Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Miles of Smiles

I thought there’d be moments of bittersweet nostalgia. Y’know…like those memories that sweep you back to the days of being a three-year old kid, all innocent and full of wonder, tugging at your daddy’s hand, begging to be taken on the tea cups.

Didn’t happen.

Not sure why. God knows the days of my youth are so indelibly printed on my brain that almost anything can trigger a flashback. Maybe because this trip to Disneyland wasn’t the first as an adult (although it was the first in almost twenty years). Maybe the three year-old child has faded from memory more than I knew. Maybe my parents didn’t take me often enough for it to become ingrained in the fabric of my mental make-up?

In a way, failing to have this sense of deja vu was a relief, to tell you the truth. Moving on.

After the triumphant ride on California Screaming, we finally crossed over to Disneyland and took the train to New Orleans Square for a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean. (Sidenote: for future reference, do the baby rides BEFORE the grown-up ones; this seemed sooooo tame after California Screaming, but okay…I get it. It’s not about the “thrill,” it’s about the…um…the animatronics? Whatever.)

Things get a little hazy from this point. I believe Splash Mountain was involved (another note to self: for future reference, do NOT sit in the front seat!!). I finally got to see Phantasm (or whatever it’s called). Kinda cool.

And the spectacular fireworks (further note to self: there are better places to see this from than New Orleans Square).

(Taken with my cell phone--how cool is that?)

Eventually, with our dogs barking like hounds from hell, we rode the Monorail over to Downtown Disney (who knew??) and made up for lost time with two cocktails and Nachos at the Rain Forest Café. More cuteness, of course. Growling gorillas and honking elephants. Oh, and the near fatal incident when Ann tripped going upstairs, nearly strangling herself on some rope (reminiscent of the infamous escalator incident of 2005). Then a cab ride back to the hotel.

In the morning, we checked out and got to the park around 12:30, instantly recognizing we weren’t the only southern Californians who’d gotten the news flash about the great weather. The line in the parking structure was a zillion miles long. Not to worry. While waiting, Ann and I drank champagne and munched on Triscuits with Cheese Whiz. (Hey—we’re like the Boy Scouts: Always prepared.)

Once we got into the park, to our great dismay, long, long, streams of humans greeted us everywhere we went. In fact, for the next couple hours, we only managed two rides: a repeat of Pirates (go figure) and Indiana Jones. Our Fast Pass for Space Mountain scheduled us for HOURS later, so we trudged over to California Adventure to knock a few items off our list, namely lunch and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

Speaking of which, I have to give kudos to Ann, here. What a trouper! (Or a raving scaredy-cat, depending on your point of view). She waited in line with us…then took a hike out the exit! Meanwhile, Marty and I got strapped in and he started with the “regret” talk. Something about having promised himself he’d never do this ride again.

Man, I’m gonna have to find some new amusement park companions!

Anyway, what a blast! VERY short, but a real kick. I highly recommend it.

Next we zoomed back over to Disneyland in time for our appointment with Space Mountain. Again, y’know…cool and all…but doesn’t hold a candle to California Screaming. Oh, and once again, Ann did her disappearing act, and just as I’m about to step into the seat, Marty says: “I may have to bolt, too.”

I mean, COME ON, PEOPLE! These are NOTHING compared to Magic Mountain and Knotts Berry Farm! And you call yourself Disney fans???

Okay, so by now it was dark; probably time to hit the freeway, but no…it occurred to us that the 6:30 parade was about to start which left…hmm…no lines at Splash Mountain! Y’see, in our earlier logging forays, we’d failed to get a good picture, so this time we rehearsed: Ann and I would lean right, with Marty in the middle leaning left.

We didn’t count on the two big guys who scrambled into the seats in front. Oh, don’t worry. They didn’t spoil the picture. But they nearly capsized us! Poor Ann…soaked. Poor Marty…soaked. Me? High and dry in the back, thanks! (Which might explain the smile on my face and the "look, Ma--no hands" pose.)

With that, our journey came to an end (after a brief stop where Ann bought sweats for the drive home). Here are my final thoughts:

Um…all those backpacks gave me the shivers. Especially since the people checking them don’t exactly appear to be TSA trained…

The Fast Pass system is truly inspired genius. Ditto for the single rider passes.

Picking up your ticket at Von’s saves you mucho dinero. In my case, a two-day park hopper cost $91 versus $132 at the park. Take heed!

Disneyland is for all ages. (Caveat: unless you have problems walking.)

Hey, speaking of walking, check it out: I wore my shiny new pedometer, and guess what! We walked the equivalent of ten miles BOTH days (I’ve got the aching calves to prove it.) What you have to understand here is that Marty is the anti-exercise guy (which I’m sure he’ll dispute, but trust me on this) and there he was on DAY TWO—actually, EVENING TWO—SKIPPING down Mainstreet. Yes, SKIPPING. And with a SMILE on his face.

Which just goes to show…MAGICAL things happen at The Happiest Place on Earth.

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