Well this was a rare but well-deserved double-trip this weekend. Day 1 was an after-work-on-a-Friday trip. We started heading to the parks around 7:45 and arrived close to 9pm by the time we walked through the gates of the Magic Kingdom known as Disneyland.
It was an amazingly cool summer night and the entrance to DCA looked stellar. As we entered Disneyland through a not-so-crowded turnstile, we passed under the train into a sea of summer guests reaching the end of their day at the park. We swam our way to Store Command in Tomorrowland where we picked up some really neat pins!
We then grabbed a quick bite over at the TLT (Tomorrowland Terrace) and made our way over to Big Thunder via Fantasyland. I love going that way because the park is so serene by Big Thunder Ranch. There’s mostly moonlight lighting the way. It’s nice and quiet with some Big Thunder excitement coming by every now and then. I remember when I was a kid there was a quail sanctuary – I suppose you would call it – right where the smoking area is along the side of BTMRR. I wish they’d bring something like that back. As a young passholder in the 90s, my family and I would feel a sense of pride watching those little birds grow up.
As we approached the BTMRR queue, we saw that the line was too long and because Fantasmic! was just starting, knew it would be the best opportunity to jump aboard Pirates of the Caribbean and sack the Spanish main! Everything looked and sounded great. The boats were a little backed up when looking from the queue but by the time we got on, everything was flowing smoothly. The guy in the middle waiting to be dunked is still on extended vacation.
After that, we decided to socialize with some grim-grinning ghosts over at The Haunted Mansion. This ride always amazes me and this time, I really noticed how disorienting it is. I’ll have to dig up a track layout in the future and check out how it pertains to the park’s geography because, like “Pirates…”, it’s just SO MASSIVE! I noticed in the attic scene opposite the Bride (where the Hat-Box Ghost might one day stand again) the decor looked a little more disheveled than usual. I like to pretend it’s the ghost of the HBG trying to reassemble himself! Also, the last Melloman on the left was out of sync from his fellow vocalists.
After the Mansion, it was just about time for the park to close and the Big Thunder queue only got longer than before. We got some great grub over at the Stage Door Café and then traded some great pins with a cast member on our way out. This cast member seemed to be a higher-up and had some fun with us and our pin trading etiquette. I don’t trade often so I am a timid trader but I did get an awesome Country Bear pin that I’ll post in my collection in the future. Inthia got another HM pin from the tombstone series.
On Sunday, Suzi and I decided late in the day to take a trip down. Again, we walked through the turnstiles around 9pm but this time at DCA. It’s turning into one of my favorite things to walk through that beautiful gate at the DLR. This was our first time really taking in all of the construction projects going on in what’s becoming Carthay Circle. Walls, walls everywhere!
We popped over to Soarin’ Over California which is always a treat. I just wish they would have built 4 theatres instead of 2 to accommodate the long lines. I never see it with less than a 30 minute wait. This trip, I really took in the beauty and detail of the queue. The banners up top correspond to the photos on the wall and the windows and skylights are a nice touch. I am such a sucker for early flight and space travel and reading those placards is just so interesting.
I love the film they have but wish they would do an overhaul to it like they did with Star Tours. I wouldn’t want a 3D experience, however, because this attraction is so immersive already. (We rode in the first row in the center which is my favorite place to sit. No one above you and you get the most immersive feeling, in my opinion.) I just wish they would at least clean and restore the film from time to time because I see dust that appears and disappears more frequently now and Downtown LA is so outdated now that LA Live and the Nokia Center are there. And why is that section sped up? I also never understood why they shot the Disneyland footage at Christmas time? I love Christmas time at the DLR but in August, it’s a little jarring. I wonder how the first-time guests feel about this — if they even notice it? I do love finding the Hidden Mickeys in the ride. There’s even a Hidden Eisner if you look closely!
After an amazing flight, we ate over at the Taste Pilot’s Grill which is one of my favorite places. I am still on my diet so I looked for something I could have that was a little more substantial and found the ribs on the menu. WOW! These ribs are SO GOOD! I even lucked out because it was right before closing. I ordered the 3-piece ribs and got the 5-piece. I love when cast members understand how to please guests and not waste food. I highly recommend the X3 or X5 ribs!
On our way out of the park, we noticed that the Condor Flats sign was spinning once again! I had almost completely forgotten that it ever spun but I have noticed over the last few months that it has been facing different directions every time. I wonder if this will remain intact post-refurb of the park? Spinning this sign seems strange to me, though, as when it’s facing the Grizzly Peak, guests just see the blank back-side of a sign. Seems like a strange choice to me but it was nice to see it spinning!
We slid on over to Disneyland and went straight into The Enchanted Tiki Room and what treat did we get when we got there? Maynard! Arguably the most beloved cast member at Disneyland, I was very excited to have my first Maynard / Tiki Room experience. We showed up in time, too, for us to see all of the gods do their chants. There were some kids getting Dole whips that were at first uninterested in the Tiki Room, but once they saw that I would walk to each of the gods as they spoke, they got way into it and started guessing, along with me, which of the gods were to speak next! It’s nice to see that some kids are still interested in some of this early Disneyland magic.
Maynard blew us away with his Tiki Room speech. His pre-show is so well crafted and energetic it made everyone laugh out loud and get in the spirit of the show! What was disappointing, though, was the lack of crowds in the Tiki Room. There were only about 15 people in the attraction this go-around. I hope it was just because the fireworks had already ended and there was a Fantasmic! show in-progress. All-in-all, though, a great Tiki Room experience!
We then met up with a friend just outside the Tiki Room and went to look at a Vinylmation he had told us about. Now, one thing you should know about me is I do not care for vinylmation but this one was really weird. It was part of the Holiday collection and was just an eye. Like a classic Mickey Mouse eye. We couldn’t figure it out for the life of us so we called a cast member over and it was a super interesting conversation!
We asked many questions about the lack of pretzels in the park, the placements of some shops in the park, and the lack of Haunted Mansion merchandise. I’ll post some of his interesting takes on the parks but if you find yourself wanting to know some great Disney trivia, look for “Matt” in Adventureland or Frontierland. He apparently floats around and is well known by the cast members.
After blowing our minds with some interesting trivia, we headed over to The Haunted Mansion, which once again, looked and felt perfect. I had never realized that about 90% of the photos on the wall in the hallway scene are of the HBG. Interesting stuff!
To cap off our night, we headed to the Coca-Cola Corner to have some pretzels and drinks and talk all things Disneyland. What was most amusing while eating there, was this random guy hanging around the corn dog cart across the street that insisted on high-fiving everyone leaving the park for the night. We had run into this guy just before entering the Haunted Mansion but it was funny seeing him still at it. Hopefully he made good use of the hand sanitizer available all over the parks!
Can’t wait to go back and start to see the transformation to Halloween Time! It’ll be RSP’s first holiday season and we couldn’t be more excited!