first time visiting Disneyland, she gave us “First Time” buttons, as well as “Honorary Citizen of Disneyland” buttons. So as far as east coast girls in California go, I’m basically their queen.

We went to bed on the early side so that we would be prepared to wake up for opening at California Adventure. This park was brand new to everyone, so we wanted to make sure we could get it all in. We also wanted to try and stay as late as possible with the hope that we’d be able to see World of Color and then dart back over to Disneyland to catch the Paint the Night Parade, which had been canceled two days in a row due to rain.

We got to California Adventure at around 8:15, just 15 minutes past opening. As we were walking in, it greatly resembled Hollywood Studios. The architecture resembled Hollywood Boulevard and a lot of the buildings were labeled with old-style marquees. The first goal was to get fastpasses for the Radiator Springs Racers, the big ticket ride of the day. Our fastpasses were already for 12:15, pretty late considering how we arrived just after the park opened. After that, we went on the Monsters Inc Ride, which was just a slow-moving dark ride that told the story from the movie. Pretty basic.

We left the Hollywood area and found ourselves in a land themed like the national parks in the pacific northwest. It felt like Smokey the Bear was going to pop out at us and teach us about fire safety. Dramatic music was playing in the background like we were all going to sit in a circle together and sing Kumbaya. Pretty great. In this land, we found Soarin, which was a whopping 20 minute wait. 20 minutes! If you’ve ever been to Epcot before, you would know that Soarin’ isn’t ever a 20 minute wait, not even in the dead of January when the only people in the park are snowbirds and toddlers! It was pretty crazy how short it was.

After that, my cousins and I hopped over to Grizzly River, which is the raft ride. Our moms sat out, worried that they’d be soaked for the rest of the day. The ride was fun, better than the one at Animal Kingdom, though that’s not saying much. We didn’t get super soaked, aside from one swell that hit me at the bottom of a hill. My left pant leg was soaked for half the day.

After spending some time in the woodsy area, we headed to Paradise Pier. This area was my favorite, designed like an old turn-of-the-century amusement park pier. We got fastpasses for the roller coaster and then headed for “Mickey’s Fun Wheel,” AKA the ferris wheel from hell. The cars on the wheel swing from side to side (except for a few attached cars). We decided to ride the swinging car, but that was a mistake. Mom really liked it, but Owen and I did not enjoy it. I can still feel it rocking now…bleh…

Soon after we were off to California Screamin, the big roller coaster, their “Rock and Rollercoaster,” if you will. It was built to look like an old fashioned wooden coaster, but it was steel and had a little loop on it. They played carnival music in your headrest while you rode. It was a really fun ride! Mom said it was her favorite ride at Disneyland. It was definitely up there for me. Justin Mom and I loved it. Owen was a little overwhelmed.

From there, we went to the newest and most hyped land in all of Disneyland: Cars Land. Let me tell you, the Imagineers spent some money on Cars Land. Not a single detail was left out. They had every little place from the movie, the diner, the Cozy Cone Motel, the hippie car’s store… Now, I’m not a huge Cars fan. I wouldn’t say it’s anywhere near my favorites list, but man did they do a good job putting that area together. And speaking of great things in Cars Land…

The Radiator Springs Racers Ride. Oh my goodness it was so fun. Think Test Track plus Cars, with a competition aspect. You go in two cars at a time, then you meet all the cars along the way, Mater, Lightning McQueen, Mac, Ramon…other ones….. And then you race the other car at the end! We won! A six-person car full of people aged 13-73 all flailing our hands saying “YAY WE WON!” on a ride that was controlled by a computer. Matthew didn’t ride. He chickened out twice, wasting a fastpass in the process. Stacey was about to kill him.

Lunch for my mother, Justin and I was a mini kitchen sink sundae each. She got the mint chocolate chip; Justin and I got the cookie sundae. They were all good. We weren’t sure if the kitchen sinks were ours to take or not, but we didn’t see anything that said we couldn’t. Now I have a plastic Mickey sink.

Justin, Owen, Matthew, Mom and I went to ride Toy Story Mania while everyone else rode Soarin’ again. Matthew enjoyed spraying everyone in line with his mister fan. It was very welcomed by everyone roasting in the sun. He had a lot of fun riding with Owen, who got the high score at 150,000. I came in second with 130,000. Whoo!

Justin, Mom and I wanted to ride California Screamin again, so we did. It was just as fun the second time. While waiting for the Aladdin show, we also went and played carnival games on the Boardwalk. Justin wound up winning the Squirt Gun Game, and I won the horse-race game where you roll the ball into the holes! I won a big Bullseye (from Toy Story), and I considered him my proof that I won something for once.

We went back over to the Hollywood area for the Aladdin Show. I was thinking it was going to be on the same level as Beauty and the Beast at Hollywood Studios, but this was a full-on production. Changing sets, special effects, full-length songs, and a suspended magic carpet for the Whole New World scene! It was magical. We had mezzanine seats, which were in the perfect spot to see the whole show. Bravo California Adventure. Bravo.

Finally it was time for our Tower of Terror fastpass. Tower of Terror was almost identical from Disney World’s, aside from a differently-shaped building, and the fact that they pull the car out before you go up, so you drop immediately rather than after the pull-out sequence. It caught me off guard, which was kind of fun!

From there we headed to the Disneyland Hotel for dinner at Goofy’s Kitchen. Matthew was totally in his element there. Minnie or Dale would be high-fiving Justin or Owen or hugging me, and he’d call them over, reminding them that he was the star of the show. The food was good too! I had more dessert than real food I think.

After dinner it was time to head back for World of Color, the very hyped nighttime water show at California Adventure. We had time to do one more ride, so Mom, Justin and I headed over to try and do California Screamin one more time. But the line was too long by the time we got there. The consolation prize was a ride on Ariel’s Undersea Adventure. Thanks for being a trooper, Justin.

Then it was time for World of Color! Memere and Grampa got a seat in the handicapped section and everyone else snuggled together in the “yellow” area. Mom and Auntie Brenda played the Mickey’s Fun Wheel challenge, (which was really just Simon) while we waited for it to start. I now understand the hype. There were giant water fountains, upon which videos were projected about Walt Disney and the movies and attractions that made Disney so great. Then there was a break in the middle, where they pretty much played all of Let It Go while the fountains and lasers made it look like we were in the middle of a snowstorm. They had a section where they played all the trailers for the Star Wars movie coming up, and clips from all the best Disney movies. Oh, and it was hosted by America’s sweetheart, Neil Patrick Harris. It was so awesome. In the words of Owen, “Bellagio can suck it.” I also sobbed uncontrollably through the majority of the show.

We had just enough time to get back over to Disneyland to catch the Paint the Night Parade. I was so happy that we could, because I knew it was brand new, and would most likely kick the butt out of the Main Street Electrical Parade at Magic Kingdom, which I openly despise. The boys went to go ride Splash Mountain instead. They missed quite the show though. The music was great, the floats were bright and all lit up, and they chose all the best characters. Peter Pan, Cars, Little Mermaid, Belle (yay for Belle!), Toy Story, Frozen (well yeah, give the people what they want), and of course, Sorcerer Mickey closed it out. It was so wonderfully done. Bring it to Magic Kingdom, PLEASE.

I closed out my Disneyland experience trying not to fall asleep in Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln. I felt obligated to watch it, as a US history teacher (please let me teach world next year…) but I remember very little of it because I was so exhausted. Lincoln had some very poignant words about the concept of liberty, but I was really tired, so they weren’t really sticking in my brain. Sorry Lincoln.

Since we left Disneyland, my cousins asked me which I preferred, Disney World or Disneyland. Now, I practically grew up at Disney World, so that one will always have a special place in my heart for that reason. But in terms of which one I like better, I can’t choose. There are certain things that are better at one than the other. Disney World is obviously huge, and I like walking around all of the fun themed resorts. Disneyland however is all compacted, and all of the parks, resorts, and shops are a short walk away from one another. I found Disneyland to be more tight and crowded, but they had some fun attractions. Disney World has a lot more parks, but Disneyland didn’t feel like it was lacking anything. The nighttime entertainment at Disneyland blew me away, but I still love IllumiNations. So yeah, some things are better at one than the other, but I could never choose between them. Disneyland is amazing, Disney World is home, and I’m a Disney Dork so I’ll spend time at either and be a happy panda!

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