Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Overs and Unders

There's always a first time for everything, right? Well, after having kids for 11 years, we finally took  our kids to Disneyland for the first time! I was very nervous about going to Disneyland. I know it's commonly branded as the "Happiest Place on Earth," but I was pretty sure that with my aversion to crowds, simulacra, and standing in lines, I'd have a hard time creating an enjoyable experience.

However, I am happy to report that it was overall a very fun experience! I'd like to report on some of the things that OVERwhelmed and UNDERwhelmed me about our days at Disneyland.


My biggest fear about going to Disneyland was imagining that we would be spending hundreds of dollars in admission, and then spend 90% of our time waiting in ridiculously long lines for a 10 second ride... Well, I am glad to report that I was completely OVERWHELMED by how well that park handles the thousands upon thousands of people that come daily! Many rides, like Buzz Lightyear and Haunted Mansion, never stop running--the cars on the tracks just move slowly while you walk along a conveyor belt to load and unload the ride. Other rides, like Pirates of the Caribbean, the Jungle Cruise, and Indiana Jones, just load and unload such massive amounts of people that the line moves at a reasonable speed the whole time. Pirates of the Caribbean was the most stunning example of this. Approaching the ride, I could see many switchbacks and twists and turns and stanchions guiding the queued crowd... and yet the sign at the end claimed "Wait time from this point: 15 min." I did not believe it. I was fully expecting to wait twice or three times that length. I kept and eye on my watch, however, and we were never standing still for more than a few moments in that line. It was exactly 15 minutes from that sign to our arriving at the beginning of the line! I was truly impressed. Disneyland KNOWS how long their lines are! Plus, their rides are all a decent length of time! Some as long as 10-15 minutes! Which makes a 20 minute line wait seem all the more worth it!

Also, I was OVERWHELMED by how well the FastPass system worked! It's a truly brilliant idea that makes you, in essence, able to wait in two lines at once! We utilized the FastPasses very well on the first day and were able to hit Buzz Lightyear, Rockets, Star Tours (in which Dawna was pegged as the rebel spy), Space Mountain, Matterhorn, and Nemo Submarine all before noon! Unfortunately, our second day was less successful with the FastPasses... we spent much more time in line then... but still got everyone's first choice experience accomplished.

The completely immersive experience is totally OVERWHELMING also! There is SO much attention to detail in every part of the park! There was hardly even any cobwebs or dust to be seen, even in the line waiting areas of the attractions. I particularly loved the rides like Guardians of the Galaxy, which put you in the middle of a narrative and part of the story. They utilize very low lighting in a lot of their attractions to make the experience more intense and immersive... which is great, except it's impossible to take any good pictures of those details... I guess that's why we have YouTube commercials...

 Lastly, I was OVERWHELMED by how, in many ways, Disneyland is a genuinely happy place. The workers seemed encouraged (or required) to stay positive and cheerful (as evidenced by one worker's song: If you're happy and you know it, get off the handrails!). Those dressed as characters spend a few individual moments with each group of kids and actually talk to them and ask questions. Dawna had a lovely talk with her childhood favorite: Cinderella
We met two other princesses that day as well (as requested by Jade): Ariel and Snow White

But in addition to the characters and workers, even the masses of patrons are generally happy.  While waiting in line to meet the princesses, one sweet little girl fresh from the Bibbidi-Boppity Boutique happily shared her sparkles with Jade--who then happily shared them with me. 

And did you know that wearing Mickey ears is a totally normal thing there? They come in more varieties than I could have ever imagined! We had fun spotting them all day--Chewbacca Mickey ears and glowing Halloween ears were some of our favorites! 

And we may have had a run in with the Dark Side: 


And while there were many wonderful things about our Disneyland vacation, there were a couple things that were frustrating and disappointing...Like the inconsistent or incomplete information on park hours... Does it open at 8 or 9? When does it close? 6pm? 8pm? 11pm? And why do Disneyland and California Adventure (two parks that are literally 100 yards apart) close at different time?? And does a bottle of water really have to cost $5?? I was thankful that they allow park visitors to bring in outside food so you don't HAVE to buy the super expensive stuff inside. 

Nemo's Submarine ride. Totally underwhelming. Maybe it's because I remember it as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea or maybe it's because I'm a snotty SCUBA diver that has seen all that fake stuff for real... 

Also... the Monorail and the Jedi Training show were closed and cancelled due to heat... Come now, Disneyland, you're in southern California--how are you not prepared for heat??


At the end of the day (or two days) of Disneyland and California Adventure, I thought it was a wonderful place to spend a vacation with our family! I would even go so far as to say I do recommend Disneyland as a great place to visit! So glad Jon had this "team-building" event so we could all enjoy our Disney adventure!



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