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If Friend, we greet thee, hand and heart.
If Stranger, such no longer be.
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-Old Welsh Door Verse

Sunday, June 26, 2011

It was one o' them...

...zip-a-dee-doo-dah days.

Birthweek 60 had another winning day with my Saturday, June 25 trip to Disneyland.

And yes, I wore a birthday button even though my birthday was officially on the 22nd.  My rationale is that everyone hitting 60 deserves to celebrate for a full week.


It was a perfect day.  Started off with no traffic on the way down, decent parking space, short wait for a tram and no line at security.  Short, fast-moving line at entrance.  Delicious breakfast at Carnation Cafe, short line for a fast pass for Star Tours (Got in line about 9:30 am, report time was 5:45 PM.)

First stop was the Candy Palace.  A couple of years ago my mom and I discovered a confection called a Pecan Nuttle.  Kind of like a turtle with less caramel.  Delicious.  I like to buy the candy that was made fresh that day, and we learned the hard way that if you don't get to the Candy Palace early, you will miss out on the fresh Pecan Nuttles.  So, my routine is to go there first, pick up a package and keep it in a locker all day.  Then, when Mom and I settle in for the evening (usually at the piano corner) we treat ourselves to some candy.  For months I've been staying away from the Candy Palace.  One does not lose 62 lbs by patronizing candy stores on a regular basis.  But, every time I've just said no and have patted myself on the back for staying out of the Palace, I've promised myself that on my birthday trip I would allow myself Pecan Nuttles.  So, I went there first to get a package for later, then was shocked to see that there were NONE on the fresh daily counter.  

What could this mean?

Turned out what it meant was that the candy makers were making them that morning.  Talk about fresh! (I went back in the early afternoon and got some right off the slab.)

After the morning candy adventure I headed to Town Square for the morning Disneyland Band Concert.

Of all the fabulous entertainment at Disneyland, the Disneyland Band is the best.  They have a variety of shows that they do.  My favorite is the jazz show and I had my fingers crossed that I would luck out and hit that one yesterday.  I looked at their books for the morning, though, and it was the movie tunes show.  I remember that show well because a few months ago I got to be the "Director" for that show.  That meant I got to sit in a director's chair (with my own microphone) next to Toby, the bass trombone virtuoso (and a very funny man) and read the introduction to each number.  At the end I was presented with the rare and most-coveted Disneyland Band button.

When I saw that the movie tunes show was up again, I made sure to sit a ways away from the band so that someone else would have the thrill of sitting in that chair and getting that button.  But there wasn't much of a crowd yet.

Yep, I was back in the Director's chair.  I told Toby that I had done this once already and he drolly replied, "I know, but you're the only one here."  I'm not complaining.  It was really fun.  Toward the end Artie, the conductor, announced to the now good-sized crowd that it was my birthday, and conducted the band as they played "Happy Birthday" to me.  I was presented with another button (Toby's comment: "These must be stacking up at home") and I tucked away another happy Disneyland memory of the day.

After the band concert I headed over to Disney California Adventure for my first ride on the new Little Mermaid attraction.  I expected to wait about 1.5 hours, but they've figured out how to keep people moving and I walked onto this charming ride.  Saving 1.5 hours of wait time meant I had time (and energy) to head over to Screamin'and after a brief stop for a picture with Mickey...

 I hit Screamin' as a single rider which meant another walk-on.

 A photo op with Duffy...

..and another ride on Little Mermaid (really is delightful), and then back to Disneyland for the rest of the day.

One of my favorite rides at Disneyland is Splash Mountain, another with the single rider option.  I trekked over there, stopping to listen to a tune by Jambalaya Jazz (during which I was thrown some Mardi Gras beads) on the way.  Splash Mountain gifted me with a thorough drenching, but by then it was getting warm so I didn't mind.  I still had time before the 4:00 parade (which I hadn't seen yet so it was a high priority) so I took in a Billy Hill and the Hillbillies show.  New lead (or at least new to me) added energy to the show. The Billies were having fun with that show, which is fun for the audience, too.

After the Billies I detoured to the photo pick-up to get my portraits, then to the lockers to drop stuff off, then over to my favorite parade watching bench between the castle and Pixie Hollow.  I did some journal writing (I'll do that again; fun to write in a new place with new information coming in.)

The new Soundsational parade is just that.  All rhythm and color and fun.

The float designs are also sensational (although I wasn't fond of the costuming in this one)...

My favorite "act" was the "Steppin' Time" chimney sweep segment.  The dancing sweeps are phenomenal.  Choreography, energy and a marvelous sense of fun.

Mary Poppins and Bert on their Jolly Holiday carousel horses...

and ending the parade with this fabulous float covered with musicians, sweeps and sculptural references to Mary Poppins.

At this point I still had over an hour until my Star Tours fastpass was valid, so I headed for the stand-by line at Space Mountain.  By the time I finished that space adventure, it was time for the next.  WOW!  I thought I was headed for Naboo, but got detoured into battle in space, then down onto Kashyyyk (the Wookie planet) for more fighting and finally - safe but shaken - ended with an emergency landing in Coruscant.  I'm not a real fan of 3D but this ride is awesome.

After that adventure I headed down Main Street to catch the parade again, 

then to the Main Street train station for the All American College Band.

I'll be seeing them again week after next when I take my Mom to DL for the summer fun.  It's early in their season and they weren't QUITE tight yet.  Would especially like to hear more brass, folks.  (One of the sax players is at New School, where my older son got his degree in music.  Maybe next time I'll get a chance to speak to this young man and learn if he's in the same jazz program as my son.)

By this point it was going on 8:00 and I had had nothing but a pint of milk since breakfast, so I headed to Plaza Inn for dinner.  The CM graciously made me a Cobb salad to my specifications.  With that, a couple pints of milk and two glasses of iced tea I was revived enough to think about how I wanted to end my day.  I would have liked to finish with a couple of piano sets, then fireworks and decided to wander down Main Street to see who was playing the evening sets.  If it was the "right" piano player, I'd stick around a while.  If the "wrong" one, I'd head home. As it turned out, it was the wrong one and I beat the crowd out for an easy tram ride, easy "escape" from the parking structure, light traffic home and was safe and sound just after 10pm.

In 55 years I can remember only two "un-winner" days at Disneyland (and both times I left before 3:00 PM so as not to compound the negative experience.)  But I have to say, yesterday's trip is going to rate up there at the top of bestest Disneyland days.  Friendly castmembers, wonderful entertainment, terrific ride experiences.

Doesn't get any better than that.

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