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  • Mike's Novebmer 16-18, 2017 Solo Birthday Trip

    Disneyland 2017 Trip Report

    I’m back Stitches!! Get it. Stitch. Disney. Ha, I kill me. Maybe it is the 10+ years of lack of sleep that make me so funny.

    Anyway, I am back win an unexpected trip report. Why is it unexpected? Well, that was because my trip was unplanned. And since I plan all of our Disney trips, nothing gets by me.

    Until October 10th.

    Dateline: Phoenix, AZ

    While out to dinner for MY WIFE’S Birthday, she proceeds to ask what I wanted for my birthday the following month. I told her nothing as we were saving for our 2018 summer vacation. She countered “How about you go to Disneyland?” Cue the “are you joking” remarks. When she said no, I told her yes and that I would have reservations the following morning.
    The next morning, I hurredliy took care of dining, hotel and ticket reservations for my November trip. And since Mickey and I have the same bday, I would get to spend it with my twin brother.

    Fast forward to November.

    Matt aka Whoever on Micechat agreed to lend me his 24mm 1.4 lens for the trip. Oh, I was stoked now. Ultra photography on dark rides was going to be my focus on this trip.
    With lens secured and bags packed, I set out on Thursday morning at 6:15am. The sun was at my back while I headed west on the 10. The miles flew by as I did my best impression of the Millenium Falcon heading to lights speed. Ehrenberg arrived at 8:20 and I was out of there 10 minutes later and officially in California.

    Yeah, the heart beats a little faster once you cross the border as you know you are that much closer. I was making good time as I pulled into the Burger King at the I-10 and Washington St. exit. That is the same Burger King I have been going to for 20+ years since I went back and forth from ASU. Nothing says 9:00am (thank you gaining an hour from the time change) like lunch.
    Next stop Disneyland!

    Traffic was acceptable for the rest of the trip. The only problem was people kept driving in front of me. Didn’t they know I was on a mission? Get out of my way!

    By 11:00 I was doing back flips as I pulled off onto Katella and headed to my hotel, the Ramada Inn. It was undergoing refurbishment and I got a good rate. Not that I would be there during the daylight while they were working on it.

    A few minutes later and there I was, at the Pearly Gates! YESSSSS!!!

    Once through, the air smelled cleaner, the sky was brighter and life was even more exciting. Now everyone out of my way as I have a theme park to catch. Pirates, you are first.

    It was surprisingly warmer and more humid than I was expecting. In line for pirates, I waited about 30 minutes. While there I utilized MaxPass for the first time to secure some advance fast passes. I should tell you all it is terrible and not to use it. That way no one else will be able to take advantage of it and it will be all mine!

    I grabbed my usual seat at the front of the boat and did my best Al Bundy impersonation, “Let’s rock!” Off I went. While I hated the drops as a kid, I have come to love everything about the entire ride now. The detail is amazing.












  • 1LE McQueen
    replied
    Originally posted by mpabis525 View Post

    I didn't realize you were from AZ also. What part of town are you in?
    So sorry for my late response. I live in Scottsdale, not too far from where they do the car show at the Pavilions!

    Leave a comment:


  • WaltDisney'sAlec
    replied
    Originally posted by mickdaddy View Post

    I would agree other than this is literally the only thread I can't see the pictures. I will play around with the settings see if I can resolve it as I would really like to see your pictures.
    I'm not sure if this is 100% correct as I have yet to do a Trip Report myself, but I believe Micechat's forum software requires you to host your images on an external server. You can upload some to Micechat servers, but if I'm not mistaken, it can be severely limiting. It could be that wherever Mike is hosting his pictures is being blocked, but your browser/plugin software isn't blocking other pictures hosted on Micechat (or any other 3rd-party) servers. Again, I'm not sure if any of this is actually correct, but just throwing out what came to mind.

    Leave a comment:


  • mickdaddy
    replied
    Originally posted by mpabis525 View Post

    My guess is you have some sort of browser issue or a plugin that is blocking/not allowing the images.
    I would agree other than this is literally the only thread I can't see the pictures. I will play around with the settings see if I can resolve it as I would really like to see your pictures.

    Leave a comment:


  • mpabis525
    replied
    Originally posted by mickdaddy View Post
    This thread feels like the emperors new clothes for me, everyone is talking about amazing pictures and I only get text. It is really making me sad I want to see the pictures. );
    My guess is you have some sort of browser issue or a plugin that is blocking/not allowing the images.

    Leave a comment:


  • mpabis525
    replied
    Originally posted by whoever View Post
    LOVE the Pinochio, Snow White, and primevil world shots!!
    Thanks Matt. Literally couldn’t have done it without you.

    Leave a comment:


  • mickdaddy
    replied
    This thread feels like the emperors new clothes for me, everyone is talking about amazing pictures and I only get text. It is really making me sad I want to see the pictures. );

    Leave a comment:


  • whoever
    replied
    LOVE the Pinochio, Snow White, and primevil world shots!!

    Leave a comment:


  • mpabis525
    replied
    On my last morning at the parks and with Peter Pan successfully completed, I did the Fantasyland Grand Circle Tour. I went right down the line taking care of Mr. Toad, the Teacups, Dumbo, Pinocchio and Snow White.











    All were done by 7:45. What to do with some spare time? I was going to make sure I got a birthday picture with Mickey no matter what. I waited for the rest of the rides to open at 8:00AM and made my way over to IASW. A nice morning sail through the ride. With so few people it was eerily quiet on the ride.

    On the ride were two moms and their little tots. It was a happy scene as it was nearly identical to what my wife and I were like when we took our boys on each of their first journey’s to the park and on the first ever ride, It’s a Small World.

    With the ride done, I wanted another crack at the diorama and dinosaurs from the train. I knew I messed up some pictures a couple of days before. I was on a mission. Of course, as soon as I walked toward the Toontown station, the train was pulling away. As it was so early in the morning, they were on a slow schedule. I wound up waiting about 30 minutes for the next one. It would have been easier to just walk along the tracks. There isn’t a problem with that, is there?










    With and without the volcano erupting



    Ultimately, I didn’t take the Grand Circle Tour. Rather, I got off at New Orleans Square. Not having done the Mark Twain yet, I wanted to see how the new scenery looked from the ship. Unfortunately, my lens was a wider one so it wasn’t going to have a lot of detail in it. Therefore I opted to just sit back and enjoy the show.

    Having been several years since I last rode the Mark Twain, I can’t remember what it all used to look like. However, I was really impressed with all the visuals. The river looked great and all the new animatronics were eye catching.

    Since Toontown was now open, I wanted to get over there for Mickey. Needing to be home by dinner time in Phoenix, I didn’t have a lot longer at the park. After all, my family did want to see my on my birthday.

    I bid adieu to the Mark Twain and headed up the newly opened back route over to Mickey’s House. Yep there was a line. Oh well. Ah, darn though. Mickey was in his front door. I didn’t want that picture. I wanted in his studio. Beggars can’t be choosers. As I stood in line for a while, they eventually moved him inside.

    However, once we got into the screening room the line basically stopped. What should have been a 30 minute journey took over an hour. I think there was a Mickey union break and cast member change. It took forever. They looped through the cartoons twice while we were in there. Time was becoming more of an issue but I was not going to miss out.

    Eventually we got in. It turned out that the boy next to me was also having a birthday that day. It was kind of cool to go your whole life without finding anyone with the same birthday and then stand right next to someone celebrating their birthday with Mickey too.

    I got my pictures!!!! The cast members were surprised we were all there on our birthdays too. This totally made it worth it.



    Satisfied, it was now time to say goodbye to all our company. I had to do the long walk. That is the walk that no one likes to do. With the sun shining brightly on a really gorgeous day, I had to head for the exits.

    But not before stopping at the Main St. Confectionary first. I had orders to fill. A half dozen chocolate chunk cookies were coming home with me and for the family. That was my birthday cake that year to celebrate with everyone when I got home. The cookies are my dessert at Disneyland and Disney World. I can eat the entire display case. The guy next to me was buying almost a dozen as he can’t get enough of them either.

    However, I also bought a cake pop too. You got to have birthday cake on your birthday right? That counts, doesn’t it? Full disclosure, my wife was baking my cake for Thanksgiving as we were celebrating with other family members too then instead of on the actual day.

    It seems so wrong to head for the exit for the day when it is still in the AM. But you gotta do what you gotta do.

    Leaving is not fun but getting a surprise birthday trip was so very much worth it. I really appreciate my wife doing that. Ultimately, I was a good boy. I only got a couple of shirts and a couple of pins. There was too much other stuff I REALLY wanted but I don’t think that would have gone over well.

    I told Mickey I would see him real soon (next birthday, same Mickey Time, same Mickey Place) with the whole family this time.

    The drive home was unpleasant. What should have been a six hour trip turned into over eight hours thanks to mysterious road construction that stopped the freeway in a couple of spots. I pulled in to the garage as the family was getting ready to call it a night.

    Leave a comment:


  • whoever
    replied
    Originally posted by mpabis525 View Post

    Thanks Matt. I was pretty happy with those ones. However there still are a few scenes that I have difficulty in getting. Surprisingly, one is the kids bedroom with Nana. Just keep getting results I am not happy with.
    I have NEVER, and i mean NEVER got that indian village shot to my satisfaction. You NAILED it.

    Leave a comment:


  • mpabis525
    replied
    Originally posted by Pips View Post
    Your photos are amazing! I especially love the ones of the fireworks -- so beautiful!
    Glad you had such great trip. 100 extra points for a funnel cake and Monte Cristo on the same day.
    (Sorry to see the injury. Ouch!)
    Some days you just gotta step up your game and do both ultra fried foods. As a kid I could have probably had seconds of both. About the only thing I didn’t try to squeeze into my stomach that night was the Ole 96er.

    Leave a comment:


  • mpabis525
    replied
    Originally posted by whoever View Post
    Amazing pan shots
    Thanks Matt. I was pretty happy with those ones. However there still are a few scenes that I have difficulty in getting. Surprisingly, one is the kids bedroom with Nana. Just keep getting results I am not happy with.

    Leave a comment:


  • whoever
    replied
    Amazing pan shots

    Leave a comment:


  • mpabis525
    replied
    I stopped in at the Red Rose Tavern for dinner before heading over to DCA for the late World of Color. Having heard good things about the menu I thought about giving it a try. Normally I have all my meals planned out well ahead of time but for some reason I was debating even eating dinner let alone which place sounded good.

    The décor is great and gives it a great ambience. Not having been in the prior version for a loooonnnnng time I am not sure how to compare them. As I wasn’t really feeling anything in particular I went with the poutine pizza. I have had better.

    Basically it was a thin pizza (which you already knew) with some beef gravy and some french fries. It was uninspiring and not that great. I should have had something else. Oh well, you live and learn.

    Marching across the plaza I stopped to get some night shots of Radiator Springs before going on another night time single rider ride.







    I was getting bothered again that I wasn’t seeing my shots well. Not being happy with taking pictures is not a good thing for me.

    I walked over to get in line. Quickly, I realized it wasn’t going to happen. The single rider line was almost to the entrance. It wasn’t going to be worth it to wait that long then try to race back over to World of Color to get my spot up front if I was going to get pictures. Instead, I had dessert.

    On our last family trip in 2015, we went to one of our favorites, Ghiradellehi. I made sure to stop by for some expensive but tasty ice cream sundaes this go round. I got my super calorie 5000 and sat down to enjoy the wharf for a bit. It is hard to not enjoy a mint hot fudge sundae.

    During my dessert, I finally succumbed to the feeling I had all day. I did not want to take pictures of World of Color that night. It was going to be work rather than fun. So, I parked the camera for the night, at photographic piece. My wife tells me to put the camera down and see things with my eyes sometimes so I decided to do that.

    Belly full, I made my way over to the reserved seating. The cast member corralling everyone was throwing out trivia. What peaked interest was when he asked about if anyone knows how to get the high scores on Toy Story Midway Mania. Uh, yeah I am curious! He mentioned that two brothers come in a few times a week and reset the high scores everytime. They know the secret. The cast member clued a clueless me into being secret levels inside the game. Next time I go, I will try it and see if it works. If it does, I will share it.

    I mozied my way up front to the front row to get a good spot to watch my first ever Christmas World of Color show. The usual announcemnets and fun wheel light up whittled away the time. Yep, we all know you may get wet up front, yada, yada, yada. I have done this before and I was fine.
    See where is going yet?

    Lets just say I was glad to have parked the camera and tripod for this show. The first notes and fountains drenched me. I was WET. Nothing like cool California November air and being wet. Had I not made the earlier decision to park my camera, I would have spent the entire show trying to clean it. Smart choice.

    Overall, I was disappointed by the show. I really like the feel and emotions in the regular show. Even the NPH version had some gotcha moments. The Christmas one felt half done. The clips didn’t quite jell with the music and it felt half hearted. Even the music selection was weak. Once again, my earlier decision was validated. Sure, I will take the family to see it next year but I expected a lot more.

    At the conclusion, cold and now wet, I figured it was best to head back to the hotel to get some much needed sleep rather than go across the plaza again for another 45 mins of Disneyland. Since I had to be up in the 5:00 hour the next morning to get in line for Disneyland AND drive back to Phoenix, every extra minute I got would help.

    Saturday, Birthday Morning

    Up at about 5:30 to make sure I was at the front for rope drop. Not a pleasant time to be up on a Saturday but sometimes you need to make sacrifices. I checked out and loaded the car before heading over. I got to the security lines as they were opening about 6:15. Wow, there were more people than I thought. I was sixth in line. I wanted my birthday button and a Mickey Birhthday button.



    Time ticked by slowly. They let the family of the day in but as time got closer they weren’t preloading people for Main St. Huh? It has been a long time since I haven’t done rope drop. They were just going to open the gates.

    They let us in. A mad dash happened. I made it in as the 8th person that day and bee-lined it to Fantasyland. Realizing this was about as empty as it gets, I stopped for a second to get some pics before heading to Peter Pan.



    That brief stop meant peple zoomed by me. Oh well, I won’t be first on Peter Pan again but it is all good. I did have to wait for about 10 minutes with the weird queue hold again. The line was backing up by they were staggering how they let people into the queue. I was stopped again while two whole switchbacks were allowed to sit empty. It still seems strange. And then I got on.


















    Leave a comment:


  • whoever
    replied
    Man, that's some tumble you took. You took it like a trooper despite the bruise!!

    Leave a comment:


  • Pips
    replied
    Your photos are amazing! I especially love the ones of the fireworks -- so beautiful!
    Glad you had such great trip. 100 extra points for a funnel cake and Monte Cristo on the same day.
    (Sorry to see the injury. Ouch!)

    Leave a comment:


  • mpabis525
    replied
    Arriving back across the plaza to DCA, I ventured over to my lunchtime reservation at Wine Country. When we last ate there in 2015, I found it to be a very satisfying and tasty meal. This time was no exception. I had the lasagna and it was quite tasty. Taking my time, I enjoyed my lunch on the patio while watching life stroll by.

    At this time, life kind of hit me. I felt like I was losing my photo mojo starting at this point in the day. I wasn’t feeling great about some of my shots, I wasn’t looking forward to taking pictures at World of Color and processing several hundred extras, I wasn’t seeing certain things in the parks that I normally would to photograph. Basically I hit a Disney photo lull. As a result, there aren’t too many more photos in the daytime on this day.

    So, I did the best thing I could, park the camera in the bag for a while and enjoy doing other things. I made my way over to Monster’s Inc. and some other parts of DCA before heading back across the plaza again. Since it was now midday Friday, the crowd had picked up. Monster’s was about a 20 minute wait.


    I headed back over to Star Tours first having realized now that it was the first day with the new Crait scene. Max Pass eased my entry and I was on for two straight rides. I loved the new scene. It was different to have a non random generated trip into the Galaxy. All of Crait was well done and I felt, very physically moving. No problem for me but it felt a lot more than several other scenes. I thought the ending scene in Battu was a nice touch.

    Afterward I headed to Nemo to get a daytime ride in the subs. It is definitely much better in the daytime. That solves it for me going forward.
    I took a stroll over toward IASW for a leisurely cruise amongst the holiday festivities. Realizing I hadden't ridden Roger Rabbit yet, I headed into Toontown after departing the Small World boat.

    Roger Rabbit is another ride I haven’t photographed since 2015. There are a few rides that I feel so proud of my pics on that I don’t think I could do better without a new camera. Monster’s Inc. and Little Mermaid.

    After making my way out of Roger, I headed toward the hub and could hear the parade music starting. I found a spot just big enough for my feet near Snow White’s Grotto and camped out. I haven’t seen the Christmas parade in years so it was fun to listen and watch. Normally, I am not a parade guy but this one has a special place in my heart. I actually had a great vantage point and thought about bringing out my camera for some good shots until I looked across the hub and realized I was looking right into the sun. Anything I would have photographed would have turned out horribly. Next year, I will plan ahead more for the parade.

    I snagged a Dole Whip over at the Tiki Room and strolled through Adventureland and New Orleans Square for a while. For those of you who don’t already know, I am the Dole Whip King (patent and trademark pending). I am all about the Whips.


    By now, dusk was beginning. I ventured over to the Storybook Land Canal Boats for my first ride in forever. The line moved ok at first then slowed down. But Golden Hour was starting. The park is so magical in Golden Hour. It is like it comes to life in a totally different way.

    With and without the Monorail




    With twilight now settling in, I wanted to score a few more rides before heading back for World of Color and some nighttime DCA.
    I went over to Buzz Lightyear where the Friday night crowd was starting to swell in Tomorrowland. The wait was over 25 mins. I had another blaster that wasn’t dialed in. Seriously? This many rides on Buzz and Toy Story where they aren’t working right? That is not allowed as my score showed. I knew something was amiss on the ride when I stopped right near the entrance and with the blaster pointed right at the target, I hardly scored any points.

    Now, remember a few posts ago when I said I would talk about those size 13 shoes I have. Settle in for “the rest of the story.” I have done the rides god knows how many times. On every ride, they tell you to watch your step when exiting. I mean seriously? Who would fall getting out of one of these rides? Any guesses yet?

    The cast member uttered the words as I stepped out of Buzz Lightyear. As I stepped up, I felt it instantly but my brain didn’t know what was going on. The tip of my shoe caught the lip of the ride as it was opening its clamshell. OH &%#$!!!! I knew it. I felt it and I could only do so much. Out I flew all 6’5” 230ish. I slammed might left arm into the hard edge corner of the ride wall. Yep, this was going to hurt in the morning. But I did have the wherewithal and smarts to cover, shield and protect the camera as I was going down. I am not sure how I did it but I made sure I took the blow and not my pride and joy. It survived unscatehed.

    When the Cast Member plainly asked if I was ok, I told her “I saved the camera and that is all that matters.” She turned around and went back to life not caring.

    Battered, bruised and with my score beaten, I was not going to let this get me down. I got right back on and showed that score who was boss. I lucked out with two key ride stops in certain areas to pad my score.

    This was my arm 24 hours later.


    I won’t show the pictures over the coming days as it got really nasty and tripled in size taking up most of my upper arm. I called it my galaxy. The bruise and soreness were still there in mid January, two months after my trip to Disneyland.

    I got some last nighttime photos at Disneyland before heading back over to DCA to get some time before World of Color.




    Leave a comment:


  • whoever
    replied
    Amazing pics all around, Mike!!

    Leave a comment:


  • mpabis525
    replied
    After my quick round of California Adventure attractions I found some Photopass photographers on my way out of the park. As I am always the one behind the camera, I made sure to get some honest to goodness pics of me for once.



    Yeah, I actually do exist!! There is proof I am real!

    Ok, Disneyland, here I come.

    I beat feet across the plaza to head back to the other park. Everything was shaping up well. I had a couple of hours to spend at the park before my lunch reservation at Wine Country Trattoria.


    And look what magically appeared overnight? The garland across Main St. somehow came to be. It was not there the day before but was there to greet everyone on Friday. Prior to the garland, there had been a couple of weeks of speculation about whether it would be back. When it still wasn’t put up after the parade taping, I think many thought it wouldn’t make it back.


    I made my usual left turn at the hub and went right back to Pirates. I wanted to make sure I got some shots I didn’t get the day before. This time, I would make sure to not nudge the lens and ensure I have the proper settings dialed in. For the first time in forever, I actually had to share the front row. As long as they weren’t going to be blocking me and my camera, I didn’t care.




    Yes, I know there is noise, but Matt’s 1.4 lens got me the best shots of the bayou that I ever have gotten before.

    I thought I would take a cue from Matt also. I had seen his Splash Mountain downhill shot from a previous trip and loved it. I don’t do Splash Mountain but I will try it on Pirates. I got some shots right before I covered it all up to protect the camera.







    I love this ride and will continue to photograph it until the end of days. The lens did its job. Now I had a stronger camera body to really make it wow. Someday. Someday.

    Feeling confident after POTC, I wanted to get my revenge on Haunted Mansion. Once again, I wouldn’t touch anything. I knew there were portions of the ride I missed before so I was going to make sure I got them.













    Once again, the lens got me some of the better low light shots in the graveyard than I ever have before. Yes, there is still noise but those shots were unattainable for me before. After feeling proud about it, I am now greedy for more like this.

    I spent some time wandering around the park before heading back to DCA for a World of Color lunch at Wine Country. I made sure to get a ride on The Jungle Cruise.

    I love the backside of water. It is my favorite part of the ride. With that in mind I made sure to get one picture of it. I have never been really happy with my shots as it never conveyed to me, what that part of the ride is supposed to be. However, after seeing someone online get some great fadeaway shots, I thought of doing the same.

    Leave a comment:


  • whoever
    replied
    GREAT shots on RSR!! I like the long-exposure fireworks pics too. One of these days I'll try some of those.

    Leave a comment:

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