WARNING: RANT ABOUT TO FOLLOW
Starting with this: When did Starbucks invade The Magic Kingdom and how much did that cost? Although I loathe Starbucks and try never to drink it, I succumbed as I needed an extra
upper caffeine boost for what was to transpire over the next nine hours. I must admit, I was charmed by the whimsical Disney characters on the Starbucks cups.
The youngest hooligan is obsessed with Disneyland, and I mean obsessed. He is a walking encyclopedia of Disney information. So much so, that when we were driving up there this last Saturday I had to limit him in the ‘fun fact’ department. I mean, it just does not stop.
He had talked me into to going, as Disney had re-vamped the Thunder Mountain ride and it was slated to re-open this last weekend. Unfortunately, one of the many apps he has stated that the TM ride’s opening had been delayed until the following week. As we were already committed due to friends accompanying us, we decided to forge ahead. To the tune of $9,000. WHO CAN AFFORD DISNEYLAND??? I mean, my God, $96 for an adult ticket now? And in the Great Land of Disney anyone over 10 is an ‘adult.’ Good to know. Thank God the other kids were already engaged, or I would have had to take out a small loan.
(SPOILER ALERT: NOT EVERY RIDE AT DISNEYLAND IS EVER OPEN AT THE SAME TIME!!! Something is always closed for renovation, sometimes attractions that are open in the morning are closed in the afternoon and vice versa. Not that it matters, but I haven’t been to that park in the last 3 years when It’s a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean and Finding Nemo have all been open at the same time. It’s a racket, I tell ya).
But I digress. Having lived in So Cal for a very long time and a full fledged member of the Disney Frequent Flier Program (includes no discounts), my kids joke I can rob all the joy out of a trip to the Magic Kingdom. But honestly, they aren’t joking. I insist on arriving in the park at least 30 minutes prior to the park opening. This allows plenty of time to park, which is like trying to find your way around the most complicated corn maze of your life. After you park you hoof it to the ticket booth, to wait in yet another line and then hopefully you are queued up as the park opens, then you are off to the races my friend.
My next tip: work the park in a counter-clockwise motion. Start with all the big ticket rides in Tomorrowland: Space Mountain and the Matterhorn. Then hit up either Frontierland with Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion, or Fantasyland with Peter Pan’s Magic Ride, Dumbo, the Storybook ride, and the Tea Cups. If you move fast you can ride many of these attractions before most people have had their breakfast. We literally walked on most rides prior to 10a. And after that most waits were less than 20 minutes.
For the first time, we ate at the Plaza Inn which is located at the entrance of Tomorrowland. Its charm out weighed its food quality. I have yet to figure out why Disney has not revamped their ‘cuisine.’ I know they are capable of it. Probably since they know I am willing to pay $23 for 3 pieces of fried, sub-par chicken, a dry biscuit, and some over-cooked green beans, why should they go out of their way to make it edible. (and yes, I am beginning to realize I put waaay to much emphasis on food).
The afternoon quickly got busy. I’d forgotten how packed the Happiest Place on Earth gets on a Saturday afternoon, with most rides having at least a 65 minute wait. At that point we hustled the kids out of there with a promise of stopping at the gift shop for a small souvenir. $36 later, we were outta there to the tune of every wailing child on Main Street.
- Dress in layers and bring a back pack. The park tends to be cool in the morning and hot in the afternoons.
- Bring your own water and a few snacks. Disney used to be much stricter about outside food and drink, but has eased up over the last few years. Otherwise plan on spending $3 per water…
- Get to lunch either prior to, or post, lunch crowd.
- Go on rides during the afternoon parade. Lines can be shorter.
- Write down where you parked. At the end of the day, trying to remember can make you feel like early onset dementia is setting in. You are just addled and overstimulated.
- Disneyland is ‘dry,’ but you can take the Monorail over to the Disneyland Hotel and have a drink (and some appetizers) at the Tiki Bar. It takes the edge off and you can listen to a little Hawaiian music.
- Download one of the many apps that tell you how long the wait times are for the attractions. Typically they overshoot the wait times, so you can subtract about 10 minutes for a more accuracy.
All kidding aside, despite the oodles of dollars that fell out of my pocket and right into the Disney Shareholder’s coffers, The Magic Kingdom is, well, Magic. That pumped in vanilla/cotton candy scent wafting over Main Street gets me every time. And the grounds are exquisite and pristine. Nary a popcorn kernel, nor a bottle cap to be found. The suspension of reality for a few hours with your loved ones and friends truly is priceless thanks to a very large Mouse.