Friday, February 11, 2005

Day 5 - Park Hopped

October 20, 2004

This morning it was pouring down rain when we woke up. We had reservations at the Carnation Café for breakfast, but since it is an open air café, the restaurant was closed. Instead, we ducked into the Blue Ribbon Bakery right next door and each ordered a sweet roll and mocha. Because of the rain, there were very few people in the park and we settled down at a table right by the window and ate breakfast. Normally, people will start lining up behind the rope at the end of main street about a half hour before the park opening time. Today, even at a few minutes before the official rope drop, there were just a few hardy souls waiting in line. Shortly after 10:00 AM we donned our rain ponchos and headed over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, stopping to take a few pictures at the hub on our way.

It is such a strange experience to be at Disneyland without any people there. The park was almost totally empty. We walked right onto Big Thunder Mountain and there were only a couple of other people on our train. There is nothing like riding a roller coaster in the pouring rain. The raindrops feel like needles when they hit you in the face.

Next stop was Splash Mountain. Again, there was absolutely no line and we walked right onto the ride. We were the only people in our log so of course we had to buy the picture that was taken during the big drop towards the end of the ride. The lady at the photo booth was very, very nice and as we were the only ones there we didn’t feel rushed and were able to take our time choosing the right size photo and frame. She mentioned that the Pioneer Mercantile in Frontierland would hold our photo for us so we wouldn’t have to carry it around with us, so we headed on over.

While we were there we began what was to later be known as the Pressed Penny Debacle. On the website, pressed pennies were listed as a fun, inexpensive souvenir. Pressed penny machines are located in shops throughout the parks and each one has a different design. For 50 cents plus one penny, the machine will press your penny with the design. For six dollars you can also purchase a small album to hold your pressed pennies. Sounds like a great idea. The Cast Member working in the Mercantile gave Jason a list containing the location and description of all the pressed penny machines in the Disneyland Park. We decided that this would be a great way to spend a rainy morning in the park. We purchased our penny album and armed with a roll of quarters and a roll of pennies we made our way through all the machines located in the Mercantile.

By now things are at a fevered pitch and we race through the park collecting pressed pennies, stopping occasionally to buy more rolls of quarters. In the Pieces of Eight shop in New Orleans Square we discover a machine with special pressed quarters from the Nightmare before Christmas. These pressed quarters cost $1 each and there were three of them. We never batted an eye as we plugged in our quarters and watched the shiny pressed coin drop out.

By the time we ended up in Critter Country and got the Winnie the Pooh pennies we started to sober up. We sat on the bench outside the shop and mentally calculated how much we had spent so far on pennies and how much more we would have to spend in order to get all the available pressed pennies. We hadn’t even collected half of them, with the majority of the machines being located in the Crystal Arcade on Main Street. We realized that we would also have to purchase additional penny albums to hold all the pennies. Visions of the Mr. Potato Head incident surfaced in our heads and we began to laugh hysterically. It’s a good thing that there weren’t many people around because we would have definitely caused a scene. When we calmed down, we decided that enough is enough and we will just have to be content with the pennies we had. We were both somewhat ill at the thought of the $20 or so dollars we each had already spent on pressed pennies. Yes, pressed pennies are an inexpensive souvenir but only if you collect a few and don’t become obsessed with it like we did.

The rain had let up somewhat by this time and we wandered over to Fantasyland. One of the shows that we really wanted to see was the Snow White Musical. Since the weather was iffy, cast members at the entrance to the theatre said they planned to make a decision at 2:00 PM on whether or not to go ahead with the show. We headed over to Toon Town to pass the time and took some pictures. At 2:00 PM we returned and found they planned to go ahead with the show so we got in line. The show lasted about 20 minutes and was fantastic. We both really enjoyed it and Jason ended up videotaping the entire show.

After the show, we were both starving so we hopped over to California Adventure to have lunch at Taste Pilot’s Grill, which resembles an airplane hanger. They have recently installed self-service ordering kiosks which made it very easy to place our order. You select your items from a touch screen and pay by either swiping your credit or debit card, or feeding in cash. Then you take your receipt up to the counter and pick up your tray of food. This restaurant serves the best burgers and criss-cut fries. They also serve chicken sandwichs and ribs. There is a large table with all kinds of condiments for your sandwich. Since there was practically no one in the restaurant, we had our pick of tables.

While we were eating, we looked at the program of events and determined that if we hurried, we could just make the Drawn to Animation show over in the Hollywood Backlot. When we arrived, three people were singing and dancing outside the building and were soon joined by Woody, Mickey Mouse and Cinderella. After the show they all encouraged us to follow them into the Animation building. We thought that they were just inviting us to see the exhibits inside and thought that was the show. In actuality, the Drawn to Animation show was getting ready to start inside. Later in the week, we returned and saw the actual show.

We decided to go ride Soarin’ Over California again. When we got off the ride, the rain was really coming down and Jason was ready to call it a day. I suggested that we go back over to Disneyland and see Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, which is an indoor show. If it was still raining after the show, I agreed that we should go back to the hotel.

Although Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln wasn’t high on our list of things to do initially, it ended up being one of our favorite shows. We first gathered in the lobby of the theater and the Cast Member talked for a while about Walt Disney and pointed out interesting bits of information about Walt’s office, which was moved to Disneyland from the Walt Disney studios after he passed away. Next we donned wireless stereo headphones and entered the theatre. The effects from headphones were totally realistic. You could almost feel the breath of the person whispering in your ear. It was an amazing auditory experience.

When we emerged from the theater, the rain had stopped and we decided to try and make the last departure of the Mark Twain Steamship. We hurried over and just made it on board. We were lucky enough to get seats at the very front of the ship. Even though it was very wet and somewhat cold out, the ride was very enjoyable. The lights from New Orleans Square and the Haunted Mansion were beautiful. I want to come back during the day and take pictures.

After stops at the Mercantile to pick up our Splash Mountain photo and the Emporium where Jason purchased six Disney pal stuffed animals: Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daily, Pluto and Goofy and I purchased Lady and the Tramp stuffed animals, we headed back to the hotel. I think this was the night that we picked up dinner at Boston Market and took it back to the room. We used to have Boston Market here in Portland, but they closed them down and turned the one near us into a Jack in the Box. We ate dinner, watched some TV and hit the sack.


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