When we got invited up to Tahoe for winter break, Darin ended up not being able to take the time off, so I took the kids up alone. I sent him a message: “Spring break is April 12 through April 16. Take the days off now.” He immediately filed for vacation, and we talked about perhaps going to Disney World. Extravagant, yes, but we haven’t taken a long vacation for a while. So our plans was: We would leave on the weekend, spend the week in Orlando, fly home the following weekend, using two days for travel.
Then Darin said, “Oh, um, there’s a WebKit conference on Monday and Tuesday of that week.”
Anaheim it is, then.
We decided to drive down late Tuesday night (after Darin’s conference let out) and then spend several days puttering around Disneyland and California Adventure. We took the kids here two years ago, and we figured they’d enjoy it even more this time. I really think they did. They still enjoy being there (some of their friends are already bored with it), and they were willing to try new stuff now.
Some random observations from this visit, in no particular order:
- My 10-year-old daughter enjoys going on rollercoaster rides as much as or more than my 10-year-old self did. Of course, one problem is: I am no longer 10-years-old, and they are not nearly as much fun. I still go on them with her though.
- Sophia would go on Space Mountain non-stop, if given the choice and the ability. I’m assuming that on our next visit to a Magic Kingdom she will have both, as she will be old enough to skedaddle and do whatever the hell she likes, parents or no parents.
- My 7-almost-8-year-old son would like all rollercoasters to cease existence as of right now, thankyouverymuch. So I don’t think his older sister will be dragging him along with her in the future.
- Captain EO is hilarious, and not in a good way. It is SO Eighties that at one point a monster morphs into a dancer with a gelled-up pouf and the audience laughed. We finally see the evil queen morph into Anjelica Huston…and immediately Michael Jackson’s head fills the frame, as though we can’t possibly focus on someone else for even a second. And the song redefines forgettable.
- Sophia said, “I couldn’t tell if Captain EO was a boy or a girl.” So many things I left unsaid at that point.
- Darin managed to deduce that the voice of the pilot for Star Tours is Paul Reubens, and the Internet backs him up. Therefore this information is TRUE.
- The kids cannot get enough of Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion. Some things never change. It is still funny to hear the voice of Tony the Tiger in both places.
- My kids have no idea who Tony the Tiger is. Go me!
- Two years ago, at the Haunted Mansion, Simon looked at the paintings in the spooky hallway (the ones that change from things like a beautiful lady to a cat lady when the lighting flashes) and said, “Projection.” In his 5-year-old voice, with a little boy lisp, it came out, “Pwojeckshun,” and it was hilarious. He is, of course, right. Which is kind of amazing for a 5-year-old in the first place.
- The part of the Haunted Mansion that features married couples where apparently the wives murdered the husbands: guys, violence isn’t any funnier directed toward men. In fact, it’s DISTURBING. (Oh, I see from Wikipedia I was right: I didn’t remember this bit from my childhood, and I guess I wasn’t paying attention two years ago, and it is in fact new.)
- Also a big fave: It’s a Small World! The classics, they never stop. Kind of hilarious that a bunch of dolls singing the same song over and over again would be so attractive, but it really is.
- Soarin’ Over California at California Adventure should be titled, “Stuff you will never have in Kansas, no matter how much Amazon Prime you have.” If you’re visiting California Adventure run, do not walk, to this attraction first.
- The Aladdin stage show is really good. I was expecting some kind of halfassed song and dance thing with a fog machine, and it’s practically a Broadway musical with special effects.
- The “Turtle Talk with Crush!” animation show is hilarious. There’s a large screen, and Crush from “Finding Nemo” swims by to talk to everyone. Then he picks out people in the audience to talk to and ask questions of. The animation is seamless—I have no idea how Crush moves and appears to be looking at various people—and the actor doing it was very talented.
- Lots of vegetarian options for meals here, btw. (Dunno about vegan, but vegetarian definitely.) Also: lots of places to get an alcoholic drink, in case you can’t get through your day without a cocktail. So if you’re finishing your day at Disneyland, bummed that for another year running you haven’t gotten into Club 33 and you really need to tie one on, hie thee across the plaza to California Adventure and drink up.
- I know it’s beaten into them. I know they’re trained to do this and it’s a manipulation technique and I’m being played. But oh my GOD was every single staff member I dealt with at our hotel wonderful and cheerful. Before the trip I called to tell them that we were going to be arriving hella late, and the young man I talked to was just so happy to answer my questions and put lots of notes about my requests in my file! And every time I called the front desk the operators were so thrilled to be helping me! The technique seriously works: I felt really good about staying there! I can think of so many businesses that could take a fucking page from the Disney indoctrination technique.
- The Grand Californian (where we stayed) is really a good hotel. (Well, except for the toilet in our room, which kept malfunctioning. But I assume that wasn’t a feature.) The design is great, the distance to the parks and to Downtown Disney is excellent, and the way that so many rooms have a queen plus bunk beds just screams, “We know who our clientele are and what they want!”
- We were in the park early one morning and I saw a Disney cast member (not “employee”! that’s “cast member” to you!) walking by in costume holding a Starbucks cup. If she’d been texting on an iPhone she could have hit the Corporate Hegemony Trifecta.
- If you live in Southern California and are like, “WTF? Darin and Diane didn’t let us know they were coming?” please to take comfort in the fact that we didn’t tell anyone. We spent the entire time just as a foursome, and it worked out really, really well (better than I expected, if I may be so honest). We spent all day every day together, except for when one of us took the kids to the pool and the other one stayed in the room.
- The Napa Rose restaurant is really good. Ate there twice. I recommend the starters over the entrees, but then again, I was completely full on two starters.
- The Steakhouse 55 restaurant at the Disneyland Hotel is okay. I think the praise it’s gotten is a little overblown, or maybe people are just so happy to find a place that’s halfway decent around here.
- The Blue Bayou at Pirates was pretty good, though expensive. You have to ask to sit by the bayou though! Epic fail on our part.
- Man, has the Disneyland Hotel changed since the first time I stayed there. The first time, when I flew out from the East Coast with my family (I was probably…8?), there was one hotel. The second time, when I was 10 or 11, there were two hotels and a big lagoon where we had paddle boats. Now it’s a gigantic conference center with three towers and no paddle boats. Plus all of these other hotels (including the Grand Californian, where we stayed.) And Downtown Disney. And…well, it’s just quite impressive what they’ve done with the place.
And now the question I’ll leave you with: after you visit all of the continents (including Antartica) in It’s A Small World, you visit an area where we get a repeat of a number of the dolls…only this time, everyone’s wearing all white. Does the last section represent the Afterlife?Read More