We decided it would be nice to get up to Disneyland and see the new Tomorrowland before the summer season really gets under way, so we went up on Friday, which was a day off for us anyways. The weather in Southern California has been beautiful lately - sunny but not hot - very comfortable in shorts and t-shirt - and that's how it was on Friday.
One other nice thing - the stroller quotient was *way* down that day. It was great not to be constantly dodging around strollers or getting run into. There were a lot of groups of teenagers around - evidently there with school groups - but they weren't a problem.
We never quite know what traffic is going to be like getting up to L.A., so we left San Diego at 8:00 a.m., figuring that we would miss the morning rush that way. It was great - we had no traffic problems at all.
We arrived at Disneyland and parked, and the tram efficiently got us to the park's entrance - they have really improved the parking lot tram service.
My Annual Pass had expired so I had bought a voucher for a new Basic Annual Pass at the Disney Store. Lee still had a month to go on his. We got up to the gate and discovered that it was a blackout day for Lee's annual pass...I knew that Saturdays in June were blacked out, but had never thought to check for Fridays. Oops.
We went to a ticket booth to consider our options, and the very helpful Cast Members told us that a new Basic Annual Pass can be used for admission and activated any time - even on a blackout day. So, my AP voucher was good. (And the CM at the entrance had told me that, too - it was Lee's AP that was the problem.)
Since Lee's pass was within a month of expiring, we just went ahead and bought him a new $99 Basic AP, too, and then went inside the park to the Main Street Bank to activate them. Because he had an existing AP, they just tacked the year onto the expiration of his existing AP, so it now expires on July 13, 1999, whereas mine expires on June 5, 1999.
They were able to pull up our record and re-use our existing photos - no need to take a new one.
The new APs look really cool - they have a "Tomorrowland Then and Now" sort of theme.
It was about 10:30 by the time we got done with the AP process, so we headed up Main Street to check the ride times. The main thing we were interested in was the Rocket Rods ride in the New Tomorrowland - and they weren't even running yet. Splash was only showing a 10 minute wait, so we headed there first. We only waited about 2 minutes, so we immediately got back in line and waited about 5 minutes the second time - and by the time we got off the line had gotten a LOT longer. Hitting Splash Mtn. first thing in the morning is definitely the way to do it.
We noticed that the "Explorer Canoes" were operating, and neither of us had ever done that (or if we had, we don't remember it), and the line was short, so we got in it. Someone asked how long the ride was, and one of the guides told him 7-10 minutes, depending on how fast you paddle. :-)
We sat in the very back - so we got to see everyone else's paddling technique. It was pretty pathetic - but even so we still went all the way around the Rivers of America fairly swiftly. Lee got splashed quite a bit by the kid sitting in front of him.
Since we were right there, we had lunch at Hungry Bear (bacon cheeseburger and fries for Lee, veggie burger for me), and then got in line for Indiana Jones, noticing that the queue for Splash was in the 60 minute range already. Indy's wait was advertised at 45 minutes, but it moved well and took less time than that. Lee had brought his little palmtop computer with him, and we played Yahtzee while waiting in line - that made the time go a lot faster. We were pleased to see that the pole that brings the roof down was in place and operational again - it was gone on our last visit 6 weeks ago.
As Lee was waiting for me outside the bathroom a Cast Member doing a survey asked him if he'd mind answering some questions - the first question was "Are you an Annual Passholder?" and when Lee answered "yes", that was the end of the survey. :-)
We stopped at the ride time board, and saw that Rocket Rods *was* running, but the wait was listed at 2 hours, so we decided to do the Matterhorn instead (we try to ride *all* the mountains at least once every trip). We rode the Fantasyland side, which seems a little faster than the Tomorrowland side. The wait was a bit less than 20 minutes - not too bad. Lee thought the ride seemed slower, but I thought it seemed faster than the last time I had ridden it.
We finally headed over to the new Tomorrowland. The wait for Rocket Rods was 105 minutes, and I refused to wait that long - though I told Lee I'd meet him somewhere if he really wanted to do it. He didn't, so we wandered into what used to be a gift shop next to the old Circlevision theatre, which is now a NASA exhibit. They had models of the Mars Pathfinder (and a short video) and the X33, and a new spacesuit, among other things. There was even a moon rock. :-) It wasn't crowded at all - except for the scale that tells you how much you would weigh on Mercury, Venus, the moon, Earth, Mars, and Jupiter. People seemed very interested in that.
Next door in the gift shop we found a neat polo shirt with the Tomorrowland logo for Lee. This is also the place that has the "Make Your Own CD" kiosks where you can select songs and narrations from all sorts of Disneyland attractions (even some that no longer exist), and then make your own CD. We didn't do that, but we had fun playing with it and hearing snippets of some of the selections. Did you know there used to be a "Wizard of Bras" on Main Street??? (A listing of the available selections is here)
We went to Space Mountain next - the wait was listed as 60 minutes, but we were off the ride in 45 minutes. We played Yahtzee while we waited in the queue - and Lee ended up ahead 2 games to 1 - though the second game he only beat me by one point. Space Mountain is so much fun - we really like it. The music soundtrack improved it tremendously. (Interestingly enough, the Space Mountain soundtrack was NOT one of the options available on the "make your own CD" machine. Too bad.)
We wandered around Tomorrowland a bit - the Observatron didn't seem to be operating, and the fountains weren't getting people wet. The Innoventions building looks great from the outside, but they are still working on the inside.
Just outside Innoventions under the old Moonliner rocket they have a really cool drink stand - it pops your drink bottle up from below, and the Cast Member has to catch it. Lee asked the CM if good hand-eye coordination was a prerequisite for her job. :-)
When we wandered past the Rocket Rods queue again the wait was down to 90 minutes, and Lee decided to go for it. I said "no way", and told him I'd meet him back there at 4:00.
I went back over to Frontierland and rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (15 minutes), and then went to Fantasyland and rode Peter Pan (20 minutes) and King Arthur's Carrousel (5 minutes). (Did you know that the carousel goes around 9.5 times? :-) ) When I got off, Merlin was setting up for the "Sword in the Stone" ceremony, so I stayed for that since I'd never seen it before. It was cute. I wandered through some shops and took some pictures of Tigger (which will be on his page after I finish up the roll of film), and headed back over to Tomorrowland to see if maybe Lee was done early. He wasn't there, and the Rocket Rod cars were sitting on the track and not moving - not a good sign.
I went to the Main Street Bakery and got a couple of chocolate chip cookies, and by the time I got back Lee was waiting for me. He had NOT ridden the ride - when he was about 10 minutes from boarding the ride broke down. He was in the pre-show area which used to be the old Circlevision theatre at the time, and said it was freezing in there. After 20-30 minutes they finally decided it was not going to be a quick fix, so they started issuing "head of the line" passes. Lee, smart man that he is, told the CM that he was a party of two. :-)
Since the ride still wasn't running, we headed back to Frontierland so that Lee and I could both ride Thunder Mtn. The wait was still about 15 minutes. We don't understand *why* it's always the shortest line in the park - but we're glad that it is. :-)
We stopped at the Frontierland Mercantile shop so I could get the new Brer Rabbit and Brer Vulture beanies (I LOVE the vulture), and then back to Tomorrowland to check on Rocket Rods - which did seem to be operating. We decided to go get something to eat at Redd Rocket's Pizza Port, to maybe give them time to get it back up to speed again. Lee had the barbecue chicken pizza, and I got some of the bread sticks - it was all pretty good, but on the expensive side. While we were sitting out on the patio eating, Buzz Lightyear came out to say hello - he even kissed my hand. ;-)
The line for Space Mountain was *really* long - we were glad we'd ridden it when we did. We never did get around to seeing "Honey I Shrunk the Audience" - the line was pretty long, and we've seen it at Walt Disney World in Florida several times.
Rocket Rods was still running when we got done eating, so we went into the gift shop, which is where the exit for Rocket Rods is, and where they take you in if you have a head of the line pass. There were quite a few people with passes (not surprising, given the earlier problem), so they were taking us up in groups. We waited a few minutes, and then went up, and they seated us in the back row of one of the cars - the other 3 rows have single seats, but the back row seats two. Once we got on we waited...and waited...they were having a problem again. After 5-10 minutes the cars started moving again, and finally we were going.
We got about halfway through, and then the car stopped...and then it went slow, and then stopped again...when we got back to the station they told us just to stay on and go around again - woo hoo! :-) The second time it all seemed to work the way it should.
It was a fun ride - but NOT worth waiting 90+ minutes for. The way the cars move is sort of interesting - the track *doesn't* have any banked turns, and that feels different. The cars accelerate very quickly, but it's frustrating because as soon as you get going very fast they have to slow down again to go around corners. It also isn't very reassuring that there are fire extinguishers along the track about every 50 feet... :-)
I'm glad I only had to wait about 10 minutes - I would have been very disappointed if I'd waited 90 minutes and that's all there was. In the future, it's the sort of thing I'll wait 30 minutes for, but not more than that.
We did some more shopping - I have all 5 of the Tomorrowland beanies (Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Pluto in space suits) now, plus we found some other things, before heading out of the park. We *just* missed getting on a tram, but there was another right behind it, so it didn't take that long. It was 6:00 on a Friday night, and we weren't sure what that would mean traffic-wise - but 5 south was clear sailing the whole way - 5 north was another story, though.
One unusual thing...just south of the Border Patrol checkpoint I suddenly noticed a car driving *south* on the shoulder of the *northbound* lanes - and he was doing at least 80. Definitely an accident waiting to happen. About 5 minutes after that, we saw one car in the northbound lanes that had definitely been involved in a head-on crash - and at least one other off to the side - though neither of them appeared to be the car I had seen. We checked the newspaper the next day but didn't see any mention of the accident, so don't know what happened.
We had a wonderful day at Disneyland, and really enjoyed ourselves. The New Tomorrowland gets a passing grade but nothing more than that - it looks really nice, but there really isn't that much that's very "new" - and certainly nothing that advances any new technologies the way Indiana Jones did.
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Text and photographs copyright © 1998, by Laura Gilbreath. Feel free to link to this document, but you may not redistribute it in any form without the express written consent of the copyright holder.
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