Wednesday, February 6, 2013


Keegan, Carolyn & Britts with Cruella deVil
Monday, 21 January 2013 – Happy Birthday Mum!  Today was going to be a big day as not only was it mum’s birthday, but we were spending the day in Disneyland!  The granddaddy of all themeparks started by a mouse!  To a chorus of cats meowing ‘happy birthday’ from the card (as well as kids who thought it would be hilarious to mimic the card cats), we were all up and ready to go and meet Patty and Keegan out the front of the Big D.  Dad, Justyn and I walked to the tram while Peter drove the others to save the little feets from the big day ahead.  With everyone wearing Happy Birthday Grandma badges, we joined the throngs heading into the wonderful world of Disney.  And what a magical place!  Straight up Main Street Sleeping Beauty’s castle can be seen from wherever you are in the park.  To our left, Mickey Mouse was conducting a big band and numerous other characters from Disney movies were posing with lots of excited people.  Unfortunately I only managed to nab a pic with the infamous Cruella De Vil, who was at her charming evilest best!  Heading into Tomorrowland, our first ride of the day was to be the newly revamped Star Tours, The Adventure Continues.  Patty and Keegan jumped on the Astro Orbitor which we heard was heaps of fun while we queued to ride with R2D2 and C3PO on a 3-D chaotic flight through space.  Did you know that with multiple beginnings, middles, and ends, there are 54 possible routes the ride can take!  Only 53 more times to ride!

Happy Birthday G'ma!
After our tour through space, it was time to head to the Plaza Inn where we had booked a surprise birthday lunch for mum including a Minnie Mouse cake.  This was fantastic as we had reserved seats in an air conditioned restaurant and we were thoroughly looked after by the ‘cast members’.  The birthday badges we were wearing indicated to all ‘cast’ in the park to wish “happy birthday” to group and ensure that they acknowledged the birthday person.  I would recommend this to anyone who is at any Disney park around their birthday!
The Minnie B'day cake

After lunch, we headed back into Tomorrowland to grab our Fastpasses for Space Mountain (we were able to by-pass the queue and ride between 9.40pm and 10.40pm!) and have a shoot out on the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.  Teamed with the Brittster again, this is a ride that is equal parts shooting gallery and dark ride.  Once on-board our space vehicle we grabbed our laser pistol and shared the joystick which controls the 360-degree spin of the buggy to give your greater aim.  As you can see by the pic, I won that round!  
We also Fastpassed Autopia and went to catch the Disneyland Railroad (Justyn does love a train!).  The track encircles Disneyland and provides a grand circle tour around The Magic Kingdom through each of its realms including a visit to the "Grand Canyon/Primeval World" dioramas.  After the train ride, it was back to Autopia and this time Byron was in the drivers seat.  Literally.  This is a self drive ride, where we steer specially designed cars through an enclosed track on guided rails but there still serious steering involved!  Byron did pretty well chauffeuring me around the park!  On our way to the next ride, it was definitely ice cream time and Justyn and I just couldn’t go past the Mickey Mouse shaped ones!  We thoroughly enjoyed our treats while we were in the line for the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, an adventure through the Australian waters with Marlin and Dory as we searched for Nemo.  Although the viewports windows are below water level, the "submarines" do not actually submerge when "diving".  It was pretty cool as it involved the Pixar animation amongst the sculptured seascape. 
Mickey Icecreams

We had been in Tomorrowland for most of the day so with Space Mountain the only ride left to tackle in this Disney realm we headed across to join the queue for the Matterhorn Bobsleds.  It is modelled after the Matterhorn, a mountain in the Swiss Alps and is the first tubular steel continuous track roller coaster ever constructed and thus a coaster landmark.  Closed for six months in 2012 for a major refurbishment, the mountain was painted to make it more reminiscent of the real Matterhorn Mountain.   Justyn, Patty, Keegan and I were in a train together; each in our own section in single file.  Most of the ride happens inside the mountain and once we are at the top, the bobsleds descend unpowered through the Matterhorn's many caverns and passageways past the growling Yeti before plunging into a water break.   I think this was Keegan’s favourite ride based on the giggles behind me!  Some trivia for you - in the 1980's, The Matterhorn Ski Club began buying Seeing Eye Dogs with the unclaimed coin change and items that fell out of pockets during the ride.  

After the Matterhorn, it was decided that it was finally time to tackle the ‘dinosaur in the room’; the ride that brings either squeals of delight or groans of pain at the perceived torture ahead, “It’s a Small World”.  A Disney staple, it is almost mandatory that first time visitors endure this ride!  A couple of us were seasoned professionals, however it was still set up still for the Christmas so it was a mash-up of the well known song with Christmas caroles….  Happy happy joy joy! 
All of us on It's A Small World
Located in the realm of Fantasyland,  this musical boat ride features over 300 brightly costumed audio-animatronic dolls in the style of children of the world, frolicking in a spirit of international unity, and singing the attraction's title song, which has a theme of global peace.  Did you know that this ride goes for 15 minutes!!  Now the Disney first-timers can truly say they’ve been to Disneyland!  (Yes Justyn, I promise you that I will never, ever drag you through It’s A Small World again…)  The Disneyland parade was starting soon and we managed to grab a good place to watch it from so while everyone waited or went to get jumpers, I found a pretzel in the shape of Mickey’s head – well I just had to try it!  We heard Mickey’s Soundsational Parade before we saw the first float.  The parade included Disney characters from throughout the years over about nine floats, each with many characters singing the catchiest tune from their movie.  Some amazing drummers led the first float with Mickey and Minnie Mouse and Pluto following behind on their music float accompanied by Chip 'n' Dale and Goofy – I was certainly singing along with “M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E”!  Other floats celebrated Aladdin, Princess Ariel from ‘The Little Mermaid’, The Frog Princess, The Lion King, Peter Pan and Donald Duck’s ‘The Three Caballeros”.  
Mickey's Soundsational Parade
One of the larger floats presented some of the many Disney princesses such as Snow White, Cinderella, Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) Belle (Beauty & the Beast) and Rapuzel (Tangled).  Brittany and Keegan were very cute blowing kisses to the characters hoping for a wink or return kiss.  16 was the final count that they received!  The final float was my favourite with Mary Poppins and Bert riding carousel horses up the street surrounded by the chimney sweeps singing ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”! 

Parade over, we headed over to Adventureland (bypassing Frontierland as the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was closed until October 2013 for extensive renovations) to ride Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye.  Unfortunately this was where we said goodbye for the day to Patty and Keegan as it was close to 9pm.  While they watched the fireworks, we queued for the Indiana ride which is an enhanced motion vehicle dark ride attraction based on the Indiana Jones films.  The queuing area is pretty amazing as it is very detailed queue and leads you through dimly lit temple chambers and eerie passageways containing booby-trapped sections reminiscent of the Indiana Jones movies.  Boarding military vehicles, the ride takes you on a turbulent high speed adventure, which includes the rolling boulder from the first Indy movie.  It is very fast and very bumpy and very cool!  We had time to fit in one more ride before heading back to Tomorrowland to ride Space Mountain.  Pirates of the Caribbean was the universal choice.  In New Orleans Land, the Pirates ride is a dark log flume style indoor boat voyage float through a larger-than-life pirate adventure featuring gunshots, cannon blasts, burning buildings, and carousing and pillaging pirates, all accompanied by the song "Yo Ho Ho A Pirate's Life for Me"  (Disney does love a tune that burrows deep down into your brain encouraging you to sing aloud for the next 3 days…)   Did you know that the film is based on the ride and not the other way around? 

Taylor, Justyn, Peter & Sally on Space Mountain
Feet weary and hungry, we weaved our way back to Tomorrowland for a very late dinner before riding the much anticipated Space Mountain.  In 2010 when Justyn and I were in Disneyland with Patty, we queued for close to three hours to ride this rollercoaster as the Fastpasses had been exhausted.  And we did it again although the queue was a shorter 90 minutes….  So to walk through and by-pass this lengthy wait was awesome.  I was paired with Byron again for this ride and he was a little nervous to say the least!  Space Mountain is an indoor steel roller coaster that has been thrilling riders since 1977 (with a number of upgrades along the way including an on-board soundtrack and a complete track replacement!).  The special effects while on the ride change at night giving a different experience dubbed "Rockin' Space Mountain".  Because of the darkness, it is near to impossible to gauge exactly where the ride is going to go next, it offers no drops any steeper than 40 degrees, and there is no point in the ride that would cause anything more than the most pedestrian of thrills for even a mild fan of coasters.  That said, this ride is an absolute classic and a screaming heap of fun!  So much so that we ran around and did it all again!  Nearly 11pm by the time we had ridden Space Mountain again, it was time for us to head home.  Another magical day of a full on 12 hours at the self proclaimed “Happiest Place on Earth”!  PS Happy Birthday Mum!
Byron and I front row on Space Mountain!

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