Disneyland, Day One

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Teddy and I woke up early, packed our bags, packed the car, and were ready to go by 9:00am when Leslie arrived. She was flying from Newark to San Diego on Continental a half-hour before our Continental flight from Newark to Orange County, so we drove to the airport together. I parked in the economy lot ($18/day) and hopped on the next bus to the terminal.


The five and a half hour flight was very good. Teddy brought his Nintendo DS and played a Pokemon game for about three hours. Since he was happily occupied, I watched a movie. The in-flight feature was Duplicity, which I had watched on the way to London so I watched Slumdog Millionaire on my Mac instead. The second feature was Confessions of a Shopaholic. Even considering that I was confined to an airplane seat while watching it, I'm sure I could have found a better use of my time. We took a Disney bus from the airport to the hotel ($30), checked-in, dropped off our clothes, then started the 2-mile walk over to Disneyland.


We didn't have a plan for today because we weren't planning to go to Disney until Friday. When I noticed that they stay open until midnight, we reconsidered. Our first stop was the Mad Hatter on Main St. I thought Teddy would like a design-your-own ear hat, but he opted instead for a Mickey baseball cap. Then we walked the closest land, Tomorrowland and went to Star Tours, a virtual visit to the moon of Endor. This is a fun ride, with cameos from some familiar Star Wars characters. Teddy and I are both fans and enjoyed this. At the end, Teddy was unsure if "that was supposed to happen" which is exactly the effect the Disney Imagineers were going for. Next stop was Innoventions, a look at the technology of tomorrow (in the literal sense...most of the stuff shown is technology that is available and I could purchase it tomorrow if I wanted to). The structural design of this exhibit is really cool, built in a rotating circular building that guides people though, but doesn't restrict free movement. Microsoft's Dream Home technology is featured and allows for a good amount of hands-on play. It always fascinates me how a digital native like Teddy can use new technology he's never seen without any instruction. We walked into the den of the Dream Home and Teddy approached a control panel, changed the music, and lowered the blinds. Obviously that's a compliment to the designers (probably students of Donald Normal), but also just a generational difference.


On our way to Honey, I Shrunk The Audience (which had just crashed and was being rebooted), a young girl gave us two Fastpass cards for Space Mountain with only a half-hour to wait. While waiting we went to explore more of Tomorrowland and found Autopia. As we were getting on line, another kid gave us Fastpass cards for that ride that were already in the valid time slot so we were able to get on within 15 minutes. Contrary to the Walkee description, Teddy was allowed to drive the car. He couldn't reach the accelerator pedal enough to push it down so I kept my foot on the pedal and he steered the car. By the time we were done with this ride, it was time for or Fastpass entry to Space Mountain. The wait was only 10 minutes or so and the ride was amazing.

It's hard not to compare it to Skull Mountain at Six Flags since they are both indoor, dark, family coasters and we did both this week. But really, it's an unfair comparison. Space Mountain is so incredibly cool. I rode the one in at World Disney World in Florida when I was seven and after riding the one at Disneyland, I have the same question: How the hell do they fit all of those lifts, dips, banks, and twists in that tiny building? I know there is a certain amount of magic that goes into the design and construction of Disney rides, but this is more than that. This is Tardis-style engineering. I would love to see the ride with the lights on just to see how they did it. When you hear 8-10 year old kids asking "were we really in outer space?" then you feel the power of Disney.


Teddy spent a little while playing with a massive marble sphere, spinning on a water fountain. He is usually drawn in by non-attraction attractions. I enjoy the breaks.


Next up was the Matterhorn Bobsleds but I didn't realize at the time that Teddy chose it because he mistook it for Splash Mountain. Good thing he did because I enjoyed it a lot. Again, so much ride in so small a space. Teddy loved it, except for the appearance of a red-eyed, growling Yeti. Teddy is not a fan of a growling furry things even when they aren't showing teeth. We knew we'd have to wait on long lines for the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage and we were right. It was about a 40-minute wait (short by Six Flags standards) but the ride lasted over 15 minutes so the ride to wait ratio was very high. This is a relaxing but exciting ride though coral reefs, enhanced by underwater animation staring characters from Finding Nemo. The diving and surfacing of the sub was very convincing.

We decided to look for one more attraction since we were both getting tired. We found a few hundred people sitting on the ground facing the castle, so we decided to join them. We waited there almost 30 minutes but then the fireworks show started. The show was fantastic, completely choreographed to Disney music. Tinkerbell flew in to light up the sky and even Dumbo made an appearance. Honda sponsors the show, but you have to really pay attention to catch that. The show must cost at least $30,000 a night so having a sponsor is important. Disney does it tastefully.

We stopped for an egg roll and some drinks on the way back to the hotel, then went to bed.






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