Disneys Resort Hotels

End of the magic

I booked my return flight from Anaheim for 12:15pm because I didn’t feel like getting up and rushing to the airport super early in the morning. So, of course, I woke up at 6:45am. There was no use in going back to bed as the kids next door were already up.

So I used the time to pack my pajamas and try to cram a cute slightly oversized hat I bought yesterday at the park into my carry-on without damaging either of them.

Then I plugged in my phone and tried making the instant coffee they left in the room for me to use. First it was too strong (and small), so I decided to make a second cup of just to water, which brought me up to half of the cardboard cup they provide, so… screw it, I’ll buy something at the lounge downstairs.

But first, I needed to make myself presentable. And then for the second day in a row, just I was nearly ready for a shower when I heard a knocking on the door. This time I was still dressed, so I opened the door and the 35yo Hispanic woman looked at me like she was shocked – SHOCKED – that someone would still be in their room at 8:30 in the morning before hastily going onto the next room before I could even get a word in edgewise. I’m not sure if that made the situation worse or just more confusing.

I get dressed again and go downstairs to the lobby, pour over their menu for a few seconds and approach the counter. After unsuccessfully trying to explain to the cashier that I wanted a decaf flavored coffee, I was ready to leave empty-handed, but a lucky break in communication meant I got my decaf iced mocha. Unfortunately, it tasted like chocolate flavored water, so I ended up throwing half of it out.

Interestingly enough, the boy cleaning the tables was… the same hot blonde haired boy from PCH last night (whose his badge says his name is “Luke”).

I got the nerve to speak to him and before I could finish the question (which disappointed me since I thought I was doing a decent job keeping my composure), he shrugged and said “yeah, they cross-trained me here as well” (I was GOING to say “I thought you worked evenings”).

I wanted to wish him goodbye, but I didn’t see a point to it as he’s working here and I’m leaving today. Thus, we will never meet again… which makes me sad, but that’s how these things work. Besides, my Lyft driver was outside.

I arrived at Orange County Airport (SNA), and saw a few nice hats and sweatshirts in the CNN Store next to the empty security line…but then I remembered how much trouble I had fitting that silly character hat into my bag this morning so I decided to forgo BOTH of them (the blue/grey “California” beanie for $21.95 would have fit in my regular bag).

Anyway, I passed through the metal detectors and checked the monitors and this old man came up beside me, asked what flight number I was on was and told me what I had already seen “gate 7.”

“So, how far is this ‘gate 7?'”

He pointed to a large rectangular sign directly behind me (which I honestly hadn’t seen yet as I was literally still holding my shoes in my left hand) with a black “7” on it, shrugged and said “you’re standing in it.”

I take a seat, put my shoes and rucksack back on and head to the McDonald’s across from the sign. It wasn’t a great breakfast, but it was better than starving myself all day.

I throw my bag out and return to the gate area. There are no open seats left, and there are no outlets that I could see along the floor-to-ceiling glass windows.

There appears to be a charging station at the next gate, but with my phone at 58% power and my flight boarding in 20 minutes. This appears to be a good time to end this post and power down for the day…

Categories: adventures, California, Disneyland Resort, Disneys Resort Hotels, flying, Orange County Airport (SNA), transportation

Random thoughts about WDW

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?).
Categories: disney world, Disneys Resort Hotels, editorials, entertainment, florida, ramblings | 1 Comment

Battle of the Magicbands

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.

Categories: disney world, Disneys Resort Hotels, entertainment, florida, ramblings, retail | Leave a comment

A Lack of Love: Part 1

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.”

Categories: California, Disneyland Resort, Disneys California Adventure, Disneys Resort Hotels | Leave a comment

A Lack of Love: Part 2

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.

Categories: California, Disneyland Resort, Disneys California Adventure, Disneys Resort Hotels | Leave a comment

A Lack of Love: Part 3

I go upstairs to my room, right the first half of this story and then suddenly remembered that it was Valentine’s Day – meaning if I didn’t get dinner soon I wouldn’t get dinner at all. I open my wallet, put the reserve cash in there and stuff it in my pocket before grabbing my room key and phone off the coffee bar counter and heading out to Downtown Disney.

I will say that I was extremely lucky to be able get a “walk-in” table at my first choice of restaurant. I was even luckier since both the food and service were easily the best I’d encountered during my stay on Disney property.

I was going through the crappy Disney Parks app while waiting for my food, and noticed that there was a show starting in 40 minutes in the main park with the nightly parade shortly thereafter.

I didn’t make the first show, but didn’t feel like sitting idly on Main Street USA until the parade started so I headed over to Jungle Cruise. The line took about 15 minutes and the guide was a lot better than the one I had this morning, her jokes were largely the same but her delivery was much more confident. The dock agent (not the same one as earlier) didn’t even look at me when I exited the boat.

Now, it was time to find somewhere to see the parade. There were very spots along Main Street to do so. I would have preferred Frontierland as it is usually less crowded, but they directing all foot traffic down Main Street USA where there was almost no available space to watch it except for one patch near City Hall behind a garbage can with a view partially blocked by a faux- antique lamppost.

The parade itself probably isn’t that bad on most nights, but this wasn’t one of them. Maybe their performers got sick, maybe the navigation systems in the floats was off or maybe someone in their Central Command wasn’t on their game, but the timing was completely off. It seemed as if all of the floats (which looked quite impressive, btw) were trying to avoid running over some invisible marching band.

That was it, day over. The last float pulled into the “unstaging” area and the so-called “almighty voice” declared the park was officially closed. I went back to my room; I had some sleep to catch up on – especially since I was planning on catching the first shuttle back to the airport…

Categories: California, Disneyland Resort, Disneys California Adventure, Disneys Resort Hotels, flying | Leave a comment

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