Quick Trip Report

In this case, its a report of a quick trip, not a quick report of a trip. But anyway…

Yesterday, robot_grrl, Derrick and I took advantage of the currently Disneyland “2-fer” promotion, and the fact that after I’d asked to get the day off, Tara decided to also take the day off, and headed up to Disneyland.

Our day started pretty normally, at least as far as times were concerned. Since our plans were to take the first northbound Pacific Surfliner of the morning from Oceanside to Anaheim, we needed to leave the house about the time that Derrick and I leave on weekday mornings when Tara works. So we got up normally and got moving. Instead of heading to Derrick’s school and then the station where I catch the Sprinter to the Oceanside Transit Center, I drove us straight to the Oceanside Transit Center and got parked, leaving us with about 15 minutes before the train came. I ducked into the Amtrak office and confirmed that the train would be on the near platform, and we visited the Java Hut for warm drinks.

The train ride was nice, if a bit confused at first. We got on board and started to sit downstairs, but were informed by the conductor that the downstairs is reserved for over 62 and people with disabilities. So we headed upstairs and could not find an unoccupied group of 4 seats. However, the conductor quickly rousted at least one of the people sitting alone in one of those groupings so we moved. It was nice to see a different train trip. But after only about 1/3 of the hour or so from Oceanside to Anaheim, the train turned inland — or more correctly the coast turned west and the train continued north. Much of that part of the journey was like many rail lines through urban areas — passing through business parks and behind houses. We got to Anaheim without incident and were able to get off the train, only slightly inconvenienced by a large family group — without any obvious adults but a couple of older teenagers — who were also getting off the train.

We quickly found the dispenser for tickets for the Anaheim Resort Transit system that we would use to get to the park. But after selecting 3 adult all-day passes, it only dispensed two. Fortunately, it also only charged me for two and then informed me that it was out of them. There were two other passengers who also wanted to board. But we quickly found the shuttle bus — a trolley-bus at that point — and boarded. I was able to purchase a one-way pass, for $3.00. But that meant I’d also have to buy another $3.00 pass on the way back instead of the $4.00 one-way pass. So I grabbed a map and brochure and found a phone number of customer service. They quickly took my address and promised to send a check for the $2.00 difference, and ensured me that they would send someone to refill the dispenser.

We arrived at Disneyland a bit before 9:00, an hour after the park had opened, but still early in the day. We were able to get through their security a bit too easily — the guy only looked in one of the pockets of my pack and not in the camera bag, and only looked in the main pocket of Tara’s pack, not in the zippered bag inside. We then headed to the park entrance. On the way in we forgot to grab a park map and schedule. We were able to get a park map from a cast member inside who had maps, but not schedules since her job was to sell people on the Disney Visa cards.

After a quick glance at the map, we decided that we wanted to head to The Enchanted Tiki Room, and then the Indiana Jones ride. We got to the Tiki room quickly, and went into the waiting area, where we got a pre-show from some animatronic tiki representations of Hawaiian gods and goddesses. We then went inside the room and enjoyed the show with the singing birds, flowers and tikis. I later realized that this was the first of many pieces composed by the Sherman brothers that we would be hearing throughout the day.

We next headed to the Indiana Jones ride and got fast passes with about a 35 minute wait. While waiting we rode the Jungle Cruise — which was expectedly full of bad jokes and pun: “The tiger is striped because it doesn’t want to be spotted” and the like. It was a fun, classic Disneyland adventure.

To kill a few more minutes while waiting for our Fast Passes to activate, Derrick and I climbed into the Tarzan Treehouse — formerly The Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. We then rode the Indiana Jones ride, which Tara and I enjoyed greatly, but Derrick didn’t like because of the way it moved us around. I honestly think part of his problem was that he decided before hand that it would be scary and he wouldn’t like it, so he didn’t.

After that, we wondered into the New Orleans Square area and rode The Pirates of the Caribbean, which was much as I remember it from Florida last year. Tara, who has ridden the Florida ride a few more times noticed some of the differences.

After that we grabbed a snack, figuring that we could hold off lunch for a while, and then headed into Frontierland with plans to ride Big Thunder Mountain. While Tara grabbed the Fast Passes, good in about an hour, I took Derrick and found the restrooms. After Tara had returned from her trip to the restrooms, she suggested that we get lunch at the Rancho del Zocolo restaurant in that area, so we ended up having lunch not too long after our popcorn.

After lunch we rode Big Thunder Mountain, and all enjoyed it. We then headed across the park, deciding to skip most of the Fantasyland rides and attractions. {One of these days, I’m going to have to ride Its a Small World, just to actually see what it is like, but yesterday wasn’t that day}. We then ended up in Tomorrowland with thoughts of riding Space Mountain. However, when the Fast Pass times were after we planned on leaving for the day, we decided not to wait for 45 more minutes in the standby line. For similar reasons, we passed on The Matterhorn and the submarine ride. We did go for Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters, where Tara outscored Derrick by 2 to 1, and he outscored me by a similar amount. We then took the train back to New Orleans Square and rode the Haunted Mansion, and enjoyed it — even if it stopped a couple of times, probably because someone tried to get off in the middle — and Tara had to yell at another rider who thought that the rules against flash photography didn’t apply to them. We then decided that it was too cool to ride Splash Mountain — even with our rain gear and headed back to Tomorowland by train and took the Monorail to Downtown Disney.

At Downtown Disney we poked around the Lego store for a while, Disney’s Vault 28 — which has some interesting takes on classic Disney characters — and then a jewelry store before deciding to get dinner. I was reluctant to get more pizza, or baked ziti — which I just don’t like that well for some reason — so the fast pizza place was out. While I would have preferred a sit down restaurant, the prices led us to getting food from the express area of the La Brea Bakery. The food wasn’t bad, but for what we paid — almost twice what the same meal would have cost at a similar place like Panera Bread — it wasn’t that worth it. Also, the bread I got to accompany my Cobb Salad — which was stuffed into a plastic covered dish without breaking up the avocado or blue cheese — was so long and thin, it turned out to be mostly hard crust and hard to eat.

After that, we killed about an hour in the very large Disney store — which has most of the good merchandise that can be found inside the park. I briefly considered getting two different shirts, and a CD of the Disneyland Park music, but didn’t make any purchases. I also looked to see if they had any large drink containers without lids, but only found a $12.00 glass beer mug I might have gotten if it hadn’t been for The Pirates of the Caribbean.

We then headed to catch the 7:00 shuttle that should have taken us to the 7:39 southbound train.

The shuttle arrived and left on time. I’m about 80% sure that the driver didn’t follow the correct afternoon route, and stopped at one more hotel than she was supposed to before going to the train station. This left me a bit nervous as we approached the train station. That concern turned to be in its way unwarranted, however, when we got to the parking lot.

The Anaheim train station shares its parking lot with both The Grove of Anaheim, a theater for smaller shows, and the Anaheim Stadium where The Los Angles Angles of Anaheim play their home games. Last night there was a concert at The Grove, and an Angles home game. This meant that the entrance off of Katella Avenue for the train station was also serving as the only parking entrance for The Grove, and there was a long line of cars being very slowly let in to park. There was no alternate lane for the bus, or any taxi or other vehicle heading to the train station. We sat in that line for 15 to 20 minutes, and watched the time for the train to arrive pass, before we got to the station.

Once at the station, we discovered that the next train wasn’t at 8:40 like I thought, but at 9:11. We had a 90 minute wait. To make matters worse, the train station had turned on the baseball game at an excessive volume. Tara got Derrick to lay down, and he did, eventually, sleep. I decided that I didn’t want to sit there — despite having been standing and walking nearly all day. So, I took a walk and found myself at the back entrance to the train station, near a shopping center where there was a pizza place still open, but not serving anything like desert. So I headed back and got a snack bar from the vending machine.

The train arrived on time, and we managed to get Derrick aboard, find seats in a dark car, and he went back to sleep (once I insisted that he have the foot rest up). The trip was delayed for about 10 minutes by a late Northbound train, so we got to Oceanside about 10:30 and headed home.

This morning I wrote a nice, formal, letter to the City of Anaheim about the parking lot situation (only realizing after I’d printed and sealed about half of the six copies, that I’d left out mention of their plans for a new train station) with the suggestion that they could solve it without any infrastructure improvements. I went ahead and copied several other agencies, including Amtrak and Caltrans, Disneyland and The Orange County Register. I don’t know if this letter will have any impact or not, but I’m somewhat optimistic that between my formal and polite tone, and my large copy list, it will at least get someone’s attention.

All in all, this was a good trip. We will probably head back up to Anaheim on May 9 — or perhaps an earlier Saturday — to use the other half of our 2-fer tickets. At this point, I’m not sure if we’ll drive (at least Saturday we won’t be jumping into the regular rush hour traffic) or take the train. We may also consider driving up on Friday and spending a couple of nights if we can find a hotel that would be nice enough but not too expensive. At this point, a stay at The Grand Californian will probably remain a dream for a future date.

Edit: I’ve booked a hotel for May 8-10 near the park. That is cutting the 30 day limit on the second park visit close (by my calculations May 10 is the 30th day, but May 9 may be by Disney’s), but is also the first free weekend we’ll have.

I’m also now convinced that in many ways both Derrick and I prefer train travel to flying — but I don’t find it practical in a lot of cases due to the added time without compensating reduced price (and often an increased price).

One Response to Quick Trip Report

  • randy_smith2 says:

    Good for you for taking the train!

    As you may know, I take Amtrak whenever possible. I find it to me much more relaxing than either driving for flying, even when it’s late or overcrowded.