Thursday, June 05, 2008

How I Spent My Summer Vacation (part 1)

I always wanted to start a blog post like that, hehe... This could get long, so I'm only posting part now!

On Friday, May 23rd, Hunter and I left Eugene bound for Burbank, CA. We had a layover in San Francisco, but for once in my life, a flight including SFO actually left and arrived on time at my destination. WOW! I didn't think it was possible, but at approximately 7PM we arrived in Burbank, and Hunter's folks picked us up. We then went to eat at the Original Panda (Panda Inn), a place I've been wanting to try for quite a while, being a big fan of the Panda Express chain. It was really good, I have to admit. I even got the orange chicken, like I normally do at the Express! Very tasty!

We spent the night at Hunter's folks' house in Pasadena, and got up early Saturday morning to get ready for our excursion to Disneyland. The cruise didn't leave until Sunday afternoon, so we figured it would be the perfect time to fit in a Disneyland trip, as Anaheim is really close to Pasadena.

Well, I hadn't been to Disneyland since I was around 7 years old, in 1978, so I had no idea what to expect. First of all, it seems that in the early 80s they stopped using tickets, and now the admission fee covers all the rides. Also, fairly recently they initiated a "fast pass" system, where you can get a ticket (using your admission ticket) that allows you to return to the ride during a window of time for a more express line, getting you into the ride much faster. However, you can only have one fast pass at a time, and once a certain window of time is "sold out", you have to pick a later time.

First thing we did was grab a fast pass for the Indiana Jones ride, and then headed over to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. It's something of a tradition for Hunter to ride that one first, and I had no objections! I remembered the ride slightly from my time there as a kid, but I was still blown away by the attention to detail in the full-size diorama-ish scenes created from animatronics and lighting. The whole thing is huge, once you get inside, and takes a while to get through... By the end of it, you have a good feeling of being piratey, for sure. I have never seen the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (I know, shame shame), but I did spot recent upgrades to the ride, like Jack Sparrow, to make it more "current", I suppose.

The Indiana Jones ride was extremely thrilling, and really bounced you around inside the ride car, zooming one way and bumping up and down the other. I really enjoyed it, but I could see how some people might end up feeling a little bruised. :D I was a bit shaken up and white-knuckled, but felt pretty good after it, hehe... As some of you may know, I'm not really a roller-coaster person, as I get motion sick fairly easily, and gate being turned upside down on a ride with a passion.

Next up, we went to Space Mountain. That may have been a mistake on my part, as I hadn't let Hunter know the extent of my motion sickness. No, I didn't actually throw up, but I did break out into a drenched sweat by the end of the ride, and had to sit it out for about 20 minutes before we could get moving again. The ride started up fine, and was pretty trippy and spacey with all the swirling lights and such in the dark. Then the corkscrew turns started up, and whipped us back and forth. If it had been in daylight, and I could have anticipated the turns, I would have done okay, I think. But with all the mesmerizing lights and pulsating stuff, I got pretty ill pretty fast. :D Still, I'm glad I went on it, as now I can say I have!

After that, we left the park for a bit, and went next door to Downtown Disney for lunch. We got into the Rainforest Cafe, and had food. It was mostly decent food, but we happened to be seated next to the animatronic elephants, which would trumpet loudly every 8 minutes or so, causing me to almost lose my fork or perform a spit-take. All the little ones in the restaurant thought it was fantastic, but I grew tired of it after the second trumpeting and just wished we could talk and eat in peace. :D The best part of lunch though was the gift shop, where we picked up a small plushie leopard that we eventually named "Cabo" in honor of the first port we reached later on the cruise. After lunch we wnet and saw the new Indiana Jones movie (which had just opened a few days ago) at the movie theater there. It was really great to get to see it so soon after the ride, and a nice rest for the feets!

We took the monorail (how's that spelled?) back to Disneyland, and wandered around a little while. It's really quite a popular place... Very crowded now that is was after lunch on the Saturday of a holiday weekend. Due to the crowds, we went and got a fast pass for the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, another roller-coaster (yes, I know), and boarded the Mark Twain riverboat for a little relaxation. The Riverboat was a little dated, but still a fun experience. The Thunder Mountain was very thrilling, and since it was mostly out in the light, I enjoyed it a lot more. Still a bit shaken up, but not sick hardly at all.

Well, a little more wandering around, resting, and watching part of the parade, and we were on our way back to Hunter's folks' house. We stopped at a great German restaurant first, and then were home to finish up packing for the early start on Sunday for the cruise.

More to come on that later!


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