Monday, July 10, 2006

Disneyland 101

So, we have been living in California for a few years, and would you believe Disneyland is just an hour up the road, and we haven't visited yet! This last weekend was a great opportunity because Vicky does babysitting for a couple that really trust and love Vicky to take care of their baby. They had planned a family getaway over the weekend and invited Vicky along with Tammy to stay with them. They had their own room in the Hyatt Hotel - from what the girls say it was an experience to remember! The deal was that the girls would look after the baby Saturday and then have Sunday free. The opportunity arose and we had no option but to take it, and drive up towards Los Angeles early Sunday morning to meet the girls and have a day atDisneyland. I must commend Julian and Zane - they forfeited the World Cup game to drive up and be with the girls and have a day of fun instead.

On arrival, we parked the car and had to catch a mega long train type of bus, seating well in the region of 300 people. It was a short ride but when we arrived I felt for my wallet and that sudden deathly rush of blood gushed through me trying to figure if I left it in the car or had dropped it in transit - a mad rush back to the car park, up the stairs, running down to the car only to discover I had left it in the car - big sigh of relief! This is Disneyland's 50th year celebration and so the entire theme in the park is focussed on the 50 years of Walt Disney and all the achievements. The weather was superb for photography but bad for sunburn - and that is what lead me to the wallet incident because I distracted myself with the ritual of applying sun screen!

The very first character we bumped into was "Cruella De Vil" and suddenly tammy and Vicky became little kids again almost begging for a photo with her - that was a cute moment as these characters of course will oblige for photos and it was a treat to get this shot donewith the girls. You can see tam's expression - she obviously is a fan! Vicky didn't look too sure about the whole photo with Cruella idea. That is meant to be Cruella's smile - would hate to see her unhappy...I must add that the sun was beating down and I kept wondering throughout the day - how on earth are these Disney characters surviving this heat under all those costumes!

As soon as we entered the park, we heard this really fancy band playing Disney theme music, and it was an absolute pleasure to stand there in the shade and listen to them and take in the view of our first visit to the world renowned famous Disneyland. What amazed me was that throughout the day each and every event, theme and show was performed with the most impeccable professionalism and showmanship it made me see the reality of how great the achievement of Walt Disney has succeeded through the years and even with all the changes to modern technology and digitalization of this industry - this is something that will still be around 50 years to come.

People people everywhere...I had thought it wouldn't be busy - was I wrong! It is estimated that an average 200 000 visitors will visit Disneyland on the weekend! Since 1955 over 515 million people have visited the park - now that is some statistics right the math at an average of $50 per person per entry. This shot was taken right after the music band, and it is the main street that runs from the entrance all the way down to the castle - it is lined with old fashioned stores doing trade (buying their goods) from memorabilia to candy and ice-cream. And speaking of ice-cream we had some mega delicious ice cream from this little store, what a treat. Sitting outside and eating ice cream watching all the peopple go by. The sights the sound the music the atmosphere - really a great experience.

This is the guy who started it all way back in 1955, this build stands tall, and I thought it was a nice bit of history to have that included in this post comemorating 50 years of Disneyland. If you look closely to the right you will spot the three ladies in my life ambling off seemingly unaware I was click happy behind them trying to get some decent shots done before the sun angle changed..and of course the day we go to Disneyland turns out to be the hottest day ever! A little way after this statue I had to get this on camera, the biggest horse I have ever seen in my life pulling a carriage. As I got the camera ready this horse stared right at me until I took the picture, almost like it knew it was being put on show. One thing I did notice though, through out our day at the Park, was the cleanliness, really amazing good job they do to make it every bit of the best experience possible.

At the end of Grand Avenue, is the palace, well it is every bit a dream as you can see. The girls demanded a photo right there, and I had to waite for other people standing in the way to get this shot. I never would have imagined that we would see what we had once heard of in Zimbabwe, and to walk through this place was an awesome experience. The variety of people, the sites and sounds, all added to the day of excitement. You know what is really funny that all three girls, every time we saw a character would shreak with excitement and I could see the rushing desire to run up and get a photo, and did I oblige..? Well...not all the time, at the bottom of the post are some pictures of the characters...

Of course Zane and Julian had to be the coolest dudes in the park. Check the shades (sunglasses...!!). Notice Tammy looking super agitated - the result of standing in line for longer than anticipated. Vicky just chilling, at this point we didn't factor in that the ride we were lining up for would be a super 45 minutes away...nice! But let me tell you, talk about breaking sound barriers in screaming...go on a ride with the three ladies and you will soon discover they can yell like three soparanos. The ride was well worth it after standing baking in the sun, we rode the log, and it went slowly through a cave, with soft music, and Disney characters acting out on staged sets, fooled us big time, because at the end of the ride is a climb, and you know after a climb, is always a drop...super drop....the rush of falling headfirst at a rate of speed into a bowl of water at the bottom was exillirating. Needless to say we were all totally drenched and loved the ride, because we needed to cool off. This shot of Nancy and I believe it or not is us totally drenched, thank goodness for the camera case because the camera would definately not have survived the water plunge!

After a few hours of walking around and taking in all the excitement we went into the Indiana Jones ride, let me tell you that was mega fun! Trying to even come close to explaining the thrill of each ride is impossible you actually need to be here to experience it. But I can assure you even grown ups can scream...during our walk down under ground to the ride, we came across something that startled us - amazing what our mind conjurs up when we for that first split second out of the corner of our eye see something. My first thought was...mmm...this unlucky guy never made it out of the ride alive...but then reality kicked in and ofcourse this is Disneyland...this sort of thing doesn't happen...or does it!?!

After the sun set we took time out to sit down, rest our feet, and people watch. You have to admit that is everyone's favorite pst time. Just to sit there and watch people go by, all shapes, sizes, colors, just a real mix of entertainment. At 9pm we gathered around the lake and watch what I have to admit was one of the best shows and imagery I have seen yet. They did all kinds of amazing effects using a water mist spray to project 3D animations followed by a really magic fireworks display choreographed with Disney cartoons and music. talk about perfect timing...they got it right! After the show we headed across the park to do our last ride, which was an indoor rollercoaster, in space. Trust me...if you didn't scream on any other ride this was the screamers delight. The entire ride simulates being in space, with billions of stars all around you, and pitch black darkness - truly incredible effect! You almost feel weightless as you hurtle through "space" even pulling a few 'g' in some turns...This ride topped the whole day of rides, and had it not been for the crazy silly line another ride would have been exactly what the doctor ordered.

We had fun people - real family adventure and fun...if you are ever in this neck of the woods, and you happen across our doorstep, we would love to take you up the road for a day of fun that you will never forget. Below are some random pics I selected to share at this time, if you would like to see more, I will be posting them on another link at a later stage and will let you know.

...don't even ask...that last photo is us going down the wood log shoot into the water drop that drenched us. As you can see Julian is making it a moment to remember, Vicky, Nancy and Tammy are breaking the sound barrier, Zane is Mr. Keeewl...and I am smiling, sitting back and enjoying the ride.