In the tradition of this entire week, yesterday was another very full day. I went to Disneyland for the 5th time this summer, meeting my friend, Tracey, at 9am, which means leaving the house at 7:30am, which means getting up at about 6am. I always plan 90 minutes between driving, parking, tram to the park, getting through the entrance, and walking to the meeting place (the Walt and Mickey statue.)
As a Disneyland Premium Pass owner, I can go any day of the year (which is awesome,) get "free" parking (again, awesome, so you're not paying $12 before you're even in the park,) and I get discounts on all food and merchandise. Seriously, if you live in So. CA and enjoy Disneyland like I do (close--about 30 miles, clean, safe, and fun) it really does pay to have a pass.
We went early because I had a family party to attend in the evening.
As soon as we met, Tracey had the idea to go on Splash Mountain, a log ride which has very high water that has a habit of spilling into the log and onto you. The inside of the ride uses the characters from the old America Sings attraction (which I still miss a lot--that Innoventions thing is ridiculous...) After a few wet drops through the ride and seeing the Song of the South characters, you climb this very tall slope and plunge down a STEEP hill about 80 feet high into the "briar patch." Somewhere in that plunge you see a flash off to the side as you get your picture taken, immortalizing your silly reaction.
I don't know if it was because we were sitting in the front of the log (I made Tracey sit in front of me, to block the water a *little,* since it was her idea,) of because it was first thing in the morning and the water was extra high--but we got SOAKED. Absolutely soaked. I was drenched from my mid-section to my feet. My sandals made a nice squelching sound as I walked for the next 2 hours. Tracey got splashed in the face and hair and soaked her denim shorts. Yes, walking through the park you can always tell who has just been on Splash Mountain. Definitely more a summer than a winter ride!
If you want to "experience" it, I found this very good POV video on YouTube that someone shot. I didn't realize the ride was almost 8 minutes long! And don't let those little drops fool you, that is where you end up the wettest!
After Splash Mountain we pretty much stayed in Frontierland and New Orleans Square, which are my favorite areas for the rides and the atmosphere. Is it crazy that a 38 year-old enjoys Disneyland so much? I really do. The sights, sounds, smells, all transform me into a 10 year-old kid. I feel it every time I get off the tram. And guess what? I'm going again tomorrow. My friend, Bobby, has a birthday, got the day off, and we're going to spend it at the Magic Kingdom. We even got great dinner reservations at the Blue Bayou (the restaurant that opens into Pirates of the Caribbean.)
Because Splash Mountain is on the end of the park, we were in the Winnie the Pooh area, which gave me a chance to go into the candy shop and take a picture of the honey machine that my Uncle Ruben built in his garage (my mom's brother and the family's super-talented artist-in-residence.) Sorry for the quality...cell phone camera...
We also had lunch at the Cafe' Orleans. I had some wonderful French Onion soup and chicken gumbo crepes. Those things were spicy! Good, but spicy. I was holding back the tears by the end of the meal:
One of the best things about the Cafe' Orleans is the view, because you're right next to the walking areas between Pirates and the Haunted Mansion and across from Tom Sawyer's Island and the Rivers of America where the steamship Mark Twain and the Columbia go by. Here's our view at lunch.
The park stayed pretty empty for the first 2 hours we were there and we got to do a lot. By noon there were a lot of people. The weather was great, though, so it was a good day to go.
I was getting pretty tired by about 2:30pm after this past non-stop week and getting up early. We left at 3:15 and I got home at about 4:30. We had a great little impromptu family party at my mom's house, BBQing hamburgers and hot dogs in the back yard, laughing with my aunts and uncles and sharing everyone's current goings on, eventually moving to the family room to watch a DVD slide show of my cousin Robby's flight training ceremony at an Air Force Base in Mississippi.
I really enjoy the family get-togethers, and this one was no different, even though it was a small group and we were missing a few cousins.
All in all....a rich, fun day. The best kind.