2005 Disneyland Trip

A detailed, play by play, more than you probably ever wanted to know account of my Disneyland Resort vacation in December 2005.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Day 2 - Sunday, 12-11-05

Disneyland opened at 8:00 AM today, so shortly after 7:00 AM we made the very short drive over to the parking structure, where we sat in line until the structure opened at 7:33 AM. We parked at the very end of the Pinnochio level and it was past 8:00 AM by the time we entered the turnstiles. Donald Duck was out in Town Square so of course we had to stop to pose for pictures. He doesn’t seem to be out as often as the other characters. My dad in particular wanted to have his picture taken to send to his friend in Hawaii.

After taking pictures of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle with its five gold crowns, we headed to Fantasyland. Outside of the Peter Pan attraction, we spotted one of the golden ride vehicles. To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Disneyland, each of the original rides that were in operation in 1955 were outfitted with a special golden vehicle. On some attractions, the golden vehicle is part of the regular fleet of vehicles, in other attractions it’s placed outside the attraction only, and in other cases it’s in both places. We all posed for pictures inside the golden ship before riding Peter Pan. Next we rode Snow White, followed by Pinnochio.

By now it was 9:15 AM and we had fifteen minutes until our priority seating at the Carnation Café. My dad and Jason went to pick up FP’s for all of us for Buzz Lightyear, while my mom and I strolled over to the café. There was a very long line of people waiting for tables, but we were seated immediately after checking in. The Carnation Café is located outdoors between the watch/clock shop and the Blue Ribbon Bakery and is one of Jason and my favorite spots. My parents had never eaten here before so we were anxious to share it with them. Our table was located right next to the waiting line of people and they were wondering why we were being seated before them. My dad was wearing his Lance Armstrong Live Strong t-shirt that he received for participating in Lance’s fundraiser ride in Portland last year. As we sat down, we overheard someone in line comment that my dad was Lance Armstrong and that was why we were seated first. We all got a good laugh over that comment.

There isn’t any better way to start your day than with a Mickey Mouse Waffle. My dad, Jason and I each order the waffle, which comes with sausage or bacon and an orange wedge and strawberry. My mom ordered Oscar’s Choice, which is scrambled eggs with cheese, fried potatoes, sausage or bacon, and a croissant. Our server was an extremely nice man named Troy.

After breakfast, it was time to use our FP’s for Buzz. This is a new attraction at Disneyland, having only opened in March of 2005. Jason and I rode it when were at Walt Disney World in October, but this was our first time at Disneyland. We really enjoyed it. There are a couple of differences between the WDW version and the DL version. At WDW, the laser guns are affixed to the ride vehicle, while at DL you are able to pick them up out of a holster. This makes it much easier to aim at the targets. The other nice thing about Disneyland is that your picture is taken near the end of the ride. There are computer kiosks where you can email to yourself, your picture along with your final score.

Since we were near Space Mountain, Dad and Jason went to get the three of us FP’s for later, my mom not being a roller coaster fan. Space Mountain recently reopened after undergoing a huge refurbishment over the past 2 years. Our FP’s were good for 3:50 PM that afternoon. Next we headed back to Fantasyland where we rode Alice in Wonderland. The lines for the Storybook Land Canal Boats and Dumbo were huge so we decided to do those later. By now it was late in the morning and people were beginning to pour into the park. This is why it is so important to get to the park right when it opens and to concentrate on riding the attractions. Save the picture taking and shopping until later when the crowds begin to ascend.

We joined the line for “It’s a Small World Holiday” even though it seemed really long. The line moves pretty quickly and it wasn’t much of a wait. A little tip I had learned on the message forums proved to be true. The line begins as one line, but shortly afterwards it splits into two separate lines. Always choose the line on the right. Even though it seems longer because it goes over the bridge and down inside track of the ride, it actually moves more quickly. The left side loads very slowly as this is where the wheelchair guests are loaded into the boats.

Next stop was the new Reindeer Roundup area at Big Thunder Ranch. We weren’t overly impressed with the area, but it might have been because we weren’t kids. We snapped pictures of the reindeer and the two turkeys, “Marshmallow” and “Yam.” The line for Big Thunder Railroad was really long so we passed on riding that attraction.

It was getting close to the time when we would normally go back to the hotel for an afternoon nap, but we were reluctant to leave the park without some assurance that we would be able to get back in if the park reached capacity. We checked with the Cast Member at the Wait Times board and she was a little vague in her response so we decided to ask at City Hall. The line at City Hall snaked out of the building and down the stairs so we moved on to the Cast Member at the exit turnstile. She was very reluctant to commit to an answer and said to check with City Hall. Remembering the long line, we decided to ask at the Guest Relations booth located just outside the exit turnstiles. Unfortunately, the line at Guest Relations was even longer than City Hall and moved even more slowly. So we stood in a long line to get back into the park and headed back to City Hall. Even though the line was still long, it moved very quickly and if we had stood in it in the first place we would already be on our way back to the car. When we reached the front of the line, the Cast Member yes, we would have no trouble getting back in later in the day.

We were all starving so we stopped at McDonald’s on our way back to the hotel for lunch since we had heard they were serving McRib’s. My parents were in a different line than us and for some reason the service was really slow. By the time they got their food, we were almost done eating.

After a refreshing nap in a clean room (HoJo’s does an excellent job of getting the rooms cleaned early), we regrouped around 4:00 PM and drove back to the Park. We were all worried about the park being full. Although the sign said Disneyland was very full, fortunately is was not closed. We enter Town Square in time to see the last part of the flag retreat and then waited around for the tree lighting ceremony, snapping pictures of our group in front of the beautiful gold decorated Christmas tree.

The Park was really crowded, but it was a weekend, so hopefully things will quiet down later in the week. My mom decided to browse in the Star Trader shop while the rest of us used our FP’s for Space Mountain. The standby line was 75 minutes so we were glad we had picked up the FP’s earlier in the day. Just as we were about to be assigned to a vehicle, the ride broke down. After waiting for a few minutes to see if the ride would come back up, they closed it down. We were issued FP’s to use later in the day.

We joined my mom at Star Trader and then went across the way to the pin store. Next we watched Honey, I Shrunk the Audience and then took the train over to New Orleans Square. We had Fantasmic! Balcony Dessert reservation for the 9:00 PM show and wanted to be over on that side of the park before the parade began.

After we got off the train, I wanted to show my parents the Haunted Mansion and how it was decorated with the special holiday overlay. However, it was wall to wall people and we immediately turned around and went over to ride Pirates. This used to be my mom’s favorite ride in the park, but that has since been replaced by the new Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters attraction. She absolutely loves this attraction. My dad joked that next time they come he’ll offer to pay Disney to just let my mom stay on the ride during their entire visit and have a Cast Member slip her a tray of food from time to time. I’m sure that would be agreeable with my mom. We browsed through the shops in New Orleans Square and then went upstairs to the Disney Gallery to wait for our Fantasmic Balcony check in time.

To me, the Fantasmic! Balcony Dessert is the best way to view Fantasmic! It is expensive, we paid $56 each, but you get a great view of the show without the need to camp out along the riverfront for hours beforehand. You access the balcony from the Disney Gallery, located directly above the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. Seating is limited to only about 15 people and tickets are very hard to get, selling out within three minutes of their availability. Tickets may be purchased 30 days before the show date and you can bet I began dialing the phone a few minutes before 8:00 AM and continually hitting redial until I the line opened and I was connected to a Cast Member. Fortunately, I was able to score four tickets to the 9:00 PM showing.

About 30 minutes before the show, they began checking people in and showing them to their seats. People are seated in the order in which their tickets were purchased. I was really hoping that we would be the first group seated. The very best seats are right along the railing on the left hand side of the balcony. I was a little worried because right after I purchased our tickets, I checked a thread that I had been watching in the message forums on MousePlanet.com and saw that someone who was staying at one of the resort hotels had just received a call from John at Disney’s Vacation Planning, letting her know that he filled their request for 9 tickets for the very same show that we were going to. I expected that he would be able to secure their tickets before the phone lines opened and they most likely would be seated first. I was correct; nine people were seated before us, filling the front row. We were seated in the second row.

After we were seated, a Cast Member came to take our beverage orders and we were invited to help ourselves to the desserts on the buffet table. The dessert buffet is another great reason to take advantage of this special event. We enjoyed cheesecake, black forest cake, fruit skewers, little mini desserts, beignets with an apple compote topping, and cheese and crackers. There was also a variety of beverages including coffee, tea (hot or cold), hot chocolate, soft drinks, and mint juleps. The Cast Member would check periodically throughout the event to replenish our drinks.

The show itself was amazing, a musical pyrotechnical spectacular that includes lights, fireworks, floats, fire, fiber optics and lasers, film projected onto a water screen and over 50 live performers. It is absolutely break taking.

After the show we were invited to remain on the balcony to see the special 50th anniversary fireworks display, “Remembers…Dreams Come True” Although it was nice to see the fireworks, we missed a lot of the special projections and effects that are best viewed from the hub in front of the castle. I wasn’t too worried about it as we will see the fireworks again later in the week.

The crowd leaving New Orleans Square was huge so instead of leaving the park we decided to loop back around and ride Pirates. There was no line so we walked directly onto the ride. Next stop was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, where again there was no line. Jason and I did both the Goat Trick and the Westward Ho Trick during the ride. Big Thunder is one of my top three favorite rides and if I had been by myself I would have immediately gotten back on the ride.

Since it was probably still a mad house trying to get out of the park, we continued past Big Thunder Ranch and over to Fantasyland where we all rode the Carousel. Jason was very lucky and got to ride Jingles, the special gold horse. This was Walt Disney’s favorite horse, which was why it was chosen to receive the special gold treatment for the 50th.

Next we rode the Storybook Land Canal Boats and really enjoyed seeing all the miniature houses lit up at night. Since the Casey Jr. Train was nearby and the lines were short, we hopped aboard and enjoyed another glimpse at the scenery of the Storybook Land Canal Boats.

The line for Buzz Lightyear was very short so we rode three times in a row. We discovered during one of our rides that each of us got better scores when we rode alone in our own vehicle, so that’s what we ended up doing throughout the rest of the trip.

The Park was closing so we made our way to the front of the park, taking time to stop at the Esplanade to locate the 50th Anniversary brick that Jason and I had purchased earlier in the year. We snapped pictures, but decided to come back during the daytime to get a better shot.

Once back at the hotel, I made my usual pot of decaf coffee before turning the lights off at 1:35 AM. It was a long, but very fun-filled day.


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