Monday, June 13, 2011

Disneyland - Thoughts on Thunder Trail

When the crowd finally gets to you and the magic has dissipated, take a stroll to the far northwestern border of Fantasyland or wander past the Frontier Landing and main entrance of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

There you will find the oft overlooked area known as Thunder Trail. It is shaded, for the most part, and is usually spacious, uncrowded and serene. Sure, there are coyote wails and runaway mine trains---not to mention an earthquake that occurs with uncanny regularity---but beyond those minor distractions you will find a bit of open space, peace and relative calm.

These can be rare commodities during a busy summer day at Disneyland.

I used to sweep Thunder Trail during my sweeper days.
Ah. I can still trace my route from "popcorn alley" past the entrance to Big Thunder, up the hill, over the wooden bridge and around the bend to Thunder Ranch.
I would pause here and there along the way, to catch a glimpse of fish jumping or feel the spray of the waterfall at the back side of Thunder Mountain.
As a guest, there are wooden benches to enjoy and glorious shade. Lean over the railing and watch the mine trains rush by. Have a drink of water and people watch.
People watching is one of Disneyland's greatest outdoor sports.
You will see every variety and types our species has to offer.
Large. Small. Tan. Sunburned. Newborns to centenarians.
All manner of fine folk.
Even a few that are perhaps unrefined (ex Jungle skippers, for example).
You might even try to talk with one or two passers-by.
But, if nothing else, you will enjoy the respite from the packed pathways and queues you'll find elsewhere. It's a good "mental break."

Modern Disneyland Touring Tip ("MDLTT") No. 56: take a shortcut through the Plaza Inn when trying to get to Tomorrowland from the northeast corner of Main Street. Just go through the "exit" gate located behind the Corn Dog wagon and walk through the seating area until you come out the small exit gate over by the restrooms.

MDLTT No. 45: ride Splash Mountain before noon but avoid it in the late afternoon or early evening (unless you've brought a change of clothes and socks). Nothing like trying to enjoy the Magic Kingdom as the cool evening breezes waft against your soaked t-shirt and your sopping socks squish inside your damp shoes. No thanks. Ride early and give yourself plenty of warm daylight to dry off before nightfall.

MDLTT No. 18: hit the ice cream stand near the lockers on East Center Street - Main Street - during the day parade. The line is usually mcuh shorter then and their waffle cone sundaes are superb.

MDLTT No. 66: NEVER attempt the Dumbo line at mid-day with children under 6 (or any other living organism for that matter). Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon-day sun. The rest of us should hit Dumbo earlier in the cool morning or later in the afternoon/early evening. Face it, screaming, hot and partially-cooked children are for witches, not astute Disneyland guests!

MDLTT No. 37: DON'T stand against the rope line to watch a parade or the fireworks if you can avoid it. Why? Attempting to secure such a position once the event commences is something akin to Custer's efforts to repel Sioux warriors at the Little Big Horn or the ship's carpenter's stab at fixing the ruptured hull below the waterline of the Titanic. You will spend most of your time being pushed and shoved by last-minute Larry's who will not be deterred from obtaining a viewing location, regardless of how many people have already beat them to it or the fact that most of them have waited there for over an hour. These folk claw and wrangle under the ropes like Vandals at the gates of Rome or Caribbean pirates boarding a Spanish galleon laden with gold. Nothing short of armed resistance and cauldrons of hot oil (ala the Hunchback of Notre Dame) will subdue or repel the onslaught.

MDLTT No. 29: it's 10:00 a.m., try Tom Sawyers Island if you have kids say 11 and under-ish. Let 'em run free for an hour or so. Join them or luxuriate on a shaded bench during the mayhem. By the time lunch comes around, you've helped them burn off some energy!

Savor the challenge and promise of tomorrow, my friends!!