SoCal 2016 Day 5

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September 28, 2016
Hollywood & Anaheim CA

Waking up the next morning we had some of our leftover Korean food for breakfast before hitting up the pool, then heading out. We were going to find the Hollywood sign from a good vantage point so we headed to LA and then to Hollywood. We actually accidentally ended up at the foot of the hike up to the Hollywood sign. We weren’t prepared, nor did we have the time to do the hike, though I definitely want to do that at some point, so we walked a little bit up the trail before heading back down and driving back to Anaheim for day 2 of Disneyland, or in this case, California Adventure.

Today there were no GPS mishaps. We parked in the parking garage and headed to the Grand Californian on a much easier route this time, meeting up with our contact/new friend for a drink at the bar at the Grand Californian. She was starting her vacation today and wanted to start off right, so we gladly obliged. I had a drink made with Wild Turkey, Red Stag, and something that made it all taste a bit smokey. It was good.

I really did enjoy my visit to California Adventure on my last visit a decade ago, but the park has now grown in much more, and obviously there is that recent billion dollar make over. There were elements I liked from the original, but I won’t mourn their loss much because California Adventure, as it stands now, is amazing. We headed over to Pacific Wharf and straight to the main attraction there.

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SoCal 2016 Day 4

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September 27, 2016
Huntington Beach & Anaheim CA

Waking up we once again headed back to the beach. Huntington was familiar so we headed there for beach time. I did hang out in the pool that morning. Huntington was just as nice during the day and there were again plenty of surfers. Also, there were birds for Isaac (an avid birder). I acclimated to the water quite nicely, but he was kind of on and off with it. The surf was up and fun, and we spent a nice morning playing in the water and laying out on the beach.

We had lunch reservations at 2:50 at the Blue Bayou in Disneyland, and thanks to a good friend, got hooked up with tickets for 2 days while in the area. Because of poor planning and GPS usage on my part, we were a little late meeting our contact, but we did get there not long after we’d planned to meet at the Grand Californian Hotel. Unfortunately, once we parked and got to the resort, another GPS mistake had us walking all thru Downtown Disney and going to the hotel the long way. But once we got in, we met up with our new friend and headed into California Adventure first before heading directly over to Disneyland proper.

My last visit to the Disneyland Resort was in 2005, just before they started the 50th celebration. I hadn’t been to Walt Disney World at that point, but now I’d been to the Florida parks a couple times. So it was nice to compare with the original with a fresh perspective. I love Disneyland, and the last time my group only had a 1 day park hopper pass so we tried to cram too much into one day and didn’t spend nearly enough time at Disneyland. I loved California Adventure even then, before the changes, but I really needed more Disneyland time.

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Disneyland Resort Part 2 2005


Disneyland is the original Disney park. This was my first visit to a Disney park ever, and I’m glad that I started with the first one, and during the 50th anniversary celebrations, at that. After walking across the courtyard between the 2 parks we headed into Disneyland. Unfortunately Space Mountain hadn’t finished it’s reconstruction & refurbishment at that point and Splash Mountain was down for maintenance, as was Jungle Cruise. Oh well, that gave me more reasons to come back later.

We first found a restroom and then waited in front of the Castle for the other three. I don’t care what anybody says about the size of Sleeping Beauty’s castle, it was still really cute. One of the first noticeable things was how much more crowded Disneyland was than California Adventure. The first ride I saw was the Astro Orbiter. I almost took a spin, but the line was just a bit too long and we were supposed to be meeting up with the other three.

Then we saw Peter Pan’s Flight. This line was super long, so we opted out of that as well. Maybe next time. We walked back through the castle and I saw Tina waving for me. We went over and met Bill and Jodi. Then it was off for a ride. I’m pretty sure I have this in order, but there may be some discrepancies. First, I was up for some Haunted Mansion. The line wasn’t short, but the wait wasn’t that long.

Haunted Mansion-Granted, the actual ride portion wasn’t a bit scary. But the stretching room gave me a quick jump scare. Never the less, I really like dark rides and this was no exception. I know there were some changes recently, which were cool. Overall, aside from the temperature being a bit too cool for us, I really enjoyed the ride on Haunted Mansion. I’ve been waiting for many, many years to ride. Now when are they gonna add that 1000th ghost?

After Haunted Mansion I needed a coaster ride so we headed over towards Big Thunder Mountain. But first, we passed by The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh, and had to take a spin.

The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh-It was a pretty good dark ride. The ride looks very nice and was well themed. I liked Pooh’s Heffalump dream world scenes the best.

I was slightly worried about the coaster as there had been a recent accident. This wouldn’t be the first nor the last roller coaster I’d ridden that had had a serious accident, but I wasn’t going to pass on riding another classic.

Big Thunder Mountain Rail RoadAfter just a few lifts and drops, I proclaimed “If we were at Carowinds, It’d be over by now”. Bill agreed, Tina and Jody just laughed. This was my first ride with Bill. The trains were comfy to sit in, the ride was paced just right, and the theming was, once again, just blissful. Disney really is in a class all to themselves. Then there is that lift in the tunnel. After that, I proclaimed once again “If this were Adventure Express, it’d be over by now, and I’d be once again disappointed”. Bill was also making some Adventure Express comment (okay, so I did like it my last visit to Kings Island…). But BTMR was more than both of the previously mentioned mine train coasters. Heck, it is kind of the original. It was a fun ride, nicely paced with some decent ups, downs and laterals. I’d do it again.

Well, that was #98. Next up was another classic Disney Ride, and one that has been in the rumors lately: Pirates of the Caribbean. One neat thing was the restaurant that the ride actually navigates around.

Pirates of the Caribbean-Another golden oldie, Jamaal and I really enjoyed Pirates. It was fairly long, which is a good thing. More time to sit down. Plus it was a dark ride. Yay! The one drop was unexpected, and the animatronics were all in top notch order. Heck, I’ve been in some more ‘up to date’ dark rides that weren’t this good. Another oldie down, and another satisfied customer.

At this point I should have looked at a map and made some decisions on what all I wanted to see and do at Disneyland. Had I looked I would have realized all that Disneyland had to offer. In fact I didn’t spend any real time in Tomorrowland and almost missed out on two of the better rides at the park. Instead we rushed over to Matterhorn for another coaster credit.

Matterhorn (right)-We had been told to ride the right side of the coaster during the day, the left at night, and so we hopped in line for the right side as it was still daylight out. This was it. The first tubular steel coaster ever. It was also the last of my double digit credits at #99. I thought for a family coaster that it was fairly intense. Good theming, good coaster, and the water as a natural break is funky. The mountain actually looks almost real as well along the skyline. I rode in a car all to myself

Bill, Tina, and Jodi were hungry and Jamaal and I still needed to use our Screamin’ Fast Pass so we headed back over to say goodby to DCA. We picked up a disposable camera on our way into DCA since we left the digital camera behind by accident, and took some photos of the park before heading over to California Screamin’ again. The second ride was just as good as the first, and with 99% less wait time.

After snapping a few more pics the park was starting to close. We were there for almost an hour. Another Tower of Terror ride would have made me happy, but oh well. Getting two rides was still good. We then headed back over to Disneyland, which was still much more crowded than California Adventure. Next time I’d know I would need a full day for each park, but on this trip I’m just happy to be able to go.

I couldn’t get the gang to answer when I called to tell them we’d be heading back over, so I figured they were in line or on a ride and had no Cell reception. Walking over towards Tomorrowland I saw something I had forgotten Disneyland even had. I’m a huge Sci Fi geek. I like comics, I like coasters, I’m a Trekkie, and I like Star Wars. So when I saw the Star Tours sign, I just about flipped out. Thankfully, Jamaal is a Star Wars geek too.

Star Tours-I called my close friend Jon, who is a super Star Wars fan, to tell him what I was about to do. The line was long but moved swiftly. This was the only thing in Tomorrowland I ended up riding. We noticed Tina, Bill, and Jodi in line up ahead and told them to wait outside after they rode. Eventually we got through the queue and were off on our mission. It was fun. I mean, I’m not a huge motion simulator fan as they tend to make me sick, but it was a lot of fun.

After meeting up with the others we wondered around the park for a while taking photos. Just outside of Star Tours was the newly soft opened Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters which had about a 40 minute wait. I wasn’t willing to wait, so off we were.

Then it was that time. Time for #100. Everyone counts coasters in their own way. Matterhorn has two semi-dueling tracks. The sides are different, and that makes it, to me, 2 different coasters. So my 99th and 100th coasters are the kind of the same.

Matterhorn (left)-The other side was definitely more intense. Was it because it was nite? I dunno, but it was also a little rougher. Oh well, Matterhorn was still a lot of fun and being at night, the ride was a little darker.

We were going over to do the Kiddie coaster when I saw something else that is impossible to pass up the first time. Another Disney classic, and I don’t think I’ll ever get that song out of my head…

“it’s a small world”-Yes it is, but the line wasn’t small. Again, though, we’re at Disneyland, and so it wasn’t a long wait. The ride, however, was about 15 minutes too long for me. Okay, I had to do it once. But once is enough for me

We headed over to ToonTown to ride the last coaster operating in the park, Gadget’s Go Coaster, a roller skater. Another neat ride I saw was Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin. I loved that movie, but how would the ride be?

Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin-S loved this! The theming was very well done and the self spinning was a cool idea. Jamaal was with Bill, Jodi was with Tina behind me, and I was all alone. Yay spinning Cars! Tons o’ fun yet again.

There were lots of other things I’d like to have done. I didn’t get to ride Dumbo, didn’t get to do Snow White’s Scary Adventure, didn’t do this, didn’t do that. But it was all up to me, as the other 3 had been there all day and were letting me lead the way. That, and Jamaal wasn’t so in to Disneyland. So I decided to take us back for a last spin on the Haunted Mansion. But one thing everyone had mentioned was Indiana Jones, and how we needed to do that. I thought it was the stunt show. Boy was I wrong. So when we passed by it we headed to the entrance.

Indiana Jones Adventure-I’m so glad that I didn’t miss this. You board Jeep like vehicles after the long long themed queue. Then the ride starts. It was amazing, all the effects seemed to be working on time and it was so much fun. I’m glad they talked me into riding, as otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered.

Our day at the park was coming to a close. We went back over by Pirates and the Haunted Mansion for photos, but Disneyland was officially closed. Even with all that I missed, we got ride some really fun coasters and dark rides. But next time I’ll know to schedule more time for each park. We headed up to Jodi’s car for some Mummy posters she had (thanks again Jodi!) and then Tina and Bill left as well.

Jamaal and I were going to eat at Downtown Disney, but our legs hurt too much to walk back. And then we lost our car. Thankfully, we found it just where we had left it by hitting the panic button. After a quick stop at Carl’s Jr. we headed back to our motel and I headed off to sleep.

Las Vegas Part 1

Disneyland Resort Part 1 2005


March 8, 2005
Anaheim CA
Disneyland Resort
Photo Album

Disneyland Resort 2005

After I had been home for a while I was talking to my sister on the phone. She had been to Disney World with my brother as a child. I’d yet to go to Florida, but when asking me about Disneyland she mentioned that she’d always had this idea that Disneyland was old, rundown, and not very nice. I had always had the same perception of the park as well. I know that there was a time that some basic park maintenance was let to slip. Also, after reading that one of the reasons Walt build Disney World was because he wasn’t very happy with how everything sprung up around Disneyland after opening, turning the area into a tourist trap that he wanted to avoid.

But what I had seen of Anaheim was nice, and I really enjoyed the Disneyland resort, which looked amazing. Because of the jet lag I woke up fairly early. Seven in the morning early. Not usual for me. Actually, at 7 AM normally I’d just be getting off of work. I asked Jamaal if he wanted to join me for breakfast at the Denny’s across the parking lot but he declined, opting to sleep longer instead, so I offered to bring breakfast back to him.

I was going to call Tina and Bill to see if they wanted to join me since they were at the same motel, but it was early and I figured I’d just call them after breakfast in case they weren’t awake yet. While eating I made sure to call Jamaal’s sister since we couldn’t get ahold of her on Monday to let her know we arrived safely and everything was going well. After getting something to go for Jamaal I headed back across the parking lot. It was getting close to 8:30 AM and Disneyland opened at 10. I wanted to be there at or near opening, so I let Jamaal get ready and eat as I watched the morning news when I finally called Tina.

She said that once they got ready they’d come down to our room since I still had yet to meet Bill in person. A few minutes later as we were getting ready to leave I get a call from Tina:

Tina-“Hey, what room did you say you were in again?”

Me-“Um, 315, I thought I told you.”

Tina-“Well we’re outside the door”.

I opened the door…“No you’re not”

Tina & Bill-(through hysterical laughter) “Oh my, we must be at different Motel 6s!”

Me-“Are you at the one in Anaheim, Tina?”

Tina-“No, we’re near Knott’s Berry Farm, 7 miles away!”.

Disneyland Resort 2005

So there went our morning meet up. We were so sure the entire time that we were at the same motel when we were actually a few miles apart, with us near Disneyland, them by Knott’s Berry Farm. We decided to meet at Disneyland later in the day as Tina and Bill were meeting up with their friend Jodi, the SoCal ACE rep at the time. Just before 10 AM we were finally ready to head to the park. I had ordered special 1 day park hopper tickets for us for $54 a piece, and almost didn’t get them in time. They arrived in the mail the afternoon right before we left, thankfully. After we got directions to Disneyland we got a little turned around, but a few minutes later were entering the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.

We paid to park and headed to one of the parking decks. During the drive to the parking deck you finally come upon the parks and see the Tower of Terror and Maliboomer at California Adventure. It was another exciting moment for me, much like seeing Cedar Point from the causeway for the first time. After parking we went down and hopped a tram to the front gate.

The front gate plaza was very impressive. Downtown Disney was straight ahead, with California Adventure to the left and Disneyland to the right. It was just after 10 AM and everyone had given me the advice to go to California Adventure first since we probably wouldn’t spend too much time there, as the park, though still fairly new, did not have nearly as much to offer. How wrong that advice was! After getting through the gates at California Adventure we headed directly to the Sun Wheel.

Sun Wheel-The Sun Wheel is based on Deno’s Wonder Wheel at Coney Island in NYC. I was excited to see the swinging cars in motion. This was defiantly one of the lowest capacity ride in the park, and the line showed that in how slow it moved. The Sun Wheel could have been a lot of fun, but it was just too slow and it had to stop 2 times during the continuous cycle for scared kids to get off and the like. Woulda, shoulda, coulda been funner. Oh well. I wasn’t upset, it was still fun.

After the Sun Wheel we were close to Maliboomer, a 3 tower S&S shot tower complex. The wait wasn’t long at all even with only one Tower running. Actually so far the park was fairly dead.

Maliboomer-I had been on Power Tower at Cedar Point but I always get nervous on drop rides. I knew what to expect with Maliboomer, however. The air pop at the top was great. Even with the annoying ‘Scream Shields’, the ride was fun and we would ride it again 2 more times during the day.

Next we wandered around Paradise Pier towards California Screamin’. This was a very nice section of the park. In fact, it could have almost fooled you into thinking you were at a small sea side park at the beach. Very nice, very clean, and very friendly. But enough of that, it was time for some more Intamin goodness, this time in the form of a coaster…

Disneyland Resort 2005

California Screamin’This was credit number 96. The line was slightly long. We quickly got a fast pass for later, since Moosh gave us the secret on how to exploit those, then we got in line. The line was about 20 minutes long, with about 3 trains running and only one side of the dual station. We made our way down to the launch area. One thing I noticed was that the soundtrack was also not playing. Oh well. The launch came and we shot down the launch track and up into the first hill and around the massive layout. The coaster was very smooth and I liked how the LIM lifts had the sound of a chain lift to it. The bunny hops in the latter half gave ample airtime and the loop was fun, with strong laterals thought the ride in the helices. It was a fun coaster, definitely good and worth a few rides. No head-banging, the loop was cool.

Since we had our ride and our fast pass on Screamin’, we had to figure out what to do next. Another quick go on Maliboomer.  Then while walking back thru Paradise Pier it was time for another coaster. Mulholland Madness was close by and the only other credit in California Adventure. Even though Jamaal was going to opt out at first, as he said it looked like a kid’s coaster, I explained to him that wild mouse coasters can be terrifying and that it was for adults and kids. The fast pass was not available on this, the line was a little long, but we were able to ride.

Mulholland MadnessDefiantly tamed down, but it was still a really fun mouse. The theming is cool. We were in the front of our car. There isn’t much to say, after a point it is just another wild mouse. I still love ’em, they still kinda scare me. ‘Nuff said.

Heading back through the Golden State then past Sunshine Plaza we headed into Hollywood Pictures Backlot. We checked out the Disney Animation building, but nothing much was going on at the moment so it was on to the next thing that I came to the park for, Tower of Terror. The scenery beside Aladdin’s theater was another forced perspective that was very well done again. Rounding the street towards the ‘Hollywood Tower Hotel’, we got a fast pass for Tower of Terror first before getting in line which, thankfully, was very short. It was nearing noon and still the park was pretty empty.

Twilight Zone Tower of Terror-I loved this! I had heard the Florida version was better, so I was excited at the possibility of eventually getting to ride. The tower looked really cool. When seeing it from outside of the park, I couldn’t tell if it was another hotel until we got closer and I recognized it was Tower of Terror. We waited a couple minutes and were led into the first room of the preshow. The effects of lightning and the ‘Twilight Zone’ episode showing the story were both really cool. The boiler room was nicely themed as well. After a few minutes wait we were led to our elevator. I must say, the special effects that did make it to the California version were impressive. The room turning to a field of stars, everything was cool. The first drop caught me off guard, and I was out of my seat almost every drop due to airtime. This was my favorite ride of the trip.

After Tower of Terror, we went back to the Animation building and explored it some more, going thru a few rooms and shows in there. It was a nice break, I highly recommend it for any Disney buffs, and especially artists. Jamaal & I were both Art Honor students so it was right up our alley. Then we headed to Muppet Vision 3D. Being that I had seen a lot of this on TV as a kid so I was interested to see what it was really like.

Jim Henson’s Muppet Vision 3D-It was cute, I enjoyed it, especially being able to sit down. Matthew said it was about 10 minutes too long, and he was half right. It lasted about 5 minutes longer than I had the attention span for, but honestly, mostly forgettable in the end.

We were getting hungry so we headed over to see what the line for Grizzly River Run was like and hopefully find some food along the way. Then I remembered one thing Matthew had said to do as soon as we got into the park, just before the Sun Wheel, which I had forgotten: Get a fast pass for Soarin’ over California. Oh my! I know wait times on this were outrageous, so we went to get our fast pass, only to find no line at all!

Soarin’ over California-Soarin’ was a neat experience. We didn’t get into the seats we had been told to ride, so there were feet hanging down above us, but it was still a lot of fun. The ride carriage was interesting to say the least, and it was nice to see some of California that I still had yet to venture to. But while I enjoyed it, It wasn’t something I was super eager to have to ride again.

There was a burger joint, the Test Pilot Grill, right beside Soarin’ which is where we decided to eat. Jamaal was kind of tired and his blood sugar was acting up. Since he doesn’t like to get wetI went over to see if I could get in line for Grizzly River Run. Once getting there, I realized that I probably needed a fast pass as the line was too long and I didn’t want to make Jamaal wait that long on me. I unknowingly took the long way around back to the Pilot’s Grill to get my ticket for a fast pass as the kiosks were close. But the Fast Pass kiosks were closed. There was, however, a single rider line.

Grizzly River Run-Yay single rider lines! More rides need these. I got in the line and was able to ride right away. This was the best rapids ride I’d ever ridden. It was very well themed all the way thru. The first drop got me fairly wet and the last drop finished the job. But it was a blast as the day was rather warm and I love water rides.

Okay, so I was drenched but we really needed to get to Disneyland if we wanted to see both parks. Just before we left California Adventure we used our Fast Passes for Tower of Terror. Another excellent ride which I could go on and on about again, but I’ll spare you. At one point, however, I was out of my seat once as soon as the drop sequence started and never touched my seat thru the whole drop sequence. It was definitely the best air I’d ever had.

It was around 2 PM so I called Tina, who was with Bill and Jodi over at Disneyland Park. They were in line for ‘it’s a small world’ so she told us to meet her in front of the Castle. We left California Adventure and headed to the one, the only, the original…Disneyland!

Part Two

Disneyland Resort 2005