Chaos Attraction

Vacation Recap: Disneyland and Universal

2018-09-16, 8:54 p.m.

I went to the Ghiradelli Chocolate Festival with Jackie during the weekend. It was pretty tasty, though we missed some vendors that did not return.

After that, I went to Disneyland, California Adventure, and Universal Studios with Mom. What can I say about that...

* Well, going around the start of September is a pretty good time to go. Most of the time the lines weren’t that bad except for a few things--the usual super popular rides continue to be super popular, I think the Haunted Mansion had the longest one because that is redone for the fall season.
* We went on Toy Story Midway Mania (our mutual favorite ride) twice and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters twice. I am getting pretty good (better than Mom) at aiming in those. Toy Story is my favorite because even if you are pulling a string to aim, the game really makes it easy for you to rack up points. My accuracy rate is terrible but I hit higher targets. Buzz Lightyear is a pain to aim a tiny laser at a far distance that you can barely see, but once I figured out approximately where my laser was, I was getting higher scores.
* I went on Star Tours thinking they redid it since they changed the name a bit. Well, the 3D is cool but otherwise I think it’s the same thing as the last time I did it.
* I went to a Star Wars gallery thing and saw some previews for “Star Wars: Empire’s End” or whatever the hell the name of the new Star Wars land is gonna be. Sounds like they are making up a new planetary location for it. As far as I saw, they are building it way behind the river area of Adventureland. Disney employees don’t know much about it yet.
* I saw one guy hiding in the back end of Adventureland working on his laptop. I felt sorry for him.
* I finally went on the Radiator Springs ride in Cars Land and liked it--it is pretty slow and kind of like the Mr. Toad ride until the end when you start racing. We also went on the ah, dancing cars ride, which was redone for the holiday with a different name and different songs.
* Cars Land is well bedecked for Halloween with a car theme. It was pretty impressive.
* There is another Electric Light Parade being held in California Adventure. It was very pretty.
* We saw Turtle Talk with Crush twice, always love that.
* We saw the Frozen musical twice. They did a REALLY GOOD JOB on that with the special effects, the screens, and I loved Elsa’s reversible dress change on stage. One of the Hanses was quite hot (they switched actors for the dudes the next day). Even if I am not super thrilled with the plot of Frozen and those evil trolls, it was very good.
* I saw one couple who had theme lanyards: the guy had nothing but Grumpy pins and shirt and the lady had two long lanyards put together with nothing but Star Wars.
* I did not buy all that much stuff this time. I bought a rainbow hat that says “Famous” on it, a stuffed Groot, a compass pendant, two Han and Leia pins (guess what they said...I know) and replacement Minnie slippers. I had restraint, for me.
* I think somehow we were not as into Disneyland this time? Not sure why that was, we did that one mostly after doing CA.
* Haunted Mansion is redone as Nightmare Before Christmas and that was really, really well done. No wonder that line was so long!
* Mom haaaaaaaated our hotel, which she got some deal on. They claimed to be one block from Disneyland and it was more like three and had no shuttle. This did not bother me too much, but for some reason the street corner the hotel was on was being ripped up EVERY NIGHT ALL WEEK (but it was miraculously back to normal the next morning, until around 8 p.m. when they’d rip up again) and what was normally a 15 minute walk grew longer and longer every night trying to walk around the construction. Mom badmouthed me for finding this annoying, and at one point for getting annoyed when another guy wanted me to take the long way around. How dare I show that I find this annoying! But by Thursday night when the construction was so blocked off that we took 45 minutes to have to walk all the way down to the next block just to cross the street, guess who else was annoyed?
* The last day at Disneyland (Thursday, we went to Universal), we were both pretty tired, especially after doing Magic Hour at 8 a.m. By midday we were about brain dead and probably should have gone back for a nap, except it was our last day and we didn’t want to waste it. I took Mom to see the Pixar shorts festival so she could nap in it, but she actually stayed awake for that. I finally remembered that oh, if I get a slushie, that helps to perk me up, so we did that and it did. But by the end of the night she was...weird. She refused to leave the park until I picked out a shirt for myself even though I said I’d buy my own merch and I wasn’t in love with the shirts I’d seen so far. I finally ended up getting one (a kids’ shirt but I got extra large) that said “If you need me, I’ll be in my castle,” and she left. THEN she walked up to the stroller shop outside and I was all, uh, why are you doing that? Because SHE WANTED TO BUY A CHURRO. At the stroller shop?!?!

As for Universal Studios: I haven’t been there since about high school or so but everyone has raved for years about Harry Potterland, so I wanted to go for that. It was pretty cool, albeit it looks very weird to be “snowy” in Southern California. I didn’t end up buying any HP merch, which surprised me but I wasn’t that attached to anything. I went on the major ride in the castle and it’s a mix of 3-D and monsters all over the place--glad Mom didn’t go in. The indoors of the castle is dark but great with lots of talking portraits. We also waited in line at Ollivander’s to see “the wand show” in which a kid gets to magic up a wand, but that was probably not worth waiting in line for 45 minutes for (you go in a small room, which is why it takes so long), even longer than the castle ride.

They do have wands for sale ($45 for a regular wand), and if you spend $50 on a character wand, you can get a wand that will “do magic” at Universal if you stand in the right spots in front of shop windows. I did not feel like spending $50 for that, but you can just stand around the shop windows and watch others set off the animation in them for you instead.

I was not quite as impressed by HPLand as I expected to be, but Jackie says it’s better in Florida.

We went on the studio tour and saw how one area is done up for The Good Place. They still do the Jaws attack and the earthquake (I was amused at how inaccurate their “BART” maps were for the Bay Area), but now have added two 3-D sections, one in which King Kong and dinosaurs fight and the other is Fast and the Furious themed.

We ate in Simpsonsland (I recommend Cletus’s “chicken thumbs”) and then went to the uh, Minionsland because Jackie would be sad if I didn’t do that one. We both went on the Minion ride, which was a big mistake for Mom. She didn’t get outright sick but I did make her sit down for the next 1.5 hours to go to the animal stunts show, the humans stunt show, and the Waterworld show (holy shit, there’s a lot of explosions and a sea plane and water on fire!). The bus driver--we took a bus over there-- said he’d show up at 6 and Mom was CHOMPING AT THE BIT to leave at 5:25. Oy. She did not enjoy this place. I agree that compared to Disneyland nothing is as good, but it wasn’t too bad.

I bought a drama queen Oscar. Hah.

I will give Universal props for their security though: they just ran everyone through machines a la the airport and were done with it. Disney is literally making you go through EVERY SINGLE THING IN YOUR BAG, EMPTYING EVERY POCKET, before they let you go in, and THEN you still have to do the metal detector walk through. Sheeeeeesh. Made me glad I didn’t have tampons or anything.

Also, I realized that it took most of two weeks for me to finally detox from work. To have the usual haterade voices shut up (about time they do that at The Happiest Place On Earth), to finally feel like a good person, to finally have some emotional resources after having been tapped out for years.

I did not want to go back home. And I had good reason for that, as it turned out.

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