Thursday, April 05, 2012


I have never been to Disneyland or Disney World.  I have never found myself lacking anything by not having gone.  My wife went as a child and had a great desire to return and to give our children that experience.  So we went.

I found the trip to be enjoyable, but an extravagance in relation to our income level and unnecessary.

One thing that perplexed me was the typical check point that places have to search bags and fanny packs.  We would walk in and open our fanny packs and they would look at the stuff on top and move you along.  What if I had a weapon or whatever the check point is design to check for underneath the snacks on top?  What if i had those items in my pockets?  They never checked those and if one had no bags they could walk right through without being checked.

I hadn't anticipated, but was very pleased and interested in the attention to detail in everything in Disneyland.  Even the trash cans were decorated and clean.  The attention to detail wasn't just in what you could see, but also in what you heard.  The rides had sounds in sync and enhancing the experience.  The sounds were also designed so you didn't hear them until you were meant to hear them as part of the experience, even though they were right in front of you.

It has now been almost a year since I started writing this post and even though my above feelings are still true, I do at times find myself longing to go back.  I suppose I somewhat understand some of my wife's drive that the kids had to go experience it.

Below I will detail several parts of the park that I noticed, but not every ride and attraction.

One thing that should be noted was that at one point my kids commented to me, "Can we go back to the hotel and swim?  You don't have to stand in line for that."

Main Street USA
Shortly after walking through the ticket turnstile we were dropped onto main street.  It was nice to see the classic home town stylings that I heard later were designed after Walt Disney's home town.  It is interesting that it has been retained that way after all these years.

Up and down main street there were what appeared to be security personnel.  They all had big white cartoon looking gloves and were waving to everyone.  That gave a good welcoming feel to the park and a more comfortable feeling about the security gards that can be forboding.

Mr. Lincoln
Everything in the theater building where Mr. Lincoln was in was cool.  It had a replica of the capital building.  There was also a display on the history of Disneyland that was interesting.  They also had a section of some of the early drawings for some of the movies.

The Disneyland video said that Walt Disney had an apartment put on main street where he and his family stayed a lot.  That would be cool to sit up there and look out on everything and everyone.

The Mr. Lincoln program was very interesting.  I was surprised that still it existed since it had been around for so long.  I was also surprised it was still around since it talked so much about faith and God.  I have heard serveral things every now and again of liberal practices that have been creaping into the Disney company.  So to have something flat out speaking of God made me wonder about the things I heard and if they were true.

My one son was very curious on how they did the animatronic Mr. Lincoln.

New Orleans Square
Haunted Mansion
The ride was a little confusing at first.  There were no line to get in.  We walked in the mansion with a handful of people.  We were immediately in a circular room.  I had my kids with me and wasn't sure how to keep track of them, since I didn't know what was going to happen.  The door closed behind us and the room went dark.  There was a little presentation with a voice telling a story and the room doing weird things.

After the presentation the other side of the room opened up and we were led to the ride.  It was basically a simple ride on a track ride through parts of the story of the haunted mansion.  It was interesting to watch.

It was not scary from the standpoint of ghosts and such or from a thrill ride point of view.  The beginning might have freaked out little kids, since it was very much about not knowing what to expect.

Pirates of the Caribbean.
This was a basic boat ride on a track.  You went down quite a bit under the building and then back up at the end, but I don't think there were any big drops.  There were interesting animatronics to see.  I have heard that it is very different since they updated it to match the Johnny Depp movies.  It was interesting to ride once.

My son said it was exhilarating.

Critter Country
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
This was a basic storybook ride in a cart on a track.  It was interesting once and nice for younger kids.  Our seven year old went on it several times.

Davey Crockett's Explorer Canoes
We wanted to go on this one, but it was closed for some reason.

Mark Twain Riverboat
It was a three level functioning riverboat.  The lines were not bad for this ride, probably because you could fit tons of people on the boat.  The boat traveled around this circular "river".  It was nice to see the workings of the boat and also look out at the goings on in the park.

The Petting Zoo
It was a nice quiet place for the kids to pet goats.

There were several storybook ride much like the Winnie the Pooh ride I mentioned above.  They basically just take you through a story and twist and turn you on this little cart, showing you various sights and sounds from whatever story you were in.  In reality, eat ride like that was about the same.

Peter Pan
I think the Peter Pan ride/story was in this area.  It was about the same as the other storybook rides, except that it lifted you in the air to go through the story.  Instead of having tracks or the ground to run on, the cart was hooked tracks in the ceiling.

Sleeping Beauty's Castle
The castle is great for pictures and interesting to go through once, but it is what I would describe as flat.  You just walk and navigate through this narrow hallway looking at images from the movie.  The good part is that there wasn't a long line to wait in.

We did get to see a mother outside the castle berating, her child who was barely older than a toddle, for ruining the trip to Disneyland for her.  I think she misses the point of Disneyland and perhaps even the point of being a parent.

It's a Small World
You often here about how the song on the It's a Small World ride can drive you crazy, which it can, but there were a lot of positives.

I think I recall that you couldn't hear the music unless you were in the ride, so at least it only took its toll on those that chose to get on it.

The ride moved through large numbers of people quickly and the lines were fairly quick.

The ride was somewhat interesting to see all the dolls and floating down the water was really nice, in contract to all the walking and standing in line.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant

This was a cool ride, but the seating was cramped for a tall guy.  My kids liked it, except for the long wait in line.

Pixie Hollow 
This was where you could meet Tinker Bell.  On the way you got to meet a couple of other fairies as well.  The line to even get to the fairies was pretty much the same as to get to see Minnie Mouse, but not near as long to see the princesses.  We waited for about an hour and a half.

My wife tried getting my daughter in early one day to see the princesses, but the sign had lied about what the hours were.  Then she went back at the time and the line was horrendous.  I think it was over two hours to wait and in the middle of it the princesses took lunch.  I would have thought that they could rotate the princesses out for breaks and lunches and keep things moving.

The Tea Cups
The tea cups were pretty nice.  It was a fun mild ride to watch the kids.  The line moved fairly quickly on this one.

My one son said it was cool and kind of boring.

There was a big fireworks display on Friday night around Sleeping Beauty's castle.  It was a little disappointing that they crammed everyone into these little roped off areas on the path near the castle.  It made it hard to see the fireworks and it was uncomfortable to navigate the crowd. In spite of all that the show was impressive.

There was more of that attention to detail in the fireworks show.  I have seen shows where the music and fireworks were synced up, but I have never seen it so precise.  It was so in sync that music would end and the light from the rocket would go out at the exact same time.

They had fireworks happening all around us and sounds too.  It was very much surround sound.

After the fireworks were over and the crowd dispersed there was trash everywhere.  I was very disappointed with mankind and their lack of consideration and appreciation.  But even in that, Disneyland was ready.  Within a minute it was all cleaned up.  There was an army of workers with brooms and scoops cleaning it all up.

World of Color
We saw signs for something called World of Color as we entered the park each day, but we had no idea what it was and just kind of ignored it.  We made some friends at our hotel and they mentioned that it was great and we had to go see it.  They said it happened almost every night after it got dark.  You had to get special "Fast Passes" to get into it.  We went and got them, since the fast pass system wasn't really working for us for anything else.  It took some planning to get the Fast Passes, but it seemed to make the event more enjoyable, since the crowds were less because of having to have tickets.

They had a big platform filled most of the lagoon with many many water sprayers of various kinds with lights attached to them and around them.  They had sound and light and water and it was amazing.  They would often create a mist of water or even a wall and project images and colors onto them.  Many of the images were scenes from Disney movies.

World of Color was better than the firework due to their uniqueness, but also because the crowd was more thinned due to the fast pass thing.

Standing In Line
As I have said in several places in this post, standing in line was a big issue for us.  I have a friend that told me you have to know how to work the park, but I don't understand it.

Standing in line they usually give you something to look at and they wind the lines enough to keep you moving, most times.  Moving is better than standing.  It makes you feel like you are getting somewhere and your feet and legs don't get as sore.  Not every line was as good as that.  Minnie, Tinker Bell, and the Princesses were not as good as keeping you feeling like you were moving, but some of that could have been because lines were the longest and there is only so much you can do with that.

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