I am Now an Expert at All Things Disneyland-Related

03.13.2008 | 8:03 am

Having now spent three days at Disneyland, I can safely say I know enough to offer advice. As a public service, I hereby offer this wisdom to you.

  • Be certain to injure yourself or a loved one before going: The best way to avoid long lines is to have someone in your party be riding a wheelchair. You generally get sent in through the exit line, and then do the ride, during which time people not in wheelchairs have moved forward in line approximately nine inches.
  • The best rides: The best rides, according to a very scientific poll I took of my children yesterday during dinner, are:
  • California Screamin’: It’s a traditional roller coaster with a loop-the-loop in the middle. The classics are classics for a good reason. We’ve done this one twice so far.
  • Tower of Terror: You’re seated in an elevator that rockets upward and downward in an unpredictable manner, often in the dark. Great special effects and the Twilight Zone theme that leads up to and through this ride make it not just exciting, but hilariously entertaining, too. We’ve done this one four times so far.
  • Soarin’: Your hanging chair is lifted up so the giant curved screen you’re facing completely fills your vision and then you’re taken on a virtual flight. A little wind machine and smell-o-vision (orange fields, pine trees, ocean air) add to the feeling that you’re really flying as your chair tilts and surges to match the camera’s angle. We’ve been on this one three times so far.
  • Indiana Jones: If you were to close your eyes, this ride would actually seem kind of mild. Your car jerks around the course about as much as an average teenage driver. However, the dark ambience and good humor of the ride make it one of my kids’ favorites.
  • Star Tours: If you loved Star Wars as a kid, you’ll love this ride. The line is as great as the ride itself.
  • Space Mountain: This is a very old ride — I’m pretty sure I rode this when I was a kid — but it holds up great. A roller coaster set in the middle of a planetarium. It’s great.
  • The worst ride: Why do Ferris wheels even exist? I mean, I understand that they’re big and call attention to the amusement park, but they’re just awful rides. Simultaneously boring and need-to-barf-making.
  • A lame ride posing as a good ride: The longest line at Disneyland these days is the “Finding Nemo Submarine Adventure.” It’s about an hour wait, even during weekdays. Yesterday, we went to try it, just to see what the fuss is all about. Even with Susan’s magic wheelchair, we still had to wait half an hour. And you know what? The ride is just the same as it was when it was some other Submarine Voyage, except now it has built-in ads for the Finding Nemo movie sprinkled throughout. I found myself checking email halfway through the ride. I then asked my children if it would be OK for me to walk along the line telling people it wasn’t worth the wait, but they begged me not to.
  • Three days is just about right: On day one, we went to Disneyland park. On day two, we went to the Disneyland California Adventure park. On day three, we hopped between the two parks, doing the rides we liked best from day one and two. The thing is, we have another day here, and I’m not all that excited to do any of the rides again.
  • Eventually, the music will make you insane: The soundtrack they play at certain places along the park never varies. Along one path, for example, they’re always playing “California Girls.” Along another, it’s “I love LA.” If I were an employee of Disneyland, I would almost certainly gouge out my ears within a week.
  • At Disneyland, you pay in dog dollars: After a while, you stop recoiling at the fact that lunch for your family of six — a McDonalds-esque lunch, but with clever names — just cost $98.00. Each day, I have brought $150 in cash with me into the park. Each day, I have come back with change and a few $1 bills. ($1 bills are not legal tender in Disneyland, since nothing can be purchased for that little money.)
  • It’s been a great vacation, but I haven’t slept in my own bed in about two weeks. I’m looking forward to going home. And to riding my bikes.

    And to writing in this (award-winning: ha!) blog about riding my bikes.


    1. Comment by sonic_thud | 03.13.2008 | 8:22 am

      As with so many of your posts, you are absolutely correct. The rides you listed are the best (although I might add the Jungle Cruise and the Tiki Room).
      The imagineers who designed Nemo must have been on some sort of action plan and have since been fired. Truly pathetic by Disney standards…
      For those of us who do not have an injured family member on hand, might I suggest “The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland.” Read it, learn it, live it.
      Best of luck with day (and, yes, it’s one too many)4.

    2. Comment by Trapperdan | 03.13.2008 | 8:41 am

      Dog dollars…. thats a good one.

    3. Comment by Marrock | 03.13.2008 | 8:41 am

      It’s a good thing you listened to your offspring about talking trash about the ride, if that had happened their smiling security people would have escorted you out of the park.

      Through the service entrance of course, can’t have the paying guests seeing anyone not having a sugar-coma inducing good time, you know.

    4. Comment by Shanyn | 03.13.2008 | 8:49 am

      Kinda makes you long for the days of coupon books and “E” tickets for the good rides! In 1970 my uncle took me and my cousins to Disneyland and bought us each the $8 coupon book and gave us $10 apiece for spending money. We rode rides and ate ourselves sick all day. And you didn’t have to pay an admission fee just to get in and walk around the park…

    5. Comment by KT | 03.13.2008 | 9:12 am

      What, no Pirates of the Carribean??? That was my favorite ride; I hear they “updated” it to take out all the funny totally sexist and non-PC bits, and to make it more like the movies.

      Did you find all the McDonald’s fry stands? They sell fries and cokes. And that’s it. My sister-in-law could probaly tell you where they all are with pinpoint accuracy.

      And what about the Matterhorn?!?!? I LOVE that ride!! Way, WAY better than any old Ferris Wheel. I scoff at the Ferris Wheel.

      Soarin’ sounds like it would make me hurl. I can’t do those motion-sickness machines. Urk. Makes me ill just thinking about it.

    6. Comment by DP | 03.13.2008 | 9:30 am

      Our day four at Disney World was rainy but still nice. We went to Epcot and kind of took things real easy. Three days is enough to enjoy the place, but going on the fourth day helps confirm to yourself that you have gotten your moneys worth, even our kids seem to sense that it was time to go home. Enjoy the last day, make memories, and take pictures so the memories last longer.

    7. Comment by TIMK | 03.13.2008 | 9:58 am

      There was a fascinating article in Wired a while back about Disneyworldland underground.
      Ah, the power of the internet, it’s here
      Sorry if this gets messed up, I haven’t figured out how to post a link in the comments here.

    8. Comment by Sean | 03.13.2008 | 10:09 am

      As a young lad I was once trapped on the It’s a Small World ride for two and a half hours. Believe me when I say that you don’t know from hating the Disney music. For some god-awful reason the boats didn’t move but those crazy dolls just kept right on singing.

    9. Comment by FliesOnly | 03.13.2008 | 10:21 am

      On a somewhat off topic, but also somewhat related note…the best way to get to the front of the line at the emergency room is to show up complaining of severe chest pains. Happened to my wife (thankfully, it was nothing life threatening).

      Also, belated congratulations on being an award winning blogger. We all knew it was inevitable…you’re just too gifted to go unnoticed by those “Oscar” types.

    10. Comment by KanyonKris | 03.13.2008 | 10:26 am

      Pirates of the Caribbean – how can that not be on your list? Not a thrill-a-second ride, but good atmosphere and cool when it’s hot outside. I’m with KT. Must have been an oversight.

      Others that were not great but good: Thunder Mountain Railroad, Matterhorn Bobsleds, The Haunted Mansion, Grizzly River Run.

      Our younger kids LOVED Turtle Talk with Crush – nearly transparent use of technology creates a fun experience.

      Still, a good post.

    11. Comment by je | 03.13.2008 | 10:31 am

      Turtle Talk RULES. My kids were pulled out of the audience to chat with Crush and they truly thought that was the highlight of our weekend there.

      Here’s a great hint for the non-wheelchair enabled: Be there when the gates open. Run to your second favorite ride and get the Fast Pass tickets. Then run to the favorite ride — for my kids, it was Indiana Jones — and take advantage of the 8 a.m. short lines. Then turn right around and do that ride again before the lines grow from those not waking up at 7 a.m. to get there. then use your Fast Pass for the other ride since that line may have backed up a little bit.

    12. Comment by KanyonKris | 03.13.2008 | 10:33 am

      Oh, Space Mountain was overhauled some years back and it’s better than it was originally.

      Did you hear the song by the wishing well?

      Did you see Maleficent peek out from a window?

      Did you notice that the 2nd story of the buildings are shorter than the 1st story, making them look bigger?

      I love all the details in Disneyland. Maybe that’ll keep you busy on day 4.

    13. Comment by Bryan (not that one) | 03.13.2008 | 11:05 am

      I remember sitting in a movie theater here in Central Florida watching The Lion King. Remember the scene where Scar tells Zazu to sing something else and Zazu starts singing “It’s a small world”? Then Scar says, “No, no! Anything but that!” That line got more laughs than any other and even cheers in the theater. :-)

      I, like others, have billed Disney for the many hours of therapy needed to get that song out of my head.

    14. Comment by TP | 03.13.2008 | 11:09 am

      This blog and these comments give me the impression that it is nothing out of the ordinary for a family to spend four days in a row in the same amusement “park.” Then again it is the sort of excessive-ultra-consumerism one would expect from the Disney Corporation.

    15. Comment by bikemike | 03.13.2008 | 11:13 am

      yeah, we have a Disney resort hotel on A1A just north of us here in Vero Beach, Fla. and they play the SAME music all the time 6:00a.m. or 8:00p.m. it’s loud and played outside, ride your bike by there often enough and you want to shoot somebody (mostly yourself).

      yep Elden, you’ve done your time, pack it up and go home.

    16. Comment by UtRacerDad | 03.13.2008 | 11:16 am

      I like the same rides, but that was nearly 3 years ago and I still gag at the thought of going back :)

    17. Comment by axel | 03.13.2008 | 11:46 am

      my favorite amusement park is Ersepark in northern Germany http://www.ersepark.de . Aside from 3 new rides that they installed recently the place looks like it had not been updated in 30 years. A lot of the rides require you to pedal to make them move.

      Their Ferris wheel works like this: put your child into one of 6 available seats. Get on the tandem bike that serves as the engine for the contraption. Pedal as hard as you can to make the Ferris wheel go round. You’d love it…

    18. Comment by Reagan | 03.13.2008 | 12:57 pm

      I worked at Disney World (Florida) and LOVED IT. Maybe I am biased, but I think you would enjoy Disney World better :) There is a lot more to see! I worked in Fantasyland where the “It’s a Small World” ride is, so I don’t even want to hear anyone complain about annoying songs getting stuck in your head! (good thing was, we rotated so I only heard it when I working in a store near the ride)

      Glad you guys had fun though…it is nice having someone in a wheel chair to get through the lines faster.
      Sounds like you’re a hilarious dad though…asking your son if he wanted to take a picture with “pocahottness”. LOL

    19. Comment by Reagan | 03.13.2008 | 12:58 pm

      “Glad you guys had fun though…it is nice having someone in a wheel chair to get through the lines faster.”

      Not that I would wish cancer or sickness on anyone just to get through lines faster!! :)

    20. Comment by Lifesgreat | 03.13.2008 | 2:17 pm

      My favorite ride is Peter Pan. I also like the Storybook Land Canal Boats (I love the miniatures).

      I am glad you and your family are having fun. I enjoyed your observations!

    21. Comment by Born4Lycra | 03.13.2008 | 2:28 pm

      I think I would be a failure at Disneyland. I know it should be all about the kids and the family experience but I would be absolutely useless at putting on my I’m having a great time face paying those sort of prices. As a result i am sure i would also be transposing my downer on my family. Maybe that’s another superpower you have. $98 on a Mickey D like lunch for 6 and still smiling that is superhuman.
      Loved the photos.

    22. Comment by Beth | 03.13.2008 | 2:55 pm

      Wow, what timing! My husband and kids and I are headed to Disney World (3000 miles away, but I am sure most things hold constant across the continent) next week. I have been before, but not in years. I know I will avoid:
      The Teacups (unless I really feel the need to vomit), “It’s a Small World” (talk about songs that make you want to gouge your ears out), and “Finding Nemo’s Submarine Adventure” (if it is at Disney World)
      I will have to beg my family (who doesn’t like roller coasters, I don’t know what planet they are from) to accompany me on Space Mountain (one of my all-time favorites).

      Thanks for the preview for me!

    23. Comment by Mike Roadie | 03.13.2008 | 3:42 pm

      And don’t forget about looking for the “Hidden Mickeys”.

      I told you the wheelchair would give you magic powers….HA!

      I secong the Matterhorn vote, too.

    24. Comment by Mike Roadie | 03.13.2008 | 3:43 pm


    25. Comment by moabmedic | 03.13.2008 | 3:54 pm

      one of the things on my moms to do list before she died was to go to Disneyland on Christmas she too was in a wheelchair during her three week break form chemo. Cutting in line was the best part I don’t know how people can stand in line all day.

    26. Comment by Marty | 03.13.2008 | 4:50 pm

      I went to Disneyworld in Florida when I was a young fella. Coming from Australia we’d never seen anything like it. Space Mountain was an awesome ride but they fool you with the line. My sister and I jumped on the end of the line because there were only 50 or so people in it (so it only took about 30 minutes to get to the front…then we got to go inside the mountain itself…and wait for another few hours in a line which contained more people than the population of our entire State. We had never seen so many people in our whole life!

    27. Comment by Ian | 03.13.2008 | 7:07 pm

      In my mind the best place to spend a fourth day at Disneyland is the beach at Newport Beach. Not too far away, a nice beach by the ocean and PEACEFULL after Disney. Regardless. I am glad you are having a good trip, it sounds like you guys truly deserve it.

    28. Comment by Miles Archer | 03.13.2008 | 7:40 pm

      I’m glad you all had a good time.

    29. Comment by Mike | 03.14.2008 | 1:50 am

      As a kid i used to live for star tours! And that was he french version. Hope Susan coped ok with the long days and everything that goes with ‘em!

    30. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 03.14.2008 | 3:49 am

      The old take-a-cripple-to-Disneyland trick. My mum spotted that when she went a few years back. She spotted a family with someone in a wheelchair sliding past all the queues on her first day.

      The next day she saw the same family but a different member was in the wheelchair.

      Day 3… person 3.

      $25 a day to hire a wheelchair is cheap if you don’t have to stand in line.

    31. Comment by eunicesara | 03.14.2008 | 6:17 am

      Probably my last trip to Disneyland was in the early 60′. Tinkerbell gliding to earth in a shower of fireworks – THAT’s the best. We went back at night two times just for that.
      One night, when we didn’t go we were at one of those parking-lot carnivals and were riding the ferris wheel at firework time. The operator stopped the ferris wheel with us at the top so we could see the whole show!
      My mother was in theater and music so she had friends and acquaintances working at Disneyland. She also knew entertainers at Knotts Berry farm, which wasn’t at all like Disneyland way back then. And I do still love Boysenberries.

    32. Comment by Boz | 03.14.2008 | 8:00 am

      Expediton Everest has to be the coolest ride in any of the parks. It’s at Disney World Animal Kingdom in Fl. Dropping backwards in the dark is wicked fun !!

    33. Comment by KanyonKris | 03.14.2008 | 8:19 am

      Big Mike: I’ve heard about able-bodied people using wheelchairs to cut the lines. That’s sinking pretty low.

      I saw another line cutting “scam” last time at Disneyland: A child would sneak forward in the line then wave the parents and rest of the family forward. Now that’s some quality parenting! Get your kids to do the dirty work. Some people. {sigh}

    34. Comment by AMR | 03.14.2008 | 9:04 am

      I don’t know about everyone else but I’m really tempted by that red Disney PDA that’s taken over the ad space on your site. (Uh, NOT).

      Glad you & the family got a trip away together…albeit with bad music accompaniment.

      p.s. Disney recently renovated their It’s a Small World ride because the boats were bottoming out/getting stuck along the ride due to the giantness of people now compared to when the ride was built. Too funny.

    35. Comment by dug | 03.14.2008 | 9:36 am

      wow TP, get your angst on much?

    36. Comment by judi | 03.14.2008 | 11:23 am

      It really sounds like you all had a blast!

    37. Comment by Bikerchick_IL | 03.14.2008 | 1:06 pm

      Fatty, I’ve never been to Disneyland, but I can only imagine the murderous urges that non-stop muzak would incite. It’s probably like the “light FM” stuff I find myself horrified to be humming along with at the grocery store ;-)

      Anyway, there’s a folk singer named Zoe Lewis who is seriously funny with pretty entertaining lyrics. She wrote a song called, “Snow White,” which chronicles what happened to a friend of hers who worked at Disneyland as a character actor and got, uh, provoked one time too many by an obnoxious child all hepped up on sugar. Sorry I can’t find the lyrics online, but you can have a listen here http://www.rhapsody.com/zoelewis. You are looking for the line, “The day that Snow White said the ‘F’ word.” It’s a pretty hilarious song.

      Enjoy the rest of your commercial imprisonment :-)

    38. Comment by leroy | 03.14.2008 | 2:06 pm

      All America wants to know — did you meet Goofy and what is he really like?

    39. Comment by rich | 03.14.2008 | 2:14 pm

      Hey Fatty,
      Sounds like everyone had a good time. We took my grandson there this past Christmas.
      You gotta give the Disney corp credit….they actually made it snow every night…ok, so it was soap foam or some such, but still a pretty amazing thing

    40. Comment by susie b | 03.14.2008 | 2:33 pm

      Would that be “Pluto Dollars” or “Goofy Dollars”? I’m going with the latter. :)

      And besides this now AWARD WINNING sports blog (congrats by the way!), I’m hoping to one day read your Travel blog or book(s). If anyone knows anyone in book publishing, for goodness sakes, lead them out of the darkness & get them to sign Fatty to a book deal. I’ll be 1st in line to purchase. With Goofy Dollars or, if you insist, the regular kind.

      Glad ya’ll are having a blast & I’ll be sending Susan some karmic energy for the weeks ahead.

    41. Comment by Heffalump | 03.14.2008 | 6:32 pm

      When we were there the week after Christmas we would just leave the park and walk to our hotel across the street for lunch. Much cheaper. And at dinner we would walk down to McDonalds a couple of blocks away.

      Glad you all had a good time! Tomorrow I recommend going to Downtown Disney and hitting the Lego Imagination store. Its pretty cool in its own right.

    42. Comment by barry1021 | 03.15.2008 | 5:18 am

      Been away but I wanted to give my belated congrats to you for winning the Sports category. The fact that you won it without having to physically intimidate or kill anyone one is quite remarkable; your campaign was quite mild by U.S. political standards.
      I have to say the thought that I will never have to go to Disneyland/World again brings me great joy-my biggest memory is waiting in that serpentine line while the kids behind us kept bumping into me for an hour and a half. I got off on justifiable homicide.


    43. Comment by Jenni | 03.17.2008 | 8:03 am

      Technically wouldn’t you gouge your ears in?


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