A Summer Night at Disneyland

Last Friday Lee and I drove to Disneyland in the afternoon (took us about two hours from San Diego, which wasn’t nearly as horrible as it can be at that time of day) and spent the evening at DCA and Disneyland.

I was pleasantly surprised at how *un*crowded it was – on a Friday night in the summer I was expecting it to be very busy, but it really wasn’t bad. Waits in the Paradise Pier area of DCA were 30 minutes or less for most attractions – I don’t think California Screamin’ was even that long – maybe 20 minutes.

It had been a warm day (in the low 90s) but by the time we arrived it was mid-80s with a nice breeze and very comfortable. Even as the evening wore on it was great – often times it gets a bit chilly at night and you need a light jacket, but I was comfortable even at 11:00 that night in shorts and a sleeveless shirt – and for those who know me, you know how unusual *that* is! 🙂

We went to DCA first and watched a bit of the Miner 49ers who were performing near Grizzly Peak, and then went to the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail area, because I wanted to see the “The Magic of Brother Bear” show. It was predictably corny and mildly entertaining. The Challenge Trail play area was uncrowded, and we took the opportunity to play around a bit ourselves – Lee traversed the rock climbing wall with ease and we both went into Kenai’s Spirit Cave to place our hands on the glowing paw print and find out what kind of animal spirit lives inside us. On Lee it couldn’t make up its mind…the display started off with a moose (dependable, honest) and ended up as a skunk (curious, adventurous). And the second time he tried it he was a wolf (wise, loyal). I was a beaver (hard working, industrious).



We had a wonderful dinner at the Vineyard Room (more on that in a future blog entry) before wandering over to Disneyland for the rest of the evening. I can’t remember the last time I was there in the evening when the crowds were that low. I didn’t check the board for wait times, but at 8:15 we only waited 10 minutes to get on Buzz Lightyear and Astro Orbiter was only using about 1/4 of its queue. The line for Nemo only went back to Fantasia Freeze – and it was only a single line (no switchbacks) until it reached the area near the seagull buoy. Which I’m sure means it was still close to 90 minutes, but that’s better than 2 or 2-1/2 hours!

Our objective for the evening was to *finally* see the Remember…There’s Magic in the Stars fireworks show. We’ve tried to see it four times – once we couldn’t find a place to stand and ended up wandering around and around in the “you must keep moving” pathways, once we saw it from the balcony of the Disney Gallery after we’d done the Fantasmic! dessert buffet, but it was an obstructed view, and twice we’ve been on Main Street, with a good viewing spot, and the show has been cancelled due to high winds. Sigh.

This time we got a spot near the hub about 25 minutes before the show started and the show went off at 9:25, just as planned. It was incredible!!! Wonderful fireworks, so well synchronized to the music. It’s even better than Wishes at the Magic Kingdom (though the two share a lot of music). But Wishes doesn’t have the tribute to the different “lands” that Remember has. And Tinker Bell’s flight is amazing – she flies not just once but twice, AND she circles around the castle instead of flying in just a straight line. I have no idea how they do that, but it looks great.

We’d planned to go home after that, but decided to stay for the 10:30 Fantasmic! instead. We wandered over to the Rivers of America area about 10:10. There were still lots of viewing areas open, but we scored a prime spot just behind the light tower at center stage. This looks like a horrible spot initially, because you can’t see the stage through the light tower, but we knew that about 10 minutes before the show the light tower is raised into the air, so those behind it have a great view of the river and the stage on Tom Sawyer Island. That’s also where the sound booth is – we were behind that and could watch the sound engineers at work. I can tell you that the running time of the show is 23 minutes and 37 seconds because I could see the show clock. 🙂

Again, the entire area really wasn’t very crowded – I’ve been in New Orleans Square packed like a sardine and unable to move after Fantasmic! ends, but on this night we could move around pretty easily. Even when we got out to the parking lot trams the crowds weren’t bad – we could’ve caught a tram with only a short wait, but we decided to walk back to the parking garage instead.

It was really a great evening – we’ll have to do that again sometime – there’s lots of restaurants at the Disneyland Resort that we haven’t tried yet! And I want to see Remember from a place where I can see the projections on the castle walls and the Matterhorn – those were blocked from our viewpoint.


Trending Now

Laura Gilbreath is a native of San Diego, CA. She has been making the trek up Interstate 5 to Disneyland since she was a small child and terrified of talking tikis and hitchhiking ghosts. She and her husband Lee enjoy trips to Disneyland and Walt Disney World, as well as sailings on the Disney Cruise Line.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *