Friday, September 23, 2005
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I got up early to go to the local Goodyear tire store to get our flat tire fixed on the rental car. It took about an hour and $18.00 to get the tire fixed. The time and money were worth the peace of mind knowing that we had a real tire at our service, rather what passed for the temporary spare.
We began our Disneyland visit anew, this time to visit the California Adventure park, which was new to all of us. Once again, we rented an electric scooter to help us get around.
Our first stop was the Muppets 3D adventure. This was pretty cute. The kids had a lot of fun. I hadn't seen anything muppet related for quite some time, and it was fun. I especially like the heckler guys!
Following the muppets, we went to the Hollywood Hotel Tower of Terror. Of course Amy was having nothing to do with this one. She had learned her lesson well with Space Mountain the day before. Anything that looked remotely scary was a big NO GO for her!
Bryan and I were the first to intrepidly enter the Tower of Terror. It is based on a theme from the Old Twilight Zone TV series. This ride amounts to hotel elevators on steroids running amok. The first ominous sign upon entering the elevator is that it is equipped with seats, that include seat belts. Some folks didn't notice, but there were "sissy handles" on either side of the seat to hold on to. I found the sissy handles, and held on tight. Others, less fortunate - or less observant- did not know of the sissy handles, and thus found the ride to be far more traumatic that necessary. (As a certain someone we all know and love would later find out!) The ride is very sneaky, you get into the elevator in the "basement" of the hotel. As the "elevator attendant" is speaking to you, it rises very slowly, so that you don't realize you are going up the attendant gets out of the elevator, and then you are left to our own devices -- as you enter the Twilight Zone -- . (Cue Twilight Zone theme music here: do-do do-do, do-do do-do (bongos come in here)! At least that's how it sounds on my Manhattan Transfer album.
Sometimes the lights are on, and at other times they flicker and mysteriously go out. Sometimes the doors of the elevator fly open revealing broad daylight, nearly blinding you after being in near total darkness. Then -- THEN -- just when you least expect it, the elevator goes into a 13-story freefall, only to hit bottom, and bounce back up again. Then the elevator goes into all sorts of starts and stops, and herky-jerky motions. All of which can be very disconcerting to the poor, unsuspecting, innocent travelers inside. Finally, you are returned from the Twilight Zone back into the real world of the hotel lobby. I did notice some folks left the hotel with wobbly knees (must not have found the sissy handles!)
When the ride was over, Bryan was just beaming! He loved it. He REALLY wanted his mama to experience this thing. I had a good time on it. It was fun, for me, but I could see how it really could be a TERROR for some -- especially the claustrophobic, and those with innate fears of elevators to begin with.
We raced back out of the hotel, and found mama and Amy waiting for us. Bryan grabbed a hold of mama, and insisted that she come go on the ride with him. Of course that meant that Bryan would get to go on the ride AGAIN! -- which was half of his motive I'm sure. Plus, I think he was really wanting to have one of those "Scare mama's pants off" moments -- which he would be able to witness for himself! With Glee!
I stayed behind with Amy to keep her company. I really wouldn't have minded going on the ride again, but I didn't want to leave 10-year-old Amy by herself either. And of course, Amy was having none of this one! Amy and I walked (actually, I got to use the scooter -- Amy walked!) around the "back lot" area for awhile while Bryan and mama went on the Tower of Terror ride. We watched some street performers doing magic tricks for a little while, and made our way back just outside of the Tower of Terror. It wasn't long before Bryan, and a somewhat shaken mama came out of the Tower. Dawn Ann hammed it up pretty good, letting Bryan think that mama was really scared.
Next we went to the Bug's Life area of California Adventure. We started with the "It's tough to be a Bug" 3D show. It was a lot of fun. A little unnerving though when the effects included bugs running underneath your seat, (you could actually feel something moving underneath your hind quarters) and getting squirted by bug juice! Afterwards, the kids went on quite a few rides in this area. Bryan especially liked the water fountains that were there for kids to cool off and to play in.
Lunch was next. Another $50.00 lunch in Disneyland, that is! This time we ate at the Pacific Wharf Cafe. We had sourdough breadbowl soups, and a cream puff for dessert. The sourdough was very good, with lots of robust sourdough flavor! I don't think I've had sourdough that good since my last visit to San Francisco. Our lunch the day before consisted of pizza slices near Space Mountain. Unfortunately for very mundane cuisine, it still cost about $50.00 as well. At least the food today was really good. Still the cost was a little steep -- at least double what it should have been.
After lunch we moved over to the Paradise Pier area of the California Adventure Park. Bryan, Mr. Adventurous, wanted to go on the big roller coaster, the California Screamer. Neither Amy nor mama had any interest in that one. Unfortunately, it was closed for servicing.
We all decided to go on the big Sun Wheel (a ferris wheel with a few extra touches). The individual carriages are attached to the Sun Wheel on a set of rollers. When the wheel reaches the 3:00 and 9:00 positions, the carriage will suddenly roll along its iron track, and then come to a quick stop, which then makes the carriage start to swing back and forth. That caught Amy's breath, but after a few swings, she got used to it and was all smiles. We got some cute photos of her and mama being "scared" on the ferris wheel.
Bryan and I decided to go on the Maliboomer, which is like "The Rocket" at the Lagoon amusement park here in Utah. The Maliboomer blasts you off in a sudden rush, and you rise about 10 stories high. Then it drops you back down and rebounds up and down a few times, until the kinetic energy dissipates.
The kids went on a few more rides by themselves, and then we visited the Grizzly River Rafting Co. This ride is comparable to "Rattlesnake Rapids" at Lagoon. It was a fairly warm day (mid 80's) and the splashes of water we got on the rafting ride helped to cool us down.
We finished our tour of California Adventure by going on the Soarin' Over California experience. I had heard good reviews of this attraction from some of my co-workers who had been there. On this "ride" you are actually in a big IMAX type theater, with seats that raise you up off the ground. The film is all aerial photography over the various regions of California. As the aerial photos would turn, climb or descend, the seats of the theater would also tilt and move in the same direction, giving you the illusion that you are soaring, like an eagle, over the views below. There were times when the aircraft would pull up and just barely miss an ocean wave, or a mountain top. You could almost feel your feet dragging through the ocean wave or on a snowbank on the mountain top. In one scene, you are flying over a golf course. A golfer hits his tee shot, and the ball appears to be coming right towards you. Out of reflex, you duck your head to avoid being hit by the ball. It was really quite a realistic experience
I'm have been told (by those with better noses than I) that the experience also includes a type of aroma therapy as well. When you fly over the orange groves, you are supposed to smell oranges. When you fly over the sea, you are supposed to smell the salty surf. Unfortunately, my sinuses weren't cooperating at the time (actually they hardly ever cooperate, for that matter!) and I was unable to smell the various scents. Those with better noses, however, reported that they could, indeed, smell the aromas.
After spending two days in both Disneyland and California Adventure, I would have to say the Soarin' over California was easily our favorite attraction in either park. I think if we were to come back for a return visit, we would do Soarin' over California first, and then try to go on it again before our visit was over.
We actually used our "Park Hopper" privileges, and went back over to Disneyland. It was now getting to be about 5:00 pm on a Friday evening. For the first time in our experience, the park was actually getting crowded. All day Thursday, and earlier in the day Friday were just ideal times to be there. The crowds were light, and we never spent more than 10-15 minutes waiting in line for any ride.
All that changed on Friday evening. We went back to Disneyland to do a little souvenir shopping, and to go on a couple of our favorite rides again. For the first time, we used our "Fastpass" privileges. Bryan and I got advance tickets for another tour of Space Mountain.
While we waited for our appointed time, we did some shopping in the stores. Bryan and I both got Tower of Terror T-Shirts. Amy got another T-Shirt, and mama got a Disneyland Baseball cap. Bryan had brought some of his own money, and wanted to buy some magician supplies at the Disney magic store. He got a magic kit with a couple of different trick card decks, and a book of how to perform various card tricks.
When the appointed time came, Bryan and I tried to go on the Space Mountain ride, but it was closed due to a mechanical problem. So we never actually got to use our Fastpass Tickets. (I still have them in my wallet, as a matter of fact!) The crowds continued to burgeon. We made our way over to Pirates of the Caribbean, and went on our one and only repeat ride. It was one of Amy's favorites.
By this time we were all beat. We could have stayed for an other hour or two, but with the thickening crowds, and our state of fatigue indicated otherwise. We decided to call it a day.
Although the Disney passes we purchased with our travel package included three days at Disneyland, we were only able to use 2 days worth. I don't think I would change anything we did on the trip though, except have a few more days. I could see the wisdom of not going to Disneyland for three consecutive days. Were I to do it again, I would have a day or two to rest, or do some other activities, and then return for the third day.
Saturday, the next day, we checked out of the motel, negotiated the freeways to LAX, and spent several hours waiting around for our flight at the airport. The kids enjoyed the flight once again. And, just like before, the flight was only about half full, so we had lots of room to stretch out. They let us board first, so the kids could choose seats with a good view out the window.
After boarding the plane, intrepid Bryan once again came forth. This time he approached the head flight attendant, and asked if he could see the cockpit. In these post 9-11 days, I wasn't sure what type of a reception he would get. The flight attendant escorted him into the cockpit. The pilot wasn't there, but the co-pilot was. Bryan was allowed to sit in the captain's seat, while he was shown the flight controls. Then they put him on the intercom. First he said "Hi mom!", and everyone chuckled. Then Bryan welcomed everyone to the flight, like he was the Captain speaking. His announcement was met by applause from all the passengers. Bryan came out of the cockpit with a big sheepish grin on his face!
Later, when the flight attendant was giving her speech about the safety devices on board, she began by introducing the pilot as "Captain Bryan"!
We had a nice flight home. The kids kept their noses glued to the windows. (None of this I'm bored stuff for them!) When we got back to Utah, we flew over the Oquirrh Mountains, and were treated by seeing some of the first Fall colors of the season.
Vacation was fun, but it was good to be home again.