Yesterday was D-Day – Disneyland visit day. We were up bright and early in the hope that we might get a jump on the crowds and, in particular, the family groups who we figured would take an age to get ready and out the door in the morning. We quickly realised our attempts would be futile when we woke at 6 am to the sound of screeching, sleepy children being wrangled into carseats by their parents. We knew then that it would be long a day and that we’d have to call on all of our survival skills – outwit, outlast, outplay.
Getting into the park itself was a breeze. Venues here don’t seem to struggle at all dealing with large crowds of people – everything is streamlined and pretty bloody efficient. The people are also very relaxed – no one gets aggro or impatient, they just wait quietly (well, as quietly as Americans ever are) for their turn. It’s a good thing that they take that approach – wait times for rides can be over an hour! We were through the gates and ready to hit the ground running just after 8 am.
Once you’re in the park it quickly becomes apparent that there is a hard core of Disney diehards. These people seemed to have annual passes and were often decked out in full Disney costume and running frantically from ride to ride dragging their children like they were all part of the Amazing Race. We avoided these people at all costs.
Disneyland itself is pretty spectacular. The attention to detail that goes into the rides, the streets, the stores and the costumes is amazing and its hard not to get a little bit caught up in the ‘wow’ of it all.
Here’s some of the highlights from our day:
- Getting to go on most of the best/grown-up rides (just look at how much Campbell loved Splash Mountain!). The rides aren’t exactly thrill rides like you’d expect at a regular theme park, but are focussed more on special effects, costumes etc. Once you get your head around that you can start to appreciate the amazing work that’s gone into them.
- My personal highlight (and Campbell’s undisputed lowlight) was the “It’s a Small World Ride”. You’ve probably seen the ride (or take-offs of it) on TV. It involves taking a wee boat trip through a grotto where little dolls representing the countries of the world sing “It’s a small world” over and over and over again. I have never seen a grown man as uncomfortable as Campbell was while those little dolls were singing and dancing. Wikipedia says that there are 196 countries in the world, so you can just imagine how long the ride went for. At the end of the ride, I splashed out and bought Campbell a commemorative coaster, so that after a hard day at work he can have a beer and remember that things could always be worse.
- Campbell’s highlight (because he is a bit mean and grinchy) was when it started to rain shortly after lunchtime. You have never seen smiles turn into frowns as quickly as they did at Disneyland. Face paint started sliding off, candy floss went soggy and all around the park were moans of “Mommy, I’m wet, Mommy, can we go home, Mommy, I don’t want to go on any more rides”. The claim that Disneyland is the most magical place on earth evidently only applies on fine days.
- Arriving at our Air BnB accommodation in Hollywood. This is our first Air BnB experience and we were both quietly chuffed that the place actually existed and we hadn’t been scammed.
We bailed on Disneyland at about 2.30pm and decided to tackle the hour drive to LA. Two and a half hours later we finally made it to our accommodation. It turns out that President Obama was in LA yesterday and every road that he was due to travel on, or might vaguely look in the direction of, was shut. The result was freeways that were absolutely rammed with traffic – it’s known round here as Carmaggedon. We made it in one piece and were stoked to find that our Air BnB hosts had stocked the fridge with beer, wine, cheese and crackers. We tucked in and all of the stress of the trip quickly faded away.
We’re in LA for the next few days and are very much looking forward to staying put and a couple of car-free days.