Friday, June 10, 2011

A Date with Deb & Fam at Disneyland

Two weeks ago, in between Kylie concerts, I met my sister and her family at Disneyland for the day. I only get up to Washington State a couple of times a year, so if they are coming close to me, I make the effort to meet them where they are. I am an expert guide at all things Disneyland.

We started our day at Disney's California Adventure.
Rob & Sam went on Grizzly Falls, Deb & I did not.

Please note my sister's fingers giving me the "bunny ears". This seems to run in my family.

Rob & I really wanted to go on the Roller Coaster "California Screamin'." My sister was very certain she was not going. My nephew Sam was in the middle. It's big. It's fast. It goes upside down.
In the end, the eternal power of peer pressure and the phrase, "Don't be a wuss" won out and we were off!

We wandered all over Disney's California Adventure. We had a "fast pass" to go on Soarin' Over California for later in the day and we wanted to stay in the same park until we accomplished that.

"It's Tough To Be A Bug" is a good show inside a cool theater, where you get to sit down.
How'd those bunny ears get in there?

And then it was time. Time for our "flight" on Soarin' Over California. We lined up and we were very excited. And by "we" I mean Sam and I. The family had already gone on the ride in the morning. I hadn't gone yet today. Sam thought it was totally cool but instead of riding on the bottom row of seats, this time he wanted to ride on the top. I told him how the last time I went on this ride with his grandfather, he wouldn't let me go on the top row of seats. We looked at his mom and said, "Please!?!" and she said, "(sigh) Okay."

There are three rows of seats. The front row goes to the top. At each of the three entrances, we said, "We want to be on the top row. Each time they sent us to the next door so we could do that. We waited our turn, went inside, we got on and we buckled up.
Each ride vehicle within consists of three rows of seats under a wing-like canopy. After guests have been safely restrained in the vehicle using standard lap belts, the canopy descends slightly and a cantilever system lifts the chairs forward and into the air with the guests' feet dangling freely. The vehicle is lifted forward so that guests look into a large, concave movie screen onto which aerial views of California are projected. The scenes were shot with an IMAX HD frame rate - 48 frames per second, twice the conventional output for regular films. Since the vehicle is moved forward toward the center of the dome, guests can only see the images projected on the screen and experience the sensation of flight. The ride structure contains about one million pounds of steel, and 37 tons are lifted during each ride cycle.

And here is a video of what the ride is like:

Now imagine as the lights go dark, the ride swiftly ascends and the music swells... that you feel a bump. A bump followed by the music being cut, and you can sense a rush of wind as the set of seats next to you return to the ground, but your seat, in the top row, does a slight "bounce" and stops.

"Please remain seated while we contact the control tower." and then the lights came on.

We were the only section stuck, and we were in the top row.

"Nobody move." said my sister.
"I'm gonna get my camera out!" said me.
"Don't. MOVE." said me sister with a forced calm.
and that's when I realized she was freaking out.

As only a mother can, she remained in a controlled calm so as to not freak her son out. Everyone else was talking and most everyone had their cell phones or cameras out. My brother-in-law began to play "Angry Birds".
I did take my camera out and discovered that my sister was keeping her eyes tightly shut.
I think this is probably how she looks when she is at the dentist.

Being the youngest and used to tormenting her, I asked her if she wanted me to tell her what was going on.
"NO." she told me tightly.
So, you don't want me to tell you how high up we are?
You know it's an IMAX theater, right?
Oh look, there's a man under the screen. Look!
You want me to sing?
You wanna play a video game?

Finally the engineering department fixed the rise and we were let down. My sister's greatest fear was that they would announce the ride was ready and force us to go right back up. But they didn't. She then wondered if the paramedic was there was for her because she thought maybe they knew she wanted to pass out.

When we left, the staff gave each group a "fast pass" good for ANY RIDE in the either theme park that was good for your entire party. We left California Adventure, and per Sam's request, we used our group fast pass for "Thunder Mountain Railroad" (without his mom).

Disneyland has re-tooled "Star Tours" and was having a sneak peek that weekend. You know, it's better than the old one, but I kinda still missed the old one anyway.

About this point, my sister says, "Can we talk about that other ride? The one we got stuck on?"
"How long were we up there? Half an hour?"
Uh, 5 minutes?
"No way. It was forever. At least 20."
No, 10 minutes tops. More like 7.
"Uh-uh. They had to call all those people in and they had to arrive. 15."
They have plans for stuff like that. And they have back entrances to be quick. Let's compromise and say 12.
"Okay, I'm telling everyone were stuck. In the sky. For TWELVE MINUTES."

Towards the end of the evening, we started to get tired, and tired of lines, and tired of people, but you know, you pay a billion dollars to get in, you can't just leave when you want. You have to stay all night!
So we went on the Matterhorn.
My sister: "I don't mean to belabor the point, but can we talk about that ride again?"
Me: Ok.
"So what would they have done if they ride hadn't come down? Get a ladder?"
Do you have any idea how high up we were?
"That's what I was most worried about. How would I get on the ladder."
Fist off, there isn't a ladder that tall. They would have had to use a scissor lift.
"Do they go tall enough?"
Yes, but we were over the curved screen. there was no solid floor under us.
"I'm so glad I kept my eyes closed."

As we left the Matterhorn, we were trying to decide on the "last ride" of the night.

What you need to know now, is a family legend.

Mr. Toad's wild ride consists of Mr Toad driving all over town and crashing into people and things, then being sent to court and then sentenced to jail. As he leaves for jail he winds up on the train tracks the train comes and kills him and then he goes to burn in hell. You know, standard Disney Kid stuff.

When we my sister was about 10, we went to Disneyland. We went on Mr Toad's Wild Ride. And when the "train" (which is a bight light suspended above) came at her and my dad's car, my sister screamed and hit the floor of the car, certain she was about to be killed.

We have tortured her about this ever since. Her son knows this legend as well. And so I say, What do you want to go on for the last ride of the night? And he says, "MISTER TOAD! MISTER TOAD! MISTER TOAD!"

My sister says, "Okay, have fun. I'll wait outside." And Sam says, "C'mon mom, don't be such a wuss!" Kids learn so quickly.



Someone seems frightened...

Watch for the train at about 1:20:


As we are finally leaving the theme park, Sam says he really wants something sweet. Oddly, my sister says ok, and he purchases the world's largest sucker. I think we all know how this is going to end up...
Sugar high, sugar low.

The family went off to their hotel and I drove home. The next day I drove to Las Vegas to see Kylie Minogue in concert. As I walked away from the family, I could hear my sister say, "Okay, about that ride earlier..."


Anonymous said...

California Adventure is the WORST, SCARIEST, MOST NIGHTMARISH RIDE EVER!!!!! I hate that ride, I had a panic attack on it, I had to take xanax, I was in tears, I swear I was going to wet my pants and die of a heart attack at the same time! That ride should be used as a torture instrument - I would have confessed to ANYTHING!!! Deb is right - I was not there but I bet to her you were stuck for like an hour. I mean angry birds can be played for a long time! My heart is beating faster just typing this and remembering going on that ride! Need a xanax.....

Cheryl said...

Jim, I love listening to your stories. The vid of that ride was glorious. I think I'm going to have to pay for a helicopter ride so I can view the world like that. Up close and personal. Too bad Deb is a wuss.

debra said...

Once again, Jimbo, every word is true about our CA adventure and that is exactly what I look like at the dentist, but add in scowling. They always stop and ask if I'm ok.
I did like Soarin Over CA all my previous times up until the loud clunk. I don't know about next time.
Thanks again for the fabulous tour of Disneyland. Everyone should have an Uncle Jim. "Uncle Jim's crazy mom," to quote Sam.
"Somebody bakin' brownies?" to quote Jim and now Sam daily/hourly.

Margaret said...

No wonder I LOVE you back! Please adopt me!

Jules said...

Love it! Looks like all so much fun and it's so great to see all the smiles.. well, until the sugar low...