but then somehow she got a bug up her butt on saturday after reading a bunch of posts and blogs and things online offering tips on how to get it done. she suggested that we head out for rope drop the next morning, even earlier than we already typically leave, and because i'm always down for an adventure i said yes. her special friend was down for the count with a pretty crappy cold, and the bean made faces when we told her the plan involved leaving the house at 6am. and that's how we found ourselves heading out for another "mommy & me" day at disneyland.
we left the house right at 6 the next morning, and we pulled up to the mickey & friends parking structure about 25 minutes later. it was so early that the gates weren't even open yet and we sat there for about 5 minutes before the line started inching forward.
it was a cold, cloudy morning and while i'd seen the rain in the forecast the day before, my weather app said that it was only cloudy with a chance of rain. of course, there was a good steady drizzle happening and i was not properly attired. poop. but when i started whining about getting wet the old lady reminded me that this gave me the perfect excuse to finally buy one of the raincoats i'd been eyeing at the world of disney store for months. AND i had gift cards from christmas that were burning a hole in my pocket. sweet.
that had to wait, of course, until we accomplished our goal of securing boarding passes for the ride. everything we'd both read online said that the passes were being fully distributed within minutes of the park opening, so we were both a little anxious and on edge as we waited for the tram to take us to the turnstiles. it took about three tram loads before we were finally able to board, and then we scurried towards the lines at the turnstiles. look at this madness:
so the way it works is that your park ticket has to be scanned into disneyland - not california adventure - before you can request a boarding pass. once your ticket is scanned at the gate, you want to open the app, make sure that your entire party is all linked together so that you can get into the same boarding group, and wait for the park to officially open for the day. right at 8:00, the screen will refresh and you can push the button to join a boarding group. it's kind of just luck o'the draw at that point - again, you just want to be sure that your ticket is scanned into disneyland before the park opens.
everything we'd read said that our best bet was to scan the ticket and then head right back out of the gate and get far, far away from the crowds of folks that are just hanging out inside the gate and down main street. all those people hanging out in the same areas clogs the system and slows down their ability to score a boarding pass. once our passes were scanned and the first hurdle was cleared, we relaxed a little and decided to make our way back out and through downtown disney to grab a coffee at starbucks. because most folks were still making their way towards disneyland, the line at the 'bucks was short and sweet. also, i was super amused at their idea of "late night snacks":
since we still had a good 20 minutes before go time, we grabbed our coffee and headed to earl of sandwich to find some breakfast. it was pretty deserted here too, when normally there would be lots of folks getting ready for a day at disney.
at around 7:55, the old lady opened the app on her phone and got ready for game time.
right at 8 the "join boarding group" button lit up and while it took an agonizing second or two, she triumphantly held up her phone to show me this:
group 42, yay!! not too bad considering we were trying to get out of there by 11:30 to head home and join the rest of our family for lunch. with the stressful part of our day over (hahahaha), we relaxed and finished our breakfast at a leisurely pace while we watched the crowds of folks going through security huff and puff their way towards the entrance gates. we weren't sure how long it took for the boarding passes to be fully distributed, but by the time we headed back to the park the sign was already out.
and the crowds to get into disneyland had all but disappeared.
we'd stopped in at world of disney first so i could get my poncho, and so of course i had to get a castle photo:
not being in a rush to do anything is always the best way to spend a day at disneyland. the rain was an extra added bonus that resulted in fewer crowds that morning as well, and a peek at the fastpass availability had us basically walking right onto the matterhorn after the 5 minutes it took us to get there. it was a fun first ride of the day, and as we made our way to the exit i grabbed another fastpass for buzz lightyear's astro blasters. and then we found ourselves in a short 20-minute standby line for the indiana jones ride. after that, we kind of just walked around and browsed in some of the shops in new orleans square. look how light the crowds were:
inexplicably, the rise of the resistance didn't seem to start boarding for quite a long time. we would check the app to see what the current status was, and while they seemed to get through groups 1-20 fairly quickly, it stalled for a really long time around group 22. the ride must have broken down, and it took a long agonizing hour before we finally noticed movement again. by then, we'd made our way back into galaxy's edge to grab some snacks and wait for our group to be called up. in the outpost, we grabbed a rondo wrap and a black spire hot chocolate to share.
at 11:55, our boarding group was finally called up. yeah...so much for heading home to have sunday funday family lunch. damn. but YAY for our turn to finally experience the new ride! we headed to the entrance to scan our boarding passes and make our way through the queue. we tried to take in all of the details as we walked along. i'm not really going to post any spoilers, but if you're heading to either disneyland or disney world for this ride and want to be surprised for the whole thing, you might want to just stop reading here.
then we were in a room where BB-8 came out to check out the new resistance recruits.
once the room was filled to capacity, we received a transmission from rey.
and then poe appeared on the screen, along with the "IT'S A TRAP" guy whose name i never remember.
from there we were ushered out of the room, through a short corridor and then back outside.
i didn't get a decent picture, but next we stepped onboard a ship that was going to take us to - well, somewhere. i was so enthralled by the whole experience that some of the details escaped me. we found a spot near the back of the ship and then the real fun began.
of course, our ship was sucked into a tractor beam and then we were overtaken by soldiers of the first order. the door opened and one of them walked in to instruct us to follow all orders - and he was fully and completely in character and honestly scary as all hell. these cast members are really good, let me tell you. none of them smiled and just stared at us with a fierce look, and even though we knew it was all in fun and in keeping with the theme, we were both a little scared and intimidated. heh. and then we walked off the ship and found ourselves faced with an army of stormtroopers.
in a single-file line, we were escorted into the next room, where we were assigned spaces for the actual ride. and there were more stormtroopers glaring at us menacingly here, too.
the ride itself reminded me a lot of the "ratatouille" attraction at disneyland paris. it was a lot of fun and full of surprises, and it was over all too soon.
we exited galaxy's edge near the haunted mansion, which is currently closed for an extensive refurbishment.
the last stop we made was at the mint julep bar, where we shared an order of the seasonal double chocolate beignets and a mint julep. i'm gonna tell you right now, if you're heading over there stick to the original beignets. these were nothing special. plus i read somewhere that they've changed the recipe or taken on a third party vendor or something and the beignets aren't as delicious as they used to be. bummer.
it was close to 1:00 by the time we finally headed out of the park. it was so weird to realize that while we'd been there for hours and had had our fill, lots of other folks were pouring through the gates to start their day of fun. the rain had mostly stopped by then, and it was getting pretty crowded, so our timing was perfect.
so, to recap: we left our house at 6. arrived at the parking structure just before 6:30. after going through security, catching the tram and getting through the line at the turnstiles, it was 7:30. the park opened at 8, we received our boarding passes, and with about an hour lag that we attributed to a breakdown on the ride our boarding group was called up at 11:55 and we were off the ride by 12:30.
was it worth it? HELL YEAH. in fact, we're trying to pick another sunday so we can do it again. so much fun, and a really well-done attraction. should you do it? absolutely! may the force be with you.