Trip Report: October 22, 2011

What’s better than Disneyland on one’s birthday?  Going the day BEFORE your birthday and reaping all the perks of it being your birthday.  However, since this was a Saturday, we had to be strategic.

We showed up to the parks relatively early at about 1pm and took some great pictures of the halloween decor basking in the daylight of this warm October day.  Boy do those colors pop!

My wife, Suzi, headed over to City Hall to grab a birthday pin for me and to try to get us a couple seats on the Lilly Belle while I headed over to Ghost Galaxy to get a fastpass for the evening.  While she had no luck with the Lilly Belle seating, I was able to snag some 10pm fastpasses as well as this neat Captain EO preferred seating pass.


I had never seen these before but I love that they do surprises like this from time to time at the fastpass queues.

We then met up at Big Thunder Ranch BBQ for a little birthday lunch.  Since most of our park visits are during the evening, we never get to eat at this daytime eatery but today was my special day and I wanted to gorge.  And gorge we did!  But not before our 45-minute wait time for a table.  So, we used our time wisely and checked out the amazing pumpkin carving and goats next door at Big Thunder Ranch Halloween Roundup.  There will be a post soon with all of the great pumpkins we saw but here’s a little sneak peak!


Just before we were sat for lunch, I admired the Norman Rockwell halloween art that was set up around the restaurant.  I really love his style and I think this halloween work is among my favorite of his!  It really captures the imagination and wonder and most importantly the emotion of the holiday through the eyes of these almost cherub-like children.  Absolutely an amazing touch!


We were soon anxiously awaiting out meals with some great cowboy-style entertainment.  The trio that was performing we had seen a couple years ago when we came over to the BBQ and they had some really great halloween tunes to share with everyone.  It was really well organized and paced and the food was equally as amazing!  This is definitely a once-a-year type of meal but wow what a meal!  I even got a flour-less chocolate cake for dessert!


After lunch, we planned on riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad but unfortunately it was closed! Not sure what the problem was but we then headed over to Disney California Adventure.  The construction in front is coming along nicely and the detour is becoming increasingly tolerable. The first attraction to which we headed for a fastpass was the appropriately halloween-y Tower of Terror.  I am a new iPhone user so today, the MouseWait app was in full effect and super useful!  Luckily it was only an hour wait so we headed into A Bug’s Land.

Suzi and I have planned for years to use the “Thank You” Chinese food box on Flick’s Flyers as our wedding gift “Thank You” cards.  This is really well done for such a run-of-the-mill attraction.  The details were on-point and the cast members, while chatty, really seemed to enjoy their jobs.  They did some fun voices over the intercom system and even took Suzi and my photo in the Thank You box for us before take-off!


Just before we lifted off, the cast member controlling the ride made sure everyone in line and on the ride know that “today [was] a special day in A Bug’s Land because it’s David’s birthday!!!”  It was really a nice touch and away we went for a circular tour of this corner of  the land.  It had some great views of the Tower at angles I had yet to see so I snapped a few shots off before we landed.


We then headed over to the Blue Sky Cellar to check out the new exhibits and new imagineer video.  I really liked how this one was done — it was more of a forma documentary style and the filmmakers used a slider and some great voiceover for profiling each imagineer.  And I am not sure if it’s new but the screen on which they show the film looked incredibly clear and vibrant!  It was probably the best looking HD monitor I have ever seen.

After a tear-jerker of a cinematic experience, we wandered over to California Screamin’ when suddenly Suzi spotted Hollywood “celebutant” Ryan Philippe (I Know What You Did Last Summer, Flags of our Fathers, Cruel Intentions) who was there with his son.  It was nice to see him without a plaid vested cast member — he was just out an about on his own. Screamin’ had quite the wait but we rode and it was great.  Cars Land is really coming along and Screamin’ really offers some great views of it!

We then headed over to Suzi’s favorite DCA attraction, The Silly Symphony Swings.  This is so fun at dusk because the sunset behind the Paradise Pier Hotel is always stunning — especially on a chilly autumn evening.  The oranges and ambers really embody the Halloweentime spirit!


Before heading back to Disneyland, we redeemed our Tower of Terror fastpasses.  One thing I always notice now is the ceiling of the tower and how clean it is compared to the walls and everything else.  A co-worker pointed this out when she rode for her first time last year and it has stuck with me ever since.  She put it this way, “… if Walt had created this attraction, he would have paid attention to every detail — including the ceiling of the Tower’s lobby scene!”  I couldn’t agree more.


While riding, I saw one of the coolest things I have ever seen on the ride.  Usually I hate when peiople bring on things that glow or a sword that lights up or something like that, but the girl in front of my just had one of those glowing necklaces.  It didn’t blink, it wasn’t too bright, it just glowed green.  When the mirror scene happened, we all disappeared into the 5th dimension, her necklace remained seemingly floating in place!  It looked more like we had all become ghosts and one of the invisible ghosts was wearing a glow-y necklace!  It was really neat and I would love to try it with a glow-y hat and glasses!

We then headed back over to Disneyland and went straight to redeem our Ghost Galaxy fastpasses.  The fastpass line went all the way out past the Captain EO queue!  It was so bazaar but after about 15 minutes, we were boarded.  It was a great ride and as Robert had predicted, the hand that follows you has been put into place and follows along perfectly!


Unfortunately we were unable to ride Haunted Mansion Holiday, Indy, and even Jungle Cruise due to the crowds, but we were able to walk right into Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room.  How was I wrong for so many years about this incredible attraction?  Unfortunately, there was no Maynard on duty for the evening but a terrific show none the less and the perfect cherry on top of our wonderful visit to the happiest place on earth!