Sunday, July 05, 2009

Highway in the sky

We're on the monorail!

I love Walt Disney World’s larger monorail trains, but there’s a lot to be said for these window-facing seats on the trains here at Disneyland. They’re built for sight-seeing.

I’m facing the windows on the right-hand side of the train. I recall that when these newest versions of the monorail went into service not too long ago, there were problems with (among other things) the window design. The new side windows, which open only by swinging out a couple of inches at the bottom, did not allow sufficient air flow for cooling the cars during hot summer days. I knew that they’d modified the emergency doors mounted in the ceiling to include air vents, but now I see they’ve made another change: they’ve removed the top panels of some of the windows entirely! In any case, it’s nice and comfortable as we ride the rail.

I’m snapping pictures as we go. Bob wants to get a picture of me taking a picture of him, something we did on our first trip more or less by accident, and which now we make a point to do sometime on every trip. Hey, who am I to buck tradition?

The train pulls out of the station and out along Harbor Boulevard, though I'm on the park side of the train. It travels pass the bus arrival area – hey, there’s a trolley at our stop! – turns into the Hollywood Pictures Backlot portion of California Adventure, and then across the Golden Gate Bridge” at the entrance plaza. I’m looking forward to visiting California Adventure. Yes, I’ve heard a lot of negative about it, and I agree that some at-best questionable decisions were made in its design and theming, but come on, it’s still a Disney park that I’ve never visited before!

From California Adventure the monorail cruises under and between the buildings of the Grand Californian Hotel. This takes me by surprise, a bit. I guess I’d seen from the overhead views of Google Maps that the monorail went through the grounds of the hotel, but to have the actual buildings on either side of us is a wholly different experience.

After the hotel, the rail curves to the right – with an overly generous right bank that has us sliding in our seats – and into the Downtown Disney station.

That was cool.

We exit onto the platform and are directed to the large set of stairs leading to ground level. Yay, stairs. (Wheeze.) At the base of the stairs are turnstiles manned by cast members – since the monorail is a Disneyland park attraction and actually takes you into the park, you need to have valid Disneyland admission to ride. We're exiting, though, and we get our hands stamped so we can re-enter later today. The stamp is a pale, sickly yellow that I’m guess will glow under UV light. It’s the word “HERCULES” in block letters.

From the monorail station it’s not too far to the Disneyland Hotel, where Goofy’s Kitchen awaits. We pass by the ESPN Zone (and have to pull NBA megafan Benjamin from veering towards it). We’re entertaining by the “carved” images of sports figures on the side of the building that have moving heads.

Once on the grounds of the hotel, we walk into the central courtyard and follow the signs to Goofy’s Kitchen. Man, the pool here looks amazing – it’s ringed by fences and greenery, and sunken to a lower level than our courtyard walkway, so that when you’re down in the pool area, you’re surrounded by its theming.

The check-in for Goofy’s Kitchen is actually out in the courtyard, right at the entrance to the restaurant. No sign of my parents and aunt & uncle yet. We’re a few minutes early, so I give my dad a call to see how long they’ll be before I check in.

My dad answers his cell phone promptly. That’s good. But his answer to my question is not:

“We took a wrong turn. We’re in New Orleans Square.”

New Orleans Square. Inside Disneyland. The place we’ve just come from, taking 30 minutes to get here!

This... is not good.

No comments: