Disneyland 2010

Fiona enjoying the teacups

Now that I have a child that can really begin to enjoy Disneyland, we've made a couple annual visits to Disneyland and this past week we went there armed with three day passes.

I grew up about a 20 minute drive from Disneyland, and I've been to the park probably 100 times thanks to having an annual pass when I was a kid. As an adult, I went some time in 1997, once in 2004, and last year. I'd never gone for more than one consecutive visit until this trip. To be honest, even to Fiona three days in a row started to get boring and two days was probably enough (though they don't sell 2-day passes).

Toontown coaster

My daughter loved the Toontown roller coaster so much we went on it probably a dozen times. Eventually we also did the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad which she also loved (we were surprised and thought it might be too much), and she even loved Splash Mountain. She liked most every outdoor ride (dumbo and the tomorrowland rockets) but hated almost all the dark rides.

Disneyland's dark rides follow a fairly standard plot: establish a place and characters, put them on a journey, then smack them with a challenge from some evil force, and finish with sudden triumph. I don't know why even stuff like Winne the Pooh has to have some dark evil. The dark rides also suffered from cranked sound levels -- if it's hurting my old deaf ears, I can't imagine what the sounds are doing to 2 year olds on the rides, but the loudness seemed mostly there to shock and awe which likely contributed to Fiona saying she never wanted to ride Mr. Toads or Roger Rabbit again.

California Adventure sucked. I'd heard it sucked before but I had no idea. They pipe in rock music from speakers every thousand feet or so for no good reason, there's a very small section designed for kid rides, and the Bug's Life show is insanely age inappropriate for small kids with stuff that would cause an adult to get nightmares. The entry was thrown in free with our passes and after barely an hour there, we skipped back to Disneyland across the sidewalk.

The highlight of the trip was going midweek in January, since it meant the crowds were just about the smallest you could ever find. We ran onto many rides and the longest wait over three days was barely 20 minutes. The weather was great too, with temps in the 65F-70F range with no rain at all.

Wishing stars app

Another highlight of the trip was using the Wishing Stars iPhone app in the park. It's basically a photo and clue-driven scavenger hunt through the park for features and locations. Most of it is pretty simple though some of the arcane history in the harder levels proved difficult. Overall, it was a blast and a fun diversion when standing in a line or walking around the same part of the park for the third time that day.

There's something kind of amazing about being able to do something social like a scavenger hunt, but asynchronous through the use of this app. I know a few friends are working on similar types of applications (doing previous real-time social events in a new web-enabled asynchronous way) and I think it's going to become a big trend in application development.

Overall, I had a blast though next time I think two days will be quite enough.