Trip Report: November 27, 2011

Here’s a roundup of this past Sunday’s trip.

We got to the park early and had lunch at Storyteller’s Cafe.  We were bummed we missed breakfast (they don’t offer Sunday brunch, we discovered) but lunch is SUPER inexpensive here.  Just over $20 for my wife and I.  Highly recommended for those on a budget.

The smoke-stack works!


We then headed straight to the new Grand Circle Tour exhibit at the Disney Gallery.  Incredible!  I wanted everything on the walls in that exhibit!  I loved everything from the signage out front (with the working smoke stack!) to the train going around the back gallery.  A must-see!

This is an awesome Donald!


We then got to meet one of the Fab-5 in their holiday garb — Donald!  He was a great character but had no wrangler!  Strange but makes for good talking-to-your-neighbor-in-line time to get your picture just right!



We thought that today would be a fun time to try riding some things we never ride.  Today started with the Matternhorn.  After a month+ refurb, nothing has changed.  Still rough and still with the old cars.  Unfortunate.

What a beautiful day!


Love this scene!


He's winking!


Next was Small World Holiday!  I only ride this twice a year so this was a nice treat!  Looked and sounded great although one of the clowns that ride their bike on the wire was not working and one of the many suns had an eye (read: light) out.  Other than that, it was perfect timing for us to get out of the heat and skip the Christmas parade madness.  One day I’ll check that out.



On our way to our next ride, we saw the Tangled meetup had a short line (only 20 minutes compared to the normal 45+).  We met Rapunzel and Flynn but it was pretty weird.  Usually meeting characters is fun because they are big smiling faces that you mime with.  These were kids our age and it seemed just — weird.  Not sure what that was about.



We also checked out the Reindeer Roundup!  We are never in the park early enough and we noticed that Santa Claus is also available for photos at the roundup!  Even better, the BBQ restaurant was open pretty late in the day which made me excited to come back for dinner soon!  It’s my favorite restaurant at Disneyland so dinner there would be killer!

Settled 1880!


We then put on our mining hats and headed over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  We saw the queue was pretty long but the sign said only 10 minutes.  After about a 5 minute wait, we saw that the queue was only going to the stairs and straight up.  What a day for Disneyland — no lines!!!  We had a great ride.

Beautiful tree.


I went to take a picture of a beautifully autumn-red tree and accidentally punched myself in the eye with the camera.  It was a beautiful tree!  We also noticed that the collapsing mine projection looked new — although the rocks were not falling.  You win some, you lose some.

DCA all Christmas-y!


Looming in the distance!


After making our way through the NOS crowds, we grabbed some HMH fastpasses and made a b-line for DCA.  We met up with fellow RSP-er Robert to ride his favorite DCA attraction: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.  It, too, had a short line and we were also the line-time-takers (we were given this lanyard).

Fancy schmancy.


However, I was not sure who to give the lanyard to, so I gave it to the person I thought best to get it — the bellhop loading us into the elevator.  Not sure how that went down but let’s be honest, that’s the gauge for how long the line is.  The ride looked and sounded great but unfortunately the mirror effect was not working correctly.  I wonder what goes into that effect to make it so unreliable?

Below the basement.


Robert here:  I wanted to point out one other thing about our trip on Tower.  Usually when you enter the library, the door closes, a flash of lightning strikes, and the TV turns on.  At that precise moment, the lights go off.  However, on this particular trip, the lights stayed on.  They slowly started to dim and they were shut off about half way through the preshow video.  I wonder if that was intentional or not.  It was neat, but I think I prefer the lights to go out with the lightning strike.

*Star Tours chime*


We then headed back to Disneyland (sans Robert) to utilize some Star Tours fastpasses we got from a friend.  Unfortunately, as great as the queue was, that’s all we saw.  Our starspeeder was halted by a cast member so that we could sing Happy Birthday to another cast member and this seemed to break the entire spaceport.  We did receive some neat re-admits that included Star Tours (they’re red) and planned on returning or utilizing for another ride.  We ultimately did not.

HMH - Haunted Mansion Holiday!


Triumphant trumpets!


Wish this blew snow.




Merry Christmas!


Instead, we went to Haunted Mansion Holiday and lucky for us, we had fastpasses.  This was the longest line of the day at 45 minutes!  We sped onto the ride and everything looked, sounded, and smelled great!  We even got into the lobby before the narrator began, into the stretching room as he began, and into the hallway right on time!  I love when that all works out — but I also don’t think we should hope for that.  It should be consistant.

I love the look -- but that's about it.


After, we went to check out Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye.  I have to admit, this is one of the best looking rides in the park.  But something is always a miss for me and I believe I found it.  I don’t buy the movements of the vehicle. I get that they programmed human reactions into the ride vehicle but it takes me out of the experience.  Also, all I see is a smooth track but all I feel is a bumpy ride.  I spend most of the time trying to figure out what’s going on.  I don’t like that I don’t enjoy the ride, but I also know I am in the minority here so I’ll ride with friends that enjoy it and think to myself that I am super flexible for my friends.  Ha!

Trader Sam's!


It’s Robert again!  So while, David was getting stuck on Star Tours and riding some E Ticket attractions, I was with my girlfriend and a few friends at Trader Sam’s at the Disneyland Hotel.  Boy I love that place.  There are so many intricate details that I notice every time I go.  While we were there, we witnessed a bunch of special effects including an erupting volcano, a sinking ship in a bottle, indoor rain, and a sinking bar stool!  If you haven’t been there, please go.  It’s one of my favorite places to be.

My wife!


It was then time to check out the newly re-opened Pirates of the Caribbean with Robert, Inthia, and Dawn.  We will cover the changes in a future post but wow, I thought there were some great changes!  There were also some things missing and some things added.  Fun ride all-in-all and no mermaids!  Where would they put them anyway that would make any sense?

"Rawr" means "I love you" in dinosaur.


We split from Robert, Inthia, and Dawn to use our re-admit at Space Mountain while they went to ride HMH but again, the line was so short, we saved out re-admit for later!  Another thrilling ride through the galaxy with a fun photo to boot.  I noticed that they no longer utilize the TV screens at the top of the inside queue as no one waits up there anymore.  I wish they’d update the videos/screens all together and maybe that’s next.

The Sandwich - Courtesy of


Robert again:  So while they were on Space Mountain, Inthia, Dawn, and I got fastpasses for the Haunted Mansion Holiday.  While waiting, we ate a delicious dinner at the French Market.  I had a great sandwich in miniature Jack Skellington Coffin!

The Rain's Coming Down!


We then had a bad bout with attractions.  We planned on trying to ride Star Tours with our group all back together but the fastpass line was 25+ minutes.  We tried to ride HMH a second time but it was closed!  We were, however, able to take a buzz through the Hundred Acre Woods with Winnie the Pooh.  I really love that ride and am saddened every time I see the line so short.  I really hope people make their way to that attraction enough!

The Decked Out Splash - Courtesy of


While making our way back to HMH, we noticed that Splash Mountain had a holiday layover on its facade that looked really great!  I guess it’s been around for a few years but I had never seen it before.  Nice touch — wish it was lit at night.

Suzi and I left to try to make it to Tortilla Joe’s at DTD before the rest of the group went on HMH.  Unfortunately the restaurant was closed for the night and we went home.  What I did notice throughout the whole experience: the Davy Crockett Canoes are still open!  I have to get on that before they shutter up for the winter!

It will be me, Robert, for the rest of this report:

The Floating Leota Ornament


After David and Suzi left, we finally made our way to the Haunted Mansion Holiday.  It was great except, Madame Leota was no longer a floating ornament.  She was stationary and there was no sign to her ornament pieces.  Also, her face was being projected, which they never do anymore.  It’s evident that they don’t use the projection often as they were not able to perfect it.  The projection was not aligned with the bust inside the crystal ball and her eyes were very small and pinched in the middle.  It really looked bad.  I assume that was the reason the ride was closed earlier.  When David went on it earlier in the day, he said that she looked good and was a floating ornament.  Oh well… I’m sure they’ll fix her up soon.

Sleeping Beauty's Castle


Inside the Castle


We headed over to Fantasyland after the Mansion, and took a bunch of photos of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle while it was all decked out for Christmas.  It is really beautiful.  While over there, we walked through the Castle to view the Sleeping Beauty scenes.  I love that it’s back.  It brings great childhood memories.

Make an Evil Wish!


After the Castle, we went on Snow White’s Scary Adventures.  It was a great ride and everything looked amazing.

Original artwork for Casey Jr. on display at the Disney Gallery


A trip to Casey Jr. came next.  We sat in our favorite spot, the caboose.  There’s nothing like a trip on Casey Jr. at night.  It is something that is so special and uniquely Disneyland.



We ended our night with a late night ride of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  It was the perfect end to a wonderful day at Disneyland.



See you at the parks!