The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

September 13, 2011

It’s a Bigger World Than You Think: Thoughts From Labor Day Weekend at Disneyland

Filed under: travel, Wanderings — Tags: , — Brian Lutz @ 11:19 pm

Once again, I’ve been slacking off a bit recently on Blogging.  Since I spent a good portion of last week on vacation part 1, and I am now less than a week from embarking on Vacation Part 2.  I could probably claim to be busy, but I don’t think vacation really counts as “busy,” at least in the typical sense of the word.  As is usually the case with my travels, I’ll probably be Internet constrained for a decent portion of the trip, but I’ll try to post something (probably brief) when I get a chance, probably when I’m in San Francisco.  Apparently I’ve actually cruised enough now that I actually qualify for free Internet access while onboard the ship, but in my experience shipboard Internet tends to be more of a “hey look, we’ve got Internet on our ship!” thing than it is a useful tool, and I doubt it would allow for much blogging. I don’t think this particular trip (a cruise down the coast from Vancouver to Los Angeles with stops in Victoria and San Francisco along the way) warrants too much in the way of blogging, but I’ll probably come up with something when I get back from my trip. 

That said, this past Labor Day weekend found me once again at Disneyland, although instead of being one of my usual solo trips, this time I went with three friends, which certainly made for a much different trip than I most likely would have gone on by myself.  As usual, I will refrain from making a blow-by-blow account of the trip (I tried that back with my 2008 Disney World trip, not sure it’s all that useful, nor am I certain I have the attention span for it again in the first place) but after the jump you’ll find a number of random thoughts and photos from the past weekend’s Disneyland trip.

After arriving at Santa Ana and finding the condo in Laguna Hills where we would all be staying for the next three days , we next went to find something to eat, which turned out to be an Original Pancake House nearby.  I can’t think of any other place that I’ve eaten where I could look out the window and see horses.  I also thought it a bit odd that one of the boasts on the menu was that their original location in Portland was voted one of the ten best restaurants in America… In 1955.  You’d think that they would have done something notable in the 56 years since that time, but who knows? 

Following lunch and a bit of shopping (where I was instructed on the proper use of the phrase “The item you selected looks very nice,” when I then proceeded to thoroughly misuse for the rest of the trip on the assumption that it was probably safer than the use of honest opinions,) we then headed out to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.  I’ve always enjoyed watching fish (probably because my Dad went through a phase where we had a house full of aquariums when we were growing up) and it was interesting to see some of the big stuff they had here. 

This was the scene as we departed from the Aquarium.  To me, this is the type of thing I tend to think of when I think of California (as long as I’m not thinking about dysfunctional government, a screwed up housing market  or lunatic celebrities going off the deep end, that is.)  I didn’t get to see a lot of it on this trip, but  it’s still a place I wouldn’t mind spending more time exploring.

The Disneyland portion of our trip began the next morning, where we were actually able to get quite a bit done by taking advantage of the short lines early on and Fastpasses for later in the day.  As usual, I rode on Space Mountain quite a few times, but only managed a couple of rides on Pirates of the Caribbean before it closed for a major rehab on Tuesday, and didn’t get to ride the Haunted Mansion at all since it was closed to put up its annual Nightmare Before Christmas overlay.  One thing in particular that I noticed this time around was the addition of gratuitous Blinkenlights to the sides of the big spaceship in the Space Mountain loading area, as seen here.

I think this might be the most patient duck I’ve ever seen.  Hanging out no more than 3 feet or so from the California Screamin’ launch track with cars blasting by at 60 miles per hour, ad seemingly completely oblivious to the whole thing without a care in the world.  I suspect he’s probably gotten used to it by now.

Ariel, on the other hand, is really starting to look like she’s letting herself go lately.  I guess getting your own ride tends to go straight to your head…

By far the coolest thing I was able to see on this trip was the new World of Color show at California Adventure, which debuted just a couple of week after my last Disneyland trip in May of last year.  I’m sure that there’s a ridiculous amount of technology that’s gone into this one, but really when it all boils down, all of this stuff is being done pretty much with lights, water, projectors and a few carefully placed pyrotechnic effects. 

That’s not to say that Fantasmic (the other big nighttime show at Disneyland) isn’t impressive in its own right, it’s just a completely different type of show, with a completely different type of story and focus.  I actually haven’t seen the entire show since I was there in 1996 since I don’t have much patience for sitting around and waiting for things, but we were able to be in the right place at the right time to catch most of the late showing on Monday after World of Color.  We even caught a brief glimpse of the fireworks show on the way out.  I’m sure some people plan obsessively for all this stuff, and I’ve heard of it being possible to catch all three shows in one night, but this one happened by pure serendipity.  Which may not be magic, but it’s pretty dang close.


Especially given the fact that I’m used to traveling solo to Disneyland and other destinations, traveling with a group made for a very different experience than I’d normally get out of the park.  I don’t think I can say that I suddenly learned to experience Disney magic, or magically fell in love or anything like that (apparently I’m in far less of a hurry than I’m told I should be on that one,) but these three were a fun group to travel with.  I’m pretty sure if I was traveling on my own I wouldn’t be joining in on ridiculous Splash Mountain and Tower of  Terror photos, coming up with half a zillion inside jokes or having to tell people to stop heckling the animatronics, but in a sense, when people look back at their trips many years down the proverbial road, they don’t remember how many times they went through the Haunted Mansion or how many corn dogs they ate, they remember who they were with and what they did together.  I suspect that when it comes to the point that I start having children of my own and bringing them out to Disneyland, it’ll be much the same way. 

If there’s one thing that we all missed out on during this particular trip, it would be sleeping.  In my case, I had to be up for a 7am conference call at work on Friday morning, followed by a 5:30 wake-up to catch an 8am flight on Saturday, and subsequent wake-up times averaging somewhere in the neighborhood of 6:15 for the three days spent at Disneyland, followed by a couple of late evenings in the parks and a nearly Midnight arrival time back in Seattle at the end of the trip.  Fortunately I’m pretty good with the whole late night thing, but I’ll just say that me and early wake-up times don’t get along particularly well.  It certainly made for some pretty good “Loopy As Heck” moments during the late evenings in the parks though.  Then again, as anyone who has spent any amount of time at Disneyland could tell you, it’s about as far from a relaxing vacation as you can get.  And this trip was no exception.  If ever there was a trip where you’d need a vacation from your vacation, it would be this one.  I suppose it’s a good thing I have one of those coming up…

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