Monday 5 March 2012

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Leap Day at Disneyland: What We Did Wrong

I've been asked to start this post by saying that "The boy would have made it!" When we bailed on our attempt to spend 24 hours inside Disneyland at the 15 hour mark, it was my idea and not my son's. I have no doubt that he could have survived until the next morning. After all, he's younger, fitter, and far more energetic than I ever have been, but that was part of the problem. Spending 24 hours in Disneyland is akin to running a marathon, and I'm not a marathon runner. I don't know the techniques of pacing and conserving energy, so instead the boy and I were those people you see starting a marathon at a full sprint so they can say that they led the race, even if it was just for a couple of seconds. We got our brief flash of glory, but it was one of the mistakes that cost us the chance to finish the day. Unfortunately, we also made other ones...

#1) Star Wars
Not the ride, the movie. We got into Anaheim around 5pm on Tuesday night, and most logical people would have spent the evening at the hotel, resting up for a 6am start the next day. In our infinite wisdom however, we decided to go out and see the Star Wars 3D movie in Downtown Disney. It wasn't the sleep that cost us, as I can't imagine any circumstances where either the boy or I would have been asleep by 10pm, but I probably didn't need to add a bunch of walking right before a 24 hour theme park attempt. To top it off, there's really nothing special about the effects in the new Star Wars movie. I should have just stayed in the hotel room and watched it on TV.

#2) Forgot that I'm 40+
I've done this before, but when you're hanging out with teenagers, you tend to think that you can go at the same pace as them. It's gotten me in trouble on ski mountains, it's gotten me in trouble at swimming pools, and it definitely got me in trouble at Disneyland. Letting the teenage boy pick the rides for the first 10 hours or so of the day led to a lot of zig-zagging back and forth across the park to hit attractions that inevitably had long lines that we had to stand through. All of this standing did no favors for my back, and I suspect that the ride choices weren't helping either. I thought I could escape the turbulent rides for a bit by hiding out in Captain Eo, only to find that the entire theater bounces whenever a Michael Jackson song is played. My only saving grace is that the roughest ride in the park, the Matterhorn Bobsleds, were closed for refurbishing. A trip down the Matterhorn might have knocked me out in the first 15 minutes.

#3) Didn't drink enough
My body is pretty much used to the equivalent of being hooked up to a Diet Coke IV, so I really have no excuse for this happening, but over the course of the 15 hours we were in the park I only drank one bottle of pop. This led to a wicked headache, and when that pain collided with my back pain, that was the end of my desire to go for the whole 24 hours. Of course, the boy nearly talked me into staying until we ran in to our #4 problem...

#4) California Adventure
We should have made it a Disneyland only visit, but we really wanted to get over and check out the progress being made on Cars land, and I couldn't bring myself to pass up a chance for a ride on California Screamin' or Toy Story Mania. In hindsight, both of those rides are at the very back of the park and required a ton of walking, pretty much taking whatever last ounces of strength were left in my back. We were in California Adventure when it was closing, and I decided that I was willing to throw in the towel on our attempt, but my son wanted to keep going. He convinced me to go back to Disneyland for a bit, but when we found the lines for re-entering Disneyland stretched all the way to the exit gates for California Adventure, we hesitated. After confirming that Disneyland was at capacity and that they were limiting re-entry, we decided to call it quits. If we'd stayed in Disneyland the whole time, I might have decided that it was easier to just take over a park bench than to actually walk back to the hotel.

#5) Not enough Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
This attraction almost saved the day for me. Oddly enough, while you could quite often find people crashed out on the floor in the Main Street Cinema, nobody seemed to be taking advantage of the extra-comfy seats in the theater of the Disneyland Opera House. A few times I sent the boy to ride Buzz Lightyear (he was trying to roll the score meter) while I took a little rest  and watched Mr. Lincoln give his speech. For a 500 plus seat theater, I don't think I ever saw more than 50 people in there, so I had lots of room to stretch out and relax. The far seats on the back row even have electrical sockets beside them, so you could recharge your phone while catching a few Z's. Beware though...if you fall asleep before the cannon blasts about a quarter of the way through the movie, you're in for a rude awakening.