Monthly Archives: August 2011

Feast Your Eyes…

Ladies and Gentlemice, stay tuned for much, much more information about this picture (taken Friday) and card.

I promise you’re gonna like what you hear!

Photo Credit: Renee Browne/Sprouts Photography

Rough Edge 5×7 folded card
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Astro Orbitor

Once upon a time, a better time, there was a ride called the Peoplemover (or as it was known by cast members, the “Peoplemaker” because of the very large number of people who took the opportunity to make out in relative comfort and privacy). On top of the Peoplemover loading station was a ride called the Rocket Jets.

The Rocket Jets were ALL KINDS of awesome.

They were space ships that you rode in way up in the sky around and around like you were totally the shiz. The fact that it was way up high in the sky, on top of the Peoplemover, added a totally excellent element. Up high was the way to go.

You may have noticed that I’m harping a bit on the up high part. That’s because when they re-did the ride from the Rocket Jets to the Astro Orbitor, they put it down on the ground, and that is the single biggest tragedy of all. The second biggest tragedy is its very inconvenient location. But mostly the height thing.

I’d show you a picture of the Astro Orbitor on the ground, but I forgot to take one. Oh well.

Anyway, the AO is very much like Dumbo in that your ride vehicle is on a long arm and you can go up and down by pulling a lever. In fact, I’ve heard the AO called the “Space Dumbo” before. And like Dumbo, due to the nature of the ride, the load time is very slow and sporadic, so the line backs way up.

Imagine my surprise then, when Kristin, Monica, our 5 combined children, and I saw a very, very short line for the AO. We pretty much jumped right in.

Astro Orbitor pilots at the ready! Lexie, Anderson (of Jedi Training Academy fame), Annika, and Theo.

Yes, I know that’s only four. We left the baby and the camera with Monica.

The queue is an unexciting chain switchback, but when you get close to the ride, the operator is in a futuristic booth and stuff.

Theo liked this part a lot

I attempted to take a vertical picture of the whole ride, but cleverly positioned a rocket right in the way of the details of the ride.

Good job!

Incidentally, this was my first time on this ride, so yay My Year With The Mouse!!

Theo has become quite an independent little bugger, but he really looks up to Anderson so it’s pretty easy to keep him in check by having him hold Anderson’s hand.

Big boy!

The AO loads at ground level which as you may have picked up, kind of bums me out.

Wouldn't life be better on top of the Peoplemover?

…and supposedly seats 3 in the bobsled-style seating, but to be honest I seriously had to cram myself in there with two very small children.

I was pretty sure they were going to need a can opener to get me out.

We decided to split up into the boy’s rocket and the girl’s rocket.

The lovely ladies

I'm an honorary boy

Wave good-by to the Earthlings–your flight is about to begin!

See ya!

And then blast off for space!

The girls in back

And I’ll be honest–despite the fact that it’s located on the ground, we felt like we went surprisingly high.

Monica got a great shot of both of our rockets. Poor little Theo is too tiny to be seen in the front of mine.

Fly, Kristin! Fly like a bird!

And apparently there was an original Astro Jets soon after Disneyland opened which were again located on the ground. So I guess it’s not so much messing with an original, as it is going back to an inferior position. And the location pretty much bites. It’s right at the entrance of Tomorrowland, which creates very narrow passages for entering the land (did we not learn our lesson from Adventureland?), particularly with the line for the new Star Tours.

But you know, despite all of that, I actually really liked it.

Casey Jr. Circus Train Comin’ Round the Track!

Casey Jr. was the first ride we ever took Theo on. I can’t remember exactly why we chose Casey Jr.–maybe because it was Kevin’s thing about trains and it’s a train that’s actually a Fantasyland ride rather than a trip around the Magic Kingdom. I think it seemed more ride-y. And it seemed like perhaps not the best idea to put a 6 week old on his own elephant on Dumbo.

Here he is:

OMG he's so tiny!!!

And then here he is at 2 and 1/2:

Such a big boy!

You know what would have been a cute idea? Taking a picture of him there at age 1. Oh well. That’s what photoshop is for, right? Revisionist history?

Anyway, Theo is now very into trains so it wasn’t a surprise that Casey Jr. was on his to-do list.

Or at least is was once we introduced him to it. In line.

I love its sign because the painting on the train reminds me of one of Theo’s favorite books, the Little Red Caboose. Also, it is necessary to supervise children at all times.

Words to the wise

There are a number of different cars that you can ride on, or in, or whatever. The cars toward the front are open-aired little chariot thingies.

This is the kind we rode with Theo his first time.

Towards the back there are animal cages that for some reason, kids go ape about. Get it? Ape? Hahaha, I’m so funny. Anyway, kids tend to race to these, and then some sad looking adults end up cramming themselves in there too and it’s just not pretty.

Perhaps these are more spacious than they look, but I'm not really interested in finding out.

As I said above, one of Theo’s favorite books is the Little Red Caboose, and conveniently, Casey Jr. has a little red caboose on the back. Or as Theo pronounces it, coo-boose.

Ride coo-boose! Ride coo-boose!

We actually waited another cycle to ride the caboose. It was already full when we first got to board, so we just asked the cast member if we could wait for the next train to ride the caboose. She said it was no problem and we just waited behind the yellow safety line at the exit.

Theo is schooling Daddy in the proper ways to drive a coo-boose

Use both hands, Daddy!!!

A good thing to know is that Casey Jr. is pretty connected to the Storybook Land Canal Boats. They come around right by the queue.

They always wave too, or at least the cast member does

And I don’t want to freak anyone out, but it’s a scientific fact that Disneyland has at least one ghost and I’m not talking about the Haunted Mansion. I’m talking about the ghost that haunts Casey Jr.. How do I know this? Because I got a picture!!!!!

I call this "Close Encounters of the Aperture Kind"

Scary, dude. But not as scary as Pinocchio.

And now, let’s take some bets on how long it takes for someone to search for “Disneyland ghost” and find me.

Anyway, The Storybook Canal Boats take you through Storybook Land in miniature, and Casey Jr. basically takes you around that via the land route, which is faster and (sorry, boats) more exicting.

It’s so close to the canal water that it has its own life preserver ring.

But really, how deep can it BE?

There’s quite a bit of decorative foliage, like the ride name in flowers. You also go through a lovely floral display representing the Silly Symphonies, and talk about something quite possibly lost on the next generation. I’ll have to track that down.

It's like Mickey except it's not Mickey

And incidentally, back on the King Arthur Carrousel post I talked about how the Disneyland site itself says that animals from the carrousel were moved to Casey Jr. which as you look at it seems patently untrue, given that a giant carrousel giraffe would stick out like…well…a giant carrousel giraffe on this ride. So I believe what moved are perhaps the stationary seats or some decorative panels.

Also you may notice that we got in line for this ride when it was light and got off in the dark, and the pictures here are out of order.

Anyway, Casey Jr. was surprisingly fast. Like, who takes their 6-week-old on a ride like that??? Heh. So the main problem with photographing on Casey Jr. is that pretty much all of my pictures turned out like this:

And this one is pretty much the best of the bunch. No joke.

So with a lack of other compelling and informative pictures, I’m going to have to sign off now, except to say…

Search for Disneyland Magic? I love that Disney doesn’t abandon their old movies and shorts. Yes, my SRM reveals that the Silly Symphonies were released between 1929 and 1939, and the people who saw them live also enjoyed the now recognizably racially insensitive Song of the South in the theater, but the Silly Symphonies are still represented here on Casey Jr. and in the Mouse-Next-Door on the Silly Symphonies Swings (formerly the Orange Stinger, which I actually really liked, so boo hoo). Anyway, while Disney does pile up the new, they haven’t entirely abandoned the old. It was magic then and it’s still magic now.

“Magical” Fireworks

Nobody does fireworks like Disney. Nobody. In fact, every time I watch a fireworks show somewhere else I’m left wanting, thinking “can’t you coordinate the music and the fireworks? You can shoot off more than one at the same time before the finale. That’s IT???” for some little civic fireworks show that probably cost a huge amount of money. Disney has raised fireworks to an art form, not only with music and timing, but with ground effects and lighting as well. Not to mention the classic Disney soundtracks.

This summer’s fireworks show (it changes, btw) is called “Magical.” How convenient for my search for Disneyland Magic, hunh? Still looking for that–think fireworks may be part of it? I do. Anyway, there are many places to view the fireworks. In the past it didn’t really matter where you were in the park. Then on Disneyland’s 50th birthday in 2005, Disney pumped up fireworks to a whole new level. They closed parts of Fantasyland, brought in a lot of lower ground effects centered on the castle, and projected images onto the castle and Matterhorn. For that show, a spot in the hub (circle at the end of Main Street) was the ideal place to watch.

Magical had some castle involvement, basically lights and castle low fireworks, but honestly I think any area in the park where you can get a clear view and hear the music is a good spot. Watching from the Fantasyland side is great, and if you can time yourself to get on a Storybook Canal boat at just the right time, it’s amazing. But that’s tough, since you could end up watching from the line. Still, we usually end up on good old Main Street.

20 minutes before--not too crowded, plus zoom lens!

Fireworks viewing can be brutal (it especially was for the 50th birthday show). If you’re a short person like me, it can be very advantageous to stake out a spot 20 minutes beforehand, more if it’s crowded or if you seem to be in a premium location. Many people sit down at first.

Like us

Theo, where are the fireworks going to be?

You’ll notice that there are ropes running across Main Street in a few locations. They do rope off some walkways so that in lulls in the show they can shuffle people in various directions. It’s quite organized so pay attention–one route takes you to ALL lands in the rest of the park, the other takes you to ONLY the exit.

This line went to all the lands

Anyway, I’ve found as a short person, it’s helpful to be right up against one of those ropes. The gap of people not in front of you really helps.

Theo and his sandwich demonstrate Shelby's preferred location

They dim the lights and the castle starts to light up in different colors.


They used to have Tinkerbell start every show, but now they sometimes shoot some fireworks off pre-Tink, like in Magical.


Funny story: when Kevin was a wee lad, he and his mom would stay to watch the fireworks while his dad and dad’s friends went off to “Help Tinkerbell start the fireworks.” Yeah, they’d just go on Space Mountain. Heh.

Anyway, Tink does come flying out! Yay!

She comes in from the right and goes behind the castle, so I didn't get a picture of her until she was on this side.

This part sort of freaked me out a little bit, and not because of my crappy photography.

No, Tinkerbell! Don't get shot!

Fortunately, Tink survives, just like she manages to do at every show. Then they do the fireworks, like pretty colored things.

Pretty colors!

This is an example of a castle effect that doesn’t make as big of an impact if you can’t actually see the castle from either side.

These are the fireworks we can't see from our backyard

Other stuff happens, and apparently they do the up and down color things a couple of times.

Trying to take pictures and enjoy the show at the same time is very difficult.

They light up the castle in different colors. This one looks a little…hellish.

Cool high fireworks

Despite the look of abject disinterest, Theo actually really liked the show and would burst into applause every now and then.

Strangely enough, other people weren't clapping at the same things he was clapping at

And then the big surprise! Oh, I should probably take a moment to talk about the soundtrack. It was super-cool and centered on the magical moments in Disney movies, like when Pinocchio gets turned into a real boy and Cinderella turns into all kinds of awesome so she can go to the ball (in glass shoes–talk about being careful not to step on any toes, heh heh). Anyway, there’s of course this moment:

It's Dumbo!! (in case you couldn't tell from my stellar photography)

Dumbo whirled around the castle. I’ve never seen anything flying other than Tinkerbell so it was a nice surprise.

Whirling and twirling way up in the blue...

...elephants fly and so can you!

As of yesterday it seems like Dumbo is Theo’s new favorite ride. Which kind of bites a little because the wait is always really long.

Dumbo’s flying ears reminds me of the day we got our second beagle, Digory. Our first beagle, Scout (RIP *sniff*), was very wary but for one time and ONLY this one time, she actually chased him (from then on out, he always tried to chase her).

Dumbo-eared Digory!

Anyway, at that point I decided to put the camera down and enjoy the show. That’s one thing about this blog I’ve found is that when you’re documenting something, you really don’t get to enjoy it very much. I always wonder about people who just videotape everything in the park on their vacation. Yeah, the memories are great, but watching everything through a tiny screen instead of in real life just seems so much like you’re missing a big part of that Disneyland Magic.

Anyway, Disneyland shoots off some fabulous specials fireworks like heart-shaped ones and even ones that explode in happy faces in multiple colors. At the end of the show, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty end up in this fireworks equivalent of a dance-off with one turning the castle and fireworks blue and the other pink. UPDATE–Reader Correction: Apparently I did not spend enough time 1) listening to the soundtrack and 2) re-watching my Disney movies, because a reader corrected that the fight is between the fairies from Sleeping Beauty who are fighting over the colors like in the movie. I haven’t seen the movie since 19something, so there ya go. Hm, what does it say about me that I immediately thought it was like a deathmatch between Cinderella and Aurora? 

They do manage to work out their differences in the end.


And I watched the finale with my own two eyes :).

But this is my favorite fireworks picture ever. Actually my favorite Mickey picture too! Kevin snapped the following shot on Disneyland’s 50th birthday, May 6, 2005.

And THAT, my friends, is Disneyland Magic.

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