Saturday, April 25, 2015

Rides, Rides, Rides.

I managed to get on some pretty good rides yesterday, despite having a big several-hour chunk of time where we had to leave the parks in the middle of the afternoon. I've been trying to hit some rides I haven't been on in many years, or ever, while also getting my favorites. Here's what I rode yesterday.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant

I asked a cast member if it was ridiculous for an adult to ride Dumbo alone. He just smiled and said, "Of course not!" I explained that when I was three or four, my parents brought my brother and I to Disneyland, and as we left for the day I whined and cried--all the way out of the park--that "we didn't ride Dumbo!!!!"

I'm still living it down.

So yesterday, I saw that the line was short, and I decided a photo op was in order. The man in front of me in line laughed at my story and told me he'd just been texting his parents about his childhood refusal to go on Tom Sawyer's Island, and how today he did with his child. I laughed and told him, "Oh, I'm putting a selfie of me on this ride on Facebook and tagging my parents!" And that's just what I did.

Let's face it, Dumbo is a happenin' ride for the toddler set--but I couldn't help but smile and laugh as I rode it, taking the required selfie and enjoying my high-flying elephant for what it is: pure Disney nostalgia.

King Arthur's Carousel

I love, love, love carousels. They're not terribly exciting, but there's so much nostalgia in them, and I love the flowing, up-down motion of them. Carousel horses are works of art in themselves, so riding one feels like being given permission to ride a priceless antique.

King Arthur's Carousel isn't too different from any other carousel anywhere, except, of course, that it belongs to Disney, so it's always spit-shined and well-tended...and it plays popular Disney tunes on pipe organ.

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

I rode this one on a whim, as I could see it from the Carousel and the wait was short because it had stated to drizzle. I know I've ridden it at some point, but it's been many, many years.

On the "wild factor," there are certainly a lot of twists and turns, but it's not quite so heart-pounding as some of Disney's faster rides. This is a wild ride for the young set, but it's very, very fun. As with all things Disney, it's extremely well-done and what makes it thrilling for adults to ride is the attention to detail that makes the whole Disney franchise so famous and well-loved. Like the other Fantasyland rides I rode yesterday, it was pure nostalgia and "cute" factor that made the ride so enjoyable.

Pirates of the Caribbean

Yo-ho, yo-ho, a pirate's life for me! This is a long-time favorite, and one I make a point of riding every visit. Pirates, of course, is not about thrills and speed, but rather, it's humor. I've always loved watching the pirates cavorting and fighting, and the dog with the jail keys in its mouth. These days, the ride has been updated to include mentions of characters from the endless movie franchise, so yes, you see Jack Sparrow a time or two, and Captain Barbosa. But you also get a merry band of barefoot pirates singing that happy little "Yo-ho" ditty and a battle between a pirate ship and the British troops on shore. It's all very marvelous.

Radiator Springs Racers

This one is on the newer side, and I didn't ride it last year because the lines are outrageous. Last night, I saw a reasonable wait time for the single rider line, so I decided I had to go.

Modeled after Cars, this one is adorable. Six people ride in a race car with eyes on the windshield and a little mouth on the front bumper. The start of the ride has some speed and lots of twists and turns as you drive through Radiator Springs--nearly running into a truck, glimpsing tractors that have been tipped (like cow-tipping), and seeing familiar friends like Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater. Then, you line up with another race car and "race" on the roller-coaster part of the ride, to a thrilling finish. It's adorable, it's thrilling, and I loved it. If I find a reasonable wait time, I wouldn't mind riding it again today.

Splash Mountain

I've loved this ride for years, but for some reason, I've failed to ride in in any of my adult visits to Disneyland. I vowed to change that this time, and last night, I hopped in a log and had a go.

It was every bit as awesome as I remembered.

Most of the ride is a slow meander through Critter Country, floating past Brer Bear snoring in his den and other woodland creatures creating mischief. This is based on a very obscure old Disney movie called "Song of the South" that I haven't seen. Has anybody? Who knows?

Anyway, the ride meanders along with a few little thrilling plunges here and there, and finally gets to its ultimate moment--a fifty-foot drop before slowly gliding through a large assortment of animals merrily singing "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" and getting that song stuck in your head for the rest of your visit.

Star Tours

I last rode this one in high school, so I figured a visit was overdue. These days, they've updated it to include characters from the prequel movies (which I haven't seen, only the original three). It's also 3-D, so we all had to wear special "flight glasses."

Now, I don't normally get any kind of motion sickness, but I had a moment on this one where I felt my fajita salad from a couple hours before shifting uncomfortably in my stomach. It's a really fun ride, no doubt, but I was flopping around in the seat a lot with one measly lap belt, having a hard time bracing my feet on the floor and my hands on the seat rest. I'm short, but I'm still well over the minimum height requirement.

Again, well-done ride, but by the time I rode it I was tired and feeling that salad...though I'd also ridden Splash Mountain on a full stomach, with no problem.

Other Stuff I Did

When I wasn't riding or waiting in line, I did some other fun stuff, like visiting Toon Town for the first time in a long time. I intended to go last year, but it closed early and I missed out, so this year, I went early, right after riding Dumbo. Cali Swimmy and I visited Donald Duck's house boat (adorable) and I met up with Goofy and Pluto.

In the evening, when we came back, I spent some time in California Adventure first, and waited 30+ minutes to get into Olaf's Snow Fest. It ends on April 30th, so I was eager to get a glimpse of it. It was adorable, as expected, but I wouldn't wait that long again to slip and slide around on hard-packed snow. Do you want to build a snowman? Yes, but there wasn't enough loose snow to make it worth the effort. Still, it was really cute and I'm glad I can at least say I saw it, though it is obviously intended for the stroller set who are obsessed with "Frozen."

And now I have "Do You Want To Build A Snowman?" stuck in my head. At least it pushed "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah" out.


I'm sort of on a mission to find/meet a ton of characters, just because they're so damned cute. Yesterday I got pictures with Goofy, Pluto, Donald Duck, Mickey and Minnie, and I saw Alice with the Mad Hatter, and later, Maleficient (who was awesome). And Olaf, of course, at his Snow Fest. I haven't actually seen any princesses yet, but I know I will today.

We're back for about 12 hours today, with a late start this morning because we stayed 'til midnight last night and teenagers don't like mornings. I hope to ride Space Mountain, California Screamin', and a few others today. Sadly, Soarin' Over California is closed right now, as is the Matterhorn, and Indiana Jones. Still, there are plenty of great rides and attractions left to enjoy. And food. Really excellent food.

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