Please bear with my stream of consciousness here...
This month is both my mom's first full month of NOT teaching high school after 24 years, and it also happens to be the month of my dad's birthday. All three of us enjoy Disneyland, and since this was Mom's first chance to visit during a time of year that isn't too badly crowded, we thought a Disney vacation would be a perfect way to celebrate (along with visiting some of our SoCal relatives).
This was the first time we stayed at a Disney hotel, and let me say, now I know what I was missing. The GCH is gorgeous, our room was very nice, and you can't beat that Disney customer service. Not to mention the walk back to the hotel is much more pleasant than when staying off property. Heck, if you're heading back from DCA, you're already there!
Wednesday and Thursday were quite pleasant, despite the heat and humidity, since the crowds were very light. I used the Lines app from Touringplans.com to keep an eye on wait times, and I don't think we waited much more than 10 minutes for anything. Friday was a different story. I think a lot of people descended on the parks for the Space Shuttle flyover, making things more crowded than Touringplans had predicted, especially in the afternoon. The combination of crowds plus heat and humidity made things less than pleasant, which was too bad, as that was the only day my uncle could join us. Still, we had fun, and we got to take my uncle on all the new rides, and we got to watch the Space Shuttle. (There were a couple snafus, however, which I'll get to in a bit.)
BVS is a huge improvement over the old entryway to DCA. The newer park now has a lot more charm than it did before.
Cars Land is very well themed. Gorgeous during the day and even better at night. RSR is definitely an E-ticket, and I liked the way it was divided into a scenic outdoor ride, then a dark ride, then an outdoor thrill ride. It doesn't surprise me in the least that the standby line still backs up to over an hour even on light days, and I was glad we had early entry so we could ride it and then line up to get Fastpasses for later. I was very glad to see CMs handing out free (I assume) water and sports drinks to people waiting in the standby line.
We rode RSR three times and got Luigi all three times. Luigi is cool and all, but I was disappointed we didn't get to see Ramone. Maybe next time.
We rode Mater's, which was cute, but I think it would be more fun if we had kids with us. There aren't any little ones in my [extended] family yet, so it may be a while until we ride this again. Now that I think of it, the teacups are a lot more fun. We skipped the Flying Tires.
Soarin' is still my dad's favorite, so we took him on it four times (it was his birthday, after all!) I had heard that the screen / film had become fairly cruddy, but I didn't notice it too much. Then again, we only rode in the theater on the right side. Maybe the left side is worse.
Little Mermaid was cute. Made me think of Small World with, IMHO, better music. Ursula was my favorite part.
I'm getting the hang of Tower of Terror. The first couple of times I've been on it were fun in a brown underwear kind of way. I was never really too scared to go on it, but the physical sensation of falling had been very intense and about at the limit of what I could tolerate. The last time I went on, I learned to let go of the handholds and let myself come up out of my seat. For some reason, that made it so I had a much easier time of it and it was a lot more fun.
Apparently the CM operating Roz's sound board on Monsters Inc. thought I was a hunk. Or that I'm monstrous enough that Roz would be into me. Not sure which.
We did WOC on Wednesday night. It's a spectacular show, but I doubt I'll be doing that to my knees again. I'm not a fan of standing in one place for that long on hard concrete.
The new Star Tours is awesome. Way, way better than it was before. If there was no line, I'd ride it over and over again. I do miss the mouse droid and the overhead conveyor in the queue, though. We rode four times, got Tatooine once, Hoth 3 times, Princess Leia 3 times, Admiral Ackbar once, Coruscant twice, Naboo once and the asteroid ring once. Also, the Empire should be highly suspicious of attractive young ladies, just on general principles.
The Ghost Galaxy overlay is visually pretty cool, but DEAR LORD IS IT LOUD!!!! LIKE STANDING NEXT TO A JET ENGINE LOUD!!!! DISNEY, COULD YOU TURN THAT DOWN A LITTLE?!?!? HOLY SHNIKES!!!! Seriously, I only went on Space Mountain once this time, and that was because it hurt my ears.
After reading all the complaints here, I was a bit worried about riding the new Matterhorn bobsleds, particularly for my dad, who can have difficulty getting up if he's sitting too low. Thank goodness none of us had much of a problem. I do think some padding would be an improvement, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I had feared.
The Fantasyland dark rides seemed a bit darker than I remembered them. I suspect the UV paint tends to fade over time? If so, I think it's time for a refresh. And as we all know, the tarps and temporary railings outside of Alice are an eyesore. I hope they come up with an elegant solution for this, and soon.
I was sad to see the rocks were no longer shaking along the final lift hill on Big Thunder. Lets hope they get that fixed soon.
Likewise, I hope the seagull returns to his nest atop the skeleton on Pirates. Not to mention the hat pirate's hats! I have extended thoughts on Pirates, which I will share in another post.
Jungle Cruise was awesome. Which is to say, the skip was awesome. Gotta love a good skip.
HMH is cute, but I prefer the original Mansion. My biggest complaint is the graveyard scene, where it seems the ghosts are the only things that aren't glowing! That's not right. Interestingly, the bullet hole is easier for me to see during HMH. I guess that's because of the garland strung along the glass.
We tried to ride Splash Mountain on Thursday, but wen we went to get Fastpasses, the whole thing was shut down. We rode HMH instead, and were standing outside the exit trying to decide where to go next when we noticed them opening Splash again. We pretty much walked right on! That was awesome, and getting soaked felt so good.
Unfortunately, the Mickey watch my dad had bought himself the day before came loose from the strap, and the pin to hold the strap in place disappeared. Dad was heartbroken. We took it to the watch shop on Main Street, and the CM replaced the watch and even set the time. It was a little thing, but we greatly appreciated it.
Of course, we had to get Dad a birthday button. He got a huge kick out of being wished a happy birthday by all the CMs and even some guests!
Like I said, things were a bit less magical on Friday, though mostly due to things outside anyone's control. For instance, I don't think anyone knew exactly when the Space Shuttle would be flying over Disneyland, or where the best viewing would be. When Disneyland made the announcement, I grabbed my group and staked out a shady spot in front of the Carthay Circle Theater. Unfortunately, the others had overheard a CM say that the best viewing would be in Paradise Park, where the professional photographers had set up. I say unfortunately, because we wound up roasting in the sun for about a half hour before the Shuttle flew directly overhead, above the shadeless palm trees that I had foolishly stood under. There may have been better views in other areas, but I don't think the view from Paradise Park would have been much better than where I had started.
After that, we decided to ride GRR to try and cool off. That's when our luck really turned sour. We got stuck halfway up the lift hill when the ride stopped, and we had to be evacuated. We didn't even get wet, just spent more time roasting in the sun! I felt sorry for the poor CM who had to haul the metal plank-thing up to us so we could be rescued; she was really huffing and puffing.
Despite that, we did have a great time. And one thing I notice, having been going to Disneyland since I was little. When I was younger, the thing I loved about Disneyland was the immersive rides. I still love the rides, but I've also developed an appreciation of the front line CMs. I've worked retail, so I know how hard it can sometimes be to be friendly and helpful all the time, but you always manage to make our visits that much more magical, sometimes just with a smile and a wave. Thank you!