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Subject: [FAQ/DL] D-I-G: The Disneyland Information Guide 3/7

This article was archived around: 11 Jun 1997 03:21:58 GMT

All FAQs in Directory: disney-faq/disneyland
All FAQs posted in: rec.arts.disney.parks, alt.disney.disneyland
Source: Usenet Version

Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California
Archive-name: disney-faq/disneyland/part3 Last-modified: June 1, 1997 Posting-frequency: Monthly Keywords: Disneyland, amusement-park, Disney, FAQ, California -------------------------------------------------------------------------- This document is copyright (c) 1997 by Al Lutz, alweho@aol.com Please refer to the copyright paragraph in Part One for details. -------------------------------------------------------------------------- Janna Nichols claude@vcd.hp.com also answered on RAD.parks a posting about taking your children in the off-season to avoid the heat and crowds of summer. Basically the original question was "What do you do about taking your kids out of school for a week (or whatever)?" Here's the nuggets of wisdom she offered: "Ah, I feel qualified to answer this one! I have four children, one in High School, one in Junior High, and two in Elementary School. Taking your kids out of school takes planning, but it can be done. We have taken our children out of school almost every year for either a WDW or a DL trip. There have never been any problems with the kids' teachers or school administrators (although I thought there would be!) until this year...in High School. Some classes just get too intense to be able to miss them at this level. We also noticed our Junior High son had some trouble catching up after we came back this year. So, I think our days of taking the older ones out, are gone, sad to say. However, I do not hesitate to still take the ones in Elementary school out. We have NEVER had problems with that. Tips: - Notify teachers about 2 weeks ahead of time. Arrange for your child(ren) to start their makeup work BEFORE the trip. Coming home to piles of work isn't too fun. - Try not to tell your child(ren) about the trip until about a week ahead of time. If you do, the time they spend in school, before the trip is shot since they are so excited! :( - Insist that your child do work (if they have it) on the plane/in the car going *TO* WDW or DL. Once you are there, not much will get accomplished! (at least we found that to be true of our kids) They just cant seem to concentrate when on a Disney vacation! - If your trip is planned to WDW, go heavy on the emphasis (when teachers ask where you are going) that you are going to EPCOT! (oh, and I guess we will visit the rest of WDW while we are there, too.) *smirk!* - Our kids teachers have had them all keep journals, and got credit for that also. Sometimes the kids have had to give a brief presentation to the class of things they learned there, so 'educational chatter' between parent and child is a good idea... so they can be prepared to tell what they have seen and done, above and beyond what rides they went on. :) Hope some of this is useful! Thank you Janna, who by the way is proud owner of three FDC titles: FDC Rolly, FDCMuck Rolly, and infamous FDC Churro Cart Vendor. ARRIVE EARLY: Try to get there an hour before the park's announced opening time. On busy days (weekends / holidays / Summer) DL may open anywhere from 60 to 30 minutes early. (Sometimes Main St. is opened to absorb crowds until the official opening time too - a great time to get a cup of coffee or a muffin if you need one.) If you are staying at the the DL Hotel or on a Walt Disney Travel Co. package at a another local hotel, inquire about the early entry "Magic Morning" that may be available to you. The park gets its greatest influx of crowds in the hour just before and just after 12 noon. Getting there early also benefits you since you will be parked closer to the entrance gates. They've added a new "parking lot finder" to the kiosks that normally feature the movie posters at each side of the gate - each section of the parking lot that was utilized that day is shown on a plexiglass map, and the arrival times for the cars in that area are written in with grease pencil. By remembering what time you came into the lot - you should be able to locate the parking section you were placed in. USE DISNEYLAND TODAY: This full color combined attractions map / show schedule will help keep you on track all day. It's available to you as you enter thru the turnstile. Don't lose it! If you do, copies are available at City Hall on Main St., and from some of the shops and Cast Members (CM's for short) roaming the park. Also keep your ears open for the P.A. around Main St. if they make any added show / event announcements as sometimes this happens when crowds exceed estimates. TIP: Just like in Florida, on busy days DL now maintains a board in the hub area (across from the Plaza Pavilion restaurant between Main St. and Adventureland) detailing wait times for all the most popular attractions. Updated every 30 minutes by a host with a walkie-talkie this is a great way to keep track of shorter lines as they pop-up during the day in the park. The person manning this board also has extra show guides (even in other languages) available for the asking. Keep checking the postings here so you can plan for minimal wait times. RIDE EARLY: Ride the DL mountain range (SPLASH, THUNDER, MATTERHORN, SPACE) EARLY and then popular rides like PIRATES only if the lines are short. Lines only grow longer for the mountain range as the day goes on. If you are nimble, you can do most of them before 11 AM. The longest lines now are for the new INDY ride, and after that SPLASH MTN.. Working it this way allows you to see those smaller, quieter, and less crowded rides & attractions (like CIRCLEVISION) where you can rrelax, from noon on, when theheat, lines and crowds are at their peak. RIDE LATE: It's a well known fact that your eyes tend to close up with bright sunlight. Waiting until nightfall to ride INDY, PIRATES, HAUNTED MANSION, SPLASH MTN. and IT'S A SMALL WORLD reveals more detail in these dimly lit attractions. BIG THUNDER MTN. and the MATTERHORN at night make it hard to see where you are going on these coasters, increasing the thrill. THE SPIRIT OF POCAHONTAS show at the Fantasyland Theater, showcases terrific theatrical lighting effects best after dark. TIP: Save STAR TOURS for the end of your day. For some reason, (Efficient loading? The thrill has worn off?) this line ALWAYS diminishes as the evening goes on. If the line ends right at, or inside the entrance door, you have about a 20 minute wait, perfect for taking in all the detail in the pre-show area. This evening line "wind-down" also applies to INDY, along with IT'S A SMALL WORLD, SNOW WHITE'S SCARY ADVENTURES, PINOCCHIO'S DARING JOURNEY and most of ToonTown's attractions, probably because the younger set goes home early. AVOID the first performances of any shows or parades, as they are the most heavily attended. AVOID the Frontierland / New Orleans Square train station as it is always the most crowded, with the Tomorrowland station coming in second. (The ToonTown station is the least crowded.) TIP: Want to ride the Monorail and avoid a long line? Exit the park (after getting your hand stamped of course), and take the shuttle tram over to the DL Hotel. After visiting the hotel, you can board the monorail there to return to Tomorrowland. You'll miss the trip over the parking lot (big deal), but you'll still get to sight-see from the winding track inside the park. (If the line to board DOES gets long at the hotel, you'll still get to wait in the shade, which you can't do in the park.) LITTLE KNOWN FACT: Anyone can ride the monorail round-trip at the hotel for $3 - without having to buy a Park admission. It's a nice way to peek into DL without having to pay for the whole day. Tickets are sold only at the hotel ticket booths. TIP: If you need a cocktail, (and few don't after a day full of kamikaze strollers and screaming kids) the Hotels are the only place that offer them. (Not cheap.) A GOOD PLAN OF ATTACK: When the park opens- AVOID Indy first, because almost everyone makes a bee-line for it, and since it usually is open for the Magic Morning crowd it already has a line when the park opens to the general public. If you wait to ride during a parade or just before closing, that's when they usually post a 90 minute or less wait time, which usually means an actual 50 minute wait. The only day this may not work is on an off season Fri. when the park opens late into the evening - since most arrivals on that day hit the park after 2 PM, and the line only begins to grow until closing. The plan: If you want to reserve the FANTASMIC! Dessert Buffet go to the Disney Gallery first then - 1) Head over and ride SPLASH MTN., (You should make your BLUE BAYOU reservation on the way over or back), 2) Ride "Pirates," 3) Ride "Big Thunder Mtn.," 4) Do the HAUNTED MANSION, 5) Head over to TOONTOWN and ride ROGER RABBIT'S CAR-TOON SPIN, and possibly do the MATTERHORN either on the way there or back. That should complete your morning. Save INDY and STAR TOURS for dinner time or during a show or parade. (Keep parade and show times in mind while making reservations so you won't miss anything.) Don't be afraid to keep checking lines all day either as most times parades or shows draw off enough guests to allow lines to shorten. The ONLY rides guaranteed to have a long line ANYTIME you try to go are: PETER PAN (It's my favorite too...), MR. TOAD, DUMBO, INDY, ROGER RABBIT, GADGET'S GO COASTER, AUTOPIA (both of them), the MATTERHORN and both SPACE & SPLASH MTNS. LONGEST LINE / SHORTEST RIDE?: GADGET'S GO-COASTER in TOONTOWN wins hands down at up to a 45 minute busy day wait for a 50 second load/ride cycle. Second longest line is the ANNUAL PASSHOLDER renewal line at the Bank of Main St. ;) SHORTEST LINE / LONGEST RIDE?: PIRATES during a FANTASMIC! performance, everybody gets so involved in the show the ride sits empty. -------------------------------------------- 13) PHOTO WITH MICKEY / CHARACTERS -------------------------------------------- CATCHING MICKEY: Want a photo with the head cheese himself and don't want to crawl over acres of strollers and fight camcorder-crazy parents to get to him? Head over to Mickey's ToonTown in the evening hours when the crowds thin out and visit Mickey's house. At the end (after watching a few cartoon trailers) you will be ushered into a room as a small group and get a chance to meet and take photos with Mickey. A CM there will gladly help with your camera so you can all get in the shot. So civilized. There are four Mickeys actually, in four different outfits and "movie set" rooms: a) FANTASIA, b) BAND CONCERT, c) STEAMBOAT WILLIE, and d) THROUGH THE MIRROR. Three of the rooms are hidden behind movable shelves full of film cans before you enter, so you don't get to choose since not all Mickeys may be available at the time of your visit. Collect them all! (Mickey also appears for up close photos on Main St. near the Opera House, and from a distance climbing the MATTERHORN on weekends and during the summer just before he appears in the parade, and in the FANTASMIC! show.) NEW MICKEY & ME, POOH & PRINCESS PHOTOS: Photos with Mickey may also be taken for you by a DL photographer when you visit Mickey in his house, Pooh over in CRITTER COUNTRY, or any of the other character locations set up throughout the park. (Check your Disneyland Today hand out for a complete listing.) They are developed while you enjoy the rest of your day at DL and then may picked up as you exit the park at the souvenir stand next to the Bank of Main St. Ask the CM attending to your visit with Mickey for details, prices run $10 for a 5x7" or $15 for an 8x10" photo. NICK MORGAN contributed the following terrific advice about photos: "When you get character photos done by the DL folks, it is a better deal to buy BOTH of the pre-packages photos. It is only $20 + tax for both the 8x10 and 5x7. But if you only want one of those, the prices you list are correct. You might want to recommend these to people. They always turn out better than pics taken by the guests, and they are embossed with a DL seal (ours had a seal of the castle, with "Spring 97" under it)." You are not obligated to purchase the photos if you don't like them - and if you wish you may try several visits and then choose between the different shots before you leave DL for good, as they are kept on file for a few days. (Un-sold photos are recycled.) CHARACTER PHOTOS: There several areas during the day where you can almost always count on finding Characters to take photos with: 1) In front of GREAT MOMENTS WITH MR. LINCOLN. 2) The area around the hub from Main St. to the TOMORROWLAND entrance. 3) TOONTOWN. 4) FANTASYLAND (Princesses in the Castle courtyard). 5) FRONTIERLAND (Chip, Dale & Goofy in front of the Riverboat landing). 6) CRITTER COUNTRY (Pooh & Friends). 7) BIG THUNDER RANCH (Hunchback). All locations will usually be totally mobbed, with characters clearing out just before parades to avoid congestion. At night you will usually only find characters available at the first three listed locations. ALSO: Deactivated AUTOPIA cars are placed outside of the Autopia queues for photo opps. If those cars are too modern for you, a MR. TOAD ride unit is now parked outside of his attraction for photos - nice! A DUMBO ride unit is placed behind the ride for photos also. There is a POCAHONTAS photo area near the Fantasyland Stage. CHARACTERS TODAY is a new section that has been added to the DISNEYLAND TODAY brochure given to you when you enter the park. Be sure to take a look at it for details as to where and when specific favorites may be located in the park at that day. A nice new addition! CHARACTER MEALS, (at the park and hotels) where you can meet, greet and take photos are detailed in the MEALS section of this guide. THE BIG RIDES AND SHOWS, AND HOW TO BEST SEE THEM... ------------------------------------------------------------------- 14) INDIANA JONES ADVENTURE - TEMPLE OF THE FORBIDDEN EYE ------------------------------------------------------------------- INDY is DL's newest thrill ride. If you can imagine the STAR TOURS simulator technology built into a jeep and driving you along inside of a detailed Pirates-type of attraction at bumpy MATTERHORN speed, then you'll have a pretty good idea of what all the excitement is about. You'll even be amazed at the work they put in the line, since you will be walking through a queue with extremely detailed movie-type settings and a few interactive elements throughout. (There are even booby-traps that can set off by touching or grabbing things that signs tell you not to.) Ride sponsor AT&T no longer provides everyone with a souvenir wallet card at the entrance to keep you busy decoding all the wall writings and carvings. So see the section BRING DL HOME for details on getting the Mara font for your own computer so you can create your own decoder, or check the web edition of this guide for a version you can print out. When you reach the massive high-ceiling boarding area, you'll load onto a Jeep-like military Hummer-type 12 passenger "troop transport" which takes you inside an ancient jungle temple, where you are warned NOT to look into the eyes of the goddess Mara. Since of course it is impossible for anyone to avoid this due to those clever Imagineers' design, all hell breaks loose as the goddess wreaks all sorts of havoc making for a very wild, almost brutal, chase inside the temple. (Although it only supposedly travels at 12 MPH, the stunning hydraulic effects help to simulate speeds of up to 60 MPH.) BEWARE - this is the most turbulent ride Disney has ever created, it can make STAR TOURS and the MATTERHORN seem very tame. If you have back or neck problems, stay away, it's merciless. Notably this is also the first time an amusement park ride has been programmed like a video game, with many event variations. You'll drive each time through one of three different doors, and each vehicle has then also been programmed to move and react differently in where and how it delays, stalls, bucks or turns over the same track in the three-and-a-half minute ride. Even Indy himself will have one of several different things to say to you each of the times you see him. There really are some great illusions here, (if you're not just holding on for dear life) and for the first time this ride also lets you actually FEEL some of those special effects that up until now have only been seen on the big screen. This is simply an amazing new ride experience. Whatever you do at DL, don't miss it. Even with a top loading speed of about 2400 people an hour (more than "Pirates"), this ride gets quickly swamped with huge lines in the mornings. It is best to AVOID this attraction first thing in the day - and use the time to ride all the other empty attractions in that area of the park. Save riding Indy for the lull that comes during parade or show times, or even better yet, just before the park closes. Thankfully the line moves quickly, so you won't have time to get bored. (Currently during peak times the line starts thru the middle of Frontierland, snakes and then wraps back and forth on the hub between Adventureland and Frontierland, wraps a couple of times again in the entrance to Adventureland across from the Tiki Room, snakes through and wraps in Adventureland -- with moderated breaks to allow "Fantasmic!" and other crowds through -- and finally, but not always, into its own proper waiting area in front of the temple.) TIP: Keep in mind that because this ride is still new, you can expect breakdowns (of about 20 to 30 minutes - this has been improving lately). Best advice here is to keep waiting, since they are up and running very quickly for the most part. Also they are posting much longer waiting times in order to keep crowds short, sometimes estimating waits 30 minutes longer than they actually take. If you see a 90 minute wait time scheduled, go for it, it will be about an hour. ------------------- 16) SHOWS ------------------- FANTASMIC! This is simply one of the most dazzling shows DL has ever produced. It's huge, (with a cast of over 50, and a support staff of over 150) and bone-rattling loud in its use of special effects. In a word, it's 22 minutes of WOW! I won't spoil it for you by telling you any more. Keep in mind that the first show is ALWAYS over-crowded, with some silly souls staking out seats at 5 PM for a 9 PM show. (Most people will end their DL day after this performance, which is why you should do all of the attractions in the Adventureland / Frontierland / New Orleans Square / Critter Country part of the park early in the day to avoid this mess.) The first show is also the one most prone to glitches, i.e. effects not working, fireworks not lighting, boats missing cues, etc. (complex is the operative word here). Usually problems are fixed by the following show. It will be canceled if winds are high or if it rains, listen for announcements at river's edge during these kind of conditions. TIP: In order to get the best seating location, plan to see the final show of the night. The first wave of humanity has left by then, which makes access much easier. Arrive at the edge of the "Rivers of America" in Frontierland / New Orleans Square just as the preceding performance is ending, and as the crowds move out, you move in. If you are visiting the park with a group, you may want to send one member ahead in the middle of the preceding performance to stake out spots as it ends, and that way the show won't be spoiled for you. (In the Summer & holiday seasons, this can be tough, since prime seats are claimed right away.) Crowds between shows are usually routed out like cattle through Adventureland, and herded in through Frontierland. (You can also take the train from Main St. to the Frontierland station / New Orleans Square station to avoid crowds by entering the back way, just plan enough time to do so.) The "sweet spot" for both sound and visuals is located at the river's edge facing the shack on Tom Sawyer's Island. You'll sit on the cobblestones around where a metal manhole cover is, between the river and wall. (Avoid sitting right on the metal cover, it's COLD!) Find it by looking for three tall hydraulic light towers, (which are hidden underground during the day) and heading for the center one, which is across from the "Pirates" entrance / bridge, on the second walkway tier above the river. (This tower is different from the others in that it has a control panel with tech people right at the base.) This area can also be located by looking for the "Kodak Photo Spot" sign on the river's edge, and then sitting to the RIGHT between the next two light posts, as you face the island. Despite what the announcer says, unless it's windy, you won't get wet. (TIP: Make a mental note of where this location is early in the day by finding it ahead of time so you know right where to go.) When the show ends, stay put, listen to the three minutes of much-too-hyper exit music and wait till the crowds die down. Afterwards you can move easily to your next destination. You can watch the performance from other locations, but you may have to stand for the entire thing, and / or the view may be partially obstructed. (Don't you hate it when people put kids on their shoulders blocking the view?) Also, all show action is timed to take place right at stage center. where the effects can literally envelope you, making this a much better experience. Is any show worth all this hassle? (And writing about??) Like Ursula from "The Little Mermaid" says during the performance, "Just do it!" You won't regret it. TIP: If you feel like being pampered, and are willing to pay for the privilege, the Disney Gallery above "Pirates" hosts a FANTASMIC VIEWING DESSERT BUFFET in the balcony at each performance. You and 14 other guests get reserved seats, and all-you-can-eat desserts including wicked cheesecakes and wonderful coffees while being waited on hand and foot by terrific CMs. The view is spectacular, and it's relaxed and un-crowded. Just before show time you are handed a small little program / keepsake. The big advantage here is that you can arrive at about 20 to 30 minutes before show time and not tie-up your whole evening. It's as expensive as admission to the park, but if you want to really live it up, short of being a Club 33 member, there's really nothing quite like it at DL. Keep in mind the limited seating ensures this always sells out, and if Disney is hosting VIPs in the park, the first performance will be reserved for them. Attending the first performance will also get you the bonus of seeing the fireworks / light show (if performed) from this location. Look in section ENTERTAINMENT & EVENTS for details on cost and how to book your reservations. LIGHT MAGIC LIGHT MAGIC is, sadly, a poorly conceived follow-up to the MAIN STREET ELECTRICAL PARADE - without an ounce of story or heart. Add to this a typical, non-stop Disney saturation Summer marketing campaign [pulling in large attendance numbers] and you can begin to understand how this may turn into one of the most difficult, uncomfortable, and unsatisfying entertainment experiences you may ever encounter at a Disney park. Although it utilizes the parade route to shuttle stage units to and from performance areas, Light Magic not a parade, it's actually a fourteen- minute show. The basic set-up consists of a series of massive moveable stages with screens, at first there are three, and then later there are four units, which provide a backdrop for the step-dancing pixie performers. There are two performance areas for this show: The first utilizes three of the units in the area along the walkway from SMALL WORLD down to where the STORYBOOK RIDE is. After the show is completed there, [and presumably while summer fireworks are in progress] the stages will then be joined by a fourth unit, and roll on down to the walkway behind the MATTERHORN where the performers will get back into position. Then all four units will head down the parade route to MAIN ST. [positioned from roughly the HUB down to TOWN SQUARE but not including either the hub or the plaza areas themselves] for a performance down the length of the street. There are four shows each evening, each location gets two performances, the order being reversed for the second set of shows. The mostly dark purple units are completely wired with fiber optic technology, which flashes lights in tandem to the music, projections and other exterior computerized lighting effects. The main musical theme and connecting scoring is new, [think Riverdance meets Yanni] yet it still [like FANTASMIC!] runs though many old Disney favorites, even including a short segment near the end in tribute to the old ELECTRICAL PARADE. Note: On May 13th at an extra admission fee party for Annual Passholders DL presented a "dress rehearsal" [despite selling the event as a "premiere"] and what was shown quite frankly disillusioned a whole heck of a lot of people. Many knew after all the hype this new show was going to have a hard time living up to it. But afterwards one of the longest lines ever at the park was at City Hall for refunds, which were given no questions asked. It was, needless to say, a disheartening event. Now that the show has begun regular performances and I've had to chance to see this a few times, I still would NOT RECOMMEND it, especially if your time at the park is limited. Take advantage of shorter lines at the major attractions during the lull created by this show in other areas of the park, or see any of the more enjoyable other shows. You won't regret this decision. In case you still wish to see this, (hey folks buy videos of car accidents don't they?) there are a few things you need to start taking into account if you are going to try and brave the poorly managed crowds seeing this show during this debut season. First of all, keep in mind the stages have been poorly designed for clear sight lines and require you to face them almost dead center and head on to see the short projected show segment. (This is the first time that curb seating on Main St. will be the worst seat in the house due to the size of the units, the further back you are, the better the view of the show will be for you.) Second of all, the audience capacity of LIGHT MAGIC at each of its locations is about half to two-thirds of what a typical FANATASMIC! Performance can accommodate. This is all on top this show being presented in the two most traditionally bottlenecked areas of the park, MAIN ST. and FANTASYLAND. So do try to plan to arrive at either area about 90 to 120 minutes ahead of time for the first shows. [20 minutes ahead of time for the second shows.] The SMALL WORLD location won't have the surrounding effects in the same quantity or quality that the MAIN ST. area will, but it does allow slightly clearer sight lines due to the tiered viewing areas surrounding the stages, similar to Fantasmic. Best viewing areas on MAIN ST. that will keep you at the edge of the crowds and away from the hard to exit parts of the street: 1] Just in front of either the Candy Store or the China Closet stores. 2] Grabbing a table at either the PLAZA PAVILION or PLAZA INN buffeterias. Either location that you choose should have a clear view of the entry of the other one so you can see the projection screen. Best viewing area on SMALL WORLD WAY that will center you to the show is: Either in front of or directly across from the newly built central projection tower. Located across the water from the FANTASIA GARDENS (the former MOTOR BOAT LAGOON). If you're planning your first visit to the park in a long time, I recommend that you AVOID this new show for now. It will change come next year and anything they do to it will make for a much better experience. If you haven't seen the superior FANTASMIC, this is your chance to enjoy a much less hectic presentation of it. "Gosh Al" you may be saying to yourself "you sound awfully bummed about this new show. What happened?" All I can say is that Disney has really dropped the ball big time on this. I cannot dissuade you enough from seeing it in this summer's incarnation of it. JOHN FROST frost1313@aol.com posted his own extensive guide to the show online in the Disney Usenet Newsgroups, and at his Harbor Club 1313 website, he offers some terrific detailed advice, much more than I can possibly squeeze into this guide: http://members.aol.com/frost1313/ A personal note here... Unlike FANTASMIC, whose myriad workings are carefully hidden away around the RIVERS OF AMERICA during the day, LIGHT MAGIC'S towers and light poles stick out like sore thumbs along the SMALL WORLD promenade and also above the MAIN ST. buildings and around the central hub area. This is the first time at DL where a show like this has been wedged in without trying to blend or hide it into the surroundings in order to save a buck. It's a sad legacy bequeathed the park under the current management. Let's hope after a year or so that they rectify this and re- theme the show areas as was done with FANTASMIC after its initial run. ----- END [FAQ/DL] D-I-G: The Disneyland Information Guide 3/7 -----