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February 25, 1996
This is my first attempt at a trip report, so bear with me. First of all, I'd like to thank Al Lutz for his Disneyland Information Guide. This is an informative aid for anyone planning a trip to DL. Secondly, I'd like to second Al's recommendation about going on Sunday instead of Saturday, and if it is cool and raining as it was when I went, that's even better! The crowds were non-existent! In fact, I overheard several people, who had been there the previous day, say that comparatively speaking, the park was empty! As for me, I'm 36, work for NASA, and was in LA for two weeks on business. My family had to stay at home to work and attend school but don't feel too sorry for them because we all are going to WDW in three weeks. I rode the major rides a DL 3 or 4 times and most others at least once and plan to compare like rides at WDW. I'll note my opinions when I post my WDW trip report.
Now for the DL trip. Whenever you go to DL or WDW get there early! In this case, it gave me plenty of time to get my Mickey poncho (less than $5), park map, and casually stroll down Main Street. Following Al's recommendation to skip Indiana Jones and ride the mountains first, I walked over to Space Mountain for two rides with no wait. I really enjoy those tight turns! Next I stopped in to ride Star Tours once with no wait and no queue. In fact there were only six of us in the ride so we got to sit wherever we wanted. I sat in the middle of the front row and this seemed to make the ride more realistic, probably because the screen occupied more of my field of view. Next, I walked over to Splash Mountain and rode twice with no wait. This is really a great ride, but the $10 for the picture is too much! And that poncho came in handy! Well, my willpower wore down and I could no longer wait to ride Indy. Here I encountered my first wait--30 minutes. Actually, if I had not set my watch to time it, I would have guessed much less. The queue was entertaining and always moving so time moved quickly. As for the ride--WOW!!! WOW!!! That's what came to mind as I rode it and I can't think of anything to compare it to. Disney's imagineers deserve a big atta boy/girl for this one. I rode it three times and loved it. I would have ridden it more but it was broken down several times during the day. If you ride it and experience its complexity, I think most of you would understand why Disney experiences frequent technical problems. Imagine taking the Star Tours simulator, cutting the top off, and putting it on wheels in a cavernous underground maze that is constructed to look like a motion picture sound stage full of great special effects and you get an idea of what the ride is. WOW!!! I still haven't gotten over it.
Next was the Jungle Cruise, which is always fun. A note here on the queue. As you are preparing to board, you can save a few minutes if you bear left. I went right and ended up boarding one boat later. It's not a big deal but could save you some time. The Pirates of the Caribbean was next. This ride never had a wait. I rode it four times at varying times of the day and walked on every time. This ride is significantly longer than at WDW. I timed it at about 15 minutes, which makes it a good ride to get on if you need to rest your feet. This is still one of my favorites. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was my next stop for two rides. I waited about 15 minutes each time. This is a really fun ride. It's fast enough to be fun for adults and teens but not too wild for kids. Keep your hands up when you ride if you think it's too tame--that livens the ride up considerably! I left BTM and took the back way to Fantasyland. Here I rode Peter Pan, Pinocchio's Daring Journey and Snow White with waits of 10 minutes or less. Yes, I'm a grown man but these rides are still fun! Well, by this time it was 1:00pm so I decided to get a bite to eat. Following recommendations of others, I ordered a Meeko Kids Meal at the Village Haus Restaurant, which consists of two large chicken fingers, a large helping of french fries and a kid's size drink. Feeling pretty hungry, I also got a brownie. Total for the meal was about $5 and I was completely full. The Meeko meal was $2.99 I believe, and the brownie was $1.60. If your still with me here you're a die hard but probably hanging on by your finger nails so I'll stop for now and pick up with part II later.
After lunch, I made a beeline to Indiana Jones for my second ride with a wait of 30 minutes. Man I love that ride! A major ride I had yet to try was the Haunted House. Attention!! Those wanting to maximize their time note here that unless the left queue line is chained off, use it! I was amazed to see people waiting in line in the right queue line with no one in the left. I got some ugly stares as I walked up to the turnstiles in the left queue but I also got a considerable following! Unless the lane is blocked, as it later was on BTMRR, use it. We're not cattle after all. I rode this twice with no wait and enjoyed it. After two more trips on Pirates, I wandered over to Star Tours again. After sweating out a 5 minute wait (OK, I'll shut up about the lack of waits, but it was so great!) I rode in a full speeder this time. It was a blast! What made the ride was that the entire group was laughing and whooping it up at every dip and turn--nothing outrageous mind you but it was as if we were all on a real speeder out of control. When the doors opened we were all laughing and smiling. I haven't mentioned it yet but Matterhorn was down for maintenance. I've been to DL twice and both times I've missed this ride. Oh well, you can't have it all.
Next I took spins on Autopia and the Submarine Voyage. I decided to try out ToonTown next. I waited in line for 30 minutes to do Roger Rabbit's Cartoon Spin but the ride broke down so I never did get to ride. A note here, many if not most rides post queue times so that you know before you get in line but I did not see that here. If I had known the queue was so long, I'd have never gotten in line. Beware! With this bad taste in my mouth I decided to exit ToonTown. I hopped aboard the train and rode back to Tomorrowland for my third ride on Star Tours. This time I rode with a much more subdued group and the ride was not nearly as fun. I decided to see Captain EO in the Magic Eye Theater next. The theater was less than half full so everyone got to cluster in the middle. This is still a good movie as indicated by the generous applause at the end. You also get a feel for how much MJ has altered his appearance over the past several years.
I wandered back over to Indiana Jones hoping to ride a third time but alas, technical difficulties were rearing their ugly head so I decided to grab a bite to eat at the River Belle Terrace. I had a turkey sandwich plate and cinnamon roll with hot chocolate for about $8. It was now dark and I was eager to see if BTMRR was different at night, as some here have reported. It was! Try it. It seemed the train was faster but I'm sure that was only because of the darkness. I then decided to see how Fantasyland looked at night. It was beautiful! The Carrousel was dazzling but I decided to pass on it because I don't particularly like merry-go-round types of rides. However, since I had never ridden Dumbo, and there were only a few people in line, I decided to make an exception and ride the elephant. This was fun and the ride is really a beautiful ride. I finished up in Fantasyland by riding Alice, Mr. Toad, Pinocchio, Snow White and the Tea Cups. The last was almost a big mistake! Remember I don't like rides that go round and round. Well, for some unknown reason, I decided to see how fast I could make that Tea Cup spin. Well, suffice it to say that it was all I could do to drag myself out of the cup at the end of the ride. Stupid, stupid, stupid.
I waved a fond farewell to Fantasyland as I staggered toward Tomorrowland. I decided to check out the Toystory Funhouse. Maybe I was still in a stupor after the Tea Cup debacle but I didn't care much for this area. I put on the green army feet and went through the obstacle course. Big deal. Walking through my kids' rooms is much more challenging. The video game I tried was ok but only lasted some 20 to 30 seconds. Maybe if the kids were there I would have enjoyed it more. One last ride on Space Mountain was enjoyable. It did seem like the ride was darker at night but, unlike BTMRR, I could not sense a significant difference. Working my way back to Indy, I caught Star Tours again. Again, I was lucky enough to catch a fun loving group and had a nice ride. With my fingers crossed, I entered Adventureland for the last time. YES!! IJA was functional! The queue was minimal this last time as the first showing of Fantasmic was about to get underway. WOW!! As on Star Tours, the reaction of the riders adds a lot to the experience. Each time everyone was hanging on and screaming throughout.
Next and last was the 9:30 showing of Fantasmic. A note here. The second showing of Fantasmic was MUCH less crowded than the first. I would estimate that the second show had one third the crowd of the first. I moved in after the first performance to the "sweet spot" mentioned in Al Lutz's guide. It was great! The show is difficult to describe but suffice it to say it to say the special effects are truly amazing. The fire on the water was especially welcome on this cold night. One final comment. A significant difference between DL and WDW (One I particularly like) is that it took me only 9 minutes to leisurely walk down Main Street, exit the park, and climb into my car. I could never have done that at WDW.
All in all a truly wonderful experience.