A few months ago, I visited Disneyland for 4 1/2 days. It was glorious!
Where did I leave you? Oh, that’s right. We had just finished our first day, which was more like a half day, and were headed to bed.
We woke up early the next morning to rope drop DCA. Tip for people who can’t walk very far: wait in line for a turnstile on the edge. There is a little ledge on the planters that is a good height for sitting, for people who just need to sit. The Wife and I waited in line and my parents sat on the ledge. When they started letting people in, they had plenty of time to join us in line.
The opened the turnstiles, letting people onto Buena Vista Street, about 30 minutes before the park officially opened, and then held people at the end. Most people quickly queued up to head straight towards Cars Land but we were heading to Soarin. (Because we are smart. And my mother said that was the ride she was most excited about so it was a must do!) When we got there, we were the first people on that side, but my parents weren’t prepared to stand for 30 minutes and I needed some coffee.
My parents grabbed a table outside of the Fiddler, Fife, and Practical Cafe, and The Wife and I went inside to get food and drinks. Then, we sat, drank and ate, and watched the crowd build up on our side. The food was good but forgettable, basic pastry items, but the coffee was Starbucks. I’m not a hardcore Starbucks fan by any means, but they do make consistently good coffee, which is certainly not a given in Disney.
Normally, I would have been at the front of the rope drop line, but I figured that even if we were at the front, everyone would pass us in the rush to Soarin so there was no point in attempting the foot race. Instead, we just wandered to the back of the pack right before official rope drop and made our way over as quickly as possible. Many people were heading to get World of Color fast passes and I was feeling pretty good about how few people were in front of us.
Unfortunately, it never occurred to me how Soarin loads. They were clearly only running one segment (glider? loading section? one preshow TV worth? I don’t know how to describe what I mean, so I’m going to assume you are all mind readers!) at a time and we just missed being on the first one. Basically, we had to wait for it to run a whole show, let everyone off, and then it was our turn. I wish they had been running more segments/gliders/loading sections…
It was probably 9:20 before we were on the ride, but I was trying not to stress about timing too much (and barely succeeding, but that’s another matter…). My dad loved all the historical aviation decorations in the queue, so I guess waiting was not so bad. My mother really loved the ride. She has done a lot of travel in California, and loves that flying sensation, so the combination was wonderful. She did wish it was about five times as long, but what can you do.
One ride down, it was time to grab fast passes for Radiator Springs Racers. We dropped my parents off at a table outside Fiddler, Fife, and Practical and headed over to wait in line. By this point, it was about 9:30, maybe 9:40. We waited about 10 minutes and then had fast passes to return around 4:30. Basically, they were nowhere near sold out and we did not have to waste a rope drop waiting in line. Touring Plan’s Lines app had been telling me not to rope drop the RSR fastpass machine, but I was nervous about not doing so. Lines, you were right! I’m sorry I doubted you!
Fastpasses in hand, we headed over to Monster’s Inc., which was still a walk on. I had mapped out a “highlights of DCA” tour for my parents, aimed at minimizing walking, but they didn’t make it very far on the tour. If I’d known how quickly they would be worn out, I might have prioritized something else — especially since they had never seen Monsters, Inc…oops — but they still enjoyed it.
I have to admit that I was really impressed by Monsters, Inc! It had great animatronics, told the story with wit and ease, and the jokes in the queue were lame (of course, Disney loves Dad humor) but still awesome. I was looking forward to Roz, a part of the living character initiative (like Crush and the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor), but I think she was set to her non-living mode. She said a few basic phrases, but it seemed per-programmed and not directed to us specifically. I was probably more disappointed about this than I should have been. I guess reading trip reports has its downsides. Er, just kidding! Keep reading, folks!
After Monsters Inc., The Wife needed some more food so she got a smoothie at Schmoozies. I don’t remember what she got, but it was a decent smoothie. I didn’t have anything because I was hoping to save stomach room for more exciting food options! I was on vacation!
Slightly fed, we went over to Turtle Talk with Crush in the Animation Building. We had a few minutes until the next show, so my parents sat and The Wife and I stared in awe at the Toy Story Zoetrope. That thing was amazing. For those who don’t know, it’s basically a series of Toy Story figures that, when the zoetrope spins and the lights flicker, look like they are moving, animated figures. A logical person would think watching it cycle through once would be enough, but that person would be wrong. I would still be watching that right now if Turtle Talk hadn’t started.
Now, I decided to hit Turtle Talk early in the day because it was close to Monsters, I was trying to minimize walking, and I thought my parents would love the technology and the cute kids. The only problem was, we had no cute kids in the audience with us. Well, there was only one boy, who was probably about 7, but he was not having it. Crush did a great job of trying to interact with him, but the kid basically just looked like he wanted to die. Faced with no cute kids, and only a handful of people in the audience, Crush talked to me! Not going to lie, it was a little awkward. Well, I was a little awkward. Crush asked me if it was my birthday (I was wearing a button) and I said yes. I lied. It was the day after my birthday, but it seemed easier to just say it was my birthday. Yes, I lied to Crush. I will probably rot in Disney hell for that.
Basically, the attraction was a bit of a bust. My parents got a sense of the technology — and thought it was cool — but cute kids who are willing to participate are 80% of what makes that attraction special.
Oh well, onward and upward!
What happened next? Did my perfect plans go amiss? Stay tuned to find out! (Hint: Yes…)