Disneyland, Friday, September 7, 2007

We started the day off with breakfast at the Storyteller's Cafe. As with most places in the Grand Californian, the details on the walls, ceiling and fixtures is amazing.

Back in the park we met Alice and the Mad Hatter, who made quite a charming (and entertaining) pair. At one point a very loud middle aged man yelled down from the passing train, "I love you Alice," to which the Mad Hatter replied, "Hey, she's only twelve, which makes that a little awkward."

Despite the light attendance, Main Street was busy with traffic, and so we hopped aboard the Omnibus for a trip to the hub. The double-decker bus was close on our heels, but our one horse power engine was more than a match, and kept us in front all the way to the hub. Along the way, a little spider slowly dropped down onto Elayne's shoulder before climbing back to her normal perch.

We then made our way westward, through Frontierland to the Rivers of America to catch a raft to Tom Sawyer's Island.

Tom Sawyer was fending off pirates and couldn't make it over to the mainland to give us a lift just yet, and so we wandered into Adventureland for some, um, adventure.

The queue for Indy is nearly as entertaining as the ride itself, and we frequently stop and let people rush past so we can linger and enjoy the details. The Imagineers also lavished their attention on the exit walkway as well. This attraction is a masterpiece.

It was then time for (another) trek deep into the jungle, along with our fearless Jungle Cruise Skipper, JR (pronounced jurr). After JR chased the hippos from the canopy, soothed the savage beasts and diplomatically handled what looked like a tense situation with the natives, we were off to Tom Sawyer's Piratey Island, where there be pirates, and other things relating to pirates, as briefly mentioned by Tom somewhere in his book. Tom himself was conspicuous by his absence.

The pirate band was performing and entertaining the (somewhat diminished) crowd. Elayne thought the guy in the orange cap looked like Viggo Mortensen. And then the pirate show began, which we found delightfully entertaining. All of the characters performed well, but of course the center of the show was Captain Jack, and the actor playing him was amazing.

After the show we explored the caves (nice special effects!) and wandered about the island, enjoying the marvelous landscaping, pathways, rock work and structures (it was great to have both bridges open again). While we could see the theme problems with pirates on the island, we also enjoyed both the pirate shows and the island itself in all its new found glory. We spent several hours here on this day, plus more time on the last day of our trip. By contrast, in both 2000 and 2005 we never even bothered to visit the island.

We wandered back to the hub and around Adventureland before heading back to the Grand Californian for a tour.

After the tour we made our way back to New Orleans Square for our lunch reservations at the Blue Bayou. We liked the new menu, and thought the food was well prepared, but the price was rather over the top, even when you consider the great atmosphere.

We then ambled over to the hub and into Fantasyland.

After a thrilling ride down the Matterhorn we walked over to Tomorrowland to ride Space Mountain and Star Tours, but we were delayed on the way by the last bit of the Jedi Training Academy.

I'm going to be honest here: when we read about this event, and saw the photos other people had posted, we both said "pass." However after watching just a few minutes of this performance we decided to return to the Tomorrowland Terrace tomorrow for lunch so we could catch Jedi in its entirety.

Yeah, of course we were rooting for Darth. "Join the Dark Side!"

After our brush with the future, we visited Ariel's garden, which has some of the best landscaping in the entire park.

As usual when left on their own, our feet made their way back to New Orleans Square, traditionally our favorite land in the park, and from here we hopped aboard the train for a trip to Main Street Station.

From Main Street we returned to our hotel to avoid the heat of the day. As the sun set we went back to the park and had dinner at Rancho del Zocalo. The crowds had picked up quite a bit by now, and this place was packed. We had never eaten here before, and we found the multiple lines to be a complete confusing mess. The food was fine, though, and the price reasonable (for Disneyland), and we found a nice dark corner outside to dine, just where the trains from Big Thunder loop back to the station.

Our last attraction of the day was a night ride on the Mark Twain -- something Elayne had never done, and I had not enjoyed since the 60s. From there we simply wandered the different lands, enjoying the sights, sounds and smells of Disneyland at night, and drinking in the ambiance. I didn't take the camera with me, but we stopped by several Photo-pass people and had them take our picture.

<-- Thursday, September 6 Saturday, September 8 -->