Thursday, October 8, 2015

Theme Parking: Disneyland Resort Trip Report - 9-11 September 2015

  • As opposed to the spontaneity of our August trip to Disneyland, this trip has been planned for a long time. We wanted to spend a couple days in the park in celebration of my wife's birthday. Instead of making hard decisions about what to ride and what to skip between the two parks, visiting multiple days in a row would finally allow us to relax and see everything we would want to see. There was just one small, but growing, monkey wrench that changed our plans.
  • Wednesday was devoted to Disneyland. The park was already decorated for Halloween when we arrived. It was fun seeing the blue anniversary bunting replaced with orange. And of course, there were jack o' lanterns up and down Main Street. After a quick stop at City Hall for a birthday button for my bride, we made our way to Carnation CafĂ© for a birthday breakfast. (Aside: I am now addicted to making dining reservations online. That's how we ended up with Thanksgiving reservations in the park.) During breakfast, I noticed on the Disneyland app that the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters had a ten minute wait. The wait times for the ride are usually so long that I mentally wrote it off months ago. But with miniscule line and because Midway Mania was such a hit last visit, I convinced my family to give it a try. It ended up being a big hit.
  • After the ride, we found ourselves in Tomorrowland, trying to figure out where to go next. Across the way, we saw Star Tours and decided to give it a try. We walked over to the entrance and asked the cast members there if we could measure our daughter. It was a near thing, but she could finally clear forty inches. In that instant, all of our usual plans went out the window and a whole new world of possibilities had opened. That first day we could finally returned to a couple of our favorite rides, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Star Tours. I can't even remember that last time I rode them. While we were trying new rides, we even hopped on Gadget's Go Coaster for the first time. It may be small, but it was a lot of fun.
  • With our first day winding down, I volunteered to camp a spot on the parade route while my wife and daughter visited the princesses in Fantasy Faire. They has so much time that they also rode on the Mad Tea Party and Alice In Wonderland. When they returned, it was time for Paint The Night and the Disneyland Forever fireworks. We ended the night with a stop at Wetzel's Pretzels and opening birthday presents in our hotel room.
  • Thursday was our California Adventure day, for the most part. I wore my new We Wants The Redhead shirt and we walked to the park for our second day. Now that our daughter was the appropriate height, we could finally ride Radiator Springs Racers. Our first stop for the day was the Fastpass station. Even picking up passes soon after opening, we still received an afternoon return window. We also picked up passes for World Of Color, a show we have never stayed late enough to see. After finishing our scheduling, we could finally make our way to the rides. Our daughter's first choice was Ariel's Undersea Adventure. Afterward, it was time to visit the princesses again. You read that right. So that our daughter could see some of the other princesses, we crossed the esplanade long enough to visit Fantasy Faire.
  • Upon returning to DCA, we had two goals. First, we wanted to try new rides that we hadn't tried before. We ended up on Monster's Inc., Radiator Springs Racers (finally!), Soarin' Over California, and Jumping Jellyfish. Second, we wanted to see several shows. I think it was the announcement the prior night that the Aladdin musical would be replaced by Frozen that prodded us in this direction. We saw Aladdin, the Frozen Sing-a-long, and World of Color. Again, I was stunned by how much we could do in the park that we had not before.
  • Our original plans for this trip called for one day at Disneyland, one day at California Adventure, and then off to home. As we woke up Friday morning, we did a quick calculation and decided to head back to Disneyland for the opening of Haunted Mansion Holiday. It was our first time seeing the overlay. While it was well done, I have no affection for The Nightmare Before Christmas and it felt disorienting to see the ride that way. On the way out of the park, I picked up The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering A Disney Classic by Jason Surrell and we all chose treats from Candy Palace. All in all, it was a great mini-vacation that left us all exhausted and happy.

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