We spent the past weekend at the Disneyland Resort with Iris’ brother, Scott; his daughter, Jennifer; his son, Casey; and Jennifer’s husband, Edward. We stayed at the Grand California Hotel, which is very nice in amenities but a little short in service. Best thing about the hotel is that it’s right next to California Adventure and Downtown Disney, so you can walk right into the newer theme park or take the monorail over to Disneyland.
Right when we got there on Saturday (we went straight from Morgan’s Saturday game at the Pasadena Bruins tournament), we went to Ariel’s Grotto at California Adventure. A fixed price menu, where you select a starter (soup or salad), main course and a dessert, for about $20. Separate kids’ menu. Food is good, but you go because of the Disney princess characters that roam around from table to table. During our lunch, we had Mulan, Snow White, Cinderella, Belle and Ariel (sans tail) walk by.
During our lunch, Barry Bonds, the ultra-famous baseball player for the San Francisco Giants, came in with his family. He had a small entourage of Disney employees making sure that autograph seekers were kept at bay, which I could understand. I mean, I’d hate to be mobbed at Disneyland while my family was trying to enjoy themselves. Anyway, I managed to sneak a snapshot of him while at Ariel’s Grotto, and then again when I saw his family riding Grizzly River Run. In fact, I seemed to come across him quite a few times over the weekend. Again at the Fantasmic show Saturday night, and then on early Sunday morning, his kids rode the Jumpin’ Jellyfish the same time Morgan did.
We did something a bit different for the Fantasmic show. Seems you can buy balcony seats at the Disney Gallery located in New Orleans Square just above Pirates of the Caribbean. For $56, you get a dessert & beverage buffet and a fairly unobstructed view of the Fantasmic show (I was sitting on the far right, and I had a light pole that was sort of in my way). Only 20 seats on the balcony, and it was a tight fit, although you could get a bit more room by standing behind the two rows of chairs. While I was waiting for the show to start, I saw the Barry Bonds family again. They were escorted to another balcony that adjoined ours, one that Disneyland must reserve for its celebrity guests. After the Fantasmic show was over, we got to hang around on the balcony for the Remember…Dreams Come True fireworks show, which is kind of neat for us old timers, because it features many of the songs and sounds from Disneyland attractions both past and present, like the Monsanto Journey Through Innerspace.
Of the rides we went on this trip, the one we went on most was the new Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. What a neat concept. It can best be described as a cross between a slow version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride and a shooting gallery. Each two man car has two laser guns attached to the dash via a thin cable, plus a joystick that can be used to rotate the car around. As the car journeys through the ride, you aim for targets marked with the letter Z. Lit targets score more points. There’s a scoreboard on the dash in front of each gun. I scored 141,000 my first time, then 171,000 and then 180,000. None of the other people in our group scored over 100K, athough Stephanie came close. I think the kids must have gone on it seven or eight times. Seems like we were always going back for FastPasses.
We also rode the newly remodeled Space Mountain. It seems like it’s been closed for the past year. Anyway, we tried to get FastPasses for it when we came last week, but there weren’t any, and we didn’t want to wait an hour and a half for standby. On Saturday, the same thing, no FastPasses. Jennifer found out that the FastPasses were all gone early in the day, so on Sunday Morning, she and Stephanie went over to Disneyland to get some. The ones they got at 9:30 AM said to come back around 11:00 AM.
Anyway, most of the remodel seems to be cosmetic. The entry leading in looks like it’s longer, I guess to accommodate larger crowds. Everything looks like it’s been updated to give it a fresher look. Couldn’t tell if the ride itself was changed. It seemed darker, and I don’t remember seeing the stars and galaxies on the roof of the attraction like I was able to before. Almost left my hat behind. The cars now have a net bag in each compartment where you can stow your loose items. I stuck my hat in it, but forgot to take it out when I left. Went back and the ride operator checked each car as it went by. Finally found it on the fifth or sixth one.
We also caught Aly & AJ Machalka singing at the Captain Buzz Stage. They’re the sister teen pop duo that’s been getting a lot of air time on Radio Disney. We bought their CD and stayed in line for over an hour to get their autograph (plus a picture, which can be seen on this page).
All-in-all a good trip, although we were pooped by the time we got home Sunday night. Pictures here.