Monday, August 3, 2009

July 17 and 18, 2009 - Disneyland Resort trip report

Disneyland's official opening day was July 17, 1955, so the park celebrates its birthday on July 17 every year. Some years, they have a bigger celebration in the morning, and lately, they've been having a smaller celebration in the afternoon. On July 17, 2002, they had a celebration at 11:45am, and it was especially beautiful because of their special guest. The following year, July 17, 2003, they had another nice ceremony in the morning, complete with characters.

July 17, 2004 brought a slightly different, but much more well attended, celebration.

And then, of course, July 17, 2005 was actually the culmination of the 50th birthday celebration that had started two months prior.

July 17, 2006 was fairly low-key after the mega-celebration the year before, but with some of the celebration decorations still around, someone decided to make a modification to celebrate Disneyland's 51st.

July 17, 2007 had a very short celebration that day, right after flag retreat.

I've enjoyed being at the park for its birthday for the past multiple years. Regardless of what day of the week it falls on, it's nice to spend a weekend day there or have an excuse to take off a workday to spend at Disneyland.

For the past two years, though, we've had yet another reason to be at Disneyland on its birthday, and to be there bright and early as well. We are collectors of Robert Olszewski's work, particularly of his Disneyland miniatures line, and starting July 17, 2008, Disneyland has asked Bob to have a nostalgia piece released on Disneyland's birthday every year. Last year, it was the Moonliner. This year, it was the Monorail. Next year, it'll be the House of the Future. When there's an Olszewski release, the husband and I are there first thing in the morning, so that we can enter as soon as Disneyland's gates open. That way, we can make sure we're not too far back in line to make our purchase, and it also gives us plenty of time to talk to the Olszewski Studios rep to find out about future releases.

On this particular July 17, the husband dropped me off on Harbor Blvd. and then went to park the car in the structure. I walked in past the shuttle bus drop-off area and was surprised that there was a line at bag check. And it wasn't a line to get THROUGH bag check - bag check just wasn't open yet. I was surprised but realized that they must not open bag check until half an hour before park opening. Disneyland opened at 8am, and it was about 7:15 at that point. Every time we've come to an Olszewski release, it must have been a Magic Morning day, because I've never been lined up at bag check. There are usually people already going into the park with Magic Morning, and I just line up at one of the other turnstiles that are scheduled to be open when the park is open to all guests.

Once they opened bag check, making it through was pretty easy, and I was able to be third in line at one of the turnstiles, with the husband joining me shortly after. They ended up letting us in a little bit after 8am. Marty Sklar, longtime Disney employee, was retiring that day, and they were presenting him with a window on Main Street, at City Hall. The ceremony was evidently running long, which accounted for why they let us in late, and as we walked through Town Square, the ceremony was reaching its conclusion, with the crowd gathered at City Hall for the ceremony still in attendance. If you want to see pictures from the ceremony, go here and scroll down.

As I approached the tunnel underneath the railroad track, I had noticed a sign informing guests that Disneyland's birthday celebration would be at 4:45pm that afternoon.

We made our purchases of the Monorail and gathered our normal information that morning. While we were in Disneyana, one of the CMs gave us a button for the D23 Expo in September. Pretty cool.

After we were done, we met up with a couple of friends, and we wandered over to the Emporium to have a look around. We happened upon a toy set that I found to be very odd, partly because it was labeled as Disney Heroes and some of the figures in the set were definitely not of the "heroes" variety, but what really caught my eye was Peter Pan. He had a really weird expression on his face, and he had GIGANTIC Popeye arms! Has Peter been eating lots more spinach lately?

Captain Hook might be a bit more leery about fighting *this* Peter Pan.

We had a good time with friends that day at lunch and wandering around the park. We then spent some time in the Tiki Room, partly to get away from the heat, but that didn't work out as well as it usually does because the air conditioning didn't seem to be up nearly as high as it usually was in there. Now, I've seen the attraction many times, and they had a sort of anniversary celebration a couple of years ago. It occurred to me that instead of the lame merchandise "celebration" they had, it would have been so cool if they'd done a separately-ticketed anniversary event that recreated the entire attraction with live action people in costumes representing all the birds in the Tiki Room. They'd need four lead male singers to be each of Jose, Michael, Pierre and Fritz, costumed in the colors of each of the four birds. They'd need extraneous singers to be the multitude of other birds around the sides, a choir of women to be the birds in the middle, some beautiful singers to be the flowers, and then drummers and chanters to be the tikis. And start it all off with people dressed as each of the gods in the waiting area, giving the spiel live and in person. They could have held this at the old Festival Arena, on the center stage, kind of like they did with the fabulous Saturday night show during the 50th event. With the center stage and the audience all around, it would be just like in the Tiki Room. The only thing I can't figure out is how the girls (like Colette, Mimi, Gigi and Fifi) would descend, but that can be worked out. And let's answer the question of whatever happened to Rosita! Have the event begin with a panel discussion somewhere about the creation and development of the Tiki Room, have a dinner with Polynesian food, and then the live-action recreation of the attraction. How awesome would that have been?

I'm just saying that I would have loved to have gone to that. The merchandise "event" didn't interest me at all, nor did it interest the husband, who is a huge fan of the Tiki Room.

Anyway, back to the trip report.

We waited for the birthday ceremony to start, and it was a lot of fun, though a friend and I giggled through most of it because Minnie was just WIRED, being extremely animated during the Mayor of Disneyland's speech. She was reacting to everything he was saying and twirling around a lot.

After the ceremony, we stayed around for flag retreat, but from a different angle than normal. We went up and sat at the train station to watch the ceremony. I rather liked that view. Even though you're seeing the back of the band, you can see the folding of the flags much better. Usually, from where we normally watch, there end up being people in front of us, so I can't see the folding of the flags at all.

The flags have made it half-way down.

Later in the day, we were wandering around the World of Disney, and we saw an awesome new design for the Haunted Mansion's 40th birthday. They had a lot of different kinds of merchandise, but too bad that the really cool t-shirt only comes in kids' sizes. They still haven't learned that ADULTS like to wear t-shirts with these designs too, and that it's the ADULTS who actually have the money. *sigh*

We then headed over to Catal Restaurant for dinner and had our normal great food, great service and great time.

The next day, July 18, we were back at the park fairly early, though we were a little irritated that they'd changed their normal parking routine, and at about 11am, they were parking guests ON THE ROOF first. Nice. Guess we'll just have the car bake all day instead of being on a nice shaded floor like normal.

We met up with a bunch of friends for an event at the Big Thunder Barbeque celebration. We ended up at a table with some good friends who we don't see very often because of geographic restrictions and a couple of people we didn't know but were also very nice. We also could talk to various people at other tables. All in all, we had a fabulous time. Go here for more information about the lunch event.

And, on top of the fabulous time, I actually got to try the regular barbeque. As I mentioned in my review of the new barbeque, we had specially prepared ribs and chicken last time, which I kind of thought would be what I would have this time too, but I had figured that I might be able to ask to have a taste of someone else's food with the regular sauces on them. Well, how happy was I to discover that they were able to accommodate everyone. We had three different dietary needs among the six people at our table, and they were able to take care of everyone equally well. I was able to just eat the regular food, and they brought the husband individual servings of his own food.

I had enjoyed the specially prepared food the last time, but I also loved the regular version of the ribs and chicken. It was sauced just right for me - I'm not partial to having too much barbeque sauce. The staff was very attentive to our needs, and they were very nice as well.

We also happened to be celebrating the husband's birthday that day. His actual birthday was a few days prior, but that was his "Disney birthday", and he had on his birthday button. One of the cast members saw his button and brought over some birthday goodies for him, which was really nice. He even put together the birthday hat AND let me take a picture AND gave me permission to post it here. :)

The husband in his birthday celebration hat.

After our meal, we went over to DCA with a few friends. We looked at the changes inside the Blue Sky Cellar, and then we went to look at all the new stuff put in for next year's World of Color as well as the demolishment (yeah, I know, that's not a word) of the old Golden Dream building, and then we went on a geek ride of the sunwheel (non-moving buckets, thankyouverymuch) to look at everything from a better angle. We had a really fun ride. As we sat up there, I wondered if the sunwheel would be running during the World of Color show. They advertise that some of the shooting water jets will be higher than the top of the sunwheel, so I don't know if they'll close it for fear of people getting drenched. But I think it would be an awesome view of the show. They could even sell special viewing packages, like they do with Fantasmic. There are a few logistical issues that would need to be worked out (would the sunwheel be moving, how do people get out for bathroom breaks, etc.), but I think it could still work.

After our ride, we wandered around to a few other places at the resort. Some friends had decided to see the new Harry Potter movie that night, but since we weren't interested, we ended up leaving the resort for dinner and then on home.

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