A long time ago I’d planned to go to Europe and visit friends this August. Due to financial difficulties that plan was backtracked to visiting a national park and/or visiting Seattle again. Due to further financial difficulties and scheduling conflicts (in Seattle) that plan was scaled down further into a couple of day trips. The first was meant to be that trip to Pismo Beach which was scaled back itself (see last weekend’s blog). The second was a trip to Catalina Island this past weekend. That too had to be changed. Last Monday when I tried to reserve spots on the zip line tour (really the only thing open that we were excited about doing over there) I found it completely booked. I also found that they’d raised the price from $35 per person to $92 per person. Ouch. With Ferry tickets at $70 each we might has well have flown on southwest to San Francisco or something anyway. Since the zip lines were all booked up and the “underwater helmet” tour still not in operation yet we decided to do something else.
After becoming a student again last year I rediscovered the various perks of being in that class. Discounts on software (windows 7 Pro for $30) packages, discounts on admission to museums, etc. One of these perks is a discount on admission to disneyland (although I think this is actually only a few dollars cheaper than the already standard online purchase rate). So, on Sunday we went to Disneyland.
We planned our day out fairly well, knowing when to get fastpasses and for what. We started off at California Adventure because we knew that it was a park for older customers (as in customers with at least two digits in their age) and they would arrive later than their younger counterparts in Disneyland. We were right, and we really didn’t have to wait in long lines for much of the day. We rode Soarin’ Over California first, then got a fastpass ticket to Tower of Terror. Since we had about two hours before our fastpass could be redeemed we decided to eat (it was already around 11:30). When I told Sam I was taking her to Disneyland she said we had to have the giant turkey leg. So, we tried the giant turkey leg ($8) for lunch. When she showed me the picture online the day before I already thought it was gross, but she was still excited. The next day, after trying to bite through grease, gristle and cartilage/tendons/something she was “over it.”
After washing all the grease off of our hands we headed over to the Wharf and rode on California Screamin’, then Maliboomer, which had a half hour wait time due to only one of the three towers being operational and then California Screamin’ a second time before going to the Tower of Terror. Even with Fastpass the Tower of Terror wait was still a good 20 minutes.
We then headed over to Disneyland and rode the train around once before stopping in New Orleans. We picked up fast passes to Splash Mountain, but were a little dismayed that they couldn’t be redeemed until after 7pm (when it would be cold). On the way back to New Orleans (Sam wanted to eat beignet) we saw there was only a 15 minute wait time for the Haunted Mansion so we checked that out before ordering the beignet.
After ordering the Biegnet we decided to head to tomorrowland to ride Space Mountain. However, it was about 4:30 and we could purchase another fastpass at 5:20. So, we decided we’d get an Indiana Jones fastpass at 5:20 which was next to New Orleans. To pass the time we walked through Tarzan’s Treehouse and took the Jungle Cruise.
When we got the fastpasses for Indiana Jones we were faced with a dilemma. It was about 5:30 and the passes for Indiana Jones and Splash Mountain were valid at the same time. The rides were near each other, but Indiana was going to have a much much much much longer line, so we didn’t want to miss our chance at that. It was going to be tight – but we had a plan. First we’d go wait in line for Space Mountain. This turned out to be the longest wait time of any ride the entire day at almost an hour. I don’t understand that ride. For an hour they tempt you with promises of some great space adventure, giant spaceships hanging from the ceiling, etc. Then when you actually get on the ride it is nothing more than an indoor roller coaster in the dark with a disco ball. What? Why is this still one of the most popular rides? Sam’s reaction clued me in. She had wanted to ride it and I decided to keep my opinion quiet until after we got off. Once off she admitted that it was kind of disappointing. I think the reason it is popular is that the memory is better than the experience. The memory is of zooming through the stars – but the reality is taking a fast trip around an empty dance floor at a cheap prom. While riding I did get a strange fear experience, as unlike most rides, if this one broke you’d be beheaded and never see it coming since you’re wooshing around in complete darkness. Perhaps that explains the look on my face:
After getting off the ride I had a $6.50 slice of pizza. Ironically, although all the food was very expensive, the water was still under $4. Eleven summers ago a concert promoter in Rome NY couldn’t figure out why a quarter million young people started “riots.” I was there and I can tell you it probably had something to do with being 18 years old, dehydrated and seeing water more expensive than it would be at Disneyland 11 years later. This of course got my internal economist mechanisms going… How does Disneyland set their prices? Clearly they’re much higher than outside ($4.50 for a tiny size naked juice smoothie, for example), but not so high that people balk. Clearly though, from the woodstock 99 example, there is a point where high prices not only cause balking, but literal anger towards the seller. This is an equation that I imagine Disney spends a LOT of time on as they have to make money – but at the same time keeping consumers not just satisfied with the experience, but HAPPY. Something I probably wouldn’t have thought about as much before getting an MBA.
But this was actually supposed to be an escape/reward from/for school, so I forced my mind to shelve that conversation. We were headed back over to Frontiertown to ride Indiana Jones, but we still had about half an hour before our fastpass would work – so we rode Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blaster, which had a minimal wait time.
On the way back over to Indiana Jones we passed the entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean and stopped in our tracks when we saw the “5” minute wait time. We ran inside under the arch, thinking we’d fit this ride in too. Of course the wait wasn’t actually five minutes, but more like 20. However, we still thought we’d be able to hit Splash Mountain and Indiana Jones on time. Then we came to the last bit of the ride, when “Captain Jack” sits in his treasure room and gives his Johnny Depp soliloquy. Ordinarily the boat would go up the ramp past this display and come out at the end of the ride. Our boat sat at the bottom of the ramp for a minute. Two minutes… Five minutes went by. There was a line of boats behind us extending all the way to curve in the ride (and who knows how far back behind that). The guns and cannons kept firing behind us, but now their noise was joined by crying babies and screaming teenagers. It was at least ten minutes sitting down there in the dark before our boat got moving again. We rushed to Indiana Jones and bypassed at least 90 minutes of waiting time to get on the ride with very little wait at all. Running through the corridoors was amazing as I remember waiting at least 90 minutes in 2006 to ride this ride, and now I was running through the same area that used to feel like an eternity.
When we got out of Indiana Jones and started running to the left towards splash mountain I looked at our fastpasses and the time on the expiration matched the time on my watch. If we hadn’t got stuck in Johnny Deppurgatory we’d have made it. We had an hour and ten minutes until the fireworks show would start (and we were going home after that). We decided to try and fit in one more ride – the Matterhorn. It turned out the wait for the Matterhorn was only 15 minutes. Here we are at the bottom:
We still had another 45 minutes before the fireworks would start so we headed off to Big Thunder Mountain. 25 minutes later we were out of there and realized we could maybe, just maybe, fit in Splash Mountain too before the fireworks. We ended up seeing the beginning of the fireworks from the top of Splash Mountain before getting completely soaked. I don’t recommend ending your day on a cool summer night by getting soaked through and through (as you’ll see, we were in the front of the “boat”). Walking in squishy itchy drenched socks got pretty annoying on the long trudge back to the trams, and then the walk back to the car. The fireworks were over by 9:50, but we didn’t get to our car for another half hour. Of course, Sam, by sitting in the very front with a jacket over her body and feet tucked into the front of the boat apparently escaped most of the water. Look at my shirt below and you’ll see I’m already wet before we even hit the water on the “big” splash.
And one more photo from the slow march out of main street.
I didn’t get home until after 11:30pm. We went on a Sunday to avoid the Saturday crowds, but now we’re stuck with the “no-sleep-Monday.” Not sure which is better/worse.