On the third Sunday in August my wife Kathy and I made our way down to Disneyland. But this trip report is more about the stops along the way before we actually arrived at the Happiest Place on Earth. Let's get started ...
It was very early in the morning when we left Northern California. As we crested the Pacheco Pass and headed down towards I-5 we were greeted by a fabulous sunrise.
After an uneventful drive we arrived at our first stop, The Disney Soda Fountain in Hollywood. Kathy had heard about this place years before, but in all our prior excursions to Disneyland we never took the time to actually stop and check it out.
Mickey was there to greet us!
After the drive this was a wonderful way to enjoy breakfast. Or lunch. Or both.
Of course, we had to try the Mickey waffle. Mmmmm-I-C-K-E-Y!
The sundae looked (almost) too good to eat. It even had a hidden Mickey! (All right, maybe not so hidden ...)
After our brunch we headed over to Walt's Barn at Griffith Park. It was a short drive from Hollywood and was the real reason that we chose this day for our trip. The Barn, which houses memorabilia from Walt's home railroad, the Carolwood Pacific, is only open to the public one day a month -- on the third Sunday!
The plaque outside the Barn reads:
Also on display is the combine car from the original Retlaw1 train which circled Disneyland on its opening day in 1955. I had a grand time discussing this car with the docent, and I knew almost as much of its storied journey back to the Disney family as he did!
Oh, how I wish that I could have climbed those stairs and walked in through those doors. But who knows? Maybe on my first visit to the Park in 1957 I might have done that very thing? I rode the train so often when I visited that it is very likely I've ridden in this car before.
Inside the barn itself there is a wide variety of objects on display, including this car from his Carolwood Pacific train. While I might have ridden once on the combine, I know that I've never been a passenger on this car! Oh, what fun that must have been!
Here is the control board from Walt's railroad operation. I love the name "Yensid Valley". However, the source of the tunnel's name eludes me. Does anyone have any idea to what "Rorex" refers?
In this view you can see a sampling of the many different displays around the Barn.
I would love to have a lamp just like this one! Hmmm, Christmas is coming soon ...
Dumbo actually flies over an operating model train. There were a lot of kids this day taking turns running the train, or operating Dumbo. Including me!
This is a neat poster. I'd love to find one, especially one updated to include the new Mark VII monorail.
When I was a little boy (OK, maybe I still am?) I had this book! Well, maybe not this particular book, but one just like it. I remember reading it over and over and over, and wanting a railroad in my backyard that I could ride, just like Donald does. Sure wish I still had that book.
Outside the barn I met Floyd Norman, a Disney Legend who has worked on the animation for several Disney movies, starting with Sleeping Beauty. We talked a lot about his early days with Disney and about the upcoming movie Saving Mr. Banks, on which he served as a consultant. He had high praise for the film and for Tom Hanks' portrayal of Walt. I can't wait to see it!
After several hours at the Barn we left for one last stop before getting to the Park. We had heard about the Merry-go-Round in Griffith Park and how it had been a favorite of Walt's before Disneyland had ever been built. Since we were already so close we wanted to stop and see it.
We may have been close, but unfortunately my GPS couldn't find it. Following its directions we drove in a big circle around Griffith Park and ended up back at Walt's Barn! Kathy's intuition then took over and we soon found this sign:
I guess that is still best to heed a woman's intuition ...
The merry-go-round is a grand, majestic attraction, but unfortunately is in need of major refurbishment. As many of you already know, Disney has donated some money towards the eventual restoration of this ride. I look forward to seeing it returned to its original splendor!
And here is a question that has long intrigued me: What is the difference between a merry-go-round and a carousel? Kathy heard that a carousel had only horses, but this equine-only ride is called a merry-go-round. And why is the Disneyland Carrousel spelled with 2 R's? (My spell checker does not like that.)
The organ was in wonderful condition and all the animation seemed to be working, right in time to the music. Early animatronics?
Finally, late in the afternoon, we arrived at our final destination!
We were there in time for the Lighting at Radiator Springs (somehow in all of our previous trips our timing had not quite been right).
A special treat: A Disney CM taking a break from her "duties" to mop the pavement of Route 66 in the form of Mickey Mouse. (ed. note: Kathy informs me that it was Minnie Mouse, not Mickey.)
Finally, after starting the day with an inspiring sunrise, we ended it with a full Moon over Cadillac Ridge (or whatever it is called).
It was a very full and fun day, retracing much of Walt's personal history, and ending in perhaps his greatest legacy. I hope that you have enjoyed reliving this journey with us.
Photo credit: All photos by Kathy and Larry Tom, except for a very nice tourist who took our picture with Mickey outside the Soda Fountain.