But I finally left work sometime around 2:30pm, grabbed some lunch to eat on the drive and headed down to the Disneyland Resort. Traffic was bad but not at a standstill, so I pulled into the Mickey and Friends parking structure at about 4pm and was very surprised that there was virtually no line of cars to get in. Only about half the lanes were open, and I only had to wait about a minute behind the car in front of me. But I did notice on the electronic sign that Disneyland was indicated as being sold out. I parked the car, got my stuff together for the cooler evening I expected later, and got irritated at the kid in the car parked next to me who thought it was ok to knock on my car because he was bored though I don't know if he even paid attention to the fact that I was still there because he seemed startled or surprised when I asked him to stop knocking on my car.
I got on the tram and as I rode to the tram stop, the cast member (CM) at the back of the tram announced that sale of tickets to Disneyland was temporarily suspended, and that included single-day tickets, park-hoppers, annual passports and annual passport blockout day tickets.
After I got off the tram, I headed to the AMC Theatres to meet the husband. He had already gone through the turnstiles to get his handstamp (if Disneyland gets too full, they will limit who enters into the park, and having a handstamp to show you've already been in might allow you re-entry even if they've stopped letting new people in), so I left him to watch my stuff and just took my AP to go through the entrance at the monorail station. I had my AP scanned and did an immediate u-turn to exit and get a handstamp.
We then went in to see a movie (review to come in a future post), and then afterward, we had to go back to the parking structure to get something the husband forgot. We decided to walk there and were surprised at the fog having come in. We also noticed that they had blocked off the Downtown Disney (DTD) parking lot and instead of their normal rates, they were charging a $15 flat rate, which you could get back if you got your ticket validated by a participating tenant of DTD. We still noticed that the parking structure wasn't very full, and there were very few people at the stop waiting for a tram. We figured there must be a lot of people staying at local hotels if Disneyland was already so full.
As we were waiting for the tram for the ride back, the heavy fog made for a very eerie atmosphere - instead of it being about 6:30pm, it felt more like it was after midnight. We browsed a couple of the DTD stores before heading to meet some friends for dinner.
One of our friends had suggested earlier in the week that we have New Year's Eve dinner at Catal Restaurant, one of our favorite restaurants, so we had agreed. (We had actually spent last New Year's Eve having dinner at Catal as well.) We were the first to arrive, and we were happy to see that our favorite server (who we hadn't seen in a while but who we knew was expected to work that night) was there, so it was nice to spend some time chatting with him and catching up, as well as talking to some of the other restaurant staff that we know. We waited for our table, and shortly after we were seated, our friend and another friend arrived. We had a very nice leisurely meal. The restaurant that night was serving a prix fixe menu.
I had yellow tail sashimi as a starter (which was great) and then artic char as an entree, which was delicious, very moist and smooth. For dessert, I had a ginger cake which was quite tasty. Food, conversation and the company was good and fun and crazy as usual. We also had a really good view from our table, and with the fog now permeating DTD, it occured to me that John Carpenter would probably feel quite comfortable there.
We finished with dinner just after 11pm and decided to see if we could get into the park. We headed to the monorail station, and our friends who hadn't been in the park yet had no trouble getting in, and they never checked the handstamp for me or the husband. After we got off the monorail, we made our way to our normal spot in front of Small World. They had one of their entertainment stages set up there, so as our friends went to ride Small World, we enjoyed the music, and it was pretty funny to watch some of the Disney characters (like Chip, Dale and Goofy) participating in the physical gestures to the song "YMCA".
If was a bit windy and very, very foggy, so we weren't sure they'd even be doing the traditional midnight fireworks. Our friends finished with their ride just before midnight, and after the countdown, they did run the entire "Fantasy in the Sky" fireworks - but because it was so foggy, we could see almost nothing of the fireworks. For the first couple shells, you could see a few stray bits of light, but after that, you could really just hear the booms of the shells going off (they are usually pretty loud from that location), and occasionally, the entire sky would light up a random color from a large exploding firework. We laughed and cheered every time that happened. After the fireworks ended, the DJ proclaimed them to be the sound effects fireworks, which was exactly correct.
We stayed around for a bit and then headed over to the Rivers of America. There was supposed to be a third Fantasmic show that night that started at 12:05am, and we were curious as to what that looked like in the fog. On the way there, we met up with another friend who came with us. As we came down Big Thunder trail, we didn't hear any of the Fantasmic soundtrack which we normally would have, and when we got closer, we noticed all the lights were on, which meant there was no show. I ended up asking one of the CMs in the Fantasmic jacket costume if the show had been cancelled because of the fog, and he confirmed that it was. He said the second show of the night (at 10:30pm) had been really hard to see because of the fog. He joked that they could have just left the water screens turned off since the projectors were working fine just on the fog itself.
We then decided to take a ride on Haunted Mansion Holiday, which had a very short line. The two friends we had dinner with decided to call it a night, so we bid them farewell and then headed back to Fantasyland. Many years ago, when we spent every New Year's Eve at Disneyland and they were always open late, a fairly large group of us used to ride Dumbo at 1am. It's been so long since the park has been open at that time, so I decided I wanted to get the Dumbo ride in. It was a lot of fun, even though my face was very cold after the ride ended. During the ride, I texted a friend in Sacramento, and I was surprised but pleased when I got a response from him, since I didn't think he'd still be up at that time. We then took a ride on Storybook, and then we called it a night, heading out of the park at about 1:45am with the park about to close in 15 minutes anyway.
We decided to walk back to the parking structure, which made for a bit of a spooky walk because of the still-prevalent fog, but since the husband and friend were with me, I wasn't as spooked as I might have been. The setting was definitely very reminiscent of a horror movie.
As we were heading to our cars, one of the friends who had left earlier called to tell us about a traffic problem on our route home, so we took an alternate route instead, so we were thankful for the warning.
2009 started with time spent at Disneyland having fun with good friends. May the rest of the year be just as delightful.