(you can read day one here)
The first day at Disneyland had been a manic and magical day, but my concerns about how limiting my disability may be on this trip had been eating away at me in the back of my mind all day. (For those of you who might not be aware, I suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and in this instance I was particularly concerned about how my waves of fatigue would impact what I was able to do, especially since I struggle to stand for extended periods of time). With one of my most beloved rides, Big Thunder Mountain, closed for an extended refurb, my brother and I were itching to ride Crush’s Coaster, but hadn’t yet had the opportunity to, due to the sizeable queue this low-capacity rollercoaster always attracts. Instead, we opted to rope drop Walt Disney Studios Park on our second day in order to be among the first to ride, as well as see the parks newest show that has garnered overwhelmingly positive reviews, Mickey and the Magician.
However, as it so often the case with plans, things didn’t quite work out the way we had intended. Despite usually rising early at Disney, everyone overslept (those beds are just too comfy!) and it simply wouldn’t be possible to rope drop the Studios park. With this in mind, we headed up to a leisurely first breakfast in the captivating Disneyland Hotel buffet restaurant, Inventions. The breakfast buffet in this hotel is the breakfast dreams are made of, with the full buffet space in use offering both hot and cold foods, ranging from cereals and croissants to pancakes and bacon.
Finding the perfect balance between sampling as much as possible without feeling too sick to ride anything is something I feel as though I had mastered, loading up my plate daily with pancakes, croissants, pain au chocolat, fruit and bread. Everything was utterly delicious, as expected, and the morning meal had the added delight of once again being seated in my favourite section of the restaurant, right by the window no less. There’s something extra magical about watching park goers begin their day of wonder while you munch your way through a pile of pancakes.
With full stomachs and hearts, we made a quick stop at the room to grab my Minnie ears of choice and left the opulent splendour of the Disneyland Hotel behind. It was at this moment I was once again concerned about my health, knowing full well I wouldn’t be able to wait in an hour long queue for Crush’s Coaster. My mum, knowing how I felt about the situation, urged me to go to City Hall to see if they would grant me an Easy Access Pass. Even though I clearly required one, I’ve become so accustomed to the general dismissal of invisible illness that I was considerably reluctant to ask, in fear of being turned down or being told “you’re not really ill”. Thankfully, my mum convinced me it was worth a try and we headed over to City Hall, armed with a barrage of medical evidence. In what felt like a wonderful piece of luck, we were greeted by a Cast Member who embodied the true Disney spirit, willing to do whatever she could to make my trip more accessible. After presenting some evidence, I received an Easy Access Pass, and immediately felt far more relaxed and optimistic about this trip.
The Easy Access Pass is a card given to guests with “a debilitating illness or temporary medical condition”, that essentially operates like a fastpass. Whenever I felt unable to queue, I would go to the entrance of the ride, the Cast Member would consult the current wait time of the ride and provide me with a return window that would equate to me having physically waited in the queue. My entire party was able to ride with me, you can use it as many times a day as you wish, and can only have one reservation at a time to ensure the system isn’t abused. It’s difficult for me to articulate how incredibly grateful I am that Disney offers this service, as it removed any concerns I had about missing out on attractions I love. (And I’m forever thankful to my mum for pushing me to enquire about it!)
Feeling even happier than before, with a full day of magic ahead of us, we took a moment or two to listen to the wildly talented Disneyland band (they were playing the Star Wars theme, which suffice to say took me by surprise) before once again park hopping over to the Walt Disney Studios Park. Reaching Crush’s Coaster, the Cast Member gave me a return slot for 50 minutes later, and so we opted to take advantage of the time and ride one of the quieter attractions of the park, the Studio Tram Tour. It’s total lack of a queue aside, I was glad to have the opportunity to experience this ride as not only is it now the only Disney parks Tram Tour operating, I couldn’t remember anything about the ride, having not ridden since I was a small child. Though this ride is typically considered outdated and one to skip when you’re short on time, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The tour was far longer than I expected, was genuinely informative, and featured some cute Disney touches such as the busts of Victor, Hugo and Laverne from The Hunchback of Notre Dame. My memory really must be lacking, as I had no recollection whatsoever of the “dragon-ravaged London” portion of the tour, but found this to be such an impressive feature that did a pretty great job of recreating my favourite city. I did remember the Catastrophe Canyon portion of the ride, but unfortunately sat on the wrong side of the tram and got unexpectedly drenched. At least it was a warm day!
After the little burst of refreshment from the Tram Tour, both from having a chance to sit down and the splash of water, as I began to walk back towards Art of Animation, I noticed Goofy strolling by, in his Tower of Terror Bellhop uniform. Having never seen this fairly rare outfit before, I took a brisk walk in his direction, assuming his set was over and would be returning backstage, in the hope of taking a photo before he disappeared forever. To my delight, Goofy wasn’t leaving at all, but setting up a meet and greet location by the Tower of Terror (right next to the toilets though…why Goofy?). The timing could not have been more perfect as this meant I only had two or three groups in front of me in line before I got my chance to hug and say hi. Goofy was huge fun as always, playing with my Minnie ears and giving me one of the best character photos of my life (even though it shows how incredibly short I am!).
Beaming from such a wonderful meet, I decided to quickly peruse the Tower of Terror gift shop before our Crush’s Coaster time slot arrived, as not only I am incredibly fond of the themeing of the store, I also tend to find the selection of merchandise available there always features some of my favourite pieces. Finding far too many things I wanted to purchase but not quite enough time to do so, we agreed to return to the store later in the day as I wasn’t willing to postpone my journey on the East Australian Current any longer.
As much as I am an unconditional lover of Big Thunder Mountain and do feel its Paris version is my favourite of the three I’ve ridden, Crush’s Coaster is definitely the better ride, while Big Thunder is the better experience. Perhaps this is simply because I am a huge fan of both spinning coasters and the Nemo franchise, but I still maintain it’s one of the strongest rides in the Studios park. Last time I rode Crush’s Coaster my brother was horrified to discover that I had missed all the digital projection of Nemo and friends, as well as the looming Bruce figure before you drop, due to my fairly hideous eyesight. In an uncomfortably embarrassing attempt to have the luxury of decent vision while riding, I’d bought a unflattering but ultimately successful glasses strap to keep my eyes useful while I rode. After being escorted down a dark corridor by a cast member, we emerged at the ride platform, ready to go. Crush’s Coaster is undoubtedly a better experience when you can actually see what is happening, but this didn’t stop me from screaming all the way around, prompting hysterical laughter from everyone riding with me.
Still giggling from the adrenaline rush, we returned to the Tower of Terror store to purchase the items I couldn’t resist, before realising that we could easily catch the next showing of Mickey and the Magician if we headed over to the theatre now, snapping some photos along the way. I’d heard the winningly popular new spectacle attracted long lines and full shows, so we joined the queue about 25 minutes or so before showtime, as I sat on the floor beside the hidden mickey adorned fence until the doors finally opened, and we scored some excellent seats in the centre of the theatre.
I’ve seen a fair few Disney Parks productions in my lifetime, including the renowned Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular at Disney’s California Adventure. While Mickey and the Magician couldn’t quite overthrow the love in my heart for that production to become my favourite ever Disney show, it did come very, very close. I was excited for Mickey and the Magician as soon as it had been announced, intrigued to know how different it would be from its predecessor, Animagique. Truly, Mickey and the Magician is worlds apart from Animagique , which is by no means a bad thing. It easily ranks as one of the greatest Disney Parks shows I’ve ever seen, and one I’d love to see many times more. The storyline was charming, the sets and effects enchanting, the costumes breathtaking and the songs some of Disney’s best ever. My undying love for Beauty and the Beast aside, I really appreciated how the Disney stories featured in the show ranged from silver age classics, to renaissance hits and 21st century favourites too. If you have yet to see the show but have an upcoming trip, I would urge you to remain spoiler free, but if you doubt you’ll see it in person do take the time to watch it in YouTube. Hopefully you won’t cry like I did.
The second day of my trip was such a full one that I couldn’t possibly condense it all down into one post. I’m going to end this part here, don’t forget to share any comments you may have with me!