Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Christmas at Disneyland (More or Less)

Your Monday Photo Shoot: Let's see how the holidays happened with you and yours.

Well, of course, I've been posting Christmas 2005 pictures for the past couple of days, but here are some more of them, illustated with words (as is my wont):

First of all, I should admit that most of the photos I'm posting of Disneyland were taken by John. Saturday's Gila Bend ones (the Space Age Lodge) are mine, though, as are these two from the hotel room Christmas morning. All the cards I hadn't already opened and put on the mantle at home, we opened and put on the dresser at the Howard Johnson's. If you are offered Howard Johnson's on Harbor Blvd as part of a Disneyland package, don't reject it out of hand. This is one of the nicest HoJos in the country. The rooms are decent, the grounds are pretty, and the walk to the park is only about a third as far as the trek from Annabella's Inn, via Downtown Disney. Best of all, the room came with a free (relatively) high-speed internet connection.

Here's a box with some presents and packaging, once we opened everything we found. One of the best gifts was the item seen on top here: an Anya figure from the "Once More With Feeling" episode of Buffy. Many thanks, SK! I owe several other people thanks too -I'll get to you soon!

Some presents did turn up missing, though. I thought I saw an envelope from Dad and Ruth, but nothing like that turned up on the day. (There was an envelope in the mailbox when we got home, though.) Two of my presents to John didn't quite make the trip, either. I've since found one of them, but the sugar free jelly beans are still MIA.

Oh, and I didn't take pictures of them, but I hung a few of my homemade Shrinky Dink ornaments over a gift bag, and filled one of my red and black striped socks with John's stocking stuffers, since we did not bring any stockings from home.

Once we did the cards and gifts thing, we headed over to Disneyland. I'm sorry to report that I didn't make it to church - the mass schedule at St. Michael's in Anaheim proved to be extremely inconvenient! Christmas is the third busiest day of the year at Disneyland, and sometimes they close the gates to new arrivals once the park reaches capacity. Had I gone to the 10 AM mass, I could not have gotten into Disneyland - they closed the gates at 11:30 AM for that very reason.

Nevertheless, things were relatively quiet in the early morning fog, before people started showing up in droves. We saw a pair of white herons in Frontierland, and went on Haunted Mansion Holiday twice. We got this image of Jack Skellington after several attempts. I had been concerned that, Haunted Mansion fan and purist that I am, I'd be annoyed with the adulterated Christmas version, but it was really a lot of fun!

Then we took time out to each breakfast. This house sparrow (and some of her friends and relations) shared our muffins at Tomorrowland Terrace.

Speaking of food, my goal for Christmas dinner was to eat at the Blue Bayou Restaurant, across the lagoon from the peaceful opening minutes of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride (one of my other favorite attractions). But when I tried to make a reservation around 9 AM on Christmas morning, the Blue Bayou was already full up for the day! They said to check back throughout the day for cancellations and openings for walk-ins. So I dragged John back there shortly after noon. They said they did indeed have openings for walk-ins. Yay - except they meant, for right then! John wasn't hungry yet after our breakfast with the birds, but I couldn't walk away from the opportunity to eat at my fave Disney restaurant. So we had our Christmas dinner for lunch. Much later, about 10 or 11 PM, I had clam chowder in a bread bowl for dinner. Doesn't matter. We were at Disneyland! That's better than turkey any day.

I should do a whole photo essay about It's A Small World Holiday, the other Disneyland attaction (besides the Haunted Mansion, and Reindeer Roundup at Big Thunder Ranch) that changed for Christmas. Unfortunately, we had camera problems throughout our time at Disneyland. There's something about that place that drains our battery and coaxes the camera into weird inexplicable settings and odd exposures. Perhaps it was the fog, and the indoor shots, and the sheer volume of pictures in a short time, and the fact that John doesn't use the camera as often as I do, and experiments more when he does use it. Anyway, the camera was virtually out of juice before noon on Christmas Day. We couldn't recharge it, because the charger was back in the room - I'd thought of bringing it along, but figured we wouldn't be able to plug it in. The gates were already closed to incoming guests, so we couldn't leave and come back. It turned out that Disneyland does let you plug in a charger at the Kodak shop, but no, they didn't have a compatible charger or battery. John babied it along until about 6 PM, and then we risked going back to the room to recharge the battery - and ourselves.

When we came back, there was the tree lighting ceremony, and then the Christmas parade, and then the thing John most wanted to photograph: the light show on the facade of Small World. This took place right after the chiming of the quarter hour. It was very colorful, almost psychedelic, and set to music. They also projected onto the building as part of the fireworks show. It's a Small World was mostly designed by Disney artist Mary Blair, who was best known for her whimsical style and use of color. I think she would have approved of the colorful light show.

The fireworks show, most of which was the 50th Anniversary show, ended with Christmas stuff, most notably a beautiful, peaceful and nicely lit "snowfall" near It's a Small World. I think the flakes were made of soap, or something of that nature.

That's it for now, folks. I have to work in the morning!



Gabreael said...

I am a HUGE Tim Burton fan. I have the Jack Skellington seat covers, purse, cell phone holder..... Needless to say I liked your post today.



Carly said...

I love the Tim Burton stuff. A neighbor has a giant inflatable "Jack The Pumpkin King" in their front yard. me want one! LOL. Loved this series by the way. :)

Always, Carly