Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Paradise Pier

We cross the bridge to the east end of Paradise Pier.

I’m trailing behind my family because of my breathing, just taking my time so that I don’t inflame the asthma again. It feels odd going this slow, but there’s also the benefit of making myself enjoy the scenery along the way, rather than being focused only on the destination.

We descend in the circle around what is normally the east end of the lagoon, and which instead is now the east end of the World of Color construction project. The track for California Screamin’ is down there, the launching point were the coasters get a “5... 4... 3... 2... 1...” countdown and then are accelerated across the lagoon and up the first hill. We pause for a minute or two to watch several cars launch and enjoy the screams.

The plan is for my parents and Brandon – our coaster-riding crew – to get in line for California Screamin’, while the rest of us will go get Fastpasses for Toy Story Midway Mania. We’ll then meet up by Midway Mania and ride together. California Screamin’s standby line is showing a wait time of 20 minutes, so the timing should be fairly good, so long as the Fastpass return time isn’t too far from now. This early in the morning, though, it shouldn’t be.

The other five of us amble onward around the remains of the lagoon and approach the Toy Story ride. I scan the front of the attraction for the Fastpass dispensers and... don’t see any. Hmm. I guess I just assumed a new, popular attraction like this would be equipped with Fastpasses, but in hindsight now I realize that I never actually checked.

The start of the queue has a standby line, but no Fastpass return line. I guess that cinches it.

So, bad news and good news. We can’t get Fastpasses for the group, but the standby time is only 15 minutes. Again, this is the hot new attraction at California Screamin’, one that’s been getting rave reviews, so I’m amazed that the wait is so short. We’ve been so lucky.

The five of us get in line, quickly filing past the audio-animatronic Mr. Potatohead carnival barker. I’d like to hang around a bit and interact with him, but the end of the line is well past him.

The coaster-riding group needs to be notified of the change in plans, so I call on my cell. No answer, and it rolls to voice mail. I leave a message, hoping they get it before they start wondering where we’ve gone to.

Our wait is every bit of 15 minutes, but I really am excited about this ride, a 3-D interactive shooting game featuring the world and characters of the Toy Story movies. As we approach the load area, though, I notice something that strikes a little fear in me, more than any thrill ride would – stairs. When the riders return, they exit the vehicle on the other side from where they loaded, and then go up a set of stairs to cross the track and exit the attraction.

I can handle the stairs, slowly, if I need to, but I’d rather not, because I know they’ll set me huffing and puffing for quite a while, even though I have my inhaler with me. (Have I mentioned that my asthma has never been this severe, and I really don’t like it?) Fortunately, I seem to recall that this attraction has an alternate load/unload area for guests with disabilities. I wonder how to get in on that action.

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