January 4, 2009
On Christmas day, we went to Disneyland to see their Christmas parade; and also because I’ve never been to Disney* before (although I went to 3 Disney locations in 2008 – Paris, Tokyo and LA). We expected a lot of people to show up for Christmas, so we arrived by 9:30. We didn’t have to line up to get tickets, but the park was already busy.
We started our day at the Main Street Opera house which houses a museum to celebrate 50th anniversary of Disney. It was useful for me to learn the history surrounding the origin of the park, and I’m surprised that the Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland, and Tomorrowland themed areas still exist to this day. We headed to Tomorrowland first, which was the most interesting to me. Back when Disneyland opened, Tomorrowland had exhibits of what the future looked like; now it is much more boring and consisted mainly of rides (such as the Star Wars ride, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage and Space Mountain that we went on). There was one exhibit called Innoventions which is basically a shill for Microsoft, Siebel and HP. I saw most of their “exhibits” at Microsoft Home in 2004. Instead of being interesting, Tomorrowland has been killed by commercialism.
Fantasyland was better since it was the representation of Disney’s core strength – fairy tales! We went on the Pinocchio, Snow White, and It’s a Small World rides here. The It’s a Small World ride was neat since they updated their animatronics to festive decorations.
After spending some time in Fantasyland, we queued up for the Christmas parade. I was disappointed in the parade, because it’s like a Santa Claus parade, but with Disney floats. It wasn’t any more extravagant or “magical”. However, we were lucky because we were at the start of the parade, because after Santa’s float passed by, we actually became part of the parade and walked down the route waving to the crowd. That was a bit surreal and hilarious.
We didn’t have as much time to spend in the other parts of the park. I liked Toon Town since the building designs were comical.
In Adventureland, we went on the Jungle Cruise in the dark, which added to the experience I suppose. If it was during the day, the animatronics would have been even more fake. In Critter Country, we went on the Winnie the Pooh ride – twice, and the Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean ride in New Orleans Square. I was interested in seeing the Pirates ride since it must be pretty amazing to spawn a movie right?? It wasn’t that impressive but was pretty good compared to the other rides at Disneyland. We thought the ride would be pretty laidback, and brought hot tea onto the ride. Which was a horrible idea in hindsight after we looked ahead and saw drops coming.
After sundown, there were a lot of photo opportunities because the park was lit up. We stayed at the park for over 12 hours, because we wanted to see a couple of night performances. We saw Fantasmic which used water fountains as a project screen, and waited for the evening fireworks. The fireworks were initially delayed because of strong winds above Disneyland, but eventually started. The fireworks themselves were pretty standard, but it was coupled with great (Disney-style, fairy tale) music which made the show memorable. Also memorable was the fact that the abruptly cut off the fireworks without explanation (I’m guessing it was the wind). There was also fake snow, which is nothing like the real thing and more like soap bubbles.
I can now scratch off going to Disney* from my bucket list. For a $64 ticket it was worth the experience. And if you truly wanted to experience all the rides, you will have to get a multi-day ticket.