Monthly Archives: February 2012

Disneyland – Day Two

We were exhausted after day one at Disneyland, but after some good rest overnight, we were eager for our second day at the ‘most magical place on earth’. As our day started, we were greeted with some good news and some bad news. The bad news (I always want to hear that first) was that it was raining. Still after having been in California for seven months and in that time experienced only 5 days of rain, it was hard to grumble about having rain that day. The good news was that it kept a lot of people away, so the queues for rides were short.

One of the tricks that we learned from our first day at the park was the use of the FastPass. What we found out was that we could ‘book’ a time to jump on a ride by getting a FastPass in advance and by doing so, we limited our wait time for a particularly popular ride. All we had to do was insert our park passes into a FastPass machine,  and get a FastPass ticket which gave us a window of time where we could come back and move ahead of the queue for the ride. In the meantime, we do other things.

Our main objective for day two was to get on the rides that we didn’t have time to do on the previous day, then we would hit the rides that we enjoyed the most and do those again.  At the top of our list was the ‘California Screamin‘ at the Disneyland California Adventure Park but on our way there, we stopped off at ‘a bug’s land‘. ‘California Screamin’ is a 4-minute long, high-paced roller coaster ride and we did three rides in a row on that one (one of the advantages of enduring the wet weather). From there we did the the ‘Toy Story Mania‘ on our way to the ‘Hollywood Pictures Backlot’ which is Disneyland’s tribute to the classic age of film and where whole streets are built in replica early century architecture. This was very cool. While in the ‘Hollywood Pictures Backlot’, we did the ‘Hollywood Tower of Terror‘ ride which is set in an elevator of an old abandoned hotel and where the elevator (supposedly) plunges several storeys and then shoots back up again. This ride was a real buzz and we were especially proud of Maddy who is normally terrified of normal elevators, let alone one that plunges 13 floors in a ‘haunted’ hotel.

After the girls had their pictures taken with Mickey Mouse, Minnie and some of the other Disney characters, we did another ride on ‘Soarin Over California’ before heading back over to Disneyland Park where we repeated rides on ‘Star Tours’ and jumped on ‘It’s a Small World‘, ‘Autopia‘ and ‘Captain EO‘ before finishing the day by taking a ride on the famous Disney Monarail, touring the entire park on the Disney Railroad and wandering around Fantasyland and the Main Street USA.

In the end, we had a great two days at Disneyland, but it was just impossible to see everything in just two days (we did other rides that are not mentioned here). We hope to get back another time after they have finished construction of some new attractions and remodeling of others that were closed when we were there.

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Disneyland – Day One

Ever since we landed in California, our girls have been absolutely busting to get to Disneyland. However, we have been so busy since we arrived, we haven’t had a chance to get there (not to mention the thought of forking out the money for the tickets), so on the weekend that the spring semester started at The Master’s Seminary, we decided to take two days out in the weekend and head down to Disneyland. We were blessed that Denise’s sister had given us some money at Christmas, so we put the that money toward two-day hopper passes for each of us.

Disneyland is approximately 60 miles from our house, so in order for us to make the most of each day at the park and to avoid traveling up and down the freeways, we decided to spend the night at a hotel in Anaheim. Disneyland essentially consists of two main theme parks: Disneyland Park and Disneyland California Adventure Park. Disneyland has the older parts of Disneyland, such as Fantasyland and the California Adventure Park is the newest theme park having been completed in the early 2000’s. The two-day park hopper tickets we bought allowed us to jump between the two parks as we pleased.

We started off at the Disneyland Park and as soon as you get through the gates, you are instantly transported to the early 1900’s as you walk down ‘Main Street USA‘ which is the main thoroughfare to the themed parts of the park. While on the Main Street, we picked up ‘First Time’ badges which is worth getting as the staff in the park acknowledge that you are first time visitors and often let you stay on rides instead of getting off and queuing up again for another ride. Our first ride was the ‘Indiana Jones Adventure‘ in Adventureland, which was a fun jungle ride where we crossed a rickety bridge, dodged rolling boulders and were thrilled with many fast turns, spins and dips. The thing I thought was
quite clever about the rides at Disneyland was that you were entertained as you queued, so queuing didn’t seem so bad or seem as long. This meant that as you queued, you looked at a set that brought you into the world of the theme of the ride.

From Adventureland, we took a few rides on ‘Splash Mountain‘, then we went to Frontierland where we took a ride on the ‘Big Thunder Mountain Railroad‘, jumped on the ‘Mark Twain Riverboat‘ and took a raft to ‘Tom Sawyer Island‘. An action packed morning. After wandering through ‘New Orleans Square‘ we headed to Tomorrowland for some of the coolest rides where for us, ‘Space Mountain‘ and ‘Star Tours‘ were the coolest. ‘Space Mountain’ is a high speed, indoor roller coaster where you actually feel like you are hurtling through the space. ‘Star Tours’, which is an exciting 3-D motion simulation ride based on the Star Wars movies was another standout. As you walk in the queue, you are entertained with friendly banter between C-3PO and R2D2 and other well-known Star Wars droid characters.

After Tomorrowland, we went across to the Disneyland California Adventure Park where took a couple of rides on ‘Soarin’ Over California‘. This is one of the most popular rides which simulates a hang-glider flight over California landmarks such as the Golden Gate bridge, Lake Tahoe and Yosemite. In certain parts, you can actually smell oranges as you soar over orange orchards and also feel a breeze in your face in other parts. After we got absolutely soaked on the ‘Grizzly River Run‘ we slowed down a bit and queued, for what seemed for hours, for the nightly grand finale, the magnificent ‘World of Color‘. The ‘Word of Color’ is a 20 minute show which uses water fountains shooting water over 200 feet in the air and movie projections to produce a wonderful show featuring some of the more well known Disney characters.

After a long day, we trudged the half a mile walk back to the hotel for a well-earned rest for day two.

Hollywood

It has been a while since we last wrote a blog post, but this silence does not reflect
our lack of busyness. Rather, it is has been a very hectic and sad start to the new year for us. We will be adding some new blog posts soon to tell you what we have been up to and what has been happening in the last month.

Because the start to the year has been so busy, last weekend we took time out and took advantage of another sunny Southern
Californian winters afternoon  and drove down to Hollywood.

First stop was the Griffith Park Observatory at Griffith Park. The Observatory is an amazing art deco building which was built in the 1930’s and is one of the most
popular and recognized landmarks in Southern California. It is well elevated so you can get excellent views of the famous Hollywood sign and the city. Movie buffs will know that the observatory was famously featured in the James Dean movie ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ (among others) and as a memorial, a bronze bust of James Dean has been erected on the front lawn.  We didn’t get a chance to take a look inside the observatory or visit the planetarium, but we will save that for another day. We spent the time there walking around the observatory and taking in the wonderful views of the city of Los Angeles.

After we left the observatory, we headed down to Hollywood Boulevard to grab
some lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe. The prices were quite reasonable and highly recommend the burgers. All around the walls hung the most amazing rock memorabilia from some of the greatest musicians, such Eddie Van Halen, Jimi Hendrix, Bo Diddley, Carl Wilson (The Beach Boys) and Jim Morrison. Being at the Hard Rock Cafe was like eating lunch in a cool museum (not that normal museums are not cool).

After lunch, we took a stroll down the ‘Hollywood Walk of Fame’ which is
essentially fifteen blocks of Hollywood Boulevard. Embedded in the sidewalk are
approximately 2500 terrazzo and brass stars bearing the names some of the most well-known people in the entertainment industry. It was a great atmosphere with loads of people walking around, checking out the stores, enjoying the sun and getting photographs with some movie characters. Just be aware though, that a tip is required whenever you pose for photographs with them – needless to say, the girls only posed for one photo. This part of Hollywood was a little more run-down than we initially expected, but I guess with visitor
numbers reaching the tens of millions annually, it is not surprising. There is
currently some restoration work underway, so I’m sure it will be amazing once the work is done.

It was amazing to wander down the street as there is so much to take in all at once.

Back home via the Number Five freeway ended another family day out with some of the local landmarks ticked off our list.