Today was our last day at Disneyland. After spending three full days there I can honestly say that I’ve had my fill of Disneyland for this decade. We wanted to get to the park early so that we could get on the Finding Nemo ride without too much of a wait. Well, it turns out that Disneyland opens at 10:00 on a normal day and at 8:00 on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for a reason: the park was way more crowded than the previous two days. What was a 30 minute line on Wednesday and Thursday was now a 75 minute line on Friday. Scratch Nemo. I guess the kids will have to take their own kids on it if Nemo is around 20 years from now.
Tom Sawyer’s Island is now Pirates Lair
We spent the day riding various rides a second time: The raft ride (this time I convinced Caroline and Anne to go on it but Nancy still wussed out), Mulholland drive (Caroline’s favorite), the bug rides (Diana’s favorite), Pirates for about the 5th time, Splash Mountain again, Indiana Jones, the teacups, etc. Our picnic lunch, which seemed so great the first two days, started to seem a little dull and repetetive on the third day.
Aside from the dull lunch; the day was quite fun. One especially bright spot was the parade at California Adventure. They have a “block party” parade where various Toy Story and Monsters Inc. characters come out and interact with the audience – dancing, throwing bouncy balls into the crowd, characters talking over a microphone, etc. The kids seemed to enjoy it and it was a nice close for the day.
Caroline dances at the block party
I knew it was time to go home after the parade when we took the following vote:
“Who wants to stay and go on more rides?” (one or two hands raised)
“Who wants to go back to the hotel and swim in the pool?” (All hands raised – including the ones that had wanted to stay)
Emily and Diana Boogie with Mr. Potato Head
Back to the hotel and pool it was. I would say that three days was about right. With the exception of Nemo, everyone got to go on every ride they wanted, most of them more than once. Also, the incremental cost for three days versus two was small enough that it made three days a much better value at a cost per day than two days. After three days at Disneyland I’ll close with the following random thoughts:
Samuel is a Roller Coaster Dude
Only five years old, he went on the following roller-coaster/adventure type rides with me: Matterhorn, Space Mountain, Star Tours, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Railroad, Goofy Rollercoaster, Mulholland Drive, Soaring over California, and Grizzly River Run. The only two he didn’t go on were California Screaming and Indiana Jones but only because he couldn’t meet the height requirement. (We also didn’t go on Tower of Terror because I knew he wouldn’t meet the height requirement and because I didn’t want to go by myself).
Picnic Lunches Work Well and Save Tons of Money
It costs $12 to rent the picnic locker for the day. Still, $12 is a heck of a lot cheaper than $12 per person for lunch with a family of 7. If you are going to take your picnic lunch, make sure you park in the Mickey and Friends parking garage. That way you can drop your lunch off at the picnic area on your way into the park. If you park in one of the other lots you have to cross the park first and bring your lunch in through the security check. The security guards don’t hassle you but it is still a pain in the rear. Also, the lockers are “vertical” more than “horizontal” so make sure you have a cooler that doesn’t leak when turned on its end or a cooler that is taller than it is wider.
California Adventure is Fun
It’s also less crowded than Disneyland. There are a couple of caveats: if it’s raining, California Adventure seems to close more rides down than Disneyland. Also, California Adventure opens later and closes earlier than Disneyland – not sure why. You can easily spend a day in California Adventure so if you only have one day then stick with Disneyland but if you have two or more days then definitely do a parkhopper so you can go to both.
Disney Runs A Tight Ship
While waiting with Diana for the others to finish a ride, I paid close observation to the way that the ride operators switch off, the way their supervisors manage them, the way they control the ride lines, etc. I also saw supervisors during the block party parade taking notes, instructing the dancers on various improvements they could make, etc. I even saw one supervisor instruct one of the “pirates” in the correct height for his rolled up pirate shirt sleeves. Obviously a job is a job and I’m sure there are issues with coworkers, supervisors, crappy management, and “off-stage” issues but you have to admire the way they run things from an organizational standpoint given their ability to make everything at least look practically perfect “on-stage”.