Disneyland, SFMM, Vegas 2/14 to 2/18 (with side tr

Associated parks:
None

Wednesday, February 19, 2003 8:53 AM
Weather: Seasonable, high 60's, partly cloudy.

For others who might be planning coaster trips to Southern California, I offer this trip overview. I will post trip reports for each park separately as well with more details.

Having visited DCA last month, I was anxious to come back and experience Disneyland for the first time. After checking into my hotel, I arrived at the park around 3:00PM. I had already purchased a 5-day Park Hopper pass on-line (for a greatly discounted price).

We were concerned about crowds, but utilizing Fast Pass helped us negotiate much of the park on this first afternoon/evening. We had been forewarned that this was one of the busiest weekends. Somehow, it didn't seem as crowded as all the hype professed - we were anticipating greater crowds on Saturday.

Because the park opened at 8:00AM, we arrived early and secured a spot at one of the entrance gates. Disney should be commended for opening every gate on every morning I was there and having experienced, friendly employees at the frontline. By starting at 8:00AM, we found the park devoid of crowds for a majority of the morning. Families started arriving around 10:00AM and lines starting becoming substantial by 11:00AM - at which point, we left.

We drove an hour north to seek out Scandia Fun Center in Ontario. The ACE Guide to Ride said they had a unique steel coaster. We were more than impressed by the coaster and were glad we drove the hour to find it.

We then headed south toward San Diego to find Belmont Park andthe Giant Dipper. It took around 1 hour and 45 minutes to get there and we were pleased to pull up to a stunning classic. We spent the rest of the day at the shore in La Jolla, enjoying the ocean, sea lions and tidal pools.

On Sunday, we started the day off at Disney once again. After two hours there, we headed to Magic Mountain. We arrived around 12:30PM and anticipated huge crowds - based on the volume at Disney. No chance. This place was dead, dead, dead. So dead, that it closed at 6:00PM. Not so dead to make X a walk-on - but a 30 minute wait wasn't bad, considering the reports I've read. We spent the entire day and only missed two rides: Colossus (because it was closed) and Deja Vu (because it was having mechanical problems which exasperated already long queue lines). Because of the limited hours, I was only able to ride each of the other coasters once. I would have liked to have ridden more, but I still felt I was maximizing the trip to its fullest.

We had planned on leaving Monday, but the blizzard back east forced all flights to NYC to be cancelled. With the unexpected second day to play, we hopped in the car for a four hour drive to Las Vegas. We stopped at Buffalo Bill's in Primm to ride Desperado and arrived in Vegas around 1:00 - 1:30 PM. We rode everything and saw a couple of the sidewalk hotel shows. We left by 7:00PM and got back by 11:00PM.

We were assigned a 4:00PM departure from LAX, which gave us two hours at Disney on Tuesday morning. The difference in morning crowds between opening times of 8:00AM and 10:00AM was incredible. At 10:00AM everyone is up, ready and at the gate. We still got in first and hit Space Mountain, Matterhorn, Big Thunder Mountain, Haunted Mansion, Tarzan's Treehouse, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Indiana Jones - before packing it in for a final time.

Home by midnight and it is all a wonderful memory! A great extended weekend and comfortable do-able.
*** This post was edited by BrooklynRider 2/19/2003 5:17:05 PM ***

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