The Disney Day(s): Bustling Around the Always Bustling Disneyland Resort
I can't remember that last time I rode the original Haunted Mansion at Disneyland. It seems that my last few visits there have been either in the fall during West Coast Bash or in December before Christmas. But that has given me the chance to experience the Nightmare Before Christmas version a number of times, which is OK by me. The overlay with Jack Skellington, Oogie Boogie, and the rest of the Halloweentown crew is excellent; in fact, it's so good, my older brother, Ward, who joined us on Friday, September 11 just to do Disney, wished that they'd keep it that way all year. While I wouldn't go that far, it is a great holiday tradition.
So great that it, along with annual passes, ensures that Disneyland will be mobbed even during a non-Labor Day Monday in September (not to mention the Friday before).
Yes, Eric Wilson and I spent two days at Disneyland and California Adventure--Friday with Robb, Elissa, KT, and others who came and went and the following Monday with Erik Johnson, Brad Roach, and Paul Fowler. Despite the rather large crowds on Friday and Monday at both parks, we had a great time. Eric hadn't been there since the Indiana Jones ride opened in the late 1990s, so a lot was new to him. I'd been there two years ago, but I was looking forward to a few new things:
Ghost Galaxy on Space Mountain: Here's another great ride overlay. Your rocket is pursued by some sort of angry, evil version of "Space Ghost." The spooky projections inside the mountain were well done, and the on-ride music was great. Plus, the coaster was running much faster than I ever remember it running before. It was so fast, that a train ahead of us was diverted into a maintenance bay for being too heavy! Even Elissa was shocked at how fast Space Mountain was that day. (I have experienced Ghost Galaxy once before--in Hong Kong. Both versions seemed about the same to me.)
The new "Harold" in the Matterhorn: You all remember the original Harold, the Abominable Snowman, right? The way he would stand there stiff as a board and growl and move his right arm a bit? Well, the new one, although he looks a bit cartoony, is a big improvement--much more movement. I also liked how they used "wrecked" versions of the old bobsleds in his cave. That being said, the new trains are pretty dang painful; a little padding on those seat backs might help.
Paint the NIght parade: Disney's new nighttime spectacle is pretty good--a decent new version of the old Main Street Electrical Parade. Some of the floats looked great, but the music was pretty weak (just generic pop versions of classic Disney tunes, with a wee bit of the old parade score thrown in). Nice, but nothing I'd bother with again.
We also hit the "only in California" rides, too, such as Mr. Toad, Alice in Wonderland, and, of course, Radiator Springs Racers, and even Mater's Junkyard Jamboree. Eric and I were the only two with park hoppers on the second Disney day, and we made pretty good use of them.
Let's take a look back.
Welcome to Disneyland, Walt Disney's original Magic Kingdom! But please bear in mind . . .
. . . that the Happiest Place on Earth can kill you!
It was so hot in drought-stricken California that the snow was melting on the Matterhorn--and it's just concrete and paint!
Ward and I are on the end screwing up the illusion. Sorry about that. (This shot is from Friday.)
On Monday, Eric W. ran over to get Fast Passes for Space Mountain, which was broken down first thing in the morning, . . .
. . . while the rest of us joined the other insane people in line for, of all things, Peter Pan.
At least the ride has been properly certified.
"I say--is Peter Pan copping a feel on my sister?"
"To fly, you need to blow on some pixie dust . . . sir, on the end, you need to blow. Please, sir. BLOW THAT PIXIE DUST, DAMN YOU! YOU'RE DESTROYING THE MAGIC!"
"Blast you, Peter Pan! If anyone is going to feel up somebody, it's going to be me, Captain Hook!"
Pan had a much longer line, but my favorite of the old-school Fantasyland rides is still Mr. Toad.
My hat's off to you, my amphibian friend.
Yes, we're riding Alice in Wonderland. Please don't judge.
Wait! Has this ride been certified? Didn't any of you think to check?
Uh oh! This is what happens when you ride an uncertified attraction!
Please stop the ride! I'm not comfortable riding this part without being certain about certification! (In truth, there were walls on this portion of Alice two years ago. The ride is much better without them.)
Yeah, things are picking up now. Fantasyland is packed with people.
"Just put the body in the trash can! No one will be the wiser!"
This is the first time I've seen any Marvel characters in the park.
I sense a mysterious tremor in my Tomorrowland Terrace French toast, as though a million voices cried out for syrup, and were suddenly silenced!
"Come to the Dark Side! We have syrup, extra bacon, and mimosas!"
Yay! Space Mountain is up and running now!
I like how the monitor in front of the station periodically "loses signal," as though it were being jammed by the Ghost Galaxy.
Look out! Stitch has escaped from Space Prison!
Hey--how did we get to Florida so quickly?
I really like what they've done to Disney California Adventure. This looks much better than the big "hubcap" that used to be in the entrance plaza.
I'm not a big fan of the movies, but Cars Land itself is great.
The Luigi's Flying Tires/Flying Saucers Memorial Wall. Never rode this, but such is life.
Besides, this is what we're really here for.
The theming of Cars Land, and this ride in particular, is some of Disney's best work.
We picked up Fast Passes for later than day, then got in the single-rider line.
Every park has a photo that guests are required by law to take.
Wow! You can see all the way to Hollywood from the desert today!
"Hi there! We're two characters that you probably don't remember from the movies. In fact, we're not sure we were in the movies at all, but here we are!"
It's not surprising that it took a few years to build this ride.
The amount of detail is remarkable.
I wish it went as fast as Test Track at Epcot, but it's still great fun.
And we win! Note that if you enter the paint shop, instead of the tire shop, during the dark-ride section, you always win. This means that paint is more important than tires when it comes to racing.
The last room is cool, too.
Radiator Springs Racers is one of the best rides in the resort. More to come.
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