My last visit to Disneyland was in late November and early December of 2005 (see trip report), and I hadn't planned to go back any time soon. But right around that time, some friends of mine mentioned that they were signed up for the Disneyland Half Marathon in September 2006. So I eventually decided to go down and cheer them on. Lloyd and Meg are two of my geocaching/benchmark hunting buddies, and we knew that our cohorts Larry and Julie would be able to join us, because they live near Disneyland. Then we were able to talk the final member of our gang, Nick, into flying out from Florida. Various of us had meet various others, but this would be the first time we'd all be together.
I didn't get around to trying to make hotel reservations for a few months, and had some trouble because of all the people coming for the half marathon. But I was finally able to get a room at my favorite offsite hotel, the Candy Cane Inn.
As for tickets, I decided to buy a Deluxe Annual Pass. It wouldn't be all that much more than a five-day park hopper, and I figured I'd probably have a chance to get back and use it again before it expires. Not to mention the coolness factor of having an AP. :-) The Deluxe has blackout days, but they're only on spring and summer Saturdays and major holidays, so it's good 315 days per year. (The Premium Annual Pass is good every day. There are also a couple of special APs for Southern California residents that have much more limited days.)
So...on to Disneyland!
Day 1 (Friday, Sept. 15)(Click on any image to see a larger version of the photo.)
My flight from San Jose to Santa Ana (Orange County Airport) was in the air only a couple of minutes after the scheduled departure time of 10:00. It wasn't until I was leaving the plane that I discovered that someone I knew had been sitting right behind me on the flight! Kelly and her parents were heading to Disneyland as well; they were going to cheer her on as she ran the half marathon. They turned out to be on the same Super Shuttle van as me, too. The van stopped at the Candy Cane Inn to drop me off before taking them to the Disneyland Hotel.It was only noon, but my room was ready, so I went up and got organized, moving some benchmark and virtual geocache data from my PowerBook to my Palm PDA and my GPS receiver. Then I caught the 1:00 p.m. CCI shuttle to Disneyland. (The hotel has its own shuttle bus that runs every half hour.) I went to a ticket booth, paid for a Deluxe Annual Pass, got a temporary ticket to let me into Disneyland, went to the Main Street Bank, had my photo taken, and was in the park with my permanent AP by 1:20.
As I emerged from the bank onto Main Street, I noticed that the horsedrawn streetcar was just loading. I can't remember when the last time was that I rode any of the Main Street vehicles, so I decided to hop on. (The horse's name was Scott, by the way.)
When I got to the other end of Main Street and disembarked, the horseless carriage was there and had plenty of room, so I got on that. Driver Stephanie likes to vary the honks she does as she works her way through the crowds on Main Street, so in addition to the standard beeps, she does things like the "Mickey Mouse Club" theme. (She has to represent the tune with a single note, but it's amazing what you can do with timing.) I thought she'd be interested to know that she could say "hi" in Morse code easily, so I taught her that. So if you're on Main Street and your hear four beeps, a slight pause, and then two beeps, that's Stephanie! If you talk to her, you might even remind her to practice it so she doesn't forget how to do it. ;-)
Back at Main Street Plaza, the omnibus was waiting. It was almost full, but the driver said there was room for one more on the top, so up I went. This time, I got off at the castle for good.
I hadn't eaten since breakfast before my flight, so I walked over to the Bengal Barbeque, got chicken and vegetable skewers, and found a spot to sit and eat near Rivers of America. Shortly after I settled in, I heard the Laughing Stock Company starting up near the Golden Horseshoe Review. I've been wanting to catch one of their shows, but I didn't feel like gathering up all my stuff with my sauce-streaked hands and moving over there. Ah well, now that I have an AP, I'll probably be back soon and can catch them another time.
#1 on my to-do list was to see the recently refurbished Pirates of the Caribbean. So I did that next, with only about a five-minute wait. Like many other people, I had been concerned about the integrity of this classic ride when it was announced that Jack Sparrow and Barbossa figures were going to be added, but once I saw the revised ride, I decided that they fit into it very well.
After browsing through the Royal Street shops for any particularly exciting PotC merchandise, I went over to Critter Country to see what the line was like for Splash Mountain. The standby wait was 45 minutes, and the FastPass return was about an hour, so I found a CM and inquired whether there was a single-rider line. She directed me to go in the ride's exit, so I did so, swimming my way upstream against the departing riders.
When I got to the unloading area, I told a CM that I'd been sent this way for the single rider line, and he escorted me to the last seat in a log that was just loading. So total wait time = zero minutes! Now you know why I ask about single rider lines even when there's no sign for a formal one.
One of my favorite things to do in Critter Country is to watch people who've just come down the big drop of Splash Mountain. Not as they're coming down, but just afterwards, because the moment they stop screaming, they start laughing! The place to see that is along the little trail that goes behind the Harbour Galley, right next to the river. Just station yourself there for a few minutes, and I guarantee that you'll leave with a smile.
Another thing I hadn't done for decades--if ever--was to visit Tom Sawyer Island. So after watching the Splash riders and taking a few photos of the docked Columbia, I went over to the raft loading area and took the thrilling, turbulent 45-second ride across the river to the island. :-) After walking through some of the caves, I sat on a bench by the river and waited for the Mark Twain to come by. As I was working my way back around the island a while later, it came by again, this time with a Dixieland band playing on board, so I quickly put my digital camera into movie mode and got video and audio of the ship as it went by.
Back on the mainland, I ran across Captain Jack Sparrow chatting with kids in New Orleans Square. I'm not quite sure how a perpetually drunk, lecherous pirate got to be a hero for kids, but what the heck. :-)
The Big Thunder Trail is one of my favorite "hidden" routes in Disneyland, so after returning to the mainland, I walked to Fantasyland that way. The Big Thunder Ranch was open, and I stopped for a few minutes to pet the goats. I then continued on through Fantasyland to Toontown, where I caught the train to Main Street station. (Via, of course, the Grand Canyon and Primeval World.) I was planning to meet my friend Larry at the "L" in the "CALIFORNIA" sign outside of California Adventure, and I arrived there at 5:05.
Larry arrived just a few minutes later, and we headed into DCA to watch Block Party Bash, the park's high-energy parade featuring characters from Toy Story, Monsters Inc., and other Pixar films. The parade stops a few times so that gymnasts and other entertainers can perform, and I was very pleased that we were sitting right where Sulley and his monster friends stopped. (One time years ago I walked into the main building at Apple and was amused to see a full-size plush Sulley standing there, an iPod in one upraised paw and the earbuds in his ears. :-))
After the parade, Larry and I headed toward the Midway so that I could do some waypoints on his DCA virtual geocache. We stopped off on the way for dinner at Pizza Oom Mow Mow, a place I'd never tried before. We split some chicken fusili and a chicken Caesar salad, then continued on around the lake as I looked for the waypoints of his cache. The park was getting close to closing for the night, so we sped up our pace a bit in order to get to the new Monsters Inc. ride in time, because I'd never seen it. It's pretty cute. I'm pretty sure there are some in-jokes in the scenes that I didn't catch on that one ride.
As we left DCA, Larry headed for the tram back to his car, and I caught the shuttle to the Candy Cane. I changed into my swimsuit, did 50 laps across the width of the pool (that's the only part that was deep enough to swim back and forth across). As I was close to finishing, the fireworks started at Disneyland, so I went upstairs and joined some other folks who were watching them from the second-floor walkway at the hotel. According to my pedometer, I did 15,200 steps today--not bad considering that I only started counting when I arrived at Disneyland at 1:00 p.m.
Day 2 | Day 3
Day 4 | Day 5
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Text and photos (c) 2006 Patricia F. Winter, unless otherwise noted.
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Last updated 9/30/06