Impressions of a Disneyland virgin

AMELIA ROMANOS
Last updated 13:31 21/05/2012

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I've been wanting to go to Disneyland since the Tanner family made the trip in 1993, and, despite chronic jet lag, blisters and crowds, I can safely say the 19-year wait since that Full House episode was worth it.

As far as theme parks are concerned, I'm without a doubt one of the biggest fans.

I'm usually the most willing to go on rides repeatedly, sit out hour-long queues, rip into candy floss and hot dogs, and spend my cash on slightly dodgy game booths.

But Disneyland was more than that. From start to finish, Disneyland was a show.

My visit to the "Happiest place in the world" began less than 24 hours after hitting Los Angeles, with a 15 minute stroll from the "Good neighbor of Disneyland" Menage Hotel.

Right off the bat the lack of sleep was likely to present a problem, as were my jandals - the result of an underestimation of how much walking that would follow the short trip from my accommodation.

Arriving in time for the 9am opening, I was quickly on to the rides, and managed to get three in before the crowds really began to grow.

I was immediately amazed by the level of design that went into each ride - everything from the fake dust on the chandeliers in the Haunted Mansion, to the sneakily disguised speakers and smoke alarms on Splash Mountain.

Rather than thrill rides, Disneyland's focus is on bringing all aspects of the rides to life.

On the Jungle Cruise, elephants spraying water at you could almost be real, as could the drunks singing on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

The level of care extended beyond just the attractions, and was also particularly notable in the maintenance of the grounds.

Having long held a desire to visit Disneyland, my trip was not without its research.

I had read about the extreme lengths the cleaning crew go to to keep the park tidy, including reports that feral cats are allowed into the park at night to keep the mice population (the uninvited rather than Mickey and Minnie, I imagine) in check.

An estimated 27,000kg of rubbish is apparently collected on a busy day at the park, and after closing the streets are washed and steam-cleaned.

With that in mind, I expected a reasonably clean park. Instead, I found as close to spotless as you could hope for.

After about four hours of playing "spot the rubbish" and having only found three pieces, I gave up. Yes, I'd waited 19 years for this.

Later that night, I commented on the cleanliness to a waitress, who was unsurprised, and said the standard above "great" was "Disney".

The first problem I encountered during my visit was with my footwear. As blisters started to form on the sides of my feet, the understanding of why so many people were in sport sneakers set in.

However, a trip to the first aid area, a couple of band aids, and I was practically Disney standard. Tiredness was harder to combat.

Some time around 4pm, while being hypnotized by the repetitive theme song on the "It's A Small World" boat ride, a trance-like state set in.

Determined not to miss out on anything, I thought the 3D Captain EO show in Tomorrowland would give my feet a deserved break.

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Naturally, the moment I sat down in the comfy seat and put the glasses on, I was asleep.

I battled to stand through a 30-minute queue to get on a Finding Nemo submarine ride - on which I also immediately fell asleep. Still that pleasant underwater power nap was actually enough to surge me on for another few hours.

As an increasing number of people flooded into the park, I had to smarten up my ride strategy.

Cue "Fast Passes", which allow you to electronically line up while going off to do another ride.

With only one of the passes allowed at one time, the trick was to pick the queues that sped you the furthest ahead and, I have to say, by the end of the day, I had mastered it.

By 6pm, now with bleeding blisters on the tops of my feet to match the ones on the sides, it was time to call it a day, head back to the hotel and get all ready to start at the neighbouring California Adventure park the next morning.

- Stuff

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