First, let me start by apologizing for skipping last week. I had just started a new job at the laser surgery clinic at UCLA (cheer, boo, whatever), and getting back into the flow of working at what people would call an actual job (as opposed to that Wells Fargo crap) took a lot out of me. I’m getting better, though, and I can now produce at full strength. Which is to say half my ass.
Given my new job that pays much more than crap, the wife and I decided to celebrate with a long-overdue trip to Disneyland. We hadn’t gone since the last president was in office, and we didn’t need our current trip tainted by the specter of the Bush Administration. Now, we’ve always depended on the kindness of our friends when it comes to theme parks. Queta used to work at Universal Studios, so for the first couple years of our relationship, she still had friends that worked there who could get us in for free. Our last couple of Disney excursions involved some manner of comped tickets. However, we weren’t sure we could get in on some of that sweet free ticket action this time. We investigated various bargain options, but, much like Apple’s line of electronics, the discounts were minor. But someone Queta knew recommended that we get our tickets on eBay, and it was fantastic advice.
Now, just so you know, I don’t believe what we did was entirely within Disney’s policies. What you do in this situation involves bidding on a day pass (or in our case, two Parkhoppers with Fastpass, one step down from a skeleton key to the place). In actuality, you’re renting a multi-day ticket for the one day you’re visiting. When you win, you get an email asking you to reply with the day you want to visit, and when you’re picking up. You are told to get the tickets that morning, and that you should NOT call, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES; she’ll be in the office waiting. The pick-up is even sketchier: we went to a gas station just outside the Kingdom gates. Above it was an office building, and inside were four bare offices. If you’ve ever seen when someone testifies against a boiler room scammer, and they say the “office” was just a bare room with a desk and a phone that never rang, you have an idea what this looked like. You approach the lady with the ticket, like the Soup Nazi before her, without fanfare or silliness. You give your name, she grabs the ticket(s) for you, you sign off, and you are told to drop the ticket(s) back off before 2am that night. Then you leave. It’s weird; I have a vague idea how the “coyotes” that smuggle immigrants across the border feel.
(BTW, to drop the tickets off when you leave Anaheim, just place them in the dedicated mailbox IN the gas station. Everyone’s in on this thing, man.)
Regardless of our ticket legality, we had two passes and we were ready to rock. We would have been rocking harder if the cops hadn’t shut down the entire left side of the entry gate that led directly to the parks. So, we, along with everyone else visiting Disneyland at that time, had to get filtered into Downtown Disney. A simple, swift park job instead wound up taking about half an hour. And we were now, by my estimate, 350 miles from Disneyland. But, thank god for the Monorail.
We got dumped onto Tomorrowland, and our adventure began. We quickly utilized the Fastpass option and reserved a time for Space Mountain. Now, WE got Fastpasses, but in reality, it was only for Queta. I can’t do Space Mountain anymore. Last time I went, I almost threw up and my equilibrium was fucked for about three hours. I don’t need that again; I enjoy my equilibrium intact. So, I would accompany her in line, then send her off to the space wolves. This is how much of an adult I am.
That being handled, we decided to jump in line for Buzz Lightyear. I have a ball on this ride. I probably have ADD in some form, so anything that keeps me engaged during the ride is great. It’s also fun to pit yourself in any sort of competition with your wife. I handily defeated her, approximately 93,000 to 28,000. Is it petty to celebrate this? Sure, but I win so few things. I need this. My masculinity needs this.
We then went for the Finding Nemo Memorial Submarine Adventure, or whatever it’s called. I hadn’t been on the Submarine since I was a toddler, and even then I’m probably wrong. It’s crazy: you can tell that the beginning and end are the original pieces from the 1920s, but the guts of the ride are new. It’s remarkably cramped. I know it’s a “submarine,” and should be cramped, but it’s still a bit remarkable that a fancy-pants Disneyland ride would take place in a small tube where, if you stretch too much, you can bump your head. I’d say they were holding to realism, but then there are cartoon fish, so that invalidates that argument. But it was all fine, and it was over quickly. Queta remarked that our portholes seemed to have slight water seepage, but I still felt safe. We had life jackets, after all.
Our Fastpass time for Space Mountain loomed, so we went to the loading dock, only to be told that the ride was temporarily closed. They said we could come back later, and they would honor our Fastpass, so we had to walk away. Then Queta and I saw the posters for Captain EO. We grabbed some 3D glasses and got in line.
A note about Captain EO: who greenlit this? For Disneyland being the zenith of family-friendly, neutral entertainment, an extended, Francis Ford Coppola-directed “Adam Ant in the Year 2550” music video seemed like a bizarre choice. Obviously, Michael Jackson’s involvement shepherded it along, but geez. The tonal whiplash that occurs when tourists fresh off the Teacups walk in to see a bunch of Muppets help MJ dance-fight robot henchmen with the power of music and rainbow optical effects can physically make your neck hurt. Queta thought it was probably amazing at the time, and I guess it would be, but it’s just so fucking weird.
The ending found me exclaiming, “That was Anjelica Huston, wasn’t it?” Her tone of her cameo felt like “Yes, this is Anjelica Huston. Here you go.”
We wandered off, confused and sleepy, toward Splash Mountain. Once there, we found most of Critter Country boarded up for renovation. The First Law of Disneyland states that there shall never be a day where everything is open. Star Tours is still in hibernation awaiting a change of video, and, as we later found out, Splash Mountain was still closed for the season. Faced with this, we got something to eat at the Stage Door Cafe and pondered our next move. Bloating ourselves with chicken nuggets and fries, we felt that an exciting ride would be bad for us, so we chose the Jungle Cruise just up the lane. The most exciting thing on that ride is when the guide fires the cap gun at the hippo, and the very fact that I know this by heart makes it less exciting.
Two things of note happened at Jungle Cruise. First, we ran into Tim in line. Apparently, the Super Bowl holds little value for either of us. Second, we were seated next to the boat’s engine, which turned the lovely guide’s banter into a bunch of incoherent, Peanuts-esque bleating punctuated by laughter. Whatever, we still digested our food just fine.
We did a quick jag down Main Street, where Queta purchased some humorous novelty ears and we saw a ragtime band. I also saw someone who looked like Trent Reznor, and the question “Has Trent Reznor been to Disneyland?” floated trough my brain for some reason. Earlier, I also asked Queta if she thought Tommy Wiseau had also been there. She thought he’d just do his trademark snicker at everything.
We headed north toward Fantasyland, passing a trio of Harajuku girls posing for a picture. It was exactly as hot as you’d think it would be. Queta had a date with the Teacups and Alice in Wonderland, and I was happy to oblige. I had never actually been on the Teacups before; chalk it up to my aforementioned dislike of dizziness. But I got through it just fine, with a minimum of nausea. Alice is a cake ride; the worst thing about it is the outdoor downhill portion which plays like a drive down Lombard Street in San Fran.
We also wanted to try Small World, but the line was a bit nuts. Toontown was behind us, but we decided we needn’t bother with that. The same decision was made about California Adventure. We just split a frozen lemonade and had a sit. (Sorry, Erik. No Dole Whip.)
We gathered ourselves and trekked back to Tomorrowland for Space Mountain. This time, we were ushered in quickly, reaching the loading dock in about five minutes. I can only assume they were trying to clear out all the leftover Fastpass folks in one shot. I wish I could say I sacked up and got on the ride with Queta, but that wasn’t happening. I saw her to the rocket and went to the picture depot to wait. She gave the “V for victory” sign for her picture.
We then went to Autopia and got a Fastpass for a half hour later. With little motivation to walk anywhere else, and with darkness approaching, we decided to take a round trip on the Disneyland Train. On our way through Critter Country, the narrator informed us about the awesomeness of Splash Mountain we should be seeing before us, but with it closed for the season, all we saw was metal siding. Whoops. The half hour killed, we entered Autopia.
Really, this ride should be called “Children in Cars Are Assholes.” The car in front of me kept stopping to take Facebook self-photos. Two people were in the car; one could easily take the photos while the other drove. Also, as we reached the finish line, and despite warnings against doing so, three idiot kids in a row rear-ended this poor girl’s car in front. I’m talking full speed while she was idle. And the lead dipshit kept flooring the pedal after bumping her. I wanted to slap him and yell, “STOP DOING THAT BEFORE I RIP OUT YOUR SOUL!” We disembarked, headed for the Monorail, and walked back to our parking spot, thus concluding our visit.
What did we learn?
- We are getting old. We were both tired and defeated after the trip. We had a ball, to be sure, but we were tired times ten once we were done. Used to be you could do a full day of Disneyland standing on your head, but not anymore.
- Everyone’s kid is awful. Fact. Everyone’s kid, except your own or ones in your party, is awful. They walk too slowly down the stairs, and they can’t keep pace with the ride lines. This isn’t a game, kids. This is real fucking life. Get a move on.
- Japanese girls who are really committed to their fashion are hot.
- Disneyland is still fun. Maybe it’s different now that we’re adults, but we still had a good time. Even if it was via making fun of the tourists.
- I still can’t properly parse Captain EO. What in Zeus’ name was that?