So this report has little (okay, nothing) to do with the D23 Expo, the Expo ended on day 4. But, how could any Disney fan be that close to Disneyland and not spend at least a day in the park?
Walt, you just finished 3 day at the D23 Expo, what are you going to do?
I’m going to Disneyland!!!
Up early, well sort of early… after 3 days of walking the Expo, the bodies just melted away into sleep and rest to restore the tired muscles, including that large one between the ears, and out the door. Instead of going the long way around to Downtown Disney and the Esplanade, the short cut from the Paradise Pier Hotel is to cross the street and go through the Grand Californian. No matter how many times I walk into the lobby of the Grand Californian, I am awestruck. The open expanse of about 50 by 50 feet and 6 stories of craftsman styling is a sight to behold. As we move to the GCH entrance to DtD, there was some work going on and the Disney requisite wall surrounding it with a Disney security cast member on his post. As I passed, I commented (as I do) or asked if we were to “don’t pay any attention to that man behind the curtain?” Must have been to early for him, as all I got back was a blank stare.
Out to Downtown Disney and on our way. But wait, we had eaten anything yet. So next stop was the La Brea Tarpit… err Bakery… for a quick breakfast of scrambled eggs, potatoes, and bacon, nothing special, but good. The day’s excitement starts almost immediately, as a woman with her daughter approach the open table next to us and hits a small patch of water on the patio. Slick wet concrete and flip flops are not a good match, so down she went, rather hard. As I started to get up to help her, she waved me off saying she was fine which she appeared to be even given the force of the fall. Fortunately for them, the daughter was carrying the tray of food so that made it to the table unscathed. Not exactly the kind of excitement I like to start my day with, but, at least nothing, but the woman’s pride, was injured. And it’s off to the Park. It seems these days to be a guarantee, so if you are with me, pick a different line… the one I’m in is always going to be the one with issues. Three little princesses, Dad, and Mom in front of us, can’t seem to find the right tickets in their package and the turnstile CM is really trying not to get frustrated. As I’m standing there, I notice the package Mom is hold has the “Make A Wish” logo on it and understand the CM’s extra care. Okay, we can be patience here too. After the CM Supervisor arrives, the family ushered in and the line continues to move. And, we’re in!
HERE YOU LEAVE TODAY
AND ENTER THE WORLD
OF YESTERDAY, TOMORROW
That plaque could easily be posted above the entrance to my mind. J
Stepping on to Main Street, there is that sensation that keeps bringing me back to Disneyland, and one that I get nowhere else… the youthful EXUBERANCE and EXCITEMENT of a 5 year old experience the park for the first time. Other than the love of my family and friends, it is large part of what has sustained me over the last 20 twenty year and most especially the last 10. There are very few things for which I’d consider trading that feel
First stop… the Main Street Train Station. There are few things that are a must do at Disneyland, riding the Disneyland Railroad is one of them. I ask the station conductor if I could get a ride on the tender, one of the things I have never done before. I am told that these are the first runs of the morning and they don’t allow tender rides until the trains have made a few trips around the park. DRAT!!! Oh well, I’ll have to do that later, but it will be done. So, it’s into one of the cars and once around the park. As we come to a stop at the New Orleans Station, I hear the clickety clack of the station telegraph ringing out, and a little knowing smile crosses my face. Any real Disney fan knows this, but how many others who pass through that station know what is being tapped out in that telegraph in a continuous loop?
”To all who come to this happy place: Welcome. Disneyland is your land.”
Yup, it’s the first two lines for Walt Disney’s opening day dedication speech. On every visit to Disneyland, I find something I’ve never spotted or knew before. This visit was no different. As we sat in the New Orleans Station while the engineers took on water, I noticed a plume of steam rising up out of the trees behind the station and wondered what piece of equipment Disney might have back there producing that column of mist? Then it struck like a DOH! moment, it was the locomotive blowing off the steam in the boiler before they took on more water. Don’t know if it OSHA, or just Disney thinking ahead to safety, but there is grated small brick structure right in position where the engine stops next to the water tower. This little structure lines right up with the steam vent on the engine, and is actually a small tunnel that extends several yards out past the tracks. When the train stops and needs to take on water, this tunnel becomes a secondary vent to funnel steam away from the train and possible issues with the guests or cast members. Very clever!!! After filling the water tank, we were on our way again on our trip around the Magic Kingdom, and relaxing and enjoyable trip it was, as we arrived back at the Main Street Station, and debarked. At street level we began our meandering trip down Main Street. With the exception of sauntering down the middle of the street and far more inhabitants then you might find, it is very much little visiting any number of small town Main Street across America. I was immediately reminder of a nice I had recently with a friend in Livermore, whose main drag is not all the different then where I was at the moment. I wonder how many others on the Main Street today are taking the time to truly experience all that Disneyland’s Main Street really has to offer, or rather, rushing off to experience one thrill ride or another. My advice, no matter what you do, remember to take the time to experience the moment. Good memories beget good memories, and if we are always anticipated the next one, we miss so much.
First thrill ride of the visit is for Sam. She loves Pirates… has since the first time rode it when she was 7. Bonus, we in the park early enough, the wait is only 15 minutes. Thank you Touring Plans, and your Android app for Disneyland. With your help, I knew that before we arrived what we were looking at for a wait time. So this was my second ride on Pirates in as many days, and wouldn’t know it… I got soaked again!!! I do hope this is not a harbinger of things to come, cuz’ I not really a water ride kind of guy. I don’t like squishing around the Park, even for a little bit on a hot day. Fortunately, getting wet on Pirates is not as traumatic as, say… Splash. J Now on to the Haunted Mansion where my favorite part of the ride is really the stretch room, I always get a kick out of watching the portraits grow. Time for a short rest and b-room break for the girls, over by the New Orleans Square train station. As I look to my right, who is standing there next to me but Mousetalgia’s own – Dave. In a moment, Becky shows up with Button. Guys, Sam got a really good picture of her that I’m going to have to get to you. After a couple of minutes we were off again. A trip through Adventureland and, of course, a visit to the “back side of water.” Yes, it’s time for a cruise on the Jungle Boats. Where else can you transit the great rivers of world, the most notable exception being North America, in the matter of a few minutes?
It was getting to be lunch time and since we were only going to be there for one day, I had bothered to make any reservations. Note to self: Don’t do that again!!! Well, we decided to try our luck and the Carnation Café, and were lucky enough to only have a 25 minute wait. Well worth the wait for Chef Oscar’s “Loaded Potato Soup”, YUMMMMM… After lunch we headed over to the Main Street train station; I AM going to scratch the tender ride off the bucket list, TODAY. The Conductor at the station has me sit on the bench inside the station while he checked for the next available tender ride. Turns out, that one, not all the locomotives have a tender that can be ridden in, and two, they don’t take riders on all runs for reasons that will become clear. So, we can sit a wait for a few minutes. Shortly thereafter, the E.P. Ripley rolled into the station the conductor came in and said, “Follow me please.” Sam and I exited the station and down the ramp to the locomotive, my heart all a twitter. Sam looked at me and just started laughing as we boarded the tender; I guess my 5 year old was showing. I was so besotted just sitting there, that I don’t even remember the names of our Engineer or Fireman, but they were really nice. I had told the conductor on our earlier ride that she had one of the coolest jobs in the park. Sitting there between these two gentlemen, I changed my mind… they have the coolest job in the park. In reality, aside from the costumed characters, they probably have one of the hottest jobs in the park, sitting behind a several hundred degrees of burner and boiling water. But, they enjoy their work and had no problem telling me that fact. The Fireman told me that he looked forward to coming work every day since he’d gotten this job. Being so excited, I didn’t take many pictures, but then I haven't been able to figure out how to include pictures with my blog reports yet, so it probably doesn't make that much difference.
As we were sitting on a hold at the New Orleans Station, the Fireman confirmed to me that I was right in my earlier AH HA moment. This station is where they take on more water, but before they can do that, they have to blow out the sediment that develops at the bottom of the boiler. Each locomotive uses between 40 and 50 gallons of water per trip, and can make about 3 trips before needing to take on water again. That’s why they don’t allow tender rides on every trip, for safety reasons, they don’t want passengers up front when they have to clear the boiler. Next time down, I’ll try to do this again, and I’ll be much more attentive.
After the tender ride, Sam wanted to take some pictures with her new camera. So, she and Mom took the fire engine from the Main Street station down to the Hub, and then back, while I checked out a few things in the Disney Gallery. I needed a replacement for my Mouseketeers shirt that I got at last year’s Destination D, and I found a tin of Mary Blair postcards. It was late enough in the afternoon that we decide it was time to return to the hotel for short rest before we tackled DCA. Interestingly, we did not hit Frontierland, Fantasyland, or Tomorrowland on this visit, so I missed one of my other usual must do’s… Peter Pan’s Flight. I’ll have to do that one twice next time.
After a short rest, it was through GCH again and this time over to the GCH entrance to DCA… EIEIO. J Didn’t know there was a second entrance into DCA? Well there is, right next to the Napa Rose. And to clear up something that I’ve heard on several of the fan boards. The common claim is that the GCH entrance is only for those guests staying at the Grand Californian. Not true, I took the time to read the board this time, and it clearly states that the entrances is for guests stay at any of the Disney Resort hotels. So that would include Paradise Pier and Disneyland Hotels. So it’s over to the recently reopened Corn Dog Castle for, what else? A corn dog!!! Yes, I love the Disneyland Corn Dog, and it’s been a tradition of mine to get at least one during each visit, at either the Corn Dog Castle in DCA or the Red Wagon in Disneyland. Since the Corn Dog Castle has been closed to the last couple of visits, it got the nod this time. Then it was off to check out the new food offering where the old burger joint was before. Sam and Pam aren’t corn dog fans. For park food, the new place is okay. After dinner, we walk over to the Paradise Pier section and a ride on Mickey’s Funwheel, well Sam and I rode it, Pam wouldn’t be caught dead on anything that looks like a Ferris wheel. We got to look out over DCA at how things were developing, mostly the new Carsland area. Carsland is taking shape nicely, and it looks like it going to be a lot of fun when it opens next year. Then it was off to use the special fast passes we’d gotten to try out the new Little Mermaid ride. The fast passes were a good thing because the wait time was over an hour. By this time we were all starting to fade fast, and we still had to walk back to PPH, so we decided to skip the Wonderful World of Color. It is a great show, but it we didn’t feel we’d really enjoy it as tired as we were, and we had a long drive home coming in the morning.
So there you have it, Disneyland in 1 day. Definitely not enough time to do everything, but what we did do was a lot of fun.
Watch next week for my report on the special event happening and the Walt Disney Family Museum on Saturday. It’s going to be Disney-rific event.
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