Thursday, July 3, 2008

Mickey's Waiting..........

July 1

We arrived in the US on Sunday, got the Disneyland Express from LAX to to our hotel and slept. A lot. Somewhere in there we went down the restaurant at the corner and had a bite to eat........and then we slept some more. We both woke up at strange times during the night......and went back to sleep again.

Disneyland is at just down the street and around the corner. It's maybe a kilometre away, tops. So, after breakfast we put our walking shoes on and took off.

Disneyland is awesome! There's no other words to describe it. It describes itself as The Happiest Place on Earth -and it's right. There's no choice but to grin, and then smile widely, and then laugh.

There's something for everyone.

Main Street is the bit that you enter as you come into the park. It's a long street of shops and eating places and attractions – come and see the original Mickey Mouse movie from 1928 – with trolley cars running up and down. it's also where Mickey and Mini and Donald Duck hang out. They appear out of no where, a queue forms for photos and autographs, and they vanish again.

Tomorrowland is full of, well, full of tomorrow. That's where the Star Tours ride is – a virtual ride inspired by Star Wars – kind of the roller coaster that you have when you don't actually go anywhere. And Space Mountain – the roller coaster that you do have when you do go somewhere. In a lot of darkness, broken up by starscapes that leave you feeling as though falling through space. There is also Autopia, where you drive cars around a track full of ups and downs and ins and outs.

Fantasyland is full of littlies. It's got princesses, and little people style rides. A gorgeous merry-go-round, full of mirrors, every horse is painted differently. We went on it twice. There's the Storybook Land Canal Boats. They were one of the original Disney rides – canal boats that travel past tiny villages from Pinocchio, Aladin, the Three Little Pigs and just about every other fairy tale you can think of. Fantasyland also has the Matterhorn – another serious roller coaster. I screamed myself hoarse. Amy said that if I wanted to go on anymore roller coasters, she was very happy to wait for me at the end of the ride.

Frontierland is built around a lake. In the middle of the lake is Tom Sawyer's Island; the Mark Twain – a 3 tiered paddled steamer takes you around the lake and the island. All around the lake there are the most amazing and realistic scenes on the shores.

New Orleans Square sits firmly on the edge of the lake as well. This is where The Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and the Haunted Mansion are. The Pirates ride is great - we sat in a small boat and went for miles inside a huge darkened cavern with all sorts of pirate stuff around all the bends, and a few mandatory drops down in the carriages so that there was some good splashing. The Haunted Mansion is full of things that look ghostly – they look like three dimensional holograms from a sci fi show – at one stage we had a ghost sitting in the carriage beside us!

Adventureland is smaller - everywhere at Disney is an adventure! - and here we went on The Jungle Cruise. We sat in a boat that looked like it was straight out The African Queen and navigated our way through the jungle. We got squirted by elephants, chased by hippos and had arrows shot at us by a tribe of headhunters.

The best ride in the whole park is Splash Mountain. We sat in a tiny boat that looked like half a log turned into a canoe and went through caves with the most wonderful characters and stories from Brear Rabbit. It was great. And at the end we dropped 50 feet - that's what the signs say - and splashed into the water at the bottom. It should be called Drench Mountain - we were at the front of the canoe and were so soaked that we headed back to the hotel to change.

Disneyland is truly amazing. There's a reason that everyone is smiling. From the moment that we walked in the gates in the morning, till the time we went home at night we kept smiling. Even standing in line (I keep joining queues, but here it's standing in line) is an exciting experience – Disney handles lines by making them part of the ride. So while we waited for the Star Tours ride, we were entertained by C3PO, and watched robots building androids. One of the robots decided that he's had enough and stopped working. The boss robot threatened to cut his power off, and so reluctantly he began again.

The Disney people move queues really well. There never seems to be a long wait -unless you stand in line for the Finding Nemo submarine ride. And if you are tempted to stand in the Nemo line – don't. It's the only dud ride in the place and afterwards we wondered why we'd bothered.

We've gotten into a pleasant routine – get up and get to the Park by the time the gates open at 8am. Stay until early afternoon and then come back to the hotel. hang out in the air conditioning, or around the pool until early evening, then head back to Disneyland until late – it closes at midnight.

Andy's Tips for Disneyland

1. Go early, stay late. Skip the bit in the middle. At this time of the year it's hot. Skip the hot part of the day.
2. Wear shorts. Everyone wears shorts. I could pick the Australians in the queue this morning waiting for the gates to open at 8am – they were the only people wearing long trousers.
3. Split meals. I've never seen meals as big as they are here. We get one meal and 2 sets of cutlery.
4. Wear comfortable shoes and walk lots. Our hotel is walking distance to the Park, and so we can come and go as we please.
5. Skip 'Finding Nemo'. By the time I'd found him, we found him, we wondered why we'd bothered. Maybe it's best that Australians don't go to rides that are all about the Great Barrier Reef.
6. Buy the T shirt. And the sweatshirt. And Mickey. And another T shirt.
7. Get wet at Splash Mountain. Very wet.

We've got one more day here in Anaheim and we're hoping to make it to the other Disney park – yes, there are two of them. Across the square from Disneyland, is the Disney California Park -more Disney! Yay! In the afternoon, we collect the car, and then the day after we head off to Las Vegas.

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