When I visited Disneyland in September (see trip report), I decided to go ahead and get an annual pass. So of course, I had to find more excuses to use it! I decided that I'd try to get down there about every three months. That would put my next visit in December--a perfect time to see the Christmas decorations. So I scheduled a trip for the second weekend of December, before the holiday hordes got too bad. (Also, my Deluxe Annual Pass has some blackout days, although in December, 2006, they're only running from Dec. 23-31. So the blackout schedule didn't interfere with my planning.) I would actually be leaving on Friday, giving me the better part of three days at Disneyland.
For accommodations, I reserved a room at the Candy Cane Inn, as usual. I didn't make my plans far enough ahead to grab really super flight rates on Southwest, so my round-trip ticket cost $170. But all was in readiness! Then a big work project threatened to spill over into my chosen weekend. Luckily, the schedule for that shifted, and I was free and clear for three days.
Day 1 (Friday, Dec. 8)(Click on any image to see a larger version of the photo.)
Because it's such a short flight from San Jose to Orange County (about 1:15), I can sleep in and take a late-morning flight and still be at the parks by early afternoon. My Southwest flight was scheduled for 10:15, and I was at the gate a little after 9:00. We took off just a few minutes behind schedule.
I've only flown Southwest once before; they certainly do make it fun. The head flight attendant had lots of quips, including some amendments to the required flight safety spiels. I facetiously asked him later whether they hire a lot of former Jungle Cruise skippers, given the resemblance between the bad jokes told by both groups of personnel. :-) He laughed and said he didn't know about the Jungle Cruise specifically, but that Southwest does hire a lot of ex-Disney employees.
For some reason, I decided to check the list of approved electronic devices, and discovered that Southwest permits the use of GPS receivers. I usually fly American, which doesn't. So I got mine out of my knapsack and turned it on. Pretty strange to see my speed listed as 535 mph and my altitude as 42K feet!
We landed at John Wayne/Orange County Airport just before the scheduled time of 11:30 a.m. I usually take SuperShuttle to Disneyland, but decided to try the Gray Line-operated Disneyland Resort Express this time. It worked out fine, depositing me at the Candy Cane Inn by 12:20 p.m. The DRE costs a couple of dollars more, but I would guess that because people using it are apt to be focused on Disneyland, you're less apt to get sidetracked through other areas on the way to a Disneyland-area hotel than you would be on SuperShuttle, which may be serving non-Disneyland passengers as well. (In fact, last time I took SuperShuttle, we dropped off some people in the city of Orange.)
When I checked in at the CCI, I was asked whether a second-floor room would be okay. I said sure, especially if it was on the south side of the hotel. I had discovered on previous visits that the walkway in front of the second-floor rooms on that side of the courtyard affords very nice views of the fireworks at Disneyland. (Once you walk past the area that's obscured by the Hollywood Tower Hotel!) So I figured I might as well arrange things to watch the fireworks from the hotel one night.
I unpacked, transferred some information to my GPS receiver, and caught the 1:00 shuttle to Disneyland. (The Candy Cane has its own shuttle bus.) After going through the bag check, I stopped for a minute to take a photo of a Hidden Mickey, then walked over to the Disneyland entrance and went into that park. Three hours after my plane left San Jose, I was in Disneyland!
My first goal was to find some lunch. Well, actually, I'd been coveting a hot fudge sundae, and decided that I didn't have room for both that and some real food, so I decided to head for the Gibson Girl Parlor now and get some proper food later. :-) On the way, I saw the same lady running the horseless carriage on Main Street who had given me a ride in September. I went over and asked whether she remembered the Morse code I had taught her to say "HI" on her horn. She didn't, but said, "Let me write that down," so I told her again (four beeps, short pause, two beeps). If you see a CM named Stephanie driving the horseless carriage, be sure to quiz her on that!
On to the Gibson Girl, where I enjoyed my sundae while sitting near the rear of the parlor, not far from the calliope in the Penny Arcade. I left there and headed more or less toward the Storybook Land Canal Boats, which I wanted to see with its tiny Christmas decorations on the miniature houses. I dawdled to take photos of the castle and the Matterhorn.
When I arrived at the SLCB, I discovered that it was closed for the parade, even though the parade wasn't starting for another hour and 15 minutes. I guess they need to allow ample time to serve everyone who's in line before that time, but I hadn't expected it to close nearly so early.
So after taking some photos of It's a Small World in its Christmas outfit, I headed for New Orleans Square, which is currently my favorite part of Disneyland. Rather than going through the hub, I took the Big Thunder Trail from Fantasyland to Frontierland.
I stopped briefly to see the new national turkeys who are now ensconced at Big Thunder Ranch. I noticed that the new sign doesn't give their names; it appears to be a permanent sign that Disney plans to use every year hence. (Last year, the first year that Disneyland acquired the turkeys pardoned by the President, they had a 50th anniversary-themed sign that included the turkeys' names, Marshmallow and Yam.)
On to NOS, where I picked up a FastPass to ride Haunted Mansion Holiday about an hour later, then walked over to the Jungle Cruise and got on that with only a five-minute wait. I wandered around New Orleans Square for while, including a quick trip up to the Disney Gallery to confirm my suspicion that a photo of Johnny Depp sent to me by a friend recently had been taken in the courtyard.
I took a photo of the wall fountain in the courtyard, and upon my return, compared it to the background in the JD photo; as I suspected, they were the same. I also took some photos of the "Bone Throne" and other items from the second Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
After using my FastPass at the Haunted Mansion, I went back to the Storybook Land Canal Boats (which were now running with about a 10-minute wait) before heading out of Disneyland. I stopped at Main Street Plaza to watch the flag retreat, then headed over to California Adventure.
I'd been thinking about the list of restaurants I've been wanting to try, and decided that the Wine Country Trattoria sounded good right now. I arrived there about 4:55 and was seated about 15 minutes later. My entree, the Lasagna Rustica (beef and Italian sausage) was delicious. I'm afraid I can't say the same about the house salad; the oil-and-vinegar dressing was very bland. The trattoria also offers chicken and vegetable lasagna entrees, plus some sandwiches. A friend mentioned later that one can also make a very nice meal from the restaurant's appetizers and side dishes.
Well, here I'd been at DCA for an hour, and I hadn't gone on Soarin' yet. Shame on me! So after taking some nighttime photos of the Paradise Pier area from across the lake, off I went to Condor Flats. I got in the single-rider line and was on the ride within 15 minutes, about 10 minutes less than the posted standby time. I ended up at the extreme righthand side of the theater, but at least I was in the top row.
I was holding a FastPass for Indiana Jones that was good from 6:10 to 7:10 (although I wasn't particularly worried about getting there exactly by that time), so I walked back over to Disneyland. (You folks who've only been to Walt Disney World must be shaking your heads in amazement at the idea of jumping back and forth between parks so casually!)
With the second running of the parade in progress, I decided to take the train to New Orleans Square rather than trying to get through the crowds on Main Street. I wasn't able to get on the first one that came by, but did catch the next one. I was on Indy by 7:00. It's still one of my favorite rides. Oh, and this time, I remembered to check my pedometer to see how many "steps" it would increment on the ride. Turned out to be about 60 steps. Just think of how much exercise I could get if I rode Indy all day! :-)
Back to Fantasyland to see what the line was like for the Canal Boats again, as I also enjoy seeing its Christmas decorations at night. But the line was quite long, so instead, I walked over to Small World and took photos of its impressive Christmas lights.
Another thing that's really fun at night is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, so off I went down the Big Thunder Trail to Frontierland again. I picked up a FastPass, but the line didn't look nearly as long as the posted wait time (30 minutes?), so I went ahead and got in line. Sure enough, I was on and off the ride within 15 minutes.
It was getting near time for the first performance of Fantasmic, so when I came out of BTMRR, I sat on a bench near the McDonald's fry cart. I couldn't see the main Fantasmic stage from there, but I figured it would be fun to watch the preparations that take place a ways back from where I was sitting. I won't say any more, so as not to spoil the show for those who haven't seen it.
I intended to stay in that spot and watch the aforementioned mystery participant make its entrance, but once the show started, I couldn't stand not being able to see it, so I went down by the Mark Twain/Columbia dock. That worked okay; I could see the main stage, but I was also perfectly positioned to enjoy the, umm, explosive entrance of that participant in the show.
As Fantasmic was ending, I scooted over to the hub to watch the fireworks, then went into Fantasyland for a while before returning to Frontierland for the 10:30 performance of Fantasmic. Do you get the impression that I love that show? :-) Yes, I do! When Fantasmic ended, I hoofed it back to Main Street and got to the shuttle bus area in time to catch the 11:15 bus back to the Candy Cane Inn. I went to bed after checking email and uploading the day's photos to my MacBook.
Total steps today: 24,700 (approx. 7.5 miles)
Day 2 | Day 3
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Text and photos (c) 2006 Patricia F. Winter, unless otherwise noted.
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Last updated 12/17/06