Waiting with hundreds of other park guests around the Hub from about 11 a.m. to the time the shuttle flew over, our conversations - based mostly on heresay and fantasy - built up this expectation among us that the Endeavour's flight path would travel directly in line over Main Street U.S.A. between Sleeping Beauty Castle and Main Street Station with hopefully another lap to follow just for good measure.
At 12:25 p.m., that wasn't anywhere near what actually happened.
It began with hearing crowds near the west (Frontierland) side screaming followed immediately by the roar of jet engines approaching. Dozens of arms to my left pointed skyward, and I turned my camera on and aimed westward.
The appearance of the Space Shuttle Endeavour flying over us was surprising, exciting and then quite brief! After it flew over, there were cheers from all the guests that had filled up the Hub ara. But we amateur photogs in what we thought was going to be the "sweet spot" inside the park all wondered, "Would it circle back? Surely it'll fly over the Castle so Disney can take that 'perfect' shot, right?"
A minute later, we saw the shuttle back in view. It was in the distance looking down towards the Disneyland entrance. It was small passing over Main Street Station and flying westward. Westward. Towards the coastline? On its way to El Segundo before landing in LAX? We waited...
...and then, we knew that was it.
There was envy and disappointment. Those standing on the steps of Main Street Station surely got better shots that included the Castle and Main Street U.S.A. in their shots. Everyone in the Hub pretty much got sky for background. Maybe some tree tops, because flew over us. OVER us!
In the end, I have this video capturing the excitement of the moment and some shots before and after. And perhaps more importantly, bragging rights to say "I was there!"
Thank you, NASA! Farewell, Space Shuttle Program.
Here's a video diary of my five hours waiting in line to enter Disney California Adventure on its Grand Re-Opening Day condensed into eight minutes.
On June 15, 2012, I got in line at four in the morning to join those who had been waiting in line since 6:30 pm the night before! However, when I first saw this line filled with hundreds of people, it was nothing compared to what I encountered seven years ago in the same spot. That was 2005, the year Disneyland celebrated its 50th birthday. And on July 17 that year, I arrived here at three in the morning to be among the first to enter the park when it opened, and there were thousands already in line. Coincidentally, Disney used DCA to stage the long line before its sister park opened at 7 am.
The video above shows the size of the line in the Promenade when I first got there and how it continued to grow over the next couple of hours. At 7am, the park's Re-Dedication Ceremony was broadcast in a live feed onto a jumbotron we could see, so some excerpts from that are included too. And from my place in line right at the main entrance, I got a nice, short piece of video of Disney CEO Robert Iger and Chairman of Parks and Resorts Tom Skaggs at the front gates opening them up themselves so we could finally come in.
I had a great time. So if you want to enjoy a special Disney event vicariously through the eyes of a Disney geek, here's your chance. Enjoy!
With Disney California Adventure officially opening to the public tomorrow, I've been reading online about fans debating whether or not it's worth it to get in line at 11pm tonight and stay up all night to be there when DCA opens for its official Grand Re-Opening Friday morning. It reminded me of a very similar event I attended seven years ago.
I went through my archived photo CDs to find the photos I took on July 17, 2005, the day Disney celebrated Disneyland's 50th Anniversary. They're up on my Flickr account now. You can reach them clicking the photo at the bottom. Because I wanted to get them up quickly, I didn't editorialize my selections, I just posted every shot, saved down to low res quality.
To briefly describe the day as I can recall off the top of my head, I got there around 3am to get in a line that snaked through DCA. I passed by scores of fans who were huddled under blankets or inside sleeping bags under an eerie but still exciting dark, early morning sky. Exciting because what park guest ever gets a chance to be here at three in the morning? I later learned I arrived about the time Disney estimated 7000 were in line. I believe between 9000 and 10000 arrived by the time the park opened at 7am.
As we slowly left DCA and entered the promenade between the two parks, we were surprised by cast members standing along the stanchioned walkway into Disneyland, who waved at us saying "Welcome back!" We received the same warm welcome as we entered Disneyland, walked through the tunnel under the railroad track and onto Main Street, USA. Cast members everywhere were waving and cheering at us saying "Welcome back!" It was a fantastic surprise, very heart-warming, and you could tell the cast members were just as thrilled to be there as we were!
At 10am, an official ceremony was scheduled in the Hub with Disney dignitaries and celebrities there to add to the pomp and circumstance. Julie Andrews was that year's official Disney ambassador, so she spoke during the ceremony, as did Art Linkletter who was there 50 years ago as one of the co-hosts during the televised opening of the park. Christina Aguilera performed a song and then there was doves and fireworks.
I made friends with the people I was in line with, and we spent the rest of the day together enjoying the park. I left Disneyland around 4:30p, after speakers throuplayed Walt Disney's dedication speech, the famous one he spoke to open the park 50 years ago to the time and day.
The rest of the details I'll leave for you to interpret from the pictures. Most should be self-explanatory.
And you ask, "Was it worth it?" Yes!
I will already remember this weekend as my "magical weekend", but not simply because "I was there" for Disneyland's birthday. The day before, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince arrived in bookstores. I picked mine up early that Saturday morning and then spent the entire day reading it. I managed to finish reading the entire book by around 1am, which released me from any worries I had about anyone spoiling the book for me! I then took a quick shower and headed off to Anaheim, ready to focus on the next half of my truly magical weekend.
Last week, I recently posted a blog on Blogspot about my experience last week spending midnight to six a.m. at Disneyland. The park stayed open for twenty-four hours to celebrate Leap Year Day and calling the event One More Disney Day. It was a unique experience that I enjoyed a lot and would do again if Disney repeated it in 2016.
As I headed out of the park when it closed, it was great to see Mickey and his friends dressed in their pajamas and waving us goodbye. Click the photo to reach my full blog where more photos and a video I took are included.