I’ll warn you from the outset: this installment is mainly text with very few good photos. If you want good Disneyland photos, wait for installment 5.
We continued to do our best to avoid crowds. This meant spending some time in Critter Country and wandering around. Despite how packed the park was, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh only had about a 10 minute line. This was nice. We did this, then wandered back towards New Orleans Square, into the heart of the storm, to go to the French Market.
On our way to New Orleans Square, Sarah spotted three of the actors from Modern Family. This is when I realized my wife has a problem.
She is easily star-struck. I had no idea prior to this, as she doesn’t read celebrity gossip websites or watch celebrity “news” programming. However, when we saw them in person, she simply began following them without explanation. I couldn’t very well go my own way, as I might not see her again, but for a few minutes, she was walking about 5 feet behind the actor who plays Phil, not quite sure what to do. I was probably 15 more feet behind her, trying to keep her in my sight. The Selgas didn’t notice that we had begun celeb-chasing, so I think they were waiting at French Market, likely wondering where the heck we were!
Finally, after closely following the Modern Family cast for a few minutes, Sarah stopped and I caught up to her. She conceded that she wasn’t quite sure what to do. She had wanted to say hello to the cast, but knew they probably had been bothered by a lot of guests, and she didn’t want to intrude on their experience…but at the same time, she really wanted a photo of/with them. So she followed them debating what to do. Already well into Adventureland, we again had to fight the crowd to head back to the far side of New Orleans Square to meet up with the Selgas at French Market.
We arrived at French Market to find a fairly manageable line. Given that (I thought) they had been serving their special menu for about an hour, I somewhat expected this. I figured the big rush would be at the beginning of the special menu time, and by 11:50, crowds would start to subside. It turned out that they actually started the menu at 12 am, and a lot of people were lingering outside to get in line right at 12 am. I did not know this, and got in line right at 11:50. The Selgas and Sarah decided they didn’t want anything, so they got out of line, but given that it would only be a 10 minute wait, they told me they’d just hang out while I got food.
The line moved incredibly slow, and then stopped at 12 am (before I had a chance to order…luckily). At this point, a Cast Member asked how many people were waiting for the special menu. Everyone raised their hands. Then, the Cast Member went item by item, asking what people were waiting for. Everyone–and I mean everyone–in line was waiting for the French dip sandwich with N’Orleans chips. This was a real testament to the popularity of that sandwich, as the line had ballooned to around 30 or more people by that point. So it wasn’t as if just a small number of people coincidentally wanted the same thing. No, a huge line all wanted the same thing!
We waited and waited for French Market to switch over to its midnight menu. By about 12:10 am it still hadn’t switched, and I’m a bit surprised the horde of people (it had ballooned even further to “horde” size rather than “crowd” size by that point), didn’t tear down the doors to the kitchen. Finally, I received my French dip sandwich, grabbed a bananas foster cheesecake, and headed on my way. As I exited the restaurant, I was shocked at the length of the line. The people near the end would probably be waiting until 1 am to get their food.
I found Sarah and the Selgas in the seating area, which was starting to look like a set from The Walking Dead. There were literally bodies strewn everywhere in what appeared to be the ruins of a theme park after some sort of zombie apocalypse. If it weren’t for the fact that so many guests were clamoring for French dip sandwiches rather than human flesh, I might have thought that a zombie apocalypse had occurred while I was inside French Market.
Instead, it was more like a Leapdaypocalypse, as guests had started to hit the proverbial “wall” after long days in Disneyland. Hitting the wall at 12 am?! Rookie mistake.
There was no seating here, so we walked over to Rancho del Zocalo.
Rancho had been hit pretty hard by the Leapdaypocalypse, too, but there weren’t as many bodies there. Instead, plenty of open tables could be found, although since Rancho was (I believe) closed, the seating area had become a popular gathering spot for the walking tired, who had quarantined off many of the tables to use as sleep-stations.
Switching topics from the undead to delicious cuisine, the French dip sandwich was amazing! I have no clue why French Market removed this from its menu (cost?), but doing so was a big mistake (for those unfamiliar, apparently this used to be on French Market’s menu, but was removed several years ago). It was easily better than anything else I’ve ever eaten at French Market. The meat was tender, moist, and flavorful, and the dip helped make the sandwich melt in my mouth. The chips were similarly amazing, with their Cajun seasoning, which really differentiated them from normal homemade chips that are all the rage right now.
The cheesecake was also delicious, although during dessert I was honestly wishing that I had just ordered two sandwiches. It really overshadowed the rest of the meal. No wonder people stood in a huge line for that sandwich. I’d assume it still has a following with hardcore Disneyland fans, and those hardcore fans were showing up in full force to get their forgotten favorite one more time!
As we exited the Rancho del Zocalo seating area, we spotted the Country Bears in the distance! I love the Country Bears, and we’ve missed seeing them all at the last couple of Walt Disney World special events, so I was really excited to see them. Then, when we got closer, I saw the line. Whoa. In our experience, the Country Bears at Walt Disney World rarely have anyone waiting to meet them. When they do have people waiting to see them, it’s because parents hope to fool their kids into thinking they’re meeting Winnie the Pooh (in all seriousness, more than 50% of the time when we see other guests approach the Country Bears at Walt Disney World, the first question asked to the character attendant is, “who is this?”).
I guess this just goes to show the difference in guest demographics between Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Disneyland locals still fondly remember and love characters that were ripped from their park more than a decade ago. Walt Disney World guests don’t even recognize characters in an attraction that are still in the park they’re visiting. As Rizzo the Rat would say, “they’re tourists. What do they know?”
We skipped the Country Bears due to their line, and we did a lot more wandering, since most attraction lines were also prohibitive. Well, unless we wanted to wait in line for an hour or longer to experience things that normally had 10 minute waits (or ride Winnie the Pooh repeatedly). We were really enjoying the ambiance and seeing everything that was going on, so experiencing attractions wasn’t high on our list, anyway.
We headed back into Toontown for a bit for the first time that day, and I snapped some photos. Roger Rabbit’s Car Toon Spin always has a long line, and Leap Day (or March 1st, by this point) was no exception. No way would we be waiting in that line!
We also experienced “it’s a small world” while we were back on that side of the park. Its line was shorter than it had been on our last trip (when it was “it’s a small world” holiday).
The crowd was still massive in this area around the Tomorrowland Terrace, but it seemed like that was mostly because it was drawing a huge teen dance party crowd. Although I didn’t personally notice any drunk or obnoxious teens, Sarah later indicated to me that she had seen a few. I did notice several that had some crazy dance moves, but nothing overtly offensive. Had I only read other sites and not actually been there in person, I would have assumed it was massive teen rave at which everyone was dropping acid and rolling on E. The opinions and beliefs expressed by some people in the Disney community are a bit startling to me. There were some rowdy kids, but for the most part the kids were just having fun.
It was around this time that we finally had phone signal again, and were able to get in touch with Gregg, Ryan, and their posse. We also were able to get ahold of Henry Work, who had this crazy plan of meeting us at around 2 am. If there’s one thing no one can ever accuse Henry of being, it’s apathetic towards Disney. He’s a lot of bad things: underpants gnome, too tall, and a hater of Country Bear Jamboree. That said, I have to give credit where credit is due: he loves Disney and pours a lot of energy into that passion. If anyone else had told me about their plan to come to drive from home and come to the park at 2 am, I would have assumed they wouldn’t actually do it. I fully assumed we’d see Henry that night/morning.
After we met up with Gregg, Ryan, and co., we started trying to do some attractions. I don’t really recall what we did, but I do remember seeing a friend of Gregg’s son (Justin) in Tomorrowland. This friend works for Disneyland and indicated that Shaun White and Leonardo DiCaprio were in the park that night. Sarah’s eyes lit up. I assumed we wouldn’t see these celebrities, but it was cool to know.
At one point after this, we were exiting Big Thunder Mountain Railroad when we saw a beautiful blonde woman and a man with sunglasses on and a hoody pulled tightly around his head approaching. I did a doubletake, as it looked a lot like Leonardo DiCaprio. After Gregg passed these people, he turned back to us with an expression that confirmed it. I took a closer look as the couple passed us, led by a plaid vest Guest Relations Cast Member. Holy cow–it was him!
Sarah was once again starstruck. Luckily, Leo and the random blonde disappeared into the exit of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, so Sarah couldn’t chase them. While most men might feel a bit nervous with their wife being so close to Leonardo DiCaprio, I had no concern. I mean, he might be an international sex symbol, a multi-millionaire, and a great actor, but how good is he with a camera? How skilled is he at touring the parks (obviously not very, if he needs the assistance of someone else, and still can’t manage to find the correct entrance to Big Thunder Mountain! )? How big is his Figment collection? In other words, where does he stand on the important things?!
Besides Big Thunder, we avoided the “bigger” attractions for the rest of the night. We learned our lesson with that one as the line was longer than expected, and we waited a while for something we could normally do as a walk on. However, as the night wore on, we thought maybe the crowds were starting to thin out, so we headed to Space Mountain. The line wasn’t as bad there, but we still probably waited for 30 minutes.
When I almost fell asleep during the blast off sequence in Space Mountain, I knew I had to bite the bullet and get some coffee. After Space, we set out to do exactly that, first heading to Market House, as I had a stack of receipts that would allow everyone to have free coffee. Unfortunately, everyone else in Disneyland seemed to have the same idea, and the line at Market House was out the door. We all agreed that we’d rather buy new cups of coffee in short lines than wait what could be 30 or more minutes at Market House. So we headed to Tomorrowland Terrace, which had short lines.
This was my first (and last) experience with the intolerable Nescafe. I’ve made a few cracks about Nescafe since then here and on our Facebook page, and people have largely agreed. However, each time there is always a person or two who indicates that they like Nescafe. If you’re one of those people, I have another food you might like…it’s called Pigeon Poop. It hasn’t been approved by the FDA (yet), but I think it’s right up your alley. No, that’s not a trendy name for some food that is actually delicious. It’s, quite literally, poop from a pigeon. If you like Nescafe, you might like Pigeon Poop, too!
Seriously, I am not a big fan of coffee, and certainly don’t have a refined palate, but I can say with the utmost certainty that Nescafe is crappy coffee. I’m not just comparing it to coffee-flavored hipster drinks with whipped cream and that sort of thing. I’m comparing it to other regular coffee made from decent beans. There’s a huge difference. While I may not be able to tell the difference between Hawaiian beans and beans from Jamaica, or something like that, I can tell that Nescafe sucks.
After we got coffee, I was still tired. It appeared that it did not work. Perhaps I was actually going to have to go somewhere to take a nap. In my defense, I had been awake for nearly 24 consecutive hours at that point. Sarah encouraged me to go somewhere to sleep. It seemed like a foregone conclusion that I wasn’t going to make it. I was too cold and tired to make it another 4 hours (or so).
Then, as we were standing off to the side of Sleeping Beauty Castle, a young couple asked me to take a photo of them jumping in front of the Castle with their phone. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t work. So I told them I’d take it with my camera and email it to them. I dialed in the correct settings and fired off a few shots. Nailed it. It seemed like a fun idea, so I passed off my camera to one of the other photographers in our posse and had him take a photo of Sarah and I doing the same. I don’t really know why this type of photo is so popular with people from our generation (do we feel the need to prove that we visited a location and jumped near it?), but we thought we’d give it a try.
Sarah and I, apparently, aren’t very good at timing our jumps, because it took us about 20 attempts to get correct. As you can see below, correct is a very relative term. Sarah was still on the ground (as she was in just about every single shot taken; did you ever even jump, Sarah?!). More importantly, though, is that after this I was magically full of energy. It was as if that jumping had given me my second wind! I wasn’t tired again for the rest of the event. (the jolt of caffeine might have played a small role…although I prefer my “magical” explanation!)
After Ryan took our photo, I took a photo of him and Justin. Most of the effect is lost here, but when I quickly cycled back and forth between the two photos below, it looked as if Ryan was kicking his legs in and out and raising his arms almost like a marionette. I found it funny.
I did the same for the Selgas. It’s important to note here that Guy really, really wanted to be high up in the air. However, in each of the 57 photos I took of him, he was barely off the ground! I finally gave up as it was clear he was going to eat up my memory card if I let him keep trying. He begged and begged, though, so I agreed to Photoshop him having a fair amount of air in this photo.
That disturbing photo of Guy is probably a good place to take an intermission. The next installment will feature another celebrity encounter, a Henry Work encounter, and the conclusion of “One More Disney Day.” GET EXCITED!
PLUG: since the whole purpose of taking the trip was to create the Disneyland: Sunrise to Sunrise eBook, the majority of the “best” photos I took on “One More Disney Day” are not presented here. If you like Disney photos, I strongly encourage you to check out the eBook, Disneyland: Sunrise to Sunrise, by clicking here. If eBooks don’t interest you, fret not, as there are still a lot of good photos here, but they’re generally the ones that didn’t make the cut.
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