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Gazing into the Abyss: Michael Rawdon's Journal


Return to the Magic Kingdom

Debbi and I took Monday and Tuesday off to spend a long weekend at Disneyland. I've been there a few times before (in 2002, 2003, and 2004), but this was the first time we've gone by ourselves, without any other friends.

We left Saturday morning, picking up breakfast at Jamba Juice and getting on the road by 9:30 am. We chatted and listened to CDs on the drive down, including two old Bill Cosby albums, Bill Cosby is a Very Funny Fellow Right! and I Started Out as a Child. The former is an old favorite of Debbi's, but I thought the latter was a lot funnier. I think Cosby was hilarious before the advent of The Cosby Show, and that his consequent decline into the tame slush of "family entertainment" (a descent weirdly mimicked by Eddie Murray, of all people) has been, well, too bad. And check the photo of him on the cover of Child - he's so young!

Anyway. We switched drivers mid-way down I-5, and I got to take us through the Los Angeles traffic, which actually was not so bad. It took us about 7-1/2 hours all told to get there.

Debbi ended up being disappointed in the hotel. She had researched things pretty carefully, wanting to make sure we got a place which served breakfast so we didn't have to worry about it. There are two Best Western hotels by the main gate, the Best Western Anaheim Inn, and the Best Western Park Place. We stayed at the former, but it turned out to not have breakfast, and was farther from the main gate than the other. Debbi's not sure what happened, and suspects that the web site she was using reversed the two in their listings. So, to set the record straight: The Best Western Park Place is closer to the main gate than the Best Western Anaheim Inn. The BWAI does not provide breakfast. The beds we slept in were small, twin beds rather than queen, which for me was the biggest disappointment of the hotel. Otherwise, the shower worked, the A/C worked, and there was even a mini-fridge in the room, which meets my requirements for a hotel room. And the walk was only about 5 minutes longer.

Debbi was pretty frustrated Saturday evening over the whole thing, although we did have a view of the evening's fireworks from outside the door of our room, so I think that helped.


We spent two days in the park. Our alarm went off at 6:15 am both days, which is not exactly my preferred time to get up during a vacation, but in this case it was worth it: You can get a lot done when you get to the park when it opens at 8 am. We got there by 7:40 and were in shortly after the gates opened, getting a locker and heading for rides. Coincidentally enough, both days we ended up with locked #1313! Silly.

Saturday morning we managed to ride Indiana Jones, Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion all by 9:15, which is pretty productive. I haven't been to the Mansion in its non-Christmas configuration since 2002, and had mostly forgotten what it was like. We also did Splash Mountain and Debbi did a little shopping. Then we headed over to California Adventure where we FastPassed Soarin' Over California (in "smell-o-vision"!) and went on one of my favorites, the Grizzly River Run.

I have this theory that the GRR can be tinkered with by the controllers so that people get less wet on it in the winter than in the summer, as we got totally drenched and had to spend most of the afternoon drying out from this run, whereas I only get kinda wet when I go in the winter. I suspect they can turn down the bumpiness and speed of the "rapids". It's still a great ride, though.

For some reason, the roller coaster California Screamin' was not very busy all weekend, and we ended up riding it five times, with me making different funny faces in the camera on the ride each time through. I do love that coaster, so we had a great time.

We made the effort to find a couple of photos that our friend Lisa submitted for the 50th anniversary collages. Did I mention this is Disneyland's 50th anniversary? That's a big reason why Debbi wanted to go. They used the photo-collage techniques used for some of the Disney-themed puzzles to produce photo-collages of various Disney characters from photos sent in by season ticket holders (which Lisa is). Apparently we're in two: The 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea one, which unfortunately is 25 feet in the air in TomorrowLand so there's no way we could find ourselves, and the Steamboat Willie one near the front of the park. Unfortunately, the photos in the latter are so small that we couldn't pick ourselves out. Bummer. Oh well.

We did try the new ride at the park, Buzz Lightyear's Astro Blasters, which combines several features from other rides in the park along with "laser tag" like guns to shoot at targets and collect points. As the saying goes, fun for children of all ages!

In the evening we caught the fireworks show, and then someone on their way out of the park handed us their FastPasses to two rides they weren't going to make it to, so we gratefully accepted and rode two more rides with very little waiting (that being what a FastPass does, you see; you sign up to be able to skip most of the line at a later time, usually an hour or two later, subject to a few other restrictions) and headed back to bed at a decent(ish) hour.

Monday morning we made a bee-line for several of the classic rides, and had a good time on those. We also had breakfast (as we had on Sunday) at "Brennan's Jazz Kitchen", which serves honest-to-gosh real beignets (and I should know; not all my readers may know that I went to college in New Orleans, so I'm well acquainted with them). Not exactly a nourishing breakfast, but yummy! Skip the coffee, though - it's pretty nasty.

The highlight of the trip was revealed when we took a brief survey while walking around California Adventure: The surveyer (surveyist?) asked if we were aware that Space Mountain - which had been closed for about two years for renovations - had in fact re-opened that afternoon? Well know, we had thought it would re-open the next weekend, and we'd actually planned our trip to avoid the crowds a bit by going the weekend between July 4th and the re-opening of Space Mountain! Debbi was all bouncy and excited, so we headed back to Disneyland and stood in line for Space Mountain. The line was advertised as 75 minutes long, but it was really more like 45 minutes. I don't recall being very impressed the first time I rode it, three years ago, but I actually had a great time this time, and we rode it again later on. This was a completely unexpected bonus, and I think it made Debbi's trip.

By Monday afternoon we were slowly running out of gas. We started planning our excursions mostly around being able to sit down for a bit, or standing in short lines. Finally we braved Splash Mountain, which had been slammed all day as it had been hot and sunny. By this time it was 9:45 at night, and Debbi got completely drenched. Yes, we have some photos. It was hilarious! But it also meant she started getting cold, so we decided to call it a night at that point.


Some T-shirt slogans I saw at the park:

  • (On woman, with a line drawn just above her chest) You Must Be At Least This Tall To Ride This Ride
  • My Other Boyfriend is Way Hotter
  • (On young boy, maybe 8 or so) I'm The Reason You Should Keep Practicing
  • (On another young boy) I Don't Have an Excuse - I'm a Kid
  • I Like To Be Hands On
  • (on front) PG-13 (on back) Parental Guidance Recommended
  • It's Not Attention Deficit, I'm Just Ignoring You
I was amused.


We drove home today. I took the first shift, driving us out of LA through morning traffic. Mostly uneventful, although a fellow by the side of the road was apparently changing his tire and somehow lost control of the tire. It rolled out into traffic, across three lanes, and then started rolling back towards the same side. He was chasing it out into traffic, and fortunately for him the two big rigs bearing down on him slowed to a crawl and let him retrieve the tire. I was in the third lane next to the big rigs, and it was fortunate I saw the tire as well and slowed down until it rolled back out of my lane. A weird moment. I hope he came out okay.

The trip was otherwise not eventful, which is what you want. We got home around 4:30, and all-in-all I'd have to say we made really good time and were nice and efficient with all the preparation and travel stuff, so we could maximize our time either doing fun stuff, or recovering from the travel and the fun stuff!

And tonight we got take-out Italian and watch the All-Star Game, where the American League extended their winning streak to 8 games. Not a particularly exciting game, but maybe I'm getting All-Starred out. It's been over a decade since I started watching the ASG regularly, and I'm one of the few "true fans" I know who enjoys it.

So that was my weekend. How was yours?

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