A Day at Disneyland - 12/15/96

The players: Laura and Lee, and friends Lauri, Erin, Kristina, and Jeff. All adults, but kids at heart! We drove up from San Diego and met them at the front gate at 9:00.

It was a beautiful December Sunday - sunny and warm - though not Santa Ana warm. (i.e. it was not shorts and t-shirt weather).

It was 10 days before Christmas, but everyone must have been out doing Christmas shopping, I suppose, because the park was very uncrowded - even the line for Indy was only about 20 minutes. It's amazing how much more pleasant Disneyland is when you don't have to stand in line for hours and hours and dodge people and strollers everywhere you go.

The only downside was that Erin had a terrible cold and was feeling pretty miserable - but she said that if she had to feel miserable, it was much better to be miserable at Disneyland...

I don't remember ever being at Disneyland at Christmas time before, and really enjoyed seeing all of the decorations and the HUGE Christmas tree. Very festive. And, to promote 101 Dalamatians, there were stuffed Dalmatians *everywhere* - peering out of shop windows and upper windows on Main Street, not to mention the Dalmatian booth at the front of the park where they were painting Dalmatian pawprints on kids' faces.

Since the park was so uncrowded we did a "quad-double" - all four mountains twice! (Well, except the Matterhorn, which we did three times, including once after dark.)

The Matterhorn had re-opened since we were there in October, and we enjoyed the refurbishments. It's still a really fun roller coaster, and it looks bright and spiffy again.

Space Mountain had added stereo weird space music to its cars - though we had problems on that ride. We got loaded and moved to where we were supposed to be next to take off, and then the ride stopped, and they unloaded us. We waited about 20-30 minutes while they brought the lights up, got all of the cars trapped in the ride out, and let those people ride again, before we were loaded and off. The stereo wasn't working the first time, but we got it the second time. (I have since learned that you need to check to see if the red light on the back of the car is on - if it is, then the stereo is working.)

We road Splash Mtn twice (that's where we went first). In the spirit of the holiday season we decided that our photo pose would be holding our hands to our heads like reindeer antlers. We practiced on the two smaller drops before the actual "photo shoot" on the final drop. Whoever was sitting in the front got their right pants legs pretty wet - Erin and Kristina the first time, Lee and me the second.

Jeff screwed up his antlers the first time, which was one reason we had to do it again - though the main reason was that there was still almost no line! The second photo was much better - though we still didn't buy it. We just like to ham it up for the camera. :-) We watched the noontime Festival of Fools show - we had front row seats on the ground. What a great show! Lots of activity going on, so there was plenty to watch. It was really fun to watch Quasimodo swing on the ropes and on the bell.

As we were leaving I noticed one of the Cast Members had his badge on upside down and made a comment about it - he said that it was "Topsy-Turvy Day" (that's one of the songs in the show). Duh. I should have gotten that one!

At one of the carts outside the Festival of Fools area they were selling sliced apples with melted caramel on top. Yummmy.

I think the line for Roger Rabbit was the longest one we had all day (about 35 minutes) - even longer than Indy. As we were standing in the last part of the line (where you can watch them loading and unloading people) we saw a mother get on the car, seemingly ignoring her four year old daughter who almost got run over. Then, when they came out, they had spilled their popcorn, which was all over the floor, plus she got out and left her daughter inside - and again the daughter got herself in a little bit of a dangerous situation. The CMs were alert, though, and took care of the girl, and immediately took the car out of service (so that they could clean up the popcorn.) Lee worked at Disneyland when he was in college, and said one of the things they stressed over and over was that "people go on vacation and leave their brains at home". We certainly saw a prime example of that.

Even during the peak hours, Thunder Mtn was just about the shortest line in the park - only about 10 minutes. We didn't understand that, but were happy about it, since we enjoy riding it!

We didn't do too much in Fantasyland - we girls rode the Carousel while Jeff took pictures of us. Lee seemed a little embarrassed by the whole thing, so we made sure to wave and blow kisses to him everytime we passed him. And of course we had to ride Mr. Toad's Wild Ride!

We had a lot of fun trying on hats at the "Mad Hatter" shop - Lee looked very 60's in the baseball cap with the shaggy black hair attached. I got a pair of reindeer antlers with mouse ears - they even have a couple of jingle bells.

According to the "Disneyland Today" guide, they were doing something called the "Candlelight Processional" that evening - we had no idea what that was, but decided to see it anyway. What an experience! They set up risers outside the Main Street train station and had a bunch of choirs from all over the country (from high schools, colleges, churches, service organizations, etc.) dressed in their usual robes, come down Main Street carrying electric candles. The Disneyland Employees' Choir stood on a special platform to form a living Christmas tree. Then, accompanied by the Disneyland Orchestra, they sang. In between each song, Mary Hart, that evening's host, read passages of the Christmas story from the Bible. It was just an amazing, moving, presentation. (They did not sing any secular Christmas music - it was all wonderful arrangements of hymns like Hark the Herald Angels Sing, and choral pieces like the Hallelujah Chorus.)

We found out later that the choirs had only rehearsed together for the first time the day before - up until then they just rehearsed on their own. You would never have known it - they sounded absolutely wonderful.

That was definitely the high point of what had already been a delightful Disney day - we decided to make it an annual event, and go back at the same time next year...See you on December 14, 1997!

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Copyright © 1997, 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.

Laura Gilbreath, lgil@cts.com
Last updated 3/31/97