Sunday, June 7, 2015

Southern California Trip 2014 Final Thoughts Tuesday November 11

This is a coda a series of posts dealing with my fourth trip to South California. I’ve made minor corrections to these reports. Also, I’ve added additional thoughts with the hindsight of a ¾ year later or to add further clarification.  These are indicated by “NOW”. After I booked the trip I unexpectedly had to move and during that had an Eastern Canada trip that didn’t go that great, so I was already pretty tired before the trip began.

One thing that I kept forgetting to mention is that more than once at Disneyland Resort I saw signs posted that the Disneyland Resort has chemicals known to cause cancer and birth defects. As far as I can tell from an online search the culprit is lead. Worth considering if you're planning a trip there.

A follow-up is planned. It appears I did bend a bit on what I originally declared about patdowns. I will admit to that in the follow-up. The short answer is: it's hard to opt out and avoid a pat-down when you've already begun the security process, probably impossible in fact. I will be doing some research into which airports use the body scanners but for next year will probably just do a Seattle trip (no flying required) plus my trip to see my dad (not impossible that I will encounter scanners but highly unlikely).

[NOW: I haven’t gotten around to the follow-up report. The Seattle trip is upcoming and will also cover Portland and area. No body scanners encountered on my flight to my dad.]

At both parks at various places the Single Rider lane is your friend. It's definitely catching on: I even saw groups who didn't mind being split up using the option. It's usually faster even than a Disney Fastpass though of course it depends on how the groups in the regular line are stacking up; the point of the single rider lane is to fill seats that would otherwise remain empty due to numbers in a party.

My favourite attraction overall is probably Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. By park: Disneyland Park: same; California Adventure: Soarin' Over California; Universal Studios: Animal Actors' Studio narrowly beat Waterworld this time for me as overall attraction; in terms of rides vs shows Jurassic Park. Biggest happy surprise: I actually like the Autopia at night. Biggest shift from 2008: probably because I like taking photos at the same time the shoot 'em up Buzz Lightyear ride didn't grab me as much this year.

Halloween notes: the biggest unhappy surprise is the Nightmare before Christmas trappings on the Haunted Mansion though based on a great movie completely destroyed the Gothic feel of the ride. Unfortunately because it's both a Halloween and Christmas themed movie the ride is in Nightmare mode from September to December. In contrast the Halloween effects of Space Mountain actually improve the ride but return to normal soon after Halloween. People considering a visit during the Halloween season should thus weigh wanting to ride a great Halloween roller coaster vs. the Haunted Mansion ride being more in your face and less moody. In fact as far as I'm concerned I rode a Haunted Mansion substitute and not the actual Haunted Mansion ride. If no one wants to ride a roller coaster I'd recommend a January to May visit vs. October to December visit. Still off season crowds but you get to see a much better Haunted Mansion.  Disney parks decorate the area with plastic pumpkins while Universal Studios goes the zombie route.

At Universal Studios you'll definitely want to take the escalators up from the Lower Lot to the Upper Lot but heading down take the stairs if you can. Too many people park on the escalators which contributed to me missing one last Animal Actors showing. California water is not good. In fact in some cases cola might actually be healthier than fountain water (remember what I said about spitting out white stuff after filling up my water bottle).

Universal souvenir cups are refillable; Disney cups are not. Disneyland seems to have stopped offering park history books for sale. With people using electronic aps if you need a paper map map book get one in advance. You probably won't find one there.

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