Just to add, AOL, on their main page has an article on Club 33
and a picture of Mickey and a little girl in the Gold Dumbo ~
Evidently, they have a real problem at aol with using current
By CARLY MILNE
Though I’m Canadian by blood, I’m American by nature -- which is why I was more obsessed with Disney characters than 'The Friendly Giant' (a popular Canadian kids show) when I was growing up. My first trip to the land that Walt built was at 6 years of age, and though the park has matured a lot and gone through many incarnations since that time (how long is none of your business), my fascination with it hasn’t changed. Which is why I feel it’s my civic duty to share with you the tips and tricks I’ve learned to ensure the fullest, most complete Disneylanding experience you could possibly have… unless Mickey Mouse himself were to escort you through the park. Tip 1: Give yourself a pre-park day to get acclimated.
Though it’s tempting to walk right off the flight and right on to Space Mountain, you’d be foolish to waste the beautiful opportunity to experience the fun but dramatic tension that ensues when you’re this close to the park, but can’t go in -- which makes your entrée the following day that much sweeter. But on top of that, you’d miss all the great dining and shopping opportunities in Downtown Disney, the resort’s premiere shopping area with a unique collection of stores and eateries. Get some great smelly bath stuff at Basin, do some pre-Disney mania immersion in World of Disney, power up at Jamba Juice, catch a movie at the AMC theatres, and wrap things up with some video games at ESPN Zone. Or dinner at the Rainforest Café. Maybe some time at the House of Blues, too. In fact, you might want to skip the park and just spend all your time here!
Yeah, right. Tip 2: Stay at an on-site hotel.
Although there are plenty of off-site hotels that are friendly with the Disneyland resort, there’s really no experience quite like staying in an on-site hotel. Your options are the Paradise Pier, the Disneyland Hotel, and my new favorite, the Grand Californian. Built to look like a classic California craftsman home, the lobby alone is worth the room rate. With dramatically high ceilings, giant fireplaces, stained glass and warm wood accents, you almost don’t want to go to your room … but you should, because it’s there that you’ll be greeted by the most comfortable beds on property, marble tubs, and flat-panel televisions that give you a direct connection to classic Disney cartoons, or a bedtime story. (No, I didn’t bother tuning into HBO. Yes, I watched the re-enactment of Cinderella as read by Cindy herself. What of it?) With a world-class spa, incredible dining experiences, and some of the best service you’ll ever get at a hotel -- not to mention a view of Disney’s California Adventure from some rooms -- you’d be mad enough to be a character in Alice in Wonderland not to book here. Tip 3: Get a two-park pass.
No matter if it’s for one day or five, you’ll want the option. Trust me. Tip 4: Use your Early-Morning Entry.
The other benefit of staying at an on-site hotel? Early entry. This gives you the option to enter the park an entire hour earlier than everyone else, allowing you the privilege of getting two of the most crowded lands -- Fantasyland and Tomorrowland -- out of the way long before the park gets to capacity. If you have little ones, start with Peter Pan’s Flight, arguably the most unique of all the “dark rides” (as the vets call them -- that’s code for “those rides where you’re in a little car and you drive through scenes”). Pan’s Flight has the longest line in Fantasyland from morning to night, so best to get it out of the way early.
That said, the Tomorrowland relaunch of the submarines -- now themed to Finding Nemo -- has consistently won the Longest Line moniker since its early June debut, so if you had to choose I’d say do Nemo first, as the line filters slower. If your goal is to nail as many rides as you can in one fell swoop, Early Morning Entry can really put you at the head of your game.
One drawback to Early Morning Entry? No rope drop, which is a ritual they do wherein Walt’s iconic opening-day speech is played on loudspeakers through Main Street just before they drop the rope to officially open all the lands. It’s a fun little treat, so make sure you experience it at least once. Tip 5: Start with Attractions West.
If your crew -- be they children or children-at-heart -- are over the whole Fantasyland thing, I highly recommend starting with Attractions West (as the vets call them – that’s code for “the attractions on the West side of the park”). This means you’ll want to hit Adventureland, New Orleans’ Square, Critter Country and Frontierland. Why? Because if you’re swift about it, you can knock all of their rides out well before lunch, and save the rest of the day for standing in lines. But there’s a science to it, which brings me to my next tip … Tip 6: Load your Fastpasses.
Fastpasses are either God’s gift to Disneyland, or the devil’s blight on Walt’s park -- it depends on who you ask. The whole concept is to “save your spot in line” so that you can go do other things (i.e., eat, shop and do other things that cause you to spend money) instead of waiting in an endless line. But if you learn to use the system to your advantage, you’ll maximize your amusement time.
For example, let’s say we’re starting our day in Attractions West. Get a Fastpass for Indiana Jones – known back in the day as “Temple of the Long Line” -- and then go directly to Pirates of the Carribbean. Once you’re done on that ride, go directly to Haunted Mansion. By the time you’re out of the mansion, you should be able to get a new Fastpass. If not, skip over to Critter Country for The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh, and by the time you get off that ride, you should be good to go for Indy. But wait -- before you get on Indy, make a stop at the Fastpass distribution for Splash Mountain. Do Indy, maybe squeeze in a whirl on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (or some target practice at Frontierland’s Shootin’ Exposition), then you’re set to go on Splash Mountain. But before you do that, stop off and get a Fastpass for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin …
See where I’m going with this? It always helps to have a plan. The thing is, others are going to have the exact same plan, so don’t fret if Faspasses run out for the day. Just use your time in line as quality time. (Easier said than done when you’re all bouncing around like crazies, right?) Tip 7: Nail your characters early.
If your little ones are dead set on having their pictures taken with princesses and mice and bears, best to do it sooner than later, as the lines get longer as the day goes on. The princesses take up court in the Fantasyland Theatre, Buzz Lightyear hangs out in Tomorrowland, Pooh and the gang take over Critter Country, Mickey and Minnie are easily found in Toontown, Ariel has a clamshell in the fountains near Tomorrowland, and Aladdin takes up shop in Adventureland, while a mix of characters sometimes take over the Small World area. Sometimes the villains come out to play around Fantasyland, and old-timers -- like Brer Bear -- chill near Adventureland. Sometimes it’s set, other times it’s luck of the draw, but if you miss someone during the day, sometimes they make a post-parade appearance on Main Street near the Mad Hatter. Tip 8: Eat early, eat often.
Restaurants get busy at predictable times -- especially during high season in the summer and around Christmas. To combat it best, do mini-meals at the concession stands all around the park. Grab a turkey leg here, a container of crudités there, and you won’t feel the sting of hunger at all. And if you do, at least it’ll tide you over until the rush subsides and you don’t have to fight nearly as much for a table somewhere.
As a breakfast tip, on days without Early Entry, try going to the park a half-hour before opening to have breakfast at the Carnation Café, sandwiched in between the watchmaker and the ice cream parlor on Main Street. The wait staff is expert at delivering your food and check in perfect timing to make rope drop, all with a smile. If you want to make lunch or dinner something special, make your first stop of the day the reservations desk at the Blue Bayou, the restaurant that puts you right in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. Great food and a great atmosphere ensure your dining experience will be unforgettable. Of course, your other options for lunch are to eat in Downtown Disney, or try some of the dining options at the hotels. But why would you want to leave the park once you’re in? (The answer? You wouldn’t.) Tip 9: Switch parks mid-day.
Right around the time lunch starts to get nuts and you’ve successfully nailed all the rides in Attractions West, that’s the right time to make your way across the esplanade to Disney’s California Adventure. As the park is smaller and doesn’t hold as many people as Disneyland, it’s a great way to get a little breathing room and still hit some great rides before dusk. Don’t miss Soaring Over California (the hangliding ride), Tower of Terror (the elevator drop ride) and California Screamin’ (the roller-coaster), all of which have Fastpass -- and great views. Tip 10: Skip the parades, shows and fireworks.
You don’t want to waste time watching rubberheads in choreographed dance and colorful explosions over the Matterhorn, do you? Of course not -- you want to ride the Matterhorn, and parades followed by fireworks are a great time to get a lot of riding done. As the shows swallow up a lot of the crowds, the lines tend to get leaner, which means you have that much more opportunity to maximize your ride count. That said … Tip 11: Don’t skip parades, shows and fireworks.
Really – don’t. I can condone skipping the parade if you’re either above a certain age or below a certain tolerance level, but you have to see the fireworks at least once. They really are an incredible masterpiece of timing and choreography, best seen from directly in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle, but enjoyed no matter what location you see them from. Plus, the magic and entertainment of Fantasmic is unparalleled (though I recommend seeing the less crowded late show, if your little ones have had a nap). Tip 12: Do open to close.
Maybe I come off as a bit fanatic, but there’s something so magically all-encompassing about being there right when the gates open to riding every last ride until they kick you out. It gives one a sense of accomplishment … or obsession, take your pick. Regardless, it does make your trip memorable, and gives you plenty of time to see, do, re-see and re-do all the things that you want to, whether you’ve planned to stay for a day or a week. Plus … Tip 13: Shop late.
Don’t waste your valuable ride and character-visiting time shopping for -- and carrying -- souvenirs. All the shops on Main Street are open an hour after park closing, and Downtown Disney shops are sometimes open for two hours after park closing, depending on the day and time of season. But if you really must, must, must spend money right that second, make arrangements for them to deliver your bags to your room (another benefit only allotted to on-site hotel guests). Tip 14: Ditch the kids.
Yes, you love them -- but you also just let them drag you around miles and miles of amusement parks for hours on end. Isn’t it time for a little grown-up get-together? Don’t worry about the kids - the Grand Californian has babysitting options, that give kids the chance to watch movies, make crafts, and even get rooftop seats for the fireworks with skilled caregivers that will keep an eye on them until you’re finished doing whatever it is you want to do. After all, the Disneyland Resort isn’t just fun for kids.
Some adult recommendations? How about spa treatments at the Mandara Spa followed by an incredible dinner at the Napa Rose? You could go for the wine country duck confit with spring vegetable fricassee and porcini mushroom foam appetizer followed by a main of white truffle honey glazed pacific salmon with white asparagus, coastal mushrooms, baby “red lace” mustard greens, green lentil puree and minneola essence. Or, go big and sign up for the Vinter’s Table, a chef’s tasting menu designed to be paired with the best wines from wine country. Just make sure you save room for dessert! The kids might be miffed, but you can pay them off the next morning with breakfast at the Storyteller’s Café. With grown-up breakfast options for mom and dad, a delicious buffet for all ages and wandering characters to spice up the dining experience, all will be forgotten … and you’ll be more than ready to tackle another day of rides, or use it as your last hurrah before you catch your flight home. For more information on the Disneyland Resort, visit them online. Meanwhile, Carly is going to continue her quest to conquer every Disney property in the world. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].