One of Anne's clients, who works for Disney, hooked us up with passes to Disneyland, so we took the kids on Saturday. Holy shit - did you know that it costs over $80 for an adult ticket now? That's insane.
So we started out in California Adventure: Tower of Terror (awesome), California Screamin' (awesome, but made me sick this time) and Soarin' over California (probably my favorite ride in DCA). We then made our way across the entry plaza to Disneyland.
"Where do you guys want to go first?" Anne said.
"Space Mountain!" Ryan said.
"Yeah! Space Mountain!" Nolan said.
"Back to the tortilla factory in DCA!" I said.
Believe it or not, there were actually crickets chirping near the turnstiles. Weird.
Disneyland wasn't crowded at all, even though it was a Saturday, and we quickly made it over to Tomorrowland, where we discovered that, even at 11 in the morning, there was already a 90 minute wait for Space Mountain. We picked up Fast Passes, and decided to head over to Indiana Jones.
You know what would be so cool? If Disney redesigned Tomorrowland to look and feel very similar to the way it did in 1955. Bring back the people movers, and move the rockets back up to the top of the people mover loading platform. Get rid of that stupid Innoventions atrocity, and put Inner Space back in its place. The idea is that our world is dangerous and uncertain, and looks to stay that way for a long time, so why not give people a place where they can enjoy the safety of 1950s nostalgia, and a "future" world that's ultra modern? I bet it'd be a big success.
On the way to Indiana Jones, Ryan suggested that we go to Haunted Mansion, then Pirates, the Indiana Jones, so we could work our way back through what little crowd there was.
"The thing is," I said, "Pirates is closed for four months."
"Why?" Anne said.
"Because they have to totally screw it up, and make it tie in with the movies."
Anne gasped a little bit, as we passed the Tiki Room.
"Yeah," I said, "I read about it at blogging.la and Miceage. They're replacing the big old pirate ship with the Black Pearl, and they're putting animatronics of actors from the movie into the ride. They closed it down yesterday."
We rounded the corner into the heart of Adventureland.
"That's sad," Anne said, "but there are a lot of people who will see the movie before they've ever been on the ride, so maybe that makes sense to Disney."
"But the ride has been fine for over thirty years," I said, "even if they made those stupid PC changes in the 90s. I don't know if the movies have that sort of trans-generational appeal."
We walked into a huge crowd of people around Indiana Jones.
"Did you just say 'trans-generational appeal?" She said.
Before I could answer, I saw something I didn't expect: a huge line of people, going into Pirates of the Caribbean!
I squealed, hopped, and pointed.
"Look! Pirates! Open! Wheee!"
I grabbed Anne's hand, and pulled her with me, as I ran like a five year-old to the line. The kids kept up, and didn't seem to be embarrassed when I did a little "ohmygodthepiratesarestillopen" dance in line.
"Oh my god," I said, "this is so cool! I am so happy that I get to ride this one last time before they change it!"
"Yeah, that's pretty awesome," Nolan said. I looked at him to make sure he wasn't being sarcastic. He was sincere.
The line moved quickly, and twenty minutes later, we were at Laffite's Landing, boarding our little boat, right behind the guy who figured his infant child would have a really good time in the dark, with the loud noises.
Yeah. After the first drop, the kid screamed and cried. When its dad tried to comfort it, he actually ended up pointing the kid over his shoulder at me and Nolan, so the kid ended up screaming in our faces. Awesome.
Anne and the kids all looked at me. I just shook my head and sighed. I did my best to tune out the crying, which stopped for a few brief moments near the bridal auction scene but really picked up again when we passed the jail scene.
When the ride was over, Nolan said to me, "Why do people bring little babies places where they are just going to cry?"
"I have no idea," I said.
"Even I know that the loud noises and sudden movements would freak a baby out," he said.
"Yeah. I guess that guy really wanted to go on Pirates."
We headed out into New Orleans Square, and turned to go to the Haunted Mansion . . . which was closed.
"Aw, crap." Ryan said. "The Haunted Mansion is closed."
"They must be taking down Nightmare Before Christmas," Anne said.
"Okay, we're going to Indiana Jones!" I said.
We did, and it was awesome. Then we went over to Frontierland so the kids could play at the shooting gallery, and then to Fantasyland to ride Mr. Toad. That line moved crazy fast, like less than ten minutes, and before we knew it, we were at the front of the line.
Nolan rode with Anne, and Ryan went with me. "Do you want to drive?" He said.
"No," I said, "you have your permit now, so let's see how you do."
He laughed and sat down into the car, named "Mac Badger."
The ride operator lowered the safety bar, and we launched out of toad hall, crashing through the library, exploding out of the fireplace, and speeding out into the countryside.
Ryan spun the wheel, while I shouted out, "Look out for the cop!" and "Left! Left! Left!" and "don't drive off the end of the dock!"
We were seriously cracking each other up, and as we burst through the exploding TNT room, I took a mental snapshot of the moment: here we are, on our way to nowhere in particular, laughing like crazy, and enjoying the simple joy that comes with being together.
That's when the ride broke down.
Suddenly, flourescent lights came on, and the magical world of Mister Toad evaporated. From somewhere else in the ride, I heard a voice cry out, "booooo!"
"What?" Ryan said.
"Please stay in your vehicle," a voice said over a loud speaker. "You will be escorted out of the ride shortly."
"Clearly, you broke the ride with your terrible driving," I said.
"I did not!"
"You did so."
I held up my hand and extended one finger. "You knocked the guy off the ladder."
I held up another finger. "You crashed through the fireplace."
Another finger. "You almost hit the bobby."
A fourth finger. "Then there was that whole thing with the bridge," a fifth finger, "and the dock."
Ryan's face broke into a huge smile as I held up my other hand.
"Then there was the warehouse, and the exploding TNT. That's seven --" I showed him my fingers, "seven brushes with death. Obviously, they had to stop the ride before you crashed the car."
"Yeah, and ended up hitting a train and going to Hell," he said.
We cracked up together, and waited until we were walked out of the ride a few minutes later, picking up Anne and Nolan on the way out.
"Did you break the ride?" Anne said.
"I think it was for my own good, mom," Ryan said.
After Mister Toad, we picked up our jackets from our locker (where I gave my locker combo ticket thingy to a guy with two little kids who couldn't find an open locker, because we didn't need it any more. I like to do things like that, because helping people is awesome, and it increases the kindness in the world by +1) and headed over to the Matterhorn.
"I'm going to sit down and have a time out," I said. "So you guys go on the ride, while I sit here and recharge."
"Okay," Anne said. It was a nice twenty minutes or so for me to just sit down and reflect on how much fun we were all having, and how great it felt to spend the day together. I spent a lot of time at Disneyland when I was in my teens, because my best friend and I had annual passes. Consequently, Disneyland is more than just the happiest place on earth to me: it's a real touchstone to some of the happiest days of my life, and it was so wonderful to sit there, recall those carefree days of my youth, and feel good about where I am now, sharing this joyful place and all its associated memories with my family.
After Anne and the kids came off the ride, we headed over to Space Mountain, which we'd been looking forward to riding all day. Anne always gets sick on it, so she sat down for a time out of her own while the kids and I walked up to the entrance, and discovered that Space Mountain was broken down.
We patiently waited for about twenty-five minutes, before the ride was back online, and the line started to move again. Thanks to our fast passes, we were inside the ride in less than five minutes.
I hadn't been on Space Mountain since they refurbished it, and it's amazing. First of all, Disney got rid of all that stupid Federal Express advertising bullshit that was everywhere, and made it more of a retro space adventure again. The track has been rebuilt, and the ride is smoother than ever. The projections are beautiful, and the starfield effects, which had really lost their luster over the years, looked as magical as I remembered them being when I was a little kid and rode Space Mountain for the first time.
We met up with Anne after the ride, and told her how much fun it was.
"Mom, you totally should have gone on it!" Nolan said. He then proceeded to describe every minute detail of the entire thing.
"Man, now I wish I'd gone on it," Anne said. "Oh well, next time."
It was about 7PM, I guess, and as we walked out across Tomorrowland, all four of us hit "the wall."
"Hey, guys?" Ryan said, "I'm kind of tired."
"I was just going to say the same thing!" Nolan said.
"Yeah, me too," I said. "My feet and legs are killing me."
"Are we done?" Anne said.
We all looked at each other. Yeah, we were done.
"I think so," I said. "I know we all wanted to see the fireworks, but I know that I'm going to be really gumpy in two hours."
"Yeah, I have maximized my funtime," Nolan said.
And just like that, we headed for the exit.
At the hub, right in front of the castle, Anne said to me, "Hey, did you want to try for the Jungle Cruise?"
The Jungle Cruise is one of my favorite rides, ever, especially when the skipper has his or her pun-o-meter spiked up at 11. I'm not ashamed to admit that. In fact, I'm proud of it.
I looked at the kids. "What do you guys think?"
"Sure, let's see what the line looks like," Ryan said.
"Yeah, if it's too long, we'll blow it off," Nolan said.
"w00t." I said.
We walked over to the Jungle Cruise, and saw that the wait was, in fact, over thirty minutes. I like the Jungle Cruise, but I don't like it that much.
"I like the Jungle Cruise," I said, "but not that much."
As quickly as we walked into Adventureland, we walked out. When we passed the Tiki Room, I said, "Hey! Let's go into the Tiki Room!"
"Yeah! The birds sing words and the flowers croon!" Nolan said.
"How did you know that?" I said.
"I don't know," he said. "I just do."
"Isn't it lame?" Ryan said.
"No, Ryan," Nolan said, "it's so cool."
"I've never been in the Tiki Room," Anne said, and that sealed it. We walked through the turnstile just as the doors opened to seat a new show.
Okay, I don't think I've been in the Tiki Room in at least fifteen years, so I'd forgotten most of it . . . but it's just awesome. We all loved the show, especially the singing tiki guys.
On our way up Main Street, Anne said, "I love it that we went into the Tiki Room, because I'd never been in it before. It was so cool to experience something new at Disneyland, after all these years."
By the time we made it back to the car, we were all exhausted. The kids were both asleep by the time we got to the freeway, even though it wasn't even 8PM. It was an incredibly fun day, and it wasn't until I wrote this all down that I realized how many of the rides broke down. It's cool to me that we had such a great time there, we didn't even notice.
There's one thing I forgot to mention: While we were standing in line for the parking lot tram, Nolan looked up at me, held one hand up in the air dramaticaly, and sang, William Fucking Shatner-style, "It's! A! World . . . oflaughter! It's! A! worldof . . . cheer! It's! A! World! Of! . . . hopeand . . . a world! ofFEAR!"
He went on to sing the entire song, complete with very emotional facial contortions and dramatic pauses. By the time the tram arrived, I was laughing so hard, my sides hurt and tears rolled down my face. It was so funny, and so unexpeected, I forget to ask him where he picked it up.
Though I suspect he may have answered, "From you, okay?! I learned it by watching you!"