What’s the difference between Bing Crosby and Walt Disney?
Bing sings; Walt disnae.
So, much delayed, here’s the first of my posts about visiting California.
I flew out to Los Angeles, via Paris, from Aberdeen. I was quite chuffed to see snow on the Cairngorms, and before too long I was able to see Dundee. Luckily the plane banked away before I was able to fling open the window and do anything rash! Due to cloud, that’s the last I saw of terra firma until we were able to catch a glimpse of the Isle of Wight off to one side.
Paris Charles de Gaulle Terminal 2 was quite impressive, an enormous curved space delimited by wood and glass, and then I left Europe for the first time. As usual, the seat in front was occupied by someone whose first action once permitted was to slam it back into the fully reclined position, forcing an uncomfortable domino effect through all the rows behind him. I guess not having to put up with that is the real reason why those with the moolah plump for first class. For the rest of us, under-breath muttering is the only socially acceptable way, psychopathic frenzies being generally frowned upon in these enlightened times.
I snoozed across much of the Atlantic, but woke in time for the tip of Greenland, chunks of Canada and Hudson Bay, which put the Cairngorms in perspective a bit. Ice and snow from the air are beautiful.
More snoozing later, the ground below changed to an earthier hue for the last hour or so of travel, from the vicinity of Salt Lake City to Los Angeles, where we arrived slightly late. I was met by msinvisfem, to be whisked off to what I was assured is America's finest dining establishment.
We still managed to fit in a fair number of visits to places of interest, and I sampled a variety of cuisines. Our first tourist trip was to Disneyland.
I have to tell you, 7-or-8-year-old Gavin back in 1975 or so is pretty jealous of 41-year-old Gavin right now. (Or right then. Or willan on-have been, anyway.) I wonder what the “right “age for Disneyland is? That’s when I was reading Disney comics, before graduating onto Bullet and Warlord from the D.C. Thomson stable, so I think that would have been best for me. But even now, I’m glad I had the chance to go.
It’s hard to know what to say about it, because it’s so well known, so let’s start with a few lines on each of the attractions we saw:
- Indiana Jones Adventure
- Seemed quite good but took my specs off beforehand so saw everything in magnificent blur-o-vision. Didn't repeat this mistake on any subsequent rides! Quite impressed with the effort that went into theming the extensive queuing area. Luckily, in early April, we didn't have to wait much longer than twenty minutes for anything, and it was as warm as a good UK summer.
- Star Tours
- A.K.A. George Lucas World. A simulated shuttle ride through (fairly old school) Star Wars space with a novice droid pilot. C3PO, R2D2 and others keep you mildly amused in the queue. This seemed to be losing popularity a bit, according to msinvisfem, but I enjoyed it.
- Matterhorn Bobsleds
- The first of the faster rides. Don't actually remember much about this one; it's partly enclosed by a "cave" system, and partly outside, with - if I recall rightly - a bit of a splash too at the end.
- “It’s a small world”
- Everyone knows this one from the Simpsons parody in Selma's Choice, and I'd been warned against it by someone whose boat got stuck there for twenty minutes or so listening to "It's a small world after all" over and over again... Still, msinvisfem reckoned it was an important part of the experience, so... We didn't get stuck for more than about five minutes, and my ears have nearly grown back now. msinvisfem thinks this one is more cardboardy and less animatronicky than it used to be.
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- I liked the theming of this one - Old West railroad meets Old West mine meets dinosaur skeleton - and I liked the ride too. Just the right sort for me; fast, but smooth and no big drops.
- Splash Mountain
- This one on the other hand... Log flume with excellent, cosy Brer Rabbit-themed animatronics, spoiled by a plunge that was a bit too much for my comfort - though it could be what makes the ride for others, of course. It's an odd mixture.
- Space Mountain
- Another of the classic rides, but I have to say I was a bit disappointed with this one, and msinvisfem shared my disappointment. Mechanically, the wholly enclosed ride was fine - fast and unpredictable - but apparently the visuals surrounding the ride used to be a trip through the Solar System. Now there's just some wormhole-like lights now and again. I presume the Solar System got retired because in some way it wasn't up to sophisticated modern expectations, but sorry - give me the Solar System over disco lighting any time.
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Obviously this one has had a bit of an update given recent filmic activity, but it doesn't seem to have been tinkered with too badly. Also just let me say Wow! The animatronics were the best we saw, but what really sold it to me was the most excellent roof. It's a believable cloudy night sky, which gives an incredible feeling of depth to the ride. Kudos to whoever designed that.
- Disneyland Railroad
- Just goes round the outside of the park - ah, not quite, and this is where we discovered something msinvisfem hadn't seen before. Between the Tomorrowland and Main Street stations, the train passes through an enclosed area with prehistoric beasties!
- Casey Jr. Circus Train
- One for the kiddies or scale modellers - a gentle ride through model villages.
- Alice in Wonderland
- Another tame ride. This one felt a bit like you might find it at a particularly up-market fairground.
- Submarine Voyage
- Packs you into a boat, below the waterline, then shoots out bubbles past the portholes to give the impression that you've actually submerged. Having said that, the illusion is quite successful. Unfortunately this has been rebranded as Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, which means you see a lot of characters from the movie swimming about down there. Good for the kids, maybe, and the place is more for them than the likes of me, but I was a bit disappointed to be watching cartoons from a "submarine".
- Haunted Mansion
- Not very scary, but some good illusions.
- The Fireworks
- A regular feature at 9:30, they were big and impressive, but just lacked something. I should have been impressed by Tinker Bell zooming back and forth over the castle on her wires, but somehow I just wasn't. Maybe I was bit tired by this stage.
I didn’t go on it, but it was good to see a stern-wheel paddle steamer, going round in tiny circles.
We brought lunch with us, and ate it outside the park, but bought dinner inside. Bringing lunch was the better choice; we left dinner a bit late and our first choices of venue were closed. The food at what we were left with - the French Market Restaurant in New Orleans Square - wasn't too inspiring, and, as it turned out too much. We left quite a lot of it.
One culinary new experience was achieved for me however - the consumption of a churro! It's a cinnamon doughnut, but linear and crispy. I don't dismiss it by describing it like that. It was good.
I found a hat that I loved, but which wasn't available in my size; msinvisfem bought me a t-shirt. It was a long but excellent day.