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  1. #1

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    First Time Experiencing DCA with BVS and Cars Land: My Experience (9/16/12)

    It's been a little more than a week since my trip, and I wanted to share my experience at DCA on September 16th, 2012 and my opinions on the park's new additions (and some comments and critiques of the old attractions as well). This was my first time experiencing Disney California Adventure since the additions of Buena Vista Street and Cars Land. Needless to say, I was ecstatic.

    We arrived at the gates twenty minutes before opening and went directly line to obtain a fastpass for Radiator Springs Racers. We passed through Buena Vista Street—incredible! I was highly anticipating the arrival of Buena Vista Street from the moment that I heard the news, excited for entrance with a story rather than the previous, tacky entrance that did nothing to welcome guests into the park. My family stared with amazement at the complete transformation of the entrance. We walked through quickly in order to get in the fastpass line, but with all the intentions of returning later to savor all the little details. The fastpass line was now winding through the queue of Disney Junior Live on Stage, and after a few minutes of waiting there, we were directed to the fastpass distribution area and received our fastpasses in less than ten minutes.

    After receiving our fastpasses, we headed to the beckoning Cars Land, smiles brimming across our faces. I suggested Luigi’s Flying Tires as the day’s first ride, knowing that the five minute wait was the shortest we would see all day. Although the ride itself isn’t terribly praise-worthy, I loved the queue! Unfortunately, we rushed through the indoor portion, but I loved the rich wood walls and tire displays, with Luigi’s beloved white wall tires taking center stage. The outside portion was lovely! The vibrant colors, the red and white roses, the tire-shaped planters, and festive Italian music filling the air created a fantastic atmosphere. Bellísimo! I have no desire to ride the attraction again (I imagine the beach balls added something more to the ride) but I would like to see the queue again.

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    Next we had breakfast at Flo’s V-8 Café. Another spectacular display of details that create an authentic atmosphere. The restaurant is a direct portal to an authentic off the mother road, everything from the music to the Cast Member’s clothing to the chrome on the counter and the neon lights and period tiles. We sat next to the window with a view of Radiator Springs Racers as we split breakfast plates and some coffee. It’s the same breakfast plates that are served at the Tomorrowland Terrace and Riverbelle Terrace, with the potatoes, eggs, biscuit, and bacon. Pretty good, but unlike my family, I’m not really a breakfast person. I just like my coffee.

    We checked the line for Radiator Springs Racers, and upon seeing that the wait was only 45 minutes, we excitedly entered. I adored the queue. I found it incredibly effective at immersing you in the story. I enjoy a well-themed queue as much as I enjoy any major attraction. I walked through the line marveling at the expansive, beautiful rockwork. Cadillac Range is a pure treat for the eyes and one of the most effective devices at making you question if you really are in Anaheim and not the surrounding desert of Route 66. The foliage along the way was also nice, several trees, and lots of cacti continued the immersion. Little nods to the history of Radiator Springs helped communicate the story of the attraction, and the two buildings that you pass through continued enhancing the authentic feel of the queue. I liked seeing the cars pass through the outside portion before disappearing back inside as the anticipation continued to build. Lastly, the music in the queue was fabulous. It felt very authentic to the period and complemented the rest of the queue.

    Towards the entrance of the queue with the golden rays of the morning sun.
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    One of the fun buildings that you pass through in the general line for Radiator Springs Racers is a bottle house. I love the way that they caught and reflected the early morning's light.
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    An example of the catci from the window.
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    The view outside the window of the bottle house. Are you sure that we're in Anaheim?
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    Quite the impressive view.
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    The time came to board the actual attraction, and I sat in the front to the very left. Unlike many attractions, I don't think that a different seat with drastically experience your perception of the attraction. Some Single Riders joined my group, the safety check concluded, and our car began to leave the station. Oddly, the beginning was my favorite part. Slowly winding through the desert with peaceful music in your ears, growing into a crescendo as your car turns the corner and the beautiful glory of the waterfall captures your attention. Spectacular! I got goose bumps as the car then turns into the opening in the cliff and descended into the darkness, embracing you into a new world. I thought that the animatronics were fantastic, all seemed to be working well during my trip. The fluidity of their lip movements is particularly incredible. However, I found the dark ride portion was lacking and left much to be desired. Next, the racing segment. I liked how the guests zip off and speedily maneuver around the beauty of Cadillac Range, but again, I felt like this section felt something to be desired. Overall, although this ride is a nice addition to DCA, “nice” is the best word I can muster for the attraction as a whole. I personally don’t believe it joins the ranks of Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion, or Indiana Jones.

    We then strolled over to Hollywood Land. Tower of Terror’s wait line boasted an ominous 13 minute wait, a signal to walk right on. I would love to spend a while in the lobby of the Hollywood Tower Hotel. The details are so rich and I never feel like I have enough time to appreciate them. A wonderfully creepy Cast Member with an unsettling stare and ghoulish voice greeted us into the library. I love Cast Members that enhance the creepy atmosphere on this ride and draw you into the story! This attraction is still my favorite in the park. It has a great story, a highly immersive queue, obvious attention to detail, and everything combines to create a great experience. I enjoy how the environment of the queue becomes progressively creepier, fromthe slightly unsettling, dust-laden and cobweb filled lobby to the dark library to the sinister boiler room.
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    The first red car sighting of the day! I love its vibrant red color and kineticenergy that it adds as it meanders through the streets. I like that I was able to capture the performer leaning out of the trolley's window without the shot looking overly cheesy, unlike the performance itself. I saw a bit of the show, and while the show itself needs new music and better direction, but the energy is great and the utilization of the trolley is genius.
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    More to come soon, including my thoughts and experience of Buena Vista Street and the neon lights of Cars Land! Thanks for reading!
    Last edited by gatheringrosebuds; 10-18-2012 at 09:34 AM.

  2. #2

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    Re: First Time Experiencing DCA with BVS and Cars Land: My Experience (9/16/12)

    Thanks for sharing! I have 38 days to go!

  3. #3

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    Apr 2012

    Re: First Time Experiencing DCA with BVS and Cars Land: My Experience (9/16/12)

    Enjoying this so far, thanks for sharing I leave in 13 days!

  4. #4

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    Re: First Time Experiencing DCA with BVS and Cars Land: My Experience (9/16/12)

    Thanks for reading, I hope that you both have a wonderful visit to the park.

    Continuing with the trip report....

    We then got fastpasses for Soarin’ Over California and headed over to California Screamin’, boarding quickly with the Single Rider option. The coaster is always a nice ride, I enjoy its smoothness and the quick launch at the beginning. The second drop is definitely what warrants its name: I can never suppress a little scream as the coaster plummets towards the ground.
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    We did some of the rides in Paradise Pier like Silly Symphony Swings and The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventures. Not two of the best attractions in the park, but they both have nice touches and I enjoy riding them. Then it was time to return and ride Soarin’ Over California. I personally love this ride. I’ve always been enchanted by the idea of flight and I think that this ride is very effective at instilling the feeling of flight within the guests. Each moment is perfectly enhanced by the score of the attraction. The Soarin' soundtrack is one of my personal favorites. However, the screen is starting to look very dirty with all of its black spots, the panels are really obvious, and the scents simply get too muddled. I can barely detect the “ocean breeze” scent. The ride desperately needs maintenance, and I will be the first to admit that. The screen needs to be fixed, and I wouldn’t mind seeing some different footage. Maybe something à la Star Tours: The Adventures Continue where you could get different sequences each time you experience the attraction. The scent nozzles need to be different from each individual scent. And some light misters would be a nice touch during the ocean segments or when you’re flying by the waterfall in Yosemite.
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    We sat on a bench by the Fiddler and Fifer Practical Café and watched the Five and Dime perform for a bit. Our first citizen of Buena Vista Street sighting was Phiphi the Photography! Here she is sauntering away from our corner of the park to interact with guests. I love her eccentric personality and wonderful fashion sense.
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    The facade of the Carthay Circle Theatre is beautiful. Similar to Sleeping Beauty Castle, it commands your attention and beckons you to come and explore and experience a new world. It's like the new heart of DCA.
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    Strolling around Buena Vista Street and admiring all the details, from the lights to the palm trees and the street signs is a lovely way to pass the time. This land is truly a work of love from the Imagineers. I especially love all the beauitful tile artwork. This one, by the Chamber of Commerce, is a particular favorite of mine, along with the Spanish dancer by the Carthay Circle Theatre. I think that this image is really romantic. Gazing at it, I can feel the love and carefree spirits radiating from these two lovebirds as they pic flowers in the gentle summer breeze.
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    We then worked our way down the street, admiring the windows. Unfortunately, as many of you know, the windows are still cluttered with generic merchandise that distracts from the fantastic period pieces and props. The windows of Trolley Streets are a reminder of the past windows, the only window to maintain an authentic display of vintage candies mingling with railroad themed decorations. Looking at its windows, I imagined what the rest of the windows looked like several months ago. I’m still truly disheartened by the rapid perversion of the windows and clinging onto the hope that they will someday be restored to their former glory.
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    Walking along the street, I admired the architecture and other details that helped tell the story of the street. I headed over to the Chamber of Commerce for a copy of the Buena Vista Bugle and stopped to admire more of the atmospheric details of the land.
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    Joining my family on a bench outside the little market that sells fresh fruit, I noticed Officer Calvin Blue singing at the top of his lungs as guests passed by with confused stares. He was fabulous! Definitely one of the highlights of the day. The Cast Member playing him did an outstanding job. Belting out jolly melodies with glee, handing out good-behavior citations, accidentally knocking over trash cans, and getting his foot stuck in the trolley track are examples of the wonderfully charming and silly behavior of Officer Blue.
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    Around two in the afternoon, we debated where to have lunch, and my wonderful parents decided that we should have a late lunch/early dinner at Carthay Circle Restaurant for a special dinner for my birthday/college send-off. Walking into the lounge, the atmosphere undergoes a complete change. Every single detail oozes this rich, warm, elegant, 1937 Hollywood feeling. We were able to simply do walk-up dining for lunch, and sat in the lounge several minutes, savoring the atmosphere before entering upstairs. When we were ready to be seated, we opted for the stairs, and as we ascended to the upper level, we could sense the hands of time shifted backwards to the golden age of Hollywood. We were seated in the Hollywood room, with the Snow White mural still visible through the wide doors. Magic sparkled in our eyes and radiated from our smiles as we were seated at our table, our waiter charismatically conversing with us as he pulled out our chairs and placed the napkins upon our laps. It was a dining experience unlike anything I have ever experienced! I ordered a serving of the Carthay Circle biscuits. I enjoyed them, although I would have preferred the jalapeño to be a little bit more prominent. But I guess if you’re not a fan of jalapeño, that’s a good thing for you, since the addition of jalapeño is nothing to deter you from ordering the biscuits.

    I wanted to taste something a little different, so I opted for the “new take on liver and onions”, the fried chicken livers with onions and lacquered bacon with a little side salad, which was my first time trying chicken livers. Their savory quality went nicely with the salad greens and dressing which had both acidic and citrusy sweet notes. Although I cannot say that I would order them again or necessarily recommend them, I did enjoy the dish. I was too stuffed to try dessert, but next time I'll have to try the ice cream or Monte Cristo sundae. I also had a few bites of the burger that’s offered at the restaurant, and it was pretty delicious.
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    My favorite part of the meal was the Rose Petal Soda. Perfumey, but not overly so, and just the right amount of sweetness, and the de-li-cious candied rose petal was the icing on the cake. I was still apprehensive of the drink after the first sip, but after the initial taste it is fantastic. Although it may be an acquired taste, I highly recommend trying it.
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    That basically summarizes my experience at the Carthay Circle Restaurant. I would highly recommend it to anyone considering dining there, the combination of the atmosphere and the food creates a wonderful experience. I personally cannot wait to dine again.

    Part three, last but most certainly not least, will be posted soon, covering the neon lights in Cars Land.

  5. #5

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    Re: First Time Experiencing DCA with BVS and Cars Land: My Experience (9/16/12)

    I agree with you about Soarin' screen and I'm sad it won't be fixed before we return. Just booked a 2nd trip to DLR in Jan!!! I can hope they'll refurb by then, but I doubt it.

    The scents haven't worked for years. I remember the first time I went the oranges smelled so good!

    ---------- Post added 09-27-2012 at 09:11 AM ----------

    Your's is the first report that's made me want to try Carthay Circle. You must have gotten a good waiter! Maybe our 2nd trip...

  6. #6

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    Re: First Time Experiencing DCA with BVS and Cars Land: My Experience (9/16/12)

    I agree with your observations about the Radiator Racers attraction. The main problem with it is it lacks repeatability. You see the entire "actions" of each scene - unlike Pirates, where the scenes are longer than the actual time you spend there ... so you don't exactly see the same thing over and over again. I am not saying the dark ride portion is extremely bad ... there is just nothing special to it. And when I rode it last Sunday - there were so many animatronics not working (Mater - both, one of the tipping trackers, Sarge), that it really provided nothing more to view. And then the big town scene - um, we just came out of a life-size version of the town, this is just a fabricated repeat, that doesn't measure up. It just is lacking. I think a big problem with Imagineering these days is they get all caught up in the excitement of the technology and being the only one out there using it/having it, they the forget about the thing they profess to be doing so well - and that is storytelling. Someone on Radiator Springs forgot the story. I really wanted to like this ride a lot, but I just find it ho-hum.

  7. #7

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    Re: First Time Experiencing DCA with BVS and Cars Land: My Experience (9/16/12)

    One side of Soarin' was down for rehab in June.

    The scents on Soarin haven't been working well for years because the citrus smell is too overpowering. I've never noticed the ocean breeze smell, only the pines and citrus, but for years I can smell the citrus the minute I walk into the auditorium.

    Your suggestion to get different sequences would not work. Star Tours utilizes digital projection, which is inferior to the IMAX 15/70 projection system that Soarin' uses. You're not able to project a quality image using digital projection on a screen the size of Soarin'. Since film is not used in Star Tours it is possible for a computer to mix and match different scenes to create the experience. We DO NOT want to see Soarin' go digital. It's inferior to the IMAX 15/70 film and would degrade the current experience. Universal went digital for The Simpsons Ride and attempts to project on an IMAX sized screen - the result sucks.

    The black spots I suspect were a dirty print or lens. The prints will be replaced periodically from wear and tear and they are probably cleaned once or twice a week. The IMAX projector also has a dust removal wiper that needs to be cleaned. This wiper goes across the lens removing dirt that would appear as a black spot on the screen. Screens don't usually show spots from dirt unless someone splashes something on it and in a movie theater that is usually soda, which shows as a glossy, reflective mark. A dirty screen usually goes gray over time. The dust accumulation on the dome screen is usually worse at the bottom of the screen.

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