Our day began with a dismal downpour. We didn’t let it dampen our spirits but in true Disney style, we winked at the weather, turned our frowns upside down and quick-stepped through the turnstiles.
Everyone had been putting off wearing the red jackets I’d bought for the trip (ok I admit, it’s ‘out there’! Red was not my first choice either but it was the only colour I could get in all our sizes). Today was the perfect day for our water-proof Marvelesque suits! No one could argue. They actually turned out to be very practical because 1) we could keep track of each other in the crowd; 2) members of staff could tell exactly how many of us were together on a ride 3) we didn’t get wet in the rain and 4) we were playfully dubbed “the red team”. Hey, Macarena!
Our first move was to buy umbrellas. Marked down from 40€ to 20€, I purchased two Disney parapluies. I appeased Mr B with the promise that they would be my souvenirs and that I would use them back at home in Cape Town. At R300 each, we guarded them like gold!!
There, now we were ready to go singing in the rain.
We checked out the App (and the map that we got at the entrance) and decided to start with the bigger of the two, Disneyland Park, because this was the day that we had 12 hours to spend in the park: from opening time (10am) until closing time (10pm).
Disneyland Park is divided into four sections. We chose to go in an anti-clockwise direction starting with DISCOVERYLAND because this was the section we thought we’d enjoy the most… and it was!
The Orbitron in Discoveryland
Our first ride was the Orbitron. It was a good introduction. There were no queues and the whole family enjoyed it.
Next up was Hyperspace Mountain. All rides in Disney are suitable for children over the age of 7 (with minimum height restrictions too). Miss K is 10 but she’s a reluctant rollercoaster-goer and she decided to sit this one out. We’d heard of the child-switch concept where one adult can stay with the non-riding child and then switch with the other adult, who’d just been on the ride, without having to wait in the queue. This would come in handy as there was a 45 minute wait in the queue! We all queued together until it came to the time to embark on the craft. I asked about the child switch but was told I was supposed to wait at the exit. There was not a star in the sky that I could wish on to make Miss K change her mind about stepping onto the spacecraft, so we both had to leave.
Afterwards we discovered that the riding adult could ask for a child-switch ticket at the beginning of the ride and hand it to the other adult to be used at any point throughout the day. This allowed the person to skip the queue completely and proceed right to the front. We used this quite a few times from then on.
Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
Star Tours was a fantastic family adventure. The backstory was super and the set, just delightful. We were leaving planet earth to inhabit another planet. Star Wars’ CP3O accidentally took control of our spaceship and we were headed for disaster! On top of that, we had a spy on board. Their picture appeared on the screen – it was none other than our Miss K. She loved that! The twisting, turbulent 4D simulation left some of us feeling ill and, as it was already 12pm, in need of a snack.
Buzz Lightyear was temporarily closed so we made the decision to leave ‘infinity and beyond’ to the end of the day and proceeded to a refuelling station. We grabbed delicious crispy-onion-and-mustard hotdogs from a diner before frolicking into FANTASYLAND.
Peter Pan’s Flight: sweet but too short
FANTASYLAND, the traditional part of Disney, is lovely for little kids but there are no big rides here. We waited 90 minutes to do Peter Pan’s Flight which was marked “NOT TO BE MISSED” on the park map. It was cute but I would’ve been happier to have given Tink a wink and a wave and been our way. This is also the area where you get to meet Mickey and the Princesses. With one and two-hour waits, respectively, we deemed it an extravagance we could not afford and pirouetted past. Another “NOT TO BE MISSED” ride here is it’s a small world. I had done this ride in Disneyworld, Florida as a teenager. It was lovely but with older kids and limited time available, we skipped on.
ADVENTURELAND was awesome! Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril was a wild coaster ride that felt like it was going to send us hurtling off its tracks! Miss K took one look at the cobra guarding the entrance and wormed her way out of it. This was one of the times the child-switch was useful.
We enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean as a family. It was a little dark and could be scary for youngsters. Miss K and Mr D (8) didn’t like the scenes. We spied Robinson Crusoe’s Cabin (treehouse) but didn’t have time to stop and explore his story so we dosey-doed on down to FRONTEIRLAND for our final round-up.
There were two rides there that we were interested in: Thunder Mesa Riverboat Landing (a cruise on an old steamboat) … Miss K’s was rooting for that one; and Big Thunder Mountain. The Steamboat was temporarily closed so we opted to do some rootin’ tootin’ shootin’ at the Rustler Roundup Shootin’ Gallery before commencing with our thunder-clapping.
Miss K was not keen for a coaster but we saw other younger kids emerging from Big Thunder Mountain and they seemed fine. From what we could tell, it looked quite tame with no upside down acrobatics and only a pull-down bar for security. Under 7s had to be accompanied by an adult but other than that, there were no restrictions. We talked her into trying it out. After another 90 minute wait we boarded a runaway mine-cart and went for an exhilarating experience of speeding through underground tunnels in the dark! Needless to say Miss K was TERRIFIED and vowed not to trust another rollercoaster ever again.
Sleeping Beauty’s Beautiful Castle
After a meal at the Silver Spur Steakhouse, at 8:30pm, the evening ended with a return to DISCOVERYLAND to tick off Buzz Lightyear and to revisit Orbitron (for Miss K) and Hyperspace Mountain (for the rest). Buzz Lightyear was fun but more for younger ones. We had to shoot aliens with lazer guns. Points were scored for the sharpest shooters. Of course, we turned it into a competition and … the results will remain undisclosed. We all rode on Orbitron and, leaving Mr B with Miss K, the rest of us managed to launch ourselves onto Hyperspace Mountain at 21:57 with only 3 minutes to spare! As we exited, we were enchanted with a fantastic display of fireworks set to Disney tunes.
End of Part 1