- You may have noticed, but I posted pictures from Chicago, but not from Disneyland. The reason for that is because objectively, the best photos I took there were taken a) in Cars Land and b) all my non-Cars Land photos were already posted to my Facebook page (seriously, 26 “followers” and only 5 “likes?” Actually, they’re BOTH terrible numbers. 😦 ). I was going to post the pictures from Cars Land today, but..
- My laptop died on Friday evening (of a holiday weekend no less) so I’m typing this from a back-up laptop which isn’t as nice, fast or as functional (in other words, the computer version of me), but it’s a LOT better than trying to type this from my phone.
- I was going to post recaps of my disastrous Chicago trip (because that’s kinda my theme here), but frankly I’d rather just let that go and focus on the few good pictures I have.
~8:55am – Called into PCH Grill for my breakfast reservation, and am guided over to get my photo with Mickey in front of his lifeguard stand. I was hoping to make “The U” with my hands like last time, but that pose never came up. The frogger asked to me do another pose, but I blanked on how to do it so I look dumb and confused in my photo (see below).
~9:06am – Not 30 seconds after putting my food on the table and sitting down, a sales agent comes to my table, pushes my photo right up to the edge of my plate and starts telling me how much I REALLY want to only spend $36.95 on my “special commemorative photo with Mickey so I can remember this trip with my family for years to come.” That’s great, but my food is getting cold. I ask him to put it on My Disney Experience and he said no “at Disneyland Resort Hotels character photos are linked with the Disney Dining PhotoPass card” (?) so all I had to do was show him that card (which I could buy from him for an additional $39.95) and he’d be glad to process my “once-in-a-lifetime picture” with the great mouse himself.
So in review, in order to actually eat my food and get my photo with Mickey I need to pay for my meal $35 ($42 with tax) plus $39.95 for the photo package PLUS an additional $36.95 for the photo itself. That’s…$111.90… for two glossy 4×7 photos in an equally glossy paperboard frame. Um, no thanks.
~9:18am – Minnie passes by my table, and poses for pictures with the family sitting at the table next to me. Honestly, I’m not here to see her, but she did “kiss” my hair on her way bac towards the stage area.
~9:25am – My favorite Hawaiian alien “dog” comes by my table, which I am overly-excited about as he intentionally walked right past my table on my last visit (I KNOW he saw me because he stopped at the tables to my immediate left and right) but since I’m dining alone and both Mickey and the PhotoPass friends are on “surf break,” I have no-one to take my picture with him (happens to me a lot in Florida too). Eventually, I corral a somewhat reluctant server into taking our pictures, and Stitch leaves to do his hourly “Surf Rock with the Kids” dance in front of Mickey’s backdrop.
~9:38am – I watch Stitch do his dance with maybe a half-dozen kids as I wait for my server to bring my check around. He drops it off at my table just as Daisy who like Minnie “kisses” my hair as I wait for him to return so I can officially start my day.
10:18am – Enter park and head immediately to Soarin’ around the World. I love hearing people complain about the “30-minute wait.” Do you know what you call a “30-minute” wait for Soarin’ at Epcot? A walk on!
11:04am – Speaking of which, I left Soarin’ and literally walked right onto both “Journey of the Little Mermaid” (which is EXACTLY like it’s MK counterpart) and “The Golden Zephyr.” I also got my photo taken in front of Grizzly Peak, and when I told him about what happened earlier, he sent me to “the photo shop on Main Street” to resolve it.
12:03pm – Left “The Golden Zephyr” and went across the pathway to Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta where I had the most dried out, disgusting and flat-out inedible “pizza” I’ve had in my life. Seriously, my high school cafeteria could take lessons from whoever made that pie. Yep, $7.95 and I threw it away after three bites.
~1:25pm – Took the wrong path out of Paradise Pier (I was trying to get to Cars Land), but ended up in Carthay Circle instead. That was where I was told they could solve the PhotoPass problems from this morning. It took a while to find it as it was tucked into the back corner of another shop and was only really accessible from a small door next to the lockers (!), but once I explained the problem to the woman at the counter and she was able to do what the sales agent (whose job is to sell photos for as much money as possible) and manager (probably going on what the sales agent was telling him) from this morning couldn’t – in less than 30 seconds!!!
~1:57pm – Leave Photopass shop with printed copy of my photo (I only asked for the digital), and head down the opposite side of the circle towards “Monsters Inc. Mike and Sully to the Rescue” where the greeter noticed I was traveling alone and handed me a yellow card and told me to go “directly through the exit to the right” (same thing that happened to me at Indie yesterday).
~2:19pm – Turtle Talk with Crush (show actually started at 12:38pm, but I wanted to get out of the sun).
~2:56pm – Starbucks break (there’s nothing quite like a cold drink on such a miserably hot day)
~3:45pm – Enter Cars Land and get in the ridiculously short line for “Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree” (which is basically a slow moving whip ride) before skipping the Flying Tires or whatever it is now and headed over to the main attraction: “Radiator Springs Racers!”
~4:01pm – I couldn’t read the sign for the wait on Single Riders and one of the four CMs standing there (a cute boy with blonde hair) told me it was “20 minutes, um, maybe 15” so if you don’t hear from me for a while then you know where to find me…
~4:31pm – Exit RSR and follow the road into A Bug’s Land. Judging by the times on the Disneyland app this shouldn’t take very long – particularly since I couldn’t stand that movie. Ian at Flik’s Flyers however rawr (a trait he shared with Ryan the “grouper” over at RSR).
~5:13pm – Back in Hollywood Land where I am nearly caught in the ropes they were setting up for the afternoon parade.
~5:24pm – Decide not to leave the park immediately and instead ate dinner at the Smokejumpers’ Grill (next to Soarin’ Around the World). I know it’s quick service, but it can’t possibly be worse than the pizza I had for lunch.
~5:47pm – Exit park through the nearby Grand Californian entrance. It’s a bit early to leave the park, but my feet are killing me, my thighs are so red it literally HURTS to walk and most importantly of all I have a recap to write…
9:47am – Pass under the famous placard coming out onto the iconic Main Street USA. This is my third time visiting this park, and it’s still exciting.
11:12am – I am on fire here (or at least my thighs are) hitting Jungle Cruise, Indie and Pirates within the hour. Now, I’m looking for lunch, but I’m really wanting to eat in Critter Country or Frontierland or New Orleans Square so I’m forced to backtrack to Adventureland…
11:27am – I have an extremely disappointing chicken skewer at Bengal Bistro before circling back around to Critter Country again where I meet my longtime imaginary boyfriend Jacob who warmly greets me as I enter the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Haunted Mansion was closed and the line for Splash Mountain was too long). His warm smile and friendly tone pretty much made my visit.
12:49pm – Photographed my way through Critter Country and Frontierland before hitting a line wall around Fantasyland with 35 minute waits for Canal Boats, Casey Jr. and Alice in Wonderland (though they were all closer to 20 minutes), but I passed on Matterhorn with its 45-minute wait. Some things aren’t worth it.
1:55pm – Get off Casey Jr., check the time on my phone (watch is broken) and rushed as fast as the 20 families with double strollers in front of me would let me to the Fantasyland Theatre to just to find out they didn’t have shows of Mickey and the Hawt As- I mean “Mickey and the Magic Map” on Tuesdays.
2:21pm – Console myself with some popcorn outside It’s a Small World (45 minutes), passed under the shuttered railroad and got into line for Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin. The wait time was about 35 minutes but the 3 -year behind me wouldn’t stop screaming about the dark and scary lighting in the queue area. So even if it was only 25 minutes, it felt like 2 hours (do kids that age actually breathe?)
3:15pm – Skipped Matterhorn again as I wandered into Tommowland (not to be confused with the shitty film of the same name) where the Finding Nemo submarine ride had a 50-minute wait which doesn’t make sense to me but that might be because it scared the literal shit out of the 50 or so toddlers on board the sub with me (causing their already deafening screams to reverberate throughout the tiny cabin freaking them even more).
4:19pm – As I passed under the famous sign under Main Street station, I realized I didn’t have any reservations for dinner tonight so I walked back to Guest Services and the agent told me that he couldn’t get me any times for 6:30 as “the window has passed.” He was able to get me reservations for breakfast tomorrow at PCH Grill so it wasn’t completely wasted.
4:37pm – Left park, and passed through the lengthy stretch of green security tents heading back to Downtown Disney… only to find myself in a massive parking lot. The only way out of said parking lot (on foot anyway) was…that’s right, I need to rescreened by people who literally saw me leave 30 seconds ago. Fortunately, unlike that time I got the wrong gate at MCO, the screeners were quite friendly (and dare I say cute), but I wasn’t really in the mood to notice.
4:52pm – Inquire about reservations at the first restaurant I come to past security. It wasn’t exactly my first choice, but they said they could get me in at 6:30pm so I took it.
5:50pm – I spent about 25 minutes in my room, mostly editing photos from earlier today. I can’t connect to hotel Wi-Fi with my laptop so I’ll have to post them when I get back to Orlando. I looked over at the clock next to the bed, grabbed by room key off the desk and dashed out.
6:15pm – Arrived at restaurant on far side of Downtown Disney. I was 20 minutes early, but they seated me immediately. That was the extent of their good service, aside from a bored busser dropping some stale rolls on my table while I was looking at the more limited than I expected menu. The food however wasn’t bad.
7:10pm – I bought some ice cream from the Hagen Daz near the breezeway connecting the district to the Grand Californian Resort. I checked my phone, and considered going back into the park to ride all the rides I skipped earlier just to find out that my park pass was back in the room. Just as well, this recap wasn’t writing itself…
Consumerist is reporting that Applebee’s in Rhode Island “forgot” to pay an Autistic line cook for a full year despite he and his parents filing the proper paperwork numerous times. Don’t get me wrong, I applaud them for hiring him, but not paying him is inexcusable!
Yes, I know people with Autism are supposed to be cold, unfeeling and incapable of empathy, but I’ve seen this shit first hand too many damned times – and I’m not talking about just freelance writing gigs (which are already notorious for not paying up – heck, The Baltimore Guardian fired me just for asking).
I was just finishing my last semester at Crafton Hills Community College and finishing the last of my requirements for Benchmark Young Adult School (now called “Benchmark Transitions”) while working about 10 hours a week for Redlands McDonalds. Unfortunately, the day before I was set to begin “real employment” for them (rather than the supposedly standard “30 day trial period” that only I was offered) I was called to the break room at the end of my shift and summarily fired for being “stupid, incompetent and the WORST damned employee EVER in [the] history of this company” (but no concrete, specific REASON for my dismissal).
Unfortunately, it took me over six months of daily searching just to get that job and it was the ONLY reason BYAS was letting me graduate. Okay, I did anyway (on Aug 9, 2001), but it was more of a “good riddance” than a “good-bye” graduation. It was also the last time I had anything remotely resembling a “friend.” No wonder I’m so damned lonely all the time.
Anyway, in order to keep my hastily arranged graduation “on-schedule,” then “Director of Student Services” Joelle Walters (also my “Primary Counselor” for most of my time there) called me into her expansive corner office to tell me she was starting me on the school’s semi-official Non-Federal Work Study type program which consisted of “assisting” in their woodshop.
It wasn’t much: 3½ hours per day, two days per week at an even $5 per hour (slightly below minimum wage at the time) but it was easy work and kept my cookie cut-I mean “custom individualized program” going as scheduled…or so I thought.
I can’t say if this is still true or not, but when I attended BYAS Tuesday was a “special” day: the day students could – barring any outstanding fines – get their weekly “money requests” from Toni (Director of Student Accounts). Most students used said money to buy cigarettes, but a fair number of us would pull our money together to buy a large pie from the small pizzeria in the plaza on the opposite site of the Redlands Blvd there in Loma Linda (the receipt going back to Toni in the office – the last time I ever NEEDED a receipt for something).
Anyway, after several weeks of working there, I went to see in the Student Accounts office as scheduled and she just looked at me blankly.
“Sorry, hon,” she said with her smooth Southern accent. “You don’t have any money for me to give you.”
“I should, I’ve been working over at Building Trades for the past several weeks.”
“I don’t know nothing about that. You’ll need to talk with Deborah about that, and then you can come back to see me.”
The whole point of both BYAS (and likely “Benchmark Transitions” as well) and its NF-WSP is to teach young adults about RESPONSIBILITY so, of course, then “Dean of Student Affairs” Deborah Kennedy would set an example for her students by resolving this unfortunate situation in a mature, professional manner befitting her position.
“I have no clue what you’re talking about,” Ms. Kennedy said in her strong Southern accent. “We don’t pay our ‘workers,’ and I know for a fact that Joelle isn’t STUPID enough to say we do!”
That was a total LIE as “work hours” was the backbone of the schools work-education and one of the chief tenants of their financial-education programs at the time.
She then goes on to chastise me for coming to her without any “documentation” of my work contract then thus surmising that said agreement was “pure hearsay.”
“That means,” she said with a giant “fuck you” grin. “It’s YOUR ‘word’ versus mine and as the Dean of this school, I know whose word I’m taking in this manner.
“Now,” she continued her tone suddenly serious. “We are NOT discussing this matter again, and if you say another word, I WILL fine you and I know you will NOT like it! Now GO!”
The line cook above is now getting the money he’s owed…or at least half of it. Meanwhile, my five months of sweeping floors for free remains as uncredited “volunteer work” and probably always will be…
I had a brief errand to run off property this afternoon and this roughly two hour hiatus has given me a chance to think back over the past 3 days of my trip.
- While my Magicband only denied my entry to one park so far, it continues to be somewhat hit or miss on opening my unit’s door. It takes anywhere from two to four taps for the lock to recognize the band. So it’s not a total failure…
- While I’m not the biggest fan of the newly announced Toy Story Land at DHS, the area that it’s slated to be built in is pretty much being wasted at the moment with the only attractions in that area being “Toy Story Midway Mania” and “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids: Movie Set Adventure.” The former will be worked into the upcoming land. The latter will likely become the main entrance to TSL.
- Some sites are suggesting that “Muppet-Vision 3-D” will be cut to make room for Star Wars Land, but given the popularity of the attraction and the new Muppets “reality show” on ABC plus two phenomenally popular eateries (the nearly impossible to book Mama Melrose’s and kid friendly Pizza Planet) the chances of this area going anywhere are basically zero.
- Meanwhile on the other side of “Streets of America,” if they remove the currently vacant Premier Theater, the soon-to-close “Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show” and the last remnants of the “Studio Backlot Tour” they might have enough room for Cars Land.
- I don’t mind an Anna and Elsa meet and greet in EPCOT, but I’d really like to see a Hiro and Baymax M&G in Japan (as they were recently removed from DHS for “technical reasons”) and absent importing his hugely popular ride from Disneyland Paris one of Remy and Emile from Ratatouille (Princess Aurora can be moved to Fairy Tale Hall at MK).
- Speaking of animals, it’s time they retired Circle of Life: An Environmental Fable on the 2nd floor of The Land pavilion. It’s been there for over 20 years, and they can probably find a way to work a story around Kiara and either Kovu (Scar’s son from LK2) or Kion (her younger brother in the upcoming series The Lion Guard) …or better yet both!
- You know, “Tomorrowland Speedway” really doesn’t fit the overall theme of its home land. If they remove it, they’ve got plenty of space for at least two attractions (maybe a shorter version of “Horizons” plus a better M&G area) on the Tomorrowland side and another two rides in Fantasyland\Storybook Circus (or one medium sized amphitheater).
- Doing this likely means rerouting the perennially unpopular “WEDway Peoplemover” which I’m okay with since the ride needs a good rewrite anyway. I think I’ve already posted here about how they need a POP Century-ish redo of “The Carousel of Progress” (the scripts already exist, and they probably still have many of the props, so why not?).
I checked into Saratoga Springs around 10:30am, receive my dull grey Magicband and the older woman at “Concierge” tells me if buy a new band “it MUST be activated at either Guest Services or here at the Concierge desk.” I rode the golf cart to the far side of the resort, drop my bags inside the rom, and take a bus over to Animal Kingdom where I arrive at DAK just in time for it to start pouring rain.
The restaurant I wanted to eat at was “Closed for refurbishment” so I ducked into a store and looked at all the colorful Magicbands but couldn’t decide which one to get – so I got both. I tried checking out, but before I could finish my first word the young Asian woman at the register looked at me confusedly and instantly vanished to fetch an older white woman to check me out. This new cashier shuffled me to a register at the other end of the store and then proceeds to explain that I need to activate the bands IN STORE in order for them to work.
I told her what the woman from this morning told me and the she looked at me like I’d just said the dumbest thing in the entire World and then repeated I must have them activated there. I replied that could only activate ONE of them so I’d take them back to Guest Services when I made up my mind which one I wanted to wear for the week.
The reason I came to DAK (other than lunch) was to see an overrated movie turned into a mediocre theme park musical. I wish I could say better things about it, but I can’t. Oh yes I can, the theater was dry save for a few bubbles. This of course meant no-one wanted to leave the theatre meaning it took forever to get out of the building because guests just stopped in the middle of the walkway blocking the exit so they wouldn’t get wet.
Well anyway, mission accomplished, so I go back and pass the main gate just in time for the sun to come out. It never fails, but I still went back to the hotel and decided to activate the blue “Sorcerer Mickey” band. I went up to the desk, and the disaffected young woman at the concierge desk had me take the band out of the packaging and then reluctantly scanned it into her system a couple times while typing intently on her keypad before handing it back to me and asking for my credit card and the security code in order to “activate” it.
I go back up to my room and try my new band. It doesn’t work. I try again, and it didn’t work (again). I try twisting my hand the other way and nothing happened. I try a fourth time, and then made the trek all the way back to the same disaffected lady at the Carriage House.
“Grr,” she muttered taking my band back. “I wouldn’t have to do this crap if you had just did it at the store like you were SUPPOSED to do.”
She scans the band again and does some more typing and hands it back to me as another guest comes up to the agent next to us and says “I tried this Magicband four times, but I still can’t get into my room…”
Update (Aug 25): The band did unlock the room…on the third try (ditto when I tested it before leaving for the parks this morning) yet despite my ParkHopper supposedly being on the band, I was still declined entry into DHS. Interestingly enough, I had no issue getting into the Magic Kingdom earlier this afternoon – maybe that’s why it’s called the MAGIC Kingdom.
What do you in Disneyland when you’ve already been to both parks and rode (almost) all the rides? You could try for the rest or do as I did and try to fit as many in-park shows\parades as possible before the parks close!
Unfortunately, I had a slight disadvantage In that overslept and missed the “extra magic hour” for Disneyland (slightly overrated anyway since only certain rides are open), but on the plus side I entered just as they “officially” opened the park.
I did however have a few stops to make before heading off to the shows. The first was Jungle Cruise…which hadn’t opened yet so people were milling about outside the entrance until the “almighty announcement” was made allowing guests to enter the queue area.
It was actually kind of cool being the first riders of the day, it would have been even cooler if the guide was a better actor, but that wasn’t my main problem with this ride experience. No, that was when the dock agent reached out for my hand when I tried exiting the boat.
“Thanks, but I don’t like strangers touching me.”
“Sorry,” she said insincerely before clasping my arm, jerking it upwards throwing me off balance and causing me to nearly fall on my face in front of the all of the other guests. “It’s my job,” she then looks me straight in the eye with an obnoxious smirk, “enjoy the rest of your day at the Disneyland Resort.”
Yes, I was the first guest she dealt with today, but I’m sure there is a perfectly reasonable reason for that behavior. Who am I kidding, this is pissing me just writing about it – mostly because she’s correct: if it really is her job than I really CAN’T do anything about it.
If I get mad, I become the bad guy. If I let her go without saying anything she wins by default. Either way, I lose. God only knows what will happen if I ever find myself in a win\win situation.
I dust myself off and remind myself that I’m paying good money to have a good time. Besides, I had to Fantasyland before the rest of the crowds do.
I failed. The lines for both Casey Jr. and the Fantasyland Canal Boats was so long that it extended past their respective queues and into the main walkway obscuring the boundaries of their actual waiting areas. The good news was it made the lines for Mr. Toad, Pinocchio and Snow White seem blissfully short by comparison.
After that brief sojourn, I made my around to Innoventions just to find out I’d just missed the first “ASIMO” show and would have to return in another hour. I went downstairs, crossed the pathway to Tomorrowland Terrace which was still serving breakfast.
I guess I probably should have expected that since it was only 10:38am.
Also, three years as a Drama Critic should have taught me to lower my expectations, but I didn’t. It’s not that the ASIMO show was terrible; it’s just the hokey plot that supposedly glues the show together served as more of an interruption of his slickly polished sales pitch than as a natural part of the show. Being a Drama Critic (even an “unprofessional” one) definitely has its disadvantages sometimes.
I left the park through the main gate, and I was stopped for a hand stamp on the way out. I showed him my 3-day ParkHopper, but the bored teenager said it “didn’t matter” as I couldn’t re-enter the park without it. It didn’t bother me as I wasn’t planning on re-entering the park at that point, but he did seem genuinely disappointed to not stamp my hand.
Honestly, I don’t remember this policy in Florida, but according to Guest Services “it has ALWAYS been our policy at Disney Parks.”
I crossed the plaza separating the two parks and got in line for California Adventure. When I got to the front of the line, the gate agent simply scanned my ParkHopper and let me through. The topic of hand stamps never came up.
I make my way Buena Vista Street noting it was essentially a mirror image of Hollywood Blvd at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida (formerly Disney MGM Studios). I stopped into Fiddler, Fifer and Practical on Carthay Circle for lunch (the only restaurant on Disney property to sell Starbucks coffee) and found a table outside just as the “Five and Dime” jalopy pulled into the circle.
I finished my sandwich and coffee and made my way towards Hollywood Land stopping at both the fanastic Monsters Inc. and the disappointing “Minnie’s Fly Girls’ Charter Airlines” and arrived at Paradise Pier just in time for “Instant Concert: Just Add Water” with the only shade in the immediate area coming from a set of umbrellas near the water. The show itself was a short but fun diversion, and walking up the boardwalk a ways further I quickly ended up in the middle of the equally fun “Phineas & Ferb’s Rock and Roll Dance Party.”
I completed the loop around the pier, and ended up back in Carthay Circle just as the afternoon parade was about to begin. I’m not necessarily the biggest Pixar fan, but this little parade was kind of fun in its own way.
That’s enough for the day so I backtrack to the exit through the Grand California so I could plan the rest of my day. I get to the front of the line and show him my ParkHopper, but the middle aged Asian guy at the turnstile says “You CANNOT leave without a hand stamp,” and then grabs my wrist, jerks it back (I literally thought I was going to crash into the family behind me) and practically jabs his stamp through my hand before finally releasing me.
This is when I go to the Guest Services guy I quoted in the previous post who just looks at me blankly and shrugs. “He’s right,” he said apparently missing (or ignoring) the whole point of my complaint. “All guests must get hand stamps unless they are ‘Annual Pass’ holders.”
The man at the desk was nice enough to smile at me, wish me a good day and politely “remind” me that there were other people in line.
Like at Jungle Cruise earlier in the day, there was nothing I could do to solve the situation (I really hate that helpless, invalidated feeling), and getting upset at all about this slight makes me look like a childish, attention-seeking boor.