The traffic from San Diego was surprisingly light, so we actually got to Disneyland on schedule. The family frequently laughed at my "schedule" but hey – they wanted to see lots of stuff! In the end, I think I was quite flexible 🙂
So we started the day at Downtown Disney after pre-checking in at the Disneyland Hotel. We had some time to kill while we waited for Grandma to get in from the airport, so we stopped in Build-a-Bear, which Mabel wanted to do for the girls. After our first bout of Disney-sticker-shock, we came away with two personalized animals that the girls adore of course.
We went ahead into California Adventure after realizing Grandma was going to be another hour or so, and headed straight for Soarin’ Over California. It was better than the last time I went on it, and everyone loved it. I think it was better for me because we were in the middle row, toward the center of the screen. The closer you can get to center, the more immersive the experience. We all agreed that Seattle needs to do a ride like this. Replace our pathetic Seattle Center carnival rides with a Soarin’ Over Washington.
Trying to kill some more time without doing rides that Grandma would miss out on, we went through Redwood Creek. Fiona began her efforts to overcome her fears on the huge jungle gym.
We headed toward the Hollywood Backlot area when Grandma called and I went to pick her up while the girls got their pics taken with a few characters hanging out in the center area. Our group complete, we headed for the Grizzly River Run. It was a somewhat cool day (high of about 70), so there was no line for the River Run, as few people wanted to get that cold. We had a blast though. Fiona got the most soaked, with Alec a close second. Mabel and I wimped out and got ponchos.
We went from there to the Boardwalk district, where the girls were thrilled to see the High School Musical float. We did a few rides there – Golden Zephyr and the Orange Stinger, with Fiona and mom going on the Jumpin’ Jellyfish. I’m glad that they have some tamer rides for the little ones, or Fiona would’ve been pretty bored on this trip.
Finally, our fast passes for California Screamin’ were valid, and so Alec, Rebekah, Grandma, and I scooted over there. A brief 5 minutes later, and we were off. What a great roller coaster. Smooth and fast. The picture was just too good to pass up.
Mabes and Fiona did some shopping on the Boardwalk and met us at the Sun Wheel. That was a bit of a wait, but it allowed us to get organized for the rest of the day. Mabes and Fiona actually got quite a thrill from the rocking cages, though the rest of us who’d just been on Screamin’ thought it was pretty relaxing by comparison J
Grandma and Alec tried out the Maliboomer, which Dad didn’t like the look of. They thought it was better than the Tower of Terror. At the same time, I’d talked Mabes and Fiona into going on the other roller coaster: Mullholland Madness. It’s actually quite a jerky ride, and Fiona was terrified, poor thing. Well at least she can say she did it.
We went to It’s Tough To be a Bug on our way to the Tower of Terror. The 3D movies are all getting a little tired in my opinion. The 3D effects still aren’t good enough to be believable, so it ends up being a goofy movie, in this case with some amusing physical effects thrown in.
While the daredevils (Alec, Rebekah, and Grandma) went on the ultimately disappointing Tower of Terror (Rebekah was expecting to be much more scared), Fiona, Mabes, and I went to Muppets #d, hoping that Monster’s Inc would be open when we were done. Muppets charmed Fiona, but is a pretty dated attraction otherwise. Fortunately, Monsters was open afterwards and was a good “dark ride” as far as those go. The “door room” effect is the best use of simple mirrors I’ve seen in a while.
Then it was time for our reservations at Ariel’s Grotto. We were greeted by a mousey-voiced, impossibly-blue-eyed Ariel, which was just the beginning of our girls’ dream experience of dinner with the princesses. We were visited by Belle, Cinderella, Snow White, and Jasmine. They were all very good at playing their part, but Cinderella actually dazzled us all – she had the mannerisms down *perfectly* and was charming to boot. The food was great, so we were pretty happy with the whole experience. The only downer was that we lost the hat Fiona had just bought. Oh, and I tried to ignore the bill. Yikes.
After dinner, we somehow managed to hold down our meal through another ride on Screamin’ and the girls took Grandma on Soarin’ that she had missed in the morning. With California Adventure closing soon, we went over to Disneyland for the evening.
Somehow, we talked Fiona into going on Indiana Jones. The wait was thankfully only about 15 minutes, and of course the line itself is entertaining in the amount of detail they’ve put into the surroundings. Fiona was pretty frightened at first, but got into it as the ride went on. She went again the next day, calling this her favorite ride. It’s quite a hoot – totally cheesy, with just the right amount of spectacle and scariness.
We wound down with a ride on the Jungle Cruise next door. I’d been on it a few years before in the daylight and it had brought back cute memories, but I hadn’t enjoyed it too much. Well as I suspected, it’s MUCH more fun at night, where you don’t notice as much how unrealistic the animals are and you just enjoy the jokes of the tour guide and the creepy, dark ambience.
Well we left that night with enough of a taste of Disneyland that we were really excited for the next day. We watched the fireworks from our suite on the top floor of the Disneyland Hotel and tried to get some sleep.
Dinner with the princesses?!?! Impressive, man. Way to go, dad.