We woke this morning and the sky was clear and all around it was looking to being a beautiful day, Claire’s cough had moved a little deeper and she was reluctant to even get out of bed. We let her sleep a little longer, got her some children’s cough stuff, and eventually she mustered the strength for another day of vacation. In the meanwhile, I had logged onto Twitter via the iPad and was looking up the status of the first few hours of the first ever Disney Leap Day. The first thing I discovered was that over three thousand people had stood in line over night for a free hat. The second thing was that it seems like everyone in California was planning on hitting up the parks sometime today. And the third thing was that today, of all busy days, the cast and crew of Modern Family were filming an episode around and about Disneyland today.
We wandered towards the main gates, our regular morning routine, the crowds seemingly no different than any other day save for the dozens of bleary-eyed twenty-somethings staggering out of the property with their bundles of sleeping bags and warm clothes tucked under arms and into backpacks. We were in quite quickly, posed for some pics in front of the special day signage, posed for some pics with Alice and the Mad Hatter, and then it was off and down Main Street.
By this point Claire was pretty mopey already, so I let the girls rest for a short break on a bench while I zipped off to the Autotopia ride we de-queued from yesterday, this time to nab some Fast Passes. On my way I snapped some random crowd pics. I brought two cameras on this trip: my dSLR and the new point-and-shoot. My original thought was to take lots of video with the point-and-shoot, and the to do more artsy stuff with the dSLR… but between racing about and trying to see as much as possible I haven’t had the dSLR out much, save for things like the parade and the light show and the characters. Really, I’ve taken a ton of video and a few candid very snappity snap-shots with the small camera. I don’t know that Disneyland really is the place for photographers to do much special — or maybe it’s just because I have a kid in tow.
By the time I made it back to my girls, they were ready for some rides. We wheeled our way through FantasyLand and hit up the carousel, the tea cups (again!) and then once more through It’s a Small World. And speaking of photography, given it was my third time through small world, I figured I’d video it for Claire to watch obsessively over and over once we got home: turns out the twelve-ish minute ride is too long for the ten-minute video-clip limit on my camera. Oh well.
By this point our Fast Passes for the Autotopia ride were ready, so we zip-a-dee-doo-dahed our way over and took a turn through the commuter traffic of Disneyland. I still think it rather amazing that thousands of people drive real cars through Los Angeles traffic to get to this park so that they can queue up to drive pretend cars through Disneyland. Our society, folks. Revel in it. (And for those who think it’s just a kids’ ride, check out the demographics as I think they’d seriously disagree with your conjecture.)
We spun by Buzz for another shot at that one — skipped past Star Tours which had a 75 minute wait! — and then back into the main square in front of the castle for some mid-morning snacks. Claire had a churro (her new favourite), Karin went for the Mickey-ears Ice Cream, and I opted for a giant pickle… don’t ask. Her face still covered in chocolate from nabbing her mom’s ice cream, Claire stood in the short line to meet Aladdin and Jasmine, then eagerer pronounced that she wanted to take another spin on the Jungle Cruise.
In the middle of the park, right in front of the Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion there is this kind-of lake thing. It’s a big circular river-pond that loops around a small island. In that river — if you doubted its enormity for an instant — are two large ships: a full size river boat and a two-masted sailing ship. The sailing ship was running laps around the water-ring, so we boarded and ran the loop. Karin claims she’s never been on the ship before (another first for a Disney veteran) and the ride for me confirmed what I figured was obvious: that the ship was on rails. Oh well, it was yet another bit of entertainment and show.
We de-shipped and walked right into the middle of the film set for Modern Family. They were filming a scene where Cam and Lily are meeting the Chipmunks, Chip and Dale. Don’t ask what was going on beyond that: it’s pretty much all I could figure out. I played my paparazzi role, snagged some low-Q shots and video, and we ducked out of the gawking crowd.
Somehow — SOMEHOW — i convinced Claire to go into the Haunted Mansion. We were fleeing the crowds and I asked her. It was the one ride she vowed to avoid from before we’d even told her about this trip. Of all things, she was scared of the stretching elevator — which is less part of the ride and more part of the queue, anyhow — and the thunder inside. But we convinced her to ride. She sat there with her eyes covered for most of it, but… well, she rode.
We had a late lunch — it being nearly one-thirty by this point — and the noted that the park was really starting to fill up. Thousands of folks (according to Twitter, at least) were about due to be converging on Disneyland for the all-nighter party, due to last until 6AM tomorrow morning. We will probably not be there. We’ll be at the hotel. We did some shopping on our way out and stole back to the hotel for a nap.
Something tells me that unless I get a case of all-night-partier curiosity — or even just plain insomnia — this is going to be our rest day. I suspect a quiet evening back in the hotel is in order.
Update: We stayed in, ordered up some grub from the nearby Cheesecake Factory, and tracked the progress of the night across a couple of live blogs and, of course, through Twitter. By ten or so even the official Disney Twitter account had posted that the park had reached capacity. When I looked again shortly after midnight, folks were posting pictures of long lines and massive crowds. Our “wait time” app was showing some rides with up to two-hour lines to get on. I went back to sleep. I woke again at four and seriously considered walking over there, but Twitter suggested it was still crazy nuts over there and I was too tired to put up with what seemed to be every teenager in LA swarming on an all night party… so I went back to bed. What an old man I am…
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