We woke up at the buttcrack of dawn so that we could drive down to Disneyland. I felt pretty queasy, but I got ready to go and piled into the car. Seanie's brother Jared was running late, but we were on our way to Bryan's house soon enough. En route, I just started feeling super sick. I thought I was gonna vomit all over the backseat...and in a tiny Prius, that was going to be SUPER unpleasant for everyone. At Bryan's house, I got out and tried to throw up - the theory being that whatever was making me unhappy, it was better out than in! - but couldn't. After some discussion, we decided that it would be best for Bryan, Jeannie and Jared drove on down to Disneyland as planned, and Seanie and I would have to fly down to meet them if/when I felt better. It was absolutely sucky, but there wasn't anything else to do – I mean, there was no way I could do the car trip without being absolutely miserable and probably getting sick on everyones' shoes.
So Seanie drove me to my house and we went to sleep for a few hours. Lo and behold, after a three or four hour nap I felt loads better – still wobbly, but ready for an adventure with Disney magic. We found a flight and booked it, ready to continue our Disney adventure only a few hours off-schedule...although with significantly smaller bank accounts. Stupid plane flights. Just kidding. I'm quite grateful that there was room on the airplane so that we could join the rest of the gang without the hassle of a second car.
We arrived in Southern California in the early afternoon and took a shuttle to our hotel. We met Jeannie, Jared and Bryan there. They'd had just enough time to do a few of the rides at Disneyland, so it didn't seem as though Seanie and I had really missed much. Bryan has a pacemaker, which somehow enables him to get a handicap pass, so we didn't even have to wait in the long, holiday-length lines this trip. Very cool!
The park is beautiful at Christmastime. Sleeping Beauty's Castle is dusted with snow and decorated with all sorts of bunting and holiday finery, as is Main Street. Christmas-themed treats and gifts are displayed in every window. It was so much fun to look and look and look some more!
When Jeannie and I said that we wanted to go on It's A Small World, the guys all groaned and pouted a bit. It's the least manly ride in the park, I guess. It was all decked out for Christmas. The big clock face that rocks back and forth on the facade had a Santa hat on its head, and that was just the beginning. It seemed like every scene in the ride had been slightly retooled for the holidays. For example, in the “America” scene Woody's lariat had been encircled with tinsel and he rode Bullseye in front of a lighted Christmas tree. It was so freakin' cute. It was the first time Seanie had been on the ride since the Disney characters had been added to the scenes, and he agreed with me that the ride was a lot better when you could hunt for your favorite character in each land. He wouldn't admit to liking Small World, but he allowed that it was bearable now.
The big, exciting event of this particular trip was visiting the Holiday Haunted Mansion, which is a Nightmare Before Christmas makeover done to the traditional Haunted Mansion ride. I mean, yippee! Haunted Mansion is already my favorite ride at the Disneyland park, but add Jack Skellington and the gang from Nightmare and you just make the ride so much better. I had so looked forward to seeing this when Seanie and I went to Disney World last year...only to find out after we got that there that only the California park does the makeover! So there were two or three years' worth of expectations riding on this experience.
As Jeannie and I approached the Mansion, now decked out in holly wreathes and glowing candles, we were trembling with joy. It looked so beautiful and festive...yet still slightly spooky, as there were skulls inside the wreathes and a great pumpkin scarecrow rising from the grounds like a crucifixion. Everything was redone: there was a new narration and new stretching portraits, all themed around Christmastime. The area where riders board the doom buggies had replaced the gloomy Haunted Mansion soundtrack with the cheerful and chaotic songs from the movie while a giant yellow moon rose over the queue, surrounded by the various haunts and monsters from Halloweentown. It looked FANTASTIC. When we climbed into our Doom Buggy, we girls may have been squealing just a little bit.
Now, I had thought that the makeover would be fairly small and subtle – Zero snuck into a scene, maybe a Jack standing in the corner of the attic, that sort of thing. No. The ride is 100% revamped. In room after room, characters from the Nightmare Before Christmas are crammed in every corner, with wrapped Christmas presents (Halloweenified) stacked in precarious, teetering columns all over. Even though I love the Haunted Mansion and missed the traditional characters, I forgot all about them by the time we reached the graveyard scene, where an animatronic Jack greets visitors while the great giant stone (or ice?) angel statues tower overhead. It was amazing!!!
At night, the castle was lit up like icing on a cake; it was so pretty and shiny!