Thursday, October 19, 2006


I've been spending this week down in the Happiest Place on Earth for work, which is oh so hard work if I do say. :) I have dubbed it "tra-cation" which is training + vacation. I've been attending the STARWEST Conference (which if you're curious, stands for Software Testing Analysis & Review... the West part is simply because this one's in Anaheim every fall, and there's a STAREAST in Orlando every spring). I've been here since Monday, but due to my own busy-/lazy-ness, I haven't blogged the stories yet. So I'll begin from Monday and write until I get tired, then continue when I feel like saying more. :)

So on Monday I headed to the airport to go to Ontario (the city in California, not the province in Canada, duh), and everything went pretty smoothly. It's been my first trip through the airport since the latest security changes regarding liquids and gels, and as a result I checked most everything (toothpaste, etc.) that I would normally keep with me in my carry on. Except I forgot to check some chapstick that I keep in my pocket. Well, here's a useful fact: the TSA couldn't care less about chapstick. I took it out and showed it to the TSA agent and he gave me the "whatever, don't worry about it" look. Nice to see things aren't totally ridiculous. Of course, our pilot for our plane is one of those essential things you "don't want to leave without"... and ours was late because he was stuck on a ferry. Only in Seattle will your pilot be late to the airport because a ferry was delayed.

After that thing were rather uneventful until we made it to Ontario. After making it to the airport and waiting for a surprisingly long time to get my luggage, I went to get my rental car. I ended up with a maroon Mazda 3 hatchback, which I must say I am thoroughly unimpressed with. Of course, as a rental car I don't mind too much, considering it was only $170 for the week. Then I navigated the LA freeway system to make it to the Disneyland Hotel. All I can say is thank goodness for GPS navigation devices. I brought mine and it was the best thing I ever could bring.

At around 5:30pm I finally made it to the hotel and checked in. Now, this is the first time I have ever stayed in the Disneyland Hotel, for one main reason... I'm cheap. But since the company is paying for it and this is where the convention is, it was a nice deal. Without even requesting it, I got a room on the 8th floor of the Sierra Tower (one of three towers), right across from the elevators, on the side of the building that faces towards Downtown Disney. I couldn't have requested a better room. The windows open up to a mini-balcony from which I could look down at the ESPN Zone and the Rainforest Cafe, among other things, and see the Matterhorn and Splash Mountain in the distance at Disneyland. I recommend to anyone who ever has the opportunity to stay in the Disneyland Hotel to request the Sierra tower facing that direction, unless you have a problem with noise.. because Downtown Disney stays hopping until late into the morning and even with the sliding glass doors to the balcony closed, it's still somewhat noisy. I didn't mind it.

After I hauled all my stuff in, I left and walked through to the other side of Downtown Disney where the parks are. Knowing that I'm going to come back down to California for a wedding in February, I bought an annual pass (which was an excellent choice, especially considering this week has been a lot of evenings where I'd head over to the parks for a few hours here and there). In yet another in the series of firsts, I went to Disneyland by myself. I've actually heard mixed reviews of this, some people claiming it's nice because you only have to please one person--yourself. Others have said that it's not as fun when you don't have others there to share it with. I'd have to put my opinion somewhere in the middle. There are definite advantages to going around the park by yourself. Certainly just the fact that I tend to move pretty quickly around when there's somewhere I want to get to, and not having to slow down for people I'm with who, shall we say, are not so fast, is a nice thing. Also, I do what I want to do, and don't have to worry about what anyone else wants to do... this isn't such a huge deal though because at Disneyland I pretty much will go on any ride and am pretty easy going in that regard. Perhaps one of the nicest things--which I have fully taken advantage of--is the relatively recent invention of the "Single Rider Line". This really only applies to a few rides around, most notably Splash Mountain, but the concept is simple. Some rides have very odd seating configurations, in the case of Splash Mountain 6 people to a log. Disney has two very simple rules that they live by when placing people in ride vehicles: 1) Never split up a group, unless they are larger than a single ride vehicle. 2) Never combine separate groups in close quarters unless they have their own seat. OK, so the 2nd one is hard to put into decent words, but I'll demonstrate by example. On Space Mountain, the ride vehicles are 6 rows of 2 across. Now if there is a group of 3 and single rider, they will put the group of 3 in two rows (2 and 1) and put the single rider in a third row (1 only). They won't mix strangers up and put the single rider in with the extra from the group of 3. Space Mountain does not have a single-rider line because they rarely have a use for needing someone to fill out a car. Splash Mountain's logs of 6 individual seats are different though. Disney will happily put people in their own seats, so if a group of 5 comes along, the only way they can fill out the log is if they have a single rider, or else they'll leave the seat empty. Same thing with a group of 3 and a group of 2, or occasionally if they have several large groups at once (say, two groups of 4, but no groups of 2 around). OK, so the logic of this may not fascinate others as much as it fascinates me, but suffice it to say, there's plenty of use for single-riders on Splash Mountain. As a result, single riders can actually go in the exit and get in a special line (which by my experience, never had anyone in it), and get on the ride usually within about a minute, even if the regular line for the ride is 30 minutes or more long. It's a wonderful thing! (A side note: groups could use the single-rider line too, if they don't mind being split up all over the place.) So yes, after digressing about the advantages of going to Disneyland by yourself, I now will advocate for the other side. Going to Disneyland with other people is just plain more fun. There's something about wandering around with people you know and just having fun with friends that going by yourself can't beat. So in summary, going by yourself is fine if you have to, but I wouldn't plan to do so just voluntarily (though I may end up doing so in February if I can't find anyone else around who wants to go. HA!).

More details about the conference itself will be coming next, but it's currently 11:30pm on Thursday and I need to sleep. Pictures are also coming once I get to an actually fast internet connection. :) Until then....

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