First up, Happy Halloween everybody! Today is my favorite holiday (although I don't really do anything to celebrate it), so I hope everyone has a fantastic day!
It's time to get on the negative train, but I'll try not to be too much of a downer. Although I did enjoy Disneyland, there were a lot of issues that I couldn't just let go.
Haunted Mansion Holiday ruined the Haunted Mansion for me. I LOVE The Nightmare Before Christmas, don't get me wrong, but I felt more like the Haunted Mansion was being abused more than "plus-ed". I did ride it twice, but the second time was almost forced and it was more of a "maybe I'm being overly critical and I should give it one more chance" ride than an actual "ride to see it one more time" kind of thing. In the end, I decided I wasn't being overly critical and I didn't like it at all, even if they left the Hatbox Ghost alone.
When it came to rides, the lack of a queue area was kind of a bummer for me. I guess I'm spoiled to air-conditioned buildings or covered walkways with fans blowing everywhere because not only was the sun and heat annoying, but the lack of queue theming was just boring! I felt like I was just waiting in line versus having an experience. Disney World definitely "gets" ride queuing. The smallness of Splash Mountain, Teacups, and various other rides were a bit of a disappointment too after Disney World's longer rides, but that didn't bother me nearly as much as the lack of a queue.
The food was SOOO not up to Disney World par. I was dreading the whole California Cuisine vibe anyway, but the only meal I considered "excellent" was when we finally managed to wrangle lunch at Rancho del Zocalo, a counter service restaurant. It's pretty bad when a counter service restaurant out does the so-called best of the best in table service.
All the snacks I'm used to getting at Disney World either weren't there, or were awful. The cake pops didn't even taste remotely similar, there were no macaroons to be found on property (although we did find plenty off property), no Minnie's Bake Shop packaged big cookies, no white apple pixie dust, and don't get me started on the possibly week-old chocolate-covered pineapple I had from Marceline's in Downtown Disney. After about three tries from various other locations, I managed to find a sort-of replacement for LeFou's Brew at The Cozy Cone Motel #3 in the form of Red's Apple Freeze, but it wasn't quite as good (although I did have four of them). This was the first Disney trip that I managed to lose weight on versus gaining it, and I lost 7 lbs.
My whole theory about the Florida humidity is why my feet swell up has now been disproved. There wasn't a lick of humidity in the air and yet my feet spent most of the week the size of balloons. I gave up on flip-flops about mid week, but I forgot that I get sun rash really bad wearing socks so, of course, not only did I have balloon feet, my ankles were covered in a nasty rash...attractive!
Disneyland park may be smaller, but I was more lost and turned around there than I have ever been at Disney World's Magic Kingdom. There is no "flow" to the lands, some of them just completely dead end and you have to turn around to get out. This was very weird to me and I never really got my bearings. I didn't have the same problem at California Adventure, it felt very Hollywood Studios in the front and Epcot in the back and I never got lost there once.
Both California parks suffered from paint fade on rides, buildings, and ornaments, in some instances, severely. Granted, the parks were immaculately clean (which Disney World can no longer boast), but seeing rides in faded colors and rust everywhere was a bit disconcerting. You would rarely to never see that sort of thing at Disney World and I was shocked by it more than a little. You can't really attribute it to the California sun because Florida gets a less smog-covered version of the sun and still everything is always freshly painted. It made certain rides and buildings just look sad.
And speaking of which, what is up with all the stairs on rides at Disneyland? You go up stairs in a queue only to turn around and go back down them again two turns later! A lot of the rides had stairs coming and/or going and a few of them didn't make sense, like at Jungle Cruise. Granted, it makes the queue lines longer by going up, but still. My bad knee was screaming at me by the end of the trip and even my good knee wasn't too happy.
My biggest pleasure in life is shopping at Disney, but I didn't even purchase one single thing until the fourth day into the trip. There either just wasn't good merchandise there or nothing I was willing to splurge on. The stores were decked out beautifully, but the selection of items just wasn't there. I know that Disney is trying to make the theme park merchandise more generic so they don't have to make different things for different parks, but even Disney World still has specialty merchandise.
When it came to pins, Halloween Party pins were non-existent, so my usual purchase of a party framed pin set was obviously out of the question. There wasn't even Party merchandise out anywhere. I managed to wrangle a Halloween Party T-shirt on a non-party night at a store in New Orleans Square on our last park day. Other pins were pretty much the same old stuff that I already had, or not fresh enough to make me want to buy them. The resort didn't even have it's own pin. As someone who spends a great deal on just pins, that part of shopping was a complete bust because I came home with less than 20 of them.
The World of Disney Store at Downtown Disney is a joke compared to Disney World's. There is no order to the "rooms", even though they seemed to have theming, but you would often find collectible figurines in the toddler section or ornaments in men's clothing. It was just weird! I walked around that store multiple times for long periods of time and still never found what I was looking for completely. I went with a small list of things to buy anyway (unusual for me, but I didn't have as much spending money this time), but I never finished off the list no matter how many different stores I went into.
I guess a positive note on the shopping side was that, not only did I actually come home with a bit of space on my credit cards, but I didn't have to move stuff around in the duck room to fit all the new stuff, so I guess I wasn't all bad.
Next up, although there wasn't much, there was enough ugly to change my life...for the better or worse has yet to be determined.