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Mixing It Up for Thanksgiving - Monday, November 29, 2021
For the Thanksgiving holiday, Priscilla and I went down to LA a week earlier this year. The hope was to avoid the crowds - both on the road as well as at Disneyland!

The last time I'd been to Disneyland was 17 years ago (I blogged about it in 2004, but I scarcely recall the experience). After Priscilla went to Disney World with friends a couple years ago, and because she's really into Marvel movies, she's been wanting me to go to Disneyland with her. So she decided that we should squeeze in a trip in between visiting family for Thanksgiving.

So we drove down to LA on Sunday and stayed two nights with my parents, then went to Anaheim and explored the Downtown Disney District on Tuesday, woke up bright and early and got lined up at California Adventure before rope drop on Wednesday, and woke up early and did the same thing at Disneyland on Thursday. The last two nights we stayed with Priscilla's parents. The time with parents was pretty low-key.

We thought that by visiting a week before Thanksgiving, when kids should still be in school, the lines at the theme parks should be tolerable. How naive! Unfortunately for us, both parks were still pretty busy (though apparently Thanksgiving week was worse). And there were still plenty of kids (why aren't you guys in school??). And to our detriment, Disney has apparently stopped doing FastPass. We waited on average maybe 20 minutes per ride, with the longest waits being around 40 minutes. We even got into Rise of the Resistance, which was only accessible via virtual queue at the time of our visit, but even having a place in the virtual queue still subjected us to a 40 minute wait once it was our turn to get into the physical line.

But we stayed 10 hours and 12 hours at Disneyland and California Adventure, respectively, and we were able to ride just about everything we wanted to, with the exception of Radiator Springs Racers at California Adventure. At California Adventure, I liked the Soarin' ride the most, and the "Turtle Talk with Crush" show was pretty entertaining for kids and adults alike. We did the Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT! ride early, and the harsh ups and downs of that ride gave me motion sickness that lingered the rest of the day. So apparently it's not just spinning rides that mess me up. The rest of the day, I had to take it slow and I sat out a couple times while Priscilla went on a ride for a second time. I guess I'll have to listen to Priscilla and take Dramamine the next time we go to a theme park. The joys of getting old.

At Disneyland, I most enjoyed Jungle Cruise (I for one enjoy dad jokes), Rise of the Resistance, and Splash Mountain. Splash Mountain was fun but we got moderately wet, which kinda sucked because we did it late in the day when it was starting to get cold. No wonder there was no line for it! And Rise of the Resistance was amazing - the most advanced and immersive ride I've been on. The first part involves walking through expansive detainment areas after your transport ship gets captured by the First Order, and then Resistance members break you out and you're whisked around in a self-driving car moving through the building, at a fast pace with things happening all around you, moving in all directions, not along a fixed track. I've never seen anything like it (not that I have a whole lot of experience in this area).

I'm glad we went to California Adventure and Disneyland, but it was tiring. Not to mention, expensive ($470 for the tickets). The crowdedness of the parks really detracted from the experience, and the axing of FastPass was a real bummer. Priscilla felt that Disneyland has lost some of its magic compared to when she visited as a youth. Watching some videos on YouTube, it looks like the rides at Disney World put Disneyland to shame. I'm slightly intrigued and I think I'd be willing to go, but not for a good while (don't get any ideas too soon, Priscilla).

As for the drive down, we left just shy of noon because we wanted to stream our church service first. By the time we left, there was an accident on the 152, but Google wasn't showing too much of a slowdown. What we didn't realize until we got there was that that part of the 152 was closed and drivers were forced to take a congested detour. We ended up detouring back to the 101 and, including some parts of the drive where we hit heavy traffic, the drive down took around 40 minutes longer than under ideal conditions. Lesson learned there - next time if there's an accident on the two-lane part of the 152, we'll skip the 152 and stay on the 101 for longer. For the return trip the following Sunday, we left earlier and didn't hit significant slowdowns.

Thanksgiving week was somewhat quiet and it was nice to finally have some downtime, especially since I picked up a cold while traveling (which tends to happen when we do a lot). My uncle and aunt forwent their usual Thanksgiving family get-together because of COVID, so Priscilla and I just stayed at home and had hot pot on Thanksgiving Day. It was nice to have the holiday to ourselves, but next year maybe we should go be with family on Thanksgiving again. My dad is very traditional and has to have his customary Thanksgiving dinner on Thanksgiving Day, regardless of who else is there that day. My parents love to cook and see it as an act of love, so we should probably join them on that day and bring Priscilla's parents as well. It's a little harder since Priscilla's parents are further away now, but family matters.
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