Disneyland is awesome!
You know, I didn’t think I’d like it. I was sitting in Anaheim all by myself. I had been working almost non-stop and hadn’t had much time to even look around the hotel, let alone check out Anaheim. However, my client cancelled one of our meetings and convinced me that since I was only two blocks away from Disneyland I had better go now while I had the chance. So off I went, all by myself, to Disneyland.
Granted, I didn’t intend to go alone. I sent messages to all the people I knew in LA (and a few that I didn’t) trying to find someone who would go with me, but it being Halloween weekend, everyone was already going to parties that I apparently wasn’t invited to (granted they were over an hour away). I had no idea how Disneyland could be fun on a Saturday night without anyone to talk to while I stood in line, listening to screaming children. I wasn’t really looking forward to it, to be honest.
My first impressions of Disneyland were pretty much what I expected. Once you walk through the gates and go under the train tracks, you’re in a whole new world. You can’t see any of the buildings around you anymore and you’re completely immersed in the brilliant marketing that is Disney. The lines were just as long as I had expected (a good hour and fifteen minutes for Space Mountain) and even though I really had nothing to do but go on rides, the thought of standing in line just really didn’t appeal for me.
So what did I do? I talked to people. I walked around with my camera taking photos and introducing myself to staff and other people who seemed nice. I asked questions about Disneyland, about the park, the history and the rides. My first attempt at a ride was Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, since I was told by someone that it was a heck of a lot of fun. I used their FastPass system to get a return time (an hour and a half later) and before heading to walk around again, I stopped to talk to one of the nice girls at the front of the ride. Sarah, as her nametag read, was kind enough to tell me all about how the FastPass works and how to strategically get the shortest times possible. Tips like hitting space mountain right before the fireworks end, etc.
After thanking her for her help, I walked around to Fantasyland and Toontown taking pictures and killing time until I head back to Buzz Lightyear at 7:30pm. Despite being for really young kids, Toontown was actually one of the places I was most interested in. I was a pretty big fan of the animated cartoons when I was a kid, so seeing Goofy’s house, meeting Mickey and just checking out the wonderful architecture of the area was very cool for me. I love how overdone everything is. Watching old Mickey cartoons while waiting in line to meet the famous mouse was also a nice blast back in the past.
With 7:30 rapidly approaching, I headed back towards the Buzz Lightyear ride. After two hours in Disneyland, I had still not gone on a single ride. I had only 4.5 hours until the parked closed, so it was about time I saw what they really had to offer. That’s when it started getting fun. :)
I walked through the FastPass gate for Astro Blasters and ran into Sarah at the second position. (In the FastPass rides, there are usually three positions; Entrance Gate, FastPass taker and the actual ride.) She smiled at me and let me hang onto my FastPass so that I could go again. By the time I was at the ride, she had moved to the third position and slipped me a handful of FastPasses so that I could take the ride as much as I wanted. Awesome! Sarah rocked! The ride itself is pretty fun as well. You get a little gun and have to blast targets as you defeat Zurg. I think the 10 year old kid in front of me kicked my ass though. :p
Heading through Frontierland now, I walk past Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and stop to talk to the girl at the gate. I ask her how long the line is and if it’s worth the wait. She says it’s not bad, and after realizing that it’s my first time she asks me where my 1st Time pin is (my what?!) and hands me a FastPass for the ride! :D I hop into the FastPass line and work my way down to the ride. On the way there, I hear a family talking about what rides they’ve been on and how they are going to get on more with the limited FastPass times they have. Lucky for them, I happen to have a few FastPasses kicking around, so I offer them enough passes to get them all on Astro Blaster and I’m greeted with a huge thank you from the kids and the parents. They should really be thanking Sarah, but I’m more than happy to pass it on.
Big Thunder was the first ride that I really cracked a true smile on. It really set the mood for the rest of the night. I’ve been on a lot of roller costers, but something about this one really made me smile. I got off the ride and was so happy that I went back to the girl at the gate (can’t remember her name) and gave her a big hug.
I head back to check Space Mountain during the Parade, still over an hour wait. Nope, not worth it. I turn around and decide to stop by Astro Blasters again to thank Sarah and see if I can beat the darn 10 year old. Nope, he still schooled me. ;) Only 3 hours and 45 minutes left.
This is where it really picked up. I was standing in front of the Pirates of the Caribbean and I asked really nice looking girl named Katie what all the people lining up was for. She explained to me that it was for the 9pm show of Fantasmic!. I then asked her where the best place to watch it from was, and we got into a talk about Disneyland. She turns on the gears, tells me to wait and runs off. Apparently, she also worked in Fantasyland and was going to try and get me onto her favorite ride Small World without me waiting in line. After being unable to get anyone on the phone, she gave me a ‘Citizen of Disneyland’ pin and I went on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride before the fireworks at 9:30pm.
Pirates was pretty good, but nothing compared to some of the other rides. A tremendous amount of detail though. The ride was originally done way before the movie came out, but it has been updated recently to slide Johnny Depp into it. Other than that, it’s a fairly docile water ride. Surprising for a ride that has had multiple hour lineups.
The Pirates of the Caribbean took longer to get through than I expected, so I had to book it to the fireworks as quickly as possible. I ended up getting a really nice spot directly in front of the Castle, but with only about 10 minutes of the show left, so I think I missed most of it. Once that was done, I stop to do a little swing dancing with a fairly cute girl from Orange County before heading back to the Fantasmic show in order to get good seats.
I bump into Katie again and she tells me exactly where to go in order to get the best spot for the show. I end up right in front of the show, dead center. Perfect view. Of course, I’m there 40 minutes early, so I spent the next 40 minutes sitting on the ground striking up random conversations with strangers. Including a conversation with a very good looking girl about how she never realized how dark and evil Disney was until she came to Disneyland. Funny, that was always what I liked about Disney. :p
Let me tell you.. Fantasmic! is amazing. I was expecting it to be interesting, but it was unbelievable. They combine live action with video projected onto a wall of water, and the end result is something that’s very hard to describe in words. It’s an absolutely wonderful musical and visual show about the good and bad parts of your imagination and how you can control it. I’m not sure I’d let little kids watch it. It’s really quite dark and scary.
Tom Sawyer’s cabin turns into a dragon, Hook’s pirate ship sails through the lagoon, Steamboat Willie goes for a cruiseâ€¦ everything. Check the wikipedia entry! for more details. It’s just killer.
I meet up with Katie again after the show, and she decides it’s time I saw Fantasyland. Let me tell you, that girl really knew how to make someone feel special at Disneyland. Had it not been for her, I think this story might have ended after Fantasmicâ€¦ but she was just wicked. The next 60 minutes is a blur, but I’ll give you the coles notes version. She managed to backdoor me into all the rides in Fantasyland. In a 30 minute period, I went on 4 rides in Fantasyland; Storybook Land Canal Boats, Peter Pan’s Flight, Pinocchio’s Daring Journey, and Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride . Katie introduced me to Pat, who was the REALLY nice woman in charge of Fantasyland and Pat let the people at the gates know that I was coming. It was rocking. I was a Disneyland VIP. Katie even managed to find me a 1st Visit Pin (At last! haha).
Last but not least, Katie handed me a ‘Free Ride’ pass so that I could get on Space Mountain before the park closed. She walked with me over to Space Mountain and told me all about Disneyland, including how much she liked working there and what happened to 2,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Yay! Nemo!) We parted ways at Space Mountain and Bryson welcomed me to the ride and ushered me up the FastPass line. At 11:54 PM I sat down in the car for Space Mountain, my last ride at Disneyland.
Space Mountain, by the way, is the fastest roller coaster I think I have ever been on. They can probably get away with it because it’s pitch black so people can’t see how fast they are going or how close they are coming to other pieces of the ride. I mean it, it’s really fast. 35 miles per hour according to Wikipedia. That’s driving speed in Canada.
AAAAnd I’m done. That was Disneyland for me. As it turns out, I probably had more fun in 6.5 hours by myself than I would have if I’d gone with someone else. Of course, I really don’t think it would have been nearly as much fun if it wasn’t for Katie, Sarah, Pat, Mike, Bryson and Lewis (Mike and Lewis were at the gates of the Fantasyland rides that I went on). They really all went above and beyond to make sure that I had a good time, and they were very successful. (If you guys read this, thanks a lot!)
So, let this be a lesson to all of you.
If you’re a loner, at least be a nice loner and you never know what good might come of it.