Thursday was our actual anniversary date. We were exhausted from the combination of a 2 hour time change and the late arrival but headed to Disneyland in our rental car early to supposedly beat the crowds. Now this is where I need to point out our long and loving history with Walt Disney World in Florida. From the first time we went, in 1980, when the only park was the Magic Kingdom, it's been love at first sight. From then on, we took the kids on a regular basis, first every 4 years, then every other year to annually when we lived in Trinidad. In May 2002 we bought into the Disney Vacation Club and thus cemented our relationship with The Mouse. Our children have honeymooned there, we've enjoyed "first visits" of grandchildren, special times all. There is just something totally thrilling to drive into the property, see the huge archways with "Welcome to Walt Disney World", drive to our resort and be welcomed by the staff as we check in. You just shed the outside world and let the magic roll over you as you drive in. And, staying "on property", that feeling just stays and with great sadness you bid it farewell when you have to finally return to the real world.
Driving to Disneyland - a wee bit different! First of all, Disneyland was built back in 1955 (hmm, so was Mike!) in city limits of Anaheim (not Mike - that would have had to be Sacramento). Then the addition of the California Adventure (taking over the original Disneyland parking lot) maximized the park size. Further additions to both parks puts the boundaries right to the surrounding city streets. So as you drive there, you literally see the BACK of the park and it's attractions - and that's just plain weird. And, now that the original lot is gone, where do all those park attendees, well, park?? In a HUGE 6 story garage (SO not-magical!) that is as big or bigger than a football field. It took 10 minutes to drive down Harbor Blvd to Ball Street following the signs to the "Mickey and Friends" garage. It took 30-40 minutes to ENTER the garage and park and another 15 minutes to walk to the escalators to the trams and be driven get to the parks. That's an hour folks. One. Solid. Hour. I wasn't feeling the magic...
Once you get to the unloading area, you are at a center point where "all roads lead to Rome" - Disneyland is on your left, California Adventure on your right, and Downtown Disney behind you. We opted for Disneyland for Day One. It was a little surreal to be there after so much history with Disney World - it was so similar to WDW but yet different. So mentally, the auto-pilots kept trying to kick in but the reality kept us checked. Little things like getting off of a ride that is also at WDW and wanting to go on another one that IS in WDW but NOT at Disneyland. So that was disorienting. The Haunted Mansion is about the same as far as the ride goes but the house exterior in Disneyland is a Creole Southern Plantation vs. the Gothic Mansion in WDW . Don't get me wrong, we had a really enjoyable time but coming off of the short night and the whole "it's the same but different" thing, we felt a bit off balance that first day.
After getting our bearings, we rode a lot of the rides including Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters (where I beat Mike by over 100,000 points, I might add), Finding Nemo, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Autopia, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Storybook Land Canal Boats. We ate a wonderful evening meal at the Blue Bayou restaurant which is actually IN the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.
Mike at the Blue Bayou Restaurant - he's holding up the menu but I like looking at HIM more!
Oh, and Sleeping Beauty's castle is tee-nine-ie compared to Cinderella's Castle at WDW. But given the historical price of real estate in California, I'd wager Sleeping Beauty's California Castle costs tons more than Cinderella's - not that zillow.com is going to divulge THAT information! I'm just sayin'...although with the recent decline in housing prices overall in California, I do wonder! Location, location, location.
After our dinner, we opted to return to the hotel via Downtown Disney as our feet were killing us. We wandered about and enjoyed all the street musicians there - almost bought some CDs, they were so good. We walked all the way to the Grand Californian Resort and the other Disney "on property" hotels and, as mentioned before, the feet were trash talking about us at this point. So we got the "brilliant" idea to just walk to the garage since we could see it from where we were. Bad idea. We should have just turned around and walked back to the tram area and ridden back. But no, we decided to hoof it - after all, we could SEE the garage (but then so could anyone within miles since it's so tall and huge and all). Twenty minutes later we got to the garage and, rather than walking to the escalator that take you to your floor (there are three that service two floors each), I decide the stairs would be better (even though we were parked on the fourth floor and, oh, did I mention our feet were killing us??). Stupid me, I was wearing those FitFlop sandals (which have open toes). On the first flight of stairs, I get my footing wrong and ram my left foot onto the next step and cut it on the metal edging of the step. I just thought I'd bruised it but when I got to the hotel I saw it was bleeding and evidently I'd sliced it. OUCH! Lots of soap and water and Neosporin later, I was all fixed up and decided to heed the safety advice I've always given everyone else and wear closed toe shoes from then on.
Sorry for sounding like a "Debbie Downer" at times - the first day just caught us off guard. I think it was just like when we moved to London the first time - we thought it had to be like America since we spoke the same language, right? WRONG! So Disneyland had to be like Disney World because, shoot, they're both Disney, right? Wrong AGAIN! So our expectation was flawed due to our familiarity with the East Coast Mouse and incorrect assumptions. And not staying "on property" as we do in Florida impacted our experience as well. The West Coast Mouse is just fine - he's just, well, WEST!
The next day was MUCH better and I'll report all to you in due course! Stay tuned.
Oh, and my toe is healing nicely, thank you for asking.
Our "room with a view" - we could see the Disneyland fireworks from here.