A couple of weeks ago, I received an invitation via Socializr.com from Mike Trueblood inviting people to come celebrate the birthday of his partner, Robert Shadbolt at Disneyland. The date was for January 15th, a Friday, which normally I wouldn’t be able to do because Friday nights start my week of work at the casino. But that could be easily fixed with a time off request for a night off. I don’t usually get the chance to use my pass with friends as most of my friends have Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 type jobs and I work the middle of the night inclusive of weekends, so I jumped at the chance to share a day at Disneyland with Mike and Robert.
My requested night off was approved and I changed my “Maybe” to a definite “Yes” that I would be attending and was able to coordinate some details with them ahead of time when I saw them both at the bar on Wednesday night. The rough plan was that the guys would be there at 9 am and that I should call them around that time to coordinate locations. I was planning on being there early, but I was coming from my parent’s home in Temecula instead of from San Diego as they called me for some help setting up their brand new television for use in their home entertainment system. My folks wouldn’t let me leave in the morning without breakfast first, so I didn’t get to leave as early as I wanted.
I did manage to make it to Disneyland at about 9 am however, but I still needed to park the car and take the tram over to the entryway to the parks. Once that was settled it was roughly 9:30 am before I was able to first send Mike a text message to let him know I was the tram on the way to entrance to the parks. I received a reply to call once I was inside the Disneyland park shortly before I had entered the park. I started calling as soon as I was inside but due to either my cell phone carrier or Mike’s carrier, the calls got dropped a couple of times before we could state where each of us were. I made it all the way to the circular hub at the center of the park from which all the other lands of Disneyland branch off from by the time Mike and I were able to coordinate that he and Robert were in line for the Matterhorn ride. I just confirmed which side of the Matterhorn they were lined up on and then headed my way over to meet up with them.
In no time at all I found Mike and Robert and found they were already joined by Robert’s sister Vanessa and her husband Mike. The line was surprisingly pretty good sized, but moving quickly so I had some time to get to know Vanessa and Mike Andrews and I knew right away it was going to be a fun day. Vanessa and Mike have a twisted sense of humor, not unlike my own, so I just knew it was going to be a great day. I learned that the nickname that my friend Mike was given the nickname of “Jimmy” due to the number of Mike’s in the family.
We boarded the Matterhorn and had our first ride of the day, or at least the first ride I was present for. We had filled up a full car among the five of us. Vanessa and her husband Mike were seated ahead of me and I was head of “Jimmy” and Robert. During the course of the ride, Mike’s baseball cap flew off and I managed to catch it so that it didn’t end up lost on the ride. I was able to return it to Mike once the ride came to an end.
As soon as we were done with the ride, we met up with one of Jimmy’s co-workers Dan and his wife Diane had arrived in the park for the day. Diane had a recent foot surgery so she getting around the park in one of the motorized carts that can be rented for the day. It was a great blessing as all the walking for the day would certainly have taken it’s toll on Diane’s foot and having someone in the group in a motorized cart allows groups up to six people the opportunity to take advantage of bypassing most of the lines for rides and using the handicapped entrances. Additionally we were joined by Cynthia, another of Jimmy and Robert’s friends and ended up being a group of eight all day long. Technically we could have been partially denied whole group access to the rides as they limit it to six people, but since it wasn’t an overly busy day for the park we were allowed to take the whole party of eight for nearly all of the rides we went on without much trouble. A couple of times we got the lecture about six people not eight could be used but mostly were ushered on to the many rides with no trouble.
We headed over to Space Mountain, but for some reason they were turning people away, and according to the others, they’d been doing that all morning as they haven’t yet been able to get on it. So we went and did Star Tours instead. To enter as a group for the electric cart, we had to go in through the ride exit, which happens to be in the gift shop and had to be timed just right not to be mowed over by a mass exodus of people riding. Then just hanging out in the exit area until one of the ride attendants comes through when loading up the next batch of riders to see how many seats they need to save on the next run. We were saved the front row and it was fun to take a ride through the Star Wars Universe.
When we exited we discovered they were letting people on to Space Mountain so ventured in through the wheel chair access entrance that’s hidden off the exit of the ride. It was a different way of getting in. All of it kind of new and exciting. The nice thing about Space Mountain is that it’s designed to accommodate some slower loading for the wheelchair access, as one of the cars for the coaster just gets pushed to a side loading area allowing those who need more time to board the time to do so without holding up the ride. Then once everyone is on board, they slide the car back onto the track and send it on it’s ride through the “galaxy” and then take the car off the track again to unload it.
Everything went smoothly until we got on the track, and as we were just about to be sent onto the coaster, our car got diverted to the side where we were told there was an issue with the car and we’d need to be put into a different one, so they released the safety restraint and unloaded us one row at a time with a special ladder and then sent us back up to the loading platform. Along the path to the loading platform we got to see some of the computers that power the ride. A neat chance to see some of the things you don’t normally see when everything goes according to plan.
This time our group got split in half and they directed half of us onto the regular loading for Space Mountain and the other half got another attempt at the extra time loading. This ended up being a successful launch with those of us in the regular loaded car going first with the other car being slid into place directly behind us. And this time we got launched correctly into the launch tube and out onto the coaster. And once the ride was done we ended up in two separated groups because we were routed through the regular exit while the other car was unloaded and the electric scooter collected. We just met up at the ride exit.
We decided it was time to jump ship and transfer over to Disney’s California Adventure park as they have an earlier closing time for the day and could then return later on once we’d seen everything we wanted to see over there. Once we crossed over, our first stop was on Soarin’ Over California. I had Birkenstock sandals and random woman who was seated next to me saw me take off my sandals and put them behind my back on the seat. She asked why I took my sandals off, and I said, “They don’t want sandals flying off onto their screen and I prefer to just take them off before they tell me to do so.” Of course, my friend Mike thought I was nuts for wearing the sandals instead of shoes, but they really are pretty comfortable and sure my feet would hurt a little bit by the end of the day. but no more so than in shoes.
Following Soarin’ we stopped for a quick drink at the Taste Pilot’s Grill, which gave a good chance to sit down and socialize for a few minutes before we headed over to the Grizzly River Rafting ride. Diane decided to sit this ride out due to her foot, and the rest of us left our stuff in the lockers they provide free use of while on the ride.
The seven of us waited briefly in line and got loaded into a single raft where we had just the best time. We all got really soaked, more soaked than I’ve ever gotten on this ride, and keep in mind it’s a January day, granted it’s warmer than most other places, but getting soaked to the bone, probably wasn’t the best idea, but we had an amazingly fun time on the ride. We really got blasted by the geyser near the end of the ride as it just went right off as our raft neared it, covered it and then uncovered it ensuring everyone in the raft was drenched. Both Jimmy and Dan took video footage of the ride since they had waterproof cameras. If you have access to Facebook, you can view Mike’s video footage by clicking here. I’m not sure if you need to be a friend of mine or Mike to view it, but you may have to be a Facebook member at the least to see it.
As we made our way further into the park, we hit the Mulholland Madness, Toy Story Mania, California Screamin’, and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror as well as had lunch in the area where there is a choice of Mexican, Chinese, and Soups and Salads in Sourdough bread bowls. We even saw a few tests of the water screens being done in the lake for the upcoming World Of Color water show. By this point we’d seen all we wanted to see at California Adventure and made our way back to Disneyland.
Once back in Disneyland we made our way over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and walked over by the walled off Rivers of America as it was drained for maintenance. The drained Rivers of America weren’t the most pleasant smelling as parts of it normally covered by water were now exposed. We headed over to Pirates of the Caribbean then over to Indiana Jones and the Jungle Cruise, then ventured back over to the Haunted Mansion and then felt it was time to call it a day at the park. We decided we wanted to go as a group to a restaurant but decided we wanted to go somewhere off the Disney grounds. So we reconvened at the hotel Mike and Robert were staying at and then used the AroundMe app on my iPhone to locate a restaurant. We decided on Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. I’ll write more about that in another blog entry.
All in all it was a fantastic day at Disneyland. I really enjoyed getting the opportunity to spend the day with Robert and Mike to celebrate Robert’s birthday. I really enjoyed meeting my new friends Vanessa and Mike, Diane and Dan, and Cynthia. I couldn’t ask for a better way to enjoy Disneyland. It really is much better with friends. Thanks Mike and Robert for the invitation to come, I’m really glad I took the time off work to go.