Who: Me & DH
We try to go to Disneyland every couple of years or so. This is my first trip report. Thanks to everyone for their reports which have been so much fun to read and so full of good ideas.
Radisson Buena Park: Ratty or Rad?
Since DH is a Carlson Club member and we were driving anyway, I chose the Radisson and got a great price on pre-paid room. Then, I went to Trip Advisor and read the reviews. Oh crud. Unable to cancel, called hotel and expressed my worries, mainly about the mold since I have asthma. Roberto was kind, had our room deep cleaned and had staff show it to us prior to check in. Room 254 was huge, had a cold fridge, microwave, wet bar, and was clean, with the exception of the carpet. DH likes a fan when sleeping, and it was quickly brought to us on request, same with omitted hand towels and washcloths that we requested the second day. The free breakfast was, well, pretty much as expected, but with the added plus of a very cool lady who remembered everyone’s name and kept the flow going in the breakfast room. This hotel has a Spanish style, with tile details, a nice courtyard and mature tropical plants. She is a faded lady for sure, in need of some sprucing up, and everything said about the carpets was true. I probably wouldn’t go into that pool or hot tub. While the place is not up to Radisson standards, the charming staff and the cheap price make up for that, IMHP. Location was good, about 10 minute ride to Disney on the freeway. So, ratty and rad really.
Oh Don, You Had Me at Hello
Drove from Phoenix Friday and decided to go along with the Tiki Theme and headed over to Don the Beachcomber for dinner and cocktails. We found a good radio station, KJZZ, 88.1 out of Long Beach. Brubeck, Sinatra, lots of good stuff. Kept it there the rest of the time we drove around and it added to the fun. Don the Beachcomber is a national treasure of tikiness, transporting patrons to the rum-soaked shores of Polynesia since 1937 in this location. So good, hang out in the bar, don’t bother with the food. Rumor has it Don the Beachcomber’s days are numbered (which is so wrong on so many levels), so if you love tiki culture, or a themed environment-- which anyone reading this does–get there soon.
Saturday: Let’s Do Something in the Air Conditioning
I get a thrill from the Cyprus trees and bird of paradise flowers planted along the tramway. I first went to Disneyland when I was 6 in 1971, and for some reason those cyprus and the smell of eucalyptus take me right back there. We started with DCA at rope drop since the EMH was at Disneyland. It was hard for me not to go to D-Land first, because I am sentimental that way. We got fast passes for Radiator Springs Racers and then rode it single rider. Then we got a churro to eat in line for Toy Story. Is it just me, or are the churros at Disneyland better? DH says they taste the same to him. Then back to RSR to ride together. We Fastpassed TOT (never ended up using it), saw It’s Tough to be a Bug, and rode Monsters Inc. Then we did some things we have not done before: Junk Yard Jamboree (adorable, great music, loved it), Animation Academy (so much fun, drew Steamboat Minnie) and the Aladdin show (as good as everyone says, see it before it’s gone). At this point the heat was sapping our joy, so we went over to the bar at Carthay Circle. I got a Manhattan, which had a lovely diamond-shaped ice cube, then the poison apple martini ‘cause I wanted that poison apple glow cube. We got some snacky items and DH had some interesting beers. If you ever need an attitude adjustment on a hot day at DCA, this is your place! Then we went back to our room for a nap (me) and football (DH).
Back to the Park!
We went back to the park about 7, and it took a while to park and get on a tram. It was crowded on Main Street, and really bad back by the Rivers of America, so much so that we got on the Railroad and just rode around a couple of times. The Railroad is another thing that takes me back to 6 years old. I remember as a kid if we went on any other trains that didn’t have Grand Canyon and Primeval World, I’d be so disappointed.
After the sun went down the park was magical as always and the temperature was much better. The 60th Anniversary décor on the castle is pretty and we liked watching it change. We had dinner at Rancho Del Zocalo, very much the kind of Mexican food your Anglo Midwestern aunt might make, but it is somehow rather yummy and comforting. I noticed they had the poison apple mug in there and made a mental note to come back for it before we left. We did Thunder Mountain after dinner, and wandered over to the Haunted Mansion, which had a stupidly long line. (We are pretty much 20 minutes or under people when it comes to lines.) But we found out there was Fastpass for it, and vowed to ride the next day. During this time, we saw snippets of the parade and fireworks, but we won’t wait in a crowd to see them so that was about it. We played the shooting gallery in Frontierland and rode the Jungle Cruise under the big ‘ol full moon, which was amazing. We rode Snow White and Pooh and did the single rider line for Indiana Jones. It was fun walking in through the exit and we were on the ride in no time. Our last ride of the night was the Matterhorn, one of my all time favorites. The new abominables are just fantastic.
A Word about September in Los Angeles: No.
Don’t go to LA at the end of September. It is HOT. We got burned on this last year too (pun intended) and didn’t learn our lesson apparently. But we saw an unofficial Tiki Day on the interwebs and thought that sounded like fun. Really tho, the weather was vile. (And we live in PHOENIX.) Do not believe the projected average temperatures. The end times are here. Also, this day was projected to be level 4 crowds, but ended up being level 7. I am always grateful for a day at Disneyland no matter what, but it was way too hot and crowded for us. Give me a rainy day in February in a poncho when everyone else has left the park.
Sunday: Tiki Day, Elvis, and that Crazy Moon
We took our time getting out the door on Sunday. Went to breakfast at Tiffy’s which was good and we didn’t have to wait. We got to the park about 11 and what the heck?! the Mickey & Minnie garage was closed! We followed parking signs all over the place before finally getting to a parking lot way far away and I hate to admit it, but I totally lost it. I was freaking out. Was the park so full there was no more parking in the garage? It had been too crowded for us on Saturday and I could not figure out what would cause that to happen. Then I got all pouty about all of the research I had put into the trip to make sure we had a good experience and now here it was all hot and crowded, bla bla bla. DH kept it together thankfully and once we got on the bus to the park, we were told that the garage was not full, but Disney likes to spread the cars around and the park should be fine. Who knew?
Finally in the park, we got a Fastpass for Haunted Mansion first thing. My first ride was single rider for Splash Mountain. (DH does not like to get wet.) That dark air conditioned cave was just what I needed, and god I love that ride. I thought about the Song of the South part in the recently-aired American Experience on Walt Disney and wondered what Walt would think of the ride after that movie supposedly gave him so much trouble. I think he would have LOVED it! We rode HM, admiring all of the new additions to the Holiday Overlay. I love Nightmare Before Christmas, but really people, isn’t HM fabulous enough in its normal state? Oh, and the hatbox ghost, fabulous! We got some ice tea and watched the jazz band at the French Market. So good, even tho it was sweltering and they must have been dying in those outfits. I had to have a dole whip at that point so we got one and went in the Tiki Room to enjoy it. After that, DH was ready for his traditional turkey leg and I tried the jalapeno cheese pretzel. (I thought it was just OK.) Then we did some shopping since it was cool in the stores and we had gotten a locker. When I went back to Rancho they were out of the poison apple mug but the cast member there sent me to the fruit stand by the jungle cruise and I was triumphant. I also got a cute Mary Blair-inspired anniversary plate at Disneyanna. We had gotten a Fastpass for Indy, but it was down so the cast member said we could come back any time. At that point it was time to meet up with the Tiki Day folks at the Tiki Room. The courtyard was filled up with more people and colors than you can imagine! So many divine outfits, lots of vintage, lots of homemade creative accents. It was great to be in the Tiki Room with all of those people who were so into it, and it was even more atmospheric and time-warpey with all of the ladies in dresses and the gents in hats and such. After that we rode Indy, grabbed a Fastpass for Star Tours and then hopped over to the Monorail to go to Trader Sam’s.
Trader Sam’s is fabulous! We have been there a few times before and since there was a line we sat on the patio this time. It was great with live music, tiki torches and great lighting. I got the 60th anniversary tiki mug with the diamond eyes for our collection. We wanted to make it back on the Monorail before it closed for fireworks, so we just had one drink. I had the Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Tiki Rum of course! We got back to tomorrowland, and there was Elvis, playing on that fabulous mid-century modern stage. Scott Bruce is a great Elvis and his band was smokin’. There was the most adorable couple in matching vintage tiki wear who where swing dancing. The blood moon eclipse was happening at this point, and the whole scene was magical. We had gotten Fastpasses for Fantasmic, but we missed it ‘cause we were loving the Elvis thing so much, oh well! We rode Star Tours (so good!) and admired the moon shining over the big rocket in Tomorrowland. The eclipse was almost over and we felt like we were truly on another planet. Then we rode Nemo and stood admiring the moon over that lagoon. We decided to go on IASW, but since the Fireworks were starting we grabbed a churro and sat on a low wall to watch them. What a great spot! We just kind of happened into it, but we could see tinkerbell flying and both sets of fireworks really well. And, we were sitting there with a churro and no crowd. The show was unbelievable. When they turned the Matterhorn into a fiery volcano, I just about died. It was pretty much the best thing I have ever seen in my life. Whoever thought of that is pure genius! I got teary during the finale and DH lovingly called me a nerd. It was great! Then IASW: people can hate on this ride all they want but to me it is like riding through a piece of art. I adore Mary Blair and the whole thing is just so mod! At this point we were hungry and a sandwich sounded good, so we went to Jolly Holiday and got some dinner. I had a turkey sandwich and here I must complain: if you can’t have a decent, chewable chibata, just put in on a regular ol slice of bread for god sakes. That bun was tough as nails. We got a table out front and had a good view of the parade going by. Paint the Night is very innovative and we enjoyed it. At that point the park was clearing out so we went to Fantasyland and rode Mr. Toad, and Alice. We got to see a maintenance guy working on one of the caterpillars and that was very cool. We decided to end it on Alice, one of my favorites.
Best things: the moon, the fireworks, tiki day, the bands, all the little improvements added to the rides over the past few years, charming cast members, my DH keeping it together when I lost it, and additional single rider lines. Worst things: well I already talked about those so let’s just leave it alone, shall we? I love you Disneyland! See you again soon I hope!