Well, I just got back from my first trip to Disneyland. After a lifetime of anticipation and five extended visits to Disneyworld, to at last visit the park that started it all -- the ONLY park with Walt's personality/ghost still lingering about -- was quite a thrill. A THREE DAY thrill, no less!
My unsolicited opinions (feel free to dis/agree)
The Enchanted Tiki Room (Beautiful inside and out, with a MUCH better show than DW's Iago fiasco. This was the first attraction that my sister and I went in on our first day at Disneyland, her first visit to ANY Disney park. When she walked out smiling widely and singing the theme song, I knew I'd picked a great traveling companion...and that she was now hooked)
Indy (Wow. The sooner they put this in Florida, the better. And I normally HATE transplants!)
Pirates (the second attraction I took my sister on. She simply couldn't believe how cool Disney actually was/is)
Haunted Mansion (leaving this, my sis asked to go on again. Immediately)
Dinner at the Blue Bayou
Fantasyland exteriors (perfect)
The sight of the Matterhorn looming to the right of the castle
The outside of It's A Small World (although me thinks WDW's insides are better)
Carving Matterhorns and Tiki Gods out of those f***ing delicious Dole Whips (oh, and eating them, too!)
One night each at Grand Californian and Disneyland Hotel
Buzz Lightyear (so much better than WDW's...there's actually a story to it, less targets means more to take in, and the Buzz and Zurg animatronics are GORGEOUS!)
Splash Mountain (Pretty bare and ragged compared to Florida's. My sister, who's never been to WDW, absolutely LOVED it, though, so maybe I'm just spoiled. When she wanted to ride it again on our third day, it was closed for minor log adjustments/tests)
Alice In Wonderland
Mr. Toad's (even more fun than WDW's now defunct version...and a hotter hell!)
The semi-restored appearance of Tommorowland
The size (although MUCH smaller, it felt charming rather than cramped)
DCA (it really is a waste of money and imagineering, isn't it?)
The Snow White stage show (The sets are great, the script weak, the actors barely bearable. Particularly bad: the Huntsman. His brief scene in the animated version is FULL of emotion and one of the movie's most powerful moments. The stage show gives more drama to the Bluebird getting sent to the corner!)
Certain cast members' handling of the varied needs of the handicapped (My sister has a severe brittle bone condition that she hides to the best of her ability. She did not ask for the special pass until our third and last day in the park, mostly because she didn't want to needlessly draw any attention to herself, and also because I'd convinced/guilted her that the themeing of the lines usually added to the ride itself. By the third day, however, the pain in her back and legs was simply too much for her to take, so we went to City Hall and were given a special needs pass. While many cast members went out of their way to help -- Indy, Peter Pan and Star Tours' in particular -- a noted few -- The Matterhorn and Buzz Lightyear -- literally looked her up and down and then told her she could use the regular line! Now, I'm sure a couple of Disney employees are secretly well-studied physicians and/or psychics simply slumming in the parks for free passes, but surely not ALL of them possess the uncanny ability to judge a person's condition simply by looking at them, do they? As a self-confessed "lipstick lesbian," my sister takes more than the usual pride (and time) in her appearance. As a woman who spent the majority of childhood and teen years in unweildy back and neck braces, with all of the stares, mocking and embarrassment that unfortunately goes along with that, she has purposefully taught herself to walk and stand in such a way that does not draw attention to her physical imparement. Perhaps it's a testament to her success that these cast members so casually turned her away -- she "looks" fine! In truth, though, I found it ignorant and unkind. Just because the park has its share of folks that abuse the special needs priviledges, that does not mean that it's employees are in any way justified in making judgements as to who is deserving and who is not. I mean, hell - they let Michael Jackson and Paris Hilton skip all the lines they please, and their deficiancies are strictly of the mental variety!)
Okay, so enough of that.
All in all, Disneyland proved to be even better than I'd studied and imagined. I plan to go back some time late next winter, once all of the refurbishments are completed and the bulk of the anniversary crowds have waned. You people that live out there are so incredibly lucky. I hope you know it! Thanks again to all of those posters who responded to my many questions in the past two months. You all made it so much easier to experience and enjoy the park to the fullest.