Day 1 (Sunday, March 18)(Click on any image to see a larger version of the photo.)
I got to bed at a reasonable time last night, but woke up for some reason about 4:00 a.m. It took me a while to get back to sleep, so I wasn't too thrilled when the radio came on at 7:00. At least I don't have to get up super early to go to Disneyland, unlike flying across the country to Walt Disney World. I can take a midmorning flight and still be at the parks by early afternoon.
Today my cab arrived about 8:10, and I was at San Jose International, finished with check-in, and through security by soon after 8:30. I got a banana-nut muffin at Starbucks, settled into a seat at the Southwest gate, and read the newspaper and munched on the muffin until my flight was called. We went wheels up at 10:00 a.m.
I haven't flown Southwest very much, but so far, I've always been in boarding group A, so I've gotten good seats. This time, I chose a window seat on the left side of the plane. I had correctly calculated that by 10:00 a.m., the sun wouldn't be right in my face on that side, and I find the eastern view more interesting on the San Jose to southern California route. With luck, I can even see the Sierra Nevada mountains.
I got a view of my neighborhood just after we took off, Mount Diablo to the east, and all the way north to Mount Tamalpais in Marin County. In fact, I may have also seen Mount Saint Helena in Napa County. As we headed south, I got the usual nice view of Lick Observatory on Mount Hamilton, and I could see the Sierra through the haze in the distance.
The head flight attendant had that trademark Southwest humor. He tried to cut down on the cabin crew's workload by repeating softly over the PA system, "You are getting sleepy...you are getting very sleepy...." After giving a couple of announcements, he concluded by saying "Enjoy your nap." It didn't work though--it was, after all, the middle of the day--so he and his colleagues gave up and served us drinks and peanuts.
Just as we were passing San Luis Reservoir east of Hollister, the captain gave us permission to use approved electronic devices, so I turned on my GPS receiver. The poor little thing took a long time to get a reading, even though it was receiving several satellites. I suspect that moving at more than 500 miles an hour made it hard for the receiver, because as soon as it figured out where it was, it wasn't there any more. :-) When it finally locked in, it read 548 mph, and I later saw it go up to 565 mph. Kinda fun to see three digits in the speed display. :-)
I got some good looks at the Sierras off in the distance, the San Andreas Fault complex, and the Tehachapi Mountains (they're the ones that run roughly east-west, dividing central and southern California). But as soon as we crossed over the Tehachapis, we were over solid clouds. Specifically, the marine layer coming off the Pacific Ocean. Below me was an ocean of fog as far as I could see, all the way east to the San Gabriel mountains at the edge of the Los Angeles basin. A few minutes later, my GPS receiver said that we were out over the real ocean, but I couldn't tell the difference visually from when we'd been over land. So much for sunny California! Well, at least there was a chance of the marine layer burning off this afternoon, so maybe I'd get some sun after all.
As we got closer to Orange County, the head flight attendant said they'd be making a final swing through the cabin to pick up trash. Then he added, "We'll also be happy to take any ones, fives, tens, or twenties you may want to dispose of." Good try!
We landed at John Wayne Airport just after 11:00 a.m. I was out the door with my luggage about 20 minutes later, just in time to see a Disneyland Express bus pulling away. When I went to the booth to get a ticket, the attendant told me there'd be another one in about 15 minutes, but it turned out to be more like 35. I've only taken this shuttle once before, and I didn't have to wait nearly that long the other time. So I don't know whether such delays are common. I was beginning to wish that I'd stayed with SuperShuttle, which I used to take before I found out about this other service.
I finally left the airport at noon, arriving at the Candy Cane Inn (it was the first stop) at 12:30. I asked for--and received--a room on the second floor of the south wing, which provides good views of the Disneyland fireworks. Before I left the office, I made a reservation for a shuttle bus to Knott's Berry Farm for tomorrow.
My assigned room (#236) was almost at the end of that wing, the farthest away from the office I've ever been, so I'll have to allow a little extra time to walk to the shuttle bus stop. Nice view of Tower of Terror, though!
I unpacked, then turned on the computer for a few minutes to make sure that the wi-fi access was working properly. My door was open, and although the elevators on ToT face away from the Candy Cane, I could hear riders screaming.
The Candy Cane's shuttle runs every half hour, so I caught the 1:00 p.m. bus to Disneyland. It was actually running late (some sort of lateness disease hitting all the shuttle buses in Orange County today? :-) ), but by 1:30, I was walking through the gates of Disney's California Adventure.
I should explain briefly why I headed for DCA. Partly it was because I'm growing increasingly fond of that park, but mostly it was because I wanted to stay away from Disneyland until later in the day. Today was the 40th anniversary of Pirates of the Caribbean, and there was a big event happening with some of the ride's original developers (including Alice Davis, who did the costumes; Blaine Gibson, who developed the characters; and X Atencio, who wrote the music), plus memorabilia designers such as Robert Olszewski and Christopher Radko. I'd seen enough reports from previous special events to know how crowded they can make the park-- especially the always-congested New Orleans Square area--so I decided to avoid the place for a while.
Once in DCA, I headed for Soarin' and picked up a FastPass, which had a return time of 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. Then I doubled back to the information kiosk in Sunshine Plaza and asked the attendant about today's schedules for street entertainment. The times guide I picked up on my way into the park gave me the schedules for the Miner 49ers bluegrass band and the Mariachi Divas, but I wanted to know when PUSH the talking trashcan would be around.
The attendant also offered to find out whether the Muppet Mobile Lab would be here today. This is a brand-new self-propelling audio-animatronic creation that was at DCA a couple of weeks before my trip. I'd heard that it was only in the park briefly for testing, so I didn't really expect to see it. Sure enough, the CM found out that it was back at Walt Disney Imagineering. She couldn't find PUSH on her schedule, either, so she called over to City Hall in Disneyland. They told her that he'd be off until summer, at which time he'd be back in Tomorrowland. Huh? After he just moved from Tomorrowland to DCA last year? Oh well...
By now, I hadn't eaten since that half-muffin before my plane flight, so I decided to try someplace new and chose Cocina Cucamonga in the Golden State area of DCA. It took me about half an hour to get my food, which consisted of a chicken burrito with rice and beans. While I was standing in line waiting and waiting and waiting, I had plenty of time to enjoy the theming of this area, including the cute lizards on the pavement indicating the directions to and from the order and pickup windows.
I finished my burrito just before 2:30 and decided to catch the Miner 49ers, who were just due to be starting a set. I walked across the bridge and turned right at Golden Dreams (the building that looks like the Palace of Fine Arts). I was now on the San Francisco-themed street that would take me to Highway 49, where the Miner 49ers perform. As I walked toward the Eureka Gold & Timber Company's water wheel, I noticed a crowd gathered at the intersection of the two roads. There was only one reason I knew of why there would be people standing around that exact spot. Sure enough, as I got closer, I spotted PUSH. So much for "he's off until summer and then will be in Tomorrowland"!
I caught about 5-10 minutes of this appearance. After PUSH went backstage, I had a brief conversation with his handler, who said that he knew of no plans to move PUSH back to Disneyland. He noted that there had been some radio interference problems between PUSH and the Jedi Training Academy. Also, the area around Buzz and Star Tours is rather constricted; PUSH has more room at DCA. So it was no wonder that PUSH's handler summarized the situation by saying, "He's happy here." I guess it was a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, in this case the hands being Disneyland and DCA.
After my unexpected PUSH encounter, I continued up Highway 49 and caught the last part of the Miner 49ers' set. Then I spent a few minutes taking photos of the Grand Californian and looking for the cats that hang out next to Whitewater Snacks in the Grand Californian. (Highway 49 gets within about 20-30 feet of the hotel, so I could see the outside seating area for the snack bar without leaving DCA.) I spotted the pretty calico, who was sunning herself on a ledge outside the enclosed patio. While I was watching, a guest at the restaurant put some food onto the ledge for her, and even managed to pet her a little bit. Tough life. :-)
I also took some photos of the flowers in bloom along Highway 49. I'm particularly fond of columbine, so I was delighted to see several different colors of them.
PUSH's CM had told me when they'd be back, so I sat down and caught up on my trip report notes for a while, then went back to the edge of the Grizzly Peak Recreation Area to see PUSH. I left there while he was still rolling around and headed to the other side of the park to see whether I could get into the 4:05 performance of "Aladdin." If you haven't seen it, this is a delightful 40-minute version of the Disney movie, with excellent special effects and a genie who spouts an ever-changing repertoire of anachronistic and Disney-related jokes.
I had no problem getting into the show. My friends Julie and Larry tipped me off last year to the advantages of sitting just behind the crosswise aisle in the orchestra, but I wasn't able to get into the orchestra line this time. Still, the mezzanine was fine, giving me a fun eye-level view of the carpet during the flying scenes.
The genie's jokes this time included references to Britney Spears and Indiana Jones ("Snakes! Why did it have to be snakes?!"), and even a joke that broke the fourth wall ("Just a street rat? Kid, your name's on the marquee!").
I got out of Aladdin just after 5:00, and decided to see what the line was like at Monsters Inc., which I'd only ridden once before. There was a 40-minute wait for that, so I went into the Muppets 3D show that was just about to start. The Muppets are always fun. And so is the queue area, with its poster take-offs on famous movies (Lawrence of Amphibia, etc.).
After that show ended, I wandered around the Hollywood Pictures Backlot area for a few minutes, taking photos of the punny shop names.
Then I browsed through the Greetings from California gift shop for a while as I waited for my Soarin' FastPass time. I got in line at Soarin' a few minutes after 6:00, and was off the ride about 20 minutes later.
By now, I was feeling the need for a Disneyland fix! I figured the crowds from the Pirates event should have dissipated. I got over there just as the parade was starting, but managed to make my way down Main Street and through the hub to Adventureland. (Normally, I would consider taking the train to New Orleans Square when Main Street is crowded, but unfortunately, it's currently out of service.)
Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye had a 45-minute wait, so I passed by that. Unexpectedly, Pirates only had a 15-minute wait posted, so I got in line there, under a banner about the 40th-anniversary celebration. It was actually 20 minutes before I got on the ride, but that wasn't bad. Luckily, none of the idiots taking flash photos of Jack Sparrow were in my boat or the ones right near mine.
Upon emerging from Pirates, I headed for the Bengal Barbecue to get some dinner. But as I walked past Tarzan's Treehouse, I realized that I'd still never been in it since it was changed from its original Swiss Family Robinson theme. So up I went. I wasn't too impressed; am I correct that the rooms had more furniture and personal belongings in them previously? I guess Tarzan wouldn't be expected to have many personal possessions, but their lack left the rooms seeming rather bare.
After coming down from the treehouse, I picked up a chicken skewer and a vegetable skewer at Bengal, and took them back to New Orleans Square, where I found a place to sit overlooking the river. These skewers are my favorite counter-service food at Disneyland; they taste good, and they're healthy.
I decided to scope out the situation in Fantasyland, so after finishing my food, I walked over there via the Big Thunder Trail. I stopped for a minute to take some photos of one of my favorite pieces of Disneyland theming. They could have just made the phone booth on BTT look like an old western shack, but they went beyond that and painted a lovely mural about the U.S. Cavalry.
The Storybook Land Canal Boats and the Matterhorn both had pretty long lines, so I kept walking to Main Street and out of the park. I wanted to get to California Adventure before 8:45 to see the Electrical Parade. I got to that park about 8:15, bought a hot-fudge sundae at Bur-r-r Bank Ice Cream, and started walking toward Paradise Pier, looking for a place to watch the parade.
I found an open spot on a bench below the Vineyard Room. There were two women from the San Fernando Valley already sitting there, and we had a nice time chatting while waiting for the parade, which arrived in our area a little after 9:00 p.m. Maybe it's just because I've enjoyed this parade at Disneyland for decades and have an attachment to it, but I really do prefer it over SpectroMagic at Walt Disney World.
It was close to 9:30 by the time the last float passed our position. I thought about heading over to Disneyland to see the fireworks, but they started just as I reached Sunshine Plaza. I took one look at the hundreds of other people going out the exits of DCA, and realized there was no way I could get over to Disneyland any time soon. So I turned toward the Hollywood Pictures Backlot to check out the line at Monsters Inc. That ride was nearly a walk-on. I came out just in time to catch the final bursts of the fireworks between the towers of the Golden Gate Bridge. (But not, unfortunately, in time to dig my camera out of my knapsack. Note to self: get a photo of this next time!)
By now, the crowds leaving DCA had dissipated, so I headed back to DL. While unpacking earlier today, I had noticed that although I successfully remembered to bring just about every possible type of electronic device and all the accessories for them, I had neglected to pack any pajamas! Well, it wouldn't be the first time I'd slept in a t-shirt, but I thought I'd see whether any of the local stores had adult-sized nightwear.
I asked in one shop and was directed to Disney Clothiers, which, sure enough, had women's PJs in several colors. None of the colors were ones I would normally select, but I figured I'd rather have real nightclothes than quibble about style, so I settled on some Thumper-themed pajamas. Knowing that the Main Street shops would be open until the bitter end of Disneyland's operating hours, I decided to buy the PJs on my way out of the park later instead of having to carry them with me.
My travel yeti, Grogs Chung Skra Can ("Small Hairy Friend") was still pining for a bobsled ride on the Matterhorn to see his cousin the Abominable Snowman, so I walked down Main Street and took the turnoff just before the castle. There was still about a 30-minute wait, so once again, I postponed my Matterhorn plans. (See my January, 2007 WDW trip report for the story of my new travel yeti.)
A quick walk over to Small World revealed a very short line, so I went on that. After surviving Small World, I checked out the line for Peter Pan; long as always. By now it was approaching 10:30 p.m., so I decided to leave for the night. I did stop at Disney Clothiers to get the pajamas I'd seen earlier. I think from now on, I'll keep them in my suitcase for future trips so that I don't have to go through this again!
I made it out to the bus stop in time for the 10:45 p.m. shuttle to the Candy Cane Inn. I downloaded today's photos from my camera to my MacBook, read my email, and snuggled into bed in my new Thumper PJs just before midnight.
Planning | Day 2
Day 3 | Day 4
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Text and photos (c) 2007 Patricia F. Winter, unless otherwise noted.
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Last updated 5/12/07