Thursday, April 26, 2007

Disneyland Tips and Pointers

I realize that this is totally rude, indelicate and insensitive... but it is, nevertheless, the truth. And that's what the "Fly in the Holy Oil" is all about: telling the truth... no matter who it might offend.

Some things I learned at Disneyland:

1) GRANNY. Bring your Granny. She wants to ride on the roller coaster with you. Seriously. Go to the nursing home (ask the wife for directions if you don't know where it is) and scoop your granny up out of her bed, and stick her in a wheel chair (she will love that) and take her with you to Disneyland.

Bring her with you to each of the rides. They've got a special deal going on. As long as you've got granny in her wheel chair, they will let you and the whole family (all 18 of you) get on the ride without waiting. It's true, I've seen it with my own eyes. Little old gray-haired grannies, and their 18 closest and most dearly loved relatives going right straight to the head of the line, no matter how long the wait (and some of them, even in the off-season, were 90 minutes lines!)

2) FAST PASS. If Granny isn't available, or you are afraid of losing her, do the FAST PASS thing instead. FAST PASS is a really cool thing they've got going on at Disneyland, but you won't know about it or how to use it, unless you read the fine print. The reason FAST PASS works, is because nobody knows about it, okay. So, now you know about it, and it is going to help you ride on all the rides you want without waiting for 90 minutes in line.

The way FAST PASS works is: there are about a dozen of the most popular rides at both Disneyland and California Adventure that have FAST PASS. What FAST PASS is, is there's an area somewhere near the ride (often difficult to find) where you can "get your FAST PASS". You stand in a short line (usually 5 minutes or less) and when it is your turn, you insert your Disneyland tickets into a machine, and it spits out a FAST PASS ticket for each of your Disneyland tickets. The FAST PASS ticket enables you to go in a much shorter line for the ride (usually 5 minutes or less) at a specific time. It's like making reservations for your ride! It's really a cool thing.

We used FAST PASS to go on Autopia (bypassing a 60 minute wait) and Space Mountain (bypassing a 90 minute wait) and Thunder Mountain Railroad (also bypassing a 60 minute wait.)

The only thing about FAST PASS is: they are not unlimited (unless you are staying at the Disneyland hotel) so you have to plan things right. Once you get a FAST PASS for your ticket, you can't get another one for another hour and a half. Also, really popular rides (like space mountain) are all booked up before NOON! (even in the off season.) So, get your Space Mountain FAST PASS first, or else you will end up going on the ride at 11:00 at night.

An aside: Space Mountain seems to be the most popular ride there. Probably the most popular ride at California Adventure is Grizzly River Run. In fact Grizzly River is so popular that we didn't get a chance to ride it. By 11:00 AM, the only FAST PASSES left are for 9:30 at night, and who wants to get soaking wet at that hour. Even in sultry California. Well, yeah, apparently some folks do!

3) wear your feet out. We tried to save money on our trip by staying at a hotel a block away from Disneyland. But, upon reflection, it might have been better to pay the extra $100 a day to stay at one of the Disneyland hotels. Not only are you a lot closer to the park, but they give you unlimited FAST PASS (no wait time between FAST PASSES). That means you can get all your FAST PASSES one right after the other, and then come back at the appointed times and ride the rides quickly.

4) Early Entry. One of the advertised specials is that if you buy tickets for three days in a row, they will let you in for Early Entry one day. Early Entry means you get to come to the park one hour before it opens. When we were there it meant 7:00 AM instead of 8:00 AM. They only do Early Entry three days a week, so you have to plan for it. And, just so you know, Fantasy Land and Main Street is the only thing open on Early Entry days.

Don't do it. It isn't worth it. At least on the days we were there, the lines for all the rides were much shorter on normal entry days than they were on early entry days. I figure everyone tries to get a break on those long lines, by coming early on early entry day, but on normal days they don't come right when the park opens.

On the day we got to the park at 8:05 AM, we walked right onto Jungle Ride (and got off and got back on the next boat), and the line for Pirates at 8:30 in the morning was only 10 minutes long. BUT on early entry day, we planned to ride on the Fantasy Land rides that always have long lines (for some reason, that's Peter Pan, and, for obvious reasons the Matterhorn) - well, by the time we got to Peter Pan (maybe 7:15 AM) the line was already 60 minutes long! We went over to Pirates, and bit the bullet at a 25 minute wait (at around the same time it had only a 10 minute wait on non-early entry day).



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