Your editor finally paid a visit to Disneyland for the first time since February 2020 on Wednesday this past week. He bought the Dream Pass, which allows him, pending reservation availability, to enter the parks any day and includes parking. Okay, first tip. Do a screen grab (photo) of your pass which is on the Disneyland app, and save it on your phone. Particularly if you have the Dream Pass which includes parking. Why? Because wifi at the parking toll booth is non-existent. But if you have a photo with the bar code, you’re fine. Just show it on your phone.
Now about parking. Currently there is no tram service from the Mickey & Friends or Pixar Pals parking structure. So you have to walk. And walk you do, on the tram roadway. Or you can walk over to the security checkpoint by the Disneyland Hotel and walk through Downtown Disney. If you park in Toy Story, there are buses running back and forth – just not that many. During the walk he was pleasantly surprised to hear the horn from the Disneyland Monorail. Pretty soon, monorail yellow came by the tram road. It was not open as they are still testing everything. The “crowd” thins out as you near the tram load and unload area near the Esplanade. I got to the main gate around 915 AM and there was a line to get inside the park. It took me almost 20 minutes to get past the turnstile. Because this was my first visit with the new pass, they also had to take my picture so it would be in their system. It was also nice to hear the whistle of the Disneyland Railroad. Operations on the line had just started a couple of days ago. They were running just one train that morning. Main Street U.S.A. felt like home and had all the orange Halloween decorations up. However, since the Oogie Boogie ticketed event was being held at Disney California Adventure, not as many decorations. There were many hand sanitizer stations all around the park. You couldn’t walk more than 30 paces when you could spot one to use. They are all battery powered, just put your hand underneath them and it dispenses the sanitizer. Peeking inside the Emporium, one could see that the Halloween merchandise was out in all its orange and black glory. Some of the Main Street vehicles, including the fire engine, were operating that morning. And long time Cast Member (since 1978) Steve Finley still drives it. Characters were out in places, as were musical groups. But they were always behind a rope for social distancing reasons. One place characters would be were what would normally be the entrance steps up to the Main Street Station of the Disneyland Railroad. But it’s currently roped off for characters, like the Halloween themed Donald Duck and Goofy. Another good thing to see was the popcorn wagon in Town Square. It had not initially returned. But there it was open at 930AM selling popcorn and Halloween-themed popcorn buckets – only $11 for that bucket. The Horse-Drawn Streetcar was in operation too, though only one of the cars was riding the rails up and down the street. The horse’s name, in this instance, is “Gus.” Oh, there were a few ducks in the Sleeping Beauty Castle moat, and I could not pass up the chance to photograph them. I focused on new or updated attractions for this visit and the first one I went on was “Snow White’s Enchanted Wish.” (I had a virtual queue reservation for “Rise of the Resistance” at approximately 1130 that morning if things went smoothly. More on that later.) As you go through the queue line, the first thing you see is this room with the first page of the story book. Lots of birds in this scene. As you round the corner, you can see down and lots of guests have thrown money on the dining table and more. Disney says that money will be gathered periodically and donated to charity. The line for Snow White wasn’t really that long. This is the line weaving back and forth just four times after seeing that first room, before boarding the ride vehicles. As you approach the load area, this is on the other side of the tracks, the home of the Seven Dwarfs. There is a shadow animation effect in the window making it look like they’re inside the house. After boarding the ride vehicles, you enter the house where Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs are singing and dancing. Rounding the corner, you get a good look at all seven singing and dancing dwarfs. After this you ride through their mine, encounter the queen in both her looks – yes, the evil old hag witch look too. And you get to see the apple transformed into a poisoned apple. Finally, it’s the finale where the prince wakes her up with true love’s kiss. I next entered Frontierland (via the Big Thunder Trail) but it was kinda quiet. Why? Because “Big Thunder Mountain Railroad” was closed for refurbishment. Right next to the entrance to Big Thunder is where the Fastpass dispensing machines are located, but they are covered and with the new Genie+ system that is accessed via smart phone, they will probably be removed in the near future. The Day of the Dead Halloween display was up next to the Rancho Zocalo restaurant, a great photo op. Just inside the entrance is one of the converted water fountains, which includes a place where a guest can refill their water bottles. Just put the bottle under the spout and press button. No kids’ mouths touch this thing, making it a lot better hygiene for everyone – assuming you brought a water bottle – I, unfortunately, had not. It was time to visit the dark recesses of Adventureland and take a trip on the “Jungle Cruise.” One of the first new scenes is one with a group of baboons. They seemed to be laughing at us. Why? Because the skipper of our boat was not very good and none of us on the boat were laughing or even groaning at bad puns. By now everyone has heard about how it is no longer a lost safari, but rather a roup of lost explorers stuck up that limbless tree by a rhino. Supposedly, their boat got attacked by angry hippos. Part of the boat is in the water in the hippo pool. Another boat “ran aground,” with a group of chimpanzees that took over and were having fun with the cargo. Later on, some other cargo had somehow made it to shore, where some other apes were having a little fun. Finally, there is Trader Sam’s hut. Sam is no longer there, we’re told. But is out looking for more junk, I mean souvenirs to sell. “Tarzan’s Treehouse” had scaffolding all round it as it, too, is closed for refurbishment. Over on the shore of the Rivers of America, construction is underway by Fowler’s Harbor for a new and larger seating area for the Harbor Galley. The Royal Street Veranda was behind construction walls too, as it was undergoing a refurbishment. This raised area in front of New Orleans Square is now an area reserved for performers, like the group of pirates. The “Haunted Mansion” reopened as the “Haunted Mansion Holiday,” based on “The Nightmare Before Christmas” last week. And it was the one attraction that had a fairly long line that day. The Millennium Falcon was still parked on Batuu; right where I left it two years ago. This is the water station on Batuu or “Galaxy’s Edge.” The character of “Rey” from Star Wars Episodes 7-9 was out, but behind a fence for social distancing reasons, on Batuu, in the speeder repair shop. A couple of guests had their miniature droids out and rolling around at Galaxy’s Edge on Batuu. There seemed to be a strange card game happening on Batuu, as played by some of the “scum” there. I’m not sure what it was they were playing. Maybe a Star Wars version of Three-Card Monte. I finally got on Rise of the Resistance. There must have been no breakdowns or delays, as my boarding group was notified right at 1130 AM as scheduled. So the virtual queue works, though having to get up to get into the queue starting at 7 AM is a little annoying. Once inside, the first scene features BB-8 overseeing the controls. Pretty soon, Rey, played by the same actress as in the movies, appears via hologram and tells us we’re going to have to be evacuated so that the First Order doesn’t catch us, and then torture us into revealing the whereabouts of the secret base (where we are) of the Resistance. Next, on the video screens, Poe appears, along with another Star Wars character and tells us we have to hurry and get off planet before the First Order shows up. He will provide fighter cover for our “flight.” We board a shuttle that soon takes off, and hopefully out of this sector so the First Order doesn’t capture us. Of course, our shuttle is caught in a tractor beam during a space battle and pulled aboard a large ship of the First Order. We are ordered off the shuttle. Eek, stormtroopers everywhere. And I mean everywhere. A whole regiment of them. Through the “window” beyond we can see tie fighters and other space ships zooming around with blasters occasionally zapping other ships. We are herded into another corridor where we are told to behave or else. After being placed in a holding chamber where Kylo Ren tries to use the force to make us talk, a crack appears and we are being aided in escaping with Finn and another droid in a vehicle that can load into another shuttle. A merry chase ensues all over the First Order ship before we finally get onto a shuttle and go flying back to Batuu. It takes nearly 20 minutes for the entire attraction, and it is very well done. Meanwhile, back on Main Street U.S.A. The Photo Supply Store is closed, and is reportedly going to be renamed and will sell more souvenir merchandise in the near future. Over in the lobby of the Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, the large decorated cake was underway for Halloween, and this time it features Oogie Boogie. Generally, the lines for most attractions were not that long. “Star Tours,” for example, we walked right in and five minutes later we were onboard the Starspeeder for another adventure. Across the plaza, the area where the Fastpass machines were located for both “Star Tours” and “Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters” had disappeared behind a wall. Finally, in Toontown, that’s not really building under construction for “Mickey’s Runaway Train.” Well, actually it is. But the Imagineers decided to have a little fun with the sign on the side of the currently plain looking building. It will eventually be themed to fit into the cartoon style of the land. Finally, it was time to make the long walk back to the parking structure to get in my car to go home and recuperate from taking more than 17,000 steps that day.
September 11th, 2021