Trip Reports

August 2016 Disneyland Trip Report – Part 4

If you missed any or all of the first 3 installments of this trip report, here are parts 1, 2, and 3.

If you are reading this blog, I’d say there’s a decent chance that you have felt ‘the Disney rush’.  What is that?  It’s a term I’ve just coined (trademark pending) that defines the extra energy your body seems to have when you go to a Disney Park.  The most incredible part of this feeling is being aware of your own exhaustion yet you race from attraction to attraction with the gusto of a bull chasing a red flag.  Some people have this gift (curse?) more than others and my wife is definitely one of those people.

Melissa spinning

After a night of getting back to the hotel shortly after midnight and falling asleep after 1, Melissa and I were back in Disneyland by 7:30 the next morning for our last day of vacation.  She is one of those people who wants to complete almost every attraction each and every trip, no matter how many times she’s done it before.  That may sound like complaining on my part but I promise that it’s not.  Without her, I wouldn’t experience some of my favorite attractions.  I admire her tenacity.  While we have a hard time picking what to have for dinner most nights at home, she knows what she wants to do at the parks and knows what makes her happy.  I think it’s good to go to Disney Parks with someone like that.  I’m very laid back and like to relax, and that brings a nice balance to our park experience.

Casey Jr Circus Train

That morning found us in Fantasyland taking in a few attractions.  We rode through the Storybook Canal and took a spin on the teacups and carousel.  While my favorite time in the parks remains late at night, I have to admit that I do love being there early in the morning.  The park feels fresh with the extra clean walkways, the low crowds and cooler weather.  I would have never known I liked the parks at this hour if it weren’t for my wife as I’m not a morning person.  See what I mean?  Balance!

After a while the rest of our group joined us.  We got FastPasses to HyperSpace Mountain and then took the monorail from Tomorrowland en route to breakfast at Steakhouse 55.  I reviewed that meal earlier in the week, which you can check out here.  In short, I think breakfast here is one of the better values at Disneyland Resort.

bacon sausage steakhouse 55

After breakfast we rushed back to redeem our FastPass for HyperSpace Mountain.  If memory serves, Cassie (another writer here) wrote about the Space Mountain layover back around the time it debuted and was not impressed.  I’m late to the party, but I disagree with her for the most part.  HyperSpace Mountain was a fun change to a classic, in my opinion.

In case you don’t know, HyperSpace Mountain is a Star Wars themed layover of Tomorrowland’s Space Mountain.  Is it a life-changing ride experience? No, it’s probably not even as good as the regular Space Mountain.  Where it does succeed is being a nice place holder until Star Wars Land takes flight in about 2 years.  I enjoyed the basic story of fighting against the empire while flying through space.  I thought the props and projections looked pretty good.  All in all, I thought the layover provided something fresh to Tomorrowland.  As long as it doesn’t stick around for years then this is the type of layover Disney should do.  It in turn will make the return of Space Mountain feel somewhat fresh as well.

Sand speeder

The Star Wars Launch Bay, on the other hand, was not much of anything aside from a cool place to sit.  There were props from the films, places to play video games, and meet & greets.  I didn’t do the meet & greets, as the lines were fairly long.  I have heard good things about the Kylo Ren meet though.  The video games are a complete waste of space.  People can do that at home.  The props were okay but nothing that was very exciting.  All in all, this could have been much better.  The concept isn’t terrible but there really isn’t much of interest in this space outside of meet & greets.

We then went over to the Tiki Room.  The last day of trips is full of eating all the things we hadn’t got to earlier in the trip so Melissa and I shared a Dole Whip Float, which is always a quality snack.  We also had a skewer from Bengal Barbecue and a surprisingly good drink called Pomegranate Piranha Lemonade.

Sebastian 2 M&TMM

Cassie was also at Disneyland that day and we were able to meet up with her that afternoon and later that night.  Cassie and I went to high school together but hadn’t seen each other in years, even though we’ve both been writing on this blog.  It was fun to be reunited with an old friend at one of our favorite places on Earth.  We watched Mickey and the Magical Map together, which was fantastic as usual.

Castle side day

I was pretty exhausted at this point so our group headed back to the Motel for a nap.  Naturally, I needed a chimichanga on the way out of the park.

After a much-needed nap, we headed back to Disneyland for dinner at Cafe Orleans.  I told you all we did that day was eat!  I’ve already reviewed Cafe Orleans, but I’ll update that soon to reflect this meal.  The food as a whole wasn’t quite as good on this trip but I did enjoy my entrée (the famed Monte Cristo) more than last time.

Monte Cristo close

After dinner our group grabbed a FastPass for Big Thunder Mountain and then went over for a spin on Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.  That attraction was as fantastic as ever.  Most of the group went back to Big Thunder while my mom and I hunted for a place to watch Paint the Night one last time.

Columbia Mark Twain evening

We eventually settled in a spot about 4 people deep across the path from the Matterhorn.  While the location wasn’t great, it wasn’t bad considering we had tried to find a spot for 8 of us about half an hour before showtime on a busy Saturday night.  We watched the show one last time as a group.  We all enjoyed seeing my nephew react to the floats, especially the big Mack truck.  While the viewing wasn’t great, I enjoyed seeing the parade one last time as a group.

I’m not sure what the fate of Paint the Night will be.  Once it’s refurbished I’m sure it will be back at Disneyland on a fairly consistent basis.  It was a hit for the 60th but does it have the staying power of other classic Disney parades?  I honestly have no idea.  I loved the upbeat feel of the parade and the technology involved but I’m not sure there is an extremely memorable float in it like the America and Pete’s Dragon float in MSEP.  Still, I think Paint the Night will enjoy a nice run over the next few years.

Disneyland Forever was next on the agenda and that show likely doesn’t have the same exciting future as Paint the Night.  Disneyland Forever is gone because it costs too much money to do every night.  Which I frankly think is an absurd move by a company who has increased ticket prices at least once a year for the last decade.  I wouldn’t be upset if they decided to show Disneyland Forever twice a week and a cheaper show the other nights.  Instead we’re stuck with a show that is inferior to not only this one but the show that preceded it, Remember… Dreams Come True.  Rumor has it, a Star Wars firework show is coming next summer and that’s a topic for another day.  Spoiler alert for that post if the news ever becomes true: I hate the idea.

Anyway, I’ll miss Disneyland Forever.  The plot and soundtrack were good but the show’s tech side absolutely astounded me.  We had a good spot for our last viewing, albeit crowded, and I soaked it in.  Maybe someday, when the parks aren’t so focused on profit margins and franchises, Disneyland Forever could return.  I wouldn’t hold my breath though.

Swing dance

On a more upbeat note, I thought this band playing at the Fantasy Faire theater was a nice touch.  I’m all for live entertainment.  While I’m not much for dancing, I enjoyed listening for a few minutes and watching others out on the dance floor.

We met back up with Cassie after the fireworks and spent a few hours going on attractions.  The crowds finally died down after an extremely busy day and we were able to go from attraction to attraction without wait times.  We saw the Hatbox Ghost on Haunted Mansion, enjoyed a long ride on Pirates of the Caribbean and then decided it was time for Splash Mountain.

I love Splash Mountain.  It’s probably my favorite ride in Disneyland.  I don’t mind getting soaked on rides so I voluntarily took the front seat this time.  Now, usually you get soaked on these type of rides by water coming over the side of your log or raft.  That night was different.  Maybe it was a full moon or maybe some sneaky Cast Member was out to get me.  Whatever it was, the fate’s aligned to soak me like never before.  We were coming down the drop on the inside of the ride and our log hit the water.  Right at the moment, it looked like the Lochness Monster was jumping out of the river.  Instead it was just a giant wave coming straight over the boat.  The wave was a good 3 feet above my head as it came down and splashed me with a vengeance.  I couldn’t believe it.  I didn’t entirely appreciate getting soaked at 11 PM at night but I sure will enjoy that memory over the years.

Astro orbiter night

Before long it was time for Cassie and her friend to part ways but we had a great time that night.  We had about half an hour left until park closing so we took a spin on the Astro Orbiter.  Earlier in the trip report I cautioned against having 3 adults in one Big Thunder seat.  The same holds true for 2 adults in an Astro Orbiter seat.  Don’t do it!

Our last ride of the trip was defeating Zurg’s evil empire with Buzz.  I was as heroic as ever, shooting down enemies with ferocity.  Feeling pretty good about ourselves, Melissa and my cousin Tyler went to shop for souvenirs while I took some nighttime photos.

There’s something so peaceful about ending my night taking photos in a nearly empty park.  The previous night I was in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland so I went over to Frontierland and New Orleans Square to take some photos.  All in all, I think I enjoy that side of the park more.  It feels more charming than and well put together than the other half of Disneyland.  We’ll see if that authenticity lasts once Star Wars Land comes on-line.  I’m hopeful that it does and that Star Wars will be far enough away to not affect the charm of New Orleans Square.  I had a wonderful last hour in the park taking photos.  Here are a few of my favorites.

Mark Twain night

Petrified Tree


Haunted Mansion night

New Orleans Square night

I exited through Adventureland and took a few more photos.  I paused near the Jungle Cruise and saw one of the famed Disneyland cats who come out at night to help clean the park.  You can see it in the picture below on the bottom right under the doorway.  The cat paused and watched me, while I stared at it.  Eventually he went on his way to, I assume, enjoy a journey along the river.

Jungle Cruise cat night_edited-1

Tired and sore, it was time to call it a night and head back to our motel.  While I’m always sad to end a vacation, this one felt satisfying.  Going with my whole family and cousin was pretty special to me and something I’ll cherish for a long while.  We were able to experience the 60th anniversary celebration one last time to boot.

For all of my frustration that I lamented about Disneyland Forever and budget cuts, I think Disneyland is in pretty good shape going forward.  The next year may be a little slow until the river is back open but the park seems to be a priority for the company right now.  There is entertainment sticking around like Paint the Night and Main Street Electrical Parade will be back for one last go around.  California Adventure’s future is slightly murkier but there will be new attractions popping up around there over the next 5 years.  Disneyland Resort is in pretty good shape moving forward. I wouldn’t recommend visiting right now, with the river closed and 60th entertainment gone, the summer of 2017 will start a fascinating (and possibly great) time for Disneyland.

Thank you for reading this trip report! If you have any questions or thoughts, please leave them in the comments.

– Andrew

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