Sunday, February 12, 2023

Disneyland Free99

Lydia went to Disney World without me for her second time, and I sort of think it was a good thing because she did Disney experiences that have never been on my radar.

Eating with characters for example was something that I was aware of but in my head it was some sort of hellish Chuck E Cheese experience with sad food and children running amok. I ended up enjoying it a lot. Goofy's Kitchen was located in the Disneyland Hotel.

The hotel was not as exciting as some of its counterparts in Disney World but it was very cool in its own way, with a sort of retro/historical theme. The sign over the pool/waterpark area looked like the park's original entrance sign from 1955.

I considered ponying up for an expensive Disney hotel but we decided since we’d spend so much time at the theme parks there wasn’t much point. Plus tomorrow we'd be at Universal Studios Hollywood so the location wouldn't even necessarily be advantageous. Maybe next time.

Speaking of which, I know it's silly but it's absolutely crazy to me how close Disneyland and really the rest of CA is to us now since moving to Seattle. We're cool kid west coasters now. We could buy a season pass and come here every weekend. “Dad can we go go Disneyland?” Sorry I went 12 times before you were born and I’m sort of over it now.

Again I was expected children's restaurant food so I was actually really impressed by the quality of everything. I guess I shouldn't doubt Disney's abilities in the future.

They even had two dessert pizzas.

There were several Mickey shaped options. Waffles, pancakes, omlets... you name it.

The deal was you sat and ate your food and the characters just wandered around and came to you. Sure beats standing in the sun for two hours waiting for a photo with them at the parks.

They made some special girl Zoe vegan stuff just for her.

At some point there was even a mini parade situation where they all came out at once.

There were a lot of fun little decorative elements throughout.

We walked through the Downtown Disney District shopping area to get to the parks.

I managed to score a few free Park Hopper tickets for us which is sort of why we were here. There was a little bit of drama at the gate as to why my name wasn't on them... long story short I managed to talk my way in. Huzzah! Of course I did the sensible thing and added on a tour that cost more than the original tickets would have. I have no regrets.

Walt's Main Street Story tour began at city hall.

"On this intimate walking tour, discover hidden details, little-known facts and endearing trivia about Disneyland Park’s magnificent Main Street, U.S.A.

Listen as your dedicated tour guide regales you with behind-the-scenes stories and enchanting tidbits throughout this 90-minute experience. Plus, learn about special links to Walt Disney’s boyhood town of Marceline, Missouri.

It all culminates with a visit to Walt’s apartment high above the Disneyland Fire Station in Town Square where Guests will have the chance to enjoy refreshments on the patio—for the first time ever!"

Once the girls heard that the tour related to Missouri there was no holding them back. They asked if they could both wear overalls and no shoes to the park but I told them no.

Lydia got a free "first time visitor" badge.

I realized pretty quickly that this was an elite group of Disney nerds. Paula the tour guide said she’d been doing tours since the 70s. She got trained by the lady Walt told to start the program.

Our guide pointed out that many of the names painted on the windows in Main Street, USA are actual Disney employees who are being honored for their contributions.

She pointed out a funny detail that here they had the wrong number of light bulbs and so couldn't continue the pattern, so they painted the last lightbulb half red and half white. This was supposed to illustrate their attention to detail.

Visiting Walt's apartment was a big deal to me. I've known about the place's existence for some time, and it felt like one of those things that I didn't dare to think I would ever actually get to see.

I actually got yelled at for taking pictures "backstage". I thought she was saying that we couldn't take any pictures in the apartment. Oh well. It's sort of like magic that the places you want to take photos the most are always the places that you can't.

They were merciful to some degree though because there was a Disney photographer on hand to take a few photos of us. I think that more than one of the hardcore Disney adults that were in our group actually cried upon entering. This was more emotion than I saw when we visited Jesus' tomb

The place kind of reminded me of my grandma's house. They still had a lot of his kitchen implements in the little kitchenette. There was a old timey panini press looking toaster because Walt liked grilled cheese sandwiches. There was also a punch bowl type thing to make Tom & Jerry cocktails which is sort of like an eggnog. Walt and his wife had separate pull out beds, and there was a phonograph.

The bathroom was especially fun and retro, with four shower heads in the shower and lots of pink everywhere.

At the end of the tour we were given these lemony cookie things and a soft drink up on the patio next to the apartment. Then things got kind of weird, and our group was asked to go around the circle and share a thought about Walt and how we felt seeing his apartment. One couple in particular was memorable because they met while working at the park or something, but then they got laid off. But they were still super intense about the brand. It's an interesting thing to see how hardcore people are about Disney.

Walt's apartment is in the firehouse, and I guess one day a guest shimmied up the fire pole to say hello. So he had it covered after that. It's sad because I like to imagine him sliding down the pole during Disney emergencies.

Splash Mountain is sadly about to be retired so I wanted to be sure to check that out first. I believe it has already been shut down at Disney World.

We headed to the Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge area and I bumped into an old friend.

Zoe was also excited.

I was very excited to see what they'd done with the place. The Millennium Falcon looked great! Zoe and I wanted to ride Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run but didn't want to deal with the line, so we did the "single rider" line where you get to cut the wait but have to sit by yourself. Magically there was an extra seat on Zoe's crew so we ended up getting to sit by each other after all. It was one of those rides where you're like a real ship crew and each have a job to do.... that part was kind of lame. I ended up as a gunner which literally involved sitting in a chair and pressing a flashing button repeatedly. There wasn't even any aiming. I found that job to be very lame. Maybe the other jobs are more fun. It was still very cool to be inside the Falcon and finally ride the ride.

Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin was one of those rides where you laser things to get points in addition to the ride's story. I whipped the girls but I am a crazy person and wouldn't have minded doing the ride a few more times to get a better score.

Lydia insists that there's only one baby in there but I harbor doubts. When it comes to that belly I am the Port of Los Angeles of doubts.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride was on my list because it is a CA Disneyland exclusive. Not only that but it is one of the few remaining attractions operational since the park's opening in July 1955.

Storybook Land Canal Boats is another ride that dates back to the opening of the park. I think the history of the park makes up for some of its shortcomings when compared with the Magic Kingdom.

Zoe got real sacred when we were eaten by a whale. "he idea of having Monstro the whale consume the canal boats came from a never-implemented concept for a "Monstro the Whale" ride, in which small boats were to be swallowed by Monstro and then plunged down a watery path into a pond below."

Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln

This is another fun historical bit of entertainment as animatronic Lincoln was Disney's first robot humanoid, and was originally built for the State of Illinois Pavilion at the 1964 New York World's Fair.

Walt was born in Chicago, grew up in MO, then moved back to Chicago in time for high school. As an Illinois boy myself I can confirm that we mostly sit and think about Abraham Lincoln all day.

At this point we used our fancy park hopper tickets to hop on over next door to Disney California Adventure Park. This was exciting because the park opened in 2001 which amazingly was after the last time I've been, so this was all completely new to me.

My read on the place is that it is sort of like EPCOT that sort of showcases the world's highlights, but instead this place focuses solely on California and shows you that. I'm not sure how I feel about the philosophy of the place. If you're already in California why don't you go out and see it if you want to experience it? 

There was a lot of Lunar New Year hooplah.

There was a lot of booze happening at this park which is always a good idea.

Sadly they seem to have shut down Tower of Terror and replaced it with some Avengers thing. 

And you don't know why but you're dying to try you wanna ride de ride.

I learned some things I did not know about the moon and its dominance over time itself.

We were encouraged by the parks' photographers into some questionable group photos.

Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure was like classic shooter ride but since you're Spiderman instead of a gun you have to whip your arm around like you're shooting web. It was a lot more work than I was comfortable with.

It was a no-preggos ride so Lydia went on a solo adventure of some sort. I was concerned she was going to be butthurt about the rides she couldn't go on but luckily that did not seem to be a case. Maybe her life is enough of a rollercoaster at this point.

We did do a bit of scheming beforehand on how to get Lydia the handicap pass so that we could move through the lines quickly. I think we decided the juice wasn't worth the squeeze.

Zoe wanted to do the Turtle Talk with Crush thing. I did not have high expectations initially but it ended up being amusing.

I was excited to snag a last minute reservation at Oga's Cantina. We had a lot of last minute/maybe type plans miraculously work out on this trip I feel like.

DJ R-3X was pumping the funky beats.

I snagged a "Bloody Rancor:
Tito's Handmade Vodka, Ancho Reyes Chile Liqueur, Spicy Bloody Mary Mix, Rancor Bone"

Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway was so new and popular that we didn't get a chance to ride it until right before the whole park was about to close.

I was incredibly impressed with the ride. There were almost head to toe LCD screens everywhere so it felt like being inside a brightly animated cartoon. It was also I believe my first trackless dark ride which was mind blowing at times. One memorable instance in particular you end up in Daisy's dance class. All of the ride cars end up in a dance studio and start waltzing around each other in sync. This would have been impossible if we were all on a track and it's exciting to think of all of the possibilities losing the track could open up.

Moments before the park closed we noticed that there was no line for "It's a Small World" and hopped on.

We were the only souls in the place which gave the familiar ride a bit of spookiness.

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