Our Honeymoon Journal
     Entry 24 - 13 September 2000
Disneyland - Los Angeles. The 13th was very warm and sunny.  Click here to see what the weather is like today.
  Los Angeles - Disneyland

Chris It was not the best night's sleep. The bed was very hard and the airconditioner was incredibly noisy. We were forced to use the airconditioner as it was a hot night and we couldn't open any windows for fresh air. The shower last night was lukewarm at best and this morning it wasn't much better. Fortunately, the warm weather conditions meant this wasn't a major inconvenience, although it was still a little irritating. I knew we could endure another night here (our last for the trip), since it would require more effort than it was worth to change to another motel. We certainly didn't want to waste the day on these matters instead of the visit to Disneyland.
  One of the few times we had real milk during our trip!A very basic continental breakfast was provided by the motel. There was not much to choose from - mostly sweet sticky muffins and buns. We managed to get some toast. I also got some black coffee, which I took back to our room and added real milk to it. This was much better than the awful "half-and-half" that's the provided norm. I think that stuff is part long-life milk or something equally disgusting.
Vanessa I also enjoyed my morning cup of tea with real milk in it!
  Today was to be our day in Disneyland. This was a day I had been anticipating since the start of our honeymoon. Over the years, I had seen many TV documentaries about Disneyland and read about it in books, but now I could only wonder what it would actually be like to be there. I have been to enough theme parks to know that their reality is quite a step away from the highly focussed hype that surrounds them. I only hoped that I wouldn't be disappointed.
  Chris had an idea of what it would be like, though, as he has already been to Walt Disney World in Florida.
Chris I've been to Disney World in Florida twice on previous trips. It's much larger than Disneyland and has a number of different parks including MGM Studios and the Epcot Centre. The Magic Kingdom at Disney World is almost a duplicate of Disneyland, so I did indeed have an idea of what it would be like. For the most part, I enjoyed Disney World. Although Disney is very kid-oriented, there was still plenty of things for adults to do. Amongst the things I had disliked were the huge queues for the rides, however, on my second trip, I discovered that after the Labour Day weekend the queues become almost non-existent. One of the reasons we were doing Disneyland near the end of our honeymoon was to avoid the huge summer holiday crowds.
Vanessa We declared a camera free day.We both agreed that today was to be a camera free day. No photos. I didn't want to be hampered by bulky camera gear or spend time photographing the moment, rather than making the most of actually experiencing it. Besides, Chris had warned me that you could get quite wet on one of the rides he wanted to take me on and cameras would definitely be a hindrance there.
  We had planned to take the free shuttle bus from the hotel to Disneyland, but decided at the last minute to take the car instead. That way, we wouldn't have to worry about return timetables.
  Disneyland's car park was literally just around the block from our motel. Seven dollars later, we were parked on the ground floor of the huge, multistory (8 or 10 floors?) Mickey & Friends Parking Structure. As we paid our money at the entry, we were told that there was a tram service from the car park to the entrance of Disneyland. The tram turned out to be a sort of long train that went on the street, rather than tracks. On the way, the driver informed us and the other passengers that the building we had left our cars in was the largest car park in the world. It has something like 10,500 parking spaces! When we drove in, it was nearly empty.
  As promised, the tram let us off near the main entrance. Chris had already pre-paid our entry, so we went straight to a ticket booth and, without having to wait, we exchanged our ticket vouchers for real tickets.
  We then joined the quickly lengthening queue at the entry turnstiles. It was nearly 9.30am. Two or three minutes later and right on time, the gates opened and everyone was allowed through into the Main Street USA area.
  Disneyland is made up of a number of themed areas: Main Street USA, Adventureland, New Orleans Square, Critter Country, Frontierland, Mickey's Toontown, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.
  The buildings in Main Street USA are styled to look like typical town buildings, such as a City Hall, and they house a number of restaurants, a cinema, shops and other attractions. Visitors to Disneyland have to go through Main Street to get to other areas of the park. At this time, however, the far end of Main Street was roped off as entry to the rest of the park was set at 10am. All the establishments along Main Street were open for business, so there wasn't a lack of things to do while we waited. This was certainly more interesting than just standing in a line and, by opening the park in stages like this, it would diffuse the opening rush. I thought this was a very sensible idea.
  Squashed coins - a cheap but interesting souvenir!Chris and I wandered around, bought our first souvenir for the day and then wandered around some more. We were briefly fascinated by some coin pressing machines in one of the shops. You put four or five coins in a slot - most of the coins paid for the pressing and one was the actual coin that was pressed. The result is a squashed coin with your choice of Disney logo stamped on one side. We had seen a number of these machines during our past four weeks of travel - the Golden Gate Bridge tourist centre had one, as did the Sea Lion Caves, and most recently, the Star Trek Experience in Las Vegas. Apparently, squashed coins are popular collectors' items.
  10am came very quickly.
Chris When the ropes at the end of the street were removed, some people seemed to think it was race time as they ran off to all ends of the park and their favourite attractions. We moved swiftly to Tomorrowland. Our first stop was Star Tours, but the ride wasn't working and was closed to the public. Some technicians were working on whatever problem it had and it was going to be opened later in the day. We had chosen to go there first as the MGM Studios in Disney World had this ride and I had enjoyed it. I hoped that it would be fixed.
  Our first ride, instead, was the nearby Space Mountain. This was another ride that I had been on at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World. I thought the queues would be long for this one, but there was hardly any queue at all. The indoor roller coaster ride in the dark was fast and somewhat "violent", but I think it lacked some of the features the Disney World version had - mostly light displays in the very dark tunnels. I also thought the other ride was longer than this one. Although I was a bit disappointed, it still was good fun and Vanessa seemed to enjoy herself.
Vanessa I had been on a similar, but much smaller ride at World Expo 88's Fun Park. Actually, the thing I was most pleasantly surprised about was the lack of queuing we had. I could see from the roped areas that the ride could cater for immensely long lines of people, but we basically just walked right in. Little did I know it, but this was how it was to be all day. Chris had timed our visit to Disneyland perfectly! We had missed all the holiday crowds and were definitely in an off peak season. I was also really glad we hadn't brought the cameras with us, as it made going on the ride so much easier.
  Maybe they were using the wrong spanner?We went back to Star Tours, but it still wasn't open. The time they were taking to fix it, it couldn't have been a simple problem. The Autopia ride wasn't far away, so we decided to give it a go. This simple ride is definitely one for the kids. The cars are restricted to a railed track, so you don't even really need to steer. They don't go very fast either, much to Chris' disappointment.
  I was feeling a bit hungry by now. There was a fast food restaurant in the area, so we had an apple turnover for our first snack of the day. The very sweet turnover was okay, but we felt it was overpriced for its size and quality. Chris also had a coffee and I had a can of Coke.
  Re-energized with this sugar and caffeine hit, we headed for the Rocket Rods ride. This ride was billed as "the future of transport". It is an elevated, mini-monorail system that takes you around the Tomorrowland area of the park.
Chris This ride was a little bit of fun. It suffered from not having a good long straight stretch in which to build up some real speed. It just was not fast enough.
Vanessa Actually, we had to wait in a queue for about 10 to 15 minutes for the Rocket Rods ride - the longest we had to wait all day. The waiting area was mostly indoors and was, in itself, quite entertaining with a variety of displays about the history of transportation and its possible future. The ride, as with most fun park rides, was over all too soon, but it gave us a good elevated view of that part of Disneyland. Still, I was glad that we hadn't had to wait any longer for it.
  The next ride Chris wanted us to go on was Splash Mountain, in Critter Country. This is an excellent flume ride with log-shaped boats which float through various "rooms" that tell the story of Brer Rabbit via songs and clever animatronic figures. We both had lots of fun and we even got a bit wet. Well, Chris had warned me. Once again, I was glad we didn't have the cameras with us.
Chris I think this ride is identical to the ride in Disney World. Although the animatronics are corny, it has some amusing features. As you line up for entry, you can see the riders coming down the final drop. There are monitors showing pictures of these riders just as they start the five-story drop. Some of these can be funny when you see the look of panic on their faces. Also, as you're floating around on the ride, you start to anticipate the final drop. There's a mini drop in the darkness beforehand that's great for a small adrenalin rush.
Vanessa I think you have the option at the end of the ride of purchasing a printout of the video snapshot that was on the monitor. It would be a good souvenir, but we chose not to get ours as we were sitting in the rear of our boat and were partially obscured by the people in the front.
  Boo!On our way to Critter Country, we had walked past the Haunted Mansion - Disney's version of the classic "ghost house". I was determined to make that our next ride. The Haunted Mansion is one of Disneyland's oldest and most popular attractions. I think it is one of the classiest rides I've ever been on. It is extremely well done with brilliant special effects from start to finish. What I think I liked most about it was the variety. There was a part where you walked and a part where you sat in a people mover - the Doom Buggy. The Doom Buggy didn't just twist along a flat track, it also went down slopes. The two person buggies turned from side to side to face the various spooky displays, so you weren't just facing straight ahead all the time. You didn't know where you'd be or what you'd be seeing in a minute's time.
Chris I agree that this ride is very well done and is classy. It's not violent in its movement, but has been designed to be quite interesting and varied. The scene with the dancing ghosts in the ballroom is perhaps my favourite portion of the ride, however the other sections are great too.
Vanessa I even got truly scared at one point! Our Doom Buggy had just swung around and I saw in the corner of my eye one of the glowing animatronic figures suddenly pop up out of the darkness. It was so unexpected that I jumped violently. Chris was most amused.
  Since we were now in the New Orleans Square part of the park, we decided to go next on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. This is, again, one of the oldest and most popular rides in the park.
Chris This is another ride that's identical to the version in the Magic Kingdom, I think. The animatronics were good and had amusing setups. The ride itself is a gentle flume ride beginning in a quiet bayou at night. We floated past The Blue Bayou - an actual restaurant where park patrons can get meals - and past a banjo playing man sitting outside a shack. A talking skull then warned us to hold on and the boat suddenly dropped over a waterfall. There were skeletons and treasures, a pirate ship duelling with a small town fort, and a village that had been raided and burned by pirates. Finally, the boat went up a waterfall to a quiet lagoon where we could disembark.
  Just after the ride, we came outside and saw some men in bright pirate costumes throwing shiny necklaces to the crowd, so I said to Vanessa that I'd get her one. I'm pretty good at these events and I was able to note the areas or directions where these guys were throwing the necklaces. Sometimes they were trying to throw them to particular people. I noticed as one guy was throwing a necklace in my general direction that he was trying to target a couple of ladies (mother and daughter, I think), so I snatched it out of the air and gave it to them. I think the guy throwing saw that, because there was a slight nod and the next one came almost directly to me. I had no problems catching it, so I retreated and gave the green necklace to Vanessa.
  We passed these guys every so often during the day as we wandered around.
  Before heading over to Adventureland, we walked around New Orleans Square and browsed in some of the shops. There were lots of expensive items for sale, ranging from jewellery to sweets.
  The BEST ride in the park!Our next stop was the Indiana Jones ride, the Temple of the Forbidden Eye in Adventureland, right next door to New Orleans Square. We think this is the best ride we went on in the park. It was great fun!
  The entry area where people queue was absolutely huge so as to cope with peak time crowds. Most of it was under cover with tunnels and static displays. It was cooler than outside as well, which would be a welcome relief in the heat of summer. It took us some time to walk through even the shortened version of the queue (large sections had been bypassed with ropes). As you're walking along you start wondering where the actual ride was! You pass through archaeological digs, a bat cave, a room with spikes coming out of the floor and ceiling, a projection room with a film that set up part of the story of the ride to come, and lots more.
  Lots of creepy crawlys and scary stuff!The ride itself is in oversized jeeps that seat three rows of four people. The first time we did the ride we were in the front row. In fact, I got the driver's seat on the left hand side. The story involves a god called Mara and a curse about looking at the forbidden eye. I think by the time we get into the jeep, we've upset the god and so have to flee through a winding tunnel. Anyway, the ride takes you through many areas, jerking the vehicle around as if driving over rough terrain. There's sudden twists and drops and random speed changes to add to the fun. I think someone commented on my "driving" and Vanessa was not amused by my reply of: "But I drive like this all the time!"
  Each time you go on the ride, it is different because the vehicles are programmed to take alternate routes, stall or speed up at various times, etc. All the vehicles in the ride communicate with each other to avoid collisions. Some of the areas you go through include the Gates of Doom, a very unsafe bridge, rooms full of bugs, rats or snakes (of course), a giant rolling stone ball like in Raiders of the Lost Ark and lots, lots more!
  From this high, we moved to Frontierland, just across from Adventureland. I wanted to take Vanessa on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, since I'd been on the one in Disney World and thought it was wasn't too bad. Unfortunately it was closed for refurbishment.
Vanessa We went back to Tomorrowland for lunch. I had a grilled chicken sandwich and Chris had a spicy chicken sandwich. Again, we felt that the food was overpriced and under quality. Still, the sandwiches sated our appetites and once again we were refuelled and ready to enjoy ourselves.
  While we were in Tomorrowland, we noticed that the Star Tours ride had finally opened. Chris knew this to be a bit of a rough ride, so we decided to let our meals go down before venturing on it.
  We chose a more sedate part of the park to explore in the meantime. We wandered over to Fantasyland and tried out some of the kids' rides. We braved Snow White's Scary Adventures and Pinocchio's Daring Journey - very tame rides for adults, but I think young kids would like them. Both were typical slow moving indoor rides that take you through a series of rooms which depict the fairytales.
  Of course, while we were in Fantasyland, we just had to go on the famous Mad Tea Party spinning tea cup ride. I think it was at that moment, as I was standing looking at that ride, that it hit home. I really was in Disneyland!
  One more time!  It's a small world, after all... It's a small world...My evil husband, Chris, then brought me down from my happy high by taking me on the It's a Small World ride. To paraphrase a description I found of the ride: "It's a slow moving indoor boat ride where along the way animatronic children from around the globe, dressed in their native attire, serenade you with the song we've all come to know and love." (Grimace.) Actually, the animatronics are quite good - it was just that damned theme song over and over and over and over... It kind of gets to you, you know? (Click here if you're masochistic and want to hear the music. Be prepared for a long wait as it downloads - it's 2.5 Mb.)
  To clear our heads, we queued up (the second longest queue for the day) for the Matterhorn Bobsleds ride. The ride - a fast roller coaster with an Alpine theme - was fun, but I felt that the sleds you sit in need a bit more padding on the seats as it was a bit rough on the rear end, back and neck.
  It was now time to go back to Tomorrowland for the Star Tours ride. The attraction is basically a simulated space shuttle tour set in the Star Wars universe. Entry to the ride is through a mock up of a space port and the ride itself simulates a shuttle trip to Endor and the space battle beyond. Although the props, scenery and animatronics leading up to the ride were very good, the ride itself is a typical flight simulator with a storyline and visuals that I felt was getting a bit out of date. After having such a long wait to see it, I was a little disappointed.
Chris I didn't mind it. It wasn't all that bad.
Vanessa It was fun!Honey, I Shrunk the Audience was next. This isn't a ride as such, but more of a theatrical experience. As we entered the movie theatre, we were each given a pair of 3D glasses to wear as we watched the film. The storyline is fairly simple, with the scientist from the movie "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" accepting an award at a Scientist of the Year presentation. The film's audience is treated by the characters in the film as the presentation's audience. Of course, there is an accident and the audience is shrunk. This illusion is portrayed via some excellent cinematography and special effects. (Basically, the screen becomes a window to the giant, outside world.) The 3D effects in the film were well done and not overused. They, and other elements of the film's story, were cleverly augmented by movement of the theatre's seats and controlled blasts of air at leg level. I had entered the theatre with no idea of what to expect and I left feeling I had been pleasantly entertained.
  After this, it was time to do some serious souvenir shopping. We had promised Mouse Ears for the children of some family and friends. The Ears were easy to find in a shop on Main Street and the service assistant cheerfully embroidered the children's names on each set. I thought this a nice touch - even though we had to pay extra for it.
  We then browsed through some more shops, intent on purchasing some items by which to remember the day. Surprisingly, we were quite disappointed by the range of souvenirs available. The great majority were of Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck. Chris likes the animated film Aladdin and all day we only saw one souvenir from that film. There was very little or nothing from any other of the earlier Disney classics either - for example, Robin Hood, Sword in the Stone or even Fantasia! I did see a very nice framed cell from The Lion King, but at $450 US, it was just a tad expensive for our budget.
  We had enough of shopping and it was time to hit the attractions again. On the way back to Fantasyland, we saw a stand selling frozen lemonade. The frozen drinks really hit the spot! I hadn't realised I was so thirsty.
  Toontown wasn't far away. I was a little curious, but Chris said that the area was mostly for very young children. Having already experienced some of the rides in Fantasyland aimed at little kids, I agreed to give it a miss.
  The Disneyland Railroad is a great way to get around the park.Instead, we went to the Toontown station and caught a train. The Disneyland Railway has four authentic steam-powered locomotives travelling the 1.5 miles of track which circles the park. There are stations at Tomorrowland, Main Street, New Orleans Square, and, of course, Toontown as well as a couple of special displays on the Grand Canyon and the Primeval World along the way. Our feet were feeling a little tired, so it was nice to sit back, sip on our lemonades and watch the world go past at a leisurely pace. We ended up doing one and a half loops around the park and got off at the Main Street station.
  I had been thinking about some of the souvenirs we had seen, so we browsed through the shops again as we made our way back to New Orleans Square. Nothing still really appealed to us. It was all either really cheap rubbish, over-the-top kitsch, or extremely expensive.
  By now, it was late in the afternoon. We still had time for a few rides before dinner, so we wandered back to the Haunted House and the Indiana Jones Temple of the Forbidden Eye. Again, we walked straight onto both the rides without having to wait in a queue.
  As we went past New Orleans Square, we noticed that the restaurant we were thinking about having dinner in (The Blue Bayou) was closed. It was still fairly early and it didn't make sense. There was a food outlet still open in Adventureland, so we bought a couple of kebab sticks and some drinks to tie us over until we could find a proper, sit down restaurant that was open. After we had eaten, we browsed through the Adventureland shops and Chris found a couple of souvenirs he liked.
  Monkeys, tigers, elephants and the occasional head hunter!The Jungle Cruise ride was just across the way. It's a boat trip through the "jungle" where you can see all sorts of fierce animatronic wildlife. Actually, the scariest thing about the attraction was the boat skipper's really bad puns and jokes. This fact is promoted at the start of the ride and the tour guides weren't wrong! We found ourselves happily groaning along with the other passengers.
Chris I'm fairly sure the guide's lines were the same as in the Disney World version. It was most horrible pun-nishment!
Vanessa By now, it was just starting to get dark. The nightly Parade of the Stars was due to start in half an hour at 7pm. We went back to Main street, bought our final souvenirs for the day (yes, we eventually found something we liked) and then lined up with everyone else to see the parade. Chris chose a place for us in the Town Square near the end of the parade route, where it had to turn a corner and he knew we could get a good view.
  It was a good view. We could clearly see the colourful floats and people dressed in character costumes as they went past. Chris nudged me at one point during the parade and said that Arial, the Little Mermaid, looked different to when he had seen her in Disney World. (Joke.)
  The parade could have been better.I must admit that I was a little disappointed by the parade. The floats were looking a little worn in places and but what was worse was that some of the character actors had dreadfully fixed and empty smiles on their faces. There was no eye contact at all with the crowd. I also thought that, as it was a night-time parade, there would be more lights on the floats and costumes and that there would be some fireworks afterwards. (I found out afterwards that, at this time of the year, the fireworks show was only on two days of the week.)
  I wasn't the only one disappointed about the lack of fireworks. I overheard a man talking to his friend, saying that he thought the park had fireworks on every night during the summer holidays, but there weren't any scheduled for tonight. He also said that in the holidays the park was open until after midnight and he complained how tonight it would be closing at 8pm!
  That was a surprise to us. We hadn't looked at the closing times and had assumed that it would be some time after dark. Instead, it would be closing within the hour! So that was why the restaurants had shut early... This, some attractions being closed for refurbishment and the lack of fireworks were the downside of coming to the park in an off season.
  Main Street looked very pretty with its buildings and trees all lit up. I had wanted to see some more of the park at night - especially the Haunted Mansion - and we had planned to do this after the parade. I mentioned this to Chris and he agreed that if we hurried, we would still have time to see it. We caught the train back to the stop in New Orleans Square and quickly walked to the Haunted Mansion. It could have had better lighting on it facade, but perhaps, because the park was closing, it might not have had all its display turned on.
  My legs and feet were aching quite badly by now from all the walking we'd done, but I endured the pain as we chose to walk back to Main Street and the park's exit instead of taking the train. This way, we could see more of the lighting displays along the way. I am glad we made the effort.
  After leaving Disneyland, we caught the tram back to the parking station, found the car and drove back to the motel, feeling a little disappointed by the rushed ending to our day.
Chris We were also disappointed that we hadn't been able to get our evening meal at a proper restaurant in Disneyland, but we decided to make the best of it. There was a Cuban/Carribean/Mexican restaurant called "Cuban Pete's" next door to the motel that looked of good quality. It being so close meant that no driving was needed, so we walked there. As we entered, we saw that the special of the day was a Seafood Enchilada based on lobster. There was no price on the list, which should have been a warning to us, but being tired we missed it, thinking that because the prices of the other meals (including seafood) were reasonable, it would be also. I was desperate for a good Mexican meal to end the trip and Vanessa was just plain hungry by this time, so we decided to go for it. Never again.
  Waste of a good lobster!The enchilada was not what we expected. There was no tortilla for a start. The seafood mix - lobster, prawns and scallops - was tough, tasteless and overcooked. The salad appetizer wasn't anything special. The service was okay, but nothing special either. The worst thing was our entire meal was dreadfully overpriced - we were ripped off! I think if I wasn't so tired, I would have thought to complain about the meal and the price. This isn't something that Australians would normally do, so I have to consciously remember to voice my opinion. Being a stranger in a strange land also makes it difficult. You wonder what the custom is in these cases.
  We went back to the motel feeling a bit sour. This was a real downer after what was, otherwise, a very good day.
Vanessa I found Disneyland to be a great place to visit. In this journal entry, we may have dwelled on the rides we went on and given the impression that the rides are all there is to do and see. This is incorrect. These are just the things we did on our visit. There is a huge variety of entertainment available in the park - suitable for young and old alike. We also didn't mention how clean the park and its facilities are, or how well tended the gardens are. There are lots of trees to provide shade and seats to sit on. It is true that we had a few disappointments, but overall, I enjoyed myself immensely.
  Today, we went to Disneyland and it was a very good day.