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When I talked Chris into going to just one more Orycon, he talked me into going south with him to see a race. The bargain was of course that since we would be kind of near Disneyland, I got a day to drag him around there. Elsewhere on the trip, we saw some other local sites, like:
Disneyland was open 10-8 the day we went, and we cruised into the Timon parking lot entrance-- the one tucked into the corner of Disney's California Adventure that most people don't know about but fills up almost immediately on busy days anyway-- just before 10, only to find out that Timon was closed that day and we would have to go over to the world's largest parking garage after all.
I'm not exaggerating here. The Mickey & Friends structure is the actual record holder. If you took a modest-sized skyscraper and laid it on its side, you would have a reasonable approximation to the size of this thing. If you remember the old Disneyland parking lot that now holds DCA, think of something big enough to hold all those cars, plus the growth in visitors since the park expansion. Thanks to Disney efficiency, though, we managed to park, find our way to the trams, get tickets, and head into DCA by about 10:20.
The obvious thing to do since it was a weekday and there were only three things we wanted to see in DCA would have been to spend most of the day in Disneyland, have a quick dinner, then go over to DCA. Unfortunately, DCA was closing at 6. So the first stop was Soarin' Over California at DCA.
I'd worn my MousePlanet button and my RADPin (which identifies me as a reader of rec.arts.parks.disney) just in case I bumped into any fellow theme park fanatics there. One person did recognize them: the Cast Member managing the line at Soarin'. I said I'd say hi to r.a.d.p for him.
Next we went all the way to the back of the park for our first look at Toy Story Midway Mania. This is arranged as a shooting gallery where your ride vehicle stops in front of a series of interactive video screens where you shoot at stuff for points. It's a similar concept to the Buzz Lightyear ride, except thanks to virtual ammunition and advanced graphics, you can actually see where you're shooting. It works a lot better. One unexpected quirk: the ride vehicle sometimes spins as it goes around a corner on the track, leading to g-forces that may be painful for people with back problems.
Then over to Muppetvision, which at the time was under sentence of imminent death as part of the huge upcoming DCA renovation. We've since learned that it will be spared, hallelujah! It's still one of the best things in that park.
I'd forgotten about the big number at the end being "A Salute to All Nations, But Mostly America". To think that was a line someone came up with for laughs. Now it's a pretty good description of the Small World makeover, from what I hear. (We didn't get to see Small World, as it was still closed at the time.)
Our first ride at Disneyland was another new one. Well, sort of-- it was the long-awaited return of Submarine Voyage, now redone with a Finding Nemo theme. But many things are still the same: the pace of the line, for instance. And there's no Fastpass option. The subs now look like the Yellow Submarine, but they're pretty much the same inside, and Chris reports that they're still extrememly uncomfortable for tall people.
The ride experience, for someone who has never seen or wanted to see Finding Nemo, is that there is a bunch of interesting scenery but you're constantly distracted by annoying talking fish swimming by. The new underwater projection technology works beautifully and is certainly a step up from the 1960s animatronics, but I wish they could have used it to spiff up the old version of the ride instead. In future, I'm going to go ride Space Mountain and/or the Matterhorn instead, which is what I would have been doing next if we hadn't spent so much time in line for the subs.
We hit Star Tours and then Buzz Lightyear, where Chris absolutely hates the firing system and I figured I could make up for him beating my score at Midway Mania. No such luck.
We went to the newly reopened Sleeping Beauty Castle walkthrough, which still appears to be well-hidden to most park visitors. The latest version combines elements of the last two with new projection effects-- kind of like the ones on the new subs, only beautiful instead of annoying.
Over to the west side of the park to hit old favorites: Indiana Jones Adventure, Jungle Cruise, Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean. Haunted Mansion was closed at the time. We wanted to visit the new Tom Sawyer Island, but had forgotten Fantasmic! was running that night which means the island had had to close early. Instead we went over to Fantasyland for the dark rides, which had surprisingly short lines for that time of day, except for Peter Pan's Voyage, which always has long lines, but is worth it.
It was getting late, and my feet hurt, but we fell into the one-more-thing trap. We got on the train in Fantasyland, then Chris asked if we could get off at Tomorrowland and ride the Autopia, since it's right next to the station, so we did. Then we rode the train through the Primeval World to Main Street, and instead of leaving the park, somehow wound up browsing in the shops at the end of the street first. Chris got himself a StarSpeeder model; I got The Imagineering Guide to Disneyland.
Then we decided not to take the tram but rather walk back through Downtown Disney so that Chris could visit the Lego store... then we were closer to the garage than the Disneyland/DCA tram stop, so we walked back... anyway, by the time we got back to car, I had finally learned precisely how much fun I can take. But I'd do it again if I had the chance! Except for the subs.
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