Without a doubt the highlight of Disney Month was a trip to Disneyland. Stephanie and I had a lot of fun with with my parents and Jen & Karen. We had a three day pass for Disneyland and the new-to-me California Adventures with a day of travel on each end. Even with three full days in the parks we didn't come close to getting to everything, but we hit most of the big stuff. Unlike Stephanie I've been to Disneyland a few times before, but we found some stuff that I hadn't experienced on previous visits.

Day one was spent in Disneyland and we made it to a bunch of the classic rides: Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, The Haunted Mansion, The Matterhorn, Space Mountain, Captain EO, and Star Tours. Pirates is the same old fun ride with the addition of a few Jack Sparrows. The addition of Jack didn't hurt the ride, although I couldn't work out why pirates were trying to capture him from the Spaniards in the big scene with the pirate ship and fortress. Indiana Jones was the big new ride last time I was in Disneyland and it is still really great. Haunted Mansion and Matterhorn were just as I remembered and as fun as always. Space Mountain is still awesome. The darkness and simulated star scape add a lot to this roller coaster and makes it one of my favorite rides at any amusement park. Captain EO is the original 3-D film that they brought back to make a buck off Michael Jackson's death with the addition of some 4-D effects that were added to the theater for Honey I Shrunk the Audience. The 4-D effects mostly consisted of the seats bouncing around to the music. I found the bouncing annoying and didn't think it added much to the show. Captain EO is definitely showing its age, but I couldn't help feel some nostalgia and almost bought a shirt on the way out. Star Tours is scheduled for a renovation and I'm glad I got to ride the original one more time. It was great hit all these rides in one morning with the short lines afforded by the off season and some cloudy weather. The lines were so short there wasn't much need for Fast Pass, which is new since my last visit.

Downtown Disney is also new to me. It's a series of stores and restaurants sandwiched between the parks and the Disney hotels. They must have decided that the parks were commercialized enough so they had to come up with a place to separate visitors from their remaining money. It was convenient to have someplace so close by with nice long hours, even if everything was overpriced and didn't quite have the Disney magic that Disneyland does.

Speaking of lost magic, we spent part of days two and three in California Adventures. There are some world-class rides like Soarin' Over California, Tower of Terror, and California Screamin' but there was a distinct lack of the Disney magic that is liberally spread about Disneyland proper. I really didn't enjoy the whole Paradise Pier section of California Adventures. They've tried to recreate the classic beach boardwalk feel of places like Santa Cruz. Maybe its because I've lived my whole life in California but if I want beach boardwalk I'll go to a real beach boardwalk. The carnival style rides in this section just made me nauseous.

I appreciate the variety of Downtown Disney and California Adventures and I really appreciate the booze (Disneyland proper is totally dry), but the whole time I was in either location I just wanted to run back to Disneyland. I feel like I should be concerned that I've turned into such a sentimental turd that I would pass up the thrills of a great roller coaster in favor of strolling down Main Street Disneyland, but I think I'm OK with it.

On day two we had dinner at Blue Bayou, the restaurant inside Pirates of the Caribbean. The dark atmosphere was exactly how I imagine an evening in New Orleans. Granted, this vision is mostly based on depictions from movies and purposely ignores hurricanes and oil spills (fuck you BP). The food and service were good, and the long meal provided some needed relaxation. I would recommend Blue Bayou, but be sure make reservations; they were turning people away even though the park wasn't very busy.

Day three brought some sunshine and larger but not unmanageable crowds. After getting Stephanie her Disney Princess photo-op fix we rode Grizzly River Run in California Adventures. Then we headed back to Disneyland to ride Indiana Jones a couple more times and go on a couple of the rides we missed like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the obligatory It's a Small World.

Even though we spent about twelve hours a day for three days in the two parks, and even though Splash Mountain was closed and none of evening shows like Fantasmic or the new World of Color were running we didn't manage to get to everything available. We realized this on the third day but I think we were all content with the trip, and we had a great time experiencing Disneyland together.

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