Get up and go. We have to be there at opening! SWEET! It'll be like a ghost town or maybe like Disneyland after the bird flu has swept the country.
Or a traffic jam on the floating bridge. LAME.
Sure, they let us in early. We had passes and stamps and rushed to get to our place in the middle of the huge crowd packing Main Street. Getting into the Main Street area was easy and since that's where you spend most of your money so that might be by design. I'd have spent more (on coffee... oh sweet coffee), but the lines were too long since everyone else was casting about looking to spend their cash, too.
When the dam finally broke somewhere downstream and we were off like a herd of cattle moseying toward our super secret destination located as far from where we were as could possibly be...
Along the way we passed rides with no lines, but we didn't pause for we were heading to...
Look the Tea Cups!
I have to pee!
TOONTOWN (and why didn't you go before we left?)
Why did we have to go to TOONTOWN? Only because we were among the privileged few to have passes for TOONTOWN Morning Madness! It's crazy! It's zany! It's MADNESS! (Yeah, I know, the caps have to go.)
So here's the deal. Apparently, on certain mornings there's a little show that's put on in Toontown with all the big name characters (can you say, "Mickey?") and singing and dancing and you have to have a pass to get in. Er... if they're checking. Which they weren't. But that's ok. We were content to mingle with the unwashed casual Disneylanders especially since we got good spots to watch.
Like most shows in Disneyland it was well rehearsed and brilliantly performed. It all seemed a little too perfect, though. Like the smooth lines of the buildings. The symmetry of the trees. The green of the grass. The blue of the sky. My goodness! It's all fake! (Actually the sky was real, but everything else was fake.)
In fact I was constantly weirded out by the whole Toontown experience. If I had only one complaint it would be that the inclusion of actual living trees with their knots and spotted leaves detracted from the otherworldliness of the smoothed boulders and perfect sine-wave hills.
Actually, the weirding might have been more directly related to Nana's fascination with Chip and Dale. At their house the kids bounded up the stairs and raced across the walkways, but it was Nana that was disappointed the chipmunks weren't at home. When we'd fight our way through a crowd to see which character was signing autographs she was the one disappointed it wasn't a big furry rodent.
One of the highlights of Toontown turned out to be Chip and Dale's Nausea Machine of DOOM. (That name is kind of hard for the kids to remember so they just called it the "Kids' roller coaster.") I thought Clara was going to be my savior when she balked at getting on board, but after seeing Molly and Lilly do it and survive (actually I think they were replaced by animatronic versions of themselves) she relented (wee) and we got to ride. When we slowed to a halt and the blood returned to my head I heard her say, "Again! Again!" or roughly translated, "I hate you, Daddy! I'm going to punish you." So we rode it again and again. (I have lost count of how many times, but it seemed close to one billion.
Once we had pried the kids away from the roller coaster (and my fingers off the restraint bar) we checked out the rest of Toontown. Each character has its own house that seems to fit. Goofy was out in front of his so we got his autograph and even met the big mouse himself.
Mickey was greeting folks in the front entryway of his house. We waited perhaps 10 minutes for our snapshot with him before venturing into the twisting maze of his abode. As we got deeper and deeper it was clear the house was designed to distract weary Mouseketeers who were waiting for hours to meet Mickey. It actually reminded me of the set up for the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.
After lunch (and the requisite Henry blow-out) we wandered through the rest of the park. In general, Nana and Papa would take the kids on a ride like Tarzan's Treehouse while one or more of the rest of us would shoot pictures. Someone who needed some alone time would take off with all our entry passes to get Fast Passes to some popular ride.
I gotta say, the Fast Pass is a great invention worthy of Walt himself. If you're willing to defer your joy for a short while you can get a Fast Pass good for express entry to the ride at a certain time. This means that when you show up to the Indiana Jones ride you don't have to wait in line with all the schmucks without Fast Passes. Instead, you walk a parallel path and then cut in line way toward the front. (Indiana Jones is actually a bad example since you rejoin the line somewhere in the middle. Space Mountain is a better example.) (Actually, Space Mountain is an even worse example. Who would want to get to the front of the line faster?)
I REALLY wanted a shirt that read, "Ha ha I have a Fast Pass," but that might have pushed some folks over the limit. They were already standing in line watching us buzz past. Best not to push my luck.
We decided to wrap up the day at Splash Mountain, but before we could get there we had to get through New Orleans and that meant Mardi Gras and that meant dancing. Clara, Lilly, and Molly showed some impressive skillz dancing on the pavement and even got some bead for their efforts. (Don't go there.) It'd have been better if they'd served gumbo (mmm... gumbo), but watching the girls cut it up was pretty cool.
At Splash Mountain we (Carl, Martin, Nicole, Molly, Amy, Clara, and me) got right to the front with no problem. We had a log all to ourselves and started floating into the freaky woods.
Up up up oh crap what are we doing here gotta be brave for Clara being brave is for chumps I want out what do you mean I can't get out you can't stop me oh dang too late now we're going fast faster fastest I'm definitely going to die WHOA that water's cold.
And that was just the first little dip. Clara got a little wet on her pant leg and that soured her a bit, but she came out of it just fine. They take a picture of you when you don't expect it right as you start down the BIG descent into darkness and I look like I'm about to cry.
But that's it! No more mountains for me. I'd done the Matterhorn, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and Splash Mountain. Four peaks bagged and no major injuries to speak of. Phew.
Dripping and damp we cruised back to the hotel via the train that takes you through a campy Grand Canyon/Dinosaur exhibit and worked on dinner. Martin had actually gotten up early and walked about three miles to the nearest grocery to buy a birthday cake for Amy so that was quite the surprise. We settled the kids and the grandparents and then the four middle aged adults (ugh, that sounds awful) headed BACK to the park for a late night.
It was Amy's birthday so she got to direct. First stop? No. It can't be. Don't make me do it again!
it's my birthday and I love you...
Lovely. Space Mountain.
And then the Matterhorn. In the dark.
And then Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. In the dark.
It could have been worse, I suppose. And truth be told I started getting the hang of it. If I could anticipate which way the roller coaster would turn I could could brace for it and be mostly ok. This worked great during daylight hours, but not so well at night. And almost not at all in Space Mountain which is almost completely pitch black except for disco ball lighting to make you think you're in outer space even though outer space is peaceful and lacks a soundtrack. (Hint: Space Mountain only turns to the right except the very last turn which is to the left. That's also when you should smile because that's when they shoot the picture in which I was again near to crying.)
All too soon we were heading out of the park and back to the (hopefully) quite rooms full of sleeping children. The next day promised to have weather as good or better and was still supposed to be packed full of activity so we didn't dally. I can see why it might be fun to go to Disneyland without kids, but it was not nearly as fun as being there with them.