Tales of the Mouse, Part 1

As promised, this is the first of the writeups of our Disneyland trip, giving a bit more detail than what y’all got off my Tweets from the park. This will I fear be a purely textual writeup, since I didn’t yet have the still-to-be-named iPhone on this jaunt; userinfosolarbird, however, got a boatload of pictures. Those of you who are on Facebook have probably seen her post them already; those of you who aren’t, keep an eye on her LJ and she’ll probably be posting pics there too.

Anyway, the trip down there was more or less okay. There were the inevitable deep annoyances of going through airport security–really, the whole process gets more and more annoying every time I fly, but I’m sure all of you can come up with stories to meet and match ours–so I’ll skip over that and go straight to how the flight itself was more or less smooth. Once we landed at John Wayne Airport, we got our bags in short order and a cab in almost as short an order, got to our hotel, dropped off our stuff, and were soon charging right into the park.

Damn, I’d forgotten that it’s almost impossible not to feel more cheerful as you approach the main entrance. Sure, it’s because they’re shamelessly manipulating you with the relentlessly perky piped music, but hey, they do it because it works. I didn’t remember a bag check from my first visit in the 90’s, but wasn’t surprised to have to go through one in this day and age. It all went relatively quickly, anyway, and we got pretty fast into the park itself.

Main Street looked about like I remembered it, picturesque in that way only Disney can achieve, and swarming with people all through its shops of various kinds. Not surprisingly, we headed straight for the best corner of the park: the area occupied by Adventureland and flowing straight over into New Orleans. Also not surprisingly, the first ride we hit was Pirates of the Caribbean.

The first time we’d visited the park was of course long before the first of the Pirates movies came out, so all the changes they made to the ride to capitalize on the movie were new to me. On the whole I felt they were cool, although like the movies, I think the ride was playing the whole Captain Jack Sparrow angle too hard. The various animatronic figures were spouting off way too often about him, which in general IMO lessens the impact of the character. On the other hand, the curtain of mist onto which they projected a hologram of Davy Jones from the second movie? WIN.

After that of course, since it was so near, Haunted Mansion was pretty much mandatory. We discovered that the three of us were a tight fit in the car, but that didn’t really diminish the fun of the ride any. I didn’t remember the particulars of this one all that well, although userinfospazzkat, who is of course the Disney geek of the household, enthused about the pictures of the Bride who murdered all of her husbands, in which the heads of the husbands in question kept disappearing. The Bride has an actual animated face now where she stands at the end of her part of the ride, and Paul says that that’s a recent change.

We got cotton candy, which was a more obvious hit to my 40-year-old metabolism than it was ten years ago. As I mentioned on Twitter, “internal organs vibrating” was about a fair description. Fortunately, I only had about half of the cone since we were sharing it all between us.

Next we wandered around to these canoes that make a circuit around the lake in that part of the park, which we hadn’t done the last time we visited. They get a whole bunch of people into one big canoe and make everybody paddle, generally timing it so that two boats are going around the lake at once so the guides at the heads of each boat can get a bit of a race on. Our guide made amusing jokes about the famous “striped moose” we could spot in the surrounding trees, which were of course littered profusely with the animal statues to make it all look woodsy and stuff. There were ducks as well, but those were actual living ducks, with actual living duck babies, and they were very cute.

Then we steeled ourselves, sucked it up, and headed for It’s a Small World, feeling that we had to at least brave it once. But man, I’d forgotten the overwhelming saccharine sweetness of the thing. At least everywhere else in the park, it’s dialed down a notch; not so here. Paul did pretty much nail our overall sentiments when he put up his Disneyland comic that features his own take on that particular ride. We felt it particularly keenly when in the final stretch our car actually stopped and remained stationary through about three whole choruses of the song. (*shudder* The song. It still haunts me!)

Afterwards we cleansed our palates with ice cream and with a heaping helping of the Indiana Jones ride. I chortled with glee at the array of shirts the nearby shop had on sale, of course, and really wanted one they had with the caption “Where There’s a Whip There’s a Way”–although it turned out later that they didn’t have that shirt in my size, sniff. But the ride itself was every bit as delightful as I remembered it, and using FastPass to shoot through the line was very, very sweet.

We finally got a fairly late dinner, timed well to catch the fireworks display over the lake. We were very close by, and therefore got quite the bright eyeful of the show. I don’t know if it was simple proximity to the display or something about how they stage it at Disneyland, but Disneyland fireworks? Super bright and super sparkly.

Post-dinner, we wound down a bit and went over into Tomorrowland to get on Star Tours–which I had totally forgotten from our previous trip, and here I call myself a Star Wars fan. *snerk* But I was amused by the gifts on sale near that ride, too, especially the figurines of Disney characters playing the various Star Wars roles. Donald Duck as Han Solo was priceless.

We finished off with the low-key Snow White and Storybookland rides. Snow White was mostly notable for doing one neat thing with the evil Queen figure whipping around in her witch form; upon seeing her, I said, “Winnowill!” Dara replied, “Shuddup, you!” (It’s true though! Sweet Winnie owes a lot to this evil Queen.) Storybookland was even more lowkey and was mostly a diorama kind of thing.

And thus ended Day 1 of the Mouse! More tomorrow!

ETA 7/15/09 7:22am: Spelling errors corrected. Thanks, userinfomarzipan_pig!