Disneyland proclaims itself as “The Happiest Place On Earth.” Most of the time, this is patently false; a serious case of misadvertising that deserves a little asterisk next to the title just to prevent a disgruntled family from suing.
Usually Disneyland serves as a breeding ground for arguments and germs. Everyone disagrees on which ride to go on next. Families on the brink of crumbling utilize Tomorrowland as a therapist’s office. The kids want toys the parents can’t afford, resulting in a threat to stop loving whichever frugal parental unit crushed their desire for more stuff they’ll never play with.
As the bank accounts drain, the waits grow longer, and the sunburns become more painful, the crying, hissy fits, personal insults and overall contempt multiply like minor infections, morphing Disneyland into one of the least happy places on earth.
Fortunately, that wasn’t the case this particular day.
One of the perks of having a friend who works at Disneyland is that they can get you in for free, saving about $100 per person (if you’re going to both Disneyland and California Adventure). Many of my friends decided to get “real jobs” long ago, abandoning their low-paying jobs at Disneyland, and subsequently my friendship.
But Jackie’s friend Jenn knew someone who worked there and could get the three of us in. This person has been added to my will.
Free admission was a great start. It got better when the parking attendant, who was blatantly staring at Jackie’s ample cleavage, gave us free parking, saving us $14. “You’re cool. I hooked it up.” Awh, yeah, playa; that’s how you impress the ladies! (He didn’t get Jackie’s number.)
To top it all off, the wait for rides was short — like a pizza: 30 minutes or less — and the family-of-four count was relatively low, resulting in less arguments and divorces. It was mainly teenagers, who can be equally as loud and annoying, much like a little girl throwing a temper tantrum because her family doesn’t want to go on Snow White for the tenth time in a row. I like how teenagers cuss an unreasonable amount too, as if they just learned naughty words and need to use at least two in every sentence or risk forgetting it.
Rides And Attractions
One of the newest rides at Disneyland is Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, a combination of ride and video game. You sit in a slow moving spaceship and fire a hand-held laser gun at enemy targets to rack up points. I sat in a ship by my lonesome, clutching both guns, and managed to amass a combined score of 72,400. Not bad, but not great.
Know how many Jackie got? 5,600. I’m convinced Jackie didn’t know she had to aim for targets and accidentally accrued 5,600 points. Solid score based on luck, piss poor score based on skill.
I don’t like drops. I’m not ashamed to admit that it took me over 20 years to build up the courage to tackle Splash Mountain and it’s 50-foot drop. I still don’t particularly like the feeling that my stomach might revolt and cover my log mates in more than just water. But I go on the ride anyway because the drop isn’t that bad.
On this particular occasion, a mother was taking her two young kids on the ride for the first time. She, too, hated drops. I had to talk to her the whole ride and let know it was going to be okay even though I was one leg twitch away from wetting my pants. After the drop, she said, “That wasn’t that bad.”
The Haunted Mansion is a make-out ride. Thank goodness it’s dark in there because I would hate to see what’s growing in those buggies. If I had a black light, it would probably look like a crime scene from CSI.
Captain EO is the corniest thing ever. And I love it. I also love that world class talent like George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola and Michael Jackson teamed up to make a 3D movie experience with then cutting-edge technology and Captain Freakin’ EO was the best they could come up with. Unfortunately, the new Captain EO Tribute isn’t as cool as what it used to be. The seats wobble and vibrate for like half the show, even during unnecessary moments like the dance scenes when there’s no action. It was really distracting. You could get the same experience for a quarter at a sleazy motel. During the show, I kept thinking, “If there was an earthquake right now, no one would know the difference.”
If you have anything in your body that needs dislodging, ride the Matterhorn Bobsleds. This clunky roller coaster opened in 1959, and has been bruising kneecaps ever since.
The only reason to visit California Adventure is Soarin’ Over California, a ride where you sit in a seat that’s lifted into the air and pushed close to massive video screen that simulates the experience of hand gliding over various landscapes in California. Not only do you get to see and hear California, you feel the mist from the waves of the ocean and smell the oranges from the groves in Orange County. It’s worth the long wait.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad lacks thunder and really isn’t much of a mountain, but it sure is fun.
Much like a fair or a sporting event, the food is just as big of an attraction.
I’ve been to both parks plenty of times, but I tend to stay away from the long lines and exorbitant prices in the restaurants. There could be some great food at the sits-down places, but I like eating fast and eating on the go. Rides frequently break down and wait times can quickly balloon, so I like to stay on the move. Here are my favorite quick eats at Disneyland and California Adventure (note that the food isn’t photogenic)…
There’s an ice cream stand on the boardwalk near California Screamin’ inside California Adventure that serves the creamiest, smoothest ice cream I’ve ever had. I think the only ingredients are sugar and triple-thick, quadruple-churned cream. It’s unbelievably dense and rich.
At Thanksgiving, the turkey leg is generally neglected. But if grandma knew how to cook turkey like the chefs at Disneyland, people would fight for the leg, literally, like savage barbarians. Eating a tender, juicy turkey leg is primal and messy and completely unattractive, but it’s also one of the most delicious things you can buy at the park. There’s enough savory meat on one leg to fill you up for hours. At $9, it’s a bit pricey, but it looks like a bargain compared to the unthinkably expensive corn on the cob which is $4.75.
Across from the Indiana Jones ride is a little joint called the Bengal Barbeque where you can get deliciously sweet and savory meat on a skewer. The skewer also doubles as a weapon if the teenagers act up.
Walk to the end of Main Street and you’ll see a long line. You’ll quickly notice that this isn’t a line for a ride. No, it’s the line at the Little Red Wagon Corn Dog stand. Yes, it’s that good. I’m curious to see the list of ingredients because I’m pretty sure crack is in there.
No matter how hot it gets, there’s never a bad time for warm clam chowder in a bread bowl. People often mistake the line at Royal Street Veranda for the line to Pirates of Caribbean, it’s that long. Can’t go wrong with New Orleans fritters for dessert.
Unfortunately, the cleavage trick doesn’t work for getting free food.