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April 12th 2008
Published: May 12th 2008EDIT THIS ENTRY

Disneyland is a self-acclaimed happiest place on the earth! No matter how old you are, how many times you have been there… the kid inside you will enjoy the experience for sure! This weekend, we decided to check the grounds of these accusations.

There are two different resorts: Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure Park in Los Angeles. We decided to make a day trip to the Disneyland Park, as we were accompanied by my sister (Shailee), brother-in-law (Pritesh), and my 2.5 years old nephew (Rishi). For kids, Disneyland Park is definitely the right choice considering the attractions like Toontown and Fantasyland. That, however, does not mean that elders do not have much to do… There is a lot for everyone at the Disneyland resorts.

The park is divided into seven areas (clockwise from the entry): Adventure land, New Orleans Square, Critter land, Frontierland, Fantasyland, Mickey’s Toontown, and Tomorrowland. There is a steam railway which circles around the whole park. All the areas are accessible through the Main Street.

When we entered the park, we had a rough master plan in our minds. We wanted to take advantage of as many FASTPASS’s as possible. Fastpass is available to everyone; however you have limited access to its use. It is not so complex once you know it; if you don’t notice “FP” signs at some of the rides, you might miss the opportunity to skip the lines!

Seven or eight of the major attractions of the park have Fastpass available. You have to go to the Fastpass kiosk near that ride, insert you tickets and get the Fastpass for that ride. Those passes state “return between” time (e.g., 11am to 12pm). You can come back to that ride between (or after) that time period and directly take the Fastpass entrance line. You will encounter little or no wait for your ride! Now, your Fastpass will also state another time - you cannot get another Fastpass for any ride before that time! If you use these fast passes wisely, you can cover 3-4 rides easily during the day. This means, you will be in the lines only for other 3-4 rides! Even though this might not sounds so much helpful, believe me, this saves a lot of time and you might be able to cover all the major rides! However, there are some major must-do attractions like Pirates of
Splash MountainSplash MountainSplash Mountain

50 feet drop at Splash Mountain
the Caribbean, The Haunted Mansion, Finding Nemo, etc. that do not have fastpass and you will end up standing in lines for 30 to 90 minutes each :-(.

We started with the Matterhorn Bobsled at the Fantasyland. It didn’t have a fast pass facility. Shreya stood in the line and in the meantime, I went to the Space Mountain and got the fast pass. Luckily, we had to wait 30 minutes for the Bobsled ride and got the front seats! Shreya was really thrilled with the twists and turns of the ride. It is a toboggan ride through the snowy slopes of a mountain with wolfs and a snowman waiting for you!

Soon, we headed to the Star Tours which I had missed the last time. It had a wait time of 45 minutes. Again, Shreya stood in the line, while I grabbed some food and drinks for us. Star Tours is a virtual reality tour based on the Star Wars series. Somewhat like “Back to the future” at the universal studio, but different! Shreya was initially skeptical of the thrill level when she came to know that this is not actually a roller coaster! However, when it
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Disney characters at the parade
ended, she was the first one to mention “man... that was fun!”

After the Star Tours, I had a chance to get another fastpass. I chose Indiana Jones’ Adventure as I did not want Shreya to miss that particular ride! She got some pizza while I walked across the park to go to the Adventure land to get the passes. After a quick lunch, we rushed to the New Orleans Square for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. As I mentioned, it does not have the fastpass facility either. We waited there for good 45 minutes before we cruised along the waters of the Caribbean. This is a theme ride, where you might find yourself totally amazed with the surroundings! A real Disney experience! Starts with Barbossa’s men looking for Captain Jack Sparrow and ends with Jack Sparrow finding the buried treasure. This was one of Shreya’s favorites. Not to mention, mine too.

Haunted Mansion is located just besides the Pirates ride. Generally, Shreya is not so much fond of House of Horror, etc. However, with the help of the board outside the mansion saying “happy place,” she agreed to visit it. I don’t want to disclose much
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Shreya at Chip 'n Dale's Tree House
of the details, but let me say this is not just another House of Horror. There are no live characters inside. Everything is a mechanical and optical illusion. You will find ghosts walking around, dancing, singing, hitch hiking, etc. Not really scary but amusing for sure!

It was already time for the Disney parade when we were done with this ride. We had to meet up with Shailee-Pritesh-Rishi for the parade. While Shreya waited with them at the parade route, I got fast passes for another big thrill called Splash Mountain.

Disney parade is fun to watch… especially for those with kids. You will see almost all the Disney characters (not all - Rishi was upset as Daisy was not there!) dancing, walking, shaking hands with kids... You should arrive atleast 15 minutes before the parade time to get better seats and make sure that you are not facing the sun! This parade takes place twice a day - 3 pm and 6 pm.

As soon as the parade ended, we were back to our mission. Now, it was time for fun, as we already had 3 fast passes in hand! We started with the Space Mountain
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Shreya & I with Micky Mouse
in the Tomorrowland. Space Mountain is an indoor roller coaster which takes you through the stars and black holes. This was my first time too in the ride. Both of us had so much fun! It is pitch dark in there, and you really feel as if you are flying somewhere in the space! If you are not thrilled during the ride, I bet you will be at the big end!

Indiana Jones was our next stop. We were kind of tired also. However, didn’t want to miss anything! We again had to walk all the way back to the other side of the park - Adventureland. Thanks to the fastpass, we were soon in the lost temples of Bengal. This ride is based on Indiana Jones’ adventure in India. We have to ride a jeep like vehicle and survive our ways out! The atmosphere and effects overall gets two thumbs up!

By the end of this ride, we were tired and wanted to do something relaxing. The answer was just besides the Indiana Jones adventure - Jungle Cruise! This is a family boat ride through seven rivers of the world with artificial animals and mountains around. The
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Main Street, Disneyland
cruise guide was really funny, who made this ride quite worth it!

We decided to visit Mickey’s Toontown next. Toontown gives you a feeling as if you are a part of the Mickey’s cartoon world! Fake mountains and cartoon-like houses are so much fun to see. For kids, this is just like heaven! You can see many of the Disney cartoons’ icons here: Donald’s boat, Goofy’s gas station, etc. Remembering the good ol’ days, we decided to go to Mickey’s house-cum-studio and meet him face to face, and also take a picture with him! One thing we noticed while waiting to meet Mickey was - we were the only two adults, not accompanied by kids!

Our next stop was Splash Mountain. As the name suggests, this ride includes some splashing from the mountain as the big finale! Apart from the last part it’s a fun story-telling ride about critters like bunnies, hens, bears, and foxes. However, the last 50 feet splash is the best part of the ride! This does not come as a surprise. As this is the only part of the ride visible from the outside. Fun part is - there are no safety belts or other devices in the boat! The low rise seats are pretty much all you got with some small wet handles to hold on to! You will get wet!

Next we got fast passes for Big Thunder Railroad. It is a rail ride through some of the spectacular canyons of Bryce Canyon. This moderate roller-coaster is located in the Frontierland.

We still had more than an hour before the fireworks and the laser show. Only attraction left was “Honey I shrunk the audience!” This is a 4-D show - really nicely made, though quite predictive if you have been to such shows at the universal studios or somewhere else. On the way to the fireworks, we saw Astro-Blasters ride based on the Toy Story. While we were thinking and debating if it would be worth the 20 minutes wait, a gentleman walked to us and offered us two Fastlane passes as he was not going to use them! We just walked inside. It turned out it was more like an arcade shooting game, but with moving seats and objects!

We decided to have some quick bite before settling down for the fireworks and the laser show. Tomorrowland has a nice Pizza place called “Pizza Port.” We had our dinner there and rushed to the waterfront called American River near the Adventureland.

The best seats to watch the Disney Fireworks are near the Snow White’s castle. However, the laser show takes place just after the fireworks at the American River. Hence, we decided to watch the fireworks from the American River itself. The fireworks are definitely a must watch! It lasted for approximately 20 minutes!

The last attraction of the day was definitely worth a wait! The laser show named “Fantasmic” is without any doubt a true Disney creation! Two virtual screens made up of mist, dancing lights, laser effects, real performers dancing on small boats, all the Disney characters together performing on the cruise… there is nothing more you can ask for… well… may be better seats! This is also an open-air attraction, so sometimes the kid crying next to you can over-shadow the music Mickey Mouse is dancing on! However, this is also a must watch! This show is aired twice the late evening.

We had taken a room near the Disneyland at America’s Best Value Inn. We crashed sometime around midnight and didn’t wake up until 9 am the next morning. Realizing we still had to visit a beach and leave for home soon, we got ready quite quickly.

Huntington Beach is one of my favorite beaches in SoCal. It is always sparely crowded. We spent around 1.5 hours at the beach and left to a Gujarati restaurant called Rajdhani in Artesia. Pritesh was so much happy to have Ahmedabad style “Thali” for lunch! All of us over ate!

On the way back to the bay area, Pritesh and Shailee had to visit their cousin in Simi Valley. We had a short stop there for about 30 minutes and drove back to San Jose.

To sum up, this weekend had everything it could offer - some adventure, a lot of fun, relaxing at the beach, socializing… It was really tough to get up the next morning to reach work on time!

Some Useful Links:
Disneyland Resort

Where to Stay:
There are number of motels/hotels near Disneyland

Where to Eat:
There are number of restaurants and small snacks stands in the Disneyland Park - a Pizza parlor in Tomorrowland & McDonalds in Adventureland
Number of good restaurants like California Pizza Kitchen, Cheesecake Factory, etc. at walking distance from Disneyland


1st July 2008

good one
hey swar, this is very informative...did a nice job... thanks...
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