Disneyland Resort in Anaheim - April 4, 2004 trip report

Even though it was the first day after Daylight Savings kicked in, we arrived at the resort a little earlier than normal on a Sunday because we had some shopping to do before meeting up with friends. We got to the parking structure at about 10:30 and ended up with pretty good parking (and got a ticket that was dated 04/04/04 - yeah, only a Disney geek).

That early in the day, only 2 1/2 of the security check stations were open on the side where the Mickey and Friends trams let out, but there still wasn't much of a wait. I really do like these new check stations. It does make everything so much easier.

We went into DCA to do a bit of shopping. Part of what we wanted to look for was something we'd seen a couple of weeks ago - miniature pieces of park attraction vehicles and Disney characters. They're called "Collector Packs - Park Series 2" and come in a small yellow package with Goofy, Donald, Mickey, Pluto, Minnie and Daisy on the front. It's a bit expensive as each pack contains 3 figurines at a cost of $5. There are 18 figurines in all: Aladdin, Ariel, Jasmine, Cinderella, Cinderella's Castle, Doom Buggy (with a ghost inside), Figment, Jungle Cruise, Matterhorn Bobsled (with Mickey inside), Monorail, Mr. Toad car (with Toad inside), Flick, Hopper, Train, Tinkerbell, Simba, Tea Cup (with one of Donald's nephews inside) and Pumbaa & Timon (both on same figurine). The major downside is that there is no way to tell which three figurines might be in any given package, and with the package design, there is no way to see through it. So, we spent about 20 minutes feeling through various packages, trying to pick out certain ones. A CM helped us for a little while, and another couple were there doing the same thing as well. Some pieces are easier to tell than others (the train and the monorail are the easiest with the doom buggy and the tea cup easily identifiable once you learn what to feel for), but some of the other pieces are fairly hard to tell apart. We would like the entire set, but it's a matter of how much risk we want to take in buying a random package. We ended up buying a few packages and had duplicates on a few of the pieces. Part of me understands why the packaging was designed this way, but part of me also thinks it absolutely defeats the purpose. I think a lot of people will be turned away by not knowing what they're going to get, especially since the package isn't exactly inexpensive. I don't know how many people are willing to stand there for a while trying to feel the packages. I can see how someone might be willing to buy a package if they were liked one or two of the characters in a particular package, but this same person might not buy even one package in this grab-bag way.

We then went over to DL to do a bit of shopping there as well before the noon meet at the hub. While walking in New Orleans Square and looking out at the Rivers of America, we noticed an unexpected passenger on a canoe. It was Frontier Goofy. Here's a picture. Goofy was a bit of a slacker though - he didn't have a paddle and so wasn't helping to row the canoe.

This was our first time to the hub since they changed the trees. With the bigger trees taken out, there isn't much shade over our normal bench anymore. We said hello to the one person there that we knew and waited for our friends, who came over the next half hour. Once everyone was there, we decided to have lunch at Carnation Cafe.

We had a bit of a wait as even though there were only two parties ahead of us, the restaurant was full, and it was evident that many had either just received their food or had just ordered, so their tables weren't going to be available for a while. Because of the wait, when we were finally being taken to our table, we noticed that it was in a section of a server that we really don't like, but we didn't want to have to wait any longer, so we took the table anyway. In the past, we've actually declined a table in this server's section and waited for another available table in another section. The server is pleasant enough but is really not a very good server, though we've heard that others don't feel the same way. When we got to our table and were trying to figure out who would sit where, I noticed that one of the chairs had quite a bit of water spilled on it, so I asked the hostess who took us there if someone could wipe it off. She looked at me and said with a definite attitude, "Excuse me?" I repeated my request to her, and she seemed rather annoyed as she went off to apparently get a towel or something. I was rather surprised and irritated at her reaction. When she came back, she gave the chair a half-hearted wiping, only cleaning about half the chair and then stopping. I then asked her for the napkin she had used and proceeded to clean off the rest of the chair myself. One of the other people in our party noticed later that she pretty much had a sour expression on her face with everyone. I can certainly understand having a bad day, but given the job she had, I was really taken aback at her behaviour as I haven't encountered a CM quite that rude in some time. The rest of the meal went well, even though we had to make a few repeat requests of our server, but as usual, the food and company were good.

After wandering around a bit after lunch, we made our way to Big Thunder Ranch to see the new petting zoo. I hadn't quite known what to expect, but it was definitely smaller than I had expected. It takes up some of the space in the exit area of the old Festival Arena, but much of the rest of the Arena and all of what used to be Big Thunder BBQ is still boarded off. Here's a picture of the entrance to the ranch. As you walk in, there's a horse to the left that you can look at. You then go into this cabin that has stick masks of various characters from "Home on the Range" that can be colored, with tables and crayons nearby. The cabin is also decorated with some kitchenware and some "household" items. When you exit out the back of the cabin, there's a cow in a pen just outside. A little ways over is the petting zoo that people can go into. There were several goats in there, only one of which was really accessible. There is an area where the goats can go if they want to take a break that guests are not allowed to enter because of some slight fencing. Here's a picture of the goats in that area. Here is a picture of one of the goats standing on the small hill. Here is a picture of the goat on the other side of the rock structure. Here's a picture of the group of goats. Here's a picture of the goat that was being pet by guests. As I was standing there watching people pet the goat, two young kids (maybe 6 or 7) were petting it, and they both leaned down and kissed the goat. I'm not sure I'd recommend that... The entrance and exit to the ranch is the same, and just inside the entrance are washing stations for those who have been through the petting area.

One of our friends had to do some shopping so the rest of us browsed around. We'd seen a new snowglobe Friday night that we thought was pretty cool. It's the Mark Twain steamboat loaded with characters. The snowglobe is priced at $75 and plays "Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Da", and can be found at the Emporium and the China Shop, among other places. Here are pictures of the snowglobe, from the front, from the back, from the left side, and from the right side. While we really liked the snowglobe and especially love that the back of the Twain says "Disneyland USA", we weren't happy that the characters themselves weren't better drawn and painted. Their likenesses weren't as close as we normally like, so we won't end up getting this snowglobe.

We then headed out of the park to go to the Grand Californian to rest for a while. We enjoy spending time at the Hearthstone Lounge, and this was the first time that the little alcove was empty so we went there. The sofas and chairs are very comfortable, and it's a bit away from everyone else, so there's a modicum of privacy. A server came by to get our drink orders, and we were pleasantly surprised that they do offer free soda refills there. After relaxing and chatting for a while, it was time to leave as some of us had planned to see "Home on the Range" at the AMC Theatres there.

On the way to the theatres, we noted again the ongoing changes at the soon-to-open Tortilla Jo's, with work being done even on a Sunday. The structure of the old Y Arriba Y Arriba building is mostly unchanged, and it's amazing what a different color scheme and minor changes can do. Here is a photo from slightly to the side, and here's a photo that shows more of the building. We're very much looking forward to the opening of this restaurant.

After the movie, we headed back to DL to meet up with the friends who didn't go to the movie, and after running into another friend who recently moved back to the Southern California area, we went to Rancho del Zocalo for dinner. While it's not my favorite place and is certainly not near the level of the former Casa Mexicana, I like the restaurant much better now on the whole than when they first opened, though I was very disappointed when they took away the quesadillas. However, I've never been interested in the barbeque offerings here (no comparison whatsover to the former Big Thunder BBQ), so I always get food from the Mexican food side. I do like the new decor and tables and everything in the restaurant, and it was even nicer to sit near Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. It was down when we first sat down but came up later in our meal.

After dinner, we decided it was time to go, though we ended up having tofight through the crowds for the just-started parade.


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