Disneyland Trip - New Years Day 2003

We went to Disneyland again yesterday, here is our trip report!

Background: Husband and myself, daughter, 13, son, 11. We just went to Disneyland about 2 weeks ago. It was so crowded that it was really hard to enjoy the rides & attractions – or even walking! We heard from a few people that New Years Day isn’t too crowded. With all the football games, the Rose Parade, people hung over from the night before – that it’s a good time to go. We decided to give it a shot. We are Annual Passholders, we want to get the most out of those passes!

We got up early, and were on the road by 6:30am. Disneyland opened at 8am and we wanted to be sure to be at the gates when they started letting people in. We were parked, and off the tram, walking towards the gates by 7:40am. Not bad, only 20 minutes to wait! While we waited we had the CMs check our bags, they had everyone open everything (for security). Once we had that out of the way, the line moved quickly and we were in the park!

We grabbed a locker (we heard that they run out early). They have the new automated locker system. You pay $4 for the full day, you can use the locker as much as you like. You get a security code, that must be entered into an ATM sort of machine. Your locker unlocks as soon as you enter your code. Nice system. (Note: all lockers at the Main Street location were gone by about 10am).

First ride for us was Space Mountain – walked through Tomorrowland with barely anyone else around. It was pretty cool. Took a few pictures of the kids with NO ONE in the background, then we walked onto the ride, maybe 10 people in front of us. Next was Star Tours, same thing – walked right on. From there we ventured over to Indiana Jones – about a 20 minute standby wait – so we opted for the Single Rider line – walked right on. The ride was having some technical difficulties – kept stopping for no apparent reason, it was still fun. I would have been upset if I had waited in a 2 hour line for it, though. We enjoyed it.

Next was Thunder Mountain – about a 5 minute wait. Fun ride! From here we walked over to Splash Mountain. It was warming up, and getting wet didn’t sound like too terrible an idea. I heard the temp was about 72 today. The sign said line was 30 min long. We started waiting in it, and then we saw that they, too, had a single rider line. Off we went & walked right in and onto the ride! We did not get into the same cars, but that was fine. We had a good time and none of us got too wet.

From here we found the restroom, emptied our bladders, and went to grab some Fast Passes for The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean. It was about 10am by now. We were getting pretty warm and wanted to dump the sweatshirts, so back to the locker we went. People were complaining that they were already sold out – luckily we got one first thing! Entered our code, opened the locker, and threw in our stuff. Saw the pin trading booth and decided to stop and look. No one brought any pins this trip, but I did manage to buy one of the New Years 2003 pins – there were very few left!

We had about 45 minutes before our Fast Pass Return times, so we hopped on the Disney Railroad for a ride around the park. Got on right away, and went for a very enjoyable ride. Park was getting noticeably more crowded. We rode our two Fast Pass rides and then left the park! We had ridden the rides we wanted to ride, and really were not up to the thick crowds again. We emptied out the lockers and headed to our car.

We brought lunch in a cooler and planned on eating in the parking lot. We were trying to make this a low-budget trip. The food costs are pretty steep at Disneyland. It worked out well, it was nice to get out of the parks and relax a bit and eat. As people walked by, they commented on how ‘smart’ we were to bring lunch.

We rode the tram from the Mickey & Friends parking lot, back to Downtown Disney area. We went over to California Adventure for the rest of the day. It was not nearly as crowded as Disneyland, but still way more people than we have ever seen there. We found out later that it was Make-A-Wish Day there. That is the neatest program! It was nice seeing so many kids just ‘glow’ with the Magic of Disney!

We first went and did the Single Rider line at California Soarin’ – regular line was about 35 minutes. We were all split up, but we all rode! I was the first one to ride, along with my son. While we were waiting for my husband and daughter we spoke to a nice lady from England. She was here on vacation, just for the day. She was part of a tour that was going many places! We gave her some information on some of the rides, and where we suggested she eat, and chatted a bit. It is always nice meeting new people!

Next we wandered over to where the kids playground area thingy is. I cannot remember what its called. Its really a neat place – they have all sorts of fun things for kids to climb on, rope swings, slides, and things like that. The kids were in there a while. I ran over and got Fast Passes for California Screamin’ while they were in playing.

After they were done, we went over to the Paradise Pier area. Rode a few of the rides, Mullholland Madness (son LOVED it, husband said it hurt his back!), The Orange Stinger (giant swings), Maliboomer (a very large tower thing, where you are shot up at high speed and then slide back down – I didn’t ride this but the others loved it!). Next we passed by the area where the carnival games are. Typically I just walk right past, but after the kids begged a bit, Dad gave in and let them play a game. There was one game where everyone was a winner – sounds good to me! You pay your $2 and fish for your prize! The kids each got a small stuffed animal. Daughter got a baby seal, named it January. Son got a baby whale, named it TwoBucks. That was that – the kids were happy, and we didn’t sink $100 in the process!

Time for our Fast Pass Ride - California Screamin’ – a really fun roller coaster! We were excited to ride it, as we skipped it last time. It goes pretty fast, and is fun! It shoots you off to start the ride, similar to Rock’n Roller Coaster. From here we went over to the Ferris Wheel – LONG line, but my husband and son really wanted to ride.. so they did! Daughter and I sat on a bench and did some people-watching while they rode it. Son loved it, Dad said he could take it or leave it! That was the end of Paradise Pier for us.

We wanted to check out the Bugs Land area, which is new. Saw the Tough to Be A Bug movie – its changed a little since the last time. Very cute! Wandered through the new area, didn’t ride anything – these rides are for very small children! Cute rides, and nice theming!

By now it’s about 5. We are hungry for dinner. I suggested Goofy’s Kitchen. It’s a buffet style character meal in the Disneyland Hotel. I saw the Information booth just ahead of us, so I went and asked if they offered any sort of reservation service for the restaurants in the hotels. Yes, there is – she made us a reservation right there!! 5:30 at Goofys Kitchen! So off we go, on our trek through Downtown Disney to the Disneyland Hotel. 10 minute walk! Downtown Disney was pretty crowded, but not horrible.

We got to Goofy’s Kitchen and the line to check in was pretty long, but moved quickly. We were seated within 10 minutes! Great meal, and lots of fun interaction with the characters, too. We saw Mary Poppins, Aladdin and Jasmine, Chip and Dale, Minnie, Goofy and Pluto.

We bravely decided to walk back to the Mickey & Friends Parking Structure (we were actually parked in the Pinocchio lot which is right next to Mickey & Friends). The walk back to the tram seemed to be just as far as just walking to the lot. It was a nice, straight through walk, maybe 10 minutes. That was the end of our day at Disney! Great Day!!!

Positive things: Getting there early enough to walk on to many of the 'popular' rides. Holiday decorations. Nice weather, Nightmare Before Xmas still at Haunted Mansion, Single Rider lines cut down our waiting time, DCA wasnt horribly crowded. Super Cast Members!

Negatives: Disneyland got pretty packed by about noon. Lots of impatient people around.

Overall: Wonderful day! Perfect way to start the New Year!