My friend and co-worker from work, Mike, just returned from his trip to Disneyland a few weeks ago. Mike and his wife go to Disneyland every year for exactly one day. I should mention that Mike and his wife have ties to a Club 33 member and are usually given complimentary park admission with their lunch or dinner at Club 33, but this year, as Disney clamps down on Club 33 members giving out passes(who and how many), Mike just went ahead and got a couple of park-hoppers for the day. When he returned to work and recounted his agenda for his day at Disneyland two words kept playing over and over in my head – “You're nuts!”. I think I may have told him that a couple of times too. He didn't disagree.
His morning went something this. He got to the Disney California Adventure entrance just before park opening, stood in line for a bit to get in, then got in line to get a fast pass for Radiator Springs Racers. By the time he got in line, the wait just to get a fast pass for the impressive new ride was 30 minutes. Fast passes for RSR are usually gone within an hour or two of park opening but Mike got his and now he had valuable time to use before his fast pass window opened up. Mike and his wife stopped at Soarin' Over California on their way out of DCA and into Disneyland. They immediately went over and got on Pirates, the Haunted Mansion (holiday edition), the Jungle Cruise, Buzz Lightyear, and Star Tours before heading back to DCA. Still with some time before the RCR fast pass window opened up, they went on Monsters Inc. and the Tower of Terror and then finally got on Radiator Springs Racers (they loved it by the way). They took a look at the other two Cars Land attractions and decided the rides just weren't worth the wait – especially the ponderously slow moving Luigi's Flying Tires.
It was lunch. I persuaded Mike before he left to not go to Blue Bayou for lunch but instead try out the new Carthay Circle Restaurant in DCA so that is where they had their lunch reservation. He was glad he took my advice. While I do like the Blue Bayou, the food is not something to get terribly excited about, it's more about the setting. Mike's verdict on the Carthay Circle? Outstanding – both he and his wife enjoyed their meals immensely and even got fast passes for that night's performance of World of Color out of it. Would they go back to the Carthay Circle? “Absolutely” he said.
So after lunch Mike and his wife headed over to Paradise Pier and Toy Story Mania and California Screamin' then back to Disneyland and Thunder Mountain Railroad and the Matterhorn. Right about then, the Candlelight Processional was about to begin out at the Main St. train station so they actually got a pretty good viewing spot by the firehouse just as a walk-up. After the Processional was over it was off to it's a small world (again, the spectacular holiday edition), then grabbed a hot bowl of soup, and finally over to World of Color. After WOC, Mike and his wife were done, whipped, ready to call it a day. Disneyland park-hopping had beaten them into exhaustion and submission.
I remember those days, the days when you tried to cram as much as possible into narrow windows of time. I'd like to think that I have learned my lesson. I used to almost sprain my shoulder trying to pat myself on the back thinking about all the rides I managed to get on in a day.
Why? I was missing out, missing out on the real Disneyland experience where its greatest magic often lives in the smallest of details. My Disneyland trips now take place over several days. What Mike and his wife did in one day might take me three. In the meantime, there is morning coffee on a Main St. bench watching the people filter in; several “grand circle tours” on the Disneyland Railroad taking in all the park has to offer; there's the words of a great President that few bother to take the time to see; there's talking tiki birds and singing Hillbillies to smile and enjoy; there's classic rides that many bypass because they feel they are “too small and inconsequential” by modern standards.
Talking with Mike the last couple of weeks, I think he has come to the same realization that I came to several years ago, that the best way to enjoy Disneyland is to just take your time as you go about checking things off your list. Remember, running is not allowed. Strolling works out just fine. Since his return, Mike has complained about sore knees and a bit of back stiffness. He has also said how much he wishes he could go back but this time “just spend more time there”. Mike's days as the One Day Disneyland Warrior have seemingly come to an end. On his next trip, he'll be much better off for it.