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  1. #1

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    Disneyland 9/06-9/10: A Post Labor Day, Pre Nuclear Holiday in FIve Acts

    All of our photos for this trip, including the full sized versions, can be found at http://www.whiteweasel.net/trips/vac2007c/index.html.

    Act I: Thursday

    Our previous trip to Disneyland was in September of 2005, and among other things occurring at that time, I had just quit my job, we were in the process of selling our house in Portland, moving to Canada, starting a new job, and finding a place to live that allowed our ferrets.

    This time around life was a little more sedate for us, but less so at the Disneyland Resort, where construction walls and scaffolding abounded.

    As in our previous trip, we were staying at the Grand Californian, which we really like, and although the amenities really don't justify the hefty rate, the convenience and atmosphere makes it worth the cost to us.


    We would not escape the Resort's construction and maintenance work in the confines of our hotel room.


    Ah, but no matter, Disneyland was just a short walk away.


    The crowds were non-existent at 6:00 in the evening, although the weather was perfect.


    We have been visiting Disneyland together in September every other year since 1993, with a gap between 2000 and 2005. For our first few trips we would plan which attractions we'd see and when, to maximize the amount of time spent doing things at the park (yeah, okay, Elayne insisted I make it clear that it was I who would make and obsess over these detailed plans, and not her). These days we've settled into a much more relaxed approach to visiting Disneyland, where we have a list of things we know we want to do, but we mostly just walk about, enjoying the incredible details that are there for those who take the time to look.

    We veered left at the hub and found ourselves, in quick succession, on the Jungle Cruise and Indy -- both rides were complete walk-ons.

    Likewise, Pirates had no wait, and we were blessed with the best fellow guests possible: no flash photography at any time! Seriously folks, I could have stood at the exit and kissed and each and every last one of you to show our appreciation (well maybe that would be a little gross, but you get the idea). This was our first time seeing Pirates with the movie tie-ins, and our overall impression was favorable. Elayne is completely ga-ga over Captain Jack (see Act V for proof), and so of course she loved the addition of him to the ride, but we both thought he looked awful waxy in his final appearance.

    With no particular place or attraction in mind we wandered over to New Orleans Square, gazing out over the Rivers of America along the way.


    We noticed that Cafe Orleans now had table service, and decided we were hungry. While the menu is limited, both the food and service were good, and the views from our table, just before sunset, were idyllic.


    After dinner we wandered about New Orleans Square, enjoying the sights and sounds, but lamenting the loss of the Disney Gallery, even if it was only to be temporary.


    For the longest time, Elayne's favorite attraction was Big Thunder, and it was virtually a walk on when we strolled by, so we hopped on for mild rush of adrenaline.


    Some of the low key rides are among our favorite attractions, such as Storybook Land, and here, King Arthur's Carousel.


    The Tea Cups, another favorite, was made all the more magical by twilight.


    The park was set to close just a few minutes away, at 8:00, and so we walked around the Matterhorn and into Tomorrowland, where we found the wait for Nemo was right around half an hour, and so we queued up. We have fond memories of the old submarines, and we were happy to see them operational again and gracing the lagoon with their presence. The interior of our sub was new, clean and sharp, which heightened our anticipation for Nemo.

    We enjoyed Nemo, but found that we preferred the old style real three dimensional figures better than the animated effects. The story, if there was one, was rather much lost on us. We have hopes that the existing infrastructure could be used to present a non-Nemo, more futuristic ride through liquid space that could, perhaps, be offered in addition to the Nemo story.

    It was 8:40 by the time we left Nemo, and we swiftly made our way back to Main Street, where we topped off our evening with an ice cream cone before heading back to the hotel.

    Coming up in Act II: the jungle plus more pirates than you can possibly stand.

  2. #2

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    Re: Disneyland 9/06-9/10: A Post Labor Day, Pre Nuclear Holiday in FIve Acts

    Spoiler
    Wow, you met Grasshopper Hatter and Rapunzel Alice? Cool.

  3. #3

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    Re: Disneyland 9/06-9/10: A Post Labor Day, Pre Nuclear Holiday in FIve Acts

    Quote Originally Posted by mouseinphilly View Post
    Spoiler
    Wow, you met Grasshopper Hatter and Rapunzel Alice? Cool.
    Wrong and wrong.

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    Re: Disneyland 9/06-9/10: A Post Labor Day, Pre Nuclear Holiday in FIve Acts

    All of our photos for this trip, including the full sized versions, can be found at http://www.whiteweasel.net/trips/vac2007c/index.html.

    Act II: Friday

    We started the day off with breakfast at the Storyteller's Cafe. As with most places in the Grand Californian, the details on the walls, ceiling and fixtures is amazing.


    Back in the park we met Alice and the Mad Hatter, who made quite a charming (and entertaining) pair. At one point a very loud middle aged man yelled down from the passing train, "I love you Alice," to which the Mad Hatter replied, "Hey, she's only twelve, which makes that a little awkward."


    Despite the light attendance, Main Street was busy with traffic.


    We hopped aboard the Omnibus for a trip to the hub.


    The double-decker bus was close on our heels, but our one horse power engine was more than a match, and kept us in front all the way to the hub.


    This little girl slowly dropped down onto Elayne's shoulder before climbing back to her normal perch.


    We had a late start and arrived at the park over a half an hour after it had opened, and yet there were very few people about -- a condition that would only change as the sun set.


    Our one horse power... horse.


    We made our way westward, through Frontierland to the Rivers of America to catch a raft to Tom Sawyer's Island.




    Tom Sawyer was fending off pirates and couldn't make it over to the mainland to give us a lift just yet, and so we wandered into Adventureland for some, um, adventure.

    The queue for Indy is nearly as entertaining as the ride itself, and we frequently stop and let people rush past so we can linger and enjoy the details.



    The Imagineers also lavished their attention on the exit walkway as well. This attraction is a masterpiece.



    It was then time for (another) trek deep into the jungle, along with our fearless Jungle Cruise Skipper, JR (pronounced jurr).




    After JR chased the hippos from the canopy, soothed the savage beasts and diplomatically handled what looked like a tense situation with the natives, we were off to Tom Sawyer's Piratey Island, where there be pirates, and other things relating to pirates, as briefly mentioned by Tom somewhere in his book. Tom himself was conspicuous by his absence.

    By the way, have I mentioned how absolutely wonderful the weather was for our entire trip?



    The pirate band was performing and entertaining the (somewhat diminished) crowd. Elayne thought the guy in the orange cap looked like Viggo Mortensen.


    And then the pirate show began, which we found delightfully entertaining. All of the characters performed well, but of course the center of the show was Captain Jack, and the actor playing him was amazing.




    After the show we explored the caves (nice special effects!) and wandered about the island, enjoying the marvelous landscaping, pathways, rock work and
    structures (it was great to have both bridges open again).




    While we could see the theme problems with pirates on the island, we also enjoyed both the pirate shows and the island itself in all its new found glory. We spent several hours here on this day, plus more time on the last day of our trip. By contrast, in both 2000 and 2005 we never even bothered to visit the island.

    We wandered back to the hub and around Adventureland before heading back to the Grand Californian for a tour.



    I can recommend the Grand Californian tour, which covers the history of the Arts and Crafts movement, and how it relates to the hotel itself. Being a great fan of Arts and Crafts (our previous house in Portland was a 1911 bungalow) I already knew a great deal about the movement, and since Elayne and I were the only people on the tour, our guide adapted and modified the schedule to show us more of the hotel, including a stunning VP suite (sorry, I had left the camera back in the room -- typical).


    After the tour we made our way back to New Orleans Square for our lunch reservations at the Blue Bayou. We liked the new menu, and thought the food was well prepared, but the price was rather over the top, even when you consider the great atmosphere. We didn't see the shooting star.

    We then ambled over to the hub and into Fantasyland.





    After a thrilling ride down the Matterhorn we walked over to Tomorrowland to ride Space Mountain and Star Tours, but we were delayed on the way by the last bit of the Jedi Training Academy.


    I'm going to be honest here: when we read about this event, and saw the photos other people had posted, we both said "pass." However after watching just a few minutes of this performance we decided to return to the Tomorrowland Terrace tomorrow for lunch so we could catch Jedi in its entirety.

    Yeah, of course we were rooting for Darth. "Join the Dark Side!"

    The old face of Space.


    After our brush with the future, we visited Ariel's garden, which has some of the best landscaping in the entire park.



    As usual, our feet made their way back to New Orleans Square, traditionally our favorite land in the park, and from here we hopped aboard the train for a trip to Main Street Station.


    From Main Street we returned to our hotel to avoid the heat of the day. As the sun set we went back to the park and had dinner at Rancho del Zocalo. The crowds had picked up quite a bit by now, and this place was packed. We had never eaten here before, and we found the multiple lines to be a complete confusing mess. The food was fine, though, and the price reasonable (for Disneyland), and we found a nice dark corner outside to dine, just where the trains from Big Thunder loop back to the station.

    Our last attraction of the day was a night ride on the Mark Twain -- something Elayne had never done, and I had not enjoyed since the 60s. From there we simply wandered the different lands, enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of Disneyland at night, and drinking in the ambiance. I didn't take the camera with me, but we stopped by several Photo-pass people and had them take our picture.

    Coming up in Act III: early entry, DCA, Jedi, and more DCA (the horror).

  5. #5

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    Re: Disneyland 9/06-9/10: A Post Labor Day, Pre Nuclear Holiday in FIve Acts

    Quote Originally Posted by wulfblat View Post

    Back in the park we met Alice and the Mad Hatter, who made quite a charming (and entertaining) pair. At one point a very loud middle aged man yelled down from the passing train, "I love you Alice," to which the Mad Hatter replied, "Hey, she's only twelve, which makes that a little awkward."

    Ha! That's funny . Great TR so far. Can't wait for more!

  6. #6

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    Re: Disneyland 9/06-9/10: A Post Labor Day, Pre Nuclear Holiday in FIve Acts

    All of our photos for this trip, including the full sized versions, can be found at http://www.whiteweasel.net/trips/vac2007c/index.html.

    Act III: Saturday

    Early entry on Saturday morning was, well, early. Even at this hour there were already more people waiting to get into Disneyland than we saw in the park almost the entire day yesterday. Main Street, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland were open, and because we had already been on all the Tomorrowland attractions we cared about already, we planned to concentrate on Fantasyland.

    The Photo-pass people were all nice, and often they would volunteer to take our picture with our own camera. I'm the goofy looking person in orange.


    The backside of castle. Yes, as the photo suggests, there were only four people in Fantasyland besides us, and two of them were employees.


    We took advantage of this state and rode Peter Pan right away.


    Now what to ride next? Pinocchio?


    Snow White?


    Toad?


    The Tea Cups looked tempting, and so bright and shiny like candy.



    Why of course, Alice!


    Unfortunately, one of our very favorite attractions in the park was unexpectedly closed.



    Oh, but look at this, an empty Dumbo -- why we haven't been on Dumbo in more than a decade!




    And there's always time for a trip on the Carousel.


    And of course Toad.


    It's a Small World looked so unexpectedly inviting, all white and shine, but
    it was not part of the Early Entry.


    It's not that we planned to do anything in Tomorrowland, other than catch the morning light, which was reason enough. Everybody else in the park went to Nemo, but we were just there for the sights.





    And then it was time for breakfast at Carnation Cafe!



    After breakfast we went to meet some old friends waiting for us in Adventureland.




    Isn't that Bob Hope and Bing Crosby I hear singing?


    New Orleans Square AGAIN!?




    Of course, because there is always some detail you've missed before, or forgotten all about.


    This brings up a general observation about shopping at the Disneyland Resort: please bring more area specific merchandise to the shops! New Orleans Square had a handful of nicely themed shops that mostly kept to the location, but even here we found Ariel, Buzz Lightyear, as well as DCA related merchandise. The shops elsewhere were even worse. Other than a dancing three eyed green alien plush toy we purchased in DCA for our ferret Takoda (who spent half of last night hiding from it, and the other half gleefully trying to rip its eyes off) and some candy to take back home to friends, we bought nothing on this trip, which was a first for us. Maybe that's because most of what we bought for ourselves on past trips we got at the Disney Gallery.

    "What can you tell me about Voodoo?" (for all of you Gabriel Knight fans).


    Here's an amusing fellow we met who was handing out sage advice.


    The wonderful world of color!


    And then it was across the esplanade to DCA. When we first entered a CM came up to us and asked us a few questions about our visit. Her final question was "What specific attraction, if any, did you visit the park for?" We answered honestly, and she looked at us like we were crazy, but she dutifully entered it in her tablet.


    We would shoot the rapids on another day, but this morning, as we told the CM, we were on a mission...


    Over to A Bug's Land, which if it were in Disneyland would be filled with kids all through the day. Honestly, the landscaping and theming here is great, and even we enjoyed our visit.

    It is so appropriate that the plants were selected to attract bugs!


    This bumble bee was almost as big as my thumb.


    More should be done with this area, the beds are so beautiful, but the area surrounding them is so dead.




    But we weren't here to see the flowers, no matter how pretty, we were here to meet...



    Heimlich!

    Why Heimlich? Because Elayne is a wildlife biologist, and her current field of specialization is butterflies (and of course caterpillars). She currently works as a contractor for the Oregon Zoo (through the Canadian Government -- it's a long story) working on silver-spot butterflies (an endangered NW species). One of her coworkers insisted she visit Heimlich on her trip, and so there we were.

    Paradise Pier. To many people, this corner of the park is an eyesore, but Elayne likes California Screaming, and so we braved the cheerless concrete and plastic facades for a ride or two.


    We'd never been on the Sun Wheel, and while the views of Disneyland are nice, we'll probably never ride it again.


    How many peaks can you see?


    The best part about Grizzly Rapids is watching the other guests get blasted by the geyser! This was so addictive, and we couldn't help watching.



    I've always thought the Hollywood section had some great architecture, and loved to walk down the street looking at the Art Deco and Streamline facades. I really want there to be more here!




    We rode Monsters Inc, and thought it was at least as good as the best dark rides in Disneyland, but suffered from a really cheap facade, a recycled ride vehicle, and a terrible location.

    There were no vacancies at the Hollywood Hotel, and 45 minutes was too long a wait for us.


    Besides, we had a date with a Sith Lord. We had lunch at the Tomorrowland Terrace and watched the Jedi Training Academy, and just loved it.



    Yo, Darth, who loves ya?


    After all the little Jedi Knight wannabees disappointed us by steering clear of the Dark Side, we went back to the hotel and had a few drinks at the Hearthstone Lounge. The atmosphere is calm and relaxing, and the bartender was able to mix a good version of Milk Punch, once I gave him the basic recipe.

    We had dinner reservations at the Napa Rose for 8:30 that night, and so we decided to visit DCA again (a first!) and make a run for the Tower of Terror.




    Elayne insisted we make another run on Screaming -- and this shoddy photo is proof positive that we both enjoyed it, although I felt guilty about it afterward.


    We then waited for dinner time at the Cover Bar, where we limited ourselves to just one drink.



    Dinner at the Napa Rose was, if anything, better than on our previous trip. We shared scallops as an appetizer, and they were the second best I have ever had. The heirloom tomato salads were delightful (we asked for them without the bacon and blue cheese, which we felt would overwhelm the wonderful tomato flavors), and Elayne enjoyed the salmon while I feasted on duck. We had a nice bottle of Pinot Noir along with our dinner, and spent over an hour and a half enjoying ourselves.

    It was late when we returned to Disneyland, and we spent the rest of the night at Carnation Plaza with the band and dancing. We finally left the park after a very long day.

    Coming up in Act IV: a potpourri of park pleasures, plus the noon meet!

  7. #7

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    Re: Disneyland 9/06-9/10: A Post Labor Day, Pre Nuclear Holiday in FIve Acts

    What a fun trip report! I can't believe I'll be there myself in just 6 weeks! Yippee!

    More, more, more. Can't wait!

  8. #8

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    Re: Disneyland 9/06-9/10: A Post Labor Day, Pre Nuclear Holiday in FIve Acts

    This is a very entertaining trip report. Some of the framing in the pictures are beautiful. I can't wait to see the rest!

  9. #9

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    Re: Disneyland 9/06-9/10: A Post Labor Day, Pre Nuclear Holiday in FIve Acts

    Great report and beautiful pictures! Can't wait for the rest!

  10. #10

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    Re: Disneyland 9/06-9/10: A Post Labor Day, Pre Nuclear Holiday in FIve Acts

    Awesome report!!

    Well done.
    Chad

  11. #11

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    Re: Disneyland 9/06-9/10: A Post Labor Day, Pre Nuclear Holiday in FIve Acts

    Simply marvelous trip report! Can't wait for more.

  12. #12

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    Re: Disneyland 9/06-9/10: A Post Labor Day, Pre Nuclear Holiday in FIve Acts

    Very enjoyable TR! Love that Alice/Mad Hatter picture and caption

  13. #13

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    Re: Disneyland 9/06-9/10: A Post Labor Day, Pre Nuclear Holiday in FIve Acts

    wow excellent and very long (so far) TR. I love these two teacups photos:






    (Sign up and search "Splashmoun10")


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    Check out my latest TR (August 4th---August 11th) at Disneyworld!

    Check out my latest TR (January 4th) at Disneyland!

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    Re: Disneyland 9/06-9/10: A Post Labor Day, Pre Nuclear Holiday in FIve Acts

    All of our photos for this trip, including the full sized versions, can be found at http://www.whiteweasel.net/trips/vac2007c/index.html.

    Act IV: Sunday

    As a general rule of thumb, we are not overly fond of character meals. So why, you may ask, did we frequently eat breakfast at Storyteller's, where character interaction is not only a hallmark, but pretty much required from every customer. Oh, yes, you can look away from the characters as they come near and hope they take the hint and keep away, but you would need a heart of stone not to be moved by those sad little glassy (or is it plastic) eyes as they peer back, seemingly tear filled at the thought of your rejection. I for one can't do it. And so we're back again looking for the reason why we keep going back to Storyteller's morning after morning. It's simple, really: I have a waffle fetish. Add to that the fact that one of our friends requested a photo of us with Chip and Dale, and there's your answer.

    Speaking of Chip and Dale (or Dale and then Chip, if you are following the order in the photos below), those cute little rodents stopped by our table Sunday morning and were their adorable selves (top marks to these CMs!).




    Main Street: by now we felt right at home.



    We had not yet taken a ride on the Monorail, and so our next destination was Tomorrowland. The views from the Monorail platform are among the best in the land.


    Monorail "Nemo" (red) was the only one operating for our stay.



    And just like that we were whisked away on that concrete ribbon in the sky to that futuristic place known as the Downtown Disney Monorail Station... and back. We managed to get the back section of the Monorail to ourselves for half the trip.


    Next on our list of attractions not to be missed was Small World, still looking good in the original white and gold color scheme I remembered as a child in the mid 60s.



    We stopped off just long enough in Toontown to ride on Roger Rabbit.


    Being an animal person, Elayne had to stop by the petting zoo, Big Thunder Ranch ("Is it an evil petting zoo?").



    We noticed that the both the Columbia and canoes were running, and so we made a mental note to return before dusk to ply the Rivers of America on both crafts.



    It was nearly noon by the time we arrived at the hub, just in time for the Sunday meet. This was our first, although back in our 1998 trip we met up with the ADD group, and had lunch (or dinner) with Al as we chatted about the state of Disneyland, which at that time was not particularly good. We walked over and said "hi" to Al, who was gracious and friendly just like the last time we met, and spent the next half hour talking about the park with him and other MiceChatters.

    I finally got to meet David (Darkbeer) Michael and personally thank him for his weekly photo updates of the resort, and we met Fishbulb (hi Norm, sorry we didn't get much of a chance to talk), who was as outgoing and warm in person as he comes across in these forums. We had a great time listening to various other regulars (and I am so sorry I did not catch or remember your names!), and I was able to sneak in a quick "hello" to one of my favorite posters, Sadako, who's wry comments have on more than one occasion caused me to snort what I was drinking over my keyboard.

    My general impression of the meet was that it was a gathering of wonderfully supportive friends who shared at least one common passion. New comers have no need to by shy or bashful: there are no cliques here, and every last person we encountered was welcoming.

    Now for the embarrassing part: I only snapped two sad little photos of the entire meet, and none of the lunch that followed at the Plaza Inn. Sigh. Now everyone repeat after me, "What an idiot."



    After lunch, Elayne and I went canoeing...


    Followed by a voyage on the Columbia...


    No wait, not the Mark Twain, the Columbia!





    It was then off to the hotel so we could change into appropriate gear for white water rafting on Grizzly River. We had seen a lot of very wet people get off the ride the other day, and decided not to risk getting the camera wet. As it turned out our trip down the rapids was rather calm and dry. We liked the general theme of the outfitters, but thought it was rather thin for such a tame "thrill ride." We also spent about an hour wandering around the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail -- again, if this were in Disneyland it would be mobbed by children.

    That evening we returned to Disneyland for dinner at Cafe Orleans, and this time we lingered over dinner (it wasn't crowded) and watched as the sun set and the lights came on.




    It was nearly dark by the time we left New Orleans Square, and we began the evening's fun by riding attractions we enjoy best at night. First up was Big Thunder, followed by the Tea Cups and the Matterhorn.


    We drifted about Fantasyland for while until nearly closing time, savoring out last night at Disneyland.


    Coming up in Act V: how to make a Captain Jack sandwich, and farewell.

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    Re: Disneyland 9/06-9/10: A Post Labor Day, Pre Nuclear Holiday in FIve Acts

    What a fantastic report so far!!! Great photos!




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