Chapter 1: Farewell to Big Red as we Fly to Anaheim
Not quite believing that today, Sunday 20 June was the 30th day of our Forty Coasters Expedition, we were leaving the South to head West for the last week of our most marvellous holiday. Both Justyn and I had purchased extra luggage to store our souvenirs and shopping in so with two bags and a backpack each, we loaded up Big Red and set Simon in the direction of the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson airport, which happens to be the busiest airport in all of America. Just like the other large airports of America, there was a Car-Rental-Land that we needed to head to drop off our gorgeous car Big Red. In our haste to get there, we of course forgot to fill up the tank but the lovely check in lady let us drive through and out in search of a gas station. Can you believe that if we didn’t head back out to top up the tank, the car rental would have charged us $8.50 per gallon! About $130.00!! In all the haste and hassle, we didn’t get a chance to give Big Red a proper farewell but we are sure that she will forgive us for that!! Fortunately we had plenty of time up our sleeve – and then some as it turned out! After two times attempting to check in with Delta, which included them closing a whole bank of check in counters and moving us to the other end of the terminal..., we arrive at our gate with minutes to spare, to have them change the gate! And then they had a different plane to what they checked everyone in on so everyone had to queue to recheck in again! 90 minutes after our flight was to leave, we were finally on our way to LA!
Setting down in Los Angeles, we really couldn’t see much of the city as it was covered in a brown smoggy haze so we gathered our belongings and caught a shuttle down to Anaheim to check into the hotel where we were meeting up with Patty, Gregg, their gorgeous 4 year old Keegan and Patty’s mum Barb again who had been away camping at Big Sur and where on their way home to San Diego. Running into them in the foyer, we found our rooms and then went to dinner to catch up on each others news of our holidays and fun since we last were together. Later that night, Justyn and Gregg had a few beers at the House of Blues while Patty and I did some washing, had a quiet chat and an early night!
Chapter 2: “It’s a Small World After All, It’s a Small World After All, It’s a Small World After All, It’s a Small, Small World” at Disneyland!
We met Patty and co for breakfast and went to Millie’s Café for the biggest waffles you have ever seen in your life! OMG! As it was a big surprise for Keegan to be going to D-I-S-N-E-Y-L-A-N-D (we spelt the word so she didn’t cotton on) we held her hand and crossed the road with the hundreds of others that were heading in the direction of the Big Mouse Park. We queued for our tickets which was just the start of the queues for the day. Looking around her at the swarms of people, we all were surprised by the big band marching down the street aimed right at us with Mickey Mouse leading the parade! Unfortunately Keegan was a little overwhelmed by the noise and people so we made a beeline for Sleeping Beauty’s castle in Fantasyland as she wanted to meet Aurora (that’s Sleeping Beauty’s name for those who don’t know!). After a walk through of the castle, we went for a spin in the Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups – a ride that is a must at Disneyland! Gregg, Justyn, Keegan and I all crammed into one little teacup; squished in and spilling out of the top, Keegan’s smile was back as she tried to make us spin faster and faster! (Please email me some of those pic’s Patty!) Justyn then spied the Storybook Land Canal Boats so all six of us queued and piled into a little boat for a journey through the miniature lands of Disney stories. Unfortunately we still hadn’t found Princess Aurora, but we stumbled upon Pixie Hollow where we queued for nearly an hour to all have our photo with the Disney Fairies. You first had a photo with Iridessa (yes, I too have no idea what she is) and then around with Tinkerbell. Keegan coped okay with the first fairy, but unfortunately all of Tink’s coercing was to no avail as Keegan just didn’t want to be photographed with her! Oh well, there’s always next time! At this point, Keegan, Gregg, Barb and Patty decided to head to the Disney Princess Fantasy Faire in their search for Aurora (still!) and Justyn and I lined up to ride the Matterhorn Bobsleds. It was fun even though we were both shoved into one end of a car which was a tad squishy! And we were still in Fantasyland! After four hours in Disneyland, we hadn’t ventured out of one land yet! So we headed over to Micky’s Toon Town to meet and have photos with Mickey and Minnie and then head back to meet up with the others again. Back with the Princesses, we joined Keegan for storytime with the characters and she had finally met Aurora as well as Ariel, her absolute favourite. As a group, we all decided that we should all go for another ride and we just had to do the perennial favourite “It’s A Small World”. Another queue and another boat ride took us through the different countries of the world with dolls singing and spinning in different languages to the song ‘It’s a Small World” – and we continued to sing that song for the rest of the day! One more outing in Fantasyland was the train ride that went around the outskirts of the park and through the different Lands and then it was time for Keegan to head home for a nap.
After Patty, Gregg, Keegan and Nanna B left for the afternoon, Justyn and I stayed on in Disneyland as we still had some rollercoasters to ride! But our first endeavour was to finally get out of Fantasyland! Right next door was Tomorrowland and the first stop was the Star War Tours which was a simulated ride through the Star Wars Galaxy with R2D2 as our pilot, followed by late lunch! Then it was time ‘Space Mountain’. Space Mountain is the best rollercoaster ride in Disneyland with the added thrill of racing through the simulated night sky where you can’t see the track ahead of you. Its maximum speed is 32 mph (50kph), but it certainly feels like you’re racing through space. They do a great job of putting you in outer space racing through the cosmos; spinning orange lights at the beginning of the ride give the impression the rocket is spinning as it is pulled up by a tractor beam. We are glad that the ride warranted the 60 minute wait! By now it was nearing 7pm so we picked a spot along the parade route to watch the Disney characters dance and sing in the Celebrate! A Street Party and collect a few more happy snaps before meeting up again with Patty & Gregg for some ‘adult’ adventures in Disneyland!
With ginormous icecreams and chocolate and M&M’s covered pretzels in hand, the four of us meandered through the masses of people still at Disneyland and into New Orleans Square Land to queue for the ‘Pirates of the Carribean’ ride which had had a major makeover since Kelly and I were there in 1994 and also thanks to the success of the movies starring Johnny Depp. In fact, his character Captain Jack pops up all through the ride! Which is of course, another boat ride! That’s three themed rides taking place on a boat! By this time, people were starting to settle into their viewing spots to watch Fantasmic! which was a laser light show accompanied by fireworks. The four of us were all for riding rides rather than watching the light show so battling through the throngs of people, while still in New Orleans Land we next jumped in line for the Haunted Mansion ride which was like sitting in eggs as you rode and spun around watching different ‘spooky’ scenes including haunted ballrooms and graveyards. Patty was a little concerned going in, but she was laughing and giggling by the end! We then raced off on the search for Frontierland to ride the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad coaster, only to pause in Critter Country to take a psychedelic trip in a honeypot with Pooh Bear as he overeats on too much honey on ‘The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh’. But we made it eventually to the Big Thunder coaster and it was ride number 35!
This roller coaster is themed as a runaway mine train and takes riders through desert canyons and an old mining town with lots of twists and turns and speed to give the illusion of a train on the loose. The night was getting on and it was nearing 9:30pm so we charged back through the crowds to hit the Indiana Jones Adventure: Temple of the Forbidden Eye which is a dark ride motion simulator attraction based on the Indiana Jones films within Adventureland and then charged back to Tomorrowland to ride Space Mountain again. Even though Justyn and I had already ridden it, we wanted to ride it with Patty and Gregg and count is as ride # 36 on the quest for Forty Rollercoaster (plus as it has a different soundtrack and effects at night). Still queuing for an hour at 10pm at night, Space Mountain was just as much fun second time around. Finally with some souvenirs in hand, we left ‘the happiest place in the world’ around 11:30pm after spending 12 hours in the one themepark!