Thursday, October 23, 2014

A California Adventure

Monday, 6 Oct 2014: Disneyland Entrance

We were up bright and early on Monday morning to get to our favorite theme park before the crowds. By 7:15 we were walking through the gates. Because the Disneyland side of the park was closing early (6:00 p.m.) for Mickey's Halloween Party (don't even get me started on that...), we opted to do the first of our three Disney days at California Adventure.

Dylan, Chris, Sarah, Jacob, and Danielle waiting at the left on Buena Vista Street.

Once we were inside California Adventure, we had some more waiting to do. They allowed us to walk up Buena Vista Street just past the fountain, but then we had to hang out until the official opening time of 8:00.

You'll think I've posted an insane number of photos here, but the fact is, I took about 120 pictures on this one day alone, and I narrowed it down to just 38 for this post, so I think I showed great restraint! So many great shots I'd love to share! (And, remember, you can click on any photo to enlarge it and see all those great Disney details close-up!)

Chris, Mary, Dylan, Jacob, Danielle, and Sarah at entrance to cars Land.

None of us had ever been to the new Cars Land area of the park, and I'd read that the new Radiator Springs Racers was the most popular ride in all of CA Adventure, so we made a beeline there first thing. While Sarah and I paused to get Radiator Springs fast passes, the others hurried on to the ride to get in line. Thus we were able to ride twice that morning: once when we caught up to the rest of our group, and again when we were able to use our fast passes about an hour later.

Chris, Jacob, and Danielle have the front seat while we start out on the scenic route.

The. Most. Awesome. Ride. Ever. Omigosh! We loved it. I think we'd have ridden it over and over all day if there weren't so many other great things to see and do!

We all got flashed during the big race at the end!

It begins with a slow, scenic ride through the Southwest and then takes you inside to meet the characters from Cars, who are life-size and incredibly lifelike. It ends with a thrilling race against another group in their racer, soaring at what feels like amazing speeds, flying over hills and down through gullies. Wow, just wow. 

Sarah, Chris, Danielle, Jacob, and Dylan enter our raft
at Grizzly river Run.

Next we headed over to Condor Flats to get fast passes for Soarin' Over California, another of my favorites. Not as thrilling, but still so realistic and breath-taking. In fact, we rode it two or three times during our trip.

Then we went to Grizzly Peak for fast passes to World of Color, an event that takes place after dark. While there, we noticed that there was hardly any line for Grizzly River Run, so we took advantage of the opportunity and rushed to board a raft.

Danielle, Jacob, and Dylan...

...and Sarah and Chris on Grizzly River Run.

We got soaked! And then, at the end of the ride, we saw that there was no one in line. Not one person! So when the cast member came over to get us out of our raft, Jacob asked her if we could just stay on. When she saw that there was no one waiting, she let us stay put for another round. Then we were really soaked!

Love this picture. I never noticed the claws before!

We did a lot of screaming and laughing as the raft spun and dipped and swirled. We never knew who would get drenched as we dropped from churning rapids to swishing pools, because we never knew who would be facing the drop once we reached it.

Dylan, Sarah, Jacob, Danielle, and Chris in the Flying Tires queue.

From there we returned to Cars Land, where we got in line for Luigi's Flying Tires. I liked this ride because it's similar to a "spaceship" ride that Disneyland had when I was about 9 years old. I was fascinated by that old ride, so it was fun to see the same concept resurrected.

The ladies in the queue: Danielle, Mary, and Sarah (and we're still wet).

A group selfie in a mirror: Danielle, Chris, Jacob, Sarah, Dylan, and Mary.

Chris and Sarah in their tire on the left; Danielle and Jacob in their tire in the center.

The tires float across the ground on a cushion of air, and the riders control it by leaning this way or that. Dylan and I rocked this ride, traveling all over the arena, smashing into everyone, while our two young married couples mostly got stuck at one end.

Danielle, Sarah, Jacob, Chris, Dylan, and Mary fool around at Paradise Pier.

Our next stop was Paradise Pier, which has Boardwalk-style booths and games, shops, and rides. There was so much to do here that we didn't have time to do it all, but we tried!

Sarah (age 14), Jacob (age 12), Dylan (age 6), and Mary (age 49)
December 30, 2003

Here's a blast from the past. Kind of fun to see the kids and me in this scene almost 11 years ago (photo taken by the kids' dad, Mark), and then all of us in the same scene this very month...

October 6, 2014: Play it again, 11 years later!
Jacob (age 23), Dylan (age 17), Danielle (almost 21), 
Mary (age 60), Chris (age 36), and Sarah (almost 25).

A waterfall off the trail around the back of Grizzly Peak. I'd never been there before,
so I suggested we use it to return to Condor Flats for another go on Soarin' Over California.
Dylan, Danielle, Jacob, Chris, and Sarah.

Back at Paradise Pier, we stopped to watch these green army men perform. Short and fun.
As we walked away after the performance, I didn't notice their jeep  approaching behind me
until they barked over their loudspeaker: 
"Move aside, ma'am. We're toys and we don't know how to drive."

Our next stop was Goofy's Sky School, a small old-style roller coaster that used to be called Mulholland Madness until it was refurbished awhile back. After that ride, we decided it was good that we rode it before we ate anything! 

Danielle, Jacob, Dylan, and Chris enter the eatery.

About this time we were feeling the grumblies in our tummies, so we stopped for lunch. We ordered our food inside and then found a table at one of the several outdoor seating areas.

My lunch was this yummy chicken-and-Parmesan pasta.

The food was quite good, and slightly more expensive than I would have liked. Guess how much it cost me? Nothing! But more on that later...

Jacob and Danielle enjoy their meal.

Sarah and Chris also got drinks, with adorable Halloween shapes sprinkled on the cups.

Dylan loves spaghetti with meatballs!

The Golden Zephyr as seen over Danielle's shoulder.

After lunch we decided that something slow and sweet like Ariel's Undersea Adventure would be safe for people with full bellies, and it was fun. But then we rode round and round on the Golden Zephyr, and Danielle begged Jacob to ride the Jumpin' Jellyfish with her...

Danielle and Jacob wait to board a gondola.

...and then we decided to ride Mickey's Fun Wheel, a huge Ferris wheel with moving gondolas, and we soon realized that the Boardwalk rides are not all that user-friendly for people who had a big lunch!

The view from our gondola, with Cars Land visible in the distance.

Finally, we got in the long, long line for Toy Story Midway mania, another wildly popular ride consisting of giant video games where you're right in the middle of it all, racking up points. (Dylan kicked all our butts, of course, especially mine). That gave us plenty of time to finish digesting our lunch.

While waiting in line, we passed this human-sized Mr. Potato Head, which was interactive and spoke to people as they passed. As we went by, my son-in-law Chris, in his usual friendly manner, said, "How ya doing?" Mr. Potato Head retorted, "I heard that, you hockey puck!"

Dylan and Chris in the backseat of the 4th car (or 3rd car from back)
on California Screamin'.

At this point, I told Dylan and Chris that it was now or never if they wanted to ride California Screamin'. They were the only two from our group who had the courage to ride the crazy-fast, upside-down-looping roller coaster. And ride it they did!

Dylan and Chris had a great time!

Inside A Bug's Land, the entrance to "It's Tough to Be a Bug!"

By now it was 2:00-ish. It was unseasonably warm for October in California (in fact, a heatwave ended on the day we arrived in the state) and we our excited energy was beginning to wane a bit, so we wandered over to walk around A Bug's Land.

While waiting in the cool, shadowy underground queue for the show to begin,
Danielle, Jacob, and Dylan sneak a nap on the cave floor.

We had fun in the show (especially funny to see Danielle squirm when all the spiders dropped from the ceiling), and then we strolled to the fun little water park in the center of A Bug's Land to cool off.

Chris, Danielle, Sarah, and Jacob cool off under the giant leaky faucet.

While the kids went off to ride a few of the Bug's Life rides (mostly geared for children, but Danielle and Chris are children at heart, being un-jaded by years of Disneyland trips like my own children), I took the opportunity to simply relax near the enormous water faucet and watch the kids play in the gushing water. 

Aladdin and Jasmine take a flying carpet ride.

From A Bug's Land, we took a back trail into Hollywood Land and made our way to the Hyperion Theater, where we queued up to wait for the next performance of "Disney's Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular." It's one of our favorite things to do each time we visit the park. It never gets old! The theater is gorgeous, the acting is great, the sets are amazing, the flying carpet is believable, and the genie never fails to delight with his hilarious ad-libbed performance!

The Twilight Zone's Tower of Terror looms over the landscape near the Hyperion.

After the show, we all dragged Danielle over to the Hollywood Tower Hotel to ride the heart-stopping Tower of Terror. She wasn't thrilled, but she agreed to give it a try (and swore she'd never do it again afterward). It was my first time on the ride, too, since in past years I always seemed to have a young child to stay off with while Mark and the older child/ren went up.

Front row, right: Sarah, Chris, and Mary.
Middle row, right: Jacob, Danielle, and Dylan.

I loved it! There's such a sense of weightlessness as the car drops. My hair rose up around my face, and my butt came gently off the seat just long enough to feel like I was in one of those space shuttle movies where everything floats around after they achieve orbit. It wasn't at all like the stomach-in-your-throat feeling you get on a drop ride like Splash Mountain. It was just so cool! (Danielle would not agree.)

I wanted to ride it again, but even with a 3-day Park-Hopper Pass, there just wasn't enough time!

Flo's V-8 Cafe

By now it was nearing 6:00 and we were thinking about dinner, so we headed back to Cars Land, where we'd decided to dine at Flo's V-8 Cafe. It was a fun, old-fashioned diner with seating out front by the gas pumps. That looked fun, but I'd read that the best place to eat was out back, with a view of the Cadillac Mountain Range and the Radiator Springs Racers. (It pays to do your research!)

Sarah, Chris, Dylan, Jacob, and Danielle at dinner time.

So we opted to eat out back and we're glad we did. It was fun to watch the racers while we dined, and the food was very good.

After dinner we had time for one final ride on the Radiator Springs Racers (love that ride!) and a quick twirl on Mater's Junkyard Jamboree, which looked kind of silly but turned out to be great fun! It really rocks you hard in the back of the trailer pulled by the goofy little tractors.

And, last of all, we finished off the night watching the 8:15 performance of World of Color. For me, the fountains, colored lights, misty scenes, and beloved music started off magically, but soon began to feel very long, and it really was too hard to see for the crowds. I'm afraid I'm not willing to give up 3 hours of park fun to sit on the cement and save myself a good seat 3 hours before the show even begins, like so many do. Surely Disney could come up with a better plan for seating so all could enjoy the magic.

Dylan, Jacob, and Danielle head toward the gates at the end of a long, happy day!

It was a wonderful day and we hated to see it end, but our week held many more such days in store for us!

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