Heading south, we ran into quite a bit of traffic on the way to Anaheim. It was never completely stopped, but was very congested and very slow. Godspeed to the locals who have to deal with it every day! We followed the directions in Kevin's GPS to our hotel, then quickly checked in. After dropping our stuff in the room, we headed out to find food before going to the park. We'd spotted a Subway and a Chinese restaurant on the way to the park, so we opted for the Chinese.
I had sweet and sour chicken, sesame chicken and lo mien, and it was all great! It was too much to finish and still be able to walk out in the California sun!
We finished the walk to the Disneyland resort, entering on a pathway opposite of Downtown Disney, and stopped at a will call window to pick up our tickets.
We entered Disneyland, and found ourselves right in the middle of the afternoon parade! We cut through some shops to get up Main Street quicker, and eventually found ourselves at the entrance to Tomorrowland.
We quickly grabbed fast passes for Space Mountain, with the return time being over 5 hours away! Just as well since we planned on closing the park that night anyway!
The first ride we headed for was the Matterhorn. On our last trip in 2001, the Matterhorn was closed for rehab...then with just weeks to go before this trip, the Disneyland website started to show the Matterhorn closed for this trip too! It said it was supposed to close on Thursday, and we'd be there that Saturday. Then the website changed to say that it was gonna close the following Tuesday. Needless to say that when we arrived and I saw cars traversing the tracks, I was extremely happy to see the ride open! It's a ride that's so iconically Disney that I didn't want to miss it again!
Our first ride was on the Tomorrowland side, and was one of the longest waits of the trip, clocking in at about 20 minutes or so. I thought the ride was great, and while not breaking into my top 10, I did think it was very fun! I was really happy to have gotten to ride it...it was a coaster I'd waited my whole life to ride! It was a coaster that I wanted to ride back when I hated coasters! It was really a highlight of the trip for me.
After the Matterhorn, Kevin asked if I wanted to ride Mr. Toad...duh! Of course!
This had maybe a 10 minute wait, which wasn't too bad considering that it was the Saturday of a holiday weekend! I really love this ride, and really really hated to see the one in Disney World taken out. Hopefully this one will be preserved since it's in the "Class of '55."
While we were in the area, we rode Snow White...
...then Pinocchio's Daring Journey, passing on Peter Pan because of the huge line. Kevin wanted to ride Pirates next, so we meandered in that direction. Our friend Donna had requested that we drink a mint julep for her while we were there, so we stopped for that before getting in line.
I enjoy the Disney mint juleps much more than real alcoholic ones, eventhough they do "taste like drinking gum" as the girl in front of us in line put it.
We drank while we waited for Pirates, which also ended up being about a 20-30 minute wait. I enjoy this version of the ride so much more than Magic Kingdom's! It's so much longer and so much more elaborate! And I think that the Jack Sparrow and Davy Jones enhancements were very nice and very well done. They spruced it up just enough to keep it fresh, while still preserving everything classic about the ride.
We rode the Haunted Mansion next, with very little line. I figure that this mansion is about the same as the Florida version, but holy cow does the new attic scene rock! Totally kicks the ass of Florida's! That is an upgrade that the Florida park sorely needs, as their bride looks like total poo compared to Disneyland's new one!
While in the area, we rode the Pooh ride with basically no wait. I thought the ride was ok, though I'm not a Pooh fan at all. Definitely better than the country Bears though! *shiver* After the ride, we browsed a sweet shop nearby...
...and Kevin ended up getting a chocolate covered strawberry. I took a bathroom break, and found Kevin on the phone with Donna when I came out. She was glad that we'd had a mint julep for her, and after exchanging pleasantries, we moved on. We got some Fast Passes for Splash Mountain while we were there....
...then went for a ride on Big Thunder Mountain. Another pretty solid ride that's pretty much equal to the one in Florida.
We circled back into Fantasyland, and caught a ride on Small World. When we were done, it was parade time...oh joy. We struck up a conversation with a nice Cast Member who was fairly new to the company while we waited. We chatted about my time working at WDW, what it's like to work at Disneyland and whatnot until the parade passed by where we were. Kevin ran up to the pathway to see it, while I hung back a bit. Then the parade stopped. Now, I really hate most parades...but what I discovered is that the only thing worse than a parade is a parade that stops and just stands there in front of you! I could have bashed my head on the sidewalk and had more fun. Eventually, I called my mom and chatted for a bit.
After the parade, we went into Toontown to get the credit that we both bypassed in 2001, Gadgets Go-Coaster.
Neither of us were counting credits at the time, or else we would have surely ridden! haha This was a pretty grueling wait, with just one train and lots of little kiddies in line around us. We managed to get the credit though, like the good little credit whores that we are.
Our Space Mountain Fast Passes were valid by then, so we started back over that way. We saw that the Fantasyland side of the Matterhorn had no line, so we quickly jumped in for a ride on that side.
I thought they were pretty much the same, though a few more rides on each would have surely shown me lots of differences. Right when the ride first came off the lift, the glowing yeti eyes growled at me, and I thought I was gonna poop my pants! It came out of NOWHERE and scared the snot out of me! Of course Kevin had a good time laughing at me because of it!
We headed off for Space Mountain next, and had one of those "haha we're so much smarter than you" moments when we got there. The standby line was pretty long, but since we had Fast Passes, we got to walk straight past the whole thing!
Then, once inside the building, there was no one! NO ONE! We were running, and dancing and taking pictures of us in this completely empty queue, feeling so much smarter than the suckers that probably waited an hour in the standby line! But anyway, I thought the new ride was awesome! So much better than the old version, and light years better than Florida's version! I wish that the WDW one with get the same treatment that Disneyland's got...better track, much improved space travel effects and hopefully audio!
We tried out Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters next since it didn't have much of a line. It was a nice ride, and I ended up beating Kevin quite handily thanks to hitting a lit up triangular target. Leaving Tomorrowland, we crossed the hub and went into Adventureland for a bit. We decided to stop to watch the Tiki Room, and Kevin got a Dole Whip while we waited. I really enjoyed the ambiance in the preshow/waiting area with the fire, the water effects, the staticky tiki god narrations and the super ancient Dole pineapple canning video!! The original Tiki Room is such a nice show...campy but fun, and something that I hope never changes.
It was almost time for fireworks by this time, and we were both feeling the need for a bit of dinner, so we headed to Casey's Corner. The line was horrible! We were so hungry and so tired that we became pretty giddy, which thoroughly entertained the two ladies in front of us! We all marveled at how people can stand in line for 15 minutes directly under the menu, then have to pause to decide what they want when they get to the register!! At least I am not the only one who thinks these people should be drug into the streets and beaten!!
I got a regular hot dog, and Kevin got a chili dog, and once the dogs were dressed for dinner, we went back out onto Main Street. Watching fireworks is just one step behind watching parades as activities that I truly hate while in theme parks. Yet Kevin really wanted to stop and watch them, so I sucked it up and ate my hot dog as they started. Frankly, I thought the show was really lame excepting just a few small points...they get mega kudos for working in the Electrical Parade music, and the Star Tours little segment where a laser shoots out of the castle and makes a green firework explode on the end of Main Street was kinda cool too. That was it though. Everything else was just music and unrelated explosions to me.
After the show, we waited around for the crowd to die down a bit, but sensing that it was gonna get worse before it got better, we battled against the crowd into Fantasyland.
My memory is fuzzy about which rides came next, but I know we did Alice in Wonderland before leaving the area. Our Splash Mountain Fast Pass was valid, so we took the path behind Big Thunder to get there. The path was really eerie though...there was no one else around, and there was no area music, so it made the park feel really deserted.
There was still no one around when we got to Splash Mountain, so the Fast Passes were completely unnecessary. I didn't remember much about this ride from my last trip, but now I can safely say that this ride sucks compared to WDW's! Firstly, the water moves so fast that it almost feels more like a rapids ride than a log flume. Florida's version meanders at a nice pace, letting you really take in the scenery. This one just hurries you right on past the show scenes, giving you pretty much no time to take it all in. And secondly, they just don't develop the story nearly as much as they should. Everything just seems very randomly placed. So yeah, Splash Mountain definitely goes in the "Better in Florida" column.
We didn't have too much time left before the park closed, so we walked back towards the entrance via Adventureland. When we passed Indiana Jones, there was no wait, so we decided to end out the night with that. I think Indy is a solid ride, but to be the dissenting voice, I really don't think it's all that. It's got some nice theming, but there are too many places where you can tell that they either ran out of money and decided to leave you in the dark, or where they had major show scenes and effects not operating. It's definitely not a ride that I feel the need to wait very long for.
Sleeping Beauty Castle at night
By the time we left, the park was closing, so we scurried out the front gates with everyone else. We both agreed that we'd had an incredibly fortunate day, in that we got to ride all the E-ticket rides plus see tons of other stuff, all on a Saturday of a holiday weekend when we didn't get there until the afternoon. Had that been the only day that we were spending there, I would have walked away feeling like I did a good solid chunk of the stuff in that park. Luckily, we still had two more days to go!
We followed the crowd out, and down the street towards our hotel, and pretty soon, we were both collapsed into bed, exhausted.