The Cost of a Family Trip to Disneyland

On this second Disneyland day, we were a little more focused on getting the right Fastpasses at the right time. This time we picked up Star Tours Fastpasses first. Then we walked over to Space Mountain before the line got out of hand.

Unfortunately after about 5 minutes in line, a gal made the announcement that the ride was having difficulties and would not be running for some unknown period of time.

We left.

We walked past the Matterhorn and got in an extremely short line at It's a Small World.

It's a Small World is a ridiculously long ride... it's 15 minutes long!

Check Wikipedia. If you do, you'll also learn that the ride was originally designed and built in eleven months for the 1964 World's fair in New York, then broken down and carted to California to be rebuilt in Disneyland.

You'll also learn that the "boatload of viewers" ride model was a guest-eating line destroyer, and its success prompted a re-design of Pirates of the Caribbean from subterranean walk-through to a similar float-through ride.

When we emerged, Disneyland was filling up with people. It was a beautiful October weekend, and everyone was showing up to join the fun.

As this was our final day, we had a short list of must-rides to hit.

The first was Peter Pan's Flight.

There was a 40 minute wait for Peter Pan's flight. I had only remembered the flying over London part, but the ride has about 10 more scenes after that.

Next we picked up some Fastpasses for Space Mountain and visited Autopia.

Autopia is a ridiculous ride. It is a miniature highway of mini gas-powered cars. I think you have to be 8 to really enjoy it.

Alisha and Nick were still checking out Innoventions Pavillion, so we stopped for souvenirs and ended up watching our kids build some lightsabers in Star Trader.

We got two ($47.30).

Lunchtime was nearing, and we weren't ready for mexican food again, so we wandered into Frontierland looking for some chow.

At the mouth of Frontierland, some souvenier pin traders had assembled, flipping through catalogs and trading with other guests.

I have two questions:

  1. When did collector pins get so popular?
  2. Why aren't we trading Fastpasses here?


We didn't have $7.00 hand-dipped corn dogs. For that price, I expect a real hand to be included.

We ate at the French Market in New Orleans Square. Lunch was $49.50.


While everyone was finishing up lunch, I ran over and picked up some Fastpasses for Thunder Mountain Railroad.

It seemed strange that I was collecing Fastpasses for a third ride before our appointment time for even the first one had arrived. My fears were doubled when a Fastpass didn't emerge from the machine, but when I consulted a nearby employee, he assured me that there had simply been an error in the system. He fixed the problem and the machine spit out my tickets.

You gotta love Disneyland. They fix your problem.

I met back up with the group and we were ready to ride!

First we went to Star Tours. The updated version of Star Tours is awesome. The story is a little better and the graphics are stellar. Everyone in the car laughed at the rebel spy feature, but I won't spoil the surprise for you.

After Star Tours, we jammed back through the crowds to Frontierland to make our Thunder Mountain appointment.

Thunder mountain was super crowded, with the standby roped-off line winding all the way back to Rancho del Zocalo. It must have been a 90-minute wait.

But we had Fastpasses, and they must have been the turbo variety, because we were at the front in three minutes flat, boarding an empty mining car.

No matter how many times I use a Fastpass, it is quite a rush to stroll past a giant line of people like that.

Our final set of Fastpasses was for Space Mountain, but we were free to pick up one more set, so we headed over to Splash Mountain.

We stopped to get ice cream Mickeys on the way. ($12.75).

Unfortunately, the day had turned. Large crowds had already decimated the supply of Fastpasses from Splash Mountain, making the next available appointments at 7:30 p.m.

That was too late, by then we'd be back at the hotel, taking a break before the 8:30 fireworks show.

The end was near, and another visit to Splash Mountain wasn't in the cards.

Luckily, there were plenty of characters around, including the ones we'd have to chase down, such as Cruela de Ville.

Back to Tomorrowland for Space Mountain. Even with Fastpasses it took a good 20 minutes to reach the cars.

The kids were excited, and I was a little nervous that this "Ghost Galaxy" Halloween version of the ride would freak them out.

It was freaky, but the kids hardly noticed. Space mountain is a pitch black, all indoor coaster ride. Quite an experience for a first-time rider.

They both loved it.

At 4:07 we were done with rides, heading out to pick up some souvenirs before taking a rest at the hotel.

We got a dress for June and a shirt for Stacy.

Nick and Alisha bought the kids ears.

As our transactions in the stores ended, we realized that we were right next to the parade end gates, positioned in the just right spot to see a bunch of characters up close and personal.

We waved and got all of their attention, just before their floats rolled off stage.

Here is Snow White.


Mary Poppins and others.

Her vehicle was actually a carousel horse trike.

We left Disneyland at 6 and took a break at the hotel, eating fast food from the drive thru. We wanted to recharge before making a night run out to see the fireworks show.

That plan worked out pretty well, we ended up returning just in time.

The fireworks show was spectacular.

You may have seen a fireworks show that was timed to a soundtrack, but at Disneyland, the soundtrack tells the story, and the fireworks just illustrate it. The show has several segments, including six that represent each of the park's regions and the rides in it.

Traditional fireworks only make up a small portion of the show, as laser lights, jets of flame, projected images and a death defying Tinkerbell flight work in unison like nothing I'd ever seen before.

After the fireworks, we were salmon swimming upstream into the depths of the park. We tried to make it onto Thunder Mountain railroad, but the ride was suspended due to some safety concern.

Then we walked around the top of the park and waited for Fantasyland to open up after the fireworks cleanup.

Some rides were deserted, including Pinocchio's Daring Journey, so we climbed aboard as fast as we could navigate the maze of line chain.

Finally, we met back up with Alicia and Nick, as well as Gwen and Bulent, to ride Alice in Wonderland.

At 10:03 pm, we emerged from this final dark ride, said our goodbyes and headed back to the shuttles. Our trip to Disneyland was winding to a close.

Back at the hotel, the kids fell asleep in one minute.

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