August 1st, 2008


"Disneyland Report" or "Happiest Place except for when the rides are breaking, then it's annoying."

Made it to Disneyland yesterday. First time in fifteen and a half years. If I had known how long it would be before I made it back I think I would have been terribly, terribly depressed. Last time I went was with Jimmy and John and Hatch and a few others and I was twenty and on the cusp of putting my mission papers in.
We had a bit of a late start, getting everything settled at home and got there shortly around noon. I did gawk a bit at the entrance of Disney’s California Adventure…I mean…the last time I was there that was the PARKING LOT.
It turned out to be a near perfect day to go. It wasn’t too hot…as it was a Thursday the crowds weren’t too bad and the place just sparkled to me. The first ride we went on was Mr. Toad’s Wild Adventure which was fun. The whole thing looked like a big animation layout to me (DUH!) I mentioned to Lisa that the last time I went Mr. Toad’s was the first ride we went on…and it broke while we were inside. They had to turn the lights on and walked us back out. Welcome to Disneyland!
Perhaps I shouldn’t have mentioned that since we seemed to be plagued with rides breaking down on us the whole rest of the day!
We went to Toon Town which was fun. While waiting in line we talked to an engineer (can’t remember what kind off the top of my head) who was monitoring the line for the Roger Rabbit ride. She’d just graduated from school and had worked at Disneyland for about a month and loved it. I thought how fun that must be for her…do all that hard work…get through school…and then you get to go to Disneyland every day. Nice work if you can get it.
After Toon Town we decided we’d go to Frontierland and get Fast Passes for Big Thunder Mountain…eat lunch and then ride the ride. However…when we got there the ride was broken down! Okay, we thought…we’d go get passes for the Indiana Jones ride…except it was shut down too! Then we thought about maybe Pirates…and IT was closed! Sheesh!!! A little later in the day we were waiting in line for Splash Mountain and IT shut down due to technical difficulties! ARGH! So much for vaunted Disney efficiency. Heck…all the times I’ve been to Lagoon I’d never suffered so many broken rides!
The ride for Indy was fixed by the time we finished lunch (at some Zorro type cafe) but the line was hours long so we forwent that one for Pirates of the Caribbean which was great. I wondered what people thought who went on the rides in 1955 thought. Things must’ve just blown their minds seeing the animatronics. Same for Haunted Mansion which we went on next. I adored the stretchy room with the creepy paintings that took us down to the loading area. I loved the dancing holograms in the ballroom and noted the dueling paintings.
I’ve heard before that people go to amusement parks like 6 Flags for the rides. You go to Disneyland for the experience. I think this is true. It’s amazing how fun and appealing they made every little nook and cranny of the park. I wound up being impressed with nearly everything. I liked the Jungle Boat River tour (though I thought I would have had much better delivery than our current guide with the joke cracking.) I really *really* liked Big Thunder once they got it going. THAT was a blast.
We went over to Tomorrowland and saw the new Buzz Lightyear ride. There wasn’t much of a line so we shrugged at each other and went on it. Holy COW fun! You have little laser blaster guns you can pull out of the front of the cart and along the ride are targets that light up. You try to shoot the targets as you go and your cart keeps score for you and the other person in your cart. Lisa absolutely KILLED me. I think something was up with my blaster but holy cow fun!
The new Finding Nemo submarine boat ride had a stupid long line so Lisa and I went on the Matterhorn (fun!) and Lisa’s parents camped out to see the Fantasyland parade. Lisa and I went to go ride Space Mountain (which … had been closed earlier but had reopened.) I had heard Space Mountain was a cool ride but as we were waiting in line I really wasn’t expecting much. It looked like the 70s version of what The Future should be. I was afraid while fun it was going to also feel mouldering and cheesy.
For those of you who have done Space Mountain, I repent of my dubiousness. It turned out to be my favorite ride in the whole park. I *loved* it. I couldn’t get over what an insanely brilliant idea it was. Make a roller coaster entirely in the dark except for lights representing stars and send you off on a space flight. It was exactly what it felt like. It was amazing.
We headed back over to Splash Mountain. I mentioned to Lisa that sometimes the most obscure movies have the funnest rides. I wondered how many people who were riding it that day had actually even SEEN Song of the South. The last time it was released in theaters I was in single digits. Still though, the ride was big fun. I loved seeing all the cartoon animatronics. It’s very cool to see something rendered from these really visually appealing storyboards ala Bill Peet…to full fledged animation and then to these real life moving renditions in front of you. THAT’S some great design work when they can be appealing all the way through.
After Splash mountain we headed over to try Indy again. On the way we stopped and watched a bit of Fantasmic…which was really cool from what I could see which wasn’t much. I saw a lot of a tree and the back of someone’s head. Still mad impressive though from what I could see. I wondered how much it was a show between the pyrotechnics, the lighting, the zillions of cast members taking part. I watched the animated sequences being shown, projected on a screen of mist and how those animators probably didn’t have a CLUE what the shelf life…or how those particular sequences were going to be used by the Disney company over and over and over again.
Off to Indy where the ride guesstimate was an hour long wait. This was the shortest we’d seen it all day so we hopped in line . It became apparent before too long though that Disney was wildly underestimating how long the wait would be. By this point it was *very* late in the day and all of us were starting to hurt. I couldn’t think the last time my feet hurt that bad and both Lisa and her parents were mentioning lower backs.
Now…the wait in line is actually pretty cool once you enter the “temple” portion. They did a lot trying to keep it visually interesting…but it’s still a pretty long wait. I had been mentally ready for an hour long wait. When we finally started the ride we’d been waiting an hour and 45 minutes.
The Indy ride IS very cool. It IS a lot of fun. There was a LOT of thought and planning that went into it. Visually it’s GREAT! The premise is you’re riding around in a big military style jeep careening through this cursed temple and it really feels like you’re in one. I thought riding around it it felt not unlike Norton. (My dad’s truck.) I thought about how Bryce would absolutely ADORE the ride being the Indy nut he is. I was glad I got to go on it. I don’t think I’m going to ever wait that long to ride it again though.
I think all of us were ready to call it quits by that point…it was now 11:20 and the park closed at midnight but Lisa really wanted to check out the new Nemo ride. It was the one thing she hadn’t been on yet so we crossed the park again to check out the line. Her parents plopped down on a bench near the castle and wearily waved us on.
It was only a half hour line for Nemo this time (much better than the 2 hours it had been earlier!) and it was really neat. They incorporated a lot of 3D animation into the ride, it was visually pretty good but I think we were both too tired to properly appreciate it. My hip socket siezed up a little bit upon exiting the submarine and I had to call Lisa back over to be my cane as we both hobbled back over to her parents. It was now 12:20 and I mentally deemed I a full and productive day at the Happiest Place on Earth.
We both promptly fell asleep in the back of the car as Lisa’s dad drove us home and I’m not sure I even remember getting into bed.

I hope it will not be another 15 years before I go to Disneyland again.
Flying Ace

"The Twilight Bark" or "Some of the best vacations are when you don't really have to go and do anything!"

It's a stunningly beautiful evening here in Redlands. The temperature all day has been near perfect...well, perfect for me. I've been tired of wearing sweaters up in San Fran so wearing shorts makes me feel like I'm part of the human race again. It's supposed to be HOT this time of year! (in this hemisphere. yeah, yeah yeah.)
Everybody was still so tuckered out from yesterday we opted to have a quiet day here.
Thankfully someone in the neighborhood has an unsecured wireless connection. You can sometimes get a signal after contorting a bit in Lisa's bedroom but I discovered this morning it works free and clear in the front yard. I sat underneath the giant silver maple they have up front and enjoyed both the shade and my laptop. It looks like (ojala) I have some fun gigs coming up. Hopefully they all pan out.

Later there were some grocery errands to be run, Lisa's mom had to stop by her work and we went to Togo's for a late late lunch. (Santa Fe chicken wrap.) I had a nap on the front lawn on the denim quilt my mom bought at Farmington Festival Days a few years ago and later Lisa and I went for a walk in her old neighborhood.

It actually feels like a neighborhood to me...something rather rare to me in California. The houses feel like a family could actually live in them. There are front and back yards and established trees. There are people who have known each other for a few generations. The streets are quiet, I can see the stars and I can hear crickets at night and right now I can look to my right and see the last remnants of a sunset on a purpling sky. There's a sprinkler going which amuses me realizing just how much that sound reminds me of home.

Beowulf has settled in nicely here. I feel safe enough here to let him outside. He has been spending most of his time on their front porch or tucked away by the flower beds. He looks happy and sedate and he's been happy with us being home today cuddling up with us on the quilt.
He was VERY glad to see us last night when we got home. Lisa's dad sat down in his easy chair and before he even got properly settled Wulfie was in his lap demanding attention and love.

It's interesting living with another family for any period of time. You quickly become aware of dynamics and inevitably compare and contrast based on your own experiences. Today Lisa's dad seemed annoyed that Lisa's mom hadn't made lunch yet. I told Lisa later if my dad had acted like that my mom would have laughed out loud at him. "You know where the kitchen and fridge are!" she would say.