Ok, I’ve been home for a few days, but better late than never, right?
Proud to say I managed to not cry all day, though it got pretty close towards the beginning, between lack of sleep and the pure emotion of having finally made it somewhere I’ve wanted to go since I was a kid.
Disneyland is magical. There’s no other way to describe it. Even as a grown man who is almost thirty, who doesn’t have kids, or like roller coasters.
To make my time here even better, because we just came off Spring Break, the park wasn’t too crowded at all. There were still lines, but not the monsters that the park is famous for. Of course, I didn’t go into the Space Mountain or Matterhorn lines, which I’m sure were still over half an hour wait. I had purchased Fast Pass, but never felt the need to use it, since it would have just been inconvenient.
Even if you don’t like the fast rides, there’s plenty to do. I’m a little disappointed that Dumbo the Flying Elephant was closed for maintenance, since that’s one of the few big name rides I wanted to ride. Splash Mountain was closed too, but there was only a fifty/fifty chance I was going to ride that one. But there’s still all the kid’s rides in Fantasyland, the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and of course, the iconic Pirates of the Carribean and Haunted Mansion.
I finished the day watching the amazing light, sound and fireworks show that is “Remember… Dreams Come True”, over Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, before heading down to the Rivers of America to watch “Fantasmic”. Both shows were amazing, and definitely highlights of the trip.
Today I spent most of the day at Disney’s other Anaheim park, California Adventure. It’s a much smaller park, but that’s not to say it’s not just as much fun.
While not as iconic as its sister across the plaza, the spirit of the Disney Parks is still alive. Where Main Street USA is a quintessential turn of the century small-town main street, Buena Vista Street is firmly set in 1920s Los Angeles, with art deco inspired buildings and a streetcar.
California Adventure is known for its thrill rides, so while I had some fun on the kids’ rides, and meeting the various characters (most of the Pixar characters live over this side, as well as the sisters from Frozen, and cool, 1920s versions of Mickey and his friends), I couldn’t really spend a whole day here.
So I spent the afternoon back at Disneyland, before heading back to see the sound and light show at California Adventure, which is titled “Carousel of Color”. It might have been more spectacular than the shows I saw at Disneyland the night before, but it didn’t quite have the magic.
All good things must come to an end. Fortunately, it was a perfect way to end it. I practically walked onto the Pirates of the Caribbean, and Haunted Mansion (twice!), with almost no wait time. I got to meet a bunch of cool characters (even as an adult, this is the best part, Disney cast members are outstanding folks). I caught up on a couple of rides I missed, including Peter Pan’s Flight, which is probably the highest I got off the ground in the whole park.
The highlight of the day was that night’s show. Just a few days out from the beginning of ‘Pixar Fest’, we got to see a preview of the new “Pixar Nighttime Spectacular”. Now, I’ll always be more of a Disney Animated Studios guy than a Pixar guy, but I still cheered when Buzz Lightyear flew past the castle.
After that show I went and saw Fantasmic again. I should point out that all these night time shows are up on YouTube.
As the night was coming to an end, I finally got to do something I’ve been dying to do for two years. I went shopping. No more worrying about having to cart everything across a continent. No more leaving cool mugs behind because I don’t want it to break. No more trying to find the lightest thing in the store, because I just had to have something.
I stayed in the park until close. I found a bench at the top of Main Street, near Walt Disney’s firehouse office, facing down towards the castle. It was a good time to reflect on everything, while taking in somewhere I’ve dreamed of for so long, one last time.
And after all that is a travel day. What should have been a short one, but I wanted to sleep in, so booked an afternoon ticket to LA, which was then delayed.
My hostel was on the same Metro Line as Hollywood, so that seemed like a good place to start. And boy is Hollywood Boulevard kind of dirty. It was cool seeing the Walk of Fame, but I didn’t really want to stop anywhere. I went and took the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, which was pretty cool. I’m not sure what we missed out on, due to filming schedules, but I can’t imagine we missed much. If you only take one studio tour in LA, pick this one. Unless you’re already going to Universal, which I’ll cover later.
The Sony Pictures Studio Tour isn’t quite as good as the Warner Brothers Tour. However, the Sony Pictures lot is the old MGM lot, so assuming they’re not using it, you can stand on the same soundstage that The Wizard of Oz was filmed on. Which was 99% of the reason I was there. They also show you some cool effects stuff, which you miss out on at Warner Brothers.
I’d had enough of tours, and decided to head down to Santa Monica. Unfortunately, this was my first time at a beach since Sicily, and I don’t have a pair of board shorts that actually fits me, so I couldn’t go in the water. I did check out the pier, which was pretty cool, and the endpoint of Route 66.
I’m not going to lie, I spent a good chunk of today playing Pokemon Go. But I also checked out the La Brea Tar Pits while I did. The number of fossils they pull out of the pits in a day is unbelievable. Saber-toothed cats, mammoths, dire wolves, right down to tiny little insects. It’s really interesting to learn about.
I wasn’t quite sure what to do with my day, so I wandered around Downtown LA and did a little shopping. I spent the afternoon in the hills above Sunset Boulevard, finally ending at the Griffith Observatory in Griffith Park, for the best view of Los Angeles. The Observatory was the main thing I wanted to see in Los Angeles, so naturally I picked the one day a week it’s closed. But that’s ok, because it’s all about that view. I waited for the sun to go down so I could see the lights stretch on forever, before I headed back down to my hostel.
My last day in the States. I had planned on having to lay low, either at the hostel, or the airport, and catching up on some Hulu. But instead I went and made a friend at the hostel and headed to Universal Studios. Unlike the other studios, Universal has a full-sized theme park. Nothing on the scale of Disneyland, but still very popular.
Their studio tour is included, and is pretty cool. It’s a ride in itself, with many intact special effects. Jurassic Park dinosaurs, the shark from Jaws (though I doubt they’re original) and so on.
And so ends my travel. I got on the 23.55 flight from LAX to Tullamarine, and now I’m home until further notice.