Disneyland 2011


At the bottom on the left is an alphabetical list of the pages in this web site, to help you navigate if you feel so inclined.

A guide to our family photo album covering 1994-2010, showing the principal themes, is here.

A year by year guide to our family time-line from 1994 through 2007 is here.

A photo journal beginning in 2008 is here.

The most recent pages of the album, copies of posts from my WordPress family blog, http://ianstock.wordpress.com/, are linked here:

http://www.zinzins.net/disneyland_weekend_2011.htm, http://www.zinzins.net/peace_train.htm, http://www.zinzins.net/manutd_v_barca.htm, http://www.zinzins.net/xmas_&_alex_birthday.htm


Disney Weekend

Disney's picture of our first ride of the weekend, Splash Mountain. Ava is half concealed by Alban in front, and Josh is almost invisible behind her. Then come Charlie, Alex and yours truly.


They may be getting older, but Disneyland still works for my next generation. And for me!

We spent a long July weekend there, Nick with Charlotte, his girlfriend visiting from Paris, Alban with Ava, his live-in girlfriend, Charlie and Josh, his soccer buddy, and Alex and I, for the first time in years. When was the last time, Thanksgiving 2003? Wow: almost eight years. What were we thinking, not visiting the Magic Kingdom for so long!

Nick reminded us that it was longer since he and Tom had been to a Disney park with us, the summer of 2000 in Orlando. How did they miss both visits in 2003? No idea, but a terrible shame. We’d had so much fun during our early years of constant visits to Disneyland in Paris, between 1994 and 1997.

We drove down to Anaheim from Santa Cruz this weekend in three cars. Alban and Ava drove one, with Charlie and Josh the first part of the route, and then by themselves, and then with Alex, Charlie and Josh. Already complicated arrangements! Why? There are always reasons!

This was actually one of the last photos we took, on Sunday afternoon. It's here because it shows our little group, except for Josh, who was kind enough to take the picture. Thanks Josh!! From the left, we have Charlie, Alex, yours truly, Alban, Ava, Charlotte and Nick.

Alex started out with me because sitting shotgun in my car looked better than sitting between Charlie and Josh in Alban’s: it’s tough being everyone’s little brother! Then Charlie and Josh moved over to my car as well so that the former could do a little highway driving at night. Finally, right around the Grapevine, when the 11 pm curfew for teen driving approached, all three elected to transfer back into Alban’s car. I get it: older siblings are preferable than parents for teenagers!

Nick drove Charlotte in the third car, and missed our convoy by about twelve hours! Nobody’s fault. Charlotte had only arrived from Paris on the Wednesday, and was jet-lagged. So they left early Friday morning, and met up with us in Disneyland at about 5 pm.

Josh and Charlie in the Rainforest Cafe in Downtown Disney on Saturday night before the dinner arrived. They did calm down after the food!

All eight of us were there!

By popular acclaim, the first order of business on Friday morning was TomorrowLand, for the new 3D Star Tours show and, of course, Space Mountain. By 10.45 am there was already a 60 minute wait for the former, and so I took our six tickets (Nick and Charlotte were yet to arrive) to the Fast Pass distributors for the ride. We received the day’s last Fast Passes for Star Tours before 11 in the morning. In fact, there were only five left, but the cast member kindly scribbled “+1” on one of them so that we would all get in. The time for our admission? Between 23.30 and midnight! It was going to be a long day of Fast Passes and rides.

Alex, Charlie and coke in the Space Mountain line on Friday morning. Note the chains. At that particular moment they were not sitting on them, but they all spent a lot of time sitting on those chains at different rides.

There was also a 60 minute wait for Space Mountain, but this time we elected to do the necessary. If we had to wait 60 minutes, we’d wait for Space Mountain, a key attraction for our little group. Unfortunately, the ride broke down as we waited. We hung around for a while, and were among the 20 or 30 people at the front of the line when cast members finally decided to send us away. This was the third “breakdown” of the day, and they were going to spend some time to ensure that it did not happen again. As a gesture, because we were almost on the ride when all this happened, they gave us a Fast Pass for any ride we wanted.  (Fast Passes are sort of like VIP access to rides, entitling you to jump most of the queue. You can get one every two hours).

We chose Splash Mountain. Actually, that’s an abbreviation. We first went to Pirates of the Caribbean, where the midday line was very long. The cast members stationed at the entrance kindly sent us on, letting us know that the line there would be much shorter later. So we would get more bang for the buck at a ride which would be busy all day long.

Nick and Charlotte putting on a show on Splash Mountain, much to the amusement of the woman behind them! That must have been quite difficult to stage: the camera flashes during the biggest drop on the ride!

Splash Mountain fitted that description, and off we went. If you don’t know it, it’s a great ride. The park’s old-fashioned real railroad train rolls through it from time to time, there are scenes of “zipadee doo-dah, zipadee ay, wonderful feeling, feeling this way” playing on the banks of the stream, and on top of all that it’s a wonderful log ride. I’m fond of the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, our hometown funfair, and it has an okay log ride until you compare it with Splash Mountain. Why has nobody ever even equaled Disney in designing and building rides? Good feelings come at you from all directions, for most of your senses. They’re pretty much all worth the wait.

Then came the low moment of the long weekend, a lousy lunch at the French Market. Several of us had the pasta bake, which was a gastronomic catastrophe. 90% of our meals were abandoned on the table, and those of us who had selected it all felt queasy for a while. Josh nailed it later in the afternoon when that lunch again entered the conversation. “I don’t remember another terrible meal that actually looked like vomit,” he reflected, with a questioning expression on his face. Neither did the rest of us!

Splash Mountain again, this time on the Saturday with Charlie, Alex, Josh and Vincent, half hidden. Alex had learned where the camera was by this time: Josh and Charlie already knew!

Not having explored Disney for so many years did create a little anxiety for Alex. Each of his brothers and sister had learned to enjoy roller coasters as they grew old enough to ride them, with a little help (read peer pressure) from their older siblings. But they were regular visitors until they turned 12 or 13. So learning to enjoy roller coasters was a natural progression for each. Without the same progression, Alex was a little worried about the peer pressure that might come from his three older brothers.

He voiced these concerns sitting at home in Santa Cruz one evening before we left. I told him that he had nothing to worry about, and that none of his siblings would force him on a ride that he was worried about. Two hours later, Charlie walked in from some social event and out of the blue announced in an authoritarian voice that whatever happened, Alex would be going on roller coasters at Disneyland. I kept my peace, and Alex went back to his video game. He knew that the pressure was on, whatever I said.

Thunder Mountain Railroad, the "train fou," on Friday. I was proud of this photo. The carriage was moving pretty quickly across my field of vision, and the digital camera's shutter is not the fastest. But here we have from the rear Alex (with Josh hidden behind him), Alban (with Ava hidden behind him) and Charlie, all relaxing toward the end of the ride.

He had enjoyed Splash Mountain in the morning, but the true test would come with Space Mountain later in the day and Thunder Mountain Railroad. The latter is my favorite roller coaster ride. The children called it the “Train Fou” in Paris, the crazy train, and all of us loved it there. It was an older ride at Disneyland, but still had the same great mountain mining décor, hints of Colorado and Rocky Mountain silver mines, to spice up the great ups and downs and whirling around.

Needless to say, Alex loved it, although he preferred Space Mountain later that day. That was his favorite, he proclaimed, trying to convince me to go and retrieve him another Fast Pass for it. He got it. The next day he took to California Screaming too, and insisted on going on it again. So much for that little anxiety! A little help from his brothers, and Alex was on his way to teenage roller coaster heaven: whatever had he been worried about!

"It's a Small World After All!" Still. Alban and Nick are no longer children, but they did enjoy taking this ride again. Here they are with Ava and Charlotte. This was one of our regular rides during the years we held Annual Passports at Disneyland in Paris. Maybe revisiting the ride this weekend brought a little nostalgia for them too.

Past Disney visits were often in the air for the older members of the family. Alban reminded us that for a while Nick had been the only one tall enough to go on Space Mountain, and had gone on it constantly, time after time, visit after visit. I remembered the parents’ anxiety back then, trying to keep track of our turbulent little crew as we made our way around EuroDisney in Paris (its original name). Someone was always getting lost and finding his way to the lost children’s office. Normally, that someone was Tom! (He lives in Paris now, which is why he did not join us on this trip).

This weekend, we all went on “It’s a Small World,” just like we all used to, sitting together on the benches in the little boat, and it was all very emotional. Well, maybe that was just me. Disneyland in Paris was home to some of the best early moments of our beautiful blended family.

Splash Mountain again, after Antony arrived with Ava and Vincent in tow. She is five years old, and having a great time going down this big drop behind her dad. Alban (looking half asleep) and his Ava are behind them, and there's an old guy in the back!

We got lucky on the Saturday: my nephew Antony brought his daughter Avalon and her cousin Vincent to spend the day with us. His wife Courtney had given birth about a week before to Carys (it’s the Welsh for “love” explained Antony), they live in San Diego, only about an hour and a quarter from the park, and Ava needed a day out. She has a special feeling for Charlie and Alex, and was delighted to come and see them. Hail, hail, the gang’s all here!

After a few photos of the ten or eleven of us to prove that we were all actually together, we split into groups, each of which duly wandered off left and right with its own specific itinerary. I hung out with Antony, Ava and Vincent, doing the Disneyland rides that the children liked, or ran around collecting Fast Passes for people so that they didn’t have to waste as much time doing it themselves.

Alban, Ava, Charlie, Josh and Alex moved over to California Adventure to pursue their obsession with scary rides. One of their destinations was the Tower of Terror, the ride which looks like an apartment building after a bomb went off in a higher floor somewhere, and which somehow manages to tower over the entire park.

Ava and Vincent with candy floss (I mean cotton candy) in front of the Disneyland railroad station.

Waiting in line there, for maybe the second time, they again sat on the chains that cast members move around depending on how many people are waiting for the ride. They’d been doing the same thing at different rides all the time we were there. Only this time, the chain that Alban was sitting on broke and sent him sprawling. Oops! He informed the rest of us about this breakage later, with a truly gleeful expression on his face. This was something to write home about!

He continued the story with a Fast Pass which was lost at the same ride. “We lost a Fast Pass,” said Alban, relaying the story, and Ava (the older Ava, his girlfriend) jumped in: “I lost a Fast Pass!” Let’s hear it for full disclosure! Alex did not go on the Tower that particular time, and so it was Alex who overheard the cast members’ exchange about the lost Fast Pass after the others were back on the ride. “Yeah,” one cast member said to his colleague, “that was the same asshole who broke the chain!” Yeah Alban! I guess I can't say that he's my a--hole, but I can say that he is my step-a--hole!!

Disney's best pure roller coaster in Anaheim is California Screamin' in the California Adventure park next to Disneyland. The ride starts in a lake, with speedy acceleration on the flat before the cars rocket up the first hill. Here we can see both Charlie and Alban as the acceleration begins to take hold. Alex and Ava are each there, next to Charlie and Alban respectively.

I did want to show the young people a Disney show, but knew that this was going to be a challenge. I picked Fantasmic, described on the Disney web site as using “digital projection, fireworks, live performers and larger-than-life set pieces to recreate the fantastic imagination of none other than Mickey Mouse!” Charlie had asked about it because a high school friend of his had suggested that he check it out. The show began at 9.05 pm on the Saturday night, and after dinner at the Rainforest Café in Downtown Disney I shepherded Alban and Ava, Josh, Charlie and Alex to the Rivers of America to watch it. Nick and Charlotte disappeared, back to their hotel room, I suppose. They had moved out of the room that I'd reserved for the two couples next to the boys' room.

The rest of us found a suitable place to stand, in front of the Haunted House, and Josh and Alex promptly disappeared as well, to Thunder Mountain, they said, the crazy train. I texted them for twenty minutes telling them where we were so that they could find us again in the throng that was milling around. Then Charlie gently notified me that they were not coming back, no way, not for the show at least. Okay. The rest of us watched. I was enthralled. It started from Fantasia, with movie scenes projected onto fine spray produced by fountains in front of the stage. There was action everywhere, amazing props culminating in a fire-breathing dragon, and constant appearances of Disney characters. There may even have been a plot of sorts, but it was the imagery and the characters that made the show.

Here's the second of the series. I'm proud of this one too, which caught Alex and Charlie in their car going at almost full speed. The shutter couldn't adjust itself quickly enough to freeze this very fast action. 

About two thirds of the way through, Alban whispered in my ear that he and Ava were bored, and they went off looking for a ride. By the end of the show, when the fireworks took up the baton, Charlie and I were the sole survivors. “Only the end was any good,” he announced. Well okay, the end was the best part, but it was all pretty good and quite unique. I made a mental note to buy Fantasia on Blue Ray.

The rides continued on Sunday, although I only mentioned another show once, to universal blank stares. Late on Sunday afternoon, Nick and Charlotte left for Santa Barbara and Alban (who was working on Monday) and Ava left for Santa Cruz, taking Alex, who had a party on Monday. The group was splintering, as our big blended family is prone to do.

This is a blown shot. I was trying to capture that same California Screamin' car as it continued its circuit, and missed it completely. It was moving pretty fast! But check out the decor. Even a blown shot at Disneyland can show you something worth looking at, in this case a metal dolphin sculpture.

I drove back on the Monday with Charlie and Josh, who both managed to fit in several hours at Six Flags in Valencia on the way back. It was a great drive after they came out of that park, full of the crazy roller coasters they had been on. I remember trying to figure out what they were conspiring together: there was clearly something in the air during the trip back. They love to conspire! And they are always sure that the parents have no clue.

But I wasn’t sure that the weekend had worked as I had hoped, bringing older and younger siblings together with their friends, and giving everybody a good time, because teenagers don’t necessarily tell you the good news. In fact, they’re pretty cagey much of the time.

Ava and Alban at the Rainforest cafe.

I wasn’t sure until, that is, I saw on Tuesday morning Charlie’s post on FaceBook from his cellphone on Saturday night. We must have been at the Fantasmic show, or maybe the fireworks, or maybe on our way to a late evening ride. It would still be a couple of hours before we found our way back to the hotel rooms.

“I love life!!!” he wrote on his wall, right out of the blue.

Only it wasn’t out of the blue, it was Disneyland doing its magic for us yet again. “Long weekend at Disneyland for family and friends, $3500 on MasterCard. Three words on FaceBook, priceless!!”

Hail, hail, the gang's all here! Except for Josh, that is, who again took the picture. Thanks, Josh! Vincent is behind me on the left, and Alex and Charlie are behind Charlotte and Nick. Ava, Alban, Ava and Antony complete the group. Ava seems to be expressing a certain displeasure! She definitely fits in with her big cousins!



Listing of Pages in the Site

. . . with Alban
. . . with Daphne
. . . with Nicholas
. . . with Thomas
2008 Diary
2008 Special Days
2009 Daphne Alban
2009 Diary
2009 Sports
2009: Tom in IOW
2009: Tom Visits
Alban 1997-2007
Alban Petit 1989-96
Alban with friends
Alex & Charlie's Friends
Alex 1998-2002
Alex Arrives
Alexander 2002-07
Big kids with . .
Breakers '05
Charles & Alex 2
Charles & Alex 3
Charles 1995-9
Charles 2000-07
Charlie's Here
Childrens' parties
Courtney & Antony's Wedding
Daphné 1997-2007
Daphné Petite 87-97
Death Valley
Diary to 2007
Dirty babies
Disney Decor
Disney Residents
Disney Rides
Disneyland 2011
Down the Coast
Faby & Jean
Family Groups
Fooling around
Graduations 2007
Graduations I
Happy Valley
Her Family
Her Friends
His Family 1
His Family 2
Historical Themes
Ian in England
Ian's 50th Birthday
Ian's friends
Ian's Work
Journal from 2008
La Bellanderie
La Grée
La Radinerie des Berhauts
Laura & Damian
Law School Reunion
Le Tahu
Little little guys
Maman Fille
Man Utd v. Barca
Missing You
Mountain Biking
Moving House
Moving Out
New York
Nick 1999-2007
Nick younger
Our Cars
Our Cats
Our Homes
Our House!
Pacific Grove
Papa Ian
Peace Train
Photo Albums
Pools I (1998-2001)
Pools II (2004)
Portraits 2008
Risky Flight
Road Trip!
Santa Cruz
Soccer in 2003
Soccer in 2008
Soccer: hobby #1!
Special Days
St. Malo
Surfing USA
Tahoe Weekend
Thanksgiving 2005
The Hanlons
Thorpe Park
To Santa Cruz
Tom 2000-07
Tom in Paris in 2008
Tom younger
West Cliff
Xmas 1994 -2001
Xmas 2002-2007
Zinzins in California!