We started out from the hotel in search of a Starbucks that, according to my phone navigation, was in Downtown Disney. We really had no idea where that was, however, so after walking about a quarter mile out of the way we decided to follow the couples with strollers and would our way between the Disney hotels to what is basically a shopping center adjacent to the park entrance. Sure enough, there was Starbucks but by this time in the morning, about 8:30 am, the line for coffee was as long as a ride, reaching nearly out the door. As much as we were craving caffeine we decided to forgo a 20 minute wait and continued on toward the park. Right before we left Downtown Disney, however, we saw a little bakery that had no line so Jason decided to try to get coffee there. No waiting, and they were serving Starbucks brand anyway! Don't get me wrong, Starbucks is OK but definitely not our favorite, it's just reliable while travelling. They didn't have any kind of non-dairy milk or creamer so we had it black but we took this as a good sign that things would work out well that day. I'm sure all you coffee drinkers out there understand how significant successful procurement of "black water" can be!
It was on to the park were our good luck continued. As soon as we entered and took the obligatory photo right inside the front gate we headed to Adventureland. Right away someone handed us a fast pass to go on Indiana Jones so we were able to walk into the fast pass entrance and only waited about 10 minutes to get on the ride. We barely had time to finish our coffee! Since it was built, this has been one of my favorite rides and I was stoked that Jason would get to experience it as his first Disney ride. I could tell that he was overwhelmed by everything, and I tried to imagine seeing it all for the first time.
Even though I hadn't been to the park for nearly 20 years, I went several times a year as a child and in my teens and early twenties. Living in Southern California, Disneyland is much more accessible. I even went there for grad night, leaving on a bus directly from my high school graduation. Jason, who grew up in Santa Cruz, found this hard to believe! It was so fun to see everything that I remembered and had experienced so many times as brand new through his eyes. He was only four the one and only time he had ever been, over 40 years ago. There were a few changes, updates, and new rides but for the most part it was familiar and nostalgic for me. It sounds cliché, but the day was really as magical and exciting as when I was a child.
I think one of the reasons that Disneyland is so fun to visit as adults without kids is that the park enables you to suspend the demands of real life for the hours that you spend there. Everything is clean, the workers act happy, and the attention to detail ensures that you can get lost in an imaginary world. It lets you play, be childlike, and forget the responsibilities of adulthood for a while.
We took full advantage of the opportunity, hitting all the major rides. Two of my favorites were closed for renovation: Alice in Wonderland and Space Mountain, but we still had a full day. We caught on to the fast pass system pretty quickly and used it to shorten the wait time for some of the big-ticket rides. Before lunch, in addition to Indiana Jones, we hit Pirates of the Caribbean, the Jungle Cruise, and Splash Mountain. We left at about noon and walked back to the room to rest and eat lunch from the stash of food we brought on the trip. We returned at about 2 pm and went on Thunder Mountain, the Haunted Manson, the Tiki Room, and Autopia. We has a pretty silly experience seeing Thor, which we thought was a stage show of some sort but turned out to be a "meet and greet" with Thor himself. We waited way too long in line for this privilege, but it was hysterical when the doors opened and there he stood, waiting to take pictures with the crowd.
We took another break around 6 and returned around 9 for a final session. We got back just as the fireworks were starting and Fantasyland was closed, so we went on Pirates and Thunder Mountain again. We waited at the entrance to Sleeping Beauty's Castle until they re-opened the "kiddy rides", and then rushed to get on Peter Pan which is surprisingly popular and apparently always has a pretty long line. We also got on Sleeping Beauty and It's a Small World. By this time it was nearing midnight. We had gotten a tip from a regular the the Tiki Room that the best way to get on the Matterhorn, which doesn't have a fast pass option, is to get in line right before the park closes so we ran over to the snow-covered icon and got in line at 11:55. We were nearly the last ones in line as they closed it a few people behind us. So we brought the day to a close with a visit to the Abominable Snowman!
As Jason said, we killed it! We had a blast and are pretty much addicted. We can't wait to go back. I want to take Jason there during the holidays when it gets dark earlier and the park is full of lights and holiday decorations. I was kind of skeptical that it would be as much fun to go as an adult as it was when I was a kid, but I was wrong. It was better because we could do whatever we wanted and we got to do it together, which was the best way to celebrate 10 years of partnership and marriage. Here's to the "Happiest Place on Earth!"
Next: Day 3 - Sunset Cliffs and Ocean Beach